Fast Travel

everquest next wizard spires

I know I’m a little late on this one since the EverQuest Next team already posted their video, but I have to get my opinion out there about fast travel.

The very fact that it’s ‘fast’ travel feels like a bit of an oxymoron.  To me, traveling implies a journey.  I think if something requires travel it’s supposed to feel like there’s distance between the two points — a distance meaningful enough that one can’t simply ‘go’ there, they have to ‘travel’.

Surprise, I like my MMO worlds to be large.  I’ve told the story a dozen times about EverQuest 1’s world and how I would start on Faydwer and someone I wanted to play with started on Antonica.  The only reason that means ANYTHING is because the trip to meet up could take anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours with fear of death lurking anywhere along the way.

I believe in boat rides.  That sounds ridiculous, but for years the boats in EverQuest were one of the only ways to traverse the majority of the world’s oceans.  The only other way to travel was by having a Druid or Wizard teleport you to oft out-of-the-way locations called Druid Rings and Wizard Spires.  Teleporting was a special feature granted only to those classes.  Spell casters received “gate” which allowed them to return to their bind point, but again that only mattered because the world was so huge that teleporting back to a bind point actually meant — wait for it — traveling.

I’m apprehensive after watching the Round Table video about fast travel.  SOE currently plans to allow players to travel using what I think are called ley lines.  There’s still some mystery as to how exactly they work.  In the video they say it’s not instantaneous, and there will be a price.  Omeed Dariani’s comments about EQ Next being a multiplayer game took a scary turn for me when he started to make logical leaps that I don’t agree with.  He said that since EQ Next is a multiplayer game, that means people want to play together.  While true, there was the implication here that somehow that means players should be able to quickly connect despite where they start in the world.  I do not like that thought at all.

If I start in Halas, and Graev starts in Kaladim, then we have started across the world from each other.  If Graev can fast travel to Halas, suddenly we’re not across the world from each other because that idea of distance no longer has any meaning to the players.

Just because the world is big doesn’t mean people can’t play together!  We just have to go on adventures to meet up.  One of the greatest adventures I have ever experienced in 19 years of MMORPGs (#MyEQStory) was making the run from Halas to Freeport.  I’ve met thousands of other players, gained hundreds of levels, and seen amazing sights in the original EverQuest all because there wasn’t an accesible form of quickly traversing great distances.

I hope the EQ Next devs consider these things when integrating their fast travel system into the world of Norrath.

  • I’m always torn whenever I see fast travel in an MMO. On the one hand, it’s nice to feel like the world you’re in is actually large.

    On the other hand, I’m 36 years old, have things like work and family to contend with, and if I only have an hour to play online with my friends, making me spend the lion’s share of that time getting to where they are is a serious downer.

  • While not a fan of boat rides, which i had enough of after countless hours riding them, i do agree with everything else.

    I like my game world to be large and travel between areas to be dangerous. Both of these aspects are completely bypassed with fast travel. GW2 did a good job of creating a world to explore and completely ruined it by allowing us to teleport wherever we wanted whenever we wanted.

    Fast travel should be handled the way older MMO’s handled it by having to rely on certain classes to teleport players to crags/crystal/druid rings. This encourages socialization while maintaining the danger and exploration that i absolutely love.

  • Traveling really needs to depend on the game. EQnext being a mainstream MMO will certainly have a decent amount of fast travel. I have kind of given up on fighting it in AAA MMOs.

    Games that state they want to be the next fantasy Eve and allow fast travel i drop in the fail column. The lack of fast travel is one of the major reasons Eves economy is so intricate. There is no way of allowing fast travel except in extremely limited forms (EXTREMELY LIMITED) and have micro and intricate economies.

  • I’ve never done it before but I think EVE’s fast travel requires you to actually have someone set up a jump target where you want to jump to. There’s still a limit to how far, and where you can jump to. You can’t jump in hi-sec. Jump drives also require special fuel that can get expensive. There are also wormholes but those entrance points and destinations are random and change by the day and wormholes to unknown space can be dangerous.

    Fast travel completely destroys the feeling of a world. Fast travel makes the game’s world simply a list of areas. I had a very good idea of what Everquest’s geography was like because the world required travel. As much as I am liking the game so far, FFXIV is just a list of areas I can bring up with a click of one of my hotkeys.

    This makes the difference between an MMO world or just a list of areas.

  • I agree with you completely but I’m already convinced we can forget about getting anything other than highly convenient travel in EQNext. It’s intended to be a mass-market game and anything that puts the slightest speed-bump between one player joining another player with whom he wishes to play will be seen as commercial suicide.

    The best we could hope for is that EQNext might launch with relatively restricted travel options. I doubt we will even get that but even nowadays some MMOs do hold back a little on super-fast travel at the beginning. People are more willing to accept a big, unexplored, mysterious world when they are aware that no-one else has explore it either.

    Once the novelty wars off, though, convenience, as always, will trump immersion, realism or patience. I have yet to play any MMO that survived and expanded for a few years that did not implement increasingly faster and more convenient travel options as time went on.

  • I am not sure we have a large enough sampling of MMOs that expanded for a few years to make that a conclusive statement.

  • Just looking at the way they streamlined EQ1 with the linear starting area, teleportation and fast leveling, I don’t think EQNext is going to be the game you are hoping for.

  • I am all for fast travel. Sorry. I am a pretty hardcore rules players. But I don’t need the tedium of travelling.

  • Fast travel is too convenient for me, just like all these silly (global) trading posts. I’d probably be more favourable to it if there was a random chance (increasing on distance) to enter a combat instance against strong, non rewarding foes.

    If you flee or are killed you are taken back to where you began. Perhaps also using “rations” as a currency to see how much you can fast travel would also be good.

  • Like some of the other commenters, I am torn about fast travel as well. In FF14 I am glad for it, simply for the fact that the story quests seem to want to drag you all over the world for no particular reason other than to have you click on something or someone and come back.

    I guess it wouldn’t bother me if I felt the journey was interesting or dangerous or fun in some way, but sometimes SE has done a really poor job of disguising its time sinks and I just find it annoying. I do enjoy the Chocobo porters though since it saves money and it is somewhat reminiscent of DAoC and early WoW, which I think both came up with a pretty good compromise for fast travel with the horse/gryphon routes. You couldn’t use them to get everywhere and it still took significant amounts of time to travel to far off places, which kept the illusion of a real world somewhat alive.

    I guess what I am trying to say is, I don’t mind traveling if it is to get somewhere fun and interesting or if the journey is part of the fun, but if it is just a meaningless timesink then it is irritating. I realize that is not quite consistent or reconcilable, but I am not sure I can really articulate or clarify it beyond that.

  • i personally liked how Wow did this. You had to run and discover the flight paths. So at least once you had to make that run then after that point you could fly. As well flight was not instantaneous portal so it still took 15- 20 mins to fly from top of map to bottom. At least you could afk during the flight and get a drink or food or whatever. As well the nice part of watching real time things going on below you was very cool..Liked that..

  • Is there any “current” MMORPG* other than EVE which actually embraces the idea of distance and travel? Nothing leaps to mind.

    Actually, sorry, a second thing leapt to mind – Darkfall does, doesn’t it?

    * By current I mean no offence to e.g. EverQuest, obviously it’s still up and running, but I think most people nowadays think of it as a nostalgia piece rather than a currently active game. Which, now that I think about it, is a bit unfair, since it did just have another expansion release!

  • @Gringar: Great way of putting it: A world vs. a list of areas.

    @solarbear: I don’t consider a lack of fast travel to be “hardcore.” I think you’re implying old school or likening a lack of travel to a time of less hand-holding. While true, a massive world meant to be lived in and experienced as a whole world rather than a list of zones can still be a modern concept.

    @Balthazar: FFXIV and GW2 destroyed their worlds by adding instant teleporting to just about anywhere. But it was almost a requirement because of how the content forced you to progress through the world rather than live in it.

    @Romble: WoW’s flight paths, DAoC’s horses, FFXIV’s chocobos… I bet those are what ley lines will be. To me they are now middle-ground. I prefer not having them, but I understand why people want them.

    @Carson: Interestingly enough, I’ve gone back and played classic EverQuest in the last year more than I’ve played any current MMOs — and I still like it! So the nostalgia thing definitely doesn’t apply.

  • You don’t need fast travel if you design your game so that the fun is in getting from point A to point B rather than having to get to point B before you can start having fun.

  • Graev hit the issue spot on. You could have fun on an evening when all you did was ride the EQ1 boat because experiencing the world was the fun. Modern MMO’s are designed with an all-consuming focus on getting your next +1 stat. Spending your whole evening traveling and then not making any progress on your next stat because Graev is level 12 but you are level 15 and you already have all the loot from the level 13 dungeon doesn’t work.

  • I remember the epic journey really well, but the third time I had to move across the world the journey wasn’t epic anymore, but just annoying. It also caused me to ignore huge parts of the game world in EQ1, because it was a hassle to travel that far.

  • Graev

    While your logic is right , reality it isn’t. Point A may be fun the first time, may be ok the second time, may be meh the third time and the fourth time .. dammit ive done this before, i am too high level, this is tedious or slowing me down.. i need to get to point b fast to meet with friends.

    thats what happens, it happens everywhere and for all things. Dungeons, same issue, done awesome, done awesome.. done.. afk following strange guy in front of me picking loot every so often..

  • @Romble: I think you’re in the wrong mindset for the type of game with travel. Things slow way down in a game with a real world to the point where nothing you do warrants moving that quickly. It’s hard to explain. You have to consider doing things where you’re at instead of always moving around.

  • I still remember waiting for Master Visser(sp?) and his acolytes on the Castle Sauvage pad in DAoC. That was great. When the time came you got to watch the NPCs come down out of the castle, form up in a circle, and then perform a grand summoning/teleportation spell on everyone waiting on the large stone circle (pad). This was the only way into the RvR zones.

    For someone to do this in today’s instant-gratification world would most likely be tantamount to commercial suicide. The younger generations have no patience for these things anymore, and probably most of the old-guard of MMO gamers have no time because of RL restrictions. We had the time for that when we were kids, and I think most of us enjoyed it. It saddens me that kids these days don’t have the patience or desire for these types of “stop and smell the roses (game)” flavors.

  • Currently playing DAoC on Uthgard(classic Freeshard) with horses to get around,teleportpad and all that to get into RvR and I quite enjoy it.As I am writing this I got on the horse in West Cornwall,after killing Dartmoor ponies.and am crossing Salisbury Plains on route to Camelot.
    Have the similar experiences from EQ1,starting as a shaman in Everfrost and running to Faydwer.
    GW2 lasted 1 week.LIve daoc is now too easy.Free levels.all characters gets all tradeskills.No longer any limitations on armor and level,etc ..meh..
    Might check out DAoC Origins(another freeshard I believe in beta now) as Uthgard don’t have SI and boltscasters are kinda screwed.
    Modern games are kinda hopeless to me.No sense of achievement anymore.

  • Why doesn’t anyone mention UO’s travel?

    Available to anyone.
    Requires a trade off (moderate magic skill to recall, more to mark, mastery to gate others)
    Binds a point ANYWHERE on a labelable physical object that can be collected, bought, and sold.

    In general that system gave massive amounts of freedom and to my knowledge no other game has duplicated it. Why??
    Yes I want to buy a rune to the bottom floor of the dungeon!
    Kal Ort Por…… OoOO oOo ooOO?
    Oh. There’s a lich spawn there. Maybe I should have prepared better…

    Freedom combined with risk and consequence. You don’t need PvP for a blind recall to give you that same sense if heart pounding “What’s going to happen?”

    And again, the trade off for fast travel means that the world is still large. 40-60 skill points makes a difference to a non-Mage and May be passed up.