The problem of MMORPG verticality

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Lately, I’ve been venturing into Deepscrave in Lord of the Rings Online’s Gundabad. And if I was hoping that the expansion would knock it off with stairs, I had another thing coming. If anything, this zone is ridiculous in asking players to go up and down skyscrapers’ worth of height. And in doing this, I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about how verticality ends up being more of a liability than an asset in online games.

Now, I kind of get why designers  go with this, because creating structures and spaces with crazy amounts of height and depth are visually impressive. In the real world, we’re awed when we stand at the base of a tall structure or peer over the lip of the Grand Canyon. Since it is much easier to whip up something like that in a virtual space, why not and get an echo of…

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