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Thaumaturge

Designing the Overworld

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For my current project I intend to have an overworld, but find myself a little stuck for a design that fits my goals for it. In particular, I don't want this game to be a wide-open sandbox--I want to avoid both the issue of sandbox paralysis (what TVTropes calls the "quicksand box") and that of content creation on such a scale. On the other hand, I do want a degree of exploration and discovery--I want the player to be able to spot an interesting tower while travelling, and decide to visit it.

 

As mentioned, this is a overworld that I'm designing: the meat of the game is intended to be in the levels, with this overworld providing a sense of travel, an impression of a world outside the levels, and opportunities to discover new locations.

 

To these ends I've been thinking about having my overworld be composed of map locations: the player has a map, and can visit specific places in the area shown, rather than being able to trudge every centimetre of mountainside.

 

The problem then, is that of how to approach this.

 

I've thus far considered three options, each with their own advantages and problems:

 

  • Each map location corresponds to a small "level" that the player can explore freely, as with standard levels.

     

    On the postive side, this allows the player to discover secrets hidden around corners, or new vantages from which to spot potential locations to visit.

     

    On the negative side, the boundaries--wherever they lie--might damage immersion by confronting the player with the limits of the "level". I've considered having the boundaries automatically produce a prompt to the player offering to "travel", taking the player either to the map or to the next location in that direction, but am not sure that this completely solves the problem.
     

  • Each map location corresponds to a fixed-position, free-rotation "node" (as seen in some of the Myst games, as I recall): the player can look around and interact with objects, but movement is limited to moving from node to node. The graph of nodes would be sufficiently dense that one could move in most (reasonable) directions and end up at a new node. In essence this replaces discovery by exploring a small region with discovery according to which nodes the player chooses to visit.

    On the positive side, this allows for fully pre-rendered art (which has certain advantages over real-time 3D art), and can be relatively simple to set up.

    On the negative side, this is quite apparently artificial--but, funnily enough, I've think that I've found that it can be less immersion-breaking than coming up against an invisible wall, as in option (1) above. Perhaps more problematic, I'm somewhat concerned about the amount of content that so dense a graph calls for, even allowing for variations in density according to the density of interesting features in an area.

    (I've actually prototyped this idea; it seems to work well enough, but prompted me to notice the content-creation issue.)
     

  • This is essentially the same as number (2) above, but with a far less dense graph, and no free movement: the player would return to the map and click on a new node to travel to. This reduces the content-creation issue, but also reduces the element of exploration.

 

I'm currently somewhat leaning towards the third option--the second has the content issue, and the first has the "invisible boundaries" issue--but it pretty much cuts out the exploration element, which leaves me somewhat dissatisfied. That said, the levels should provide at least some exploration, and I could see some of them providing access to "hidden" map-locations...

 

So... What thoughts or advice do you have?

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Instead of a map, I personally would suggest a grid system - something that would feel natural to the world.  Squares or hexes are the two obvious choices, though a triangular grid is also possible, or some less regular structure like a giant figure 8.  So the player can then travel only in straight lines (I'm thinking along the lines aka roads of the grid, though you could do it across sides instead if it fit better with your game world concept, that would be more like the myst nodes or hexes of territory).  So the player can travel freely along the grid, except you can put obstacles/breaks to control their path a bit.  Plot events can remove obstacles or repair breaks, or transport the player to a different section of the grid.  And each step of travel corresponds to a location, with three types of location: plot-related, empty, and easter egg.

Edited by sunandshadow

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How do levels and map locations differ? Are the levels special map locations that have different gameplay?

 

Levels are more full of gameplay--there are buttons to press, secret doors to find, enemies to fight, ledges to climb, leaps to make, etc.--while map locations are more about location: where the player is in the world and what's around them. Map locations might have events--encountering a strange character, or perhaps an occasional ambush, etc.--but for the most part are about giving the player a world around them that's more than disconnected levels.

 

In short, levels are about exploration and adventure, while map locations are about travel and discovery: similar, but operating at different scales.

 

I suppose that another way of looking at it would be that levels are about moment-to-moment gameplay--"I'll jump to that ledge, solve the puzzle, battle the monster, then open the door..."--while map locations are about a more relaxed, contemplative type of gameplay--"I'm in the middle of a mountain range, on my way to a city on the other side; there's a cairn here, but no items of interest. Look at the view from up here! Oh, hey, there's a tower tucked away in that valley over there--let's head over there and see what's in it...".

 

 

Instead of a map, I personally would suggest a grid system - something that would feel natural to the world.  Squares or hexes are the two obvious choices, though a triangular grid is also possible, or some less regular structure like a giant figure 8.  So the player can then travel only in straight lines (I'm thinking along the lines aka roads of the grid, though you could do it across sides instead if it fit better with your game world concept).  So the player can travel freely along the grid, except you can put obstacles/breaks to control their path a bit.  Plot events can remove obstacles or repair breaks, or transport the player to a different section of the grid.  And each step of travel corresponds to a location, with three types of location: plot-related, empty, and easter egg.

Hmm... I feel that I'm missing something--how does that differ from the second and third options that I described above, other than having a more regular arrangement? The grid tiles would seem to be a different way of describing the nodes of those systems, with the connections between nodes being the roads of your description...

 

(For the sake of clarity, in the second option that I described above the player can move from node to node without going through the map screen.)

Edited by Thaumaturge

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Instead of a map, I personally would suggest a grid system - something that would feel natural to the world.  Squares or hexes are the two obvious choices, though a triangular grid is also possible, or some less regular structure like a giant figure 8.  So the player can then travel only in straight lines (I'm thinking along the lines aka roads of the grid, though you could do it across sides instead if it fit better with your game world concept).  So the player can travel freely along the grid, except you can put obstacles/breaks to control their path a bit.  Plot events can remove obstacles or repair breaks, or transport the player to a different section of the grid.  And each step of travel corresponds to a location, with three types of location: plot-related, empty, and easter egg.

Hmm... I feel that I'm missing something--how does that differ from the second and third options that I described above, other than having a more regular arrangement? The grid tiles would seem to be a different way of describing the nodes of those systems, with the connections between nodes being the roads of your description...

 

(For the sake of clarity, in the second option that I described above the player can move from node to node without going through the map screen.)

 

Hmm, well maybe it's not technically that different, but I feel like maps as anything that actually transports you instead of a visual aid that helps you orient yourself feel immersion breaking and artificial, and definitely have no sense of travel or exploration.  So I was thinking about the Pokemon 3rd and 4th gen games and Mario3/Mario world and games like Zelda 2... all games where, even though where you go is directed pretty linearly by the game, they still have the feeling that you are traveling and exploring.  And I was thinking that integrating the map-shape into more of a natural-feeling overworld would be ideal.  And wouldn't it be cool to adventure around in a weird world where everything is in a triangular or hexagonal grid, maybe because it grew like a crystal or because it was built by insects or aliens who aren't as hung-up on squares the way we humans are...  I was trying to think of a way to make there be a "traveling node/road/tunnel" between any two "permanent/pre-built" nodes because that's what would create the feel of travel and discovery IMHO.

 

My vagueness is probably what's making this confusing but I don't know enough about your setting to suggest something more specific.

Edited by sunandshadow

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I would choose the first option and make the map locations like normal levels. That way the player only has to learn 2 interfaces (levels and the world map) instead of 3. I don't think running into the edge of the level would ruin immersion for anyone, at least as long as you make it reasonably clear where the edge is. For example, if there's a gate or a path leading out of the area, but not if it's just an open plain and going too far in any direction leads the player back to the map.

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I fear that I didn't describe my option two well enough, and should perhaps have used a term other than "map location". :/ While option three does indeed use the map for travelling--the player clicks on icons on the map to travel to those locations--option two uses the map as you describe: primarily as a means of determining one's position in the world. Actual travel is done (at the moment) in the "world-view", by looking in the desired direction and pressing "w", which produces a brief travelling segue that depicts a slightly impressionistic representation of moving from one point to the next (procedurally generated from data in the origin and destination nodes), before depositing the player in the new node.

 

 

I don't know enough about your setting to suggest something more specific.

Ah, a good point. It's a high-fantasy setting: adventurers, sorcerer's towers, and so on. The player might travel through grass plains, dense forests, mountain passes, etc. I'm being perhaps a little vague there, but I doubt that the details are terribly important at this stage (although I could well be rather mistaken)--and, quite frankly, I haven't yet set a very great deal.

 

I like your idea, but I don't think that it would fit terribly well; it's probably better suited to a world such as you describe in your post: something alien and insect-like, in which the strange arrangement of the grid could add to the sense of otherness.

 

 

I would choose the first option and make the map locations like normal levels. That way the player only has to learn 2 interfaces (levels and the world map) instead of 3.

That's a good point. To some degree option two deals with that by using a very similar interface (I use the usual "forward" key for advancing to another node, for example), but I have been a little concerned about conveying the fact that there are two different control mechanisms. :/

 

 

I don't think running into the edge of the level would ruin immersion for anyone, at least as long as you make it reasonably clear where the edge is. For example, if there's a gate or a path leading out of the area, but not if it's just an open plain and going too far in any direction leads the player back to the map.

Ah, but that's a problem: while the levels are likely to lend themselves to such affordances, these nodes are more likely than not to be in the open--hence my concern about the edges affecting immersion. :/

Edited by Thaumaturge

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This is essentially the same as number (2) above, but with a far less dense graph, and no free movement: the player would return to the map and click on a new node to travel to. This reduces the content-creation issue, but also reduces the element of exploration.

Take this. The reasons are quite simple:

1. Reduced content generation ! That is an incredible important goal for hobby/indie devs. If you have too much content, the quality of it will decrease. Therefor less is often more.

2. Don't make two games in one. If your game plays in the levels, a simple,functional, still fancy looking , map is everything you need. You can increase the quality by some pretty visuals, animations, sound/music, accessible UI, still the underlying game mechanism of this part of the game are primitive.

3. This kind of level<->map traveling has been used in other, successful games like Dragon Age 1, no need to re-invent a side aspect of the game.

 

One designer pit is, to design a single feature isolated, without the major context of the whole game. This often lead to making single aspects interesting (aka complex) which will, once all pieces of the game a plugged together, to a too complex game experience. Believe me, I'm an expert in making stuff too complex unsure.png

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Are you thinking of a "Lords of Midnight"-style overworld?  That has the "hey, strange tall thing in the distance, I should go check it out!" feel to it.

 

But it's on a grid, which I do think is important.  (In a slightly paradoxical way, important to the immersion.)  Not that it be on a grid, but that the topological space of the nodes is predictable by the player.  If it is, I'll feel like I'm exploring a world.  But if there's an arbitrary possibility space for which things in the background might be nodes, it becomes more of a puzzle where the answer is just "guess what the designer was thinking".  (Or if they're highlighted, neither puzzle nor exploration.  That's ok too, but it doesn't feel like *I'm* discovering things.)

 

If the organization of space seems to exist *outside* the whims of the designer, then I can momentarily forget that a designer exists.  This goes even if there are unrealistic restrictions on my movement, like "you can only move in cardinal directions" or "you can't cross water" or "you can't ever step off a road", even if these are functionally equivalent to the designer choosing my possible routes.  I can accept those as conditions on a play world, like I can accept "the floor is lava".  The resolution to the immersion paradox is that when there are knowable rules binding both me *and* the designer in identical ways, I no longer have to guess what the designer thinks should be possible.

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I like the map with nodes to explore and prompt at the edges to "travel in that direction", or simply return to main map. Baldur's Gate style, no one has ever complained about. And, for the sake of immersion issue, BG has been one of the most immersive rpg I ever played.

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Is this a 2D or 3D game? (I'm thinking the latter since you've mentionned Myst?)

I'm a big fan of the "microcosm" type of overworld. Essentially, it feels like a level, but if you take good care as to the proportions, it "doesn't make sense".

Everything is artificially brought together in such a way that an entire world fits in but a few leagues.

 

Best example: Zelda: A Link to the Past.

You essentially fit a forest, a mountain, a waterfall, a village, a castle, a desert, a plains and a lake all in a Tic-Tac-Toe map (3X3 areas) and each are fairly limited in size.

There's still much exploration happening (caves here and there for example), but it's always very quick to get to the area you want to go.

 

It can also work as a first person 3D game. It's all about making the overworld fit in the palm of your hand (aka, making everything closer).

 

In the original Myst, the first island is a perfect example of this. It's radically small, and there's something to do literally every inch of the way. (Granted, you can't actually get lost in the small forest). Are you using a similar navigation system?

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Take this. The reasons are quite simple:

1. Reduced content generation ! That is an incredible important goal for hobby/indie devs. If you have too much content, the quality of it will decrease. Therefor less is often more.

2. Don't make two games in one. If your game plays in the levels, a simple,functional, still fancy looking , map is everything you need. You can increase the quality by some pretty visuals, animations, sound/music, accessible UI, still the underlying game mechanism of this part of the game are primitive.

3. This kind of level<->map traveling has been used in other, successful games like Dragon Age 1, no need to re-invent a side aspect of the game.

Hmm... You make some good points, I think.

 

You mention Dragon Age 1; if I recall correctly, that game had only the map and the levels, without the "nodes" that I have in mind. That would cut down significantly on the content called for, but I worry that it would leave the levels feeling disconnected, without a sense of a world in which they exist. (Not to mention the loss of the aspects of travel and discovery of new locations.)

 

 

Are you thinking of a "Lords of Midnight"-style overworld?

I've honestly never played that game that I recall. ^^; I've seen it over on GOG, and having now taken a look at the trailer that they have for it, that does actually look pretty close to what I have in mind!

 

 

But it's on a grid, which I do think is important.  (In a slightly paradoxical way, important to the immersion.)  

...

If the organization of space seems to exist *outside* the whims of the designer, then I can momentarily forget that a designer exists. ...

Hmm... I'm hesitant to use something as regular as a grid, but you do make a good point regarding the advantage of predictability in what the player can do, I think.

 

 

I like the map with nodes to explore and prompt at the edges to "travel in that direction", or simply return to main map. Baldur's Gate style, no one has ever complained about. And, for the sake of immersion issue, BG has been one of the most immersive rpg I ever played.

True, but as I recall, Baldur's Gate had pretty big overworld "levels"--that's quite a bit of content creation to add on top of the content-creation already entailed by the levels...

 

 

Is this a 2D or 3D game? (I'm thinking the latter since you've mentionned Myst?)

3D; to be specific, the levels are intended to be real-time 3D with free exploration (that is to say, movement in the manner of a first-person shooter). (The combat prototype that I've posted elsewhere in this sub-forum is intended to be the combat mechanic for the game.)

 

 

In the original Myst, the first island is a perfect example of this. It's radically small, and there's something to do literally every inch of the way. (Granted, you can't actually get lost in the small forest). Are you using a similar navigation system?

For the overworld, my options two and three would work in more or less that way (but using the free rotation of the later Myst games rather than the slideshow approach of the first), with option two allowing Myst-style movement from node to node, and option three possibly having the player go back to the map to travel. On the other hand, option one would work as the levels do, with free first-person 3D movement.

 

 

I'm a big fan of the "microcosm" type of overworld. ...

It's tempting, but I'm not sure that it would be a good tonal fit: to my mind that produces a slightly cartoony feel, and I want this to be a somewhat serious game. Indeed, if anything I'd prefer that the world feel broad, with an aesthetic inspired by high-fantasy paintings.

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It's tempting, but I'm not sure that it would be a good tonal fit: to my mind that produces a slightly cartoony feel, and I want this to be a somewhat serious game. Indeed, if anything I'd prefer that the world feel broad, with an aesthetic inspired by high-fantasy paintings.

 

Legacy of Kain: Blood Omen used a similar approach though, and it wasn't cartoony. If your immersion relies on realism however, that's a perfectly understandable point.

 


For the overworld, my options two and three would work in more or less that way (but using the free rotation of the later Myst games rather than the slideshow approach of the first), with option two allowing Myst-style movement from node to node, and option three possibly having the player go back to the map to travel. On the other hand, option one would work as the levels do, with free first-person 3D movement.

 

To my knowledge, only End of Ages had a free-roaming nav system. Myst, Riven, Exile and Revelation all were very static. I feel it added a lot to the genre (End of Ages was probably my least favorite of the series).

 

It seems you're trying to build a lot of immersion into this world. I would refrain from using a "physical map" under these circumstances, so as to keep the player "in the world" instead of "in the UI". (Unless the map is a physical object held by the character and doesn't entirely cover the view, but I'd still consider not going that route).

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Legacy of Kain: Blood Omen used a similar approach though, and it wasn't cartoony. If your immersion relies on realism however, that's a perfectly understandable point.

Nevertheless, I think that I'll look up a Let's Play of Blood Omen--it might have some ideas or inspiration for me. Thank you for mentioning it. happy.png

 

 

To my knowledge, only End of Ages had a free-roaming nav system.

Since the section that you quoted included mention of a few possibilities, I'm not sure of whether I expressed myself well. ^^;

 

To explain, when referring to the Myst games and my options two and three, I was referring to the free rotation of the games that came after the first Myst (although I forget whether it was first used in Riven or a later game), and that was optional in End of Ages: you could only move from node to node, but could look in any direction by moving the mouse (where in the first Myst you could look in only a single direction, with rotation only producing another, static perspective). Only my option one and the levels themselves use free movement.

 

 

I feel it added a lot to the genre

I agree, actually: I've found that node-based movement to be rather engaging and surprisingly immersive, which is perhaps one of the reasons that it's amongst the options that I'm considering for my overworld. ^_^

 

 

It seems you're trying to build a lot of immersion into this world. I would refrain from using a "physical map" under these circumstances, so as to keep the player "in the world" instead of "in the UI".

Hmm... I do think that a map of some sort is called for simply to allow the player to orient themselves--to be able to tell that the city that they're looking for is to the south of them, or the pass that they were told about just to their west, etc.; come to that, it also serves as a sort of visual note-keeping system, telling players of discovered locations. However, it might indeed be a good idea to avoid the "click to travel" interface...

Edited by Thaumaturge

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To explain, when referring to the Myst games and my options two and three, I was referring to the free rotation of the games that came after the first Myst (although I forget whether it was first used in Riven or a later game), and that was optional in End of Ages: you could only move from node to node, but could look in any direction by moving the mouse (where in the first Myst you could look in only a single direction, with rotation only producing another, static perspective). Only my option one and the levels themselves use free movement.

Ah sorry I missed that.

 


I agree, actually: I've found that node-based movement to be rather engaging and surprisingly immersive, which is perhaps one of the reasons that it's amongst the options that I'm considering for my overworld.

 

Plus it lets you focus on objects of interests (each screen has many) and never bother with the rest of the landscape.

Players understand each area is important and are happy they don't stumble looking for clues along the way.

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I have read through this thread and I still don't have a firm grasp of what you mean by the word overworld.  Can you define overworld, or at least contrast it with an extended environment or some sort of game map?

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@Orymus3: I'm currently toying with the idea of a very sparse set of nodes with set (and clearly-conveyed) travel destinations from each; it loses a lot of the aspect of discovery of new locations that I wanted, but might at least keep the sense of a broader world.

 

On the other hand, in thinking about this I'm becoming only more concerned about adding all of this content-creation on top of the levels; I'd probably switch to a simple map with clickable icons if it didn't run counter to some of my goals (a sense of travelling, discovery of locations while doing so, a sense of a broader world than just the levels, aesthetic goals, and possibly a few that I'm forgetting offhand). I may yet do so. :/

 

I have read through this thread and I still don't have a firm grasp of what you mean by the word overworld.  Can you define overworld, or at least contrast it with an extended environment or some sort of game map?

 

What I essentially mean, I suppose, is the environment in which the levels are embedded: it's the world that the player moves through between levels.

 

Depending on what you mean by an "extended environment" (would you mind elaborating on that, please?), it may be exactly that, and an interactive game map might be seen as a specific type of overworld.

 

For more information and a selection of examples, take a look at [url=http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/TheOverworld]this entry on TV Tropes.[/url]

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What about a convention of letterboxing and slowly fading in the map as you reach boundaries? You'd be free then to design the levels with an arbitrary trigger for each boundary, implement any overworld gameplay (supplies or random encounters) and gently warn the player as they're hitting the edge. You could bolster this with level design that has natural boundaries, like rocks or hedges with gaps that trigger this effect as you walk through them.

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Gotcha gotcha gotcha... I think I'm just getting denser in my old age.

 

What I meant by "extended environment" was mostly off base.  Like having the Space Needle in an urban background denotes Seattle, WA.  You don't get to go to the Space Needle, but it being there out in the extended or inaccessable environment lends a sense of place to the location.

 

Now that I get what your saying, I can't add much more to the clearly interesting concept of nodes you've been discussing.  I feel my point about STALKER's interconnected level-based design still feeling open is moot.

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What about a convention of letterboxing and slowly fading in the map as you reach boundaries? You'd be free then to design the levels with an arbitrary trigger for each boundary, implement any overworld gameplay (supplies or random encounters) and gently warn the player as they're hitting the edge. You could bolster this with level design that has natural boundaries, like rocks or hedges with gaps that trigger this effect as you walk through them.

 

Hmm... I had thought about doing something like this, but I'm still a little worried about those edges breaking immersion--and it would be problematic to implement the level design aspects that you mention in relatively open regions. It's probably worth thinking about, however...

 

For one, do you think that the fade would reduce the break in immersion, given that in either case I'd presumably want to show a UI by which to give the player the option to either travel on or stay in the vicinity?

 

Gotcha gotcha gotcha... I think I'm just getting denser in my old age.

 

What I meant by "extended environment" was mostly off base.  Like having the Space Needle in an urban background denotes Seattle, WA.  You don't get to go to the Space Needle, but it being there out in the extended or inaccessable environment lends a sense of place to the location.

 

Now that I get what your saying, I can't add much more to the clearly interesting concept of nodes you've been discussing.  I feel my point about STALKER's interconnected level-based design still feeling open is moot.

 

Aah, fair enough.

 

(I do actually intend to have at least some of that "extended environment" that you mention: high windows in a tower, vantage points in ruins, and so on; on top of a sense of location (and, hopefully, aesthetic appeal) these might provide additional opportunities for discovery of new locations.)

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(I do actually intend to have at least some of that "extended environment" that you mention: high windows in a tower, vantage points in ruins, and so on; on top of a sense of location (and, hopefully, aesthetic appeal) these might provide additional opportunities for discovery of new locations.)

 

Combining the above with the way you described implementing nodes and I think you are well on your way to a very interesting overworld.

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Perhaps, perhaps... Maybe in-level vantages will indeed provide enough of that element of discovery; if so, then I can work with a sparse node-based overworld, with each standing for a broad region rather than steps along the way as in Myst, and serving primarily for that sense of a wider world; I might have brief travel cutscenes between nodes (I intend to use graphic-novel cutscenes, both for aesthetic and for content-creation reasons).

 

(I'm tending towards a sparse network of nodes over a dense one simply to reduce the content-creation that the overworld incurs.)

Edited by Thaumaturge

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Is the idea something like that you get a 360 degree vantage at each overworld node, and then clicking on the things you can see... adds that node to your map?  That sounds pretty fun, actually.  Like I would see a tower off in the distance, and click on it, and on my map a tower symbol would pop up with "???" or "Unknown Tower".  Maybe I can't go there right away, but it gives me something to head towards.  (Maybe there's even a bystander that can say what I'm looking at, according to the local knowledge.  "We call that the Godladder. Local legend says that..."  And for distant things or mysterious places, you get a mixture of truth and rumor, different from each vantage point.)

 

If you want to limit your potential workload, you could say that you're looking at the world through a telescopic device, and only some places in the world have them.  (Cities, towers, hermitages, a few mountain peaks, etc.)  Their presence could be the constraint on level access: some of them could be absent, or missing pieces, and your questing completes them and thus opens up new vistas and places to go.

 

(It would be cool if you needed to see something from at least two vantages to triangulate where it is.  When you only have one vantage on it, you can only know its direction; once you have two you can calculate its position.  Like that one puzzle in Fate of Atlantis.)

 

------------------------------------

 

Btw, just as random mapspiration, no map gets my imagination going like the Tabula Peutingeriana (http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/5/50/TabulaPeutingeriana.jpg).  It's just at that perfect sweet spot between extreme practical detail and wild distortion.  I always thought it'd make an interesting game to have a old, distorted map of your world and slowly discover where (and what) the mentioned places really were.  You know you want to go to the Sorceror's Tower in the East, but what you have to start with is a scholar's best guess based on the compilation of travelers' itineraries and histories.  

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Is the idea something like that you get a 360 degree vantage at each overworld node, and then clicking on the things you can see... adds that node to your map? That sounds pretty fun, actually.

I'm glad of it! ^_^

 

What I have in mind would probably be a little simpler--there would be only a few actual overworld nodes, and while clicking on new locations would likely add them to your map, in many cases going to them would likely result in going to a level rather than a new node, although there would likely be some such.

 


And for distant things or mysterious places, you get a mixture of truth and rumor, different from each vantage point.

This would actually fit fairly well, I think, since I already have it in mind to have cases in which one has to find clues in order to open up new locations.

 

In fact, riffing on that, I have the idea of having directions sometimes be given relative to landmarks, which the player can ask after. In the overworld node, the player then has a list of geographical clues, and can attempt to match them to visible locations by dragging and dropping them onto the scene. If correct, that landmark becomes named for the player, and can be used to match further clues for other locations, potentially include some that are out of sight.

 


If you want to limit your potential workload, you could say that you're looking at the world through a telescopic device, and only some places in the world have them.

Hmm... I like that idea, but I think that I'd prefer to keep it for one or two instances, in which case there might be some adventure-game-style dealings involved in gaining access to the telescopic/scrying crystal/whatever.

 


Btw, just as random mapspiration, no map gets my imagination going like the Tabula Peutingeriana

Large image warning? :P

 

More seriously, that's another good idea, although not quite in line with what I have in mind, I think. I do think that it could make for quite an interesting game, however. ^_^

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For one, do you think that the fade would reduce the break in immersion, given that in either case I'd presumably want to show a UI by which to give the player the option to either travel on or stay in the vicinity?

 

I had thought that the letterboxing would help with the immersion issue, and imagine actually fading in of the map as the player continued moving forward in order to sort of create consent to travel without having to ask. Another approach would be to have the player automatically take out a map and bring it up to the view as the player moved into the transition boundary.

 

But I wouldn't overthink immersion. Even minecraft is reported to be immersive. The brain's good at suspending disbelief when it wants to.

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