The Daily Grind: Has flying hurt or helped MMORPGs?

    
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Not every MMO has flying, and those that do tend to add it post-launch as a major selling point for an expansion or patch. Still, in 2018 there’s plenty of online games that permit and encourage flight and gliding.

Flying certainly opens up a world and adds a dimension of movement and perspective that players can’t get from running on the surface. It is a boon to the Explorer-type gamers who would rather see all of the nooks and crannies than fight through a world. Flight also is a boon for those of us who are time-crunched and don’t want to spend all day trying to get to where we want to be in an MMO.

But I’ll admit that flying hasn’t always been the best feature for MMOs. There’s that age-old argument that flying negates a lot of the challenge and danger of the world, and to a point, that’s true. It’s a lot more difficult to design a game world in which your players have the ability to land and take off on the spot, and several MMOs come up with flight limitations and restrictions as a reaction to this.

What do you think? Overall, has flying hurt or helped MMORPGs?

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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athiev

Really, it’s so much fun to fly. I can play games without it, but in my experience flight is such a huge plus that it keeps me happy and engaged in games longer.

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feleran

I don’t like the ability to fly anywhere. The game would have to be designed for that in mind very carefully and without any invisible walls whatsoever to make sense imo.

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Sorenthaz

Both. On one hand it’s a convenience factor that removes the tediousness of moving about a world + it can lead to some neat world designs that wouldn’t be doable without flying. On the other hand it makes open world PvP 1000000x worse, completely trivializes exploration and a lot of world design choices, and once you add it into the game it becomes an expectation for every zone afterwards to have it.

I guess WoW has found a decent balance in their expansions starting with WoD where they’ll force you to be on foot for a long while to the point where once you get flying again you’ve basically explored and did as much as you were going to on foot. And in something like FFXIV for example the world zones are pretty barren to where flying is pretty much necessary in order to quickly get from place to place in the giant expansion zones.

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Ben Stone

I prefer designated flight paths. Flying anywhere trivialises the world and exploration. I was looking forward to EQNs parkour style movement. I think that would be more fun. Climbing, running and jumping around.

If handled well, flying can work, but more often than not it just highlights that standard movement around the map is a chore to be avoided.

boredinBC
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boredinBC

I’m a fan of flying in MMO’s, though I acknowledge that it creates some specific challenges.

I think GW2 really hit the nail on the head with mounts and level design. The griffon doesn’t feel objectively better than any of the other mounts(except maybe the springer).

Vexia
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Vexia

I tend to take a middle ground on flying’s overall impact on MMOs as a whole, but one thing it’s really hurt is my ability to remember/navigate the landscape. That’s probably from both larger maps and less time on the ground paying attention to where I’m going.

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Cosmic Cleric

Loved flying in Wrath, was seamless and a natural part of the questing. You didn’t use flying to get around trash, it was just used to explore, and/or move from quest hub to hub.

In MoP there was a fun level 80 quest hub that was flying specific/oriented, with a pet quest chain reward. Very enjoyable.

Done right, flying greatly enhances the gameplay.

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Toy Clown

I love flying in games. I really do. I have a split take on it, though:

Not all MMOs were designed with exploration in mind. They have hard zone walls and the inability to access areas you can see in the artwork because it’s nothing more than artwork. I’ve experienced many a frustrating play session trying to get somewhere, only to find out you could never get there in the first place. WoW is a good example of this for me. When MMOs like this add flying mounts, it’s a huge boon to exploration and I enjoy exploring areas I’ve never been able to before – even if its just from overhead.

Some MMOs are built with exploration in mind already. A good example is BDO. Every landscape art asset in the game can be reached. There are no zone walls, there are no areas that can’t eventually be climbed to. I can’t imagine ever having flying mounts in the game, but I will say that the release of the new class Lahn made exploration much more enjoyable because of their ability to fly short distances over the terrain. I can now fly across canyons and forego having to go around the long way to get someplace I want to go. I’m not sure BDO would benefit from having flying mounts as I enjoy the challenge of getting places.

GW2 Greatly benefited from the addition of gliders and griffons, IMO. Largely because I never was good at jumping puzzles or having steady hands that were required to get to other places. Now when I see something in the distance, I can pull out a proper mount and head that way. It’s added a fun aspect to the game.

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Nate Woodard

I don’t know the answer to be perfectly honest. On one hand, I appreciate flight in MMOs as it’s a way to travel to your destination in a shorter time to complete your objective. On the other hand, I realize that making flying more dynamic, adding in mobs to combat whilst in flight or creating flying content is a development nightmare. I think gliding is a happy medium between the two and one that a lot of developers are latching on to, but I’m not sure that’s the complete answer either. It is certainly an interesting topic and one that developers need to think hard on if they plan to implement them in their games.

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Dread Quixadhal

Flying helps if it’s restricted in some way to force you to play through the content without it first, unless that content was specifically designed to require it.

What it helps with is allowing people to play alts without being discourages by having them take just as long as their first run through did.

There’s a distinction between the player (human sitting at keyboard) and the character (pixels in the game world) that seems to often get overlooked. I love exploring, and I love having to run around the game world on foot, checking every nook and cranny, the FIRST time I (the player) go through it. When I roll a new character to try those different class mechanics, I (the player) am not discovering all those things again… and forcing me to redo them the same way because it’s a new character (pixels in game) doesn’t really make much sense. The in-game pixels don’t feel excitement or appreciate the beauty of a vista, or the cleverness of a jumping puzzle. They don’t need to do it, and I (the player) don’t really need to repeat it.