Timesink, Ahoy!


Reading more on the WOW forums about the Grand Flying Debate of 2013, I thought, you know the only reason they do that no fly zone sort of thing is to slow people down and there is a name for it, ah yes, a time sink.

From Wikipedia, that vast storehouse of knowledge “In massively multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPGs), time sinks are a method of increasing the time needed by players to do certain tasks, hopefully causing them to subscribe for longer periods of time.”

Similarly from MMO Designer “A Timesink is an artificial method to get you, the player, to play an MMO longer than you normally would.”


Time sinks can take many forms.  The most common time sink is travel time.  This is the crux of the current conversation, of course.

Bashiok;  We know there is some portion of players that raid, or have some specific end-game goal, and that leveling and questing and mobs and the story and the actual rest of the game in general just gets in the way of that. But ultimately “racing to end-game so you can put on a tabard and grind out rep” isn’t the name of the game we’re making. We’re not going to be able to force you to care about the music, or setting, or experience, but you gotta understand that the rest of the game is for everyone else that does care about those things, and at least consider the logical reasons we present that makes that content better for them, even if it means it could maybe slightly disrupt your ability to chain-queue for Heroics.

So a couple things I wanted to bring up in addition to what I posted earlier. The first was that we’re of course refining our questing experience, you may have heard a bit about it from BlizzCon, and that expands to max level content as well. In Mists of Pandaria there was quite a bit of outdoor content at max level, but it was almost entirely in the form of dailies. From BlizzCon we shared we’re looking to provide something quite a bit more story driven like the 5.1 Operation Shieldwall/Dominance Offensive with some of the exploration lessons we learned from the Timeless Isle, and that extends to the max level experience as well. We want the transition at max level not to be questing and story to a harsh “now you do dailies”, but something that’s more natural and feels a lot like the leveling experience just at max level for better reward. And so that goes back to all of the reasons I gave before about how flight interrupts some of the core mechanics we think present the best leveling and questing experience, and I thought it’d be good to point out that it’ll also play a big role at max level due to our questing refinements.

The second thing is we really like when flying feels like a reward and something you’ve earned for each new expansion or area. It’s such a powerful ability and we look back at BC (at least for epic riding) or Wrath and those were really big keystone achievements for us as players (mainly because they had some pretty huge gold costs on them…). Regardless of the unlock method though it was one of the bigger moments when you unlocked flying, took to the skies, and were able to see the world from an entirely different vantage because for most of us it wasn’t easily attainable. Our plan has been to recapture some of that but make it a bit cooler, and while we don’t have specifics just yet, it’ll be something more involved than just paying gold; something that further emphasizes how powerful flight is. Unlocking it won’t just be level 100 on the day 6.1 comes out with some gold, but something you’ll be working toward over the course of the initial expansion release, and 6.1 will introduce the final steps to complete it. It’s such a enormous power to be able to fly we really want it to be more of a key moment when you unlock it, and something that feels like an accomplishment more than just shelling out some gold like we’ve had in the past.

Anyway, I felt like those two things were worth spelling out.

I provided the bold type in a couple of spots.  I’ve seen the developers state that they want people out in the world doing the quests and content.  I think they’ve seen dungeons, for instance as another way people bypass those quests and content, and they did not add new ones in over the course of Pandaria.  What does the Panda say? Slow down…  

I do understand that point of view, wanting people to experience content they worked hard on. One of the really good things about World of Warcraft in my opinion is that people can play so many ways and at so many levels.  Once you put a system into a game you should not pull it out. Improve it, change it, don’t yank it.

Flight is one of the things introduced, loved by many, and as is pointed out don’t use it if you don’t like it.   When they made Pandaria a no fly zone till you were level 90, I thought what I think of the current proposal.  It is a cheapo way to make your new area seem bigger.  It creates a time sink rather than introducing content that would be engaging no matter how you arrived at your destination.


An interesting discussion from Wildstar Central on MMO’s, timesinks and interdependency.

http://mmoattack.com/mmo-articles/mmo-rpg-time-sinks-lazy-mechanics    Timesinks as lazy game design.