Fast Travel

December 4, 2011 at 12:58 pm | Posted in mmorpg, Star Wars: The Old Republic | 27 Comments
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As I was playing through the SWTOR beta I took note of their fast travel system. Basically you jump on an automated speeder to travel long distances between outposts. As you travel you can see what’s going on, zoom by people and mobs. Speeding through the trees at a breakneck pace.

I like how it sort of gives the impression of being connected to your surroundings, even though it’s fully automated and you aren’t. On Dromund Kaas it’s also used to give the impression of great scale as well, being flown amongst skyscrapers to get to your destination.

It was a bit buggy when I was trying it out, mostly due to my own lag and lower specs. It would take a moment after arriving to begin walking again.

However as far as traveling goes, I think I enjoy it as much as instant travel in Guild Wars or teleportation stones in other games.

Now obviously SWTOR is not the first game to have this sort of system, WoW and LOTRO come quickly to mind, but I thought it was better done than those games.

In Lord of the Rings Online I was nearly put to sleep by the sheer scale of traveling. Jumping on a horse to take you to the next town took what felt like 10 minutes. I literally nodded off once or twice. World of Warcraft I don’t have much experience with, so I won’t comment. But SWTOR had particularly swift transportation, all while not breaking immersion.

And that was interesting. The immersion wasn’t broken for me.

It wasn’t perfect of course. Arriving at the capital meant that you couldn’t take the speeders inside the city, and I felt it was a painful walk to get to the speeders that took you to your class quests, or the speeders on the west side of the city.

Why they all couldn’t be fully integrated with one another is beyond me. “Don’t provide fast travel if you’re just going to break it up into bits and pieces”, I kept thinking.

I still enjoyed the system but every time I play a game without instant travel I find myself missing it. This has been the case since I started playing Guild Wars. Once you’ve truly well and seen everything, jumping from point to point feels like a huge time saver and stress reliever.

Which brings me to Guild Wars 2. They have a great footing in lore to explain their fast travel this time around, the asura are masters of the arcane and perfected asura gates long ago. The ease of use and convenience factor will be welcome after a time, but would a more tactile or visually appealing fast travel method be appealing to anyone else?

Traveling through Tyria on a mount, soaring over it on a bird, or zooming through the trees on a mechanical contraption would be excellent in my opinion.

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27 Comments

  1. I loved the fast travel in WoW. It was (the original way of travelling) like SWTOR and Lotro in general. You purchased a route from point A to point B. If you wanted to go to point C, you’d have to purchase that route once you landed on point B. 🙂

    You get to fly in WoW similar to how you fly in SWTOR. I really love this way of travelling because it means that you get to see the world from above. In WoW, the routes also quite regularly showed some scenes that you couldn’t reach by foot (or they were very hard to reach). Nice additional touch. 🙂

    By now, it’s different because everybody just uses their own flying mount and that’s kind of boring actually. In Lotro, I always try to use the swift travel options because it’s faster. Although my warden has an advantage because she can “port” to several locations which makes travelling a lot faster.

    • Which is the only conceptual problem I have with WoWs travel, you get a spectacular view those first few times but you’re kind of detached afterward. I suppose you’re right that everyone having their own mount is kind of boring, if we’re looking at it from the perspective of mass transit.

  2. Fast travel in WoW is very memorable to me. I loved soaring over the treetops, and it seemed like Blizzard took some time to make sure the flight path was semi-interesting.

    The problem with this is that doing it for the fifth or twentieth time, it gets boring. That’s your cue to go take a wizz or get a drink. What would be nice is if after a few times you could take the option of just doing it instantaneously instead of biking along.

    • I am much like Ravious here, I loved viewing the world from the back of a bird. I am also like Randomessa, if I have something I want to do I want to be able to do it. Not spend 15 minutes getting there first like I used to have to do in WOW. I’d love the option of going for a guided flight, but don’t make me use it all the time.

      • Seeing things from a height is interesting but there is more than one way to achieve that sort of feeling. high mountain overlooks and towers. But I agree the convenience of travel is important.

    • Which is exactly why i’m not really upset that gw2 has instant travel, and seemingly a more saturated instant travel to boot. There is a certain level of convenience that is hard to shed once you’ve tried it.

  3. For a casual guy like me, I like aspects of both instantaneous and “scenic route” travel. The problem with LOTRO and WoW travel was that you could grief or exploit the fast-travel to accomplish various things. On the other hand, seeing the landscape blur by was very immersive, the first few times you do it.

    Instant travel is favored by more hard-core people, who just want to go-go-go, or it seems like they’re wasting money on their monthly subscription. It’s also more desirable when dynamic events have a certain “timer,” and you want to just jump straight into the action. Can you imagine having to sing, “A Whole New World,” after every time you die while trying to take down the Shatner?

    • Instant travel is favored by more hard-core people, who just want to go-go-go, or it seems like they’re wasting money on their monthly subscription.

      I beg to differ with this assertion, as someone who is very casual due to limited time to play. I do feel like I’m wasting my money on a monthly subscription when I have to spend half of an evening’s gaming session simply traveling to meet my party members, but it isn’t because I have a “gogogo” achiever mentality.

      I’d just like to actually be able to play the game hwen I’m logged in, is all.

      • So you aren’t interested in fast travel methods that aren’t instantaneous then?

      • I totally agree with this. When I only have an hour to play, twenty minutes of holding the ‘W’ key is very annoying. I drive from Texas to West Virginia every year. The first couple of years the scenery was amazing, but after ten years it’s just a gigantic chore.

        The first couple of times slow travel is where it’s at. And the next ten times or so I can deal with some slower ‘fast’ travel such as automated boats or speeders. But after travelling somewhere a dozen times, any time whatsoever becomes a chore, not a fun aspect.

        • Yeah there appears to be some support for the fact that at first it’s fine but after a while nobody wants to do the traveling. Instant travel wins long term.

    • There are definitely aspects of both methods that could appeal to both, and I think swtor actually tries to splice them, a bit. Their fast travel is faster than other fast travel methods but not as fast as instant travel.

  4. As nice as a fly over a top everyone/thing could be, I just don’t know if such a feature would be possible with how they’ve got their engine set up with the zoning between each map.

    • True enough, but, guild wars 2 could have tried other methods to accomplish travel aside from teleporting everywhere.

  5. an interesting addition to the taxi system in SWTOR is a skill with a thirty minute cool down that lets you teleport to any unlocked hubs on your current map. It’s like a hearthstone in wow except it isn’t bound to a single location.

    • Isn’t it locked to the outpost you set it to? In which case its exactly like a hearthstone? My mistake if not.

      • Nope. The quick travel will let you jump to any unlocked bind point on the planet you are on. It used to be like you thought it was but that got changed in October, maybe?

        They also added a new power that will quick travel you to your respective fleet.

        • Ah thanks for the tip, didn’t play after the last build.

  6. I don’t have a strong opinion on mounts in GW2 (unlike most, it seems), but for playing with friends who don’t always play in lockstep and therefore aren’t always in the same place at any given time (as opposed to strangers whom you can recruit from anywhere), I find fast travel an invaluable feature. I liked the way SWTOR did it (although I would have appreciated the ability to track more than one thing on my minimap at a time!) if I couldn’t have full-fledged GW2 waypoint travel.

    • Okay well then ignore my above question I guess. I appreciate there are definite time requirements for fast travel and I certainly wouldn’t recommend anything like LOTRO where a horse literally takes you ten minutes to get somewhere, but I just think swtor does fast travel better than average except for a few small points.

      • Agreed and agreed!

  7. Just wanted to point out that the original WoW’s fast travel system had issue, for instance it was design so that you flow away from area that were not fully developed, or were just elaborate props. The overall time was increased and some areas that could have been amazing were left as hallow shells.

    • Cool. Yeah nothing is perfect, nobody is saying that.

  8. Several points here;
    Flight is an amazing feeling, and so is speed… including them in a game is a smart move by any developer since one of the main points of these games is to provide players with various “vicarious” experiences.
    .
    In terms of convenience for casual players with limited playing time; I definitely prefer the ‘instant’ waypoint travel system in GW2, but perhaps they could include some optional “scenic” travel routes as well for those who would like an aerial view. If you’re not “forced” to use it just to get from point A to B then those types of rides are just pure enjoyment.
    .
    There is just one caveat I feel compelled to include here;
    One of the reasons it’s almost mandatory for developers to include rapid or instant travel systems in their game these days is because of the limited playing time available to an increasingly more mature (and time strapped) player population… However, that should not be an excuse for making travel from point A to B by the old fashioned methods a tediously boring, and unfulfilling experience.
    Some of us are “explorers” who would like to travel the lands of our virtual worlds at a slower and more “sight seeing” pace. It would be nice if developers could strike a compromise between the various factions within their player base.
    .
    Making regular, exploratory travel across the the landscapes of their virtual world interesting and rewarding for those who choose to take the time to do it would be providing a REAL choice to the players. Have limited playing time, or need to rendezvous with friends? Take the instant travel methods provided and enjoy! Have some time on your hands and at least an inkling of curiousity? Do a little pathfinding and perhaps stumble across some cool easter eggs along the way and maybe even some not insignificant rewards as well.
    .
    I’m just saying, there IS room for both in a game. It would be really nice to see both, instead of the norm which is to favor one, at the expense of the other.

    • I really have to doubt that anyone would bother to use a scenic route in preference to instant travel. If you have both the vast vast majority of people will use instant and then you’ve wasted time on the slower version, which is hard to justify by saying it’s scenic.

      That said its something I would enjoy.

  9. Heh heh, I just can’t help chuckling at your mention of LOTRO’s system. Like oh my god, that horse was slow. But I remember us talking about this once, and I mentioned that LOTRO is disadvantaged because lore restricted them from using flying gryphons or super fast speeders. I do enjoy the scenery during travel and they offer great opportunities to take a break, but still, they could have made it so you could have the option to cut right to when you arrived if they wanted to.

    What I love about SWTOR though, is the “fast travel” system that allows you to go back to your bind point. It used to work like the traditional way (one bind point only, you return to it every time you pop the ability), but in the latest builds I noticed that you can use it to go to any hub point with your long cooldown fast travel ability — as long as you’ve “discovered” it. I really liked that.

    • True there is some pretty heavy restriction on turbine due to lore, but I can’t help thinking faster horses for fast travel would have been amazing and that the slow travel really hurts

      Guess i’m operating on month old information about the bind points.


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