Moo Tang Clan: The two edged sword of distance

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

The two edged sword of distance

I've been thinking about distances and travel times and the effect this has on guild cohesion and other social effects. In WoW right now it's possible to get anywhere in pretty short time - swift griffin and bat taxis, epic mounts, flying mounts, summoning stones, warlock summoning, mage portals. So many options. What this means is that members of your guild are typically scattered to the four corners of the world, even though that world might actually be quite small.

Sure, it also means they can come together relatively quickly ... however that still would take a conscious decision and consequent effort. It is important to remember the power of defaults, and here the default situation is that members of your guild are not in close proximity, are not reaping the benefits of serendipitous collaboration, are not building social bonds.

I believe there would be benefits to guilds having a geographical focus. Not only are there social advantages, it could even become part of the guild identity. It would require a different world design though - not only is there the long travel element, but it would be important that all members of a guild could operate from the same general geographical area.

Hmmm, instantaneous travel to anywhere = bad, but tedious to travel anywhere also = bad.

So, how to do this? Here is the idea that came to me: design the world such that it takes a very long time to travel from one place to another, seriously mind-numbing and game-breaking long time... but design it such that automated travel in ships and on griffins continue while the player is logged off. The player boards the ship, and can then either sit there and watch the waves for literal hours, or log off for those hours. When they log back on the next day, they have arrived.

Let players still be in contact over those long distances, they could even establish remote colonies and outposts. Guilds could pick up and relocate too, this would be similar to guilds embarking on server transfers, only they are still on the same server.

Obviously, you'd need to plan your travels and activities such that you don't need to travel right in the time you have available for playing. You'd settle in some zone, do all your questing and activity and adventuring there, and prepare for the time when you will embark on a great journey to far off lands.

I have no idea as yet just how a world might be structured to accomplish this. Something to think about.

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