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The staff of MMORPG.com gets together to bring you some behind the scenes insights on stories, the industry and the site itself.

Author: staffblog

Contributors: BillMurphy,MikeB,garrett,SBFord,Grakulen,

Community Spotlight: The Journey vs. Fast Travel

Posted by MikeB Saturday December 24 2011 at 2:00PM
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This week's Community Spotlight focuses on the thread "Forgotten features of a golden era: long travels" by Metentso. In the thread, Metentso laments the trend towards fast travel in contemporary MMOs as he explains what the long travel times in games of old added to the MMO experience:

Back then, human cities had humans. Elf cities had elfs. Dwarf cities had dwarfs, and so on.

Because traveling was hard.

It took time and it was risky, and it had consequences, like not being able to train (depending on faction alignment).

So if you were an Elf, an travelled to the human cities, you draw the attention of everybody, since it was strange for an Elf to travel from such a long distance. You were special and you had a tale to tell and people interested in it.

Add this to the long list of things we have lost, thanks to modern developers.

I know some of you hated long travels.

Do you agree with Metentso? Read on to find out what the community had to say!

Loktofeit asserts this has less to do with the choices made by "modern developers" and more to do with developers responding to what players want:

Do you really believe this is a 'modern developers' thing and not a convenience added because of a desire by the players to be able to group up with their friends?  Travel definitely has its place, specifically in some warfare-based MMOs, but in a game where the focus is getting together and PVEing with others, there's no reason to place undesirable obstacles in the way.

I think the EQ/WOW crowd forgets there are other styles of games out there, as UO, Asheron's Call, Tibia, Lineage 2, SWG, Puzzle Pirates, and Horizons offered fast travel to jump between key locations. All of those titles are from the nostalgic days of yore.

Clerigo is on board with Metentso:

Well, you can look to it the way you want, but im with the OP on this one.

World exploration is no more in current mmo designs. And long travels are part of this factor, so i suppose i agree on calling it a feature. Everything is spoon fed to players. The game design itself is made in order to lead the player across the world map. Theres no exploration, no hard tasking in discovering by yourself the world map, and even grouping with other people to quest level around the map is useless because you can solo the content.

So, and this is ofc my opinion, having to level from lvl A to lvl B and taking a long time to do so is bad for some players, but what i hate most is to reach cap level in a blitz, because game design allows it, and be at max level really quick so i can do end game content. Whats the fun in it? I like to explore the game, and most of the mmos i have fun are the ones that allow me to slowly quest level, allowing me to know the games lore, my avatar, places, etc etc.

So yeah i miss the long travelling around the world..."thanks to devs by removing it" "time sink"...?? Well i guess those players that already are at max lvl in SWTOR had plenty of fun..even if almost instant, but the ones still leveling are still enjoying it.

Robsolf feels there is a distinction between long travel times and a game's potential for exploration and journey:

I'm an explorer, too.  But I don't at all enjoy long travel times.  I enjoy big worlds with paths that go off in different directions; off the beaten path from the main questline.  Perhaps I'm taking your travel time comment too literally, but travel time is something ENTIRELY different from exploring.  Making somebody spend 20 minutes at a time going from town to town, IMO, actually DISCOURAGES exploring.  "I spend ENOUGH time just trying to get from point A to point B.  I don't have time for taking the road less traveled."

I've seen few MMO's where you didn't have to travel on foot to a place before you were able to quick travel back.  That's because exploring is about discovering new places, not running along the same road for the 40th time.  So, most games DO have both.  I could be wrong, but the OP seems to think this is unacceptable.

I think if you asked me around 7 years ago I would probably agree, but as I have less time now than I used to it's definitely a good thing that I can get around the world a lot quicker in newer games. Many have mentioned this allows friends to play with each other easier, and that is also completely true. It would really be hard to keep up with my friends if it was an ordeal just to get to them.

At the same time, I look back fondly at memories of traveling in Star Wars Galaxies pre-speeders (and even pre-mounts). Groups of players running through the desert together towards Ft. Tusken on Tatooine, it was good times. Everyone would talk along the way, and areas of the world that promised adventure were often out of the way, so this would help build anticipation as you went there. This is a far cry from the way things are today. People standing around in cities waiting for their dungeon queues to pop and complaining (I've been guilty of this myself) that the queue hasn't popped in less than five minutes. It really does take away from the sense of adventure when you've got all this cool stuff on demand and can run it over and over to your heart's content.

What do you think? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Beerninja writes:

I still think UO has the best travel system. The marked runes were awesome, you had to mark your own runes in a spot in order to travel there, and you could open a gate for your friends, perfect. Yo uhad to explore (or have a friend that did) to get there but once you did that you could get back whenever you wanted.

Sat Dec 24 2011 4:50PM Report
fenistil writes:

Games went TOO FAR with all those queuing, auto-teleportation to instances, totally neglecting open worlds, etc

Seriously they don't feel like mmropg anymore. More like some simple graphical framework to play instanced dungeons and BG.

 

Even open world is idiotically linear, directed and does not have any meaning beside beign a place to do quest in.

 

So all of this combined make mmorpg not a mmoprg in my eyes anymore and I have to ask myself, why there is cash shop or subscription in a game that feel like some co-op multiplayer game?

 

Better instanced pvp is in FPS, Moba, rts, and similar games and better PvE is in many single player or normal multiplayer co-op games.

 

Because of all what has been done in last 7 years to mmorpg's they lost "unique".

 

Anyway I just stopped trying. Not going to give another chance to any WoW-like, railed themepark anymore.

I have enough of usual scheme of : neglecting open world, nefring open world content, focusing more and more on combat and isntances and simplifying and automatizing game I play over first year or so.

 

This is done cause of design and in many cases imo planned.

Same old thing is and will happen to Swtor. They are adding logging and analyzing soon. All dps and similar meters will follow. Then more instant travel / teleports will be added, then macros, adddoons, atuomated LFG tools, will be (expanded into cross-server as well sooner or later).

Gear grind and directing into isntance gameplay will follow.

 

Just usual thing. All themeparks follow very similar model. EQ2, Lotro, FFXIV, Rift, etc - all of them in last months / years adopted or published intend to adopt those kind of features.

 

Is it bad per se? Nope. Many players like it.

Will I try another themepark like that and invest my time, money and emotions into it - just to see it change into same direction I don't want it to change.

I have enough - I am not playing any mmorpg atm, and I won't play another instance focused, "queue for dungeon" brainless gear-grinder.

Enough is enough.

 

To have me back mainstream will have to start producing more than one type of mmorpg. Not just WoW-clones.

 

(yeah I know about indie sandbox games I ommited them on purpose).

Sat Dec 24 2011 5:58PM Report
Uzleb writes:

Long travel is cool as long as it's optional.

Sub MMO's and forced long travel = money grab.

 

Sun Dec 25 2011 8:03AM Report
nate1980 writes:

Last night I was grouped up with 3 other people doing Heroic quests on  a planet in SWTOR. It took us about 5-6 hours to complete all 6 or so heroic quests on that planet. Because I didn't yet find all the flight points, it held up the group sometimes 20 min at a time to get to the new location, where they stood waiting all that time.

The pros: It allowed us to chat and get to know each other. Downtime forces people, out of boredom usually, to socialize with each other to pass the time. Next thing you know, you're sticking with that same group for hours, and adding them to your friends list. One even mentioned starting a guild.

The cons: We wasted about 1 hour of our time, total, traveling. That time could have been better spent doing something else, especially 5 am in the morning.

So, I guess it's all in what you look for in a game, your attitude at the time, and what other concerns are pressing upon you.

Sun Dec 25 2011 3:53PM Report
nate1980 writes:

Last night I was grouped up with 3 other people doing Heroic quests on  a planet in SWTOR. It took us about 5-6 hours to complete all 6 or so heroic quests on that planet. Because I didn't yet find all the flight points, it held up the group sometimes 20 min at a time to get to the new location, where they stood waiting all that time.

The pros: It allowed us to chat and get to know each other. Downtime forces people, out of boredom usually, to socialize with each other to pass the time. Next thing you know, you're sticking with that same group for hours, and adding them to your friends list. One even mentioned starting a guild.

The cons: We wasted about 1 hour of our time, total, traveling. That time could have been better spent doing something else, especially 5 am in the morning.

So, I guess it's all in what you look for in a game, your attitude at the time, and what other concerns are pressing upon you.

Sun Dec 25 2011 3:54PM Report
badgerer writes:

Well, WoW once upon a time did not have LFG stones, let alone the instant teleport LFG tool. Warlocks felt spectacularly useful with their summons as a result. I liked being a warlock back then. I grumbled about having to farm soul shards, but I enjoyed that grumbling, it was part of the warlock experience that I signed up for.

Typically, this resulted in enough travel time that the heroes' journey was a significant part of the experience. Sometimes it meant infuriating waits when people took too long by getting lost or finishing up a previous errand. So punctuality was one of the main traits you looked for in guildmates.

Personally, I like to see instant or nearly instant travel between town hubs because I've never played a game where repeats of the same journey are dynamic and perlious enough to be interesting more than a couple of times.

But what I would like to see is the journey between town and dungeon become more dangerous, and require grouping for unstealthy party members before everyone converges on the dungeon threshold. This would make the game more entertaining, and bring the heroes' journey back into relevance I think.

Sun Dec 25 2011 4:27PM Report
fenistil writes:

@nate1980

 

If you socialized with some people, added them to friend's list and even had talk about guild - that kinda contradict that it was wasted time...

Sun Dec 25 2011 4:33PM Report

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