Fast Travel Musings

Discussion in 'Game Mechanics Design' started by kirbwarrior, Feb 2, 2019.

  1. kirbwarrior

    kirbwarrior Veteran Veteran

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    This exactly is what made me wonder about the "immersion" of removing fast travel from Skyrim. I do this all the time in roleplaying because even if travel is dangerous, it's not necessary to roleplay out the entirety of it.
    This sounds like a great alternative to fast travel. If I had to go back to a certain city but now I've unlocked quicker pathways that makes it a breeze to get there, it's in effect the same thing without stepping outside of the normal mode of transportation. (As for actually needing it in your game, that honestly depends on how much backtracking you have; see below)
    Backtracking is probably its own huge discussion, but after playing Octopath Traveler some, yeah it's definitely required when you're bouncing around the world like crazy. In fact, now I wonder what a Bethesda game that is linear would play out like without a need for fast travel.
    Up through 10, Final Fantasy is more than not a linear series. You don't often need to go back to a town you've been to before and in some cases (FF4) being able to go back would undermine the story (the first arc has a large thing about getting back to the first city). In fact, 10 doesn't even pretend to have a world map to explore, instead giving you every path to go through and explore, and only once you've explored everywhere does it give you an airship to go back and do all the optional stuff.

    FF6 actually does quite the neat trick with this. The first half of the game is basically linear, making you go through a straight story and pick up all the characters. The second half now breaks the story up completely, letting it work in any order and basically asking you to go everywhere while giving you the ability to do so very quickly.
     
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  2. Tai_MT

    Tai_MT Veteran Veteran

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    I tried the "do not fast travel" stuff in Skyrim for immersion. What it ultimately lead me to do was ignore most of the quests in the game... ignore most of the NPC's... and operate out of a "base town" where I stored junk. Wandering the same roads over and over again, again and again, for no reason other than "I need to get to where this thing is"... proved largely annoying. I did it so long that I knew when I was pretty much guaranteed a Dragon Encounter as they seemed to always happen along the same two roads at about the same locations. I knew where most of the "random" encounters were as well.

    Not using the Fast Travel in Skyrim actually broke my immersion some by letting me get to know all the programming in it, because I was forced to experience it... again and again. The magic of "discovery" was stolen from me after about the 20th hour of doing it. It became tedious.

    It also serves to let you get AHEAD in the game as well. If you reach level 25 before going around that bridge... it still appears once you reach Level 25, which lets you into the next area.

    There is a very large amount of backtracking in my game plus I needed to have Level Ups do something when I divorced stats from them. "Giving the player a reason to explore the map again" seemed like a great alternative. I then began simply expanding on it. More often than not, it opens up shortcuts. One of the earliest unlocks is at Level 4, where a bunch of freight is removed from the south entrance to the first town you run across. This allows you to bypass a large circular path around the map (passed two dungeons... an NPC... a forest... a long trek around about 250 steps) and simply get to the southern portion of the map quickly. At level 25, that bridge appears near that town, which gives you access to the eastern section of the map without having to go through a cave, a mountainous area, and a second town. In fact, the bridge effectively connects the two towns. It shortens the routes from hundreds of squares to maybe 50 or so.

    These routes become largely necessary as you gather party members and come back to old areas, as the old areas now hold higher level/stat content for the new party members. The backtracking becomes necessary if you want to power up the new characters, and the shortcuts make it much easier to do (basically, I took the concept from Metroidvania type games where power unlocks quicker map traversal, and backtracking rewards you with more power... and the quicker map traversal makes that important).

    Levels do more than just unlock routes though. But, largely, that's their purpose. Shortcuts across the map.

    It plays out... very... boring. Every encounter becomes predictable. Every trek becomes a chore. Once something is explored, there's no reason to do it again...

    Fast Travel is great for large worlds where backtracking becomes necessary. Otherwise, you're stuck with the alternative of making your players bored. Making travel tedious.
     
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  3. kirbwarrior

    kirbwarrior Veteran Veteran

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    That idea is something I've seen in some rpgs and I really like, namely the "gate" bosses; Instead of locking you off from an area, it has a boss that you must defeat to pass, and the game is built so you're ready to fight the boss when the game "wants" you to, but if you know what you are doing (or maybe just grind) you can beat them and see things early.
    That itself sounds like a great approach to starting a game, where the premise is this.
    Fast travel is a frankly simple solution, but actually approaching that problem "travel is tedious" and solving that sounds like a good goal for some games. Ship encounters seems like a small exploration of that, where you can get around to towns easier via sea and the encounters are more engaging.
     
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  4. TheoAllen

    TheoAllen Self-proclaimed jack of all trades Veteran

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    This is why I said the first time I tried the game, I use fast travel for a sake of completing quests. The next playthrough is for immersion where I don't do most of the quest (because I already know what the quest do). There's a difference between "I'm going to do this quest bcz it rewards me with an awesome exp gain/skill/legendary item/for a sake of completion/<insert any other gaming experience reason>" and "I'm not going to do with this quest because it's not what the character I'm going to build". so when I did this, I didn't play the game for a sake of playing game. Even with that, I'm still overwhelming with many quests that I accidentally triggered because it's the one that actually breaks my immersion. NPC's problem is its own problem. Not mine. Some random courier send me a letter then triggered a quest. Now what, I supposed to do a certain quest and ignore everything else, but I can't ignore this letter either. Or else I feel like this going to break my immersion.

    Not that I don't agree with the sense of discovery lost because I keep repeating the same route and the same scenery. It's pretty much what I feel as well. Mainly I stayed because I like my characters (and I played it mostly in 3rd person). Seeing my character struggles through all the journey was kind of immersive to me.

    Beth's games are not a perfect game for immersion, but I still think their game got me better in immersive experience than the other games.
     
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  5. Prescott

    Prescott argggghhh Veteran

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    In my game, fast travel is used by creating a campfire. After you create one, you can fast travel to any other campfire you have created. It definitely is a meta thing and isn't explained at all, and due to the nature of the game's time system does not take any in-game time whatsoever. It exists purely for the player's convenience, and I think it's absolutely okay to do things like this in games. I believe it works like this in Witcher 3 with the sign posts as well, but I don't remember too much because I only used fast travel in that game when I was absolutely required to. I didn't want to miss any side quests or random happenings that could pop up along the way to my next goal. That's the beauty of it, you give players who want to zip around the option to, and you give players who don't want to do that and want to be immersed the immersion they crave.

    This is speaking from a strictly open-world styled game, though. As far as more linear games go, I feel like it would be much more convenient to add fast travel that had some sort of actual existence in the story/world of the game, if it is even necessary.
     
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  6. taaspider

    taaspider Villager Member

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    For me fast travel is a "must have" for any RPG, specially considering I usually have little time to play and don't want to spend it roaming through all the same roads and maps, dodging all visual encounters to get to my destination as fast as possible and progress with whatever I'm trying to do.

    I have no issues regarding as how it is done, be it a meta thing, a spell, or any deus ex machina shenanigans... As long as it is there soon enough to prevent me start rolling my eyes everytime I have to backtrack, I'm ok. Just let me get to the fun part, as Tai_MT said.

    My own project is still too small to be worried about this, but I do plan including a way of fast traveling. The world lore has a few restrictions to magic that weights on the game's story, so I'm trying to figure out an organic way to introduce it. Maybe something I can attach a side quest to make available at each fast traveling point.
     
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