Exploration is lost in MMOs

Over on keen and Graev’s blog an excelent post about how modern games have lost exploration.

Did we loose exploration or did players demand games that did not take up to much time? I have some great memories of going through dungeons in UO before I was really ready to do it. I would spend hours in DAoC just running around and exploring the landscape. I have never explored in WAR, the game is not made to really explore.

Most of the problem in WAR at least is all leveling is done via quests, the entire time you are leveling you are going from one quest way point to the other.  In older games you camped mobs to get experience. This made you go out and find them and camp them. In today’s games “camping” and “grinding” are evil words. They are so evil that it is discouraged in most modern games leaving you with the run and kill these 23 rats to save our garden or go deliver this damn letter to a freaking hobbit in the shire crap.

As people have demanded less time sinks developers have answered with more developed worlds that lead you from one place to the other eliminating travel time and exploration in the process. People really don’t want to have to search for the next quest, they want a little exclamation point over an npc’s head and an arrow on their mini map leading them there.  The market proves this, look at vanguard that game is an explorers paradise, it is a beautiful large world that is made for exploring, it even has freaking boats yet no one plays that. The games that make it are the ones that stick to WoW’s model. There are few exceptions out there but most of those are niche games.

Developers need to re-embrace the open world and grinding. They need to make grinding an okay way to level, they need to let you screw up go into the wrong zone. They also need to let you be lead to the correct zone when you want to be.  I do not like taking hours trying to find the next quest hub I am supposed to go to. Travel should take some time and to be interesting at least the first time. I don’t want to just teleport to the next area I like to look around and see new things.

But they better not make me wait for anything!

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