Meaningful Travel

Ok, I said I would eventually get around to asking this question. Unfortunately, the original post I said that in is MIA until I get the old database back but in any event… This is rather impromptu so I’m probably not going to hit the issues I’d planned to, but here we go.

This is primarily to the veterans, or perhaps the so-called “hardcore” player, but for anyone really: What the hell is “meaningful travel” in an MMO?

I’ll use Vanguard as my example since it’s the most recent (and possibly last) to ever use that phrase as part of its hype.

I’m in the travel industry. I travel every day at work, several times per day. There’s nothing “meaningful” about it other than I got my customers where they wanted to be, hopefully on time, and I earned a few hours of credit for my paycheck.

I’ve made the analogy a few times now that I could drive from New York to Los Angeles and the only “meaning” when I arrive is that I’m there. It took forever, my back hurts from sitting in the damn car for a few days, I’m tired and cranky, but by gods I’m there! And that is kinda what I feel the so-called “hardcore” are asking for in Vanguard (or whatever MMO). Is it?

Here’s a few forum quotes that Google found for me, and no I’m not going to bother with authors, links, none of that jazz just the text. (Edits for grammar, typos and overall readability by me)

I definitely miss the meaningful travel from the early days of EQ… it helped form a wonderful community of players. Players would get to know people very well because they would stay in the same general area of each other for a few levels at a time and then get to advance at the same general time.

M’kay… Now, I never played EQ but, correct me if I’m wrong but I’m not equating staying in the same general area for a few levels at a time to traveling. That sounds more like group grinding (oh sorry, you EQ guys like to call it “hunting.” Whatever helps you sleep at night…) not traveling.

Without meaningful travel many of us feel that the world of Telon would lack any sense of immersion or challenge. That’s why many of us have left WoW, EQ or other MMO’s.

Grind and travel for the same reason: each bit of the game must mean something in term of personal efforts and involvement. You want a level? it will be painful, long and you’ll be proud of getting it. You want to go to a certain town? You’ll have to think of it and get ready for a long and arduous travel, sightseeing will come at a high price.

What I see these guys really saying is they want to encourage exploration. Exploration is adventure! Exploration is fun! Exploration is a Good Thing (I rank highly as the Explorer type, naturally). On the other hand, travel is going from A to B — it’s not the same thing. If you already know where you’re going, it’s not exploration, now is it? Travel and exploration, while both involve physical movement, are not the same thing.

Ok enough random forum hits, here’s two bloggers I read and respect:

Smakendahed recently discussed travel, mentioning how nice it would be to plugin auto-travel routes to places you’ve already discovered. Not Guild Wars style *poof* you’re there, but routes which take you from A to B, on foot or mounted, in the same time it would take you to run it yourself (actually you’d probably take shortcuts if you were doing it manually). With the autopilot you can go afk or just chat with friends while not having to worry about typing and controlling your character at the same time. Sounds great on one hand, but… if you’re going afk anyway, why not just *poof* to point B anyway? Either way, there was no “meaning” because you weren’t there.

He then says I don’t think “meaningful travel” is defined by a random scattering of mobs or even a random scattering of mob camps every few feet. If something is there, it should be there for a reason that is either easily discernable by the player or there are hints as to why it is there, possibly leading to a side quest or further exploration. I’m going to call that “meaningful mobs” not “meaningful travel.” I agree, mobs and other things should have an actual reason, story, lore, whatever for being who or where they are. But that has nothing to do with traveling.

Jaye wrote:

Meaningful Travel! – Make it easy to reach popular content, and make the harder to reach content contain nice, unique, rewards. Populate caves, tombs, nooks and crannies with mobs that have interesting items. It doesn’t have to be anything epic or game changing, just stuff that helps make your character improve and be unique. (clickies, consumables, fun pets, house items, illusion masks, mount upgrades, etc).

Wow, did I just see a Vanguard player use the phrase “make it easy” in a sentence? :grin: Nah, I’ve never gotten the impression that Jaye is “hardcore” and I agree with what she says here.

Vanguard, and pretty much any MMO, offer plenty of adventure and exploration to those who choose to explore. I’m having a blast exploring Telon in Vanguard, I’m also having a blast exploring Middle Earth in LOTRO. I enjoy exploring in Guild Wars too! Seeing the new sites, finding out of the way locations, dungeons, “hidden content” or new towns I’d never known about — that is adventure, that is exploring. That has meaning.

So many veterans, perhaps “hardcore” perhaps not, dwell on the “MMO’s are for grouping” mantra. Vanguard has plenty of group content. Yet in a world as big as Telon the players of your group could be scattered across the continents. When you decide to group and go adventuring, isn’t that the point of why you’re there? Isn’t adventuring and having fun with your friends the part that has meaning, that keeps everyone coming back? If you don’t like flight paths or teleports, and your “meaningful travel” means that you’re going to do it the hard way and keep the rest of us waiting for 30 minutes just keep this in mind: that’s 30 minutes less that some people might have available to adventure. You’d better be one helluva friend and you’d better pull your weight in the group for us to sit idly by or afk for 30 minutes so that your travels have meaning, because the rest of us are already getting frustrated and cranky. This is a game, remember? We’re supposed to be having fun. Fun has meaning. Travel is merely a means to an end.


Posted in MMO and tagged by with 5 comments.

Comments

  • SmakenDahed UNITED STATES says:

    First of all..

    here’s two bloggers I read and respect

    Thanks!

    Second of all..

    I don’t think “meaningful travel” is defined by a random scattering of mobs or even a random scattering of mob camps every few feet. If something is there, it should be there for a reason that is either easily discernable by the player or there are hints as to why it is there, possibly leading to a side quest or further exploration.

    I’m going to call that “meaningful mobs” not “meaningful travel.” I agree, mobs and other things should have an actual reason, story, lore, whatever for being who or where they are. But that has nothing to do with traveling.

    I think I misrepresented myself here which is what I often do because either my mind is working faster than my fingers or my slacking… err… break time at work was interrupted.

    The context is that a lot of WoW folks were citing “meaningful travel” and using WoW as an example. They didn’t like how Vanguard “felt empty” when moving from one spot to another. Really, WoW has tons of little camps and stuff for you to plow through on your way to the next location, but that doesn’t make travel meaningful… it just means you get to pummel stuff along the way.

    Let’s look at your analogy:

    I’ve made the analogy a few times now that I could drive from New York to Los Angeles and the only “meaning” when I arrive is that I’m there. It took forever, my back hurts from sitting in the damn car for a few days, I’m tired and cranky, but by gods I’m there!

    No imagine you took that drive with three of your best friends. You chatted the whole way about various things, cracked jokes, stopped at dinners, oogled some hotties, etc. It’s a completely different trip right? The meaning isn’t getting there, it’s the journey. If there is no journey then you miss out on those moments with friends.

    Prime example is my group of buds traveling from Tursh to the Lyceum (on Thestra in Vanguard). Two of them ran into nasty fairies and got killed… harassment of death by fairy ensued. Suddenly our tank falls behind, his health drops and he dies. All we hear over TeamSpeak is “Fucken chickens” and we knew right away he had run into some cockatrices. Death by chicken jokes ensues.

    Probably some “You had to be there moments” but we wouldn’t have had them if travel was instant. In fact, most of our talk in TeamSpeak would only be about combat and which porter to take if there was no travel in the game.

    The game stops being social.

    That’s not to say that combat can’t be fun and make memories, but combat (especially in recent games) has become very VERY fast paced, often being resolved in under 10-20 seconds. It also tends to be constant or you constantly have to advance and kill more. There isn’t a lot of time to chat about general things with your buds. I think this is what ended up burning us out in WoW (I played with 2 of my 4 MMO gamer friends), it just felt like we were constantly clobbering things and very little else. Griffin rides were time for getting a drink or letting a drink out. Prep time was done before or after logging in… maybe we were just too efficient, but it all started to feel mechanical and unfun.

  • SmakenDahed UNITED STATES says:

    Oops… I got a little blockquote happy and I still didn’t have my morning coffee yet :$

    BTW – one of the strengths of VG is that the combats aren’t that instant and you don’t need to constantly react to everything – you can actually chat, type things to guildies, etc…. at least I could. I wonder if that is why the tank called me, “the healer that never heals”?

  • Scott UNITED STATES says:

    Nah just forgot to close your first blockquote; it’s fixed.

    If you’re already in a group traveling/adventuring, that’s not quite what I was getting at. Honestly, that doesn’t even seem to occur much anymore since we’re able to solo or do our own thing most of the time, so our characters are all over the game world by the time everyone gets online and decides to do something. That’s where my example applies, because that seems to be what happens most often. At least to me. Sure, if you know you’re doing Raid X tomorrow, take care of the necessary preparations and park your character at the door. But for impromptu “hey guys let’s do [content]” travel time is going to apply and take away from the total adventuring time some people may have on any given night.

  • SmakenDahed UNITED STATES says:

    Thanks for fixing it for me!

    Honestly, that doesn’t even seem to occur much anymore since we’re able to solo or do our own thing most of the time, so our characters are all over the game world by the time everyone gets online and decides to do something.

    That is another point that I’m likely to rant about when I get some sleep and free time to do so. Or maybe I’ll rant without any decent amount of sleep… I bet that would be interesting. :)

  • Scott UNITED STATES says:

    Yeah… every time I first wake up and post anything over an MMORPG.com it winds up being not extremely friendly hahaha

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