MMORPG Devs: Grow up.

Running isn’t cool. Maybe the trek from Highhold keep to Freeport makes you think of the blonde-bombshell who used to jog past your house in a tight little outfit every morning?

But she was jogging for personal gain not because jogging is cool. And chances are, today, she’s discovered there is a pill she can take that obviates the need for jogging, or she’s bought herself a treadmill, goes to a gym, or has become comfortable enough in life that she forgoes jogging entirely. Most people go jogging to meet a physical need. There is a game where physical needs are simulated for people who are too lazy to deal with their real-life ones, it’s called The Sims. I’ve never played it.

Discovering new areas in an MMO is cool and fun. Revisiting old ones not so cool. Being made to drag your ass through zone after zone/area after area full of grey mobs that you were forced to kill by the 100 until you were sick of them… Somehow that ain’t so fun.

I think the idea that running through old zones, reminiscing about past times, is “developer fantasy”.

Unlike most players, the developers don’t play 6-8 hours a night 5 nights a week and 8-16 hours a day 2 days a week. Developers play perhaps 2-3 nights a week, maybe 2-4 hours. *Perhaps* And they’re not nearly as preoccupied with getting rewarded for their time as a player would be. Sure, you’d like that Sword of WhosTheBossNow,Eh? but I’ll bet you don’t find yourself unable to focus on your day job in anticipation of maybe finishing that quest tonight, do ya?

When you’re a developer, running through the old zones is cool: seeing the newbies progressing, seeing the chatter going back and forth between newbies breaking new ground; the one guy asking ‘what is camped means?’, the guys arguing over whose mob the named was, hehe, answering some lost-soul’s question about ‘where cna i find goblin wanderers?’, and generally seeing that all’s well back in the old world. There’s perhaps even some ego massage, “Yup, it’s still working and they’re still playing it”.

But for those of us who are actually immersed in the game, being entertained and having a great time, it is just inertia. No, it’s gravity and friction. It’s drag. It is cumulatively a game killer.

I’m tired of this sorry, pathetic, immature bullshit that it is unrealistic that I can get from A to B without any effort.

Excuse me, but exactly what ‘effort’ is required for me to get from point A to B anyway? I show more skill and talent scratching my gonads (and probably burn more calories) than I do running through zones full of non-agro, non-exp mobs. I think you’re probably just jealous that I’m never going to become as fat and retarded as you if I’m not subjected to the mind-numbing torment of seeing that pond on the left, the tree on the right, that spot where I must have died a thousand times because of the giant you put there to make travelling “fun”, every few days.

Grow up. When I’ve proven myself capable of getting from A to B, stop making me take my character from A to B. If you insist on a time sink, then do it yourself. Give me a key to press, an NPC to speak to, an item to use, something to do it for me. But stop earning D&D nerds their bad reputation. Making me spend 30 minutes “travelling” when you were my GM for a friendly game with you buying the pizza? That was fair enough.

But I’m the one buying your daily bread now. If you insist that it takes 15 minutes to get from A to B, that’s all well and good. But you’re the one getting paid for this. So you can move my bloody character.

This doesn’t just apply to running.

Take boats. And stick ’em. No, really.

For all that I enjoy EverQuest 2, there is a seething, roiling rage within me every time I have to use a frickin’ boat. I don’t mind that it takes a few minutes. It gives the world a sense of scale.

What I do mind, though, is that I have to wait for the boat. Look. This is a virtual bloody world. I demonstrate no skill or prowess in stepping onto the boat and off it again. So why the hell do you need me to do it?

Why can’t you do it for me? You think it should take 5 minutes to switch continents? That’s grand. You do it. I run to the dock, tag myself for the voyage, and when the boat arrives, you step me onto it and back off at the dock.

Let me go take a leak, make a sandwich, grab a beer, whatever, so that when I come back I’m on the other dock. Then I’m beered & ready to start adventuring when I arrive at my destination. Right now, the first words out of a newly arrived group member are invariably “afk”.

Imagine if your company insisted that you use a mail client at work which doesn’t send mail immediately. Instead, a dialog appears, greyed out, asking you to verify you want to send the email. There is a random 30-180s delay before the dialog un-greys. When it does, you have to type “please” in the dialog to enable sending, and then you have to drag your email from the “drafts” folder to the “outbox” folder before the dialog grays out, where the process repeats but moving from “outbox” to “send now” queue.

Bear in mind – this is at work, so you’re getting paid for this. How long do you think before you were asking if you couldn’t perhaps use Thunderbird or Outlook or Eudora or Mac Mail instead?


…and so… in non-EQ2, generalized terms, which…for sake of argument alone, I’ll call…WWIIOL – do you think players hate doing/re-doing?

Besides boats (already a wwiiol travel time weakness as well); I would love to see the change that happens anywhere in the world that you left for a while and then come back to. Stores open or close at different times, or change types or board up their windows. Buildings change. Streets are wider (usually) or possibly abandoned as civilazation grows elsewhere.

In wwiiol terms- the high ground remains the high ground…but THAT AB would NOT keep being exposed to THAT FB, and using *diplomacy* as an analogue, if enough players/sappers/high command wanted a change to facilitate gameplay: it would happen.

Small things have a big change in gameplay. Its not *always* a giant there. It is an obstacle somewhere along the path that will require me to be on my toes. The game *knows* how many times I’ve taken that path. Even if it only knows +/- 10 times. It ain’t always the giant at the tree.

The boat should *be* there. But the trip should have interesting and educational differences. Can you not program a monster/obstacle that has 5 different visual models and 17 different main creative fighting differences…with 10 of the differences rewarding you NOT to fight, but to trust it, or trust the zones “culture” that allows you to honorably decline (or dishonorably). Thereby affecting your personality index in ways that you only learn later through reactions of other NPC’s. Ethical dilemnas as it were. But not always so big. Do I want to fight? I can avoid it and speed up, but I will be judged for doing that.


In WWIIOL terms – surrender the city and you are an asshat to your side. Everyone plays “fight to the death!”. Unrealistic. But where is the reward for strategically or tactically avoiding a fight? Where is the civilian cooperation or hatred? Where are those hit point changes or damage adjustments to account for causing the city to be bombed to rubble, rather than you got outside the civilians to preserve them…THAT would be a war game of deep intensity.

The problem with grandiosing the journey like that, Joker, is that it denies you the option of content selection. If you want to join a group in The Bay of Bad Blitting, why should you be forced to endure 15 minutes of intermediate content?

I’m not saying that a game designer can’t decide it takes 15 minutes to get there, for whatever reason.

Consider, for instance: in WWIIOL’s “Taxi to Victory” days, you jumped on a truck, went took a leak, and came back and chatted with whoever was “still awake”. Someone else drove the truck.

Imagine if we had, instead, made it so that trucks would occasionally get stuck and break down, and require that everyone inside jump out and help push the truck. It would have been cool but it would also have mean’t that you couldn’t easily go afk while doing your time-to-battle.

Really, really, think about that though. That old travel time was actually *your* time. The paradigm doesn’t even break when you get on foot: putting auto-run on and going afk became the norm because generally if someone was going to spot you out in the wilds and shoot you, being there wouldn’t make much difference. So it was still “setting time”, without forcing you to personally hold the W key (was auto-run a feature we added? I seem to recall bitching the rats out in beta that making me hold down the ‘w’ key to in some wise simulate the effort of maintaining a job was retarded, and beta-testers posting pictures of ‘w’ key holding mechanisms)

In WWIIOL terms, encouraging fight-avoidance is bad. Players are our content. There is a big question mark looming over the game’s near future: Will players still fight to the death with TOEs or will they start to see sense in tactical withdrawl. And how do discourage lazy-bailing (setting up an attack and then pulling it because the enemy sets up a defense).

Woot! I just discovered the horse-stable system in Lesser Faydark. As cool as the griffon system is, the horses are just so much faster and cleaner that they feel far, far cooler to me.

Really my objection is to hands-on forced time sinks like the boats; you have to stay at your PC because if you don’t, you’ll miss the boat.

Some of the time sinks are there because the developers want it to be difficult to reach a certain place; the difficulty adds another layer of effort to get that sword of uberness. The idea behind it is, if you spend more time searching for it, then you’ll be happier to get it when you do.

I, however, agree with Edward Castronova. The enforced travel times can help foster economic growth in remote locations. By adding in nearly-instantaneous travel times, you can centralize the economy. While this is good (one stop shopping) it also kills further-out hubs that players could be using and developing.

Take Eve-Online – long travel times, coupled with dangerous pirate-infested systems, make it either time-consuming (1+ hours) to make it to a market hub from the galactic fringe, or outright dangerous. This is a conscious design decision from the developers who wanted to increase the barriers to travel so regional market hubs would develo0p. And they’ve been successful, because it has fostered market growth. An offshoot of that has been decreased server load on hub systems, because instead of having 2000 people shopping in one system, you now have 600 here, 300 there, 500 there.

Perhaps the time sinks aren’t in there just to spite the players; maybe they’re there to increase the rarity of certain items or to keep you involved in a certain area.

It’s like with the Fury teleporting system in EQ2. In EQ1, you joined a group with a druid(fury/wizard) and said “bb plsthx” and you could go do whatever afk. If the druid(fury) did their job you’d come back and find yourself in BB. With the EQ2 system, you don’t have to be grouped with the Fury, the fury casts their port, which creates a portal you have to click on to travel through. If you don’t click it, you don’t get ported, even if you’re grouped with the fury and the fury decides to go through (in which case the portal remains active until it expires – which is a nice touch).

The prove-yourself-capable-of-travelling-from-a-to-b bit is where you have to have visited the druid ring of choice in person before being able to go through a fury portal to that ring.

Conversely, if you group with a Wizard in EQ2, it’s the same system as druid/wizard in EQ1.

The nice thing for the fury is that they can more-happily service random requests for porting without having to subject themselves to the actual porting experience.


In any game with no fear of death, and no penalty for dying (and a drained spawn list is socialistic in penalty and therefore not an individual fault); avoiding a fight is male cowardie writ large.

Our HC system is a BAD system because it causes INDIVIDUAL ACCOUNTABILITY for an act affecting many. While “the many” don’t have to be right or wrong -they just have to pig pile the individual…who quits or stops…even though he may have been brilliantly correct.

The individual players/squads must be able to start a fight that has map consequences (e.g. supply; presuming a small defense system in each town to fight at the squad level).

AHC is rewarding for “SOFT CAPS”…which must cease. The players are not really amazed or happy at such *winning* methods by HC.

SUMMARY: You must reward the playerbase with POSITIVE REINFORCEMENT for what you want them to celebrate and enjoy. Of course, that’s the hard part for designers, isn’t it?

Alex: It’s not the time sinks, I was originally going to comment on why I thought time sinks are valid, why I don’t object to the boats themselves. Its the fact that while surrendering to a timesink, I cannot get off the drip-feed.

I do like the “prove yourself” systems Laccy mentions – particularly DAoC’s horses, EQ2/WoW’s griffons/stablemasters. Note that those systems still take travel time, but the player is allowed to step away from the system.

You cite Eve as an example, and it actually has exactly what I’m talking about: You select a destination, and it goes there. The time sink is present, it takes time to travel distance, but once the player has said “go there”, they don’t have to hold down the W key. They don’t, technically, have to stay at the computer. Keep an eye on it, maybe, but they can use the time sink for other purposes.

This, IMHO, is healthy. We need to build in some natural breaks for our players. Opportunity for them to look away from the screen, tend the call of nature, feed their 1 year old kid.

Actually, boats are one of the first things I didn’t like about EQ2.
Specially when I had miscalculated the chances my rig had to render some things and by when the universe with my character in it was rendered, the boat was moving again!

They have to slow you down from consuming all the content too quickly.

I think it might be worth experimenting with a real travel time world, on a large scale. But give you lots of character slots so you could still do something with one toon while another is on a slow boat to China. But filling a world that big…too expensive.

Maybe a ‘colony’-based system. Players all start in Town 1 and then spread out from their, building their own towns, settlments, etc. At realistic travel rates (with the several toons deal).

The various teleport systems in a lot of games usually break what little suspension of disbelief I have remaining at this point no matter what the rationalization is.

Travel time and related “down time” in WW20 has ALWAYS bugged me. And the larger related issue of making things difficult in the game because it weeded out weaker players, because it was “realistic”, or because of some macho idea that us oldtimer had paid our dues, and the newbs should too — all that muddy headed thinking has really hamstrung the game.

In a pre-release interveiw with Mo, a reporter asked him what the biggest challenge of designing a game like this was, and he said (i’m paraphrasing), “rationalizing space and time in a game that includes fast airplanes, and slow-slogging grunts”.

The total amount of time it takes to get where you are going (which includes navigating the UI to select a mission), and the amount of fun you can have during that time is really the most critical element of good gameplay. I believe this game has ALWAYS been fun to play once contact with the enemy is made, right up to the time of a spawn camp resolution to battle. But on either end of that gameplay phase – that is where the game has always been weakest.

I gave up trying long ago to persuade people that a terrible UI which a) takes too long to navigate, and b) frequently dumps you where you dont want to be – was a real subscription ender. Roughly 1/3 of my mission selections last night resulted in a “oooops..dont want to be here”. I’d still like an instant action button (or whatever you want to call it), because I’ve lost my faith that a more elegant and appropriate solution is forthcomming. A simple solution (but not perfect) is just linking the button to the MSPs, and spawnable depots in enemy towns.

SEcondly, even when you do select the right mission, travel time can be atrocious. We need “spawn near leader” RIGHT NOW.

As you said, people will only endure long travel or wait times when those game elements themselves are fun. Long flights in aircraft are fun because FLYING is fun (witness MSFS). Walking or running in a simulator are NOT fun, unless you are under fire or face the threat of fire in a way that makes you have to use your head (eg: not autowalking!)

KFS, I think you understand these issues better than other Rats

Trout makes a very interesting point. That time to battle is seen as a different issue for different branches in the game.

Most pilots & naval players have no issues with long time to battles, in fact the flexability in tactics not being forced to spawn at the action gives you also adds to the fun for these branches.
I can see also why a lot of players who have little time to devote to each time in game or are used to instant action would want time to battle as infanty cut down the the min.

Personaly I realy miss the pre MS & spawnable depots days when fighting on the ground. OK it took you a little while to get to a fight, but those trips where were most people got chance to meet new players, talk about the game, tactics etc, or just shoot the breeze.
These tended to foster team-work, and was one of the reason that squads where so strong in those days.
Heck I have many friends from around the world that I originaly met whilst driving/riding a truck/tank to the front. You got chance to talk to people, now with almost instance action you don’t have time to sit talking with other players. Half the time you bring up the chatbox you die!

I’m not saying instant action isn’t/can’t be fun, but a whole lot of other games do that, WWIIOL time to battle element just made it a bit different.

There’s a semantic debate to be had there: Time to “battle” vs time to individual fights. I think the old truck-travel time to get to a battle was a good thing, the trouble was we made infantry suffer the same replay rules as everyone else, we made it an infantry simulator instead of making it a tank, air and ship simulator with an infantry game under their noses to make the battlefields rich and realistic.

And part of that has to be bolstering the infantry numbers by allowing you to return to battle very quickly as an infantryman. Call of Duty style, you should always be expecting that there’s another EI coming behind the one you shoot.

I added autorun as part of the initial infantry revamp in 1.6, if I recall correctly.

There was an ‘autorun’ prior to that, but it took advantage of the brokenness of the UI to do it .. some weird “hold down the W key while hitting enter” or something.

Ahhh! Yes! Memories :)

BTW, Ramp’s looking at the infantry systems and we’re trying to hire someone to take over his sysadmin role. One of his first comments to me was “Gaw’lee, was there a reason Patrick didn’t like C++?” “No, Kango and Marty forbade it” “Well, cuz the TPS system totally looks like its begging for C++. Every function always takes the same type of parameter for the first argument and everything”. Thought you might get a chuckle outta that.

PS. Would wub u much if you’d email him anything you remember about TPS/FPS :)

TTB is a difficult nut to crack. There are some basic design concepts that were originally in WW20 that appear to be carried over from the team’s Warbirds days. I’m thinking specifically of RTB. RTB for a pilot is actually fun – navigation, handling a damaged bird, landing, being pursued ect. Nothing comparable exists in infantry terms in this game – hence nobody bothers to rtb a trooper. Infantry RTB could be fun if the “B” becomes the mission leader, or a fallback point close to town where you can resupply, heal minor wounds, or pick up new information somehow.

One of my big dreams for CRS is that they improve the design so that casual gamers can become the “shock troops” who willingly go from battle to battle when they are at their hight. More hardcore people would initiate the fights (including FB preparation, recon and all related planning tasks) and then do the mop ups, when casual players dont stick around anyway.

The way the game works now there is an expectation that all subscibers should participate in all phases of battle, and within one operational area (brigade loyalty). People wanting to play as shock troops have to REALLY work the UI to get what they want.


Hah! Memories, indeed! Yes, it basically was my best attempt at object oriented C programming :)

I think there’s even a comment or two in there about “wow, this would be so much cleaner in c++”.

While C++ has it’s problems, it also has it’s uses.

Very good points, Trout.

I agree too with Bloo when he says that the most difficult part of a big world is “filling” it with content.
The day the players have intuitive tools to do it by themselves, a colony game will be simply awesome. There will be places that suck and amazing others, just as you would expect from a created world.

WINGMANN – “WikiWorld” is what you are looking for. I have coined a new term. Now go spread the word. :)

“One of my big dreams for CRS is that they improve the design so that casual gamers can become the “shock troops” who willingly go from battle to battle when they are at their hight. More hardcore people would initiate the fights (including FB preparation, recon and all related planning tasks) and then do the mop ups, when casual players dont stick around anyway.” –TROUT

I repeated the quote because that is the most compactified way to say what I have thought and tried to say for 5 years. I would take pages and multiple posts. TROUT did it in a paragraph.

The “Paragraph O’ Squishie Success Yearly” or POSSY. Always love POSSY. Aweesome TROUT. Get this implemented and new guys love your game and never leave. Woot. Serious Woot. No fekking around WOOT, dammit!

It’s what I’ve been, ineffectively, alluding to for a few years; it’s what I hoped to achieve with mobile spawns, to some degree: increase the rate of churn of infantry so that the apparent fighting force is enlarged.

To my mind, it sucked as a tanker, in the old-days, to drive into a town and see 8-16 infantry. Now outnumbered unrealistically and unhistorically by the tanks, for simple lack of number of actual humans “playing”, they still had the same gameplay rules as tanks.

The problem was that some very vocal players (and staff) were clinging to the notion that your guy is you. So seeing “kfs1” time and again was immersion breaking for them. IMHO that’s just varying shades of BS unless you go for the real deal of death = roll a new toon.

We can actually afford to restore some of the ‘oldschool’ stuff as we make the duration of fights longer, which means making it easier for infantry to get back to them.

When you start to get the right balance, then that old-style truck ride into town becomes atmospheric and immersive, prep-time, instead of pure and simple overhead.

If you have a 5-20 minute ride ahead of every sortie, then as a new player, that means you have a 400:1 idle to action ratio, which is just not acceptable. That long initial ride, however, become far less burdonsome if you get a few “lives” once you arrive. If, instead of riding (12 minutes) dying (30s), riding (12 minutes) … you have riding (12 minutes) dying (30s) respawning (30s) dying (60s) respawning (30s) dying (90s) – now you’re down to a 20:1 idle to action ratio; that means you’re spending more time doing something interesting, you’re going to have more opportunity to learn how to play and reduce the ratio even more.

And if there are 100 people fighting at Schilde spread out over a 20 minute drive, 20 tanks and 80 infantry: the number of people “in combat” is going to be a fraction of those players, making it appear to be a small fight.

If, however, the 80 infantry get recycled over a 90s window, then you’re going to see a considerably larger scale of action at the town.

but find the instant action button … somehow. I agree with your objections. Some players want *something* now.

Let HC controlled MSPs become 1 instant action per side.

Once the n00bs are in a squad – then make them ride and do the 15min/90s/90s/90s/90s. But let’s hook ’em first.

Unfortunately, the term “instant action button” is a red sheet to me. There’s never going to be one: can’t/won’t.

Initial infantry spawning should require a ride in. MLs should always have to ride in. Mission members should be able to *re-spawn* from an ML-associated point. Only noobs arriving after the mission deploys should be able to initially spawn into an established mission in the field. Experienced players wanting to join a battle should go in as a new platoon.

Let the ML operate two instances within one client…one the officer with full capabilities, the other a virtual respawn/resupply point only, with terrain interactions but limited awareness of friendly ground live-objects and none of fire, enemy, air activity, etc. Define a maximum separation between the ML and his respawn/resupply point, enforced via constraints on the two instances’ separate movement. If the ML can’t move his respawn/resupply point forward without getting it blown away, he can’t move himself forward farther than the separation limit. If he gets it blown away, no more ammo for his troops, no more respawns, and he gets a mission point penalty.

Add enducements/costs so that infantry missions maintain ML proximity/cohesion, including provision of periodic receipt of ammo packs (via virtual ammo runners), replenishing smaller initial ammo loadouts, and no map/tactical UI outside of proximity.

The infantry engagement presentation needs to be parallel-with-serial-depth, not just a serial stream. The tactical battlefield needs to be empty space with moving concentrations, not a sparse sprinkling of individuals running about. When you encounter enemy force, you should be fighting a platoon or company concentration, not the run-in path from an MSP.

Then the ML’s mobility and tactical common sense will tend to keep the respawn point moving forward if possible, and out of enemy camping fire.

Isn’t it possible to direct someone straight to a MSP randomly through a button click?

Maybe, but which MS are you going to get? A defensive MS that no-one’s bothered to take down after everything calmed down, an MS up to an undefended FB that a squad’s working on, or one to an actual attack? Even then, what if there aren’t any? What if it’s time to hold the line? The game’s no less fun – some of my most memorable moments are on defense – but apparently it doesn’t satisfy that “Instant Action” requirement.

This isn’t a game that’s really conductive to jumping in without communication and/or observation (ie, looking at the map or asking in chat) – even if you manage to set something up so the game will do that work for them, they’re still screwed if they keep it up once they’re on the field. Outside of getting new people into a squad ASAP, there really isn’t anywhere good that mindless instant action can take you. (“Mindless” being the key word there; nothing’s wrong with being able to respawn quickly, just this “Join Game, Spawn” bit – there are other games that are a lot prettier that fill that description and WWIIOL can’t (and shouldn’t) try to compete with that.)

Bloo said: “Maybe a ‘colony’-based system. Players all start in Town 1 and then spread out from their, building their own towns, settlments, etc. At realistic travel rates (with the several toons deal).”

When I win the lotto Bloo, you and I can build our dynamic dreamworld :)

If you are so against powergaming, then why is there a High Command in wwiionline? The entire H.C. concept clashes with casual gamers. Even casual gamers who play too much.

“Personaly I realy miss the pre MS & spawnable depots days when fighting on the ground. OK it took you a little while to get to a fight, but those trips where were most people got chance to meet new players, talk about the game, tactics etc, or just shoot the breeze.
These tended to foster team-work, and was one of the reason that squads where so strong in those days.”

No it didn’t. Players jumped off the truck and went their merry ways, the same way players spawn off a MS and go their merry ways. This is an absolute lie, and frankly i’m tired of listening to it.

If you are so against powergaming, then why is there a High Command in wwiionline? The entire H.C. concept clashes with casual gamers. Even casual gamers who play too much.

Well, for a start, I never designed the HC concept. But it goes totally apropos with casual gamers. It is, in my understanding, an outgrowth of the difficulty casual gamers had in organizing into a team for more than a raid or two – just like its an untruth that truck rides fostered team work (they didnt, they thrust social space into the game) it is an untruth to remember the squads as organized and co-operative for any extended period of time.

More than all but a handful of games, our world is persistent. The casual gamer doesn’t want to care about battle preparation, and if you leave it up to whomever is online, what you get is what we had – disharmony, disorganiation, and an requirement for every single player to take a part in the process of organisation and setup.

Where we need to go is forward to where that is not a requirement but is a feasibility for squads who want to organize an event – as long as what they are willing to do is engage the enemy, not just to come away saying “great fight” from the 3rd attempt of the night where they managed to get the noose around the enemy’s neck before he woke up, and 2 previous attempts where they drew members of the opposite team into a series of feints. Feints are great, but when 4/5 “fights” is a feint, its not fun for anyone but the guys who log out once one of the feints gives an uncontested victory.

Of course I say all that fully conscious of the fact that right now it is not in a good place. We have a meeting tomorrow morning to discuss healthy and viable options.

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