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Old 04-19-2010, 03:21 PM   #1
dentin
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Ideal wilderness versus town sizes

As part of our global mapping and linearization experiment on Alter Aeon, I've thought a lot about the concept of different room sizes for different types of areas, and ways to have them make sense. Different terrain types or areas may have vastly different sizes, for example wandering the open plains versus inside a small cave.

One of the more common examples of this would be outdoor/wilderness rooms versus town rooms. If you look on a real map, you see small pinpricks of civilization surrounded by vast areas of open space; the size of towns may be one tenth or less the distance between them. For most of the MUDs I'm familiar with, wilderness/linkage rooms clearly covered a lot more distance than town/city rooms did.

The question is, if we designate a small number of room size categories, what approximate sizes and ratios do we pick, and how many different scales? Is a two scale (large and small) system with a factor of ten sufficient? What about three or four different scale sizes? An example of three categories might be less than 25 feet for small buildings and areas; 25-250 feet for larger buildings, caverns, and city/town streets; and 250-5000 feet for outdoor/wilderness and linkage zones.

[Of course the natural response is 'allow room size to be arbitrary and settable', but that answer is boring and doesn't really address the abstract concept of scaling and how builders perceive rooms when they build them. It also makes it difficult to build maps without gaps unless you have very good tools.]

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Old 04-19-2010, 09:20 PM   #2
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Re: Ideal wilderness versus town sizes

... I don't use imperial measures, so I can't comment on your numbers...

But if you wanted an interesting way to still be able to use arbitrary room sizes, what about coordinates?

assume all rooms are square when building. Each integer in your coordinate system is one foot.

And you just specify the width.
So a 5 foot room starting at x=20 y=50 would stretch to x=25 y=55.
Then you could map that. It might leave gaps, but only if a room isn't specified for those coordinates.
You could "pick up" the nearby largest room, and use that room type to draw the map. That would allow maps that seem to be made of shapes other than squares, while keeping your building simpler.

If you *really* want a challenge, you could then have overlapping rooms. Or rooms inside other rooms, and have the map figure out which it should be displaying. That way you could have a large wilderness room with a farmhouse room inside it.

If you do have set sizes, you're also limiting the size of your towns. So if widlerness rooms are 5000x5000, then to make a town "fit" well on the map it would have to also be made from 5000x5000 blocks (although the edge rooms could be described as the edge of the wilderness. The town wouldn't have to be in a square box of town walls...)
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Old 04-21-2010, 03:55 PM   #3
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Re: Ideal wilderness versus town sizes

I was actually hoping to get more of a meta conversation going on, along the lines of 'what ratios have we picked and why?'. I actually use a two-scale solution on Alter Aeon with a factor of 8 difference; that was picked because it allows a reasonable scale difference and didn't require catastrophic updates to the world layout.

One good reason I've found for different scale ratios is the whole 'areas on top of each other' syndrome you commonly see on muds without strong mappers or world control. It becomes too tempting to just say 'we'll put this area north of this room so it's near town, and easy to get to'. As a result you end up with a lot of areas sitting on top of each other and the feel of areas overlapping in space. Having large scale wilderness allows you to put fairly large areas (in terms of rooms) only a couple of wilderness rooms away and still have a coherent layout.

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Old 04-21-2010, 07:16 PM   #4
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Re: Ideal wilderness versus town sizes

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Originally Posted by dentin View Post
[Of course the natural response is 'allow room size to be arbitrary and settable', but that answer is boring and doesn't really address the abstract concept of scaling and how builders perceive rooms when they build them. It also makes it difficult to build maps without gaps unless you have very good tools.]
This concept always confuses me. If you use Earth as an example and use a ratio of one room per square mile, that would be about 195,000,000 rooms, and over 135,000,000 of them would be water. TMS considers a huge world to be over 20,000 rooms.

I don't understand the maps without gaps either, since I always expect that some roads will be dead ends and some areas will be impassable, especially in mountains or swamps. Arbitrary room sizes may be boring to you but I find it boring to write or walk those 50 miles between cities.

I agree with you on relative distances though. I'll admit that I rarely use a mapper but that areas that don't map properly bother me anyways. If I need to walk five blocks along A Street to get from First Avenue to Second Avenue, I expect to have to walk five blocks along B street to get from First Avenue to Second Avenue, regardless of how long those blocks are.

If you're really set on not having areas overlap, a (very poor) suggestion might be to work out your connector areas and map out a possible 10x10 or 20x20 space to fit a not yet written area into. The 20x20 would give you gaps but would be more flexible for your builders.

If you're planning to have a wilderness ratio and an urban ratio, you'll probably find that your connector areas go a bit odd anyway.

And if none of this is remotely like anything you were talking about, sorry.
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Old 04-21-2010, 09:56 PM   #5
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Re: Ideal wilderness versus town sizes

I guess the "ideal" ratios would depend on your game.

Since ICO is set almost entirely in a city, there are few to no wilderness areas. We just have one or two rooms to represent "outside the city" where we take the PCs if a plot calls for it.

Other games may have a city and surrounding areas. Those wilderness areas could have a smaller ratio. (Are "lot of different nearby terrain types" really any more problematic than "I walked all the way across the desert in a few minutes"?)

Games that have multiple cities, especially cities in different countries, will need much larger wilderness areas to represent the space between them.

You'll also need to consider the activities that happen in the wilderness areas. If all you do is walk through them to get to a new area, then they can have a large ratio. If you'd be doing fighting, hunting, searching, etc. then you will want a finer grained ratio.

We have some plans for "distant places" but I don't intend to build the wilderness in between. Instead, there will be methods for travelling, such as hiring a coach. The PC would then sit in the coach for a short while, and then either "something will happen" along the road (for example, a bandit attack) or they will reach their destination. Leave the coach, and be in the new location.
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Old 04-22-2010, 06:44 PM   #6
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Re: Ideal wilderness versus town sizes

On our newest game, Primordiax, the world consists of 3 cities on 3 different, massive continents. As Silvarilon postulated, we felt that we needed quite a large number of rooms to simulate the landmasses and the water between the cities. They each have completely different climates, so that also required an increased landmass.

We designated a unit of distance for our pre-generated landmass rooms, but a city only occupies a total of 4 of those rooms. However, you can't have a 4 room city in a mud, so the city itself is on a different coordinate system than the pre-generated landmass rooms. If we had decided to have our city rooms be the same size as our landmass rooms, we would have ended up with a mud that is approximately 14 times the size of the game currently, and with 1.2 million rooms for just the landmass, it would have been completely unreasonable to expect players to be able to explore that.

Creating a differentiation between populated places (cities and dunegons) and the wilderness (landmass rooms) allowed us to create a believable world that had plenty of room for exploration and expansion while still having our full size cities.
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Old 04-23-2010, 11:30 AM   #7
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Re: Ideal wilderness versus town sizes

New Worlds Ateraan uses the theory that no room can be said to be equitable in size. I find this has to be the case as the world is not made up of 12 x 12 foot squares. Even in something as simple as a house, only a few rooms will be equal in size and even then might change based on the objects in the room (meaning the actual "useable" vs true size) is different. I find it more acceptable to allow the description of the room/area determine as well as the usage of endurance and movement to determine geographic size. Unless you're an architect, I doubt it matters that much.
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Old 04-23-2010, 06:52 PM   #8
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Re: Ideal wilderness versus town sizes

Quote:
Originally Posted by Parnassus View Post
I'll admit that I rarely use a mapper but that areas that don't map properly bother me anyways. If I need to walk five blocks along A Street to get from First Avenue to Second Avenue, I expect to have to walk five blocks along B street to get from First Avenue to Second Avenue, regardless of how long those blocks are.
This is something I totally agree with. Both as a player and as a builder, I get extremely irritated with areas that cannot be mapped logically on a grid. That doesn't mean that all areas have to be laid out as grids of course, I accept both grid areas and linear areas, as long as the map is logical, so that if you go east from room A to room B, going west again should bring you back to room A. (The only exeption from this rule for me is mazes, where some of the rooms usually are linked in "circles" to provide the maze effect).

In 4D we generally deal with the scale problem by working with three different scales; 1. Wilderness, 2. City and 3. House scale, meaning that a city is set inside one wilderness room, and a house is set inside one city room.
A city or village may consist of anything between 5 or 300 rooms, and a house or castle might have between 1 and 100 rooms.

For instance the Wilderness scale is used for large forests, grasslands, desert and sea in the Prehistoric Dimension and for open space in the Future Dimension. The City scale is used for islands and planets, as well as for cities and villages. From the main grid in the wilderness scale you enter cities, islands or planets, usually by going up or down from the main grid, or by entering a gateway. In the main grid you can pass around the city or island, sometimes entering it from all 4 directions, sometimes just through one entrance, for instance through the city gate in a walled city.

This makes the maps pretty logical. Even if the big 100 room city only represents a single room in the wilderness grid, the entrance room makes it obvious when you go from one scale to another.

We use no exact measurements in feet or meter, since the size of each room obviously may vary a lot even within the three main scales. But the proportions are something like 5m - 20m - 1000m side of the square in each scale.

I must confess that we are not totally consistent with this setup, however. 4D has been under development for over 10 years, and particularly the Medieval Dimension, being the oldest one, has a more traditional mud layout, since we didn't start to work with grids and travel zones until the mud had been running for several years. The travel grids are mostly used in the Prehistoric and Future Dimensions, which came natural, since one is based on sea travel and the other on space.

If I could start from scratch today, I'd probably use the 3 scale concept consistently, since it works very well. But that would mean scrapping around 100 old zones, and I just cannot get myself to do that. Call me lazy, call me sentimental, but I always hated seeing a lot of work going down the drain.

As long as the maps are reasonably logical, I can live with a few inconsistencies. It's after all just a mud, not the real life. And playability is a lot more important to me than total realism.
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Old 04-26-2010, 11:10 AM   #9
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Re: Ideal wilderness versus town sizes

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Originally Posted by Molly View Post
This is something I totally agree with. Both as a player and as a builder, I get extremely irritated with areas that cannot be mapped logically on a grid. That doesn't mean that all areas have to be laid out as grids of course, I accept both grid areas and linear areas, as long as the map is logical, so that if you go east from room A to room B, going west again should bring you back to room A. (The only exeption from this rule for me is mazes, where some of the rooms usually are linked in "circles" to provide the maze effect).
I also like well planned areas on a grid. I use my client to map for me and broken up designs ruin that ability.
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Old 04-26-2010, 01:40 PM   #10
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Re: Ideal wilderness versus town sizes

Molly: That's almost exactly what I was referring to. Your description of the layered setup of 4D makes a lot of sense, and I'm glad to see that there's at least one example of it in use.

As I mentioned before, ours is only two scales, largely for the same reasons as 4D: updating old areas is time consuming and it sometimes breaks them. The idea of requiring the scales to be inside each other is an interesting one; right now there are obvious scale transitions when moving from one scale to another, but there's no requirement that smaller rooms be 'inside' of larger rooms.

A more strictly hierarchical structure may make more sense, and at least opens up a new avenue of thought. On the other hand, it may kill portal and cross zone linkages in those places where they're appropriate.

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Old 04-26-2010, 05:54 PM   #11
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Re: Ideal wilderness versus town sizes

My first wilderness system had entry points to regular areas at specific locations, so that an entire area was represented by only a single point on the map - basically the standard two-scale approach.

My second wilderness system had every room the same scale, so that if you wanted to add an area to the wilderness you had to map it over the top, one room at a time. This was quite a bit more work but I actually rather liked it, as the areas felt more integrated into the rest of the world.

It was a bit more tricky for my current mud, as movement is coordinate-based (i.e., roomless), so changing the scale allowed players to move extremely quickly across the map, greatly reducing the value of ranged and reach weapons. I tried to compensate by slowing down the movement rate indoors and underground, but it felt clunky. In the end I decided just to keep the same scale everywhere - I try to justify it thematically when possible, but generally I don't worry about it too much.
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Old 06-06-2010, 12:11 PM   #12
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Re: Ideal wilderness versus town sizes

I would tend to work out rooms in a tube map linear style

Ie the roads are drawn in as thin lines interconnecting with each other always in straight line sections and all bends at 45 intervals
I would then subdivide these into lengths representing rooms, obviously with a room boundry at each bend and junction.
in wilderness areas the blocks would be longer...
the amount of endurance or movement points needed to pass a road section would depend on its length on the plan.


Free flowing wilderness areas (eg forests) would be maped as an area of square grids

the mapping issue is when the road past the forest dosent match up with the forests grids and auto mappers thing you are further along that you are
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