Tag Archives: flying

Have Some More Opinion You Didn’t Need!

I’ve spent a long time thinking about the topic of flying.  I’ve railed against substandard ride quality.  It is, of course, time for yet more!

Some say flying is an ability we never should have had.  It narrowed our view of the world, made surviving in the world too easy.  It reduced player connection to Azeroth.  In the interview, a typical quest goal was mentioned in which the player must rescue some trapped NPC.  That player was once forced to “interact” with the world by killing his or her way to the NPC and back out again*.  Flying enabled that same player to drop in on top of the NPC, free it, then fly out again.

/violin We can't put the cat in the bag, but we can take the cat away from you.

/violin
We can’t put the cat back in the bag, but we can take the cat away from you.

Yes, flying made it easier and more convenient to get from Point A to Point B – and that very convenience, though apparently detrimental to game enjoyment, was part of why I was so involved in the game even when I didn’t necessarily care for the content.  Being involved was a large part of why I enjoyed the game – but it’s important to note that for me, this meant being involved with goals of my own choosing, which usually wasn’t slowly grinding my way through masses of mobs to have a “conversation” with an NPC I’d probably never see again.

Flying seems like the low-hanging fruit that’s easier to get rid of than it is to figure out why, exactly, I don’t give a flip about the NPC as a character, and instead see the NPC solely as a required step towards completing an objective.  Or, perhaps, why we’ve chosen and kept certain behaviors for mobs – they can look square at me while I’m landing on top of the NPC’s cage, but they do nothing about it if I’m beyond a certain distance.

Frankly, I haven’t been interested in WoW’s plot for a very long time, and I dropped raiding because the time required was more than my schedule could handle.  Running LFR and acquiring transmog gear became my primary activities in Azeroth, and as a result, I was traveling between multiple locations in different expansions quite frequently.  Flying and portals made that level of activity doable for me.

Without flying, I tend to lose steam.  I don’t care that much about this patch objective or that one, but I know I should probably go do it.  So let’s see, which is the closest flight path again?  Okay, if I go there (wait, do I have that one?  Yes, thank goodness, I do), it’s going to take me [insert amount of time here] to get from here to there, and then I’m gonna have to run around [insert problem like level 100 elite mobs or mountains here] … yeah, you know what?  I’d rather sit in my garrison.  I’m going to alt tab and read blogs while I’m stuck on the flight path anyway.**

But I keep getting drawn back to how the designers seem to think the world should feel more dangerous, and how they think flying is one of the primary culprits behind a staid experience.  I don’t know about you, but I don’t need the world to feel that way, because it hasn’t for ages. I’d rather somebody figure out how to give Aggra a better role instead of just dumping her in Nagrand rather unexpectedly, like, “Oh hey, you THOUGHT we forgot her but YOU’RE WRONG.  Just ignore the fact she doesn’t do much.”  I’d personally bake cakes or something if I could have a plot line devoted to a topic other than more manly orcs.  Hell, I’d totally go for a goblin-themed patch!  (I know I’m in the minority with that one.)

THIS ORC-CENTRIC FOCUS IS UNFAIR Goblin expac forever!!  Sassy Hardwrench for Warchief 2016!!

THIS ORC-CENTRIC FOCUS IS UNFAIR
Goblin expac forever!! Sassy Hardwrench for Warchief 2016!!

I don’t think flying was the criminal responsible for sapping my ability to “immerse” myself in a fictional environment, either.  For me, the problem lies in how I have become a jaded old fart.  Time has passed and my skill level with games in general has increased as a result.  I’ve been running from killer monsters in MMOs and other games for years now, and I’m long past the point where mobs actually evoke terror.  Giant killer murdersheep in FFXI used to scare the bejeesus out of me and I would sprint from zone portal to zone portal – if I survived the initial encounter.  Now, meh.  Giant killer murder-anythings are old news (unless the ToT snails make a comeback).  Even crap that I know to be dangerous to my character’s well-being (thanks to my poor gear or low DPS ability on an alt) doesn’t frighten me like “the world” in games did when I first got my N64 and was freaking out about a whole extra dimension.  It’s just too familiar.

No, “dangerous” isn’t the feeling I get when I’m out and about trying to navigate a world without flying.  An MMORPG which keeps me on the ground with the aim of making things more realistic, dangerous, immersive, or what have you, feels mostly tedious.  I’ve done my duty, so to speak, walking from one end of the world to another in other games, years past.  I’ve waited for airships and zeppelins, taken slow boats across seas, and ridden chocobos and hawkstriders, and of course, all uphill in the snow both ways back in vanilla blah blah blah.

True, a lack of flying in and of itself isn’t necessarily stopping me from where I want to go.  Okay, so I run into some mountain cliff and I can find no obvious path to descend – I’ve got no problem throwing myself off the edge.  I run back to my corpse, then continue onward.  Or let’s say I run into elite mobs, get my ass kicked, and I die.  While I would prefer to make it alive, rinse-and-repeat corpse runs will do trick in a pinch.

Because I am jaded by time and familiar with how environment mechanics typically work in MMORPGs, there are usually two things that will stop me from getting somewhere – the amount of time taken by a particular activity, and the balance between effort spent and the reward for that effort.

Time I spend on the ground running like hell is fine in and of itself, but it’s time spent.  Time I spend fighting or dying to stuff that’s knocked me from my mount is also fine in and of itself, but again, it’s time spent.  After a point, I’m simply out of time to play the game, whether I’ve gotten to my destination or not.  I’d rather spend more time at my destination than getting there.

And if I’m running towards something I really really want, that’s one thing.  If I’m running towards something that I know I kinda sorta should do, but don’t really give a crap about, then that’s something else.  I’m simply going to have less tolerance for using my time on running like hell/dying/difficult terrain because the point at which it’s no longer worth it comes along much sooner.

So of course I’m going to fly to rescue that NPC.  Take flying away, and I’ll still find a way to minimize the effort I must put in.  If I’m on a rogue, I’m going to stealth.  I might use an invis pot if I have one available.  I might try to make a run for it, or I might creep around the entire questing area if it will reduce the number of mobs I must fight.  Being human and being stupid, I may even spend more effort trying to do it my way than I would’ve spent if I’d just done it the way it was designed.

* So if they want this to be a thing again, it seems to me like it would be awfully nice if they removed that EXP penalty they added a while back for killing a bunch of the same mobs in a row.  It was intended to stop bots from grinding, or something like that.

** If you want to talk about immersion and interaction with the game, I’d give players control by giving them flight and remove boring flight paths!

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Fly Me To the Moon

Flying and Seeing the World! Well, I AM seeing something.

Flying and Seeing the World!
Well, I AM seeing something.

So I read “World of Warcraft Flying Mounts and Warlords of Draenor,” and it got me thinking about why I LOVE FLYING.  This post contains the reasons why I would get kinda cranky with another 100% flightless island!

1. Death Prevention
For a variety of reasons, I am not always able to attend to the game while logged on, and must occasionally AFK here and there.  In old content that my character vastly outlevels, this is usually not an issue.  In current content that my character must actually expend effort to survive in, stepping away from the computer for a couple minutes means that while I might save what’s in the oven, I run a very good chance of coming back to a corpse.

In most zones, safe places to stop for a breather are either far from your current questing location, or separated from you by a large number of mobs that you do not have time to fight through.  Going AFK where you stand on the ground is probably a bad idea, even if you are in a corner or hiding in some bushes – mobs don’t give a crap about that, and any pat that gets within range will come smack you down before you get back.  Flying offers a quick solution to this dilemma by enabling you to ascend to the skies (that is, if there aren’t MORE mobs up there, like at Lion’s Landing) while you attend to matters in the physical realm.

Although Blizzard (supposedly) plans on doing away with repair costs in Warlords of Draenor, that time has not yet come.  So by preventing one’s death, one also saves gold!  You also save time, since you don’t have to run back to your body from wherever the closest graveyard is (which may not be all that close or convenient).

Finally, if you are someone like me, you have both Alliance and Horde alts and sometimes find yourself going to the wrong Shrine or the wrong outpost in some zone.  Being on a flying mount is your only chance of getting the hell out of Dodge before ninety million NPCs and possibly players squish you into itty bitty pieces for your mistake.

2. Freaking Mountains
They’re everywhere, and a non-fatal route from one zone into another through them is not always immediately apparent.  I’ve tried running on foot from Stormwind to Hillsbrad before, since I wanted to tame a pet in that zone.  Alas!  I couldn’t use a flight path, since the alt in question had not been anywhere near that zone before.  Though many of my other characters have, Blizzard does not allow the flight path “knowledge” to go from one to the other these days.  The Cataclysm made passing between some zones impossible (hello giant abyss of doom), and going around is not an option thanks to More Freaking Mountains.  To get from Loch Modan to the Wetlands, I literally wound up jumping to my death down the busted up dam/dried up waterfall.

My Other Options Were Limited Severely so, actually.

My Other Options Were Limited
Severely so, actually.

I was determined to do it, and not particularly pissed off one way or the other about the whole thing – but this is not what I would call an enjoyable travel experience, nor one I’d want to repeat regularly because flying mounts were prohibited.

3. Flight Path Inefficiency
Do you ever feel like flight paths are inspired by airlines, or some sort of connect-the-dot game drawn by a madman?

WTB Direct Flight Flight paths, the airlines of Azeroth.

WTB Direct Flight
Flight paths, the airlines of Azeroth.

Seriously, even with the guild buff, I don’t have time for that crap.

4. Annoyance Prevention
People on ground mounts in flightless zones annoy me.  In their desire to turn in this quest or that one, or get to a place where they won’t be killed by a mob that just happens to spawn while they are AFK, they train a kajillion things behind them.  In the past, it seemed like mobs would always reset, ignoring people who circumstance placed nearby.  Unfortunately, in recent locations like the Isle of Thunder … well, they don’t reset so much as they pick another convenient target who just happened to be there, and it freaking sucks to be that target.

I like people more when they don’t have to do that in order to get from Point A to Point B.

I also like it more when I don’t have to do that in order to turn in.  I may have fought my way to the completion of the quest, yes, but I have almost no intention of fighting all the way back out to the quest giver again.  It takes too much time.

I would accept no flight if and only if we had something like that awesome saurok getup, which made the mobs friendly to you and which JUMPED LIKE MAGIC.

5. Annoyance is NOT a Sufficient Motivator for Many, and “Exploration” Doesn’t Mean You’ll Find What You Need
I don’t know about you, but if the cost of something is more than I perceive its worth to be, I am quite likely to just not do it.  If it’s too annoying to get to somewhere, I’m not going to begrudgingly go there and then decide I like it – I’m just going to not go there in the first place.

When it comes to exploration not helping you find what you need, take my shaman as an example.  She is not the first or even one of the first of my nine alts who have leveled through Pandaria.  She’s a jewelcrafter, but I didn’t even know the fancy jewelcrafting trainer in Jade Forest existed, much less that I needed to visit her in order to learn special recipes.  How did I find out?  It certainly wasn’t exploration or questing!  (Note: I do have Loremaster of Pandaria under my belt, so it’s not like I totally skipped the zone.)  No, Mr. Robot told me I needed to make specific type of gem for my gear, but I didn’t know how to cut it.  I queried my guildmates, who told me I could learn it at a trainer.  I went to the trainer I had always visited (in Orgrimmar), and discovered no such recipe there.  I then proceeded to Google the cut in question, at which point I finally learned there was a panda out in the middle of relative nowhere in the Jade Forest who had it.

Guess what?  I flew there.

6. Flying is a Reward I’ve Earned by Leveling and Paid For With Precious, Precious Gold
So stop taking it away from me, dammit.

For me, fast flying is a necessity.  I derp around the world for a variety of reasons, sometimes mining to pass the time while I am in a queue, and sometimes to procure mats for an alt’s low profession.  Quite often I’m flying to an old school dungeon or raid run for transmog purposes.  While I very rarely have the gold available to train the higher levels of flying at the moment an alt is first able to learn them, I will hoard my gold until I can finally get one level of flying, with maybe 100g left over for repairs.

I don’t always do dailies, and sometimes I go for days without doing quests on the same character, content leveling some other alt.  I don’t play the Auction House at all, and I usually save the mats I acquire for my own use instead of selling them.  While I can’t avoid repairs, I will stop buying what I consider “vanity” items, like minor glyphs or green quality armor I think would look good on an alt.  Sometimes I have stopped buying health/mana potions altogether, instead only using what I can make.  Generally, it will take about two weeks (sometimes a little more, rarely a little less these days) before I can afford one of the 4k flying skills.

Ignoring the the time and effort required to level any alt, let’s take a look at the costs involved in learning how to fly as fast as possible anywhere you possibly can.  Once I have finally maxed out flying on a character, I have spent (assuming I have the reputation discount) the following:

Basic Flying: 200g
(Level 60, enables you to fly in the first place, but is 100% useless without the Flight Master’s License)

Flight Master’s License: 250g
(Requires Level 60, allows you to fly in most zones, meaning it’s pretty much required)

Cold Weather Flying: 400g
(Allows you to fly in Northrend only)

Artisan Riding: 4,000g
(Requires Level 70, which makes you slightly less slow)

Fancypants Superfast Master Flying: 4,000g
(Requires Level 80, and currently the fastest flying speed)

Wisdom of the Four Winds: 2,000g
(Requires Level 90, allows flight in Pandaria)

That’s a sum of 10,850g!

Considering that:

  1. None of my characters qualifies as “rich,”
  2. I have 9 level 90s, a mix of Horde and Alliance
  3. I have, over time, paid for max flying on all nine,
  4. I already have the Explorer achievement,
  5. I am about 100 quests shy of “the Seeker” achievement,
  6. I already travel to multiple continents/worlds/expacs in search of transmog, and thus could be said to be exploring the world regularly,

… anybody telling me I should mother trucking ride a ground mount to see the world can, quite frankly, go chew on toothpicks.  FLYING MOUNTS FOREVER!!

What Happens When It Rots? Then again, that's probably how they get it down from there.

What Happens When It Rots?
Then again, that’s probably how they get it down from there.