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Wysardry

3D CRPG Playable Area Sizes?

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I was just wondering if anyone is able to give me a rough idea as to the limits an indie CRPG development team should set on the playable area of their world when using a 3D engine with first person perspective. By this I mean the size the playable areas represent in square miles or kilometres, so it's more of a design and time management question than a programming one. I know it's a little like asking the length of a piece of string, but it would make the decision easier if you could mention some examples of finished 3D CRPGs along with the sizes of the game world depicted and the dev team which created them. If it makes any difference, it will be a fantasy world with both indoor and outdoor areas. We haven't pinned the time period down yet, but it will be set in either the Dark or Middle Ages (so there will not be any mechanical transport) with a Western European climate and geography (varied terrain).

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Quote:
Original post by Wysardry
I was just wondering if anyone is able to give me a rough idea as to the limits an indie CRPG development team should set on the playable area of their world when using a 3D engine with first person perspective.


Come to think of it, I can advice you to look at Morrowind. AFAIK it's the most popular RPG that uses very large outdoor maps.

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Quote:
Original post by Wysardry
And how large is Morrowind in square miles or kilometres?


Didn't play Morrowind much. AFAIR there's about 4-5 km between cities, assuming the world scale, and suppose the whole island surface is about 100x100 or 200x200 km (10-40 K square km). Didn't count the dungeons, though. Perhaps you should refer to Daggerfall, too - it had a MUCH LARGER world.

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Daggerfall supposedly had a game world the size of Great Britain, which would make it around 97,000 square miles (251,230 square kilometres).

However, the terrain was extremely flat and much of the world was created randomly, so it isn't really a good indication of how large an area could be created manually even with a dev team of a similar size.

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Just a suggestion, but you may be asking the wrong question.

You can make a world any size you like. The pertinent question is what is the ratio between distance moved and frequency of interactions. This is where the real work will go.

You could theoretically use ROAM or some other such algorithm to create an entire planet. However, if you have only one settlement it might be kind of pointless.

How cookie cutter can you handle your NPCs, items, structures and skyboxes looking? How many different items can they equip, consume, destroy or create? How many unique lines of dialog will there be? Quests to fulfill?

These, I think, determine the size of your world more than physical geometry because they ultimately determine things like eye strain, longevity, content claustrophia, etc.

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Well, I was trying to keep the question as simple as possible with the intention of drawing my own conclusions from the figures given, based on how our game would differ from the examples.

The game will be set on Earth, or at least a version with an alternate history, so there is a (very large) limit to the total size. Fortunately, the player will not need to travel beyond an area of about 30,000 square miles (77,700 sq km).

As the player would be walking or riding a horse, and the terrain, buildings, trees etc. created manually, I doubt it would be practical to have a contiguous playing area of that size. Therefore, only areas of interest are likely to be accessible, with each loaded in separately in a similar way to the later Might and Magic games (MM VI onwards).

There will be settlements in mountainous, swampy, coastal, forested, hilly and flat areas, so NPCs, structures, flora, fauna etc. will be quite varied.

As I'm not an artist, modeller or level creator, I have no clue how long it takes to create enough original content to fill a reasonably populated/interactive area of a specific size. If I did, I'd be able to work out how large an area we could cover in a given time based on how often we reused that content.

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