Acetonide

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I don't have a specific question so there's no poll, I just kind of want to hear people's opinions.

I feel that all games should have a level of realism and logic to it. Even surreal mind breaking games have their own logic and rules (generally at least, I'm sure someone can find an example otherwise). What level of realism is suitable would change from genre to genre and from game to game.

Now the thing I'm ruminating is this, a large empty map or a map without a lot to do is considered bad mapping and poor design. At the same time though, there are many instances in life where that's true. You'll be in a large area with nothing to do but perhaps look at the scenery. It is also usually stranger if you go into a store and you don't have a wide space to walk through to suit crowds with things easily visible and accessible.

Games are meant to display a form of heightened reality so I guess it is understandable to compress things and have more events happen to the play within a small area. I often feel something is amiss for games where it is supposed to be more of a life simulation though, but at the same time I doubt anyone would want to spend a lot of time wandering through large empty maps for little to no pay off.

So far the only compromise I've come up with is having some form of fast travel using a map, but allowing the player access to vast nearly empty areas if they so choose.

Is this something you have issues with (as either the game designer or the player)?
What have you done if it is something that bugs you?
 

Pots Talos

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I like to think that when walking on the "World Map" is the character traversing those vast expanses of emptiness. So whenever there is a location that the characters can enter those would be the packed content areas.
Fun > Realism
 

MMMm

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Making those big empty maps takes up valuable development time. You might as well toss something interesting into them.

It's a video game. You might as well only show the player the most exciting parts of your world. It's not like you have the main characters putting ice on their wounds or cleaning out monster bites with water they've boiled from a nearby stream.

The player assumes these areas probably exist. They just want to have fun though.

There's merits in your idea of having these areas. You could have a world map and then set the areas to appear if the player walks within 3 to 4 squares of them. I just can't justify spending an hour or more of time building a map that's not going to be used for anything but decoration.
 

kirbwarrior

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Consistency > Realism
Fun > Realism

Honestly, the more I look at game lauding realism, the quicker it becomes apparent the game won't be good. One of my favorite quotes is "There's a reason there aren't bathrooms in games." One issue open world games have is confusing "many directions" with "directionless". Giant parking lots are boring to walk through and boring to look at. Why would you want to play through one?

On the specific note of "large, empty areas", some games do something similar. In older Zelda games (and exploration-based dungeons in general), there are sometimes rooms that are just dead ends and have no worth. ALttP has a large, multipart dungeon with many off shoots and one way rooms that make confusing pathways that require paying attention. It fits the feel of a confusing and disorienting area. However, all those empty and large rooms? Seconds to get out and clearly directions on how. Even those room still gave direction without forcing you to go anywhere. In Bloodborne, I thought it was incredible when you hit this open, desolate area. There's nothing there. It's so different from the rest of the game that it makes you tense and paranoid, and rightly so; the upcoming boss isn't obviously in sight and is there to backstab you.

Consistency is far more important than realism. Frankly, it is the realism of the game world. I've recently been rereading the Xanth series by Piers Anthony, and there are tons of absurdly unrealistic things about the world; Every single person has a magical ability, there are enchanted pathways to help you get from place to place, and puns are so numerous that they've become the natural predators of people. But that's how the world works. In Pokemon, houses are bigger on the inside than outside. Why? Far less map space. Final Fantasy 1 is even further; stores don't have an inside, you get a rudimentary look at a person and counter when you "go inside". None of this hurts the game or makes it less fun.

but allowing the player access to vast nearly empty areas if they so choose.
A lot of rpgs make it clear where to go next, where every destination is, how to get to the inn, etc. Then reward you for going out of the way with goodies if you explore off the beaten path to somewhere that seems unnecessarily "empty"; Final Fantasy hides Chocobo Forests in out of the way places you have no reason to go to. If the vast, "empty" areas are never required, only the people that want them will go through them.
 

mlogan

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We play games to escape the boredom reality can bring. Why would you want to mimic boredom in a game then, for the sake of realism? All that would do is invite the player to escape the boredom of your game by finding something else to do - which is not what you want.

I've been playing Fallout 3 and 4. Yes, in some ways it does mimic this by having large tracts you can roam without much to do. However, you are given the motivation to explore these areas because of the places/people you may randomly encounter, or the items that you may randomly find. It's treasure hunting. At the same time, you are given the option of fast travel, so if you don't want to treasure hunt, or if you've already covered an area - if I had to traverse large expanses of map, with no potential reward, over and over, I would stop playing the game.
 

kirbwarrior

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I've been playing Fallout 3 and 4.
Bethesda games have been doing this quite well. If you want to explore, there's tons of area to look for things (I stumbled across the Assassin's guild in Skyrim, for instance, instead of doing the quest to find it). If not, quests make it very clear where to go and you can basically follow the pretty line to and fro. (Not to say the system is perfect, the arrow to your destination is often criticized because it lends to watching it instead of the world around you)

To make a comparison to a similar mapping style, I got bored of Assassin's Creed (2?) pretty quickly because after I completely finished the first two towns, it was clear that every town was going to be the same and there wasn't much to look for.
 

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