Overworld map or no world map?

Lunesis

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I'm having a difficult time deciding. I am by no means a great mapper and definitely think too much about every little detail, but want to push through my creative block.

Pros of World Map:
-Charming
-Classic
-Change of perspective
-Airships and boats
-Don't have to match area map edges to each other
-Less work?

Pros of no World Map:
-More mapping to show off
-More areas to explore
-More consistent/realistic scale

Any opinions? I do have the FSM tilesets which make me lean towards no world map since the RTP doesn't really match with them, but the amount of work mapping a whole world to scale is also somewhat intimidating... maybe I will improve my mapping by giving myself more work?
 

TheoAllen

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-Don't have to match area map edges to each other
You never have to.

And to answer your question.
Worldmap was never necessary until you think it is necessary.
Worldmap can be just "look only" as in "you are here now" to get a sense of the game world without an actual game mechanic such as fast travel. This can be even just a show picture, not an actual map file.

So, does your game flow and story requires you to have a world map?
Are you making an open-world game?
 

Milennin

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I never went with a world map for any of my games, I always prefer having all areas on the same scale linked to each other. But if a world map works for your game, go for it.
 

HarlekinLehl

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Depends on the game you're making. The "world" map in my game is just a map of a city. That' way I don't have to make a million houses. :D

Personally I'm not a big fan of world maps. When I hear the term I think: Random encounters everywhere, huge map with too much empty space. And I don't like either of those.

Think about if your world map serves a specific purpose aside from getting your player from A to B.
 

Kes

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Having a world map does not oblige you to have random encounters, so that is a non-consideration imo.

Nor is it necessary to have the entire world in one map. Purely to save some time in writing description, here is a screen shot of the first section of my world map. (Looks bland without the moving fog over the lake and assorted lighting effects, but I can never work out how to get them to show).
Mapshot 26 Index [0, 0].png

With this sort of approach it enables the player to see that there might be optional areas to visit and gives an impression of a world which doesn't revolve entirely around the antics of one small group of people. So there are places which are clearly impossible to access - the NE corner is a clear example - and others which are blocked off either temporarily or permanently.

I don't need to map the entire world in one go. See the road just visible extreme NW corner? A bit difficult because of where the fog was when I took the screen shot, but just about visible. The party enters the mountains to the east of there (north of the lake) and when they emerge that road is on another map. I've saved myself the bother of having to match up an entire section as they start off at the SE corner of the new map.

All maps should, in themselves, tell the player something of your story. The world map is no different. You can be as creative as you like with what it does. It's up to you and what you want to do in your game. There is no hard and fast rule, only personal preference and the needs of your game.
 

Aerosys

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I like having Worldmaps. It is the perfect opportunity to place some (secret) optional locations to explore.
 

Lunesis

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You never have to.

And to answer your question.
Worldmap was never necessary until you think it is necessary.
Worldmap can be just "look only" as in "you are here now" to get a sense of the game world without an actual game mechanic such as fast travel. This can be even just a show picture, not an actual map file.

So, does your game flow and story requires you to have a world map?
Are you making an open-world game?
Thanks for the feedback, it's going to be a linear rpg with maybe a few side quests, but I appreciate games that don't use side quests as a time sink. I guess the biggest reason I like world maps is because of the nostalgia factor, DragonQuest and Final Fantasy, that sense of being able to see everything from a bird's eye view and also being able to explore previously unreachable landmasses and discover rare secrets. Plus there would be less backtracking to get to certain areas than with a linked map. Can make it so forced areas you complete become choices on whether to enter, etc. Thanks think I answered my own question :)

Having a world map does not oblige you to have random encounters, so that is a non-consideration imo.

Nor is it necessary to have the entire world in one map. Purely to save some time in writing description, here is a screen shot of the first section of my world map. (Looks bland without the moving fog over the lake and assorted lighting effects, but I can never work out how to get them to show).

With this sort of approach it enables the player to see that there might be optional areas to visit and gives an impression of a world which doesn't revolve entirely around the antics of one small group of people. So there are places which are clearly impossible to access - the NE corner is a clear example - and others which are blocked off either temporarily or permanently.

I don't need to map the entire world in one go. See the road just visible extreme NW corner? A bit difficult because of where the fog was when I took the screen shot, but just about visible. The party enters the mountains to the east of there (north of the lake) and when they emerge that road is on another map. I've saved myself the bother of having to match up an entire section as they start off at the SE corner of the new map.

All maps should, in themselves, tell the player something of your story. The world map is no different. You can be as creative as you like with what it does. It's up to you and what you want to do in your game. There is no hard and fast rule, only personal preference and the needs of your game.

I agree in that it gives the sense of there being a larger world happening behind the scenes, although I can also appreciate the Secret of Mana/Legend of Zelda approach where the exploration feels a little more "centralized". Do you feel like you need to plan your story beats before laying out your world map, or do you create a map first and then decide what happens where?
 

Thefirelion

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I prefer overworld map, it gives more "flavor" and curiosity in the exploration aspect, in addition to making the game less linear. In pokemon games they always made me feel "locked in" and linear by the fact that they don't use "overworld map". In the Golden Sun games, it was the opposite, because even knowing the map, it continues to make you curious and want more, And the moment you get the ship, lose your sense of linearity, you decide what to do first.
 

Shikamon

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I guess depends on how big it's your game world. If the game just centered around one hub city, It doesnt need a world map. maybe it need fast travel menu to get around. But if player need to get journey to a lot of towns and places, I prefer a world map rather than a field maps.
 

Kes

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Do you feel like you need to plan your story beats before laying out your world map, or do you create a map first and then decide what happens where?
I personally have a map that follows the story, not a story that follows the map. That is what suits my way of developing a game. Others may prefer the serendipity of starting with a map.
 

Dust

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I feel like the oldstyle JRPG overworld is considered more and more a design philosophy of the past. I've seen arguments that they break immersion because the game cuts to a different "play mode" (less detailed environments, player can't do all the actions they can do in a normal map) similar to how most battles take place in a separate "screen" instead of just on the map in many games.

Not sure if I personally agree with these arguments and I personally don't find world maps to be negative (as long as there are no random encounters ). But I would agree that you see fewer main stream games adapt that design.
 

Aesica

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Unless fast/teleport/no-encounter travel is an option, I always prefer overworlds as opposed to linked areas. I've seen all sorts of horrible attempts at linked areas in RM games, with anything from area flows that make no sense, to excessive battle slogs when backtracking, to weird disjointed one-shot areas the plot flow dumps you in that you can never return to afterward. No thanks to any of that nonsense.

The overworld is a handy tool for organizing your areas and giving the player a sort of "stage select" menu, and on top of that, if you're trying to bill your game as "a classic style turn-based rpg" then omitting the overworld (a newer trend in rpgs) takes away from that somewhat.

Edit: That said, linked areas can work, but generally I only ever found it making sense in smaller-scale games, such as something that takes place in a single house, village, forest, etc and not the entire world.
 

Basileus

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Regarding linking area maps, I find that they can work even better when you don't link them. If you use backgrounds and landmarks well, then you can give a sense of place/distance that tells a sort of story all by itself. I recall seeing some game maps where the player leaves a town and enters a grassy field area with the city walls pretty large in the background to show how close it still was. Then the next area was a forest where the background was just trees. Then the area after that was a mountain path where you could see the town you left in the valley below, only much smaller now to show how far you traveled, even though it was just a few short area maps.

As for overworld maps, I don't see that much appeal anymore outside of nostalgia. I played Tales of Vesperia DE recently and while a lot of people praised it for having a world map, I just felt like it was a perfect example of why world maps went away. It didn't look very good in general, and it was weird with the player character as a giant towering over the forests and mountains. There was basically nothing to do in it. While there were no random encounters, the player could not use the Sorcerer's Ring to stun enemies before the fight like they can in the dungeons so there is less control when the enemies run at you. There was next to no non-linearity. It was possible to go to different continents once you got a boat, but there was nothing to do there besides fight overworld monsters that were 20 levels higher than you. Even when you could reach a dungeon area early, the game would not actually let you in to avoid messing up the story events tied to those locations. Getting an airship was fun, but almost pointless since it basically just acts as fast travel by that point (and it unlocks an actual fast travel option when you are in it so there isn't much point to fly around unless you just feel like it).

I absolutely get the argument about different "play modes". The dungeons in Vesperia were quite nice with some interesting puzzle mechanics and different ways to traverse it, like opening up new paths by clearing obstacles (often by using the Sorcerer's Ring to fire various projectiles). But the overworld map didn't allow for any of those mechanics and didn't support the same kinds of object-interaction or terrain design that made the dungeon/area maps fun. Vesperia's overworld was just so boring that I would prefer the areas were just connected so I could get to the fun parts.

If you really want to make a world map, then there are still people out there that like that design. But please do something with it. Make it more interesting than just walking down a road that looks much worse than the place we are walking to.
 

Gallas

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This is an interesting topic, and one thing that might help your decision (or anyone's decision) on whether to use Overworld maps is the development history of them.

Why did they appear in the first place?

And why did they go away?

The first video game I can find that really features an 'overworld' would be the earlier Ultima games. But why have an Overworld map at all? Why was it put in?

The developer of Ultima, Richard Garriott, was a child of an astronaut. Since he couldn't go into space and leave this world (due to health reasons), he was determined to create another world in the digital space. The purpose of Ultima was to create a virtual world. The purpose of the game's story was only to give the player a reason to be in that virtual world. It was also Ultima that invented and popularized tile based mapping. The 'Overworld' was such a strong component that beginning with Ultima II a cloth map of that Overworld was inside every copy of the game.

Other games began to use the tile based mapping of the Overworld (Dragon Quest, Final Fantasy, Zelda, etc.)

So we have an answer to the first question. The Overworld's purpose was to establish a 'world' for the game. No one will be surprised at this. But why and how did the Overworld disappear from RPGs?

The revolution of scale was done with the RPG called Times of Lore. Times of Lore, influenced by some games such as Legend of Zelda, entirely removed the Overworld map. The entire game was on one map. No more 'town map' or 'dungeon map' or 'overworld map'. The developer of Times of Lore was Chris Roberts (infamous today for Star Citizen and the Wing Commander series).

The company Origin was very much influenced by Times of Lore. Ultima 6 has no overworld. All of Ultima 6 takes place on one single map. All the battles, all the dungeons, everything. This continued throughout the rest of the Ultima games. Ultima VII all takes place on one gigantic map. Every dungeon and cave is inside actual mountains in the game!

The reason why they got rid of the 'Overworld' as well as separate 'battle phases' was to create an immersive world. Moving the player from map to map (town map to overworld map to battle mode) is jarring. When everything is on one map, it is more immersive.

Should you use an Overworld map? The answer is how immersive do you want your game to be. RPG Maker is not designed to be immersive due to all the maps and separate battle modes.

I would suggest to use an Overworld map as a time cutting tool just to finish your game. Once it's done, you can go back later and 'link' it all together with normal maps if you wish. No one plays RPG Maker games for 'immersion' as RPG Maker cannot compete graphically with AAA RPGs.

Chrono Trigger had overworld maps and did fine. But Chrono Trigger also had battles occur on the main map. If Overworld maps didn't hurt Chrono Trigger, they probably won't hurt your game either.
 

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