Saturday, October 24, 2009

Idle times in Azeroth

Rememeber the old times in vanilla WoW when you had to walk to get to new areas or discover a whole zone? While it was good to see places "on foot" for the first times it quickly got boring since the amount of time you had to invest to reach certain places was too big to be worth the reward (like being sent from Stormwind to Stonetalon Mountains to kill some basilisks and being awarded a simple green object and some silver, or that damn quest in Dustswallow Marsh, Tabitha's request, what a pain!). Yes, we had flight points to ease things, but that ment also investing time in doing nothing but travel. We'll get back to this point later.
As your char progressed you were allowed to buy a mount (level 40 yeehaw!!) that made things a bit easier. Back then the mount alone was expensive as Hell, while skill was very cheap. Again you gained more levels and at level 60 you were able to purchase the swift mount that duplicated your travel speed. Of course only if you got the amount of gold needed for it. And back then wasn't easy to get.

Game evolved and travel was slightly modified. Flying mounts added in TBC (working only there) and prices were changed so the mounts were cheap and the skills expensive. We got also a reduction on prices for normal and fast riding, while the price for fast flying was (and still is) very high (if you have several chars you're screwed). Nothing else was changed. Ships don't really need any change, once you hop in you get transported to the other continent in a pair of minutes. The underground tram and gryphon/wyverns kept their speed. And this is what mostly annoys me nowadays. Yes, in some points the game has turned too easy. But one thing is putting up an epic farm like Trial of the Champion and another is having to waste 15 minutes of your life if you're in Darnassus and want to reach Tanaris. Fifteen damn minutes of doing nothing. It's ok the first two or three times while you gaze at the ground below, seeing new places and monsters, but as they say, time is money (our money every month) and during that time your character can't do anything. At least in Outland and Northrend you can fly with your own mount, a bit faster than the taxi service, and you can stop anytime (if the guild needs you for anything). If you're on a gryphon/wyvern you can't do a single thing, not even creating bandages or combining low leather pieces into higher ones. This wouldn't be so bad if flights took a maximum of 5 minutes, but come on! 15 minutes to cross a continent in a world full of magic? Big fail! come on Blizzard, it's not that hard to implement a teleport service, more expensive than air taxi, that takes you to the destination in almost no time (depending on how long takes your computer to load the new zone).
Thanks to how quest hubs were designed since TBC came out it's now almost impossible to see a quest that sends you to the other continent/Outland and then back to multiple other places just to obtain a stinky green item. I'm not against traveler/exploration quests (in fact the first title I ever got was "the Explorer"), it's good that you're asked to leave the zone you usually stroll around and embark to new places, but reward should be equally satisfying and quest fun to complete, not a "go there, pick X, go the opposite side of the world, do some nonsense quests so you can deliver X, get Y in return, deliver Y where Christ lost his left sandal. Here, take your reward: [Silly Hat of Worldhopping]" absurd questline. And if so, at least make the journey enjoying and profitable. Sitting on a gryphon while twiddling your thumbs is not fun. More realistic than crossing a continent in 2 minutes? sure, but we're not dealing with a real world, it's a fantasy world. And we pay for that fantasy, so at least make our money worth.
Why am I ranting now about the amount of time traveling takes? Because Cataclysm is coming and again we'll have to face a place where getting to places like Feathermoon Isle could mean wasting a lot of time, even if you were already in Feralas. This could be linked to Shintar's entry about questing in Feralas. While he loved Feralas I highly hated that place and it's twisted design: flightpoint in one side already hard to get to if you're Alliance, since you had to jump on a ship, cross the sea, cross the entire Marsh, cross the Barrens, dodge some Horde guards to get into a lifter, cross half Thousand Needles, then cross all Feralas, dodging an entire Horde post in the middle of the road, and finally wait for another slow ship to take you to the isle. Phew! And when you get there you're asked to go half way back and kill some yetis, deal with gnolls... no thanks, I had enough bouncing back and forth. Give me a shout when you install some portals.
Although Azeroth will be revamped in Cataclysm I still fear these situations will still happen. I don't want to lose 15 frigging minutes on a back of a gryphon watching the world passing by under my feet. I already switch windows while flying from Dalaran to Howling Fjord so I can invest that time doing other things. Now imagine the amount of things you could do while going from Darnassus to Tanaris. And I'd prefer to do things in the game. So the solutions are: either implement a fastest way of traveling, no matter if more expensive, attach some rockets to gryphons/wyverns so they fly way faster or allow you to do some useful things while flying, like crafting items or (this would be really great, but irrealistic), accessing the Auction House (gryphons with satellite connection? I'm buying!)


  1. Hm, I actually like long flights to a certain extent. They provide a sort of natural break during the game, to go get a drink, have a bio break or whatever, yet without feeling that you're missing out on something. Even in places where I could fly myself (and all my alts have epic flying skill) I often just hop on the automatic flight path and then go AFK for a bit because it feels like less hassle to me.

    And I really don't think we need any more portals, once you make it to Dalaran or even Shattrath, you get access to portals to all the important places anyway. Too many of them kind of take away all sense of distance.

    I'll concede that Feathermoon Stronghold is annoying to get to though. :P I often just settled for swimming instead of waiting for the boat in that case (you get a fatigue bar but if you aim correctly you'll arrive on the other side before you actually die from it).

  2. Maybe I just misread this post, but you do know that we will be able to fly in the old world, come Cataclysm?
    Seems that will get rid of these problems :)

  3. I know we can fly in old Azeroth onc Catalysm is released, but that won't solve the problem: if you need to go from Darnassus to Tanaris or from Zul'Aman to Booty bay you have to spend a lot of time doing nothing, no matter if you go on "autopilot" with the taxi service or using a swift flying mount.
    I hope the situation is not needed again, some old quests were designed in such a way that you could spend one hour doing nothing but flying from here to there to just receive a green object also poorly designed (in most of times wasn't useful for your class). What I'm asking for is to reduce to the bare minimum the time spent flying. Blizz already is taking steps in this direction like porting you to Battlegrounds or when 3.3 comes, to the dungeon directly. Why not increase the taxi mount speed to say 400 or 500%? Just increase price. Or establish a portal service that's even more expensive. MOneysinks help balance realm economy anyways.