While I was writing this, Helistar made a wonderful comment on the last post. Wonderful, because I was just about to argue the other way.
Games have no natural boundaries. The developers can give you as many epics as they please. More than you can carry, more than you could ever inspect. More than you could possibly conceive.
The developers can make you rich. Rich enough to buy anything. Rich enough to buy everything! They can make you so rich that you can't even fathom the number anymore. It costs them but a few keystrokes.
The developers can reward you. Give you bonus experience. They can make you level as fast as you wish. They can skip the leveling. And they can teleport you wherever you want. Whenever you want. They can make you be everywhere at the same time, if only your limited mind could comprehend this.
The developers can make you a god. They can make you invincible and all-mighty. Your enemies can be crushed by a glimpse of a single eye of yours. They can even make your enemies die even when you don't look at them. They can make you kill all enemies in the entire fucking game if they so desire. And they can even do it for you, so you don't have to bother.
There are no natural boundaries! But boundaries is what we need to have fun.
It is a fact that as soon as we start to think that "we shouldn't have to do that", we don't enjoy 'it' anymore; 'it' has become frustrating. If you think that you shouldn't have to go to the well (last post), there's no way you will ever have fun again in doing so. But it is also a fact that you had fun before this boundary was destroyed!
Games teach us that everything is relative. Not in the physical sense, but in the psychological sense.
Telwyn wrote about the Rift bonus exp weekends. And I agree. Get prepared for another dating-analogy.
Imagine you are that girl in the night club (the player). And there comes a guy along (the MMORPG) whom you have never met before. And right from the start he tells you that your eyes are the most wonderful and your smile is the stars and all this stuff. And then he starts to buy you drinks. Not one, but three!
Doesn't work this way, does it?
These compliments don't cost him anything. And every guy in that night club is rich enough to buy you three drinks. Or a hundred if he so wishes. That's cheap! If this actually worked, you'd have to sleep with 50 guys a night!
But bonus exp is even cheaper. Imagine he told you that if you spend the night with him, he would actually make it especially easy for you: You two wouldn't have to talk more than necessary! In fact, he has declared this a bonus weekend! For every minute you offer him your attention, you will have to wait one less day to marry him.
I'm not attracted to bonus exp weekends, because they are just as ridiculous. The developers construct artificial boundaries that don't cost them anything and then they destroy them in front of me and this doesn't cost them anything, either. But they expect me to like it. No, I don't. It's cheap!
The art of making great games is making great rules, great boundaries. Because boundaries cause journeys. And journeys, encouraged by goals, are where the fun is actually experienced.
The destruction of boundaries is what creates nostalgia. We remember that going to the well was so much fun (read my last post). But, just like the boundary, the journey was destroyed by the water tap.
In real life that is okay, because there are a lot of boundaries and overcoming them is actually fun. Not so in MMORPGs. There are no natural boundaries. By destroying those that exist, which is cheap, you steal fun from the player. If you allow everybody to teleport everywhere, all other comanies have to follow in suit, because now the players don't think that they actually "should have to walk". You spoil us and you spoil the fun for us!
At the very least you shouldn't do it without the players even asking for it !