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.