The shortest distance between two points…March 4, 2010 at 5:09 pm | Posted in General | Leave a comment
Tags: a to b, crafting, fallen earth, game design, lord of the rings online, resource gathering, World of Warcraft
When it comes to travelling in MMOs, I’ve known people who’ve loved journeying from one place to another because of the chances for accidental exploration. Others have enjoyed the feeling of the size of the game world. Still others have hated every single second of it as an evil time-sink.
My own personal experience is that travelling from one place to another is an opportunity to farm nodes. I’m just the sort of magpie that hates leaving a farmable node alone, and filled to the brim with farmable goodness.
In most games, there’s not that much of a problem. World of Warcraft would see a slight detour every so often. Lord of the Rings Online has got worse, in that later zones have much more spawn points, depending on what you’re after. Eregion is pebble-dashed with ore and wood nodes, for example. At times it seems similar to a nature-themed Jackson Pollack.
Fallen Earth, however, is the king of the farming node. Being the afore-mentioned magpie, coupled with doing my utmost to craft anything and everything, the only times I’ve been leaving nodes are when I’m being chased by nasty-looking mobs, or when poor overloaded Hawley can’t carry any more.
The number and frequency of farmable nodes has a surprising effect on my enjoyment level within a game. I’ve all but given up on crafting in many games, because they just seem to be a time and money-sink, for no appreciable gain. Becoming a master craftsman is a box to tick, rather than being a viable gameplay option.
Usually, this is because standard nodes are quite few and far between, and specialised nodes are rare. It’s a game design choice; is crafting a focus activity, or a secondary activity?
And as a gamer, I like to have crafting as a focus activity. I want to be able to partake in crafting as much as I play the levelling game, the monsty-killing game, and the instancing game.
As a swift aside, I can imagine the screams of nerd-rage we’d hear if a game launched with monster spawns as rare as ore nodes in most games; so why is it that nodes have to be so few and far between?
It seems that crafting must hurt. Really hurt. Either as a time sink (gathering raw materials and then crafting with them), or financially (by buying everything on the auction house). But why? What is the design purpose for causing annoyance and frustration?
I like the way that Fallen Earth handles it. If I want to, I can go prospecting for all sorts of tat, and go and craft with it. And if I can’t find it anywhere? Well, a short check at various NPCs will find it, for a cost. Neither resource gathering nor crafting are a chore; they’re a fun way to pass time. Or have pass, whilst doing something else. The pain of the whole procedure has been removed.
Of course, it doesn’t help me get somewhere in a hurry…