Single Status Update
As a dedicated hunter of player traders, this is a subject very close to my heart.
Teleports have been a subject of discussion for as long as there's been an open world. To talk about them effectively, we need to establish a few basic definitions so everyone is on the same page.
First, we have to identify that we're talking about two different things when we talk about "teleports":
1. Teleports of Ships - happens in the open world (OW). The current "Tow to Port" mechanic is the most recent incarnation, but there have been many over the years, including "Teleport to Capital", and "send to outpost" (in the post-battle screen) to send a captured ship to one of your outposts. With the current "Tow to Port" mechanic, the ship and its cargo are teleported to the nearest deep water port (regardless of friendly, hostile or free).
2. Teleports of Captains - happens inside the Port screen (where you see your ships, inventory, etc.) Allows the player to be instantly transported between his/her outposts, or freeports, or others (has varied among different patches over time). Does not move ships or inventory, just allows players to "jump" between their outposts.
Teleports of Ships (type 1) were, as mentioned above, originally created to help players who ran aground in the OW, which was apparently a significant enough problem to gameplay (and presumably, contacts to support) that the devs implemented the type #1 teleport mechanic - to "free" your ship without requiring developer intervention. This also (in theory) allowed new players a way to get back to a known location in the event they got lost in the open world. Only the devs can say how much of an issue this was - but the fact they implemented the teleport mechanic as a convenience must mean they felt it was significant enough to warrant the time spent developing it.
Teleports of Captains (type 2) were implemented to allow players to save time sailing through the open world to visit their potentially far-flung outposts. The captain would still have to sail there to setup the outpost and leave ships there for later use, but once that was done, it was easy enough to "jump around" the map, saving players the time of sailing through the open world to visit their different outposts.
Critically, we must understand that teleports of either type do not exist in a vacuum. They exist and exert a tremendously strong influence on every other aspect of Naval Action gameplay. Over the past couple years, the ability to teleport has been shown to have some extremely negative influences on gameplay. Here are some of the worst:
1. The availability of open world PVP: if you can teleport your ship from one place to another, you don't have to sail through the open world, meaning your chance of encountering another player and engaging in PVP - and potentially losing your ship - becomes zero. "Empty seas" are the result - outside of capitols, you'll only see NPCs because almost everyone else is teleporting to save time and risk.
2. The flow of trade goods: being able to teleport means you can strategically pre-position trade ships in producing ports, then instantly teleport them back to your capital or outpost, creating huge flows of gold with zero risk. Sail the empty trade ship to the producing port (or, if you're wealthy enough, simply craft it there), teleport risk-free home. Profit. The entire privateer / pirate gameplay mode of hunting laden traders in the OW becomes nearly impossible and offers terrible ROI for time spent, despite the fact that in real life this was a mainstay activity for naval fleets of all nations. The ability to move so much wealth so quickly, with no risk, leads to rampant inflation - "the rich get richer" and many smaller clans / nations simply cannot compete.
3. The ability to create "flash fleets": clans or nations coordinate attack, defense and ganks via chat / out-of-game comms and are able, using teleports, to quickly amass a significant weight of captains and ships at almost any point on the map in almost no time at all. The larger and better coordinated the clan / nation, the more powerful this "instant steamroller" becomes. The ships could also, depending on how teleport was working at the time, be instantly sent home risk-free to prevent reprisals.
As I've spent more and more time in Naval Action, it's become clear to me that the only true solution to the above - if the promise of true PVP, realistic trading, RVR and the rest which makes the Naval Action dream so compelling - is to completely get rid of both kinds of teleports. If all player-owned ships must transit through the open world at all times, then we have maximum opportunity for player interaction at all levels.
The player-driven economy suffers from lack of gold sinks, so extreme measures have been implemented currently, but if teleports were removed, and PVP of all varieties allowed to truly flourish, then we would create a natural gold and resource sink while encouraging extremely fun and interactive gameplay. Captains would be encouraged to coordinate for mutual support of their traders - because there would be no risk free option. Sailing through the open world wouldn't be boring at all if you were constantly on the lookout for attackers and there was a real possibility of risk. Captains would consent and adapt to this because the demands of the economy and RVR would require it. A whole new playstyle of privateering / actual piracy would flourish, providing newbie captains with the opportunity to get out and explore the OW in search of traders to plunder and fortunes to be made. This experience would naturally lead them to coordination for both attack and defense, and from there, to engagement with RVR in support of same.
The economies of all nations would have real costs included in them, and real risk. There would be more opportunities for more players to profitably engage in trade because trade would not be a risk-free proposition, and hence more players would need to be involved in it - as traders, escorts, privateers, pirates - in order for it to flow.
In summary, teleports represent one of the last major barriers holding Naval Action back from realizing its full potential. Removing teleports gets "everyone in the pool" in a way that they never have been in the past, and will offer the way forward that is needed for this game to realize its promise.