Conventions of displaying location titles

thepsyche

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I'd like to start a little discussion about the conventions related to displaying location names on the screen for the player to read & know where they are, as it's something I'm struggling with at the moment.

Not only the design of such, but even which places should have dedicated names. It's a surprisingly big topic, I feel.

I'm currently working on my first MV game, and I've been thinking about this straight off the hop. I feel it largely depends on the type of game that is being made - in my case, a traditional JRPG in which the locations are familiar, the battle system is simple and emphasis on story and character. How significant the element of exploration is, is still up in the air at this stage depending on how fast I become at mapping. I want to take my time, but I also want to make something before I die of old age.

So, with that in mind, I've pondered on the idea of naming each 'screen' as its own location. For instance, you may be in the Foxgate Highlands, but your *exact* whereabouts would be Riveridge. And then in Riveridge, you could even go into the Mountaineer's Hut without leaving the area.

I believe that having a network of names for areas does two jobs. It enriches the content of the world, and it helps the player know where they are specifically if they're navigating through a larger zone of the game. The argument against this of course is that with so many names of different areas, they all become a blur, and unless there's going to be a constant stream of quests telling you to go to specific areas in the game, this may be redundant.

Furthermore, would you put a big title in the middle of the screen when the player enters the MAIN area, and then just have little corner pop-ups for the screens within the area after that? What's your personal preference here, and the most tasteful solution that doesn't draw too much attention to itself?

Then there's the design of the titles themselves. Are they pretty? Are they functional? Are they both? Are they grandiose or minimalist in design? Are there any RPGMaker games you could recommend that have done this well?
 

Trihan

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I like the way A Timely Intervention does it, where you have 4-5 maps in the same "area" and they're numbered, so you know where you are and which part of that area you're in. As there are a bunch of secrets hidden around the place it helps to get your bearings, and my usual approach is to make sure that I explore them in numerical order so I don't lose my place.
 

Wavelength

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So, my personal preference is to have each area named, but to never display the names atop the map. Instead, I would display it on the menu screen, or on any other navigation GUI you have (e.g. a minimap or compass). In my opinion, this is a much more natural, immersive, unobtrusive way for the player to get a sense of place.

When I'm walking through a town in the real world, I love looking down at my cell phone once in a while to tell me the name of the district/neighborhood. But if that name came up in front of my face every time I crossed an invisible line (even if I were wearing something like Google Glass), I think that would be really annoying!

As far as how specific to make the place names - I think a good rule of thumb for RPG Maker games would be "if you could bypass all obstacles and puzzles, you should hit a new place name every 30 seconds of walking or so". A small town would probably be fine with 1 place name; a large town would have different districts ("Bluewood - Merchant Quarter", "Bluewood - Downtown", "Bluewood - Beachside"). Same with dungeons ("Mystia Ruins - Outskirts", "Mystia Ruins - Temple Grounds", "Mystia Ruins - Undercity"). Outdoor areas that are mainly meant to be traversed are a little trickier, but if you have a region that's made up of several different landscapes (e.g. hills, plains, and a beach), you can probably split those into "districts" based on patches of similar geography as well.
 

Engr. Adiktuzmiko

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Hmmmm... I'd say that I kinda like how some games do it that for y our first time entering a major location, the name is displayed via a big graphic at the middle of the screen (and sometimes with camera panning to show the different areas of that location), then on any other location or on successive entries into the main locations it's just a small pop up somewhere at the corner of the screen.
 

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