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Preventing players leaving the play area where an obvious geographic obstacle can't be used on the map

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Hi all

 

As the topic says, I have a problem where the map for my game does not have geographic obstacles along three of its edges.

 

An example of the map is shown below:

 

Utopia.png

 

As you can see the player cant progress any further north than the desert or forest, no further West than the flood plains and there is a similar border to the east.

 

I don't want to change my map as it has "historical" significance being part of a game book I created many years ago then part of a Web game. In both these incarnations it was not an issue as I could simply railroad the player along routes that wouldn't allow leaving the map.

 

I am erring on the side of having messages that discourage the player, followed by swift death. E.g. If you journey too far into the desert, a message would come up saying "it would be unwise to venture into the deepest desert without a proper expedition and a lot of water". If you wander too far, you lose health rapidly, exponential to the distance from the map edge. 

 

If you wander too far into the forest a similar warning warns you that it is uncharted ahead, and venturing there leads to some form of fatal QuickTime animal death.

 

Similarly wandering into the west will meet an untimely fate as you will wander into disputed territory and be repeatedly hit by arrows from unseen assailants. 

 

I'm thinking similar to the turrets around the map edges in borderlands. 

 

What is everyone else's opinion,  how would you solve this in a somewhat believable manner? 

 

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You could have a flat endless plain that repeats forever off into the distance. I like your idea of killing them if they go to far, what if you had some kind of unkillable or at least a very hard respawning enemy. Of course you should give them a warning if they venture too far before unleashing the beast.

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I like what's sometimes done in cartoons where the character is running too fast and steps "outside" the world into an empty universe. Of course, it's not really a natural or logical barrier unless maybe your RPG is framed as a story being told.

 

The specter of death or some powerful deity appears and forbids the player to travel further. To continue is to be struck down immediately.

A fenced off border, possibly with a crossing at some point into the other nation that you'll never be permitted to cross. Or perhaps some unbeatable guards suddenly appear, "protecting" citizens or the region itself from... something and you are escorted back. Failure to head their warnings can get you killed.

A curse is known to have fallen upon the grasslands where every living thing beyond withers and dies. As you approach it is easy to see all life beyond in a state of decay. You could decrease the player's HP as they spend time walking that way but I'd suspect most players would try to cross anyways as their HP increases. So maybe their character stats need to take the hit instead to get the message across.

Curses can be lifted and politics change over time. So if you're looking at using the setting in future projects, they might fit best with over all story building.

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Players accept a little bit of leeway when it comes to games. An invisible wall is okay if you've clearly marked the edge of the map and there's nothing of interest on the edges.

 

Invisible walls aren't okay when it comes to areas where you expect the player to explore, like in Fallout 3. You'd need to use map geography then.

Games don't have to be realistic - they just have to be fair.

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In Skyrim the player just hit an invisible wall and remained walking / running on the spot.   In Just Cause there was a message that said something like "you are leaving the mission area" and if you continued you just died and respawned at your last save point.

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I like the idea of just letting them run infinitely in the same direction and once they turn around, the border is just one clip distance away. So you could run for an hour into the void but return within 30 seconds.

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I read a bit of TADS manual http://www.tads.org/t3doc/doc/tourguide/index.html recently, and they have a few other interesting ideas

 

- deadendConnector: "You start to stride off into the valley, but soon decide it's not that interesting, 
     so you wander back towards the cave entrance. "

 

- fakeConnector: "You've come here to explore the caves, not the valley. "

 

 

Eg have interaction with some of the locals "he, where are you going? I thought you were going to help us, please don't leave!"

Edited by Alberth

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I second the suggestion of hard and harmless fences (as opposed to venturing into the desert and dying). If players must explore the whole map, they expect it to be not only finite, but not diluted by large amount of useless empty space at the borders.

You just need appropriate warning messages; apart from the previous good suggestions, consider breaking the fourth wall with words (e.g. "Thank God, you have nothing to do in the Desert of Skulls. Maybe in a sequel.") or graphics (e.g. a thick red line on the ground, matching the position of an invisible wall).

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