Map System

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Maps play an important part in grounding the player within the world we are creating. Because there are few graphics used in the game, the maps become even more important for not only establishing the look and feel but also for orientating the player. The map is the game board. When planning their next move or deciding what to do next, the player will gravitate back to the map view for clues. For this reason the map needs to convey a lot of information quickly. The map should be intuitive to use with well established constructs (up is north, scroll to zoom in/out, click and drag to pan, single-click to center). Most importantly there should be a way for admins to quickly update maps and add new ones.

How the map works

Four levels of zoom for the map

Let's break down the map system into it's interactive components: terrain, locations, and admin interface. The terrain should be the most straightforward of the three. To delineate terrain we will create 2D images that depict oceans, land masses, forest, deserts, and mountains. To create these 2D representations we can use image editing software like Photoshop, map editing software like Fractal Mapper, or any other 3rd party source. Each terrain map will have several levels of resolution so that we can zoom in properly. The highest view should be of major landmasses and oceans. At this initial zoom level we can also make out forest, deserts, mountains, and large territories. The next level of zoom shows locations that can be traveled to. Although the locations exist as separate maps, we need to have have terrain maps at the zoom level of cities. The following image illustrates the idea of zoom levels.

Map image for a wilderness location Map image for a store location

Locations are all the areas that players might want to travel to. They are the settings in which all of the action takes place. From the second level of zoom the player will see the names of cities, forests, deserts, and mountain ranges. When a location name is moused-over, a tooltip will appear giving additional information and the option to travel to that location. Once a location is reached, if it's a city then we will see a city view map as in map three, otherwise if it's a wilderness area then we jump straight to the encounter map as seen in the fourth map above. From the city map, tooltips will appear above areas of interest that the player might want to visit such as the: town square, weapon shop, armor shop, inn, and doctor. Areas that are important to quest will also show up here. Selecting one of these areas of interest leads to an encounter map. What the encounter map looks like depends on the kind of location. A store might show a picture of the storefront along with the shopkeep while a wilderness serves more as a battlefield.

Admin Controls

World Map Location MapsThe process for adding maps should be straightforward. We want the admin to be able to easily upload 2d images and place markers with descriptions for locations and enemies. It would probably be best to have a way of linking map images together, this could be achieved with the tooltips. The map maker could be separated into four sections:

  • Main World Map - would be an overview of the world such as map #1 detailed above. This section of the map maker should show a thumbnail of the map and have several input boxes for setting the images that make up the various levels of resolution. The first map should be the lowest resolution and be the size of the default map, maybe around 800px squared. Each subsequent map image should be larger and larger (higher resolution) until we reach the city/wilderness location level. Each level of resolution should detail more features than the previous i.e. Continent, Country, State, and City. The final and highest resolution should have the tooltips that appear above the location names. A method for adding these tooltips to the map still needs to be devised.
  • Location Maps - This is a collection of maps for each location that is listed on the Main World Map.The first type of location is a city location. A city location is where different kinds of encounters can happen like: shopping, quest, and combat. The city maps will have a couple levels of resolution detailing the layout of the city and tooltips linking to encounter maps. The second type of location map is a wilderness location. Wilderness locations link directly to their encounter map which can only be combat.
  • Encounter Maps - only have a single level of resolution (no zooming) and serve as a backdrop for the various types of encounters. Shopping encounters might have an image of what the storefront looks like, Quest encounters would have a picture of the NPC you are speaking with, and Combat encounters would show the setting for the fight. Examples of what shopping and combat might look like are above.
  • Tooltips and Token Placement - The tooltips for each location will need to include detailed information and a link with an icon that will represent them on the map. The tooltips should be created at step two when we are adding locations. Placement of the location tooltips and monsters (which are like tooltips themselves) should happen at step four. These tokens need to be placed at specific spots on the various maps, similar to an image map.

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