David: "Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen and welcome back to our coverage of the fourth international MMO Olympics. You join us here for the final of the Men's 100m Freestyle Saunter. I have to say the qualification event has seen some fierce competition, and it's a very exciting line up here of some of the great all-time MMO meanderers. Viewers out there will probably notice that there are only seven of the eight finalists present; unfortunately the Everquest entrant was disqualified after it was found that he was in fact being played by a power-strolling service."
Gordon: "I'm really looking forward to this, David. There are some top class professional amblers here. It takes real dedication to walk anywhere in the world of MMOs, and these are the cream. They really are at the height of ‘walking calmly and slowly’ to a destination. They've obviously been training hard for the event, I heard that the Vanguard player actually walked the entire length of a FedEx mission. Now that's hardcore."
David: "We're not allowed to call them hardcore, Gordon. They're Temporally Advantaged, in today's society."
Gordon: "Well I don't know anything about that. I have to say though, I'm also looking forward to the 4x100m Pick-Up-Group Relay later on this afternoon."
David: "Indeed it should be quite a spectacle, and the question on everyone's lips this year, as it is every year: will any group actually organise themselves quickly enough to get across the starting line?"
David: "Back to the current event though, they're approaching the starting line. And... they're off! Oh dear, a false start has been called."
Gordon: "I'm not sure what that was about, David, but it looks as though the Warcraft Hunter entry has been disqualified. Let's see what the video replay shows."
David: "Here's the start and... ah there we are, quite clearly just as the event starts the Hunter jumps in the air three, no, four times whilst spinning around 360 degrees in varying directions."
Gordon: "The crowd doesn't like it, David. Clear abuse of the laws of Newtonian physics and common decency, there."
David: "It's sad to see in this day and age of professional perambulatory jousting such a blatant disregard for Newton. Still, the remaining athletes having retaken their positions, and are under starter's orders."
David: "And they're off! It's a casual start by all, with the EVE player taking an early trail; they’re looking really very relaxed indeed."
Gordon: "Yes, it's a powerfully slow start by the EVE player, they're looking in great condition. I'm sure the confusion caused by suddenly having legs and being able to walk is definitely an advantage in maintaining a lackadaisical mosey.”
MMO Olympics. MMOO! I bet there are plenty of events for that one. I think I’d have to make the No Jump an event, where excitable players are fed caffeine-loaded beverages for an hour and then have to run their character up to a sand pit and not jump into it. Nor must they jump on the run up. Or on the way to the start of the run up. Or at the opening ceremony parade.
Or in their chairs at the PC. Even if they do need the toilet badly.
Running everywhere as a character in most MMOs is one of those things that we just accept as being a fundamental, unavoidable nature of the game. And we accept this because, in an ideal world, MMOs are first and foremost games. Entertainment. A bit of light relief from the drudgery of the day-to-day grind. A happy way to spend time, without bullies, cliques and social drama oppressing you. A way to escape from the irritating loons in life, who run down the street jumping every fourth step and spinning three hundred and sixty degrees improbably fast and really annoying the hell out of Newton...
Wait. I think I got a bit confused there.
I’ll come in again. MMOs are supposed to be games, and they can be, if taken at a casual level (we’re not allowed to call them casual, they’re Addictionally Challenged in today’s society - Ed.).
Did anyone just see an editor? Must be me. There’d better not be, I just had the house fumigated. “Editors coming in and editorialising your posts, eh mate? Yeah, they’re prone to do that, it’s in their nature you see. Don’t worry, a quick blast of this and we’ll have ‘em out. As an added bonus it’ll also get rid of any film critics in your wall cavities”.
There are those who don’t want to run everywhere: the stalwart RP crowd can be seen nobly and serenely wafting along; looking down on the hustle and bustle that goes on around them, as the piteous hoi polloi dash to and fro, getting things done. They calmly walk along. Making progress. Ever so slowly. Step follows rhythmic step. Until the moment that. They disappear. Behind. A. Wall. And then...
GO! GO! GO! Holy hindered speed, Snailman! Walking is so bloody slow! I’ve been online for an hour and I’ve only just made it to this wall, and I started right next to it! OUT OF MY WAY, I HAVE STUFF TO DO AND I’VE WASTED HALF THE EVENING WALKING. Oh crap, more people! Sod it. Yes, yes, I’m a role-player and I’m running. I’m role-playing someone needing to get something done in-game this evening before my wife wanders over and kicks me off the computer.
So yeah, you visit Lord of the Rings Online and travel to the town of Bree and everyone is running around like nutters! It’s like the Martians have invaded. Except it’s Lord of the Rings, so they don’t have Martians. But they have marshes... Marshians. That’ll do. And so you’ve got this fantastic contrast, with all these NPCs standing absolutely still, and all these Player Characters barrelling around like freight trains. Maybe that’s why NPCs stand so still: they’re all trying to move, it’s just that they take a step forward and vroom they’re nearly mown down by a Player Character. So they jump back in shock, gather themselves and then tentatively take a step forward vroooooom, neeeowww, zooooootfrooooot, as a stream of Player Characters hurtles past.
Ok, they don’t do the last one, that isn’t a speedy noise. I just ran out of speedy noises.
And what would it be like if they implemented collision detection in an MMO? MMO developers, make use of all those shiny Ageia PhysX cards and have character collisions with Newtonian reactions! It would be like the Keystone Cops. On fast forward. After you’ve smoked a lot of special herbs.
There’s no getting around it, if you’re not a Super Hero with amazing travel powers like Metro Man and his all-day travel card, or you’re just stuck in a vehicle most of the time like the Auto Assault and EVE players, running around non-stop with no penalty whilst carrying half the world on your back is just another one of those vastly weird but quintessential MMO quirks.