Travel Times - Enforced?



  • @faraday said in the Rothogna thread:

    Maybe somebody should split this off into a Travel Times thread so we don't spam the poor OPs ad too much?

    The discussion relates to length of enforced travel and how much/what should be enforced. It was in relation to space, but I'm sure most of us have seen it 'enforced' on non-space, non-coded games (ie, the travel time by horse from Y to Z is 2 weeks please don't abuse this).

    I'm in the camp that does not prefer travel times in favor of RP and hand waving if needed. Though on the other hand if the system has some coded trade/travel minigame and uses travel time to limit how fast one becomes wealthy with the system (and the avid player of such a system usually does), I can see its use. But ... only if a sidestep is available. The cargo ship can take hours/days to get between planets/cities/ports to enforce a limit on coded wealth gain, but the average player not interested in playing a trade simulation should have some means to bypass the coded travel time. SW1 eventually had shuttles, they reduced travel time but cost a minimal amount of in game credits; I think that was to prevent too many hops in one week from the average player? Otherwise, the ships better have some means to RP without keeping folks out of the RP part of the MU (enough players traveling together to continue RP).


  • Coder

    As I mentioned in the other thread, I think there are pitfalls if you have travel times more than half a day that are routinely necessary. A few hours can be assumed to take place off-camera without getting in the way of RP, and most folks can suffer through "okay you're going to the boonies for a special one-time plot and you're going to be off-grid for a week" as long as it's once in a blue moon. But nobody wants to do that regularly.

    I'm not a fan of hand-waving established travel times because I think it has weird effects. Like - say your Wild West game is set in the middle of nowhere. If you've constantly got people hopping back and forth to the big city like it's no big deal, hand-waving weeks-long travel times, it's really jarring. Same with Firefly, where the lack of FTL and longer travel times is a part of the setting. If you don't want people going on long trips, make a setting where either it's not necessary or there's insta-travel.


  • Pitcrew

    I've considered the travel time element in various design spaces over the years. I think in some areas travel times are good and necessary; I also strongly believe they should never be a deterrent to RP.

    This was an issue on a Star Wars game back in the day called Dark Horizons. If anyone is familiar with that game, they may remember incidents when a conflict would break out people would just 'appear' there to join the fight despite having been RPing hours before across the galaxy. It led to horrible ideas of 'time slowing' or putting people out of scenes because it didn't fit. But also the idea of this immediate join in without having 'been' there was problematic as well. In fact a lot of times I see this as an issue on games that have those large IC grids (space games come to mind mostly).

    My suggestion to at least start a solution? Allow fast travel at a 'mechanic' penalty. If I'm going across the galaxy for the purpose of just RPing then who gives a shit if I have a mechanics penalty for a bit (it doesn't even have to be that long, just enough so that you can't immediate travel in order to 'game' the system). If I do want to jump the galaxy to join my buddy in a fight that I really shouldn't be at? Well I still can; I'm just at a disadvantage. Not restricting RP this way but still having accountability and a benefit to 'preparation'.


  • Pitcrew

    I want some sort of acknowledgement of travel times involved that cuts down on the teleportation issue (unless you actually have teleporters), but I don't know that it needs to be isolation in a grid room. These days, I'm more leaning towards some sort of off-screen time resource that can be spent to do off-screen actions, /including/ travel time. So you still have to commit to a journey, but rather than being cut off from RP at your origin or destination, you can transfer when you want, and just pay the 'travel cost' out of resources. Keeps people from trivializing travel, but also keeps them from being stuck in a room, possibly by themselves, for significant amounts of our precious, precious gaming time.



  • I remember the instant travels when 'action' happened, wasn't just Space/Star Wars places either. Folks could be in Kingdom Y that was 4 days hard ride from Kingdom X on fantasy/historical place and if something happened and they got pages from friends at the start, they'd make the jump. I do agree free travel sees this abuse, like the western and someone jumping between Dodge City and St. Louis to follow the rp. I remember it being like Dodge City is daytime active and St. Louis is nighttime active, and the 24-hour player would go events at both places too. I think that sort of abuse needs to be addressed, but like the 2-3 times a week or less player, I think hand waving is fine for then they log in after logging off in Dodge City and the active group they play with all spend some time traveling to St. Louis.

    Mechanical penalty and/or travel resource sounds good (SW1 used credits for the free shuttle service to limit travel and jumps by non-cargo ship players; ie gain 300 credits per time period, it allowed 5-6 jumps until 'payday' again). Curious how it would work out without someone ending up penalized, if its only resources for travel what is the limit? X trips per time period, cap on how many such resources are banked to prevent someone from banking for 3 months then all of a sudden jumping halfway across the globe/galaxy 5 times in one day?


  • Pitcrew

    That's why I preferred the mechanical penalty. If you played the game long enough to accrue enough 'credits' (or other resource) that could allow you to travel about at will, creating an advantage to the long time player. If I were to use a resource base I'd have it be a weekly refresh or something; but again -- you' re delving into an area where the 'systems' could end up restricting RP access.


  • Pitcrew

    'If you aren't here at start, you can't automagically join the scene. If you would like an exception to this, you may explain briefly to the staffer running the scene why said exception should be made. As with other rule challenges and issues, the answer they give you is final. If you wish to appeal, you can do so after the conclusion of the scene, via an appeal to headstaff, as you would do with any other rule issues.'

    Removes the possibility for the posse coming from every corner of the galaxy, but allows for 'hey I live in this damn house and haven't been anywhere else in a week' still.

    ETA: Some issues you cannot solve with more rules, and instead have to solve with a combination of communication and judgment.



  • @pyrephox said in Travel Times - Enforced?:

    I want some sort of acknowledgement of travel times involved that cuts down on the teleportation issue (unless you actually have teleporters), but I don't know that it needs to be isolation in a grid room. These days, I'm more leaning towards some sort of off-screen time resource that can be spent to do off-screen actions, /including/ travel time.

    I like this a lot, for my own inclinations as someone who's not really on a game to play a travel sim but does want some way to approximate the sense of scale/challenge of a big expedition.

    Thing is, there's a segment of players who really do like playing with flying sims and stuff like h-space. It's a different audience than me, just like the audience who loves crafting is a different one than me, but it's out there.

    My own question is, whether a game designer can serve one audience while not alienating the other, and I'm not really sure that's possible. Unlike crafting, there's really no way to ignore that you're spread out on a giant grid of multiple planets that take days to travel to. Not that a game designer has to serve both audiences, mind. Ideally there are lots of niche games that serve lots of types of players. I don't know that the giant grid game can work long-term without a very large playerbase, though.



  • @sunny said in Travel Times - Enforced?:

    'If you aren't here at start, you can't automagically join the scene. If you would like an exception to this, you may explain briefly to the staffer running the scene why said exception should be made. As with other rule challenges and issues, the answer they give you is final. If you wish to appeal, you can do so after the conclusion of the scene, via an appeal to headstaff, as you would do with any other rule issues.'

    Removes the possibility for the posse coming from every corner of the galaxy, but allows for 'hey I live in this damn house and haven't been anywhere else in a week' still.

    ETA: Some issues you cannot solve with more rules, and instead have to solve with a combination of communication and judgment.

    It would be easy enough to code something simple that before an official event starts, you lock the entire planet from @tel, +travel and +meetme commands. You could even lock it down for 24-48 hours before the event.


  • Pitcrew

    @three-eyed-crow If you wanted to try to cater to both bases, I think you'll struggle, BUT, you could essentially make slow travel and fast travel different actions with different risks and rewards. Fast travel might cost resources, but gets you to Place X for plots or what have you without incident. Dramatic travel might involve traversing a grid, does not cost time resources (because it takes actual time), and might also include optional opportunities to gain or lose resources along the way - so, for people who like the journey and exploring, and aren't under a deadline to get somewhere Right Now for a plot, etc. And in exchange for the extra time they invest, they get the opportunity to have Adventures along the way.

    That's not perfect, of course, and there are players that would be deeply offended that the other option than their preference even exists, but it might work.



  • @three-eyed-crow said in Travel Times - Enforced?:

    My own question is, whether a game designer can serve one audience while not alienating the other, and I'm not really sure that's possible. Unlike crafting, there's really no way to ignore that you're spread out on a giant grid of multiple planets that take days to travel to. Not that a game designer has to serve both audiences, mind. Ideally there are lots of niche games that serve lots of types of players. I don't know that the giant grid game can work long-term without a very large playerbase, though.

    In my experience, I think the hardcore purists who really want a very narrow scope of something are the minority. Most people even if they have an appeal of 'Oh I like more realism for my immersion' or 'I like more handwaving so it doesn't get in the way of RP' are okay as long as there's a general nod in their direction and are willing to compromise a little, so compromise systems I think do pretty well.



  • Apologies in advance if this rambles a bit. I'm writing this from work and I'm having constant interruptions.

    I've mostly played on Star Trek games, and those have always had a lot of
    enforced IC travel features ranging from simple coded turbolifts to get
    around the ship, to transporters for moving between ships, to complex space
    travel simulations used to travel between planets. The use of these systems
    was absolutely mandatory. Bypassing IC travel restrictions was regarded as
    cheating and would get you kicked off a game if you were discovered doing
    it. This was do deeply ingrained in me that the first time I ever
    encountered a fast travel system on a MUX, I was horrified, and immediately
    disconnected from that game and never went back.

    It wasn't just Star Trek games that were like this, it was a fairly common design for all sci-fi games back in the day.

    A few months ago I started work on an Expanse game. This wasn't a MUSH, it
    was an Evennia game that I advertised as a scifi RPI. My original goal was
    to create a very realistic, highly detailed space system based on hard
    science (the Epstein drive would be the one exception to this). It quickly
    became apparent that if I used real distances and realistic speeds, it was
    going to take RL months to travel between Earth and The Belt. This was
    unacceptable, so I ended up 'compressing' space considerably, shortening
    what had been close to 3 months of travel, down to 3 hours. Even this was
    considered unacceptable to many of my potential players. People complained
    that they didn't want to waste their limited play time on travel. "Fine." I
    thought, and dumbed things down again. I dropped the complex power
    management. I added an automatic pilot which made travelling from one point
    to another as simple as typing 'layin ceres;engage'. With those changes, a
    trip from Earth to Ceres took just short of 40 minutes. Even this was too
    much for some folks. Eventually I got tired of people asking to have their
    character @moved somewhere in order to bypass the travel time, so I ended up
    scrapping the entire space system. I replaced it with a simple, instant
    fast travel system. I also added a 'Space' advantage to Cgen to give
    characters that owned ships, a few perks when using fast travel (that
    Advantage was also used by the commerce system, which I also ended up
    abandonning because no one used it).

    At this point, I lost interest in the game and handed it over to one of my
    staffers. It just wasn't the type of game that I wanted. I love space
    sims. I love trading sims. I love RP. Unfortunately I seem to be the last
    of a dying breed of players that wants all of these things in one game.


  • Admin

    @apos said in Travel Times - Enforced?:

    In my experience, I think the hardcore purists who really want a very narrow scope of something are the minority. Most people even if they have an appeal of 'Oh I like more realism for my immersion' or 'I like more handwaving so it doesn't get in the way of RP' are okay as long as there's a general nod in their direction and are willing to compromise a little, so compromise systems I think do pretty well.

    I don't know. I mean it's a game and I'm typically very accommodating when it comes to handwaving all kinds of stuff... but sometimes geography is part of the setting, too.

    Take a Game of Thrones MUSH. The fact the Wall is out there on the edge of the map is just a major thematic element; characters bouncing between it and King's Landing on the regular wouldn't just break immersion for me, it would have a ripple effect. One occasional report via raven about some kinda weird-ass zombies could be construed as a ploy trying to get more troops or a Stark thing or whatever, but how long can you plausibly deal with people who've taken the Black walking around telling you their personal horror stories from the day before without everyone's characters going 'okay, uh, maybe there's a grain of truth here?'.

    In other words geographical separation - or even isolation - in fantasy settings is often too big a factor to just discard... at least for me, others' mileage may vary. Without that regional fragmentation it's arguable events would (should) simply play out differently.

    Maybe I'm overthinking it, dunno.


  • Pitcrew

    It's true Dark Horizons had troubles with traveltime. People would also instantly travel from one corner of the universe to another if, say, a main holding of their faction was in trouble.

    I think it is fair to enforce some arbitrary number of IC days until someone can travel to and from a sector in the Quaalude system to the Xanax system. A mechanical penalty to a ship (your FTL is recharging and your systems are somewhat powered down) helps illustrate that. That'd keep Captain Smith from jumping 45 sectors with relative impunity to help General Anxious fight in the streets of Ambien II.

    (names of sleeping aids included purely to serve as examples, and also because they sound like sci-fi names)


  • Pitcrew

    @Pyrephox Ermagherd, that gives me related ideas.

    Like, if you have a TRAVEL TIME resource that you can spend, going places long-distance can cost you more depending on how fast you wanna get there.

    Walking is free--but it takes progressively longer (ever tried walking thirty blocks? sixty? five hundred?) whereas a bike might be very cheap, but motorcycles and cars get a little more expensive. You can use public transport--but the time it takes is subject to random traffic or breakdowns--and cabs, etc., can cost more (progressively so).

    You would have to make the TIME TRAVEL resource something that was key to the game, but I can see it, especially for games where traveling across places is important (imagine how important it might be in such a setting if the players were competing in a scavenger hunt across cities or even countries--people with access to planes and cars would have xconsiderably more time to actually search, etc.)

    Yes, it's a little mini-game-y, but whatever.


  • Coder

    @arkandel said in Travel Times - Enforced?:

    In other words geographical separation - or even isolation - in fantasy settings is often too big a factor to just discard... at least for me, others' mileage may vary. Without that regional fragmentation it's arguable events would (should) simply play out differently.

    I don't think you're overthinking it at all. How different would Firefly have been if the crew could just zip around the galaxy with hyperdrives? How different would a Wild West setting be if you could take a train and be back in New York City overnight? This isn't just a matter of OOC inconvenience - it's a critical factor of what stories you can tell in that universe. I'm not saying you need to micromanage it, but a sense of scale is vitally important to maintain some degree of plausibility in the game's theme.

    But OOC inconvenience is definitely a thing. @RnMissionRun brought up folks who wouldn't tolerate a 40 minute travel time. I would assuredly be in that group myself. I have a limited amount of time to play, and I'm simply not going to burn 40 minutes of it twiddling my thumbs waiting to play. Reminds me of the early MMO days where you'd have to get in the queue and wait 30 minutes before the game would even start. It was intolerable then and it's intolerable now. If it takes 40 minutes ICly, fine. But there's no reason not to assume that my character started their journey 40 IC minutes ago while I was logged off. As long as such a journey is plausible in the setting, don't put up silly barriers to people getting together to tell stories.



  • @rnmissionrun Your travel times are crazy long with the maths of the Epstein Drive. Earth to Mars, even at 1/3 g for Belter physique, will get you there in ~6 days (time varies based on how far apart they are at time of departure). 6 days is a lot of time, from an RP perspective, but it is hella less than the months listed.

    I mean, sure, it uses fuel the whole time, but the fuel and the ship engineering that can withstand the strain are the unobtanium here. The rocket science itself is sound.



  • @jennkryst said in Travel Times - Enforced?:

    @rnmissionrun Your travel times are crazy long with the maths of the Epstein Drive. Earth to Mars, even at 1/3 g for Belter physique, will get you there in ~6 days (time varies based on how far apart they are at time of departure). 6 days is a lot of time, from an RP perspective, but it is hella less than the months listed.

    I mean, sure, it uses fuel the whole time, but the fuel and the ship engineering that can withstand the strain are the unobtanium here. The rocket science itself is sound.

    That's likely. At the time I started working on things I had only seen the first season, and had no idea what the actual numbers were, so I guessed.



  • This is a pet peeve of mine on Star Wars mushes, people will hop around the galaxy like they're driving to the mall and back when it should be taking days to weeks.

    I too hate staring at a timer when I'm in hyperspace, it sucks, but I think the fault is with staff for making the setting for RP galaxy wide instead of an area of space where this wouldn't be an problem. I'm in the camp that a star wars mush should take place in a single sector at maximum to get rid of this issue.

    People have many problems with the movie Rogue One(all the new movies, really), but my main gripe was the last bit where they handwaved travel times that had been established in previous movies and sourcebooks. Like, is the library planet five minutes away from Yavin IV? how is Yavin a secret base if it's right next to the high security library planet?



  • @sg said in Travel Times - Enforced?:

    I too hate staring at a timer when I'm in hyperspace, it sucks, but I think the fault is with staff for making the setting for RP galaxy wide instead of an area of space where this wouldn't be an problem. I'm in the camp that a star wars mush should take place in a single sector at maximum to get rid of this issue.

    I'd love to play a Star Wars MU or Firefly MU that was centralized around a single world, with adventures happening more episodically outside it and revolving around it as the main setting (again, this is a game the people interested in sim space travel probably wouldn't love, but, different audiences). I do think it'd make a game in terms of RP/story, though, and I'm kind of surprised it's not tried more often.


 

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