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People, people! Stop making large worlds!

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I recently discussed world size with a friend of mine in regards to a Sci-Fi RPG I'm planning (note NOT MMOrpg [smile]), and other games. His opinion was that the world should be "real" size and "real" time. IE 1 day in the RPG should be 24 hours of playing time, and to walk 8km should take about 1 hour (realistic walking speed). Of course the game would need things like cars and planes or other transportation means, and ability to travel to places such as clicking on the map. In that case travel would be instantaneous for the player but the time in the game world would run normally (for example 1 hour for the 8km walk).

As a developer I see several problems with his idea. The most obvious is that you'd have to have detailed landscape for the entire area. Morrowind is huge, but it doesn't take all that long to walk across it. I've never tried, but I suspect it would take a few hours. Daggerfall is more like it.. It takes a few hours just to walk to the nearest city (not sure.. I gave up), and probably well over a week to walk across the world. Real world time. But the world in Daggerfall is extremely low detail. Just rolling hills and a few trees. No roads or rivers or anything to make it realistic. The world in Morrowind isn't very realistic either, but it's much better than the one in DF, but even at that detail level it would need an extreme amount of storage to store the world, not to mention the time for the artists to create it.

As I mentioned, my planned RPG is set in the future with inter-stellar travel, and has many planets. I also want to make it possible to fly from space and into the athmosphere of the planets and land wherever it would be realistic (any flat, hard surface of enough size). From there the player should be able to exit the ship and walk or drive across the world. If I were to map out every planet in the "known" galaxy (gameworld), I'd have to have 1m precicion maps of perhaps 20 planets. Each planet almost 500 000 km2. Perhaps a little smaller for some.

Needless to say the storage and work on making the maps would be impossibly huge.

But in such a game I couln't just "scale" everything down. It wouldn't make sense that the player could walk around the planet in a couple of hours. It would have to take almost a year. If the time was scaled so that each day last 48 minutes (Neverwinter Nights), then combat and npc interaction won't make sense either. To use the NVN example. 1 turn lasts 3 seconds in the real world (AFAIK). As a starting chartacter he can take one swing at an enemy each round. Since the time is compressed 30 times (24 hours -> 48 min), that swing would take 90 seconds of game time. It doesn't make any sense at all.

In my opinion is FPS games the most realistic in sense of detail, world size and sense of time, while RPGs usually is a complete mess. In FPS games it doesn't take very long to walk across the "world", but it's because it's small not "time compressed". The reason it's small is that it doens't make sense for it to be very large. After all, a warehouse or a factory is seldom much larger than a few hundred meters, and a military base might be a few km across. It doesn't make sense to include a huge world around the comparatively tiny object of interest. Since the "world" is so small it's possible to make it very detailed and realistic.

With RPGs the world usually has to be much larger to make it possible to have courier quests and such. There are however many ways to make the world "big".

In the SW:KOTOR games, the world is huge, since it takes place on several planets or ships, but the game only focus on a very small part of each planet. They've also eliminated the problem of time-compression by removing the daylight/night cycle altogether.

In NVN they've increased the flow of time 30-fold, probalby to give character with night-vision sight a slight advantage over charcters with "normal" sight, and to give the illusion that the world is huge. Unfortunately, as I mentioned earlier this introduces a lot of other problems with realism. It takes the character perhaps a second to move his own height in distance. This equals to 7,6km/h in real life. In the gameworld however this becomes about 0,25 km/h. Honestly, I could crawl home from a pub faster than that. The short period of daylight and night (probably around 22 minutes each to allow for dusk and dawn) also makes it annoying for the player whoose character might not have night vision and thus is "useless" during night, or has night vision or is stealth based and would have an edge during the night but a disadvantage during the day. You can rest to pass time, but it get's tedious to find a safe spot for resting so often. Also, the days fly by so fast that it should have seasons. I don't doubt that a year or more will pass in the GW until you complete it.

Daggerfall has an absolutely HUGE world, but with absolutely nothing between the towns and ruins except mostly flat ground and some trees. (IIRC) All towns and ruins are marked on the map so you can click on them to travel. IIRC the time was compressed in this as well, but I don't know by which factor.

Morrowind is much more detailed than DF, but the world is a lot smaller. The distance between towns and other points of interest (POI) is also a lot shorter. The time is compressed but I don't know how much. Usually you don't have to walk/run more than a few minutes to reach a POI, and less than 10 to go from town to town. It has some instant transportation means, but since the world is so small that they're not a necessity, at least compared to DF.

The Gothic games have very detailed worlds. In fact I doubt they are using heightfields for their terrain. But the world is also small compared to Morrowind. Unlike morrowind however, the world hasn't a lot of cities and it makes more sense that the distance between farms and a nearby town is small, than that the distance between large towns is equally small. Where Morrowind tries to be Britain, Gothic2 is a small peninsula, and Gothic1 is a valley.


I'm not sure how to fix the problem of planets in my game, but frozen worlds, desert planets, mining colonies or water worlds would simplify matters, though they wouldn't be very realistic. Some combination of modeling and procedural detailing will be needed, but this might make lands as un-inspiring as DF or Elite Frontiers to use a more apt comparison.

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Quote:
Original post by frostburn
If I were to map out every planet in the "known" galaxy (gameworld), I'd have to have 1m precicion maps of perhaps 20 planets. Each planet almost 500 000 km2. Perhaps a little smaller for some.

500 000 km2? Are these planets peebles or something?

Earth has a bit over _100 million_ km2 of just the land, alone. While planet size and water coverage will obviously vary, that's pretty good average estimate, i guess.

(just posted a rant on the subject in another thread, though, so no point in going further >>;;

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Quote:
Original post by tolaris
Quote:
Original post by frostburn
If I were to map out every planet in the "known" galaxy (gameworld), I'd have to have 1m precicion maps of perhaps 20 planets. Each planet almost 500 000 km2. Perhaps a little smaller for some.

500 000 km2? Are these planets peebles or something?

Earth has a bit over _100 million_ km2 of just the land, alone. While planet size and water coverage will obviously vary, that's pretty good average estimate, i guess.

(just posted a rant on the subject in another thread, though, so no point in going further >>;;


Ah, those pesky zereos... They mean nothing in itself, but can cause large errors if they're missing.. I meant "Earth sized" (around 500 million km2). I'll say that instead in the future and avoid embarrassing myself [smile].
If I model a sphere, I can't just model the land masses. Of course I can use lower detail on the sea bottom though.

EDIT: I posted a follow-up on the other thread you mentioned

[Edited by - frostburn on May 30, 2005 11:13:29 PM]

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Original post by frostburn
Ah, those pesky zereos... They mean nothing in itself, but can cause large errors if they're missing.. I meant "Earth sized" (around 500 million km2). I'll say that instead in the future and avoid embarrassing myself [smile].

Ahh i see, that makes lot of sense and yup, easy mistake to make ^^

At some point recently i was toying with idea of setting game world on what'd be roughly earth-sized planet scaled to 1/1000th of 'full' size... with 36 km of circumference, it'd mean something like ~100 km2 of land -- enough to fit relatively varied game world but at the same time without forcing things too far apart just to have something 'everywhere'. Between customized timeflow and slightly altered travel speeds it'd still take a player some 6-8 hours of 'constant' travel to 'walk around the world' which i suppose is ok to preserve the feel world *is* huge place ... plus, at this scale the curvature of horizon begins to show just enough to remind it's not actually flat. Might try it eventually in practice later, when i find a while.

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Guest Anonymous Poster
BRING ON THE BIG MAPS !!!

Okay, I can agree with the arguements that if you're going to have big worlds you should make them interesting & fun... but bigger worlds have their place, & have yet to realise their full potential.

Boiled down, it seems that the two main complaints of large worlds are:

1. It takes too long to travel from A to B

2. The cut & paste scenery is too boring & has no content


Number one is easily solved by having rapid means of travel such as teleporting or cut scenes etc. And, I completely disagree with the statement that having rapid transport makes your world smaller -- as long as there are limits in place to prevent the players from using that as their only mode of travel whatsoever.

Number two is partially solved by the solution to number one. It doesn't really matter if there are large areas of boring repetitive landscapes if the players don't have to travel through it all the time. These areas can be used for specific quests, or as areas that the developers can create content for later on (MMO's) etc.

But, my biggest reason for desiring HUGE maps in MMO's or RPG's etc. is to someday see the full integration of FPS & Flight sim genres into a seamless gameworld. I have yet to see a game that has done this properly. Flying planes in Battlefield 1942 feels like trying to stay within the airspace over a postage stamp... & flying spaceships in SWG is like being stuck in a cardboard box.

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What? I didn't notice that many games ever have a large *world*. There are large level maps thou, such as those level maps in EQII and WoW. You beat the mobs of your level in a level map and leave the map forever for another new level map......to grind and go go.

Hmm...I wont go to noob level cities and dungeons while I cant go to high level areas. Exploring....roflmao....exploring...bawahahahaha..you are going nowhere but always inside a small level map of which you are fooled to think to be part of a big world.

Here's an analogy:

Tom (who's a level1 noob) was put to a small deserted island in the middle of an ocean and he thought, "wow, i am in such a big world". So he killed some mobs and reached level 2. Now he's put to a level 2 small island and he thought the same, "wow, what a big world it is". Yet everyone knows that all he could do was to walk around the small island to kill some mobs, he couldn't go to a level 3 island as a level 2 while he had no motive at all to go back to the level 1 island.

[Edited by - Hawkins8 on June 3, 2005 4:48:02 AM]

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The term "world" has many meanings. It is being used here in the context of "a realm or domain" rather than "a planet".

If the word bothers you, substitute the term "playable area".

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