Tuesday, January 17, 2023

Missing The Boat?

That's me up there, waiting for the boat in Noah's Heart. Again. 

Yep. It's 2023 and I'm still standing at the dock, waiting for the boat to come like it's 1999. That's odd enough in itself but in a game with autoquesting, autorun and automated fast travel? A game with free teleport-by-map? That's a little more than just odd, isn't it? That's wilfully perverse!

So, why am I doing it?

Why am I waiting for the boat? Is it to travel from one continent to the next? Because the boats do that.

No it's not.

Is it to travel to another city along the coast on the same continent? Because the boats do that, too.

No, it's not.

Is it to use the boat as transportation in any way, shape or form? 

Nah. No-one does that. At least I don't think anyone does.

Why would they? I woudn't. If I actually wanted to sail somewhere I didn't already have the teleport location for (Not going to happen because I have all of them.) then I have a boat of my own I could use. Why would I stand on the dock, twiddling the feather in my headband, waiting for the next shceduled departure, when I could just summon my own ship and be on my way?

See? I wouldn't. So why am I there in the picture, waiting for my ship to come in?

Money, of course! And reward! It's a quest. Or, more accurately, an Encounter, which is a kind of pop-up landscape quest.

Someone called Sef tasked me with collecting a package from an incoming ship and delivering it to someone called Grego. Why me? Because I happened to walk past and because I clearly have nothing better to do with my time than run erands for strangers, despite being a leading member of the nation's foremost Mercenary crew, Gale Force, as well as special confidante and helpmeet to kings, princes and powers across the land and despite being currently engaged in trying to stop an extra-dimensional invasion that could bring on the apocalypse. 

So naturally, I dropped everything and ran off to spend seven full minutes of real time, standing on some planking staring out to sea, waiting for a ship to arrive. When it did, there was someone on deck waiting for me. Lucky I decided to take the job. Otherwise I guess he'd have just had to ride the ship back to wherever it came from and take the package with him. And I'd be out 50k and a stack of SSR shards.

Thinking of ships reminds me of trains. Back when I began playing Noah's Heart, one of the first things that impressed me was the extensive and well-implemented railway system. It featured quite prominently in the tutorial. I assumed it would continue to be a significant feature of the game.

It's not, or if it is I must not be finding any of the content that uses it. The great stations with their impressive architecture and detailed schedules provide a reliable transport infrastructure that no-one needs to use. Like the ships, as soon as you have your teleport stations, why would you take public transport?

It's emblematic of Noah's Heart, a game that has far more genuinely good ideas than uses for them. Playing the game is to be exposed over and over again to aesthetically pleasing, narratively satisfying systems and mechanics that then seem to go nowhere. 

Okay, alright. Some of them, the trains and boats for example, do go somewhere - literally. They just don't go anywhere thematically.

I guess it's a lot better for a game to have so many ideas it can afford to throw most of them away, scarcely used, than to have hardly any and try to stretch them thin enough to cover. I'd still like to have some reason to use the ships, trains, balloons and other mechanical contrivances, but even without need, the game's better with them than without.

Then again, even after nearly six months, I can't help feeling there's a lot about the game I still don't understand. Maybe one day I'll find out what I've been missing.


  1. I used to ride by horse and/or boat everywhere all the time in ArcheAge. Granted, teleporting there has a cost attached to it, but that wasn't my main reason. I just like to be part of the world by seeing it, feeling it, traveling through it.
    I don't know whether I'd use the trains and boats in Noah's Heart if I played it, but chances are I would, at least from time to time.

    By the way, I don't know what's changed, but for a couple of weeks now I can't read your blog when I'm at work. IT sec seems to classify it as a security risk...

    1. Hmm. That is somewhat worrying. I haven't made any changes, and you're the first to mention it so unless anyone else is getting the same response, I imagine it's a change in your company's security protocols. It happened where I work a while back, when suddenly anything that was classified as a "gaming" site got blocked and I couldn't look at my own blog from work.

      I guess it's also possible that one or more of the many, many links to outside sources I cram into just about every post has flagged something up. It wouldn't be surprising.

  2. I still prefer to hoof it whenever I can in Wrath Classic, despite the speed factor involved. The only times I don't are when I'm supposed to be somewhere for a group activity, whether it's a dungeon or a raid or a group quest, because I'm not about to force everybody else in the group to bend to my will. But when I'm on my own, I prefer to enjoy the true scope of the game world when I can. I'm the sort of person who would give the middle finger (virtually) to Blizzard if I were to play Dragonflight and simply avoid using in-game flying at all possible, despite flying being available from the beginning, just because.

    Well, I'm also cheap in that I focus my in game gold on other things rather than pay for things such as flying, as flying is pretty much the last item to purchase for me, and I kind of like it that way.

    1. I apply the same criteria to in-game travel as I would to the real world. If you're going somewhere new, or somewhere where interesting, new things keep happening, then I'd want to go slowly and have every opportunity to look around. If I'm making repeated journeys over the same, unchanging terrain, as in a commute, I'd prefer to get it over with as fast as possible.

      Consequently, I prefer those systems where you have to go everywhere the first time on foot or at least overland but once there you trigger the option to return instantly in future. That is, in fact, exactly how Noah's Heart works, so it suits me very well. Where the game seems unusual, though, is in the elaborate nature of the public transport facilities, given they don't seem to have much purpose outside of an initial introductory quest. Not that I object to aesthetic redundancy - it just seems curious.


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