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Reader Comments (42)

Posted: Jul 24th 2009 8:28AM Oneiromancer said

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I first started playing EQ after Planes of Power had come out, which was the expansion that included the teleportation hub zone described in the article. At first I tried to be "good" and forced myself not to teleport anywhere that I hadn't already been. That didn't last too long...the convenience was just too hard to give up.

In LOTRO I play a Hunter, who has "guides" to different locations, which are basically teleports. But it is much more expansive than the WoW Mage teleports--it's more like druids and wizards in EQ and EQ2. I have 12 teleport locations and only 3 are for the capital cities. It makes it so amazingly convenient while leveling, especially for the epic quests that send you back and forth to various locations. But for such a low-magic world like Tolkien's, it does feel off. Still, the amount of time it saves really makes it worth it. I don't know if I can ever level up an alt in that game knowing that I won't be able to teleport, since the other travel options are rarely as fast.

Posted: Jul 24th 2009 8:32AM (Unverified) said

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Immersive travel is actually one of the things I feel this generation of MMOs is lacking. I would definitely say it makes the world feel smaller, and in general, makes the game far too easy. In the days of EverQuest (pre-Planes of Power), traveling to another continent was an adventure in and of itself.

The trials and hardships of traveling long distances paid off when you looted that nice, new staff or helmet from a dungeon that's an hour from the nearest city, and doing these things with friends made it all the more worthwhile. You really had a greater sense of accomplishment knowing not only did you make it to the dungeon in one piece, but you conquered it as well.

These days, it's all about the dungeon itself and the journey to get there is just a way for the developers of the game waving at you and saying "Hey, there's a world here! We're presenting a sense of space to you, but it's really not that important." The way I see it, if they're going to make travel near-instantaneous and without risk, go ahead and just give everyone the ability to teleport themselves to anywhere. Otherwise they're just wasting our time.

Posted: Jul 24th 2009 9:59AM regn said

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I have to agree with you here.. while I used to curse the old system in EQ, experiencing the ease of travel in newer games definitely takes away a lot from the game. It feels more like I'm just playing a game rather than being in a living and breathing world. When it's an actual adventure getting to a big city across the world map rather than just having to jump on a bird that flies you directly there, it makes what normally would be a mundane experience into something exciting and rewarding.
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Posted: Jul 24th 2009 5:13PM (Unverified) said

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"I would definitely say it makes the world feel smaller, and in general, makes the game far too easy. "

I agree that teleport/super-fast travel shrinks the world, but to claim it makes a game either more or less "easy" is completely invalid. Travel is not difficult - it's time consuming.
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Posted: Jul 24th 2009 5:18PM (Unverified) said

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"Easy" is a subjective term, thus I will apply it as I see fit.
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Posted: Jul 25th 2009 4:01PM (Unverified) said

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@andrew,

If you've only played today's generation of MMO's, I can see why you would think that. Travel was definitely difficult and involved serious risk of dying in games like EQ. When you have to traverse a dark jungle full of bloodthirsty raptors that can easily kill you, it's definitely difficult.

In games where normal monsters that wander around in the world are dangerous even to higher-level players that aren't prepared, and can chase you for miles, travel takes on a completely different meaning. I definitely miss that aspect of old games.
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Posted: Jul 26th 2009 6:12PM CyberNigma said

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more difficult does not always equate to fun. In many cases it doesn't. If there was an adventure getting from one place to another, it would be fun - which is usually very easily accomplished in traditional role playing games via a DM. In most computer games, difficult, long travel equates to grinding a shitload of non-unique mobs giving non-unique loot for no apparent reason and providing minimal amounts of fun.

riding on a mount from Booty Bay to Silvermoon City is not normally fun. There may be many battles, but most of them after the first few are going to be pretty boring and repetitive. That's the opposite of what a good game should be. Even in traditional RPGs it's quite common for the DM to limit random encounters if they turn out to detract from the ongoing adventure.

easy and difficult don't always equate to fun or not fun, even though they can influence it - a win button is usually not-fun, grinding through hordes and hordes of tough, generic mobs is also usually not-fun.
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Posted: Jul 24th 2009 8:34AM archipelagos said

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Personally, I prefer the extra immersion that actually taking the boat ride gives as opposed to hopping on board and having a cut-scene deliver you to the next area. It was one of the few elements that I truly enjoyed in FFXI. It was fun to see people fishing on the boat, sometimes they would aggro a giant fish and it would be a team effort to help them kill it. Other times pirates would attack and if you weren't strong enough to face them you would huddle in the cabin for safety.

Having said that there were times when I simply wasn't in the mood for the wait and wanted to get to my destination. By their nature MMO's are a huge time-sink and having your play time halved by travelling time can be incredibly annoying. I would like the choice to be able to either skip the journey or experience what it has to offer, best of both worlds. Choice is always good.

Posted: Jul 24th 2009 9:37AM (Unverified) said

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I agree - personally I believe that as long as there's a player choice available, whether that be to accommodate the mood you're in or the type of player you are (sniffing the flowers along the way vs just get me there now), then you have all bases covered.

I also tend to think there's naturally some resentment as a game progresses in it's lifespan. I know for sure that I've felt a pang of discontent knowing that the newer players of xyz MMO 'get it easy' compared to the days of having to trudge three miles through the snow wearing a leather strap for shoes, to get to a certain destination.

But, as is always brought up in discussions such as these, as long as both options exist then there's nothing stopping a player from avoiding the new 'fangled' insta-travel options and taking the time to slog it on foot the old-skool way, if they so desire.

I remember heated debates about the Riftways in Vanguard; that they 'ruined immersion'. At the end of the day a player is still able to exercise a choice and not use them if they don't wish to, as is the case in most other MMO's with multiple ways of traversing the in-game landscape.
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Posted: Jul 24th 2009 11:52AM Wron said

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That's the funny thing though-- if an easier mode of transport exists people will use it even if they are the ones complaining about it. They need their hardcore-ness forced upon them by the developers.
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Posted: Jul 24th 2009 8:43AM (Unverified) said

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I started playing EverQuest right after release. I HATED the time it took to travel. In some zones, like the Karanas, the game developers had actually changed the fundamental physics of the world scale map so that it would take longer to cross those regions.

Ultimately, the concept was discarded as being "not fun." I think many people look back at those time with heavily rose-tinted glasses and forget that it used to take upwards of four hours to meet up with a friend on a different continent...assuming you managed not to die along the way.

I don't mind content-full grinds in games today such as progression raids and the like, but I strongly would argue against any game with a "Vision" (achem) that boils down to torturing players and punishing those who can't possibly dedicate more than a few hours at a time to their enjoyment of online worlds.

Later, I went back and played on the Progression server The Sleeper. I remember about half the population complaining that we (the lead guild) were "ruining" their "classic experience" by unlocking the new content. The other half were happy not to have to suffer long travel times and minimal content.

Ultimately, this issue will continue to divide our community. But the best games out there are the ones that provide an outlet for both kinds of gamers - the hardcore masochists and the carebear casuals.

Posted: Jul 24th 2009 10:46AM Muddleglum said

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I understand a lot of people don't like things like travel in mmo's, and to each thier own. When trying to make your point try to be honest, or at the very least admit you might be exaggerating a bit.

Four hours?! I played EQ from beta-5 yrs in, and there wasn't a place in the game that would take four hours to get to.

I think instead of trying to cater to everyone we need games for all types of people. It's not like there aren't a lot of options out there for the more casual/busy mmo gamer.

If I was a game developer I would love to make a game that only a few thousand people played. In time we might have tools that allow a very small team to make and maintain an mmo. That Love game is being developed by one person! Just think you could run your very own small buisness.. a niche mmo!!
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Posted: Jul 24th 2009 8:49AM (Unverified) said

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Early WoW did it properly. You walk through the world slowly, and then progress your way up to fast traveling, roughly in tune with how bored of the overworld you are getting.

Two problems arose.

1. Flying mounts made the entire overworld redundant, since ironically, nothing looks terribly epic from 1000 feet. They were also effortless to acquire. Finish every quest->gather some rocks->buy epic mount. Way too easy.

2. A few of the convenience options were overboard. City portals were insane. There was already a city portal function available in the game, it was callled mage players. (No class suffered more than mage in terms of other classes getting all of their perks) It made the entire game feel like a candy store.

Posted: Jul 24th 2009 8:56AM LaughingTarget said

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There's nothing immersive about losing server connection while zoning, logging in and finding your nude high elf standing on the docks a level lower requiring an additional hour to find where your body dropped at the bottom of the ocean, another hour to find the dock and yet another hour waiting on the boat (or longer if it was sailing the wrong way). This was the EQ immersion.

Sorry, I don't have the luxury of spending nearly 4 hours just to cross an ocean. If anyone was really concerned about travel realism, why not make it take real world months to get from one town to another? "Realism", even in it's quasi "hardcore" mode isn't fun, that's why games don't do it that way. I have to deal with the commute grind to work and back, I don't want to pay someone my hard earned cash to commute to a dungeon and back, especially if that commute eats all my time for the day.

Posted: Jul 24th 2009 9:14AM (Unverified) said

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Travel timesinks are neither fun nor challenging. I've played dozens of MMO's and these days, games of epic running -- or worse, epic sitting while the world goes by -- are a huge turn off. There's a reason why action/adventure movies use short travel montages. A few helicopter shots, panning across the heroes trudging along New Zealand landscapes is fine and good, but I'd prefer not spending my time watching if for an hour just to get to plot advancement. Same thing in games.

There are other, more fun ways, to foster immersion.

Posted: Jul 24th 2009 11:20AM Macabre 13 said

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This!

You, sir, deserve an award for that comment.

Gamers these days tend to confuse "immersion" with some skewed sense of "realism."

Baldur's Gate 1 and 2 were among the most immersive games I have ever played (and I'm sure many gamers would back me up on that), and you could insta-travel to anywhere you needed to go in the game world.

Too often do we let developers get away with cheap tactics to make a game seem more immersive, when in reality they often just make menial tasks take longer, and that's percieved as "realistic" or "immersive."

I'm in the Aion beta, and while the game is a bit fun, the quest system abuses what I just described above. They take a 15-minute quest and make it seem "epic" by making me run associated errands between NPCs for another hour. But at least their flight masters aren't freakin' retarded and know where the next town is without having me tell them about it first (yeah that's right, I'm looking at you, WoW).

Developers need to put more work in to truly make a game immersive (take notes from Bioware), without resorting to cheap, time-sink tactics.
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Posted: Jul 24th 2009 11:40AM (Unverified) said

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@Macabre, agreed!
BG1 & 2 and associated expansions kept me thoroughly immersed for a long period of time.

In fact just the other day I decided to install Planescape Torment just for shits and giggles.. wow I'd forgotten just how innovative and entrenching it's storyline is.
(Runs just fine out of the box under Vista too, in case anyone was wondering)
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Posted: Jul 24th 2009 1:30PM (Unverified) said

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Exactly.

I've been playing Mass Effect and getting really annoyed with elevators. Yes, I know they are for loading between different game zones, but they are still annoying and kill the pace of the game. They are just time sinks.

Then I realized how much time I must of wasted in games like WoW and every other MMO on traveling. Time sinks that kill the fun, waste time, and serve no useful purpose.

It's the old design rules, that need to be changed. Developers need to stop cloning and start coming up with better ideas and better design.
And stop making fantasy MMO's damnit.
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Posted: Jul 24th 2009 9:41AM (Unverified) said

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I just keep thinking about Lord of the Rings (the books or movies, not the MMO), and how the entire story is a travel sequence (arguably, an escort quest). In a modern MMO, Frodo would just go find Gandalf, who would instantly teleport him to Mount Doom; or, alternatively, he'd go to the Shire travel-vendor and buy himself a horse-ride to the feet of Mount Doom (at a travel location made to facilitate those Barad-dum raids).

Posted: Jul 24th 2009 10:58AM (Unverified) said

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Well-said. People are really looking for two different kinds of experiences here. I think of EverQuest travel the same way I think of traveling across the Spanish Main in Sid Meier's Pirates - it takes a while, but the fun of the game is what you encounter on the journey.

Modern MMO players focus on devouring sparkly new content and achieving milestones; the hardcore game feels like a sport, requiring a well-organized team. Elder MMOs planted the seeds for this kind of gameplay, but for most players, they were about immersing yourself in a dangerous, living world with thousands of other people and relying upon your wits and reputation to survive.

I wouldn't want immersive travel in a game like WoW, for example, because it would obstruct the treadmill of achievements and hand-crafted content. On the other hand, instant travel ruined EverQuest for me, because it was self-defeating; skip the fun stuff, get right to the grind? No thanks.
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