Currently in Rift to zone into a dungeon one member of the group has to actually travel to the portal. Is this meaningful travel? Is it nice that only one person has to do it or a pain just for that one individual? Is it a plus that, with the LFG tool, you save yourself that time?
To pick up the daily dungeon quests, you have to travel to the tavern in the back of Sanctum. Is this meaningful travel? Is it a plus that, with the LFG tool, you can pick up the quest without visiting the tavern?
Inside some dungeons there is an orb you can click to teleport further inside, useful for when you wipe and have to run back. Does this reduce meaningless travel? Why don’t all dungeons have this? Why does the orb teleport you to a specific spot, rather than the last encounter you wiped on? To go one step forward (get it?), why do we need to run to the bosses anyway? Why not take a portal from one encounter to the next?
When questing, you need to travel to the location of the kill/collect 10 target. Is this meaningful travel? Is it a plus that in most modern themeparks, the quest hub and kill/collect locations are nearby? Would meaningless travel be further reduced by simply taking a portal to the exact location?
Rift has portals between zones, and some zones feature more than one portal per zone. These are faster than WoW flight paths. Is this better? Would the game be better or worse if you removed the portals and made everyone walk/ride to the outer zones? Would it be better to have a portal at every quest hub or point of interest, further reducing travel time?
One of the main flaws in discussing something like travel in an MMO is we all too often do it in a vacuum. Which is faster: instant portals or flight points? That’s not debatable. Better method? Well that depends. Is the flight point showing me interesting locations to later explore, or allowing for social time, or adding something else? Is it REALLY just a timesink?
At what change does your MMO stop being a virtual world and start looking like an online lobby with activities to pick from a list? Is it the change from flight points to portals? Is it when the Dungeon Finder starts teleporting everyone? Is it when you can queue up for a warfront/BG from any location rather than from one NPC out in the world? Does it even matter? Do you want your current game to be more worldly, or do you just want to reach the next short burst of content asap?
And if that the answer to that last question is worldly for some, and instant for others, aren’t we talking about two vastly different games, to the point of talking about different genres?