Time

Mitch Mitchell over at Blizzard Watch has a piece today proposing that Blizz curtail much of the long-drawn-out RP in old dungeons and raids. His logic is that at this point nearly everyone who runs those does so for transmog items or gold or whatever, they have heard the same dialogs for years, and honestly they are sick of it. But currently you can’t skip it.

I can definitely sympathize with him, even though I don’t do a lot of transmog hunting. But it got me thinking there are other game mechanisms that seem to exist for no other reason than to stretch out the time it takes you to do X thing.

It seems like in BFA Blizz has returned more and more to RP dialog rather than cutscenes. I suspect they have done this because it is much cheaper to produce lines of dialog than it is to put together any kind of decent cutscene. But it very quickly becomes mega-annoying. It is somewhat immersive and cute the first time you experience it, but by about the third time you just want to jam a pencil in your eye.

For example, there is a ton of RP dialog in the War Campaign quest line. Every time I get to one of those “Tell me your plan” points, I groan out loud and have been known to yell at my computer, “Nobody gives a shit about your stupid plan! Just give me the next quest!” And of course, since you can’t skip RP dialog like you can most cutscenes, you are left with no choice but to suffer through the slooooooooow, tortuous chat print. You would think at least Blizz could chunk it all out there in one blurb, but no, they have to unfold the marvelous plan ever so slowly.

(Disclosure: I also hate audio books, because I can listen much faster than the reader reads the words. Blizz’s RP dialogue strikes me as a weird twist on audio books, in which the audio narration is played back in written form, retaining the excruciatingly slow cadence.)

The only good thing about these RP sequences is that I often use the time to knock out a few pushups or squats or sit-ups, so at least maybe I am getting a small benefit from them.

It’s one of those small but continuous annoyances in the game. I get that some players like the RP and the storyline parts, but I am only marginally interested even the first time through. It just seems like there ought to be some way to skip through — like cutscenes — if you are sick of it.

Another time-waster, in my opinion, is the whole flight point system. Yes, I understand the “immersion” factor, and I even admit to admiring the scenery from time to time. But when I am forced to take some of those minutes-long flights, I lose all appreciation for both the immersion and the damn scenery.

Blizz seems to be on a mission to actually increase rather than reduce travel time in the game. They have reduced the number of portals, to include — inexplicably — making the portal to Pandaria terminate in the Jade Forest rather than the Vale, thereby forcing a significantly long flight whenever you have business in the Vale — which is usually every day. This is even more inexplicable when you realize that there is a portal to Stormwind in the Shrine, but no portal in Stormwind the other direction.

In Uldum and the Vale, Blizz has purposely forced a lot of travel time by not allowing the whistle to be used. They could also have added some new FPS in to these zones — beyond the one that they added to the Vale — but chose not to. On top of that, they often (especially in the Vale) place the daily quests at distant points from each other, forcing border-to-border travel just to pick up quests. That’s before you can even start doing them. And invariably, while you are on your way to pick up the rares quest or the chest one, you encounter several rares or chests but of course if you stop to get them they will not count for the quest.

Blizz could do a lot for quality of life in the game if they shortened travel times by adding portals, or making long flights have a “supersonic” option, or giving us the use of the whistle in Uldum and the Vale, or even just allowing players to parachute out of a flight at any point. (The “get off at the next stop” button is almost useless.)

Oh, and not for nothin’, but those damn worms that fly around and zap you with a slow debuff that lasts forever — those suck! They seem to have no purpose other than to indulge Blizz’s little continuing tantrum over having to allow flying, as if to say, “We apparently have to let you fly, but we do not have to let you enjoy it, you whiny little shits!”

Please note I am refraining from attributing long travel times to Blizz’s ever-present goal of increasing MAU to please Corporate. Not going there today. You can, but I’m not…

Anyway, long travel times and interminable RP dialog are not major shortcomings of the game, but for me they are continuing little annoyances that pile up. I understand the need for story lines and immersion, and I certainly do not wish to destroy these factors for those who think they are fun. But my own enjoyment of the game would go up a lot if Blizz could offer some alternatives, and I suspect I am not alone in this desire. (And I am not oblivious to the irony of complaining about wasting time within a game designed to waste time.)

Everyone have a nice weekend, I’ll see you on the other side. Stay safe, remember to wear your mask and wash your hands and practice social distancing.

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