Virtual Laziness - Fast Travel, Cheats, and False Dynanicism

By Published December 30, 2010 at 4:58 pm

There comes a time in every gamer's life when walking from Leyawiin to Bruma is outright unacceptable; the journey is no longer the most fascinating, it's the most mind-numbing. Once you've seen the scenery the first time 'round, why bother walking through again? You're much higher level than any mobs you'll encounter in those zones, so experience isn't much of an incentive either. Our example gamer would much rather fast travel using some sort of boat, teleporter, silt strider, or The Nine forbid, a freakin' map that works from anywhere as long as the combat music isn't playing. Yes: walking in a video game becomes a tiring chore when infused with the "I want to get this quest done and go to sleep" curse. It's silly to think that the physical embodiment of the player character - the actual player - could reach a point of utter laziness such that holding down W is cumbersome. What's the matter -- is your index finger tired? You're sitting in a chair, not actually running. Don't be lazy.


I can't say much on the subject matter, though. Prior to the recent patches, the official GN Minecraft server was plagued with lag whenever a warp command was issued (in essence, a teleport at any distance). The server started out normally: mine some cobblestone, run to the chest and deposit it, then repeat until an ample amount was obtained. After the appropriate number of stone was stored, construction initialized - often involving similar back-and-forth movement (to get more stone from the chest, or torches, for example). Then it happened; a discovery of pre-installed administrative commands. As server admin, I had the ability to create warp points - pre-designated locations that permitted players to teleport straight to them - and I gave everyone the /warp command. Construction was instantly streamlined: run out of cobblestone, warp to the storage chest, warp back to the work site, and proceed with building. We've now stopped the excessive use of warping, but up until realizing the stupidity of slashing inconvenient-yet-integral components of gameplay, like walking, it was out of control. Role-players and crafters aren't the only ones guilty, though. Even you shooter fans occasionally get lazy; it'd be far easier to take the secondary route to B than go the safe way, even though you know it's more dangerous. Sure, it's fun to switch things up, but there are times when noobtubing and claymores have a certain mindless appeal.

Update: This is all tied-in directly with our "preventing video game burnout" article, which helps address these issues philosophically.

I'm positive some sort of mathematical formula could be applied to determine the decrease in a game's lifespan versus the increase of fast travel usage. It may just be gaming senility, but try to remember the days of Morrowind or even pre-PoP EverQuest, when discovering steampunk-themed dungeons had exploratory value that would be lost to the void of 'click icon, appear in location' movement. Most of the blame can assuredly be placed on the shoulders of game designers, who are at fault for making terrain and environments of their open worlds static enough that (bear with me here) virtually walking physically is detrimental to the player's enjoyment. Had they only read our recent open world design column... To be fair, though, we gamers have gotten lax in our formerly strict game requirements. Using fast travel is akin to using cheats, because once you know how, you'll never forget it - and inconveniences will overpower any determination to complete the game legitimately. Unless, of course, you disable console and (in the case of Minecraft) throw all of your haxed items into the incinerator.

To quote Sir Stephen T. Colbert, "You might be asking yourself, and by yourself you mean me," what is the solution? Short of hacking the game to remove potentially destructive advantages, and ignoring the fact that none of us have any level of self control within a game, the immediate and best solution is to never educate yourself on cheat codes, admin commands (other than kick/ban, etc.), or stuff like that. It's kind of hard to ignore fast travel, although modders have created an abundance of anti-fast travel mods for every game out there. For role-players, you might consider the inherent enjoyment of exploring new features of landscape - and if your landscape is boring by default - it's time to consider a few of GN's favorite mods. And yes, we all know the MMORPG female character + "/OOC teehee" begging trick, so don't do it - that only turns typically adventurous spelunking lame and renders economy pointless.

Remember, someone put a lot of work into picking out concealed locations for hidden chests, dungeons, caves, and the like - even if it's randomly generated, it's done in a way that is admirable. Sometimes it's fun to just get the quests done via fast travel, but once you start doing that, I promise that you'll never, ever consider walking again -- even when you have the time to do it.

The next time you think of fast traveling, just imagine the big GN staring at you with laser-firing eyes. Laziness within video games - wherein we are already expressing our inability or lack of desire to do "real" work (although, I could technically justify gaming as work...) - is simply a quirky concept. Don't cheat, don't ask admins to spawn items for you (unless you have a legitimate reason, like server glitches), and don't fast travel. Ever. It's so much more fun to explore, expand, and ultimately, it'll make you a better gamer and wealthier adventurer!

~Steve "Lelldorianx" Burke

Last modified on March 13, 2012 at 4:58 pm
Steve Burke

Steve started GamersNexus back when it was just a cool name, and now it's grown into an expansive website with an overwhelming amount of features. He recalls his first difficult decision with GN's direction: "I didn't know whether or not I wanted 'Gamers' to have a possessive apostrophe -- I mean, grammatically it should, but I didn't like it in the name. It was ugly. I also had people who were typing apostrophes into the address bar - sigh. It made sense to just leave it as 'Gamers.'"

First world problems, Steve. First world problems.

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