WoW Time Lapse and Making Slow Travel Appealing

I’m still figuring out where I want to post stuff regularly. Little ideas that turn into big ones start to feel like they should go in a different place! This was originally posted on my Tumblr.

This time lapse video of major sections of Azeroth, the land of World of Warcraft, got me thinking about a simple game design element that I don’t think I’ve seen implemented anywhere.

I love giant, open worlds like this. I’ve never played WoW specifically, but I did play Runescape for a long time and love Fallout 3/New Vegas and Skyrim.

One of the things that I wish I could enjoy more is world traversal. I like feeling like the world is alive, tangible, and real, and that is most evident when I have to work my way through it.

But sometimes that is boring as hell. Backtracking through a place you’ve already been is tedious and uneventful, even if the space you’re inhabiting is delightful and wonderful.

So like most people, I end up fast traveling a lot. That’s where instead of taking 10 minutes to travel to the town you want to be in, you either click on the map to go there instantly (if you’ve been there before) or hitch a faster ride that’s implemented (obviously this varies by game).

But what if there were an auto-travel option that was at normal speed, but was influenced by how you had previously traveled? Maybe a certain amount of “rest” gives you a benefit, and that can be obtained by sleeping in a hotel or traveling to another town on a mount. You could work through your inventory, upgrade your skills, and check upcoming quests while this travel was happening, all the while immersing yourself in this world a little more. And it could be optional.

What interests me further is affecting that trip a little bit. At around 2:50 in the above video, the player skips through a few of the bends in the path because it forms a straighter line through the area. What if the world were filled with these programmed and identified shortcuts, big and small, that once discovered could be exploited to shorten the length of these resting trips?

Think Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater and the “gaps” system. Jumping from one quarter pipe to an adjacent one would trigger a blue name of a gap in your combo meter, giving you bonus points and adding to your current combo. These were little secrets to find sometimes, or really challenging to pull off.

What if an MMO were full of these? It would encourage more discovery of an area and over time make the exploration more meaningful if the benefits to auto-traveling were significant enough.

I’m super into world immersion, but I also know that it can get boring, so there needs to be player incentive. This is what I came up with. Thoughts?

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