Pre-amble. When I met my wife, she said to me that stars were essentially space rocks that reflected light from our sun. I laughed and then I realized she was serious. Astronomy gets too little attention compared to astronomy. I’ve been trying to explain the cosmos to my eldest daughter, just shy of 4. My goal is to have her have a passion for the sciences rather than a fear. The absolutely hardest part of explaining space, is the actual space between the things.
You’re thinking, what does this have to do with gaming? Well I’m here to tell you.
Sid Meier has stated that “a game is a series of interesting choices”. I would expand that to say that the pacing of said choices has a large impact on quality. If I gave you a bunch of interesting choices, every 10 seconds or a game that gave you the same choices over a week’s span, your experience would be vastly different. D&D exemplifies this where combat can take a few hours, where if it were digitized, it could take a few minutes. The path between those choices, shortened, provides a different experience.
I played Earth and Beyond with a few friends back in the day. I would venture to say that it was a pre-cursor to EvE, in terms of particular design elements (namely the social/trade aspects). E&B was big, very big in the day. EvE is even bigger. Wilhelm has stated a few times that there’s more time (and fun) getting to places that actually being in places. Star Trek Online provides a smaller space, a compartmentalized one at that. But you still spend more time travelling that you do in other games.
This “waiting” or travelling period provides a lull in content. Sort of like the camps in EQ where you waited on a spawn, or using a griffon to travel in Vanilla WoW. If everything is on fire, then nothing is really on fire. A good example is XCOM vs Battlefield. The former spend a lot of time in the travel space, waiting to unlock a battle, or strategically placing your players. The actual act of taking a shot is less than setting up the shot. Battlefield is the near opposite, where it’s shoot the bullets with more bullets. The type of player, and I am speaking generally here, that enjoys a steady stream of action vs one who prefers a nuanced experience is massive.
I want a world to feel big, that the space has meaning and purpose. I don’t want it to be a highway to the next decision. I want to be able to finish a decision and then just be amazed at the world around me. To remove tunnel vision and say “look at that!”. That’s why devs are putting all the time and money into it, right?