Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Yet Again With The Travel Timesinks

The last time I posted about EQ2 crafting, Loredena suggested that I look into the tradeskill instances added in the most recent expansion. This seemed like a nice way to break up the crafting grind, so Lyriana set off to the Moors of Ykesha to get started.

The Moors are a level 75-80 zone, and Lyriana is in her low 50's. This would seem to be a problem, and EQ2 goes to some lengths to allow level characters to progress to the maximum crafting level, so they needed a solution. The solution they came up with was to have the NPC offer to teleport players on to their next destination (corpse-hopping is not an option, as EQ2 players are revived back at the nearest graveyard after death).

Where to begin....
Among my various complaints about this arrangement:

- Upon accepting the questgiver's teleport, I was sent to the other side of a zone I have never been in before (where the next questgiver was located). A zone with mobs that one-shot me the moment they aggro.

- There is a network of balloon transport NPCs who will send you to other stations. Of course, I had no idea what the station for the town that I had started in was called, since I had not visited the balloon station before being teleported across the zone. After looking it up and watching my character spend several minutes floating there, I discovered that the station is located outside the main town of the zone, and getting back into town requires that I complete a quest. A quest that starts in the town that I was stuck outside of. At this point, I had to resort to my Dirge's "evacuate" ability, which teleported me to the closest graveyard (the one inside the town, thankfully).

- Having gotten the basics of travel around the zone down, it was time to actually start working on the quests. Though the game permits me to accept and complete these quests, doing so requires materials harvested from the highest level harvesting zones. This is sensible, because the Moors are such a high level zone. Unfortunately, I cannot harvest in the Moors due to my low level. This meant that I had to teleport out of the zone to my guild hall and do the crafting in the guild hall using the guild harvest supply box.

- Getting back to the Moors themselves requires a teleport (hope you remembered to touch the blessed shrub in the town before you teleported out) or a trip to the Sinking Sands to wait for an airship. Once you're there, according to the Wiki, it's necessary to use the cannon to leave town, talk to the balloon operator so you can watch your character fly to the main travel hub for the zone, and then watch your character fly again from there to whichever travel location your current stage of the quest is located at. Incidentally, the return to guild hall teleport has a 15-minute cooldown. I'm able to teleport one additional time per hour by recalling to my home city and using a portal I purchased for my room at the inn to get back to the guild hall. Once both teleports are on cooldown, you'll need to wait out the 15 minute timer.

- Somewhere along the way, I discovered that the Wiki is slightly misinformed. The original questgiver in the town that I can teleport to will continue to teleport me to the first of the outposts, even after I complete the quest in that town. This matters because the town in question is the main travel hub. If I do NOT complete this questline, I get keep a teleport that allows me to skip 2-3 minutes of boring AFK travel time each and every time I arrive in the zone. Given that the daily tradeskill quests do NOT contribute experience to my guild, I'm not entirely convinced that the reward for completing the quest (access to the new crafting content) is more valuable than the reward for NOT completing the quest.

A backwards approach
Getting to keep the teleport is a somewhat forgiveable offense; WoW had the same problem with several instant teleport quests, which have since been nerfed to stop working for players above a certain level. That issue aside, this entire experience illustrates how backwards developers' view of in-game travel actually is.

What the developers should be doing is making sure I know where I'm going and how to get back BEFORE they send me out into the wilderness. This would be a very good time to send me to the transport NPC and make me physically notice what location I am departing from and where the ride is taking me relative to the rest of the zone. Once you've done that dance a few times, as the quest requires, that's the point at which you've been impressed by the size of the zone and really shouldn't be obligated to take a mandatory bio break in the middle of your gaming session. (Also, you have to fly from town to the travel hub and then from the hub to your actual destination, and you cannot queue the connecting flight to happen automatically, so you actually have to alt-tab back into the game midway through.)

Putting me through the above ordeal, only to turn around and make me choose between additional AFK time each and every time I want to use this zone (which could be a lot, if I were to eventually start running group PVE content) and advancing a questline is the exact opposite of what they should be doing. Why must developers continue to insist on using wasted AFK travel time as a means of enforcing time sinks in their games?


Anonymous said...

Here is the obvious source of your problems:
"The Moors are a level 75-80 zone, and Lyriana is in her low 50's"

Why don't you level Lyriana up to level 75 before attempting this zone?

Loredena said...

I took several of my level 50 crafters/low level adventurers through without difficulty. But, I think Lore was the first one to run the series and she was probably 70.

I find this sort of quest line entertaining to figure out but if you don't, I highly recommend next time checking EQ2 Traders first. Niami had written up a guide that tells you everything you needed to know: she warns about Tupta and Grobb, lists the total amount of raws and fuels needed, and where to find the stations, as well as the order in which to do it.

(She does this with maps for Kunark too -- definitely read before going when Lyriana gets to 65! I've done the first few quests solo with a 45 ranger, but it is not for the faint of heart!)

I actually find the cannon rather amusing, and the balloons give a nice view, but figuring out the paths is a bit confusing. Of course, having just spent 10 levels in Kunark with sokakar routes, maybe I've gotten used to it all. Besides, I played EQ for 6 years -- travel in EQ2 is miles better, so would have to work hard to annoy me.

@Anonymous -- Ship Out is designed so that a level 50 crafter of any adventuring age can do it, with some care. If you know the quest, it could be done at level 1. If you don't know the quest, you'll die a few times learning it.