Why Can’t I… Teleport In MMOs?

By John Walker on June 26th, 2009 at 11:35 pm.

I have a bunch of questions about gaming that tend to begin, “Why can’t I…” Today I was wondering such a thought. Here’s the thing about videogames: they’re games. Let’s just make sure we’re all clear on this. They’re games. Not work. Not obligations. But games. So just exactly why is it so many of them behave like some sort of strict teacher who will only let me run around in the playground once all my work is finished? If I want to go hit the Giant Elves of Elvington on the other side of the Countryland, why the bleeding heck can’t I just be there?

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. In the real world you’re more likely to reach a barbed wire fence, impassable road, or a murderer. In a game, you might discover a magical castle, sea of floating islands or enormous dungeon full of unicorns. 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.

And we all know this already. In fact, worse, developers know this already. So desirable is the ability to just teleport to any location in an MMO world that we’re teased with silly, tiny morsels of it, a little amuse-bouche for a meal that’s never coming. Soul stones, heart pebbles, hometown rocks, whatever they may be called, it’s possible to bind yourself to a location and then instantly beam yourself there. It can be done! It doesn’t destroy the game! But oh good heavens, you greedy little pig, you want to do it a second time? Wait an hour!

No! Stop being so utterly ridiculous. Stop treating me like your subject, your employee, who has to run around endlessly to get to do anything fun. Treat me like a paying customer who just wants to enjoy himself right now, but not necessarily right where he is.

There are of course examples of games that let you do this. All Guild Wars fans will be very angrily pointing out that their game lets you. (And all praise to it for this. Now add jumping and walking on inclines and you’ve got my attention*.) And of course City Of Heroes eventually lets people willing to train in the power to teleport their buddies. But the vast majority certainly do not. Thinking about why not I come up with two suggestions.

1) They want to slow you down so you spend longer in the game and thus spend more money on it.
2) They’re just being dicks.

I’m fairly certain it’s not 1. It’s far too tin-foil-hat, and doesn’t seem enormously realistic. And it certainly doesn’t work in my case. Even with paying through the nose to ride on a pretend griffenbat’s back to sit through an in-game cutscene of the same scenery I’ve seen ninety million times already to speed things up, the whole process is so agonisingly drawn out that I’m far more likely to turn it off and play something single player that will let me enjoy myself immediately. But number 2 doesn’t make much sense either. I’ve met all sorts of MMO developers, and in the main they’ve been splendidly friendly types, not the sort who seem likely to pour milk in your gym bag, or kick a tramp.

So what’s the missing 3? Is it because most the others don’t let you, so they won’t either? That’s not a reason. That’s just silly. I decided to ask whichever industry types were on my MSN on a Friday night to see if they knew, without warning them or giving them time to think of an answer. This is journalism, people. Why don’t they let me teleport?

First I pestered Gamasutra and Sexy Videogameland’s Leigh Alexander:

“Because they don’t want me to play them, ever. I think it’s old level design sensibilities at work. Ones that people don’t realize don’t apply in open worlds like that. With GTA, say, part of the gameplay is the travel. You are supposed to drive from place to place, that’s how you play the game. So I guess MMO designers are like, ‘Well why don’t you run from place to place so that it feels REAL?’ There’s been a failure in general to understand what about console design principles don’t work online. And then if Blizzard does something, everyone else does it exactly like that.”

Then I nagged Splash Damage‘s Ed Stern, who I appeared to catch unawares.

“What are you doing in my bathroom. And what are you doing with/to my towel. And are those real?”

He calmed down and continued.

“From what I can understand, the infrastructure/backend/serverthings are just very very very complex and complicacious. So once a player is somewhere, you want ‘em to stay there a while, I suppose. It should be made very very clear that I have no idea what I’m talking about. I’m the least tech-savvy employee of a completely other kind of dev. I burn salad and spill Marmite. Machines are not my friend. And you’re asking me about MMO back-ends? You’re just cruel.”

Ste Curran of One Life Left fame came next. After this question apparently caused him to fall over he recovered and replied.

“MMOs are thinly-painted stat-grinds, right? What you do at level 1 is the same as what you do at level 30, only with fewer buttons and fewer sparkles. So you have to make those sparkles as pretty as possible, spin out the journey from 1 to 30 for as long as you can. because as soon as there’s no more reward, no more illusion of the next-great-thing-around-the-corner, the players lose interest. I would imagine. I guess also there’s the second life thing. Which is second life in lower case, not the furry-fucking dystopia of the capitalised version. These places are meant to be otherworldly. Players subscribe to them, either with their time or actual cash, to feel part of something vast. If they could just click their way to wherever they wanted in half a second, not only would they experience everything the subscription has to offer in a heartbeat, this world they have to conquer would seem much, much smaller too. And who wants to be the hero in a shoebox? Also there’s probably some clever psychology point about spreading out the excitement with periods of monotony. Because if you let the players just have the ‘action’ bits all the time those will become the monotonous bits.”

So why do you think it is? Why can I insta-hop to any part of Fallout 3 once I’ve trekked there, but not when a game goes online? Surely as a customer I should be offered the most fun, the most immediately? Especially when I might want to meet up with my friends who are growing increasingly impatient at the entrance to a dungeon as I sluggishly wheeze along some path through a distant field in another realm. “I’m coming! Don’t start yet! I’m (pant pant) coming!”

*Sorry Guild Wars fans.

, , , .

199 Comments »

  1. Gurrah says:

    Morrowind had the best mix of transportation systems in any game. Ships/Silt striders, mage guild teleports, divine intervention, almsivi intervention and the mark/recall combo. Genius. And it made so much sense, it fitted perfectly into the gameworld.

  2. Gurrah says:

    Oh and I totally forgot the propylon chambers used by the Dunmer. I say it again. Genius.

  3. Jeremy says:

    Hmm, I would think it is probably more along the lines of what Ste Curran, but you make a great point with Fallout 3. Sure you can zip and zoom wherever you want to, but only once you’ve been there the first time. Even after I had the option though, I still liked trudging around, checking out the Wasteland. It was interesting and part of the excitement was in traveling on foot and seeing everything. The only difference is this: In Fallout 3, you’re a loner, you have nobody to group with, it is not a community experience. I don’t suddenly need to be 1000 game kms away to group with some guys running an instance. I’m taking the game at my pace, on my schedule, killing whatever I want. In WoW, getting a group is a tough thing sometimes, and you can get the boot if the leader knows you’re on the wrong continent 10 minutes away from the nearest flight point.

    The hearthstone set to 60 minutes is so ridiculous it shatters my mind. Why can’t someone immediately teleport their friend so they can quest / instance / trade / grief whoever they want? In my mind, a community game should give the community instant access to itself. It’s more about who you can be around, not necessarily where it takes place. If it takes me 15 minutes to travel to my friend to do a 5 minute quest… it’s not worth it.

  4. Rich_P says:

    I like how TF2 has teleporters, just in case walking an extra 30 seconds is too much work.

    Teleportation, or rather the lack thereof, is a usability issue, especially when it comes to assembling parties. In UO, for example, I’d often sail around the game world, hauling cotton to far-flung merchants, but could easily use ruin stones to teleport to my friends. Best of both worlds.

    Incidentally, two of my favorite MMOs (PlanetSide, Guild Wars) have robust teleportation systems that cut the crap and let you enjoy the game.

  5. Duoae says:

    I think if you limited it to places you’ve already been then that almost eliminates what Mr. Curran was talking about.

    Other than that…. the only reason i can think of to make people slog around without a tin-foil-esque thought would be that Mr. Stern’s reasoning is correct. Load-bearing on ‘sectors’ of the game world would have to be drastically re-written in games that didn’t previously support it. If everyone and anyone could just jump around instantaneously it’s probable and possible that a sudden spike in connections might overload the server node before it could balance it out with another identical node or somesuch.

  6. Joseph says:

    Originally I only had ideas very similar to your 1 and 2 ideas.

    By the end of reading this, I see the most sense in Ste Curran’s reasons. Players don’t want to be the master of a shoebox, and devs don’t want to risk the player’s fix of action bits to be realised as monotonous. Leaving in the travel ensures players compare the action to something totally pointless and crap.

  7. Joseph says:

    But that might even also be tinfoil-hat material.

  8. Gideon says:

    Guild Wars actually had a click-travel system. I liked it at first but then found the experience to be a little disjointed.

  9. Devan says:

    Hmmm
    I guess it whether or not unlimited teleportation would cause the game to break down depends a lot on how the game provides ‘fun’. I think Ste Curran’s explanation is pretty accurate. Certainly most MMOs would make a poor single-player game even though superficially they are in the same vein as Fallout 3 etc.
    What MMOs lack in action and story they attempt to make up for with multiplayer teamwork and social prestige. Like Ste said, nobody wants to be a hero in a shoebox, and since “large open world spaces” can only be measured by the time it takes to traverse it, the developers feel the understandable need to limit teleportation.

  10. Wulf says:

    I completely agree with you John.

    What if, in World of Warcraft, after running around and collecting flight points, you had the option of having someone teleport you instead of waiting for the long flight? And what if that teleport was free of charge, i.e.: not costing any money, in-game or real?

    That’s exactly what SOE did with Free Realms.

    Whatever the hell possesses MMO developers to think we want to run around a squiggly set of roads that look like they were directed by a drunken barfly being followed around by road-laying and bridge-building teams I’ll never know.

    “No, you can’t even walk in a straight like, stick to the zig-zaggy roads where it’s safe. Even though this road goes in almost concentric circles where it could just run a straight path. Sorry, we’re MMO developers, not Romans!”

    fffff

    Well Free Realms has proper roads, too.

    And it actually makes the game more fun and less stressful because of the straight roads and the free teleporters, and it was one of the reasons I’ve had more fun with Free Realms than most MMOS at late, because teleporting makes sense!

    It’s not just the new kids on the block, either. One of the earliest MMOs, Ultima Online, had moongates! Even back then tehy knew that people wouldn’t want to walk/gallop their horses along the same patch of land time and again.

    And if a friend logs in and PMs you with “fffffff, I logged out in a bad area, please come and help me!”, then it’d be nice if you could just warp over to them and help.

    Again, in Free Realms you can.

    Why the hell can’t you in other MMOs?!

    So I’m with you, John, and I think other MMOs should really start building their structure based on the Free Realms idea, and if they’re inventive enough then they can figure out a way, I mean, even I can pull something out of my arse.

    For example: Dragon paths (or leylines) flow all around the planet, the spirit energy of a person can be magically pulled along with the paths given the right sort of gateway, and the physical body simply is wherever the spirit is. Once one has entered the paths, one can rematerialise wherever there’s a gateway for the spirit to exit again.

    Give the players the ability to setup temporary gateways and you have a system similar to Free Realms with half-arsed lore that could match most of that in Warcraft.

    There’s just no excuse.

    (This post was brought to you by: Free Realms. -Ed)

  11. Ging says:

    I suspect Mr Stern has it on the head in the majority of cases – teleportation is clearly a possibility as GMs and the like do it all the time (and can do it to players as well) but to have mass teleportation by the player base may well add an extra huage strain on the back end as it tries to keep up with which zone you’re in and hence, which bit of the server cluster you’re part of.

    Of course, it’s probably just them being dicks.

  12. SlappyBag says:

    It’s all about peaks and lulls isn’t it. Though travel should be made easier in such cases I don’t think it should be instantaneous. As Joseph said, you need something crap to compare the good things to to make them good.

  13. DK says:

    It’s a game design issue. Do you want your game to be obviously “gamey” – bring on the teleports.
    Do you want your MMO world to feel realistic-ish cut down the insta-port to a minimum.

    Take Vanguard – if there’s one thing it does well it’s knowing what it wants. It’s travel system is unforgiving, but because of that, you really appreciate the sheer scale of it.
    WoW’s World feels tiny, more so the more expansion they bring out (since they cut down the travel time more and more), while Vanguard’s World feels like the entirety of Middle Earth (ironically, completely unlike Lord of the Rings Online).

  14. Steve says:

    Actually as far as WoW’s is concerned, the hearthstone is down to 30min and they’ve added a lot of ways to jump around a bit easier over the months/years (summoning stones outside instances, portal hubs in dalaran and shattrath, changed the way warlock summons work, etc). Plus they are reducing the level limits on normal / epic mounts in the next patch, so it doesn’t take as long to get a speed boost.

    As to why they are like this? perhaps its just to damned disorienting (or demanding on a server) to have hundreds of players zipping about all over the place instantly. That and if your trying to build a believable world they might think that it would mess with the lore and “break immersion” or something.

  15. Steve says:

    It’s number 2. You don’t have to be tinfoil-hatted to think that. The developers of most MMO’s want you to spend as much time as possible trying to accomplish things in the game. The more time spent arsing around walking from place to place is more subscription fees for them. It’s always been like that, and probably always will be.

    Glad I stopped playing treadmill games long ago.

  16. Riotpoll says:

    I like fast travel, walking to where the fun is wasting time I could be having fun.

  17. Captain Haplo says:

    Even if WoW wanted to change, I might have my doubts. I’m not a WoW player, but I played a little, and my dad is one, so I have to wonder: by making teleportation free and full, would you obselete mounts?

    I can imagine a lot of people angry, even if the change is a good one. If people created a insta-teleport machine today, they’d probably piss a lot of people off by driving nearly three or four transit industries into immediate ruin. (This is a hypothetical scenario so etc, but you know).

  18. elias says:

    It’s so that if a tree falls in one of the forests between points of interest, it will make a sound.

  19. DrazharLn says:

    I think Ste Curran has it right. The travel is about pacing the game.

    On the other hand, there is more than one way to pace a game, and I can imagine that not being able to teleport could be really annoying.

    However, I imagine someone needs to have a look at whether this pacing is more beneficial to the experience than teleportation

  20. EbeneezerSquid says:

    All Guild Wars fans will be very angrily pointing out that their game lets you. (And all praise to it for this. Now add jumping and walking on inclines and you’ve got my attention*.)
    Which is the reason given for why they abandoned the Utopia Campaign, and are starting fresh with GW2 -A new engine that can do such things that the present one can’t.

  21. DrazharLn says:

    As DK says, some games benefit more from the pacing and feel of size.

    I don’t think WoW is that game though. It’s hardly an immersive game (or so I hear).

  22. Penn says:

    This is why I play City of Villains.
    Travel powers mean that even without teleporting, you move around far far faster than in any other game I’ve seen, and by whatever method you like. Once you get Ouroboros access or an equipped superbase, you can almost instantly warp to any zone in the game.
    City of Heroes isn’t as well laid out, but has most of the same advantages. :)
    The ‘fast’ travel method (griffons and the like) in WoW is incredibly slow in comparison.

  23. superking208 says:

    @Gurrah:
    Exactly, so where was it in Oblivion?! Or Fallout 3? All you got was a fuck-immersion button…

  24. Premium User Badge Kelron says:

    Thinking along the same lines as Ste Curran, tedious travel gives players something to aim for to speed it up, whether that be mounts or limited teleportation systems. Getting your first mount seems to be a major goal for players in many MMOs, because it’s so damn boring retreading the same ground over and over. I doubt many players stop to question why they have to retread it at all.

    I don’t think making players travel is always a bad thing, however. In my highly biased opinion, it’s essential to the gameplay of EVE Online. The game is often criticised for its slow pace and the travelling time involved with any action, but if players could just teleport to anywhere in the galaxy it would fall apart. PvP combat is as much about outmaneuvering your enemy as it is about the actual fight. If reinforcements could arrive from anywhere with no warning, it would simply come down to who has the most pilots online.

    On the more peaceful side of the game, EVE’s economy is regional. The galaxy is split up into a number of regions, within a region you can only see prices of and buy items from systems in that region. Players can make fortunes identifying large price differences between regions and hauling a freighter full of good across the galaxy. Another thing instant travel would destroy.

  25. Hunam says:

    I can’t really agree on the sentiment here, ignoring that if a thousand players all teleported to the same zone at the same time would probably crash the server outright, it would just make the pvp aspect of WoW useless when it comes to raiding. If you’re trying to take stormwind etc, you kind of need the element of surprise to get through the gate, then resistance trickles through and you take it down, now imagine if your storming the bridge and suddenly 100 lvl 80 mother fuckers, angry as hell appear from no where, you’ll all be dead very fast till your troops warp in and turn the thing into mass chaos with people zapping in and out all the time.

    Maybe something like a friendstone etc with a 15 min cool down would help the situation better, so one sets it off to mark the location and the other sets his off to warp to his friend. But free warping would just be a mess.

  26. Some Guy says:

    runescape dose telaports well, or it did when i played.

    it had teleports to various locations become avalable as you leveled up magic, saving time but the runes needed were made expensive enough that you notice the cost. this ment that you would travel particualy for long distances after earning them and you could esaly get to where you needed to go for your level but there was stil the carrot of more teleports.

  27. Captain Haplo says:

    I found the Morrowind system to be neat… If you knew the routes and such. Since it wasn’t a 100% travel-everywhere system, you’d have to make a stopover in one place to go to another place… Which is actually fairly neat, even if I proceeded to spend a lot of my money on useless trips trying to figure out where I was going. :\

    But I prefer the fast-travel button anyway. You don’t *need* to walk every inch of land to be immersed.

  28. unwize says:

    I think travelling is an important immersive element to inhabiting a virtual world with other people. If you allow players to just zip about as they please, you drastically reduce the chance of random player encounters out in the wilderness, and the world consequently feels smaller and less populated.

    And yes, MMOs are all about giving players incentives to spend an obscene amount of hours playing them. If you dangle the carrot of quicker travelling options in front of the player’s noses, then they are likely to put in the time to earn them.

    It should be noted that in LotRO, there are many ‘swift-travel’ routes (teleportation by a different name) between major hubs, and more of these open up as you complete content within relevant zones. You basically earn the right to skip through a zone when you’ve completed the content within it, which seems a sensible way to do things.

  29. Kadayi says:

    Mr Stern is near the mark.

    Basically its a lot of effort for the game to handle sudden player relocation, rather than transitional (between adjoining locations), therefore by applying time limits the developers can ensure that the server doesn’t get overloaded, because they know what the maximum strain should be. If they reduced the limits or removed them full stop, then invariably they’d be opening up the floodgates to people whose idea of fun is crashing servers and ruining everyone elses fun by rapid teleporting on mass. The same sort of people who given the chance will drop say 100,000 duped items into a populated zone and thus turn everyones game into unresponsive slideshows (for the lulz).

  30. mandrill says:

    This only holds as a true criticism of the theme park type MMOs IMO. In EVE, travel is half the fun. Getting into somwhere you’re really not welcome, causing some havoc, and then getting out again is what the basic core of the game is about for an awful lot of people. Roaming is a big part of piracy, and trade. Controlling who gets in and out of your territory is important. Instant teleportation is available but it is necessarily limited, often by the players themselves. Making it universal and without cost would completely destroy the game.

    In theme park games such as WoW and its bretheren I see no reason other than possibly a technical one for allowing instant transportation from place to place.

  31. Rabbitsoup says:

    I think the main problem right now are the environments you grind in being large but monotonous and as a rule not effecting gameplay beyond a basic cover system meaning you will just port to the best grind spot if you get teleportation. A failing with the games not the teleport idea though.

    Changing the environments to make them visually stunning and full of unique discoveries is a lot of work and probably beyond most devs. The way forward seems to be the way of E.V.E and LOVE allow the players to shape the environment and make more then a sand box ( remember sandbox does not equal non-linear see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d1rWkqTzOJ4 ) if you teleport a in these games you will find something that effects you.

  32. Sulkdodds says:

    Wait, can there be ‘tinfoil-hat material’ when we’re talking about intentional products, explicitly DESIGNED for a purpose? I mean it’s not like it’s History or anything.

    OR IS IT

  33. parabolic hat says:

    If you removed the tedium from an MMO, you’d have no game left.

  34. Matt W says:

    For whatever my tuppence is worth, I’d point the finger at two things:

    1) Travel times are usually fairly fundamental to – or at least contributory to – a whole bunch of other fairly critical stuff in the design. If you mess around with how fast players can move around it can have potentially huge knock-on effects in other, seemingly-unrelated areas of the game. If you’re going to allow, for example, teleportation, it really should be part of your fundamental design and it probably places a lot of soft constraints on other areas of the design, which may prevent you from realizing other, more important goals.

    I don’t see it being unreasonable to suggest that some MMO concepts (or indeed even whole classes of MMO) simply aren’t properly compatible with instant travel (although this isn’t something I’ve had a proper ponder about, I’m just speculating here). It’s probably telling that one of the only traditional “MMOs” that does allow this is Guild Wars, which is a fairly radical departure from other titles in its putative genre (trad fantasty MMOs) in plenty of other ways too – although I wouldn’t want to commit to whether this is because the underlying design is more teleport-amenable or just because it’s much clearer about what the target market really wants.

    Which brings us to the second point:

    2) Most players don’t know what they actually want.

    (For example and without diving in too closely, players say they want “fun”. Huge swathes of them actually don’t, at least not in the traditional sense of the word.)

  35. Sonic Goo says:

    Imagine if Frodo and his fellowship could’ve just teleported to mount Doom. The time we would’ve saved!

  36. The_B says:

    If Star Trek Online does not have teleporting of some form, I will be most displeased.

  37. Leelad says:

    Reroll mage.

  38. Persus-9 says:

    I agree with Ste Curran’s reasoning for the most part.

    I actually don’t like the fast travelling in Fallout 3 and Oblivion, I think it hurts the pacing and it’s a cheat, I always enjoy games less if I use it. It also ruins the immersion because instant travel is jarring and takes me out of the story so I’d rather not have it unless it’s sufficiently explained away in game.

    However I don’t think the same applies to MMOs. Ultimately in the case of MMOs I think this is just a sub-question of why MMOs have so much grind and the bottom line to that is that the grind is the game. The grind is also the enemy, but that’s normal isn’t it? It’s almost always the enemy that defines the game be it real people in Team Fortress, geometry in Tetris, the puzzles of some crazed game design in point and click or text adventures or just AI with guns in countless single player games. In WoW at least and I think most other MMOs the ultimate enemy is the grind, that’s what we’re ultimately battling against, that’s what we win against when we gain levels or new armour sets and what we battle against when we try and work out which quest will be most interesting or whether we can pick up more items or talk to more NPC before heading to a new location so as to avoid having to make the same trip or kill the same mobs twice or of course team up with other players to give us a social game to play while grinding. We all deeply hate the grind but that’s what makes the optimisation exercise a compelling one because we care whether we have to spend 30 or only 5 minutes getting from A to B or have to kill the same set of 50 mobs twice.

    If we could fast-travel we have the ultimate weapon again the grind of travelling and so that aspect of the grind is all but defeated leaving us with what? Killing a mobs? Clicking on NPCs? Running instances? Fighting in battlegrounds? When push comes to shove it’s all grind after the novelty wears off but as it stands it’s a complicated grind and travelling is a complicating factor and the complexity is what makes it an interesting enemy that’s (in a certain perverse sense) fun to battle against so removing travel grind from the equation would only make the grind simpler, less interesting and thus ultimately more annoying. Take it to extremes, imagine if the only thing between the newbie and level 80 was killing murlocs, endless murlocs so getting to level 80 was similarly challenging? Could anything be more boring? Variety is the spice of grind and MMOs are grind based games so paradoxically removing grind just makes the rest worse.

  39. Willy359 says:

    Normally I like the immersion of having to move through the world to get where I want to be, but there are times when instant teleport is very welcome. Fallout 3 is a prime example. I see no reason to wear down my weapons and use up valuable ammo killing 47 radscorpions just so I can schlepp these cola bottles to a shack waaay the hell over on the other side of the map. Again. And again. Ping! I’m there. Ping! I’m gone. Much better.

  40. Theoban says:

    If you walk around in an MMO, even run, even fly, the game data is loaded into your RAM and the area behind you is unloaded. This leads to MMOs being very RAM intensive, more than any other genre of game out there.

    If you port however, it has to remove all that data and reload all the other data of the next region. It’s almost like logging out then logging back in again for the amount of information that has to pass not only from your RAM but through your network adapter.

    I thnk the lack of porting in MMOs is frankly because the average user’s internet connection isn’t up to it yet, and neither is their RAM (meaning they’ll have to wait ages for the loading/unloading of data). Remember, we’re only just getting to the area where 2gb of RAM is considered normal.

    Give it a few years and I can see this happening. Just not yet.

  41. Dennis-SGMM says:

    Sierra’s excellent and inexplicably never revisited steampunk RPG “Arcanum” allowed those who chose the path of magic to teleport their character and their party. Again, though only to places whose map location you already knew.

  42. Dukkha says:

    Without the travel-breaks a lot of wow-players would never get time to eat/shower/visit toilet. Thats the reason long traveltimes are needed in highly addictive games.

  43. flo says:

    I think it has a lot to do with game mechanics. And, possibly also hardware things. Game mechanics cause it would make flash mob attacks/kills on say, ogrimmar/stormwind much more easiert, thus annoy uninvolved players. Also just anybody teleporting anywhere would make somehow make things less real … i mean even if it would be introduced at the highest lvl in say, WoW, by now it would not be highest lvl anymore … and dunno, it would feel way too much like some stupid static flash adventure game, where you only jump from one static location to the next. Yes, I know what you mean, and I’ve felt the same, but I think totally free teleportation would really screw WoW (or lotr online, onlw 2 mmoprgs I’ve played) up. The hardware part could play a role if one realm is spread across multiple servers (you don’t want everyone to jump to the other immediately) but this is the part that could maybe be fixed easiest, game mechanic screw ups are way more important. To “they’re only games”: that’s true, but if they don’t create some artificial world,

  44. Christopher Weeks says:

    Wow. I can only imagine that a game in which you could teleport anywhere, any time wouldn’t reasonably count as a virtual world. Without travel time, the notion of “distance” is meaningless. Worldliness and verisimilitude demand travel time in virtual worlds. One of the games that I’m playing, A Tale in the Desert would be helped by removing the teleportation that exists.

    Also, does anyone think it’s possible that the devs actually know more than you do about what’s fun? I don’t personally grok the fun in WoW, but with bazillions of happy users, how can I fault them too much? How can you?

  45. Neil says:

    Everquest Plane of Knowledge. Not teleport anywhere, but close to all the cities. Good enough.

  46. Zach Marx says:

    Dennis-SGMM:

    Arcanum was never revisted because it was a Troika game, and Troika’s last project was Vampire: The Masquerade: Bloodlines. Rumour has it that the project immediately to follow that was an Arcanum sequel on the Source engine, but they didn’t survive long enough to make it.

    For more on what happened to Troika, see any of the articles on V:TM:B on this site.

  47. Chiablo says:

    The faster you can go from one side of the gameworld to the other, the smaller that world becomes.

    How big was the original EQ? Huge, right? That’s because there was no real fast transportation until the Luclin expansion. The same thing with Vanguard when it first came out… the world was unbelievably big, until they made teleportation possible.

    WoW seems insignificant now that you can just hearthstone to Dalaran or Shatterath and instantly teleport to any of the major cities. But when we were exploring it for the first time, it was huge.

    I belong to the camp that believes that fast travel should be minimal in games of this scale. It makes the world feel bigger than it really is, and getting to a new land gives you a sense of accomplishment and exploring can be fun.

  48. Wulf says:

    @The ubiquitously anonymous editor: Ahem. <.<

    I actually just thought it was relevant to the topic at hand, because everything I said was true. Apparently I can't make a point now about when a game does something right without the implication of working for the company in question.

    Are you selling those tinfoil hats, ed? :p

  49. TheArmyOfNone says:

    Ah, I love you RPS, and you as well, RPS commentators. I think that travel is actually key to a lot of experiences– many humorous stories are shared of trying to make it through a hazardous zone and various mishaps. The planning and execution of said travel plans is, lame as it sounds, sort of fun. Sneaking by a town full to the brim of enemy players is an experience not to be discounted.

    On another note, EVE Online. Hardly a traditional MMO, but travel is so key to the game! Gatecamps and trading routes, hauling tritanium across the galaxy. Yes, it can be monotonous at times, but it’s essential to the core game

  50. Tonic says:

    Because MMO’s derive from MUDs which take largely from Fantasy RPG’s which are based mostly on Tolkien’s works in which the characters spend long weeks winding their way through the countryside. Gracefully, the readers are able to digest ‘they traveled far’ in a few pages of narration and maybe some flavor dialogue. Fart.