While leveling in the beta and with the knowledge that there will be no flying this expansion, despite the tiny morsel of hope they give people but will not live up to, I've been thinking a lot about how travel can be made better without actually adding flight because, lets face it, we are going to need a lot of things fixed if they want us to stay grounded and not be frustrated every step we take.
I've already mentioned in a previous post that I think blizzard has done a fair job thus far with designing the expansion with us staying on ground mounts in mind. There are more direct paths to and from areas of importance and travel from zone to zone is probably more obvious and easily accessible then I ever recall seeing in any expansion but that does not mean that there are not any changes needed. So lets get on with it. My lists of suggestions for making travel easier by ground and yes I will be sending a trimmed version of this post to blizzard directly. Hopefully they can fix a few things in the little time they have left.
1) Connecting Flights Should Not Be Needed.
I've been saying this one since the beginning of time and it still amazes me that blizzard has never fixed this. Maybe with the old system it is understandable why things stay as they are but this is a new expansion and it can be designed different. Designed better.
If I have flight point A and I have flight point B that should be all I ever need to get from A to B. I should not care if there are 1, 2 or 17 other flight points between A and B because those 1, 2 or 17 flight points do not matter to me. I am going from A to B. I do not need to know those and I should not need to know those.
There is nothing more frustrating then being out questing and taking a break going home not to be able to get back easily. So often I would be out questing and pick up a new flight path and hearth. The next day I log on and go to fly back and guess what? I have no connecting flight points that connect to that and I now have to waste my time getting back to a place I already have the flight point for. That is bad design, very bad design. I've gotten into the habit of clicking on the flight master after I pick up a flight point just to make sure it is connected and I should not have to do that because the coding is bad.
Lets put this is a real life comparison. I am taking a flight from new york to california. I paid for a non stop flight. There are probably dozens of airports I am going to be flying over. Do I need to know where they are located? Do I even need to know they exist? No, because I am on a flight to california. I do not need to visit every airport between the two before I am allowed to fly there. I shouldn't need to visit every flight point in the game either.
Some might say, but what happens if there is trouble and the plane needs to land, you would need to know the closest airport wouldn't you. Actually, no. I would not need to know. Even if an emergency happened and the plane was forced to land the pilot is the one that needs to know. The pilot can land me in a place I never even heard of. I do not need to know where that is, only he does. I am pretty sure that this flight path mount knows all the flight points even if I do not, after all being a flight path mount is his job and he has been doing it forever. The mount is the pilot. The mount needs to know the other flight points. I don't.
So number 1 on our list is connecting flight paths. Lose them blizzard. As long as I know where I am and where I am going, that is all that matters. I should never need to know every single flight path between the two.
2) Direct Flight Paths.
Another one of those things that blizzard should have fixed a long time ago. Every fight should go a direct route. They are no longer restricted like they used to be by there not being art assets in some areas and they needed to go around them. Being everything is designed with flying in mind everything has a top, so no need to avoid going over things any longer.
Going back to the point A to point B example from the previous point. What is the shortest distance between point A and point B. A direct line. I am pretty sure every single one of us heard that by 3rd grade at the absolute latest in our lives. So how come not even one person at blizzard ever heard of that?
Using the most recent added flight point to the live game for an example, the one at the timeless island, I will show how horrible the flight design still is in the current game and in the process give the perfect example of why it needs to be changed.
I was on a character that has every flight point, so it is not like I was missing something, when I logged in, got on my flying mount and started to head over to the timeless island. Do not remember what made me do it, but when traveling over the jinyu village I decided to jump on a flight path to finish out the flight. For those that do not know the flight path I am talking about is the closest you can get to timeless island without actually being on timeless island.
So what path did the flight path take me? Instead of just heading to the timeless island it took me to the highest point in the jade forest and then back down and over to the timeless island.
This is the newest addition to the game in terms of flight paths and nothing has changed since the beginning of the game with the long and winding flight paths for no reason other than to completely waste our time.
So number 2 on our list is direct line flights. I don't want to go sight seeing every time I get on a flight path. I want to get from point A to point B. Just make a direct line and fly that direct line.
3) Misleading Mountains.
There is one thing I hate more than anything else while on the ground and that is thinking I can go somewhere I can't. The art team does some wonderful work and I will not fault them for doing a good job, but they do too good of a job sometimes. That make little mountains, little dirt piles, anything that requires running up, all appear so smooth and as if you can just run up and over it.
I hate seeing a path to where I want to go and then while running toward it suddenly I am doing the AFK number lock dance. You know those guys you see running at max speed into the wall because they went AFK with auto run on? Yeap, that is what I end up looking like. Cruising along and going the most direct route possible while hugging the wall and suddenly I am running in one spot.
Please make it so things we can not walk over look like we can not walk over them? Is that too hard to ask? I know this might seem petty to most and even I say it is a little petty but with all these jumping games they added where you have to jump form platform to platform or rock to rock or ledge to ledge having so many of them visually appear as if you can jump up on them and yet not be able to is extremely annoying.
So number 3 on the list is please make mountains, ledges, platforms that you can not jump on so they do not appear that they are capable of being jumped on. God how I hate wasting time trying to jump on to something that apparently is not intended to be jumped on because visually it looks as if you can. That awesome art team needs to make things we can not climb up and can not jump on look as if we can not jump on them or climb up them.
4) Remove Invisible Walls.
This one goes hand in hand with the previous point to making travel easier. Be more telling with your art work.
Have you ever been running through the trees and see two trees close together and you get to them and hit space bar and jump right thought them? We all have. But it seems in warlords nearly every single set of tress I have seen like that can not be jumped through. There is some sort of invisible wall connecting them.
Have you ever been running through an area and there is something that looks like you can run right under it so you scoot yourself under it? We all have. But it seems in warlords that even if visually you could drive a mack truck under something you will just hit a wall and not be able to do it. There is some sort of invisible mass under that passage that will not allow you through it.
Have you ever been in an area that was surrounded by a gate you can not jump over so you run around the gate until you find an opening in it and run through there? We all have. But it seems in warlords that even if there seems to be a very visual indication that there is a break in the gate at a certain point you still can not walk through it there, you need to run around to the entrance they expect you to use. So why have that wide open space if we can not walk through it? Seems that there is an invisible gate there stopping you from getting through.
This coming expansion, more than any place I have ever seen before, has more invisible walls in the oddest of places. We all like to take short cuts. We all will go through the hole in the fence, the break in the weeds, the path under the branch, etc to speed things along and it is annoying as heck to hit an invisible wall when there is absolutely no indication that you can not get through that wide open area.
So number 4 on our list is letting the visual follow the actual. If I can not walk through a hole in the gate or a space in the weeds then do not have a hole in the gate or a space in the weeds. There should never be invisible walls in the middle of zones, where you can and can't pass should follow the images we see on the screen.
5) Death and the Run Back.
I get that blizzard does not want us flying but they really need to let us fly while dead. It is not only possible but highly likely that you will find yourself dead at one point or another in a place that you have no way to get back to. Or a place where you do not remember how to get back to it. Or a place where it is insanely long to travel to to get back to.
Why not let us fly to get back to our bodies more easily. So instead of having to go around this really long mountain pass to get to our body in our slow motion dead bodies we can just fly over it to exactly where we are. And the worst case scenario, dying in a place where there is no way back to your body without flying. Not possible you say, I say get back to me after it happens to you and tell me it is not possible to again. There are many quests that send you somewhere that you have no access to unless you are sent there. How exactly do you get back to your body if you die?
So number 5 would be letting our spirits fly even if you do not let us fly. It would greatly assist in getting back to our sometimes hard to reach or impossible to reach dead bodies.
6) Stop the Insanity.
I actually yelled at my screen the other day while playing on the beta. It was not due to beta being beta, it was to mobs being stupid. I was running somewhere and got dismounted like 12 times in a row all by mobs that I could basically one shot. I yelled, this F'N crap is annoying, why are mobs that can't even scratch me if I was naked keep F'N attacking me and dismounting me.
I can see some logic to mobs being able to snare, stun, slow or dismount you but nothing is more frustrating than having mobs do it that you can one or two shot. It is nothing more than annoying and it is a complete waste of time and has no game play value to it. They are not a threat, if anything they should be trying to avoid me not attack me because they know I will kill them easily.
But I am wrong, there is something worse. Having a mob that you can one shot dismounting and dazing you AND it drops no loot. The sheer number of mobs in warlords that drop no loot what so ever is annoying in its own right, but to have my time wasted by something that poses no threat and provides no game play value drop no loot is beyond annoying. If you are going to waste my time at least drop a couple of silver for my troubles.
So number 6 would be getting dismounted. Remove this crap from the game. It impedes travel and offers absolutely no game play value other than to slow you down. And when you get dismounted and do not even get loot from one shotting the thing that wasted your time it is adding insult to injury. Just remove the dismounting mechanic completely. There is a reason it was removed from the older mobs a long time ago. That was because it is not a fun part of game play. Did you forget that?
So being we will be traveling on foot and on flight path, those are some of the suggestions I have for making our travels just a little bit better.