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Ashaman73

Making the wilderness interesting

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Think of a wilderness, the space between towns and dungeons, in a rpg game.

What would make it interesting for you and not just plain boring ? Edited by Ashaman73

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Add bugs and plants. Make them react to player. Scaring butterflies off flowers can sometimes amuse me for hours. Joking aside, it really adds a lot to have other interactive elements in wilderness than just animals that try to attack you.

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I liked the wilderness in Red Dead Redemption. The ambient creatures gave more of a sense that things were living there. However some of the animals were too aggressive. They were also the only real danger in the wilderness and easily avoidable while on horseback which was more often the case than not. A few more basic survival elements in there might've been nice.

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Skyrim's wilderness is pretty kickass.
Unfortunately, Skyrim is "over-populated". You are always one stretch away from discovering something, and I think that removes the awe factor (that and the compass telling you something's nearby!).

I'd really love to lose myself in a neverending forest and come across a deserted/ruined cabin with some lore (a letter adressed to a stranger) that could indirectly toss me into a subquest. Basically, anything that rewards exploring off the beaten path.

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If your wilderness isn't interesting and traveling through it is just filler between the real content then you might consider removing it entirely.

Some things you could add to make it more interesting include random (and preferably varied) encounters, optional side quests, and interesting scenery -- some interactive (even if really pointless) elements such as the above-mentioned scattering bugs could help with this, as could some unique pieces of scenery along the way.

You could include some sort of achievement for visiting x amount (and/or all) "tourist attractions".

If a player feels they have discovered something rare or unique (even if that discovery is otherwise useless) they will usually feel a sense of satisfaction.

Consider some way of skipping or reducing the duration of tedious travel time. Teleports might skip travel, or a horse rather than walking might make it faster.

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For me the main joy of wandering in the wilderness is:
1. The chance of finding some unmarked quest or secret content.
2. Great views.
3. Random encounters.

It's even better if the "random encounters" have some procedural element to them, e.g. carnivore attacking herbivores, normally non-hostile herbivore attacking if it's young are nearby, etc.

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[quote name='mrjones' timestamp='1341390061' post='4955558']
Make them react to player. Scaring butterflies off flowers can sometimes amuse me for hours.
[/quote]
I will keep this in mind, more of a gimik, but at least entertaining.

[quote name='kseh' timestamp='1341433940' post='4955728']
I liked the wilderness in Red Dead Redemption.
[/quote]
Never played RDR, but from what I watch on youtube, it seems to be quite large. My [i]wilderness [/i]is a lot smaller.

[quote name='Orymus3' timestamp='1341435038' post='4955734']
I'd really love to lose myself in a neverending forest and come across a deserted/ruined cabin with some lore
[/quote]
I think that this would be the ultimate goal, but the content creation to archive this is just too expensive at the moment. Maybe a procedural approach, hmmm.

[quote name='jefferytitan' timestamp='1341441037' post='4955782']
1. The chance of finding some unmarked quest or secret content.
2. Great views.
3. Random encounters.
[/quote]
This is in line with what Orymus sugguested. But there are already other parts in the level which fullfill this task,hmm..

[quote name='jbadams' timestamp='1341438164' post='4955759']
If your wilderness isn't interesting and traveling through it is just filler between the real content then you might consider removing it entirely.
[/quote]
I think that I will start with removing most of the wilderness until I have the time to create one of the sugguested secret locations/random encounters.

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I might modify my statement a little... a wilderness doesn't necessarily have to have all those elements, but I feel that it should at least offer the promise of those things. If you [i]know[/i] nothing will happen for the next 2 minutes walking, it's annoying. If you're constantly looking out [i]expecting[/i] something may happen, it can be fun. So offer tunnels, canyons, hills, leaves blowing in the mid-ground to keep the player alert. But yeah... don't put too much empty pointless space in. And let people skip past it later, e.g. teleport to discovered waypoints.

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I find that what makes a wilderness interesting for me is a huge variety in shapes and colors of the world. i didn't like skyrim's wilderness because it all felt the same. Make it diffrent, make it vibrant, and if you can, make it huge. If you can make it large, add survival elements, possibly similar to DayZ.

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[quote name='jefferytitan' timestamp='1341467495' post='4955849']
I might modify my statement a little... a wilderness doesn't necessarily have to have all those elements, but I feel that it should at least offer the promise of those things. If you [i]know[/i] nothing will happen for the next 2 minutes walking, it's annoying. If you're constantly looking out [i]expecting[/i] something may happen, it can be fun. So offer tunnels, canyons, hills, leaves blowing in the mid-ground to keep the player alert. But yeah... don't put too much empty pointless space in. And let people skip past it later, e.g. teleport to discovered waypoints.
[/quote]
[quote name='Al_capwn'd' timestamp='1341557131' post='4956234']
I find that what makes a wilderness interesting for me is a huge variety in shapes and colors of the world. i didn't like skyrim's wilderness because it all felt the same. Make it diffrent, make it vibrant, and if you can, make it huge. If you can make it large, add survival elements, possibly similar to DayZ.
[/quote]

These quotes really hit home with me. The fact that the wilderness in a game should be ever changing, as in seasonal wilderness, would definitely bring me in. AI when it comes to animals I'd like to see a breathing world without the need of the player to discover it. Animals hunting, plants growing while animals eat them, etc.

Variety is the spice of life. Rain forests, coniferous forests, deserts, snow wastelands. These all interest me very much, and to have a living breathing world that is not a ruins or temple every 3 minutes really would to me make the play experience one of a kind.

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[quote name='JonBMN' timestamp='1341941468' post='4957675']
AI when it comes to animals I'd like to see a breathing world without the need of the player to discover it. Animals hunting, plants growing while animals eat them, etc.
[/quote]
Simulations are not games, so integrating a simulation in a game is always a nice idea, but it brings a very heavy burden with it. You can compare it to hollywood movies, you don't need to simulate an whole ancient city with a million population to make 3 scene shoots in it.

The problem is, that the player would not recognise it as simulated world, there's even the danger of missinterpreting emerging behaviour as bug. L4D is a great example of a virtual populated world which is only [i]simulated [/i]close to the players.

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Your correct in your response, saying that a true simulation would almost be irrelevant because of the burden if it was an RPG. L4D is an example, but if say within 30 feet AI interactions would coincide with objects in the world or other AI animals in the wilderness would be ideal in my opinion.

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[quote name='Ashaman73' timestamp='1341983638' post='4957893']
Simulations are not games, so integrating a simulation in a game is always a nice idea, but it brings a very heavy burden with it. You can compare it to hollywood movies, you don't need to simulate an whole ancient city with a million population to make 3 scene shoots in it.

The problem is, that the player would not recognise it as simulated world, there's even the danger of missinterpreting emerging behaviour as bug. L4D is a great example of a virtual populated world which is only simulated close to the players.
[/quote]

Car racing and flight sim fans would care to disagree. [img]http://public.gamedev.net//public/style_emoticons/default/wink.png[/img] I agree that granular simulations are usually surplus to requirements. However I do think that simulations with a degree of LOD could be worthwhile. For example, simulate animals nearby in a granular way, and for other areas simply simulate broad predator/prey dynamics and migration patterns. I agree that emergent behaviour can be tricky. Perhaps truly emergent behaviour is not desirable, but rather representative set pieces, e.g. if a herbivore runs from a carnivore the carnivore should always be coming from a direction that the player can see. But overall I would welcome some sort of nature simulation as a source of new types of "random" encounter and to avoid that creepy "all these creatures exist only so you can kill them" feeling.

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I think the real question is not how to make wilderness interesting (because it is trivial, just make a lot mini secret locations with secrets and quests and hidden treasures) but how to make it interesting in a cheap way (because you want to focus your development effort on the locations, not the wilderness).

The biggest thrill of wilderness travelling is discovery of secret locations, so I guess there is no way artound it, you need to make at least a few unique handmade mini locations without telling the player the coordinates of these). Everything else should be generated randomly.

There could be:
- 10 old bunkers (shape "generated" cheap way by putting together 3x3 sections made of 6 predefined sections), each holds a standard random treasure and 1 old electronic chip (3 of these bunkers will have broken chips), when ypou collect all working chips you can build something out of it. The exact coordinates of these bunkers changes every game and are totally random
- many hidden caches with random resources, come in 3 versions: small, medium, large.
- there are 20 parts of machine X, generated randomly among the bunkers and caches above as a rare treasure (and very rarely could be found just plain on the ground), when you collect 5 you can build something awesome
- rare plants that can be processed into something (so plain "found something" thing)

I also recommend checking "Barbarian Prince" and "Tales of the Arabian Nights" boardgames, these had a lot of randomly generated things with auto generated secrets and storyline.

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[quote name='jefferytitan' timestamp='1342000775' post='4957960']
[quote name='Ashaman73' timestamp='1341983638' post='4957893']
Simulations are not games, so integrating a simulation in a game is always a nice idea, but it brings a very heavy burden with it. You can compare it to hollywood movies, you don't need to simulate an whole ancient city with a million population to make 3 scene shoots in it.

The problem is, that the player would not recognise it as simulated world, there's even the danger of missinterpreting emerging behaviour as bug. L4D is a great example of a virtual populated world which is only simulated close to the players.
[/quote]

Car racing and flight sim fans would care to disagree. [img]http://public.gamedev.net//public/style_emoticons/default/wink.png[/img] I agree that granular simulations are usually surplus to requirements. However I do think that simulations with a degree of LOD could be worthwhile. For example, simulate animals nearby in a granular way, and for other areas simply simulate broad predator/prey dynamics and migration patterns. I agree that emergent behaviour can be tricky. Perhaps truly emergent behaviour is not desirable, but rather representative set pieces, e.g. if a herbivore runs from a carnivore the carnivore should always be coming from a direction that the player can see. But overall I would welcome some sort of nature simulation as a source of new types of "random" encounter and to avoid that creepy "all these creatures exist only so you can kill them" feeling.
[/quote]

I completely agree with you jefferytitan, The fact that sabre tooth cats aren't running around chasing foxes running across the screen instead they go after me is a little, how you say, boring.

[quote name='Acharis' timestamp='1342015861' post='4958030']
I think the real question is not how to make wilderness interesting (because it is trivial, just make a lot mini secret locations with secrets and quests and hidden treasures) but how to make it interesting in a cheap way (because you want to focus your development effort on the locations, not the wilderness).

The biggest thrill of wilderness travelling is discovery of secret locations, so I guess there is no way artound it, you need to make at least a few unique handmade mini locations without telling the player the coordinates of these). Everything else should be generated randomly.

There could be:
- 10 old bunkers (shape "generated" cheap way by putting together 3x3 sections made of 6 predefined sections), each holds a standard random treasure and 1 old electronic chip (3 of these bunkers will have broken chips), when ypou collect all working chips you can build something out of it. The exact coordinates of these bunkers changes every game and are totally random
- many hidden caches with random resources, come in 3 versions: small, medium, large.
- there are 20 parts of machine X, generated randomly among the bunkers and caches above as a rare treasure (and very rarely could be found just plain on the ground), when you collect 5 you can build something awesome
- rare plants that can be processed into something (so plain "found something" thing)

I also recommend checking "Barbarian Prince" and "Tales of the Arabian Nights" boardgames, these had a lot of randomly generated things with auto generated secrets and storyline.
[/quote]

I don't think you got the point of this, me personally I get bored of the same old stupid ruins I come across of, or the fort. I want to focus generally speaking on the wilderness. I would like to see more diversity in the wilderness

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and a lot more interaction with everything in the wilderness. The forts, secret locations, hidden treasures are all fine, but I want to see a real living breathing wilderness around the player

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Consider the pacing of the gameplay as well. Pretend you are the player moving through that wilderness the first time, is it important that the player relax after a hard fought battle, build tension towards an intense encounter, experience something new (because the games been pretty quiet), learn something useful for the area they are headed to, etc? These factors will help decide what the reason for the gap between locations is an how big it should be. Now pretend you are the player who's been grinding for 4 hours in that god forsaken wilderness. The sections between player way-points can be very useful. Be the player, test it in your mind before you start filling it with assets. I don't know if I agree with removing it because travel and discovery are important aspects in an RPG they help the player prioritize objectives, number crunch, let the game and the OMG moments sink-in.

Explore the weather and the seasons. All wilderness experiences incredible things worth showing off from climate changing. So many RPG's have a static world. Plants move and change,animate them, they deserve it! And animate them for a reason. Have encounters with bad guys that blend in with the forest in fall, or grow hardier during winter, etc.

Hope this helps.

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[quote name='Mratthew' timestamp='1342161691' post='4958669']
Consider the pacing of the gameplay as well. Pretend you are the player moving through that wilderness the first time, is it important that the player relax after a hard fought battle, build tension towards an intense encounter, experience something new (because the games been pretty quiet), learn something useful for the area they are headed to, etc? These factors will help decide what the reason for the gap between locations is an how big it should be. Now pretend you are the player who's been grinding for 4 hours in that god forsaken wilderness. The sections between player way-points can be very useful. Be the player, test it in your mind before you start filling it with assets. I don't know if I agree with removing it because travel and discovery are important aspects in an RPG they help the player prioritize objectives, number crunch, let the game and the OMG moments sink-in.

Explore the weather and the seasons. All wilderness experiences incredible things worth showing off from climate changing. So many RPG's have a static world. Plants move and change,animate them, they deserve it! And animate them for a reason. Have encounters with bad guys that blend in with the forest in fall, or grow hardier during winter, etc.

Hope this helps.
[/quote]
I always thought it would be cool project to create an game environment with interactive wilderness like your saying, then building a game into it. I mean, first building a world that is very immersive and interactive. Then making a game world within it, even if only a few players at a time can enter it. It would be a great learning experience don't you think?

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Wilderness is (apart from crafting) another thing that Ryzom got just right (well, in my opinion, given the game's success, the majority of people didn't seem to think that way).

Most things in "wilderness" (especially in the Roots) was strong enough so you could survive being attacked by one, if you were high level and skilled maybe two. Most animals would group together somewhat loosely, sometimes one would maybe wander off a bit. Also, the groups would move around according to daytime and season. This usually left a "clear path" for the skilled player to move through, a big challenge in some regions.

Predators would chase herbivores, but this would inevitably bring them into your aggro range sometimes. Also, some herbivores seemed to run towards you (for protection? who can tell?). Nothing as entertaining as seeing a lumper being attacked by 3 kinchers, and then it comes running to you -- with the three following.

The downside is of course that it isn't precisely an easy entry, nor does it cater the typical crowd of players who are used to only click on the "win button". That's probably the reason why every company that went near Ryzom went bankrupt [img]http://public.gamedev.net//public/style_emoticons/default/sad.png[/img] Edited by samoth

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[quote name='jefferytitan' timestamp='1342000775' post='4957960']
Car racing and flight sim fans would care to disagree.
[/quote]
Simulations are good and funny, but not games. Flight sims at last are not really games or not really sims. Ok, car racing games are really a working hybrid of game and simulation, but I'm talking about more complex,living simulations.

[quote name='jefferytitan' timestamp='1342000775' post='4957960']
I agree that granular simulations are usually surplus to requirements. However I do think that simulations with a degree of LOD could be worthwhile. For example, simulate animals nearby in a granular way, and for other areas simply simulate broad predator/prey dynamics and migration patterns. I agree that emergent behaviour can be tricky. Perhaps truly emergent behaviour is not desirable, but rather representative set pieces, e.g. if a herbivore runs from a carnivore the carnivore should always be coming from a direction that the player can see.
[/quote]
Emergent behaviour is fun, but only if you know what and why it happened. Therefore often developers are impressed by emergent behaviour, players without background knowledge do not have the chance to understand the behaviour, even it is logical, it seems often to be a bug.

[quote name='jefferytitan' timestamp='1342000775' post='4957960']
But overall I would welcome some sort of nature simulation as a source of new types of "random" encounter and to avoid that creepy "all these creatures exist only so you can kill them" feeling.
[/quote]
I've played around with this approach in my game, including a need based logic to control the behaviour of entites (herbivores, carnivores, interesting objects on the ground, the player as intruder, all entities needed food and water etc.).

The first effect was, that it got quite complex really fast. The reason is, that a simulation get unstable quite fast. First all seems to work, suddenly all animals are dying around you. Was it a bug ? No, the water sources could not supply all the animals.

After fixing all the issues, it got really messy. You see some unlogical behaviour, same question: is it a bug ? After analysing several logs you discovered that this behaviour was correct. That's fine, but the major issue was: the resulting behaviour was not funny at all, but boring.

One of the most successful games (and game-simulation) with emergent behaviour is dwarf fortress. Checking their forum, you will discover quite fast, that almost every emergent situation is discovered and discussed by using the log as [i]story[/i]. This is not a bad thing, but not always suitable for every game type (do you want to check several pages of a log to understand why an opponent has discovered and killed you in a FPS, although you were sure, that you were hidden from his view ? )

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[quote name='Tecknowolf' timestamp='1342164967' post='4958687']
I always thought it would be cool project to create an game environment with interactive wilderness like your saying, then building a game into it. I mean, first building a world that is very immersive and interactive. Then making a game world within it, even if only a few players at a time can enter it. It would be a great learning experience don't you think?
[/quote]

I'm not entirely sure I was clear with my post. Interaction doesn't really need to be the focus with the wilderness between waypoints in an RPG. I just think wilderness needs to be animated and change over time. To give the player a sense that the world is just as dynamic as the story. The wilderness should seem somewhat like it exists as a habbitat to the flora and fauna in the area. On top of this random monster encounters could feel more natural as they could appear more connected to that environment like in the examples I suggested, visual and physical adaptation to their environment.
If we wanted to take this to the next level the impact of removing a monster from an area could be visual as well. For example. A monster near the purple flowers eats the rabbits. You kill monster=tons of rabbits, rabbits eat all the purple flowers, no more purple flowers. Next time you go to where you killed the monster you can barely recognize the area.

It would be pretty great to experience a game where you explore the glory of nature the best a game can muster. (If that's what you're meaning) But at this point I just want it to look a little more natural. Nature changes and its great that developers like CryEngine and UDK can visually show day and night cycles and visually impressive weather effects but the next step should be animated textures on the flora and fauna that has a reason to populate an area (like setting mood). RPGs are fantasy stories, these usually span over the course of months/years/decades and in that case when a player returns to a location after being away for an extended amount of time, it should change.

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Well, i have thought about this for my own game. I will tell you what we are going to aim for and you can see if this matches what you would want/desire.
[list]
[*]I thought about what strikes a player as "epic". I remember creating a world for NWN and one of the things that I wanted to do most was make the creatures pop out of places. Goblins or Wolves that would pop out of brush/behind tress rather than just spawn in.
[*]I thought about making bugs attracted to light, and then having spiders spawn there because of the bugs.
[*]Maybe you have randomized questing that happens or occurs while in the forest. Find an item on the ground, it will give hints to another location that could be randomly generated as a possible quest region.
[*]Maybe force the player to ineract with something to start a quest line. They come across a stream or brook of water that could be blocked by the player. The player doesnt realize that doing so helped save a family of gnomes or fairy's that were a bit down the road. So the player comes back to the area and some NPC is there to reward them for their efforts. This would encouage the player to explore to find things and thus lets you play with what they can and cant feel or touch.
[*]Start a minigame where they must plant some acorns, or they need to cut down and clear some land, while some outside force is rushing them to do so.
[*]Have a section of the forest that they walk into, start to spam their chat box with some whispers. The player has to pay attention and walk around to hear the other whisper, and doing so will give them some inside scoop on the storyline of the game. Like trees that talk
[*]Have some random ghost event where at night in a certain spot a ghost will show up and they can either help the ghost and make them pass to the new world or they can fight him and try to end his existance there.
[/list]

Small things like that help to make up the feeling of actually being intergrated within the enviornment.

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To be honest, I really don't understand the question :/

What exactally are you aiminig at? You want players to "volunteerly" leave quest areas an wander in the wilderness? Or want them to take their time when going from town to town?

If its not fun, then you shouldn't consider it in your game. Traviling is not fun, in game or in real life. Most games will only force you to travel through an area once, and make it as challenging as possible to get to the other side. You know, The fun part. After that they give you a "fast travel" option so you don't have to go throught it agian, just to travel to a place you already been there.

fun = a challenging goal. The goal is going from A to B. You can make it chalenging by adding multipul ways to get killed, diffuclt to navigate, self revealing maps, etc...

OK, I know that I may have not answered your question, but I guess it becomes easier to think about if you already know what you want from it.

Remeber, its all about fun. It way we play.

Cheers :)

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