Exploration And The Allure Thereof

or: That in which Tigerfeet goes all moony-eyed over heavily speculated game design concepts.

I was reading an article recently when a sentence jumped out at me:

 How the hell are we supposed to know where to go unless someone with the necessary qualifications (ie. an exclamation mark) shoves us in the right direction? ‘Explore,’ whispers the new-wave MMO developer exotically.

I immediately had flashbacks to the ‘olden days’ in vanilla WoW when I was leveling my first-ish character, Coal the Druid.  I was moving along at a pretty decent clip until I got into my twenties.  This, for all you non-WoW-druid players is when the baby druid is blessed with cat form.

Cat form comes with a new, exciting, and (for someone like me) dangerous ability: Stealth.  I could now sneak through the bushes, slip past guards, and generally get into places in which I had no business being.  Inevitably this resulted in hours spent sneaking around mobs half again my level to see how far into enemy territory I could get or to see what exactly was on the top of that mountain and weather or not I could reach it.

Remember where I said hours?  My gaming time for an evening would usually end with me dying in a hail of fury at the hands of an enemy whose level I could not see (on account of my in-game eyes being too inexperienced to accurately judge skill), resurrecting, limping back to an inn, and logging off for the night with no added experience, gold, or items to my name.

This urge for exploration, this noodling around and getting into places that I shouldn’t is something I can’t ignore.  It’s like I’m under a geis to get no progressive gameplay done until every nook and cranny has been investigated.

Thus I come to the promise of Guild Wars 2.  The only bread crumb trail we have is our personal storyline.  While I’m confident that it will offer players as much hand-holding as anyone could wish, I also know that it won’t take me long to become distracted and wander off.  One moment I’m helping round up some victims for a charr cattlepult, and the next Krallkatorik is wondering what this flea is doing wandering about lost in his Crystal Desert.

It’s inevitable. I will get into an area that I shouldn’t.  In Guild Wars 2, as opposed to a more traditional game like World of Warcraft, all will not be lost.

Now, this is where some speculation comes into play so bear with me.

Thanks to the sidekicking system, when I do wander into that ‘higher-than-thou’ area, I won’t be instantly consigned to a fate that ends with me a red spatter on the ground.  I will be at a definite disadvantage as I lack the traits and the gear that I would have were I level-appropriate for the area, but in terms of my base stats I would still have a fighting chance.  Additionally, I would still be getting experience, and an evening’s adventure would net me more tangible rewards than only a feeling of comfort that every rock has been peeked under would afford.

Thinking about possibilities like this kindles anew my excitement for Guild Wars 2.  I, like I’m sure many of the other people eagerly awaiting this game, have suffered from burnout and general malaise.  When such a feeling hits I don’t try to fight it, I just turn away and do something else (lately I’ve been playing League of Legends).  It is, however, a real treat when something crops up that reminds me why I’m looking forward to this game with such starry-eyed anticipation.

What about you? Have you suffered from when-is-it-coming-out-itis?  What has snapped you out of it, even temporarily?

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  • Comments (15)
  1. I bought “Edge of Destiny” in some delusional hope that the game would be out by the time I finished reading it. Needless to say, that never happened, so I’ve had to find other things to preoccupy my time.

    I never played the original Guild Wars, so I figured I’d join up and see how many HoM items I could rack up. It’s been nice playing a game so different than what I’m used to (as I’m a long-time and feverishly disgruntled WoW player) and it’s also nice to not feel like I HAVE to play since I don’t have to worry about a subscription.

    With all the extra time I’ve had from not NEEDING to play a game in order to get the most for my money, I’ve gone back to my poor neglected console & have played quite a few games that I wanted to play but never found the time.

    All in all, it’s been a nice burnout-break for me. Which is probably a good thing, because when GW2 comes out, I’m fucked. 😦

      • Tigerfeet
      • June 21st, 2011

      ‘feverishly disgruntled’ ha ha! I like that 😀 Yeah, in addition to playing LoL I’ve been doing a lot of pokemon white and taking the opportunity to work on my artwork. It’s been really nice. While I do get burnt out, my favorite thing about the Guild Wars franchise is that I’m NOT obligated to play it. It’s my game and I get to play it on my schedule.

    • Borx
    • June 20th, 2011

    I’m excited about the possibilities of exploration in GW2 as well. The first title I ever tried for and achieved in GW was Legendary Cartographer because when I looked at that big ole world map I just wanted to see it all. Now we know GW2 will have much more to explore and see and I can’t wait to explore it. I’m sure I’ll be right up there with you exploring areas I shouldn’t be at simply because I just won’t be able to wait until I’m high enough level to go explore it. I’m going to rush to LA as soon as possible when the game comes out, haha.

      • Tigerfeet
      • June 21st, 2011

      Well, I think LA has asura gates to all the major cities, I could be wrong, however. I didn’t feel that same urge to explore in GW Classic though. I think part of it had to do with the fact the world was so gated. In WoW I could see a river that opened to the sea and decide to swim up it, straddling a dead area in two zones and occasionally find a spot where I could get out of the river and into the (much higher level) zone proper.

  2. For my husband, it’s the possibility of more customizable pets than currently exist in GW1; for me, all I can say is that you speak my mind about exploration. In Champions Online one of the things that had me most interested was that with the Tunneling travel ability, I could travel virtually anywhere and not worry about aggro (those poor saps who think they’re so invincible with flying, until a purple mob knocks them out of the air. Ha!). I, too, had several nights when I logged out somewhere having not killed or harvested a thing, just roamed around marveling at the sights instead.

    That, and being able to harvest and craft alongside my husband without having to compete for resources!

      • Tigerfeet
      • June 21st, 2011

      Yes! The resources thing is HUGE! My husband and I can’t game together very often (we end up fighting, it’s weird) but it’s a pretty obvious problem since so many couples DO play together, often exclusively. It makes me wonder if there’s going to be skinning and what makes a mob elegible to be skinned. In WoW anybody could skin any mob, but only once the treasure on it had been collected. It was maddening to run around high-animal areas and see bodies all over that I couldn’t skin because someone couldn’t be bothered to pick up their loot.

      Also, what’s your name in Champions? I need to give that one a re-install, I thought it was actually pretty fun. I believe my name in there is Tigerfeet, I did my best to create a charr xD

      • Haha! I’ve never wanted to reach through a computer and slap the crap out of someone more than when someone would steal my node. I was so excited to see a change to that kind of mechanic.

      • Ha! My husband and I tend to fight sometimes when we play together, too – I wonder what it is about our playstyles?

        I’m @randomessa in Champions, though I haven’t been on much recently and I gave up my paid characters when the game went F2P. I’ve been puttering around in Fallen Earth more, since their F2P announcement (where the hubby and I craft to our heart’s content, yet still have to hopscotch harvesting nodes! Grrr!).

    • ArcherAvatar
    • June 21st, 2011

    I too suffer from a terminal case of whatsoverthereism which constantly provokes to me into “just taking a minute to see what’s over that next hill there” at roughly a half hour before a sensible person would be getting some sleep – only to realize approximately 4 hours later that once again I have proven how completely insane I am, and now will have the dishevled, red-eyed, crazed look to go with it for the next day. Truth in advertising I guess…

    I also expressed this via a druid in WoW (by the name of Kobayashi) and if memory serves, I’m pretty sure level 20 resulted in one of my infamous 72 hour runs during which my better half begins giving me these “worried” looks and starts threatening to cut off electricity to the house unless I come to my senses. Typically I respond with something like, “ya, ya… sure… but, just come over here and check THIS out! You’re never gonna guess where I am right now!”

    It certainly didn’t help that “sneaky-kitty” form was so damn cute looking…

    There are especially fond memories of the jungle area just north of Booty Bay, and the one to the south of the Night Elf starting area (but on the mainland coast – after the griffin / boat ride) although the names of those two places elude me atm.

    However, currently I cannot bring myself to play an MMO… I would simply be reminded at every single turn how it is not what I’m truly interested in playing (GW2 of course) so I’ve also had to satisfy my gaming compulsion with other non-MMO faire (various single player titles and some “semi-single player” ones like Borderlands and Magicka.) So, yes… the whenisitcomingoutitis is particularly virulent around here.

    BTW, I really enjoyed the article on IGN by the Aussie. Well written and accurately describing some of the exact reasons why can’t wait for GW2, and why none of the current MMOs interest me in the least.

      • Tigerfeet
      • June 21st, 2011

      I like to tell the story of how I was at the gates of An Quiraj when they opened on my server (Scilla). AQ was a level 60 20 and 40-man raid instance. At the time I was only level 18. It took me a week to get there (corpse running through tanaris was particularly grueling) but once I got there the rest of the horde characters pulled together to protect me from any gank-happy alliance (it was a pvp server).

      That’s another thing I forgot too, any mmo I try feels like “I wish this were GW2 instead”. I had that feeling BAAAD with RIFT, now whenever I try to play I just feel bored and irked at the same monotonous quests.

  3. I only played RIFT for about 10 hours, and I realised how much I took Guild Wars’ openness – guided by missions – for granted. I was either waiting for the story to sweep me along (instead I got a long chain of stupid quests), or exploring by avoiding mobs (and then being blocked by invisible barriers and high level mobs).

    I actually forgot about this until I went digging up my first ever Guru posts in 2005: In my first play-through of GW, I explored all the way to Sanctum Cay without doing a single mission. The specific reason is that I was waiting for a friend to come on and play, but he never did. When I read that, and remembered, those memories came back to me – hacking my way through minotaurs in the Shiverpeaks, hydras in the Foothills, ghosts and skale in the swamps. Good times 😀

    I often spend entire gaming sessions just exploring the landscape or caves in Minecraft, looking around and seeing what there is to see. I can’t wait until that landscape is full of fantastical, artistic, funny and challenging encounters. I’m not the kind of person who signs into a game and says “Today I’m going to work on [achievement] or [missions] or [grind] or [get to this place]” – I just run around and see where all the fun stuff is.

    I’ve been playing Team Fortress 2 lately, to get a feel for fast-paced PvP in preparation for GW2. There’s zero exploration there 😀

      • Tigerfeet
      • June 21st, 2011

      Oh! What’s your Steam name? I’ve got TF2 as well but I don’t play it much because I don’t really know what I’m doing.

  4. I find it hard to stay focused in any MMO currently. I thankfully have my brother to nudge me along and keep me company. Though, we’ve both dropped out of what we were playing (Aion) to dig around some of our old console and PC titles. I’m finishing old games so we can take them to Gamestop for something new.

    Now we’re playing Oblivion back to back and it feels somewhat like an MMO when we’re both playing it. lol.

    When I’m not doing that though, I am either playing TF2, reading a book, or trying to draw something.

    I’m anticipating PAX and I’m sad I wasn’t able to get tickets this year. 😦

    • Oh, I forgot to mention! I loved exploring early on in WoW and share much of your sentiment. I originally played as a rogue and spent much of my time wandering around seeing where I could get into.

      I try that in some of the games I’ve played recently, but most usually don’t allow that level of exploration. =\

        • Tigerfeet
        • June 28th, 2011

        Yeah, RIFT is the best one to allow it I’ve found. You’re encouraged to poke around at the tops of mountains etc because the developers have hidden buried stashes and artifacts in the unlikeliest of places. I’m anticipating a feeling much like that in GW2 except with hidden dynamic events and traits. 😀

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