| Mail |
You might also like: WoW Insider, Joystiq, and more

Reader Comments (19)

Posted: Aug 8th 2009 10:08AM JohnD212 said

  • 2 hearts
  • Report
I like a world that is good in size...but with reasonable travel options. Vanguard was notorious for being difficult when it launched because there were even less travel options than there are now. Vanguard also has the problem of the engine being unable to handle the large draw distance the game wants to create. I play things like Aion and WoW...and while they both have their own style...they run wonderfully and still give a feeling of traveling great distances without having to actually spend 1/2 hour to get somewhere.

Posted: Aug 8th 2009 10:46AM (Unverified) said

  • 2 hearts
  • Report
I agree with you on some of the points. I myself find it quite interesting to explore all sorts of places in the game world. Vanguard has a world with vast size and because they did not create "zones" or other unnatural borders to keep players within a certain area, it feels even more wide.

WoW on the other hand side featured a nice compromise between world size and travel options. Classic WoW was kinda huge, especially with the limited travel options we had in the beginning. Unfortunately this has changed since TBC and WotLK. What I am missing most is that there are far less hidden places than in Classic WoW.. and a lot of the exploration feeling has gone because of flying mounts.

I was quite interested in Aion until i started to gather more information about it. It features a "channel-system" like Guild Wars and Age of Conan. This means you are inside some encapsuled zone and not all the players in the same zone are really around you. Also this implies having loading screens or portals / NPCs instead of smooth transitions between the zones.
Reply

Posted: Aug 8th 2009 11:45AM sine909 said

  • 2 hearts
  • Report
I played Vanguard at launch and left due to the bugs and general unreadiness of the game. Similarly to the writer I went back at random a week ago, and I'm amazed at how much it's grown. Specifically regarding distance, they've solved those issues entirely. There's a great rift-way system (read: flight point) which essentially teleports you anywhere you want. You don't even need to pre-explore to find them. The game keeps lower level players away from higher end zones by simply making those "rifts" more expensive, so at the low levels it's cost prohibitive, but by the time you're an appropriate level it's pennies.

On top of that they added flying mounts which are rentable for a few minutes at a time. So rift where you want to go, grab a bird and complete the trip. You can get your own flying mount later as well.

I find myself wanting to travel a lot in general just to explore because there is so much more content than there used to be. Tons and tons of named mobs that drop nice loot that you'll just want to wander into.

The draw-distance problem seems solved on my system as well. I have a recent video card (GTX 285) with a 3+ year old machine, and I keep them up pretty high - I can see forever, and it's by far the most impressive vista's I've ever seen in any mmo.

If anyone's interested, I posted a big overview of my newbie experience in the last two weeks in their forums. It's here: http://forums.station.sony.com/vg/posts/list.m?topic_id=49540. They've also fixed the only big that was annoying me (and mentioned in that post) this week, so I'm completely happy with the game now.

Honestly the only problem I still have with this game is that the community isn't as big as it SHOULD be.

=Luke
Reply

Posted: Aug 10th 2009 12:18AM (Unverified) said

  • 2 hearts
  • Report
Sorry Incognito Guy, your research on Aion isn't entirely accurate. That channel system only exists until level 20 or so, while the beginning areas are densely populated. For the PvPvE content and beyond, the channel system ceases to exist. Smart imo.
Reply

Posted: Aug 8th 2009 10:49AM (Unverified) said

  • 2 hearts
  • Report
Lovely article :)

Posted: Aug 8th 2009 11:03AM RogueJedi86 said

  • 2 hearts
  • Report
I remember the old days of SWG. Being a newbie and staying in the southwest corner of Tatooine without a mount/vehicle. I roamed those dunes for weeks/months. After a while, I think I'd memorized all those dunes, all the various waymarks.

One problem with SWG being so open world was that it made it hard to SOE to place content. Since players had housing and harvesters on pretty much every spot(if you include all servers), SOE had to resort to putting new dungeons in obscure corners of non-housing planets, like Yavin and Dathomir. You had no room to put new content anywhere remotely near the major starports(Coronet, Mos Eisley, Theed, Dantooine Mining Outpost), because they were surrounded by a halo of player housing and cities, building as close as they could to the starports.


But yeah, I loved how big SWG worlds were. 16 kilometers on X and Y axis, 256 square kilometers I think. It was fun to aimlessly wander and suddenly realize you're kilometers from where you started. I noticed it happened to me most often when I was scanning for high quality resources, riding for a hundred meters, sampling, then going off in the direction of high quality resources. Soon you'd find yourself on the other side of the planet and not realize you'd gone so far. It was fun.

Posted: Aug 8th 2009 11:15AM J Brad Hicks said

  • 2 hearts
  • Report
Apologies for repeating myself, but there's a difference between exploring and commuting. Exploring, getting to some place I've never been before via an unfamilar route through unknown dangers, is fun. Traveling back and forth, back and forth, back and forth a half an hour each way, an hour each way, gods forbid even longer, is not fun.

No game, before or since, has balanced this any better than Diablo II did, eight years ago. By the time you got to Act III, the ruins of Kurast, it could take you 45 minutes to an hour to hack your way through dense jungle and swarming enemies to get to the next waystone. But once you did, would there have been any point, either from a story-telling perspective or from an entertainment perspective, to making you repeat that trip? Diablo II had plentiful waystones, but you can't tell me that the deserts of Lut Gholein, the jungle ruins of Kurast, and the vast plains of Hell didn't feel huge to you.

Posted: Aug 9th 2009 3:59AM HackJack said

  • 2 hearts
  • Report
Having recently completed Diablo 2 LOD (yet again) I definitely have to agree with you and share your viewpoint.
Reply

Posted: Aug 8th 2009 11:51AM (Unverified) said

  • 2 hearts
  • Report
I'm all for big worlds with limited travel options. The key is to make sure that travel is dangerous. You can't have "leveling paths" like in WoW, because once you've "outleveled" a zone it's basically a waste of time to ever go there again. If the zones are mixed up a little like in EQ it makes traveling a lot more interesting without making the world feel smaller.

Posted: Aug 8th 2009 12:02PM (Unverified) said

  • 2 hearts
  • Report
"but there's a difference between exploring and commuting"

Awesome statement! I like to explore but I detest running back and forth between place I've already been.

I played VG for about 6 months a year after its launch (plus I was an unfortunate victim of the beta "test")
While it is a huge world (I mean massive) there isn't a whole lot to really sink your teeth into. The other issue this brings to VG is populations. The game has a small and dedicated following...the key operating word here is "small". When you combine a small population with an enormous world, you run into trouble.

While a massive world is a great feature, you need a good sized pop to support it. I remember the days of AC when it was full of people but once everyone began to leave AC wa a much less fun place to be spending your time.

Early SWG...bah, what a waste, yeah they had a bunch of large planets (they still do) but what was the mechanic of the day? Mission terminals..."kill 10 rats" in it's absolute laziest form.
Yeah killing Bols for weeks on end trying to unlock Jedi was just like the lore...(pre-battle of Hoth) I don't even know what the heck they were thinking back then but its easy to see how they got so confused and how the NGE resulted...it was a SW game that was suffering from an identity crisis that continues to this day.

Posted: Aug 8th 2009 12:23PM (Unverified) said

  • 2 hearts
  • Report
I really miss the very large worlds like vanguard and Anarchy Online. To me, its a very very important part of the game. It makes me feel like I'm actually exploring a real alien world. It makes the world seem so much more real. Of course I do think games need a decent fast transit system. But I do like it when some less visited towns and cities are off the grid so to speak. Games like wow, where everything is packed in like WoW and just about every new game don't satisfy the exploration aspect. The whole world seems fake. I'm not looking over the next hill to see what is there. I'm zoning to see what the developers made the next zone look like. Thats just not at interesting.

Posted: Aug 8th 2009 2:07PM Tizmah said

  • 2 hearts
  • Report
Sounds like you guys need to check out Fallen Earth! :)

Posted: Aug 8th 2009 2:09PM Saker said

  • 2 hearts
  • Report
I'm 100% behind big open worlds (I hate zones, and invisible walls). One of the things I liked about Vanguard is the big world, unfortunately there just wasn't enough community, the existing community seemed very nice, and very helpful just too small. Travel options should be balanced (of course, like everything), not too easy. Exploration should be a adventure.

Posted: Aug 8th 2009 2:13PM (Unverified) said

  • 2 hearts
  • Report
Vast spaces have always been a part of my fascination with MMOs. I've always enjoyed the travel time because it places significance on the "journey", which I suppose, is precisely why I have little interest in "the end-game" of most games; I've always felt "the journey is more important than the destination" and thus tried to squeeze every ounce of adventure out of my experience from Level 1 to Level whatever. At that point, the journey has largely ended, to me.

I think it all started on the first night I logged into EQ and ventured out of Felewithe into the night and the darkness of the forest, only to end up helplessly lost in the woods between the city and Kelethin. I wandered for what seemed forever in the woods, unable to tell from which direction I came and to which direction I desired to go. And then, looking to the sky, to my utter amazment, I saw through the treetops that the sun was beginning to come up and the sky was growing slightly lighter. I continued, lost for some time, likely running in large circles, until finally finding my way back to Felewithe at long last in the early morning light. I simply could not believe that "magic" of it all. That "adventure" which was actually no adventure at all, but certainly felt so, set the stage for a fascination with MMOs and their open worlds that has never disappeared for me.

Posted: Aug 8th 2009 5:10PM Pingles said

  • 2 hearts
  • Report
Agreeing with some others:
Large spaces to explore:Good
Large distances to run back and forth in quests: Bad

MMOs are timesinks. They want to keep you playing longer so you keep those monthly fees coming in. I don't mind that, but when they make it very obvious that they are just sending you back and forth to waste time it gets on my nerves.

Posted: Aug 8th 2009 6:42PM Boulderbolg said

  • 2 hearts
  • Report
The subject of MMO travel shouldn't be had without mentioning a small independent game, A Tale in the Desert. Due to the game being so different than "normal" MMO's, one might easily overlook this game when analyzing the possibilities of travel and exploration in a game.

You see, in ATITD, economy is everything. The game has the most complex bartering system in any game, simply because there is no game mechanic to assist players with bartering. Since the game is centered around resources and gathering, trading is an essential part of the game, which forces players to invent their own systems of trade.

So what does this have to do with travel? One large component of economy is time, and time is effected by two things: the time it takes to accomplish a task, and the time it takes to travel to the needed location. ATITD forces players to use their time wisely because travel is so difficult. For example, there is no auction house in ATITD. All trades require one party to travel to the other. Although there is a form of waypointing that costs waypoint time, players must run from location to location.

All MMO's have an aspect of travel which contributes to the time it takes to accomplish anything, however ATITD seems to really point out the impact of travel on a player's time. To me, this is the most interesting aspect of travel in an MMO; how does a game's travel system effect what a player can accomplish and in how much time?

Posted: Aug 9th 2009 10:31AM organiclockwork said

  • 2 hearts
  • Report
I adore exploring large worlds, but when the worlds are just full of trees, mountains, and plains, then it's terribly boring, and that's what most games do.

I want a world where I can explore and find some hidden ruins or some kind of temple and find some super-neat exclusive item or something. Imagine that, being able to run around like Indiana Jones, finding ancient ruins and taking their artifacts. That would be fantastic. As is, however, most games have a bunch of trees and mountains and endless miles of nondescript scenery and it's just dull. Even if you do find the occasional ruin or whatever, so what? What can you do with it? What does it tell you about the world? Can you get items from it that tell you about its past? Can you interact with it in any kind of meaningful manner? Chances are, no you cannot. And until you can, exploration in games simply won't excite me much.

Also, pretend that right here I just reiterate the comment on the difference between exploring and commuting, because it was spot on.

Posted: Aug 10th 2009 7:42AM Lamthara said

  • 2 hearts
  • Report
From my personal point of view the world should be HUGE... something like that for going from a main city, to the other it should take a lot of time. Let's say 4 or 5 hours....
Same for the other interesting places out there... dungeons, caves, magic castles, waterfalls and so on....

Once you're arrived, btw, you should have the power to make that travel faster.
But in the meanwhile, if i'm not arrived yet, i would like to enjoy the travel, see new things, find a different path, get lost (really) in the woods... and so on.

Maps are too small out there...

Posted: Aug 22nd 2009 9:13PM (Unverified) said

  • 2 hearts
  • Report
I think that a size of a game world needs to directly relate to the type of content within that game world. I frequently see many complaints about the traveling in LOTRO, but it's not the distances and time involved that's really the problem. It's the lack of activity during that time and travel that really bothers players. LOTRO's quests and activities are set up so that the destination is really the important part, rather than the journey. It's a fundamental design problem, most notably seen in the way quests are designed. Don't get me wrong, I love LOTRO's quests, but these types of quests don't lend themselves well to large game worlds. For example, the typical kill 10 boars quests offers no reward or fun for the travel itself. Even the activity isn't particularly "adventurous". The reward comes at the end, with the turn in.

Rather, why not reward the player all throughout the quest. This means, however, that quests need to be of a different design. Generally we should see more broad quest goals. Such as "journey to the castle on the peak of this mountain". There might be some reason associated with that like "because we hear rumors of ghostly sights at night from the nearby village". A coin reward might be reasonable in the proper context, but rather than have a large reward at the end, the journey should give the players the reward. Because such a quest is broad and open means that all sorts of unforeseen and adventurous activity could take place between. There's no driving force to the end, but rather the process of the quest itself. Because there's no need to finish as fast as possible to get the reward as fast as possible, there's not necessarily a need for a really small world. In fact, the larger the distance between the start of the quest and the end would increase the reward.

I'm talking about intangibles at this point: the reward could be simply the process, but there could also be a series of scripted events along the way, giving out the xp and the loot. We've compartmentalized and turned our quests into systems and databases instead of actual adventures. This certainly eases the work in creating quests, but there is a cost - a bit of fun. We see this loss of fun in our travel.

Featured Stories

Engadget

Engadget

Joystiq

Joystiq

WoW Insider

WoW

TUAW

TUAW