The Daily Grind: How should MMOs handle flying mounts in future content?

    
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A whole new wait, no, not doing this song, never mind.

A couple of weeks ago on the Massively OP Podcast, Justin and I derailed into a discussion about flight in MMOs and how MMOs like World of Warcraft just can’t seem to reconcile the fact that it’s something they did that they can’t undo. Look, flight is fun as heck, and if a game is going to go to the trouble of adding it, it seems acutely obnoxious to disable it later and disappoint all the players now hooked on it. And yet, on a technical level, we understand why they do, right? Flight really can trivialize old, horizontal, pre-flight content.

The ongoing problem, as we noted, is that Blizzard wants to keep on designing non-vertical zones instead of creating its new maps around flight, meaning that sometimes players must at least initially forego the flying mounts they have elsewhere. Contrast that with Guild Wars 2, which implemented vertical mounts and wisely started building zones to match, which actually made for more interesting and detailed locations.

How should MMOs handle overpowered flying mounts in future content? Which MMO has navigated this problem the best?

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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rosieposie

Terrible idea that makes your game world feel really small, yet they will keep doing it because look at the amount of store mounts they can sell for real money!

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Zero_1_Zerum

I’d love it if ESO had flying mounts. It was awesome in Skyrim, modding it in, or getting a dragon.

But, I think if you’re going to do an MMO with flying, the whole game should be made from the ground up to incorporate that. Tall buildings and mountains you can only get to if you fly. Quests built around it. In air combat against enemies, or even the ability to bomb ground mobs. Make being a good pilot skill based, like having dog fighting style combat, where the best or luckiest player wins.

I also think that there should be an autopilot fast travel mode, so people who aren’t good flyers can still do everything.

MurderHobo
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MurderHobo

I don’t know that WoW should bother. Any non-bandaid solution would require they reiterate things starting from Classic.

In a general sense there are plenty of things you can do to ‘balance’ flight. First off, there should be a huge disparity between the carrying capacity of a flyer versus a similarly-powerful ground transport.

Also flyers could be much more susceptible to damage and require constant maintenance. It shouldn’t matter that the character has a bazillion hit points and raid armor — A fireball should send that gyrocopter to the ground.

As far as scouting ahead of your set-piece scenes… How about changing up your static, forced-perspective narrative maps into something more dynamic? Everybody else is trying it and done all the grunt work, so it should be right up Blizzard’s alley.

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Chosenxeno .

Blizz got lazy when it came to Flight. There used to be mobs that would attack you in the air.

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Castagere Shaikura

In Wow this was a big deal for me when they decided to change the flying. I loved exploring hard to explore zones if you were to low level. It prepared me for those zones and I looked forward to being able to quest in them later.

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Peregrine Falcon

Why is it that GTA and GR:Wildlands don’t have a problem with flying vehicles but MMO devs can’t handle flying mounts?

Design your game from the start to take fliers into account, period. Holy Cats, Batman! You mean like actually plan ahead or something?!?

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kalech

I never got the “flight trivializes exploration” argument, because I feel like I cant even start to explore until I have flight. Flying gives you a whole new perspective to enjoy, its nothing like exploring on foot.
Also if your entire game world somehow becomes pointless as soon as you’re in the air, maybe you’re designing it wrong :p
I think if you want to have flying then design the game with that in mind or dont implement it at all.

Also, I hate how WoW does flying currently. Having questing through the zones be a requirement is a great idea, but adding rep grinds and other dumb shit to it? Fucking garbage. Questing/Exploring the zones on foot are good requirements to have, for example FFXIV requires you to find nodes all over the zone before you can fly in it. But making rep grinds, daily quest areas etc part of the requirement sucks. If your rep grinds are so boring that you need to force players to do them for flying, maybe you need to re-think your design choices.

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NeoWolf

From launch as part of the initial design. That way they will not have to reinvent the wheel and break everything trying to shoehorn them in AFTER the fact lol

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agemyth 😩

ArcheAge nailed world traversal as a game mechanic rather than just an obstacle to get to the place you want to be. Gliding beats flying. When you place a mountain in a game world that you can just fly straight up to the peak in what you have made is a nice place for a screenshot, collectible, or an easter egg.

When you put a mountain in a game like ArcheAge (or The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild for an actual good game with but single player) you can make it a piece of unique gameplay or challenge. Use the peak as a place to glide across the continent from or do whatever the game allows (helps if it has sandbox elements).

imgur gallery in chronological order of one of the specific moments from ArcheAge’s launch that I had in mind when I thought about this post:

View post on imgur.com

Credit to MOP reader Shanndow for doing basically all the hard work there while I buzzed around laughing and taking screenshots.

As far as fleshing out gameplay and combat while free-flying I’m not sure I’ve seen any virtual worlds do this in an interesting way. I remember Aion had a lot of flying, but in my time it was just limited by a timer and didn’t do anything cool. Adding combat to flight in a game like WoW would basically feel as bad as underwater combat.

Unless you have a decent airplane-like flight model or are a space game you should probably not go beyond gliding. It breaks game worlds and teaches bad habits to players. Now that players expect to fly everywhere in WoW (myself included) they have to allow it in all the major open zones even if they put it behind rep grinds. I’m content with basically not getting to fly until I feel like I’ve “beaten” most of the content already.

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Chosenxeno .

“I’m content with basically not getting to fly until I feel like I’ve “beaten” most of the content already”.

This is basically how FFXIV flight works.

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Shadex De'Marr

In order to keep flying mounts from trivializing all the content on the ground the air must be made just as dangerous. Fill the air with flying creatures that will attack you on sight. Put enemies on the ground that will shoot AA fire at you or nets/grapples that pull you down to the ground where they can get you. The air cannot be a free safe haven for players to fly directly to what they want and never giving a second thought to anything else. There was a reason Sam and Frodo didn’t just fly to Mordor. Because it would have been boring!

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Utakata

More pink mount options? o.O