Fast Travel: a Case Against TES Changes Being a Steady Decline

I really want to use the Elder Scrolls just as a jumping-off point for the discussion of fast travel mechanisms in general, but fast travel as a system seems to be one of the points people keep coming back to when talking about the changes over the history of the major TES games. To get my own prejudices out of the way: I like fast travel, except when I don't. Hope that's clear.
 
What I mean to say is, I like it when it bypasses what's basically a non-event, like the montage scene you might get in a movie where the characters walk through the mountains and you don't actually get to watch hour upon hour of them trudging through mud. When the exploration of an area is my objective, I don't use fast travel at all. When finishing a quest before I have to go to bed, I like to just zip there and get it done, since I use games as a way to feel more accomplished than I am in real life. The fast travel does NOT have to be easy, though. It's probably why I lean heavily toward Morrowind's system, which feels like it inhabits the world, instead of existing on top of it to make my impatient-self happy.  
 
A rundown of the systems used in ALL the main Elder Scrolls entries:
 

Arena's fast travel will probably be very familiar to players of Oblivion, strange as that may seem. Players are presented with a world map (click for a larger view) of ALL OF TAMRIEL, and there are major and minor cities connected by roads which you can click on and travel to. Nothing exists between the cities in real space; you can explore outside of the cities forever, but none of these outside-city-spaces actually meet up with other cities, dungeons, or towns that exist on the main map. All dungeons and buildings you find while exploring were procedurally generated, and all important places are accessible from the map.
 
When traveling you take a number of days, during which you spend a bit of money in inns. This may mean you don't finish a mission in time if the roads are bad due to weather, which happened to me at least once. Otherwise, there are no random encounters unless demanded by the quest or plot.
 

Daggerfall took procedural generation to a still-astounding extreme, putting all the points on a map in a real, connected space. You could stumble, in theory, across dungeon sites as you traveled, but the world was so massive, and largely uninteresting otherwise, that it was difficult to justify doing this. Fast travel was integral to getting anywhere, and could be done using a few sliders and buttons that dictated how fast you went, how much it cost, and if you would arrive at the destination during daytime or stumble into the place when the gates were still closed.
 
Players could own a mount which would reduce travel time, as well as a ship that you actually teleported to when you wanted to board it. It sat in the middle of the ocean, which was a little weird, but it acted as a house and a way to offset sea-going trip costs since it effectively followed you like a puppydog.
 
In addition to this, the fast travel spells of Mark and Recall were introduced, where you could mark a place that you could later travel to using the recall spell.
 

Morrowind had the most varied travel system of all, at least in terms of methods you could use.  Silt striders took you to mostly western and southern, inland destinations for a small fee; ships took you to ports in a mostly U-shaped curve of ports around the island; Mark and Recall were still used the same as they were in Daggerfall, and there were two new spells that would beam you to the nearest Imperial Cult altar or the nearest Tribunal Temple; and Guides would allow you transport to other mage guilds and, if you had the Tribunal expansion, to the walled capital city on the mainland.
 
Exploration on foot was much more practical in Morrowind than Daggerfall, although the mountains, the Ghostgate, and the seas often directed your line of travel, especially if you had a low level character. Swimming was still possible, if you didn't mind being bitten by fish and crab-men wherever you went.  
 
There were no mounts in Morrowind, and you could not purchase your own ship. One of the more effective methods of player-initiated travel on foot involved the use of jump spells and soul gems. Player encumbrance affected walking speed, as did player stats and spells.
 
Bugs sometimes caused the player to fall through the world, but unlike the abyss in Daggerfall these seemed a lot less deadly, even though Daggerfall's abyss bugs seemed to be prevalent only in interior environments.

 
Oblivion dispensed with most of this. Fast travel was now a player capability from pretty much the outset. Other than the cities, you still had to discover locations on your own, but you were allowed to effectively transport from one area to the next, consequence free, as long as you weren't over-burdened. Travel time is still computed based on player speed and route, so time-based quests may still run into problems if you take too long.
 
Unlike in the prior games, the player-character automatically regenerated health, so fast travel also acted as a way to heal up, rather than a way to get to a safe place to heal.
 
Traveling on foot in the relatively flat and road-heavy Cyrodiil is even more practical here, although some might argue less engaging.  Players also had the option to buy or steal a horse, hearkening back to Daggerfall, only the horse is fully realized with its own behaviors and ability to get creamed by aggressive locals. Traveling realtime also means that the character is subject to encounters, just like in Morrowind.  

 
Skyrim's methods are unknown at this time but seem pretty likely to follow Oblivion's lead, with instant fast travel to known locations. There's also at least a suggestion in one of the interviews that in-world fast travel options may also exist, but it didn't seem really solid when they were talking about it. Mountains will provide significant barriers that help to make travel less linear, but how this affects fast travel is unknown.
 
 --

What's remarkable to me about both Skyrim and Oblivion, and I've mentioned this before, is how close such a system actually feels to Arena. I am fond of Arena, and think that a more detailed and dynamic version of THAT game could be a nice dungeon-hacking time sink for me.  That said, it's interesting that you can, in effect, have a more Arena-like experience in the later games than with Morrowind.  For those who say it's been a steady decline, it really hasn't as far as I've seen. Morrowind was the peak of eccentricity with its completely in-world fast travel systems, forbidding the player to just zip there even if its location was known and had been visited prior. It forced the player to use a bit more ingenuity, which was organic and engaging, and at times painfully frustrating. Daggerfall and Arena were pretty much about beaming from place to place, and in Arena it was REQUIRED in order to experience the user-created world, with found dungeons and buildings being places to gather loot rather than having anything central to the game, whether by central you mean housing important artifacts, or actual quest locations, main or otherwise.
 
If we will, in future iterations, have a quest system that figures out where we've been and makes a new place for us to go, if we can explore the countryside and find things that aren't quite as interesting as the quest dungeons, and even less interesting than the hand-crafted main quest dungeons, what we have is a new, largely improved version of Arena. It seems that Morrowind, more than any of the other formulas here, allowed for players to willfully open up stuff they weren't ready for, and to find treasures that made them instantly rich or powerful in major dungeons, while both Oblivion and Daggerfall used the "loot roughly fits current character level" paradigm.
 
I guess all of this shows that the refinements haven't been a necessarily linear dumbing-down. For those who liked Morrowind's rough edges, you may have hit upon the pinnacle there, rather than mid-way down the slope into user-friendliness. 
 
--
 
In general, I'd say that fast travel is something that even pen and paper role playing games often have, where you can tell that the players are bored enough, or you know nothing will happen, that you can just say that time passes and you get back to more interesting things. The essay I'm still building up toward is a suggestion that the game itself must, at least in a rudimentary way, mimic the person running the game, and be able to tell what options are appropriate to maintain interest. Not just for fast travel, but for the game as a whole. I know, that's a tall order to ask, but I believe it's possible. 
 

Oh! While I'm typing, another one of my ideas for Skyrim:


A Cryostasis-style warming mechanism, where players keep warm by fires and other methods, in addition to needing supplies to stay alive. I know that's not for everyone, maybe part of a survivalist hard-core, New-Vegas style mod. I dunno. I just really like the idea of a warm mead-house actually having direct benefits for your character. It wouldn't be as vital, but there would be levels of cold on the player, even Nords, which would slow their effectiveness somewhat, and possibly make the fatigue meter more relevant. I guess you could roleplay all of this, but it's nice to have the game actually keeping track of things when you don't. That's sort of what computers are for.
 
So, how do you all feel about fast travel in games in general, or in Elder Scrolls games in particular?
27 Comments
28 Comments
Posted by ahoodedfigure

I really want to use the Elder Scrolls just as a jumping-off point for the discussion of fast travel mechanisms in general, but fast travel as a system seems to be one of the points people keep coming back to when talking about the changes over the history of the major TES games. To get my own prejudices out of the way: I like fast travel, except when I don't. Hope that's clear.
 
What I mean to say is, I like it when it bypasses what's basically a non-event, like the montage scene you might get in a movie where the characters walk through the mountains and you don't actually get to watch hour upon hour of them trudging through mud. When the exploration of an area is my objective, I don't use fast travel at all. When finishing a quest before I have to go to bed, I like to just zip there and get it done, since I use games as a way to feel more accomplished than I am in real life. The fast travel does NOT have to be easy, though. It's probably why I lean heavily toward Morrowind's system, which feels like it inhabits the world, instead of existing on top of it to make my impatient-self happy.  
 
A rundown of the systems used in ALL the main Elder Scrolls entries:
 

Arena's fast travel will probably be very familiar to players of Oblivion, strange as that may seem. Players are presented with a world map (click for a larger view) of ALL OF TAMRIEL, and there are major and minor cities connected by roads which you can click on and travel to. Nothing exists between the cities in real space; you can explore outside of the cities forever, but none of these outside-city-spaces actually meet up with other cities, dungeons, or towns that exist on the main map. All dungeons and buildings you find while exploring were procedurally generated, and all important places are accessible from the map.
 
When traveling you take a number of days, during which you spend a bit of money in inns. This may mean you don't finish a mission in time if the roads are bad due to weather, which happened to me at least once. Otherwise, there are no random encounters unless demanded by the quest or plot.
 

Daggerfall took procedural generation to a still-astounding extreme, putting all the points on a map in a real, connected space. You could stumble, in theory, across dungeon sites as you traveled, but the world was so massive, and largely uninteresting otherwise, that it was difficult to justify doing this. Fast travel was integral to getting anywhere, and could be done using a few sliders and buttons that dictated how fast you went, how much it cost, and if you would arrive at the destination during daytime or stumble into the place when the gates were still closed.
 
Players could own a mount which would reduce travel time, as well as a ship that you actually teleported to when you wanted to board it. It sat in the middle of the ocean, which was a little weird, but it acted as a house and a way to offset sea-going trip costs since it effectively followed you like a puppydog.
 
In addition to this, the fast travel spells of Mark and Recall were introduced, where you could mark a place that you could later travel to using the recall spell.
 

Morrowind had the most varied travel system of all, at least in terms of methods you could use.  Silt striders took you to mostly western and southern, inland destinations for a small fee; ships took you to ports in a mostly U-shaped curve of ports around the island; Mark and Recall were still used the same as they were in Daggerfall, and there were two new spells that would beam you to the nearest Imperial Cult altar or the nearest Tribunal Temple; and Guides would allow you transport to other mage guilds and, if you had the Tribunal expansion, to the walled capital city on the mainland.
 
Exploration on foot was much more practical in Morrowind than Daggerfall, although the mountains, the Ghostgate, and the seas often directed your line of travel, especially if you had a low level character. Swimming was still possible, if you didn't mind being bitten by fish and crab-men wherever you went.  
 
There were no mounts in Morrowind, and you could not purchase your own ship. One of the more effective methods of player-initiated travel on foot involved the use of jump spells and soul gems. Player encumbrance affected walking speed, as did player stats and spells.
 
Bugs sometimes caused the player to fall through the world, but unlike the abyss in Daggerfall these seemed a lot less deadly, even though Daggerfall's abyss bugs seemed to be prevalent only in interior environments.

 
Oblivion dispensed with most of this. Fast travel was now a player capability from pretty much the outset. Other than the cities, you still had to discover locations on your own, but you were allowed to effectively transport from one area to the next, consequence free, as long as you weren't over-burdened. Travel time is still computed based on player speed and route, so time-based quests may still run into problems if you take too long.
 
Unlike in the prior games, the player-character automatically regenerated health, so fast travel also acted as a way to heal up, rather than a way to get to a safe place to heal.
 
Traveling on foot in the relatively flat and road-heavy Cyrodiil is even more practical here, although some might argue less engaging.  Players also had the option to buy or steal a horse, hearkening back to Daggerfall, only the horse is fully realized with its own behaviors and ability to get creamed by aggressive locals. Traveling realtime also means that the character is subject to encounters, just like in Morrowind.  

 
Skyrim's methods are unknown at this time but seem pretty likely to follow Oblivion's lead, with instant fast travel to known locations. There's also at least a suggestion in one of the interviews that in-world fast travel options may also exist, but it didn't seem really solid when they were talking about it. Mountains will provide significant barriers that help to make travel less linear, but how this affects fast travel is unknown.
 
 --

What's remarkable to me about both Skyrim and Oblivion, and I've mentioned this before, is how close such a system actually feels to Arena. I am fond of Arena, and think that a more detailed and dynamic version of THAT game could be a nice dungeon-hacking time sink for me.  That said, it's interesting that you can, in effect, have a more Arena-like experience in the later games than with Morrowind.  For those who say it's been a steady decline, it really hasn't as far as I've seen. Morrowind was the peak of eccentricity with its completely in-world fast travel systems, forbidding the player to just zip there even if its location was known and had been visited prior. It forced the player to use a bit more ingenuity, which was organic and engaging, and at times painfully frustrating. Daggerfall and Arena were pretty much about beaming from place to place, and in Arena it was REQUIRED in order to experience the user-created world, with found dungeons and buildings being places to gather loot rather than having anything central to the game, whether by central you mean housing important artifacts, or actual quest locations, main or otherwise.
 
If we will, in future iterations, have a quest system that figures out where we've been and makes a new place for us to go, if we can explore the countryside and find things that aren't quite as interesting as the quest dungeons, and even less interesting than the hand-crafted main quest dungeons, what we have is a new, largely improved version of Arena. It seems that Morrowind, more than any of the other formulas here, allowed for players to willfully open up stuff they weren't ready for, and to find treasures that made them instantly rich or powerful in major dungeons, while both Oblivion and Daggerfall used the "loot roughly fits current character level" paradigm.
 
I guess all of this shows that the refinements haven't been a necessarily linear dumbing-down. For those who liked Morrowind's rough edges, you may have hit upon the pinnacle there, rather than mid-way down the slope into user-friendliness. 
 
--
 
In general, I'd say that fast travel is something that even pen and paper role playing games often have, where you can tell that the players are bored enough, or you know nothing will happen, that you can just say that time passes and you get back to more interesting things. The essay I'm still building up toward is a suggestion that the game itself must, at least in a rudimentary way, mimic the person running the game, and be able to tell what options are appropriate to maintain interest. Not just for fast travel, but for the game as a whole. I know, that's a tall order to ask, but I believe it's possible. 
 

Oh! While I'm typing, another one of my ideas for Skyrim:


A Cryostasis-style warming mechanism, where players keep warm by fires and other methods, in addition to needing supplies to stay alive. I know that's not for everyone, maybe part of a survivalist hard-core, New-Vegas style mod. I dunno. I just really like the idea of a warm mead-house actually having direct benefits for your character. It wouldn't be as vital, but there would be levels of cold on the player, even Nords, which would slow their effectiveness somewhat, and possibly make the fatigue meter more relevant. I guess you could roleplay all of this, but it's nice to have the game actually keeping track of things when you don't. That's sort of what computers are for.
 
So, how do you all feel about fast travel in games in general, or in Elder Scrolls games in particular?
Posted by Brenderous

I think I would prefer only being able to fast-travel from city to city, instead of being able to fast travel in the middle of nowhere, as handy as that is. Would make the wilderness seem more threatening.

Posted by bhhawks78

Fast travel and level scaling are intertwined for me. 
 
Level scaling (like in Oblivion/Fallout 3) I want easy as hell fast travel where if I've ever been there I want to be able to fast travel there. 
 
If no level scaling I prefer the morrowind style because I might actually enjoy the trek between places I've been.

Posted by Pazy

I played my first 15/20 hours of Oblivion without Fast travel and I have a vivid memory of the places I went to and how the world connects them. I then began to use the fast travel system to quickly finish up quests and very quickly I had lost my connection to the world, to me it began to be models wandering amongst random shapes whereas before I actually like the world and relished the thought of seeing the next architecture design or place scenery.

My discovery of the fast travel system lessened my enjoyment of Oblivion considerably, though I still enjoyed I didnt enjoy as much as I did initially. The morrowind method of having to walk to a "salt strider" (bus) meant I could travel fast while still feeling in the world. Similarly World of Warcrafts method of using mounts, to speed up travel, fixed flight points, which take you from point to point assuming you have discovered it but still showing the world in between, and the teleportation the mage has to a limited number of spots meant I have a picture in my mind of how that world looks and how I can get from place to place and it has a certain tangibility that makes me love the world more.

Posted by HandsomeDead

The thing I always enjoy the most about Bethesda's games is exploring the world and finding new locations and distractions. Fast Travel is handy, almost a necessity, during some missions but when it's not that imperative, I do just walk around and soak up the atmosphere.

Posted by melcene

As gamers, we have become spoiled by fast-travel.  We expect it in most of our RPGs now.  No more wandering through the world and coming across random mob encounters.  Just click and you're there!  Now, I'll admit, I've fast travelled right off the bat with games like Oblivion.  But I think what I would prefer to see is two things: 
 
(a) you must discover a place before you can fast travel to it 
(b) you cannot fast travel to places in the wilderness, only to cities/towns

Posted by ahoodedfigure
@Brenderous:  I was thinking of something similar. Like, there are places that have obvious trade routes that are well-maintained and guarded, which would basically be non-events except the player pressing forward on the control stick for thirty minutes. Hubs. That makes the busywork less taxing, but lets you worry about wilderness survival. Like, "oh crap, this means I have to save and stock up on gear, I'm going into the wilderness."  Then you could still have emergency exit potions or whatever that would be a bit inconvenient but better than dying. Good suggestion.
 
@bhhawks78: That's a good point, since I think the scaled loot sort of goes with fast travel, since it's all about increasing in that scheme. The Morrowind scheme is more about exploration and risk/reward, but you can also just follow the progression they provide if you want.
 
@Pazy: Did you not know about fast travel to start, or were you deliberately not using it? That disconnect you have with the world is exactly how I feel when stuff like that gets out of hand. I like that I can actually have a neat place that's close to a city that I never noticed because I was too busy using fast travel, but if you reduce it to a series of button presses all the time, most players will probably succumb to that and lose something. It's different than unlocking that power, really, since at least then it's not there to tempt you. It could be argued that people who don't like fast travel don't have to use it, but it makes for an awkward situation. Still, if given the chance, I'd at least try to not use it unless pressed to do so, the way I would use an escape spell in the older games. The problem is that there are some times, like the same old boring stretch of road, where it makes sense to use it. It also seems a bit fourth-wall breaking, whereas the other games at least have in-game explanations for the time distortion.
 
@HandsomeDead: The more I write about these games, the more I think I'm one of those "explorer" types. Fast travel sorta works the same way our mind wanders when we go the same path we walk every day. Probably explains why I tried to find a different route to walk to work every day when I was younger.
Posted by ahoodedfigure
@melcene:  The cities only fast traveling seems to be a theme here, and I'm digging it. It's actually a bit like Morrowind, but without having to memorize the bus routes pretty much. Civilizations strung together, sort of thing.
Posted by yoshimitz707

Honestly, I don't really care if fast travel is in or not. I've played through Oblivion about 5 or 6 times and I've gone through playthroughs without fast traveling and it really didn't make much difference to me. Though, that's probably due to the fact that I don't care about anything in games other than if it's fun or not.

Posted by hexx462
@melcene said:
"   (a) you must discover a place before you can fast travel to it (b) you cannot fast travel to places in the wilderness, only to cities/towns "
Cannot argue with that at all. I think once you've taken the time to get to a major city or hub then you should be able to fast travel. You still had that journey but then are not forced to relive over and over.
Posted by melcene

Ohh something else I'd like to add to my list I think is an exploration fog on the map.  I like knowing where I've been and haven't been yet, and that is also just more incentive to get out and explore various areas.

Posted by ahoodedfigure
@melcene:  Like a general outline of the territory or whatever, but nothing in side? Sort of like a prettier version of Morrowind's that didn't look like a blob of pixels?
 
@hexx462: And it could sort of be justified in-world, too, so it's not like you feel like you're teleporting everywhere which feels a bit too push-button for fantasy escapism, at least for me.
Edited by Gabriel

You should only be able to fast travel to towns, and make it like Dragon age where you can be ambushed randomly on the road while fast traveling. 

Edited by Jazz2

You made a good point! I really hated the fast travel in oblivion as well. It felt that i was somehow using cheatcodes or something. It would be awesome if Skyrim would have a fast travel system that is justified by the world of the game itself. :)

Posted by Vager

If there is a hardcore mode where fast travel did not exist, I would play that.

Posted by Pazy
@ahoodedfigure said:
" @Pazy: Did you not know about fast travel to start, or were you deliberately not using it? That disconnect you have with the world is exactly how I feel when stuff like that gets out of hand. I like that I can actually have a neat place that's close to a city that I never noticed because I was too busy using fast travel, but if you reduce it to a series of button presses all the time, most players will probably succumb to that and lose something. It's different than unlocking that power, really, since at least then it's not there to tempt you. It could be argued that people who don't like fast travel don't have to use it, but it makes for an awkward situation. Still, if given the chance, I'd at least try to not use it unless pressed to do so, the way I would use an escape spell in the older games. The problem is that there are some times, like the same old boring stretch of road, where it makes sense to use it. It also seems a bit fourth-wall breaking, whereas the other games at least have in-game explanations for the time distortion.  "

I had probably heard of it from reviews but it didnt enter my mind when I started playing the game. I only thought about using it because, I thought, I was near the end of a mission and really want to finish it up before going to sleep so I used the fast travel but then it had a couple other parts. Its a slippery slope situation where I thought it wouldent hurt to do it again and all of a sudden I had burned through a few quest chains, in areas I had never been to, and one half of the world felt a little unreal. 

Players can choose not to use it but its so tempting to offer them what seems like a one sided bargain, why not remove this boring walking on a road section and get to the good part?. Sadly I didn't realise at the time it wasn't a simple one sided bargain but I was sacrificing part of my enjoyment for pure convenience.

This goes in part to explain my love of the World of Warcraft method, where its all either physically showing you it or within the fiction to a small number of locations (for a fee, paid to a player), since I never had the option of taking the easy way to get to anywhere. Infact my first experience past the first two zones was to help a friend, as a distraction, to escape a cave which was inside enemy territory. At the time I had no mount and I had never seen the world, and barely a map of it, and I set forth forth walking from the heart of the Alliance in Stormwind down half a continent to Booty Bay, across the ocean to a desert barely a breath from the horde capitol and then further south past the Great Lift to the bottom of a canyon where I had to sneak my way past mobs which were impossibly beyond me and into the cave where my friend waited. That was the moment I fell in love with the world, and to a great extent the lore, of World of Warcraft. I am sure that were there an option to fast travel or teleport to anywhere near him I suspect I would have taken it and simple appeared there, done what was needed and left but I had to manually make my way across two continent and it was a better experience for it. It was made sweeter by my friend, who I was keeping level with and trying to share as much content with, decided that it was too far, it was an impossible task and I was wasting my time.

With a fast travel option I would not have had that amazing experience and Im glad it wasent there. Im not again Fast Travel but the way it was opening up in Oblivion where you can travel to any corner of the world, since all the cities are open, and then almost any object once you pass it by means that in quick time you can teleport around the world. It seemed to me that the amount of locations that you can fast travel to in Fallout 3 is greatly smaller and since you have to earn every single one of them, as well as being greeted by a vista which lets you connect yourself to where you have been, it means that the world feels a little more whole.

Fallout 3 gave you the option to make it easier but never to make it easy whereas I think Oblivion went too far in that direction and made it a little meaningless.

Posted by melcene
@Pazy: Yes!  Fallout 3 is a great example of a decent fast travel system.  You have to discover the area first, which means you have to walk there.  I can't tell you how many times in Fallout I set out to go to a particular quest location and got side track by all sorts of different things along the way.  Call me crazy, but I LIKE that in an RPG. 
 
@ahoodedfigure: I can't recall how Morrowind's map did it... it's been too long.  I was thinking more like WoW, honestly, where your map starts out fogged, and as you visit various areas, the corresponding fog on the map clears.  Sounds basically the same as what you're describing though.
Posted by Dallas_Raines

Christ, if you don't like that version of fast travel, then don't fucking use it. Have some self control. 

Posted by ThatFrood

The warming up cryostasis style idea is great.

Posted by ahoodedfigure
@Pazy:  Yeah, I see what you mean. World of Warcraft has a dedicated interest in exploration, at least from what I read from the design declarations before the thing was even released. I liked that a lot. It actually gave the player credit for exploring, too. It fit those with that sort of mindset, and sort of tempered those who want to just beam everywhere. 
 
Roleplaying to yourself a list of rules for how to use fast travel might help prevent losing a grip on the world, if you want to use fast travel at all. It might even be a good idea to add to that, force yourself to eat once a day or something, to help cement in place that you are going to walk to that place rather than beam there. Only where it really would be eventless, like between city to city that you've already traveled between, might it be a good idea to just skip it if you feel like skipping it.
 
It would be nice if it kept track of ROUTES that the player made, or that the player would have to plan the route themselves, so that you might be told that you can't ford the river or that there are mountains in the way. It might make fast travel a bit more active on the part of the player, where they still have to plan a bit.
 
@ThatFrood: I keep getting reminded how Nords would probably laugh off the cold with their frost immunity, though, so I don't see how that would work unless...  well, i guess in the books it says how nords can't really shrug off general cold, it's more a specific protection against spells, and that only people who have a connection to the elements, who live farther north, can walk completely unprotected. I dunno.  
 
@Lord_Yeti: Your tone suggests that you're not really into talking about it, but I'll respond anyway because I get where you're coming from. It's sort of about how a game unfolds, I guess. If you lay out a bunch of options in front of the player, they're likely to use them, and only realize afterward it may not have been a good idea. Most of the people who didn't like that version of fast travel only learned afterward, and pretty much everyone who has participated in this discussion are probably forewarned now. But if the game still has that sort of system, it's not just about temptation, it's about the game designers expecting that to be used. If it's just a convenience for people without the patience to walk around, it still means that your character can, the world's sense, cheat. I guess that's part of it. It contravenes the tone of the game and feels a bit like a cheat code. 
 
If it's just a matter of willpower, I think it's a fair point to say you should just make the game fit your mood rather than do everything and then complain. But I don't think that's necessarily what's being talked about here. In Morrowind, the fast travel actually felt like you were working against the environment. You wanted to use it because to not use it meant a long time wandering in barren fields and getting lost. The pressure was on the player to find a solution to navigating this large world. In Oblivion it feels a bit like the opposite, and that the world just sort of gets dealt to you like a deck of cards. The way the world unfolds is sort of flat, sort of like reading a dictionary as opposed to reading a well-written work of fiction. It means you have to more actively construct a fun narrative, with all the accidents that can happen when you're trying to figure out where to go, rather than stumble across things naturally through the course of play.
Posted by DrMadHatten

If there was a permanent option to turn it off at the beginning, like with a hardcore mode, I would do it. Then I would realize how long that would make the game. I think we may have gone too far where I may not want to go back. But I agree, fast travel detracts from a certain survival and scope aspect. If it comes in Skyrim, I will do my best to ignore it. I think a character is better for it in the end RPG wise anyway.

Posted by Butano

Yea, I'm all for fast traveling to major cities once you've visited them, but for dungeons and such, nah. 
I think the Oblivion mod Nehrim had it pretty much down. Go to a major city, visit the local priest, learn the teleportation spell for that specific city from priest, and whenever you want to teleport to that city, you have to use teleportation stones, which you can buy from said priest.

Posted by President_Barackbar

Had I only played Oblivion where you had the ability to use a horse to get around faster, I might agree with you. However, having played Fallout: New Vegas where there are no means of conveyance, it is a supreme bitch having to walk places. The Goodsprings to New Vegas trail that you take as a part of the starting quest takes FOREVER to walk. While its cool to walk the roads and explore and you get a major sense of accomplishment finally getting there, when you start having quests that say "go to one side of the game world to get item x and then drop it off on the opposite side of the game world" fast travel becomes INCREDIBLY USEFUL. I like it the way it is. If you have not discovered a place that is in the middle of nowhere, you still have to do the walking part that lets you explore, and then when you have completed your business, fast traveling out means you don't have to do the monotonous thing of walking the same long path again.

Posted by ahoodedfigure
@Butano:  Neat, a total conversion! :)  Pretty ambitious, too.
 
 @President_Barackbar:  Maybe I didn't say it too strongly, but my argument is for a fast travel that skips the boring bits, not so much something that either is ubiquitous or forces us to walk the same damned trail over and over again.
Posted by Rattle618

I wish Skyrim was on a time and space 1:1 ratio with absolutely no way to skip anything at all, you wanna sleep? watch your dude sleep for eight hours, you wanna travel to the other side of the map? sit on your horse for 4 actual days.  
I would probably hate the game but it would be kind of interesting, provided I had no other activities in my life whatsoever.

Posted by ahoodedfigure
@Rattle618: You find any MMO buddies yet?
Posted by Rattle618
@ahoodedfigure: Yeah but that's not what I meant, the MMO experience is different from what Im talking about cause even though the world might be persistent all mechanics are anything but realistic. It would be interesting to see people posting youtube videos about the crazy stuff they did (like that insane nerd that replicated the enterprise on minecraft) on a game that is as hardcore as it gets, that forces you to do everything the hard way trying to simulate real life as much as it can be within a fantasy setting. Again I would probably hate it, but I'm curious about it.
Posted by ahoodedfigure
@Rattle618:  I can't tell if you're being sarcastic, but on the chance that you're not, I do like seeing how extreme stuff can go, both fast and slow, although I probably wouldn't do it myself. Like watching someone beat Morrowind in a few minutes, or...  well, Dwarf Fortress itself is sort of a practice in excess on that note. Daggerfall has one of the biggest procedurally generated environments that's known in game culture, and even though a lot of it is pretty boring, it would take a pretty long time for people to map out on food. Try walking from one end of the map to the other on that game, and you'll probably get a taste for fast travel and time lapse :)
 
What interests me more is what computer scientists are working on right now, applying the idea of evolution to simulated life, and how you wind up with some pretty crazy looking things that actually move on their own in a relatively straightforward way. This takes a lot of computer cycles to accomplish, so it's basically like setting up a miniature universe and hitting the fast-forward button.