The Daily Grind: Do you like being lost in MMOs?

    
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Where now?

In Final Fantasy XI, my first MMO, maps were few and far between, often blindingly unclear, and offered as many opportunities to be hopelessly lost as they did for finding your way. Pretty much nothing important was marked on the map even if you had one. Being lost was the default state.

This is unusual now. City of Heroes and Guild Wars both surprised me by how resistant they were to letting me get lost, and World of Warcraft now makes it nigh-on impossible. And on some level, this is undeniably a good thing, because it means I spend less time trying to find where the Thing is and more time actually interacting with the Thing.

But then, some people really do prefer that sense of not knowing where the next objective might be. So today I ask, dear readers: do you like being lost in MMOs? Is part of the excitement of the genre for you when you don’t know where to go? Or do you consider better maps and more efficient guidance to be a boon to the genre?

Every morning, the Massively Overpowered writers team up with mascot Mo to ask MMORPG players pointed questions about the massively multiplayer online roleplaying genre. Grab a mug of your preferred beverage and take a stab at answering the question posed in today’s Daily Grind!

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Sur Couf

Yes being lost is much more fun. However having some kind of compass and map with rough direction is mandatory after a few hours. I like exploring and learning how to find places in a vast world.

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AGx-07_162

I don’t “like being lost” per say but I do like what the possibility represents: Exploration. This was one of my favorite things about FFXI back in it’s day. You wander into a hellhole like Garliage Citidel not knowing if it’s even worth going in there and you could get hopelessly lost in the maze they built out of that place. It was dangerous but it was a fun kind of dangerous. You wanted to get out but you also wanted to see what was in the next room. More recent games, “go to the marked objective”, “interact with objective”, “maybe fight whatever spawns at objective”, “leave”. Don’t even bother exploring the ruins your at because there’s nothing there but randomly placed mobs that don’t drop squat. I miss the older games that were filled with wonder. Too much hand holding and simplicity now.

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Ian Blakeney

This concept of ‘lost’ as you describe is exactly why I loved the caves and dungeons in Vanguard (RIP). The ability to wander, explore and often stumble blindly backwards (often trying to get away from a group of dangerous mobs that were around a corner and down the ledge I fell off of) created some of my favorite moments (both solo and group) in MMOs. I also started into MMOs back in college when FFXI arrived in the US, and just navigating the creative mess that was /is Crawlers Nest, along with other parties, was an absolute joy.

Would such content attract and sustain the modern era of MMO players? Possibly, but I don’t think it has been truly implemented or even attempted in a form recently (I would say Vanguard and Early versions of EQ2 might have been the last to push this type of exploration that I can recall).

Now, currently I’m absolutely enjoying diving back into GW2 and its clear directional style as well. Being in my 30’s and now married with a career that takes up a lot of time, I fully appreciate the condensed, focused gaming experience. That said, I would love to continue to revisit and spend time in a game like Vanguard or FFXI once a week or so for longer (3-4 hour is long now #oldyoungman) with some of the more modern group development tools that have come about.

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Joe Seabreeze

I like being lost if there are things to do while lost. If I’m just running and nothing is happening around me, then it’s fail.

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Slaasher

i don’t mind being lost initially but if its going to be that way I want a map that I can edit with my own waypoints etc. I think it adds a nice touch to the whole idea of exploration in game if done correctly

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Tiresias

When you want to talk about exploration and the concept of “getting lost productively”, you pretty much have two games to reference:

Guild Wars 2, which consists of a world that’s specifically designed for exploration. From the way the “quests” are arranged (areas where you can participate in simple tasks but which are mostly designed to simply direct you to areas where other more interesting things happen) to the fact that each map is filled with locations that are both easy and difficult to reach. the game is notorious for productively derailing whatever plans you had to “get something done”. Furthermore, it rewards you for going off the beaten path with easter eggs, treasure chests, events, rare material nodes, jumping puzzles, etc. It’s worth mentioning that GW2 doesn’t make it difficult to determine where you are supposed to go to start or complete a story step, but there are often achievements that involve collecting items in hard-to-reach places.

Final Fantasy 11, which throws (or… THREW) you out into a very hostile and dangerous world with very little guidance. It’s a game where you understand why the citizens hide in cities, afraid of the surrounding countryside that is filled with vicious monsters and relics of a forgotten age. The game did not necessarily reward you for venturing off the beaten path, but navigation is a challenge in and of itself, and people who knew their way around the convoluted dungeons were valued as guides.

It’s two very different takes on the same concept, and the art form of designing games that convince the player to “get lost productively” is a fading art form.

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Adri

I like exploring. I hardly ever use a “in dungeon” map in skyrim (yeah it’s mostly just a A to B thing … anyway). I just walk and explore new locations.
On the other side in some games things are so extremely well hidden and so necessary for you to find that I use guidance videos just to not freak out.

The good thing is that nothing really bad happens to you (your RL you) when you get lost in the woods. You don’t get eaten by bears or die of dehydration. The worst thing is that your character dies. If the game is well made this is something you like to avoid but nothing that makes you hit ALT+F4.

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Raimo Kangasniemi

I like exploring new places and yes, getting lost at first before filling the map not only literally but figuratively too, is very much part of the fun for me.

Alfredo Garcia
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Alfredo Garcia

Oh yes. Not knowing where you are in relation to much of anything else in the world is one of the charms of games like Worlds Adrift. It also provides a real and useful niche for player cartographers and explorers.

It was a sad day when Turbine added a map for the Old Forest in LotRO.

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Chris Mc

I prefer fewer in game maps. I like exploring and learning how to find places.

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Rottenrotny

Definitely yes, I like getting lost.

I understand that people come home from a long day at work and they just want to jump in LFR and kill some bosses before bed. That’s fine and there’s plenty of games like that. Hell, most of the games are like that.

But where are the giant, scary, open world games? The kind where you can hit autorun, AFK to go pee and when you come back you’re (dead) still running and have no clue where you are?

I can’t remember the last time I got lost in an MMO.