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Long Travel Times, Rez Spot PVP, and Victory Conditions

Posted by vajuras Sunday March 16 2008 at 2:10PM
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I think I'm going to try my hand at another thought provoking series. I noticed in my previous blog entry a lot of players complained about Long Travel Times in MMOs. I feel ya guys. It can be tedious I know going from Point A to Point B. It can be harder to put together groups (hence why City of Heroes had Teleport Friend and World of Warcrafts has many ways to instant teleport).

Yeah I know, you hate long travel times. But my aim here is to explain why certain games can benefit from them.

Point A: Long Travel Times is a A Great Death Penalty Even by Itself

Say in our hypothetical game players fight over rez spots. It's a Faction Based title. So, Nation A will by default own all the rez spots in their area. If their enemies (other Nations/Factions/Guilds) want to attack they can. But they must takeover the rez spots. If the bad guys want to invade our area they are perhaps free to march all the way to our capital but if they are slain, they will be bounced ALL THE WAY back to their Faction area where they own a rez spot. So then the goal is for the attackers to push their boundaries and takeover the rez spots as they march towards our capital. Now we have great PVP that even Casuals will adore because if they want great PVP, they can show up at the frontlines and defend it.

As you can see, such a server would have Natural Victory Conditions. When a griefer is slain, they get bounced back all the way to their faction area. Perhaps this can be a long 1-2 hour trip. Our lowbies and anti-PKs, if they are slain they can come right back as long as their 'faction' owns the local rez spot. The rez spots in such a title would be critical to both PVE/PVP ventures. Here we have good PVP with great Victory Conditions all over the World itself (rich Open FvF)

Now, if our defenders lose the local rez spot to the attackers, then upon death they will be bounced out to the nearest rez spot. Perhaps this other rez spot is about a 20 minute hike. So now our attackers can enjoy victory. King of the Hill.

There, this idea is soooooo simple and is just something off the top of my head that will give us a nice solid, Victory Condition.

 

Point B: Localized Economies

If fairly long range travel is in play then localized-region based economies will emerge. Goods will perhaps have more value at fringe areas. Please forgive me but I will use EVE Online as an example here. In EVE, a good like Warp Scrambler might only be worth $16k in Empire space. But in 0.0 (player owned space), you can sell this same good for $100k because the warriors on the frontlines are getting killed left & right. So they will need constant supplies to resupply their war effort. Imagine, even a title that lacks item decay / item looting can still arrive at good PVP. But perhaps this good might be a consumable more then likely like materials to build siege weapons (I think in Age of Conan siege weapons can be destroyed for example).

Real Life works this way as well. Certain goods, like GAS, might only be worth $3 in your region. But in other areas GAS is worth much more. 

Note, I think open skill-based titles might benefit from localized economies a bit more because they allow pure Trader professions. Mass Market titles are usually Class based and thus their aim is to funnel 'sports gaming' type of activities. So I'm not really thinking about sports games in this article here but rather, sandboxy type of titles that offer a huge variety of player invented professions.

 

Point C: Makes Worlds Feel Bigger

The developers of Elder Scrolls I think commented they wanted to remove horses from their virtual world for their expansion Shivering Isles (someone let me know if I'm wrong). They said they wanted the world to feel bigger by making travel a little slower. You will perhaps read posts by old EQ1 players that longer travel times gave more opportunites to players to make friends, etc. I remember reading Paragus1 blog on this subject which also elluded to the same.

Richard Bartle, the father of MUDs, wrote a great article here and he writes about Travel Times:(linky www.gamasutra.com/features/20041103/bartle_pfv.htm)

He also explains why Long Travel Times has been optimized out of current MMOs of today. Apparently, he hints that Veterans will appreciate long travel times more then newbies. I'm not trying to call all you Casual players out there newbies but I am saying the average newbie will of course be pissed off by long travel times. In EVE Online, I've noticed my friends that are vets from Trade Wars, Pen and Paper, etc are fine with the travel times in EVE. But I have a friend that just plays console games (pure newbie) that of course finds EVE way too slow paced. Won't even make it through the tutorials.

Anyway, I think this a big difference between Veterans and Newbies. Vets from EQ1 days, etc appreciate Long travel Times. Newbies, they just wont see the benefit. I can understand both sides because I play games of both types concurrently. So I enjoy both to an extent. Anyway, hoped I explained why Long Travel Times alone can be good albeit my examples are short.

t0nyd writes:

Point A:

I will not play a game where I must travel 1 to 2 hours to do anything. I call this a waste of time. You also speak of holding rez spots. Well, if group A attacks group B (group B is holding the rez spot), and group A starts off well but loses because they have a 1 hr travel time and group B can simply rez right at the battle location, well, this gives defenders a huge advantage.

I still cant get over the 1-2 hr travel time, I mean, do you want to travel for 1 hr than log out because you have shit to do? A whole fucking hour wasted doing nothing but watching your character walk?

If you want long travel times to make the world feel large, I can understand that. But to run 2 hours just to die in 13 seconds of combat, simply to have to run 2 more hours is what I call " a waste of my money " .

 

Sun Mar 16 2008 5:59PM Report
vajuras writes:

I wonder if I should rephrase my story its getting late and I'm swamped with other things. I would draw it in photoshop or something.

 

The basic concept is getting pvpers to fight at hotspots (rez spots). Just like Battlefield 2142 capture the point mode. When you takeover a node, you can rez there. If you lose this node, then you rez at next closest node.

Now, if you dash PAST the node and attack out-of-order and fail- then you see you will be bounced back to the nearest node your team owns

Unreal tournament 3 Warfare mode is a little similar but less complex

Also in Battlefield a group leader can be a mobile spawn point as long as he lives. And he can put down a spawn point device. If this is blown up then you can no longer spawn there.

This idea is common to FPS and it works. I'm not suggesting something revolutionary its just stuff established by PVP centric titles not really bought to this genre as you see. Maybe planetside has it but never played it

Sun Mar 16 2008 11:41PM Report
vajuras writes:

Btw this idea is also common to World of Warcraft Battlegrounds (alterac valley). Not really any different. They got the idea from games like Battlefield. But this idea can be expanded to MMO space

 

Sorry to lazy to delete my other posts gettin' late and I'm playing EVE as I type (auto-pilot FTW)

Sun Mar 16 2008 11:43PM Report
JB47394 writes:

I was thinking about large worlds and long travel times just the other day.  They are a rotten idea for a venue that is intended to entertain.  There are two purposes to an MMO.

1. To bring players together.
2. To entertain.

A large world with long travel times does the exact opposite of this.  Larger worlds reduce player interactions, and longer travel times bore them.  The only caveat to this is a game that entertains by having the players experience travel.  If players enjoy the act of traveling, then it would be a lot of fun to be in a large world with long travel times.

The linked article by Richard Bartle has a hypothetical exchange between designer and player.  The player wants to rejoin his friends that are a long distance away, while the designer is suggesting that the player consider something more than the same old thing with the same old people.  It is a collision between fantasy and reality.  The reality is that people are playing a game for entertainment.  The fantasy is that characters are living lives in virtual worlds.  Reality always wins in the end.

Mon Mar 17 2008 8:40AM Report
vajuras writes:

Richard Bartle explains that newbies dont understand long term benefits. Long distance travel is a long term benefit, short term pain. If you missed that point you missed the point of his article "Newbies are Designing Virtual Worlds".

And yeah, traveling through a virtual world should be fun. If its not, then by all means give players instant teleport.

Thanks good post yo. Not saying every game should have Travel for sure. But I am saying most likely sandbox games benefit greatly from it

Mon Mar 17 2008 9:00AM Report
JB47394 writes:

vajuras: "Richard Bartle explains that newbies dont understand long term benefits. Long distance travel is a long term benefit, short term pain. If you missed that point you missed the point of his article "Newbies are Designing Virtual Worlds"."

That was the crux of this little exchange between player and designer.  Players don't care about long term benefits because they are not implemented such that they are entertaining.  It is up to designers to come up with long term benefits that do not require short term unpleasantness.  This is about entertainment, not life.  It is the key distinction that is lost to virtual world enthusiasts.

vajuras: "Not saying every game should have Travel for sure. But I am saying most likely sandbox games benefit greatly from it"

Travel should be a form of entertainment in its own right.  Because of that, it should not be made an intermediate step for accessing other forms of entertainment.  Just as PvP players don't want to have to PvE now so that they can PvP later, players also don't want to travel now so that they can do something else later.  It may be realistic, but it's not entertaining.

Time for my next blog article.

Mon Mar 17 2008 11:34AM Report
BadSpock writes:

Another great read, thanks Vajuras.

You have to find a good balance.

I think travel and your hotspots idea is a great one... for PvP... 

Long travel times for PvE is just wasted time. Your tank / shielding ship whatever get's killed and your party/raid wipes... 30min - hour to get back at it? Wasted time.

Travel times and routes can be a very pivotal detail in War, in PvP.. of this I agree with you 100%. 

But how do you make a game where you have open world/galaxy PvP... where travel time and travel routes are important, while still have quick and speedy travel for PvE?

You can imagine it.. the PvP raiding force travels to a local PvE system instantly/quickly, then "flags" or whatever and begins their invasion. Not fair right? What the point?

It's a tricky one... you make the rez points capturable in PvP, and Joe-PvE suddenly has to travel and extra 20 mins when he dies. He wants no part of PvP put is "forced" to suffer the consequences of it.

So you use a flagging system? You aren't flagged for PvP you can rez wherever doesn't matter who controls the rez point... but how do you avoid turning that into a tactic? An exploit?

You have some very solid ideas my friend, but as they say the devil's is in the details.

Mon Mar 17 2008 2:49PM Report
grimfall writes:

I don't think that Even is such a good example, because I enjoyed, to some degree the EQ long travel times, but Eve bores me to death.

Part of it has to do with the player personality.  As an explorer type, it think that the sameness of Eve takes away the incentive of travelling to a large degree.

Mon Mar 17 2008 6:53PM Report
vajuras writes:

grimfall - Thanks Grim good post

Heerboya - You simply nailed it. you just nailed it. That is an issue. I was thinking about a PvEvP type of server. But what you say is still a concern. I will have to think on it. I dont know the solution off hand.

My idea indeed was to force players to leave the area once they lose the zone.

I suppose for this type of idea is not really compatiable with dungeons. I would have to put the dungeons deep in 'Faction/Nation' owned lands where the rez points are constant if you follow. so the dungeons would have to be centrally located to the capital where we have lots of guards.

You pointed out something I didnt think too hard on good job you found a chink in my armor haha

Mon Mar 17 2008 7:01PM Report

MMORPG.com writes:
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