In light of my last post, I wanted to talk about running, movement, and travel in online games. More specifically, I want to talk about why moving, running, and traveling for no specific reason is often so much better than traveling as part of a quest or duty.
Maybe it’s just the type of player I am, but I love to explore. In EverQuest 2, World of Warcraft, and Guild Wars, I wouldn’t want to stop playing a zone until all of the black space was gone (this is, in my opinion, hardest to achieve in EverQuest 2, because of the way they display the black fog. It’s impossible to tell where the limits of the map are!).
In order to explore places, you’ve gotta buck up and run there. However, when I look back on the time I spent exploring an area, it sometimes seems daunting (maybe I could have done other things, like, say, level up 14 times). Even though I’ve spent a ton of time familiarizing myself with the area, the running around trying to find the smallest nooks and most obscure crannies at the extreme edges of the map never really seems exhausting or repetitive.
Even though I love exploring and running around opening up all of the map, I find that I absolutely hate running places for quests. Even more than that, I hate running back to the spot where I died. But, and this is the most superlative hate I can muster, I hate running back into and across raid zones after wiping.
Why the differing levels of enjoyment? It’s not like I’m running that far to get back to my corpse or to finish that quest. The time I spend sneaking around mobs exploring zones I’m not qualified for far outweighs my measly jog back to the raid zone, but the latter still seems very time consuming. Of course it’s a psychological thing, but the point still remains. Why are games today seemingly going backwards in some of these aspects of gameplay? The Vanguards, the LoTROs, etc, all seem to have a strong emphasis on the running timesink and it seems like game designers should be able to do better.
Think about it this way: how much would you spend to have an autonomous in-game object take you to your destination at an increased speed in a direct route (400% run speed griffons in WoW), or at least close to it? Well, the answer to that is simple: just look at the prices that griffon masters and stable hands are charging in WoW and LoTRO. Most people would probably pay even more than that.
Now, here’s the harder one: would you pay for a service that ran you to your destination at your run speed? This means that you’re simply paying someone else to steer for you, and not arriving at the destination any sooner.
Is it the boringness and blandness of manning the controls of your character when you know you’re only going to be running? Is it the time consumption itself?