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Why Don't MMOs Allow Easier Transportation?

Soulskill posted more than 5 years ago | from the i'm-looking-at-you-eve dept.

Transportation 337

Rock, Paper, Shotgun is running an opinion piece which asks why the majority of MMOs force users to spend a fair portion of their time traveling around a virtual world. At what point does moving from one location to another become a chore? From the article: "I love big, explorable worlds. They're by far one of my most favourite things about games. Running off in a direction without any idea what I might encounter is a rare pleasure, and one far more likely to result in an exciting discovery in a game's world than the real one. ... Not knowing what's coming up is huge and exciting, and I'd not want to take it away from gaming, not ever. But you know what? Once I've been there, that moment's gone. I've discovered it already. I did the exploring. I don't need to spend half an hour of my time that I've allocated for playing games trudging at whatever stupidly slow speed a game's decided to impose upon me. There is no good reason, whatsoever, to not just let me be there."

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As the great Bartle said (4, Insightful)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 5 years ago | (#28502363)

If you allow teleporting from anywhere to anywhere it doesn't matter how big you make your world, because to everyone it will feel small.

In regards to why World of Warcraft uses the "flying on a griffin" form of "slow portals" [google.com.au] , that's cause they've read Bartle.

Re:As the great Bartle said (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28502427)

Due to the goatse [goatse.fr] effect.

With enough arms, all anuses are shallow.

Re:As the great Bartle said (4, Insightful)

zwei2stein (782480) | more than 5 years ago | (#28502449)

No, they use it because it introduces massive downtime that is easy to justify as you can get some players even believe it is for their own good.

MMO 101: Downtime and timesinks are good thing for business. It means you get away with having less actual content while players take longer to do something, making sure they will be around in next month.

I have been playing instant teleport-anywhere game (Guild Wars) and frankly it is single most awesome thing. Worls still feels big in parts where cotnent is and small where player runs out of it. Just like in WoW: Areas which you outlevel just shrink in your head. By time you are done with walking on feet, you are indeed done and any travel-related downtime is pointless and punishing.

Game would not be bigger if i had to spend 30 minutes getting to some location "for your own good". It would be oxonobiously anoying.

Ive actually quit WoW over lack of instant movement. Waiting 30 minutes for group to ssemble is not fun, neither well spent time. When you spend more time afking game and reding book while you wait for someone than playing, something is very wrong ...

Re:As the great Bartle said (4, Insightful)

Liquidrage (640463) | more than 5 years ago | (#28502943)

Your thoughts are jaded as an ex-player and your reasoning is par with a conspiracy theory about the moon landing. You act like the travel timesink is good for business, yet mention you quit because of it. As if they got paid by the mile you traveled? Guild wars is a different type of MMO. It's not a virtual world per say.

Although MMO's are full of timesinks and carrots, they really are a labor of love designed by big-time geeks like things like MUD's and D&D.

Worlds do appear small, and less of a consistent world, if transportation is instant. They're been lots of comparisons and feedback on this. Go back to EQ's day. You spent 45 minutes real time running from one major city to another. You spent 20 minutes standing on the docks waiting for a boat to take you to another island, and the boat ride itself was 10 minutes long. But it felt like a huge world. Now about 10 years after release they do have instant travel, it was added as a gimmick to try and keep older players around in lieu of other games like WoW.
In WAR on the other hand, transportation is nearly instant. Yet, one of the biggest complaints about it was it didn't feel like a continuous world. It played like levels in an old school FPS. To go from one level to the next you take the epic "10 second cutscene of your journey".

WoW takes the approach of speed increased flights that are controlled by the game.

To be honest, I'm not really sure what RPS's complaint is. Most MMO's have travel options that go well beyond "I've run this one, I don't want to run it again". Several times in the article it mentions running over and over. In the 800 lb gorilla in the room, there are personal mounts, flight paths that allow you to revisit almost every area you've already been too at least once, instant transportation to all the main cities in both expansion hubs, a class that can transport people instantly, and transportation to bind locations. Etc... To do what Guild War does they wouldn't make a continuous world. And "gasp" GW didn't. It's clear the true MMO's try to make travel painless, but at the same time preserve the essence of a virtual world.

Re:As the great Bartle said (4, Informative)

thesandtiger (819476) | more than 5 years ago | (#28503191)

Ive actually quit WoW over lack of instant movement. Waiting 30 minutes for group to ssemble is not fun, neither well spent time. When you spend more time afking game and reding book while you wait for someone than playing, something is very wrong ...

In WoW there are at least 2 options for getting other players to a dungeon virtually instantly - the meeting stones (requires 2 players be there already) and warlock teleporting (requires 3 players be at the desired location). If you're at a level where you're doing content that doesn't have a meeting stone (raids, pretty much) you are going to have the ability to travel to any location in the world in much less than 30 minutes, at most about 10 minutes, and that would be the most extreme possible case I can think of. The *only* time there is a longer trip involved is when you're first exploring an area with a given character. If you don't have the flight paths connecting one point to another, then prepare for World of Walking - but at the level where you're still getting flight paths it isn't like you're raiding or doing dungeons much, so waiting for people for a raid isn't happening.

People take so long to get to instances and raids not because of travel times, but because they are doing other things before the raid, like selling stuff, repairing, getting potions etc. ready for the raid, chatting, whatever. If travel time were the real determinant of how long it takes to get a raid together, the wait times would be down to 10 minutes, 15 minutes tops.

Further, WoW has done quite a bit to change the way you have to travel:

Original WoW had mounts that you could get at level 40 that would boost your speed by 60% for 100 gold (a decent amount of money back then) and 1000 gold at level 60 (the maximum level) would get you 100% movement speed increase. You could boost that another 2-3% by getting a trinket that would speed you up.

Then they added the Burning Crusade expansion with flying mounts. The level 40 mounts dropped to 60 (I think?) gold, the level 60 mounts dropped to 640 (I think?) gold, and the flying mounts were now 1000 gold for the riding skill (easy to get along the way to level 70) for a 60% speed flying mount and 5000 gold (about as hard to get as the old 1000g mount) for a 280% speed increase - as fast as the flighpaths, but quicker because you could do this point to point kind of travel rather than take the long way with flight paths that swooped around. You could boost those numbers by 10% or so by getting new trinkets.

In addition, they added Shattrath which has portals in it to every major city in the game. You could set your hearthstone to Shattrath and teleport to either continent in the old world (and close to other travel options) instantly.

Then they added Wrath of the Lich King. The level 40 mounts now unlock at level 30. There's a new city - Dalaran - that has a set of portals to all major cities. Cooldowns on hearth stones and other similar abilities were reduced to 30 minutes from an hour. 5000g for the VERY fast flying mounts is now pretty easy to get.

It isn't instant travel, but it's not 30 minutes, either. And if you're really impatient to get around, roll a mage or deathknight. Mages can teleport to many places in the world inside of 10 seconds, and deathknights have special abilities that make their mounted speed quite a bit faster than usual - it feels pretty peppy.

Guild Wars also uses a different model from WoW. They actually make more money if you buy the game and then stop playing because it's a pay once (and pay for expansions) kind of thing. WoW is a pay per month set up. Guild Wars doesn't really require timesinks for their business model in the same way WoW does. I think WoW does a pretty good job of varying the timesinks and even making them a little more entertaining (the people on boats can be fun to talk to; flying under your own control you can find interesting places) all things considered - and certainly the rest of the game is more than fun enough (for people who still play) to compensate for the travel stuff.

oxonobiously (1)

pr0nbot (313417) | more than 5 years ago | (#28503789)

oxonobiously is my new favourite word :)

Re:As the great Bartle said (1)

mh1997 (1065630) | more than 5 years ago | (#28502481)

At what point does moving from one location to another become a chore?

About 8 seconds after starting the game.

Re:As the great Bartle said (2, Interesting)

Venerable Vegetable (1003177) | more than 5 years ago | (#28502537)

Parent post is the obvious and correct answer. Next question please. I know that insulting people isn't a good way to conduct an argument but if you ask this question and can't even come up with this answer yourself (yes I rtfa) you're an idiot.

And for the "it's a game, not work", this is such a ridiculous argument which translates to:
"It should be exactly like I want it to be even though it's a MM(ultiplayer)O game. It doesn't matter at all what other people like, in fact I won't even consider thinking about it because they're all there to screw me over anyway. I want instant gratification because that's the only way I can be entertained.

Anyway, I used to play Everquest (a lot) and one of the biggest disappointments was when they introduced the city portals.
When I first started playing (as an ogre) traveling from the Oggok (ogre city) to Neriak (dark elves) was quite a trip, which I had to prepare for and I had to be constantly alert so I wouldn't die (those damn madmen and sand giants).
Not to mention traveling to for example Ak'Anon or Erudin, for which trip you actually needed to sneak through human controlled cities to take a ship.
That was awesome to me. I can understand that it's not fun for everyone but when discussing these features at least consider this!

Re:As the great Bartle said (2, Insightful)

Thundarr Trollgrim (847077) | more than 5 years ago | (#28502753)

"Anyway, I used to play Everquest (a lot) and one of the biggest disappointments was when they introduced the city portals. When I first started playing (as an ogre) traveling from the Oggok (ogre city) to Neriak (dark elves) was quite a trip, which I had to prepare for and I had to be constantly alert so I wouldn't die (those damn madmen and sand giants). Not to mention traveling to for example Ak'Anon or Erudin, for which trip you actually needed to sneak through human controlled cities to take a ship. That was awesome to me. I can understand that it's not fun for everyone but when discussing these features at least consider this!"

Ahh, I'm glad someone else appreciates this as much as I do... I used to love the old Qeynos - Freeport run.

Re:As the great Bartle said (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 5 years ago | (#28503005)

I think it's a matter of taste. I tend to think that the sort of people that play these games are willing to put up with a fair amount of that sort of thing. Personally, I don't play them and they strike me as being tedious in that aspect.

But, on top of that, I'm not really sure how it's good for the game to either be able to attack somebody that can't fight back or to have people essentially missing from the world for periods of time as their avatar goes somewhere. Plus the people that oppose such things tend to be fairly militant about it, and I can't imagine adding something without annoying most of the players.

Guild Wars - WoW Lite (3, Interesting)

TheLink (130905) | more than 5 years ago | (#28502695)

Small is not a bad thing.

With Guild Wars, you have to run/walk/fight to new cities/towns first (or get someone to "run" you there - e.g. do all the hardwork while you just tag along). After that, you can teleport to that town or any other town you have been before.

It's a _chore_ having to keep running to places you've been before.

Like "same old" cutscenes you can't skip, but must keep pressing "Next" (to kill anything that gets in your way) till you finally reach the real destination (the actual battle).

Being able to teleport straight to places you've been before is a good thing. I don't care if the world feels small in that way - as long as it's diverse enough.

It's like being in a small shop with a huge variety of products, and a different product on every inch of the shelves that you can choose if you like. Compared to being in a huge hypermarket with shelves and shelves of the _same_ items, so you need to walk about a lot more to get to the stuff you want.

Guild Wars is a bit like WoW Lite in some ways. So a lot of ppl won't like it.

Re:As the great Bartle said (1)

GrayNimic (1051532) | more than 5 years ago | (#28502711)

If you allow teleporting from anywhere to anywhere it doesn't matter how big you make your world, because to everyone it will feel small.

That's my personal gripe with overly easy transportation in MMOs. The best example I have is Everquest, when they introduced the Plane of Knowledge - suddenly everyone had access to instantaneous transportation to places all over the world, granting undreamed of ease of movement ... and changing what had been a large, sprawling world into something that felt relatively small, a series of arbitrary locales rather than cohesive continents and islands.

PoK fundamentally changed things, and really taught me the value of travel-that-takes-time. It's one of the many parts of an MMO where 'listening to the players' will yield a bad game, in that players (people, really) often want things that will ultimately undercut the enjoyment/value of their experience.

That's not to say that there's no such thing as excessive travel time - taking 3 hours to get from Newbieville to Hunting_Grounds_of_the_Newbies is a problem. The sweet spot is in the middle somewhere, and my point is simply that non-trivial travel is important, and that the sweet spot is likely higher (more travel) than most people seek or would ask for.

Re:As the great Bartle said (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28502937)

I'm not a gamer myself. But, from reading some of these posts, here are my thoughts.

A compromise has to be done. Yeah, three hours would be excessive. Yet, instant travel might make it too easy. I like the idea of teleporting to someplace you've been before.

Depending on the game, one idea might be to have special teleportation areas. To travel to any other teleportation "circle", a few requirements would have to be met.
1. You've been inside the teleportation "circle" before in the area to be teleported to.
2. You have the right spell to teleport to begin with.
3. Different areas require a different character level in order to be teleported to.

But, teleportation is instant. So, one idea is to change the "spell", having the spell take some time to cast. Instead of it being instant, perhaps the spell takes 5 to 10 minutes to fully cast. Of course, this gives adequate time to make a sandwich or use the restroom before getting back to the game.

Re:As the great Bartle said (1)

Tokah (859694) | more than 5 years ago | (#28503643)

EQ, however, was big ENOUGH that you grouped with the people who happened to be where you were, rather than meeting them halfway around the world. It set a better grouping culture, I think. Insta-transport games are at the other end of the spectrum. The games that fall in the middle, not big enough to have old EQ's grouping culture, and not small enough to get around in a few minutes are the ones that feel annoying. (DAoC and WoW both fall in this category, but at least in DAoC you could get OFF the horse whenever you wanted!)

Re:As the great Bartle said (1)

stephenslashdot (661755) | more than 5 years ago | (#28502993)

I agree with you completely, but would also add that in some games, like Everquest, where resources like rare and raid mobs were artificially restricted (the "boss" mobs spawned basically once a week, give or take a few hours for randomization, and once anyone on the server killed it, it was dead for everyone, instead of being instanced like WoW), travel time would be one of the key factors in deciding who got to kill the mob... it wasn't just about having enough players online, it was having enough players online with the best transport logistics (a team of mages summoning other players). Also, in PvP games travel time helps add an element of strategy to the games... taking out an enemy's outlier's and sneaking away is viable, but if everyone could instantly teleport nearby, the army with the most forces would pretty much always win, leading to one dominant army and everyone else figuring the game is pointless.

Re:As the great Bartle said (1)

Miros (734652) | more than 5 years ago | (#28503035)

This is exactly right. One of the reasons that the world feels so small as a result is large pieces of it are totally useless if you remove the utility value of the road or flypoint. With teleportation there are large parts of the world that people would simply never go to; which in wow is honestly bad enough at this point when they screw up and don't give a city enough useful things (silvermoon for example is a ghost town). Transit hubs force players together in a way that teleporting everywhere would seriously undermine.

"Why does this shitburger taste like shit?" (0, Flamebait)

pushf popf (741049) | more than 5 years ago | (#28503065)

Of course it's slow and sort-of sucks. That's it's purpose.

The only real point of online "games" is suck up as much of your money as possible for as many months as possible. Actual content is expensive and as long as your credit card payment doesn't bounce, there's absolutely no reason in the world why any company would make any game any better than the minimum to keep you from canceling.

On a less obvious note, the perceived value of a task is related to how much time and work you have invested it it, making the value of time spent in the game a self-fulfilling wish (I spent hundreds of hours doing this, therefor it must be a valuable task). Want something really interesting to do with your time? Find or make a job that doesn't suck. Learn to SCUBA dive. Meet new people. Find a girlfriend (or a wife). Go explore the real world.

Just.. (3, Interesting)

dov_0 (1438253) | more than 5 years ago | (#28502367)

Keeping it real... as real as a game like that could really be anyway...

Free Realms (2, Interesting)

binkzz (779594) | more than 5 years ago | (#28502377)

The Sony game "Free Realms" allows you to transport from anywhere to a certain number of pre-defined portals. I'm sure the world would feel bigger if you had to walk everywhere, but it still feels big because you have to walk to a portal before you can use it, and explore all areas yourself to get quests and solve things. I did get bored with the game, as I do with any mmorpg, but that aspect I liked.

Or, the alternative... (3, Interesting)

VPeric (1215606) | more than 5 years ago | (#28502397)

Of course, you could go the other way and make location actually matter - like, for example, EVE Online.

Re:Or, the alternative... (1)

neeya (1586983) | more than 5 years ago | (#28502507)

There should be an autopilot upgrade that would warp right on top of a stargate instead of 15km away saving a lot of time in the process. Still, it's good that there even is an autopilot.

Re:Or, the alternative... (1)

mercurized (907818) | more than 5 years ago | (#28502643)

Well, that Autopilot is just for the lazy. It helps you to get somewhere without attending the game, but that 15km distance to the gate and the time you need to approach it make the autopilot less attractive, and even dangerous in insecure systems.

And if you really want instant transportation within EVE, go for a Jumpdrive. Its there.

Re:Or, the alternative... (1)

neeya (1586983) | more than 5 years ago | (#28503003)

Well, that Autopilot is just for the lazy. It helps you to get somewhere without attending the game, but that 15km distance to the gate and the time you need to approach it make the autopilot less attractive, and even dangerous in insecure systems.

Well, if you're simply travelling through high-security space (say, hauling some goods to sell in Jita), it's pretty useful for AFK running. I.e. you can read slashdot while your ship is on its way.

And if you really want instant transportation within EVE, go for a Jumpdrive. Its there.

No, the real instant transportation is clone jumping. You can't jump to the other end of the galaxy using a jumpdrive.

Re:Or, the alternative... (1)

Burnhard (1031106) | more than 5 years ago | (#28502531)

Good god, about 50% of Eve's tedium is travelling. I thought Fallout 3 had it right; once you've discovered a location, you can insta-jump to it from the map. If MMO's did this too, then you'd get the best of both worlds (1) you still have to explore to find locations, (2) once you've found them, you don't have the chore of going back there at a later date.

Re:Or, the alternative... (1)

TheLink (130905) | more than 5 years ago | (#28502761)

Guild Wars is a bit like that. You still have to do stuff to get to places, but once you've been to a town, you can get back to it in a few clicks.

No monthly fee. But there are other annoyances - it's not like WAR where you can "queue up" for a PvP battle and do something else more "PvE"ish in the meantime. And they keep changing the skills every 2 weeks or so.

Re:Or, the alternative... (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 5 years ago | (#28502837)

Insta-jumping in EvE would kill the game for most people. First and foremost, it would allow the top builders to corner the market. Much like it is in other games. Part of your revenue as a builder stems from the fact that you have to buy your goods where you need them (or have them transported there) because there is no simple mechanism of FedExing goods. You can even make a dime by offering that "postal" service.

Then there is shortages. Large battles tend to swallow resources, and those resources have to be regenerated. Usually making them in battle zones is dangerous, so people tend to ferry them in. Which creates another aspect of the game, gate campers that wait for traveling merchants. Not being able to instabuy them elsewhere and transport them adds an interesting logistics portion to the game.

Besides, you can already instajump once per day, using jumpclones.

Re:Or, the alternative... (1)

NightRain (144349) | more than 5 years ago | (#28502545)

Absolutely. Kirith Kodachi even wrote a blog entry on why they're important [ninveah.com] recently. As someone who makes their (ingame) living off of the market in EVE, instant travel would make it impossible to turn a profit in this manner

Re:Or, the alternative... (1)

kappa962 (1583621) | more than 5 years ago | (#28502789)

That's a good blog entry, but the only reason to keep the travel time is if the traveling actually contributes to the enjoyment of the game. I would think a well designed game should have a large number of other activities to make you a profit, were it determined that instant travel would improve the average gamers experience.

Re:Or, the alternative... (1)

slackbheep (1420367) | more than 5 years ago | (#28503167)

Problem is that the only thing more boring than PVE on EVE is 5 minute autopilot runs between station and waypoint. You almost start praying to be tackled at a gate for some excitement.

Pretty simple (5, Insightful)

omgarthas (1372603) | more than 5 years ago | (#28502407)

More time travelling = more time playing

More time playing = more money earned

Re:Pretty simple (1)

Threni (635302) | more than 5 years ago | (#28502461)

Hmm. More time spent walking really slowly around Battlefield Heroes world = less time playing, as I can have played 2 maps on OpenArena in the same time it's taken me to get from one part of BH to another.

Ok, that's a slight exagguration, but it is painfully slow. Perhaps they want to make it less twitchy-fingery, but it doesn't make it any easier for beginners if that's their thinking.

Re:Pretty simple (2, Funny)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 5 years ago | (#28502501)

More time travelling = more time playing

More time playing = more money earned

That only works provided people keep playing. If they go as silly as say that Penn and Teller Sega CD game where you drive a bus to Vegas, subscriptions dry up.

Re:Pretty simple (1)

blahplusplus (757119) | more than 5 years ago | (#28502663)

The truth is they don't want players whipping through all the content in the first month. So they nerfed travel so people can't "finish" the game and move on, it's really damn cheap if you ask me.

Re:Pretty simple (2, Informative)

Xelios (822510) | more than 5 years ago | (#28502831)

I don't see why. You pay monthly regardless of how long you spend in the game and what you do in it. If anything long, unnecessary travel times will tend to put people off of subscribing for another month.

Re:Pretty simple (3, Insightful)

omgarthas (1372603) | more than 5 years ago | (#28502875)

You'll play the game untill you run out of things to do, so basically they have to extend the time needed to achieve your goal as much as they possible can.

Large travelling times, farming, releasing content slowly, etc etc are some of the mechanisms

Re:Pretty simple (4, Insightful)

damburger (981828) | more than 5 years ago | (#28502891)

Thankyou for stating what I was thinking. WoW is not an expensive past time. The amount of money I spend on my WoW subscription in one month, I can burn through in the pub in about 2 hours. Furthermore, it is unmetered, so Blizzard have no financial incentive to keep you traveling. It could be to reduce load on their servers I suppose, But I doubt it. When you fly you go through a number of areas in quick succession, rather than simply switching from one to another as you do using one of the various instant teleportation methods.

I have never been as pissed off with WoW travel as other people seem to be. Maybe its because I am older than a lot of players, but it seems to me that it helps pace the game properly. It is a big world, and flight paths help maintain that impression.

Oh, and it also gives me a chance to get myself a cup of coffee and go to the toilet :)

Re:Pretty simple (0)

samkass (174571) | more than 5 years ago | (#28503037)

WoW isn't an expensive passtime in terms of cost, but it's probably one of the most expensive passtimes in the geek community in terms of lost opportunity cost. Imagine what problems could have been solved with the number of hours sunk into WoW.

Re:Pretty simple (2, Interesting)

maxume (22995) | more than 5 years ago | (#28503413)

Maybe. I have some pretty strong doubts about MMOs consuming all that much motivation and intelligence, they likely take away from similarly frivolous time consumers.

Re:Pretty simple (1)

fredklein (532096) | more than 5 years ago | (#28503117)

It is a big world

I've seen an analysis that shows they two main 'continents' of WOW are, in actuality, smaller than Manhattan.

http://www.ytrilynth.org/board/viewtopic.php?t=282 [ytrilynth.org]

Re:Pretty simple (4, Insightful)

SL Baur (19540) | more than 5 years ago | (#28503149)

I have never been as pissed off with WoW travel as other people seem to be. Maybe its because I am older than a lot of players, but it seems to me that it helps pace the game properly. It is a big world, and flight paths help maintain that impression.

I agree. In TBC they introduced portal rooms which allow teleportation to any capitol city. With WotLK they removed barriers between alliance capitols in the old world. Very recently they changed the cooldown on the hearthstone (and the associated Kirin Tor trinket) to 30 minutes.

While there is some convenience involved, it used to be more fun planning your strategy around how to minimize your travel times.

It's very much a mixed bag.

I thought I was a slow, methodical player until I went after the Explorer achivement and was amazed at how truly big the World of Warcraft truly was, or appeared to be.

Re:Pretty simple (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28502833)

Except the same can be applied to non-online RPGs too.

The auto-travel-from-anywhere stuff was one of the factors that made Oblivion so much less immersive than Morrowind. In essence it made you feel more like a god, and less like part of the world, and in games like that being part of the world is important, and if you can get yourself to a godly like state (flying across the land, being able to challenge anything in your path) it makes your character feel bigger, and more important. Just being able to go from a to b, instantly, kills that stone dead.

Re:Pretty simple (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28503349)

Also at the same time though, all that time spent traveling means battles, which means gaining XP, which then allows players to do more stuff....to me it's all circular. Plus, Morrowind was the same way where you had to run everywhere, and often that meant a lot of time invested there. Throw in a monthly fee and ka-ching. To me it's a catch-22 where it would appease some and enrage others. I dunno.

Automated transportation (1)

loufoque (1400831) | more than 5 years ago | (#28502413)

A better alternative would be automated transportation.
You tell the game you want to go to X, and your character starts moving to X on its own and is there 30 minutes later (or whatever time it takes to get there), without requiring your input.

However, since games like world of warcraft are strongly against bots of any kind, it's not likely to come.
I say allowing players to run arbitrary bots to automate what can be automated would make MMORPGs much better.

Re:Automated transportation (1)

Thiez (1281866) | more than 5 years ago | (#28502513)

If the game doesn't require meaningful input for 30 minutes, the game would have been more fun without those 30 minutes. Traveltime sucks.

Re:Automated transportation (1)

loufoque (1400831) | more than 5 years ago | (#28502653)

Time to travel is part of war campaigns.
Plan in advance and strategize.

If the game doesn't require meaningful input for 30 minutes, the game would have been more fun without those 30 minutes.

For those 30 minutes, you don't play, so that's irrelevant.

See games like ogame.org for example. You launch your army at someone, it takes hours for it to arrive, meanwhile you stop playing and go live your life.

Re:Automated transportation (1)

Thiez (1281866) | more than 5 years ago | (#28503517)

But without of war campaigns travel time is just a bore. How about an MMO where players can instantly travel from point A to B, but can't initiate PvP with other players for some time based on the distance traveled?

Re:Automated transportation (1)

djsmiley (752149) | more than 5 years ago | (#28502523)

But the whole of WoW can be automated... And then you'll get crazy things like that guy who runs agroup of 36 shamans together - I dont play WoW so I'm not sure of what exactly they do but I'd guess they can put out a fair amount of DPS and self healing... Suddenly people stop playing because they can't farm anywhere near as fast as people with more subscriptions...

Re:Automated transportation (1)

loufoque (1400831) | more than 5 years ago | (#28502631)

But the whole of WoW can be automated...

If it is more interesting to have a bot play instead of you all the time, then the game simply sucks.
Moreover, if farming is required, the game sucks even more.

Suddenly people stop playing because they can't farm anywhere near as fast as people with more subscriptions...

Since they pay more money, I see no problem with allowing them to control and combine multiple agents of the world.
Another possibility would to disallow people to have multiple accounts, but I'm not sure it is really justified.

Re:Automated transportation (2, Insightful)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 5 years ago | (#28502863)

WoW has to be against bots, mostly because the game is easy enough to be scripted. There is very little "intelligent" decision making involved in the average battle, you dish out damage, you stop when you go over the aggro threshold, etc. There is little to observe and react to.

If WoW had no strong opposition against bots, farmers would kill the game even more than they already do.

Re:Automated transportation (1)

TCM (130219) | more than 5 years ago | (#28503911)

A better alternative would be automated transportation.

You mean like WoW flight points?

However, since games like world of warcraft are strongly against bots of any kind, it's not likely to come.

I'm confused.

It is better to travel hopefully (1)

maroberts (15852) | more than 5 years ago | (#28502433)

..than to arrive. The game is a simulation of "real" life, and in real life much of your time is spent stuck on the highway. I wonder why MMOs don't have traffic jams and why WoW doesn't have a shortage of rental animals for transporation, just like the real world

Re:It is better to travel hopefully (4, Funny)

freedumb2000 (966222) | more than 5 years ago | (#28503443)

That is actually a great idea. I might start developing a work commuting simulator. Driving to work in real time. Spend up to 2 hours on congested freeways per trip depending on actual server load. With all the great distractions of way-too-cheery morning radio show hosts and spilling hot coffe on your lap (cup holders can be purchased at higher levels, or stolen if you are a rouge character). That is time well spent on those boring weekends or for the unemployed. A game that with a huge potential demographic.

Codswallop (2, Interesting)

Thundarr Trollgrim (847077) | more than 5 years ago | (#28502435)

Everquest one was mostly ruined when they included instant portal stones in the Plane of Knowledge.

WoW lost most of its charm when flying mounts were introduced. Imagine how epic Northrend could have been if there was actually some danger involved traversing the Lich King's lair, rather than flying over it all unmolested.

Re:Codswallop (5, Informative)

Bieeanda (961632) | more than 5 years ago | (#28503079)

Have you actually played the latest expansion? You get to Northrend at level 70. You can't fly there without "Cold Weather Flight Training" or somesuch, which you can't even get until level 77-- which is most of the way through the Northrend content, and costs a serious chunk of change to boot.

The Howling Fjords starting zone is built heavily around sheer drops, switchbacks, irregular terrain and slow lifts. Its very existence is a poke in the eye for people who thought that the nether drake mounts they spent weeks grinding faction for made them the kings of shit mountain.

Re:Codswallop (1)

Thundarr Trollgrim (847077) | more than 5 years ago | (#28503353)

I had 5 80s before I quit, and had spent a considerable amount of time in these zones.

The first 7 levels were great, especially Howling Fjord, but you never get any feeling of danger in what should be the most dangerous zones. There are about 5 monsters in these huge zones that will dismount you, and then only if you get extremely close for some reason.

My favourite part of the expansion was fighting down through the mines on the southeastern edge of Howling Fjord. No shortcuts, just a nicely designed crawl.

As it is, the outdoor zones are entirely danger and excitement-free, an easy route to 80, rather than being an adventure.

Re:Codswallop (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28503619)

Have you actually played the latest expansion? You get to Northrend at level 70. You can't fly there without "Cold Weather Flight Training" or somesuch, which you can't even get until level 77-- which is most of the way through the Northrend content, and costs a serious chunk of change to boot.

The Howling Fjords starting zone is built heavily around sheer drops, switchbacks, irregular terrain and slow lifts. Its very existence is a poke in the eye for people who thought that the nether drake mounts they spent weeks grinding faction for made them the kings of shit mountain.

Is it scary that I cannot tell whether this comment is factual or just made up?

Re:Codswallop (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28503703)

This is modded funny, but I can't tell if it's serious.

Re:Codswallop (1)

thesandtiger (819476) | more than 5 years ago | (#28503231)

I don't think "most" of WoW's charm was due to mounts, but if you feel "most" of the charm comes from touring around the world, I guess that's your right :)

And there is some danger - if you're not careful you can get assaulted by various large flying things in many areas, and they'll either dismount you (dropping you to your death unless you're a mage or priest or paladin) or beat you to death since they're rather powerful.

Fortunately, you have to wait to at least level 78 when you're in Northrend to get flying out there, and you should by then already have entered most of the zones on a land mount and explored a bit. The last 2 levels are designed around you being able to fly, and there's PLENTY of epic stuff (the giant helicarrier and the cities up in the mountains did it for me).

Re:Codswallop (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28503757)

I remember walking from Neriak to Queynos. It was a fun trip that took several hours; mostly because I entered that... The forest with ridiculously high level undead at night - Kithicor was it?, and then had to stealth my way through... Was it High Pass?

As a Tier'dal cleric.

We're not exactly known for our stealth. Just our sweet curves and violent bashing to death of asslings, err, I mean, halflings.

Aaanyway... I had one of the most beautiful scenes in gaming: walking down that huge ramp leading into the plains of Karana while the sun was coming up. Gorgeous. Made the whole waste-of-a-night worth it. ...Then I got invited to a group and said, "Screw this. WTB port, paying 20pp."

Walking is for chumps. :p

Obviously no one here reads Hitchcock.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28502443)

He pointed out that the fun does NOT come from seeing the murder/special effect/what have you.

It comes from the anticipation. That's why all his films are so great - he elevated this into a rule and applied it everywhere.

The games designers are just doing the same.....

Re:Obviously no one here reads Hitchcock.... (4, Insightful)

LordKaT (619540) | more than 5 years ago | (#28502539)

Wait ... running around in a big world, causing people to spend massive amounts of time traveling and not actually doing anything else in the game is ... suspense?

I don't think you quite understand what Hitchcock was saying.

Re:Obviously no one here reads Hitchcock.... (1)

nizo (81281) | more than 5 years ago | (#28502957)

Wait ... running around in a big world, causing people to spend massive amounts of time traveling and not actually doing anything else in the game is ... suspense?

I wonder how much money we will get from all the online subscribers this month?

Oh, you meant player suspense....

Anonymous Coward (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28502453)

One Word:

Moongates

Re:Anonymous Coward (1)

aneamic (1116327) | more than 5 years ago | (#28503453)

I never made my mind up about instant travel in UO, I generally only used it for quick important business, but its presence helped keep my vast empty wastes vast and empty of other players, so I could wonder around unbothered. It also served as a big painted target to draw most reds into a few avoidable areas. But you could see how their very existence made most tasks too easy to complete, I could spend my time slowly wondering from town to town chopping and processing untouched trees and collecting reagents and cotton because nobody ever went to those places. I'd say the problem is more an excess of quests which ask you to go from point A, get an object at point B and then return it to point A

Timesinks (5, Insightful)

nxcho (754392) | more than 5 years ago | (#28502469)

All MMOs have some kind of timesinks. It may be grinding, traveling and so on. If there was no timesinks, the game would run out of content pretty fast.

Re:Timesinks (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28502889)

Which is why MMOs tend to suck IMHO. I can play other games that have virtually no content for years. Why? Because they are not about the 'wow, shiny' factor, but actual gameplay. All MMOs I have seen tend to lack any real gameplay, instead they use 'content' and pretend that its a good thing. It gets boring fast, because once you have seen the 'content' its over, there is nothing else left.

Of course, it would be difficult to put actual gameplay into a MMO: all games that have actual gameplay tend to have a ending, something MMOs dont really have, and when they do, they dont start over.

Yeah (2, Interesting)

ShakaUVM (157947) | more than 5 years ago | (#28502495)

After playing a little bit of WoW again after Lich King came out, yeah, it was amazingly tedious after having played AoC and WAR. EVE is the only game with more tedious travel, but the concept of trading off cargo space over time is one of the primary mechanics that drives the economy. Different regions produce different things (like Electrical Engineering datacores) which someone needs to ship to the final destination, unless buyers want to fly over to the place themselves. But they're usually willing to pay a markup on them to avoid having to spend half an hour of real life time flying out and back.

WoW didn't have linked flight paths when it came out, which meant that if you were flying a long distance, not only was it incredibly tedious, but you also couldn't get up to go grab a sandwich or something. It was actually the main reason I played a mage in the game - they could teleport to different cities, which did a lot to eliminate the hated tedium of travel in the game.

Re:Yeah (1)

cbhacking (979169) | more than 5 years ago | (#28502683)

Don't forget that EVE also has the whole "PVP is consensual, you consent to it when you launch your ship" thing. You actually can teleport your character to some degree (jump clones) but moving anything material from place to place requires flying it... potentially through all sorts of people who'd be just as happy to take it by blowing big enough holes in your hull that it just pops out. In highsec I suppose this doesn't matter much (so it really is about the economic aspects, which EVE has lots of) but very few of the reasons I like to play EVE exist in highsec.

Re:Yeah (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 5 years ago | (#28502881)

Even in highsec, if your cargo is valuable enough and your hull thin enough, you'll get popped. One player slam you, sacrifices his ship and standing to concord, his buddy loots you.

Gee, I wonder why... (1)

plutoXL (1314421) | more than 5 years ago | (#28502497)

I don't need to spend half an hour of my time that I've allocated for playing games trudging at whatever stupidly slow speed a game's decided to impose upon me. There is no good reason, whatsoever, to not just let me be there.

You are paying, let's say, $15 per month for the privilege of playing a game?
Gee, I wonder why the game designers would want to make you spend more time playing their game...

Re:Gee, I wonder why... (1)

damburger (981828) | more than 5 years ago | (#28502931)

If you play 2 hours a night, and spend an hour flying - rather than spending an hour playing and teleporting everywhere, Blizzard get the *exact same amount of money from you* so your point is therefore absurd.

Re:Gee, I wonder why... (1)

drsquare (530038) | more than 5 years ago | (#28502997)

You won't play less because of teleportation, you'll just spend two hours grinding so burn through the content twice as quick and spend half as much on subscriptions.

Re:Gee, I wonder why... (1)

slackbheep (1420367) | more than 5 years ago | (#28503297)

Except that many people will continue playing an mmo until they've seen and done most of what they're interested in. Assuming it took you only 100 hours of questing and so forth to hit the maximum level, any timesinks they can add onto this total increases their profit per subscription over time. If you spend only ten minutes out of every hour traveling they've still squeezed another sixteen or so hours out of you. Add to this the necessity to travel to capital cities every few levels for training and so on... Even if they manage to get half of their total subscribers to purchase one more month of playtime they'll have made themselves quite a nice "bonus".

What do you want... (2, Insightful)

johndmartiniii (1213700) | more than 5 years ago | (#28502509)

a WoW Undeground?

Re:What do you want... (4, Insightful)

imashination (840740) | more than 5 years ago | (#28502757)

The Deeprun Tram?

Developer Laziness or UO, Rune Books, SWG and WoW (3, Insightful)

The_Myth (84113) | more than 5 years ago | (#28502563)

It really depends a lot on the game. In Ultima Online you had a system where you could take a bunch of runes and mark them at a location and then teleport to that location later on. To do this you needed to have some magic skill which meant less points you could spend on other things. For the non mages other ingame crafters could make Rune Books and sell them and also scrolls of teleportation and Portal. Its not a technical problem and more developer laziness. SWG even has a reward that is an instant transport ship that people could obtain.

In WOW the mages can do the same things but just to specified town locations. Still in WoW Engineers can make transporters to a couple of other locations. Yes not everything in WoW is as good as it could be but its the unfortunate yard stick that others try to measure up to.

Guilds Wars method (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28502603)

I think Guild Wars method was one the best method. Once you discovered a given post (Like "towns", "villages", ...), you could just open the map, click on the post and warp to it instantly. You still had some walking to do if you wanted to go to some dangerous place far away, but this was a good idea, IMHO. Death penalty was high enough to make traveling to those dangerous places a real adventure, even with simple bots with you.

I quite frankly hated the transportation method of World of Warcraft. Unless you were a Mage, traveling was so boring, time-consuming and awful that the "business strategy" behind those limitations was crystal clar.

I never found a clever transporation as Guild Wars did it. This game had also an automatic path finder if you were on a field and you clicked on some reachable place, that worked more or less. Sometimes you'll be just stuck on a wall but, generally, the AI would find the path alone very easily, even if the path were quite long.
I rarely found so clever transporation methods, even in Free MMORPG. I know, Free MMORPG aren't free. They place transportation limitations so you would give them money to get past those limitations.
But, quite frankly, I don't see that as a clever business method. If you piss the player too much, he will just get away. Blizzard thought about this in giving mount access to level 30 (level 20 in future, I heard) but that wasn't good enough. Gryphon transportation is totally retarded (Let's just make the path 3 times longer that it needs to be !) and flying mounts needs to be controlled, as there are no automatic path finder for human players IIRC, so that's also boring and time-consuming.

I find this very stupid that in a lot of games, mages aren't able to use transportation magic at a high level to teleport at any location.

That my friend is why you are a couch potato (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28502609)

"But you know what? Once I've been there, that moment's gone. I've discovered it already. I did the exploring."

That my friend is why you are a couch potato playing MMO games rather than hiking in the Rockies or scuba diving in the Maldives out there in the real world.

Why should they? (1)

KenMcM (1293074) | more than 5 years ago | (#28502733)

It's a great way to stay in shape.

Based on the posts so far... (1)

johnlcallaway (165670) | more than 5 years ago | (#28502735)

I think the answer is that some games don't provide instant transportation because some people like it that way and others don't. As long as the trip provides some reward, such as experience points or items, I don't mind it. Obviously from the earlier comments, some people do.

It's called competition and is how a free market works. If a product is truly the best, everyone will flock to it. But if product A and B provide the same basic product but work a little different, they will attract different consumers. If a product can remain in business, they have succeeded in their enterprise.

Being number one in a market isn't necessarily the best place to be. Having the best return on your money is the best place to be, and a product doesn't have to be number one to do that.

It comes down to content and things to do! (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28502763)

A lot of people don't necessarily like traveling. World of Warcraft, to me, is a perfect balance of required travel versus ease to get to locations. You can teleport to any major city, and from there... head to your destination. Typically your travel time won't exceed 15 minutes. Look at any movie, or story... and most of the content comes from the journey there... not just once you get there. "I've been there a lot!" ... grats. They have summoning stones in World of Warcraft by the instances so your lazy butt doesn't have to run/fly/swim/whatever.

Fact is... your post seems more out of lazy ADD'ness than anything. You want to complain? Go play Everquest 1.

Transportation - penal colonies in games? (1)

billlion (101976) | more than 5 years ago | (#28502765)

Transportation? Sending criminals to penal colonies? Do they really do that in games? That would be a serious waste of time in games. All I did was nicked a sheep and then I had to spend the next 20 years of my game playing time in a prison camp in Australia.

One word really: (1)

NotFamousYet (937650) | more than 5 years ago | (#28502885)

Stickiness

Why doesn't real life allow easier transportation? (1, Insightful)

FadedTimes (581715) | more than 5 years ago | (#28502911)

If I have visited New York, I should be able to teleport there or get their quicker than a 8 hour flight with out a stop in Atlanta first.

Re:Why doesn't real life allow easier transportati (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28503087)

Off topic, but where would you come from that NY is an 8 hour flight and stops in Altanta? South America or something? Just curious...

Re:Why doesn't real life allow easier transportati (1)

KarlIsNotMyName (1529477) | more than 5 years ago | (#28503265)

Ah, the RL argument. Excuse me while I resurrect for the 6th time today, and begin again with shooting fire from my hands.

dickhead (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28502995)

what a waste of time... You don't like the game? fucking don't play it you dickhead and stop wasting everyones time. It really shits me that people willingly hand over cash month after month after month and then complain that it's boring. You don't like it? then you're such a douche that you deserve getting ripped off. They ain't forcing you to hand your cash over, your just such a cock face that you don't even realise you don't enjoy something any more.
If you don't like it fuckin quit, otherwise just bend over and take it like a man... Waaaah waaah... i have to walk too much... fuck you.

Transport based on level (3, Insightful)

hal9000(jr) (316943) | more than 5 years ago | (#28503103)

I played EQ for a while and I never acheived an uber level--traveling was still risky for me. I could buff up and avoid the worst of it, but yeah, getting from here to there was often a difficult choice. For the areas where I felt no risk traveling through, those were short.

I think what would make sense is to base a teleport on the players level, the area level, and distance. If you are at a high enough level that the area doesn't pose much risk, then let them transport over it, especially if you have to go from one place to another through easy levels. It makes the game play better for high level players and gives an extra benefit for long term play.

Uhhh because it would allow you to cheat? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28503133)

If you've been somewhere before and can 'teleport' back quicker, and someone who hasn't been there before must follow the path, it gives you a possibly unbeatable advantage.

Why don't you stop wining... if you are bored with travel, your MMOs world is too big.
What's you're looking for is called a "single player game". Try it sometime. They're all but dead but a far superior gaming experience.

economic implications (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 5 years ago | (#28503137)

Another implication of instantaneous travel would be much less complex markets. This would be a major change for a game like Eve (MMO internet spaceships) where the difficulty of getting somewhere with something is a key part of the game.

Problem is lack of dynamic content (4, Interesting)

Krakadoom (1407635) | more than 5 years ago | (#28503175)

The issue isn't that transportation is slow, it's that it's boring.

This is where static content fails. There is hardly ever anything new going on in an area you've already visited. Maybe game developers should focus less on expanding worlds when they do expansion packs and such, and more on coming up with systems for dynamic content delivery that mimics a living world better.

I wouldn't mind a 10 min trek through a known area, if the monsters changed, little random quests popped up, or whatever else happened on the way.

The issue is plainly the static nature of the world, not a lack of teleportation (or whatever other system is suggested)

You think WoW is bad? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28503177)

I've played only a couple MMORPGS, but FFXI was far, far worse in this regard than WoW. It took at least an hour just to walk to another area. And there are no flight paths. WoW isn't a perfect game, but I think this is one of the things I actually feel it does pretty well.

Re:You think WoW is bad? (1)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 5 years ago | (#28503449)

Final Fantasy XI has crag teleport points (ask a white mage), outpost warp (only need to have been there once), homepoint warp (by scroll, item or ask a black mage), not to mention Chocobo (from town or from almost anywhere if your raised one), boats and airships.

I don't see how this is "far, far worse" than WoW.

Asheron's Call allowed very good movement (1)

Shivetya (243324) | more than 5 years ago | (#28503179)

you could train your run skill up to silly numbers and just fly across its landscape. Throw in a dearth of portals from location to location and you could get anywhere you needed. When one aspect of unattended play shone in a game, AC had player run portal bots. With the ability of a character with the right skills to link and open to two portals it made for even better fun. Best yet, most portal bots operated as buff bots and would fully load your player with an hour or more of incredible (okay - near game breaking for lower level) abilities.

Throw in the fact it was the first really zone less game and it make running around AC fun.

Still, why not do it? For the simple reason, increasing play time and subscription time.

As my friends are fond of saying... (1)

fullfactorial (1338749) | more than 5 years ago | (#28503285)

Running is gameplay.

Because of overcrowding (5, Insightful)

Peter Cooper (660482) | more than 5 years ago | (#28503293)

If you could teleport anywhere within a game at any time instantly, the best places, best quests, and so forth would all be overcrowded. It's like if you could teleport anywhere instantly in real life. The California coast would be heaving every weekend and evening and numerous "hotspots" would be crowded with tens of thousands of people 24/7. Popular areas in existing games have demonstrated this, since they're usually the easiest places to get to. A key example is outside the bank in Ultima Online's Britain.

Slow Transportation is Good (1)

selven (1556643) | more than 5 years ago | (#28503369)

1) Economy - some games, like EVE, go out of their way to make travel difficult - there's even a cost to moving stuff around. This allows for very interesting realistic economies where some people can make their living by shuttling stuff from where it's cheap to where it's expensive. 2) Military - If everyone could instantly teleport anywhere, the weaker faction would never have a chance against a stronger one - everyone could instantly teleport in. With slow transport, hit-and-run tactics, ambushes, securing the city entrances first, and a whole host of other tactics could be introduced. 3) Realism - the feeling of having a large world. This one is mentioned a lot, but how can a remote area be remote if you can get there in 1 minute?

Obligatory question (1)

Kral_Blbec (1201285) | more than 5 years ago | (#28503575)

Do you have a fridge next to your computer?

Time sink = subscription model + bad design (1)

Zaphod-AVA (471116) | more than 5 years ago | (#28503709)

Bad jobs motivate employees to do just enough work to not get fired. Bad subscription games will entertain you just enough to keep you from quitting.
As a recovered Everquest player, I've begun to follow what I call 'The 10 minute rule'. If I walk/run/do nothing for 10 minutes in a row in any game, I uninstall the game and throw it away. No second chances. I wait for reviews before I will invest in a game to avoid wasting my money.

Good game design keeps players playing with engaging content that is enjoyable to play through again and again. Bad game design creates some form of incentive to entice players to slog through boring content. Massively multiplayer game design doesn't *have* to waste our time, but it will continue to do so if you let it.

Travel on EVE Onliine is important (1)

Aphoxema (1088507) | more than 5 years ago | (#28503915)

Jumping 20 systems to get somewhere in EVE really can be a bitch, especially if you rely on the autopilot. There's many things that effect the overall rate of travel like how fast your ship can align, how fast it accelerates, how man AU/s it gets, how many AU it is between gates, if you fall short of jump range making you travel 10-1000 meters...

I know EVE is a largely PVP based game, so it's designed largely around it. This travel time plays an incredible role, and putting your resources where you need them to fight.

In EVE, the game (for PVP'ers) would be radically perverted if travel was eliminated. Many parts of EVE can be shot to pieces if Newtonian physics are applied, but they do focus on realism as long as it's convenient to the objective.

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