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The Pub at MMORPG.COM  » The Lost Art of Open Landscapes

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66 posts found
  Bladestrom

Hard Core Member

Joined: 4/04/11
Posts: 3235

6/08/14 3:20:23 AM#21
Where virtual worlds are concerned (themepark or sandbox) open landscapes are important in that they provide a sense of scale and opportunity for exploration. Also having conten crammed into every inch of a game simply becomes overwhelming, for e.g, how can you tell a story with great pacing if the player is dealing with a new activity every 10 steps.

Imagine exploring a beutiful unspoiled park with a great cafe placed with care in the grounds to avoid impacting the park - and then place a shop/cafe every 100 yards to serve every need. Your park just became a shopping mall.

rpg/mmorg history: Dun Darach>Bloodwych>Bards Tale 1-3>Eye of the beholder > Might and Magic 2,3,5 > FFVII> Baldur's Gate 1, 2 > Planescape Torment >Morrowind > WOW (1000 hrs on main mage)> oblivion > LOTR (480 Hunter) > Rift (230 hours mage) > Guild Wars (1900hrs elementalist) Vanguard. > GW2(900 elementalist), Wildstar

Now playing GW2, AOW 3

  Alders

Elite Member

Joined: 1/28/10
Posts: 1678

I cannot fiddle but I can make a great state of a small city.

6/08/14 3:42:53 AM#22

My favorite zones in MMO's are always the desert zones that are wide open and typically flat.

The ones i hate the most are the ones where i'm surrounded by mountains that make me feel like i'm playing inside a miniature with artificial walls everywhere.

  Sukiyaki

Hard Core Member

Joined: 8/14/09
Posts: 1294

6/08/14 5:22:22 AM#23

I agree fully vast open landscapes are a miss.

But they are gone because the genre has been swamped with a new generation of player who dont really care about them since 2004. A bunch of lazy player crying like babies about long trips when all they want is to grind 10 rats to get some quick XP from quest X or get fast to instance X to grind some epic gear. And get it. Player who cant even enjoy a large open world without instant teleportation, automated quick travel path and portals, which allow them skip and ignore it.

Developer are either pandering to this new demographic or forced to succumb to their majority demands if they want to make it big. If there was no demand or animosity to vast open landscapes there would be no supply of games lacking them.

However large almost empty planes of monotone textures with copy paste "mountains" which are just elevated texture of the same type, without any much sensile vegetation, caves, holes, even objects like rocks, heck even any sort of artistic sense, are not really what we are looking for. Thats just lazy ass devs stretching their maps larger with zones that take a few hours to paint in the editor because they are made up 99.9% of the same 3 textures, plaster some copy paste mountains here and there at the zone edges and bursh trough with a generic road brush. Half of "amazing large" classic WoWs world was made up of that piss poor low quality filler areas of nothing. You screenshot just showed more of it.

  Saxx0n

Tipster

Joined: 10/15/10
Posts: 817

6/08/14 9:17:10 AM#24

No walls here, no zones. One vast open world. Vast qualifies as 5 to 6 hours to cross the world on foot.

 

edit - That's running not walking.

  mogi67

Advanced Member

Joined: 8/09/10
Posts: 63

6/08/14 10:58:02 AM#25

Asheron's Call had the biggest area of any MMO i've played. So huge and spacious. 270 sq km of open world - no invisible walls - no loading - no nothing.  It's really easy to get around the world via portals but if you wanted to you could take an entire day to run across the continent..

 

I can't play most MMO's just because of the horrid world design and tiny zones. 

 

It's one of the things that made the game so alluring and mysterious, really. You would be out in a desert wasteland running for miles and then come across an ancient temple made of stone, or the ruined head of a giant statue half buried in the sand. It made the world feel so much more real

 

  Loktofeit

Elite Member

Joined: 1/13/10
Posts: 12095

Currently playing EVE, SMITE, Wildstar, and Combat Arms

6/08/14 11:23:13 AM#26
Originally posted by mogi67

Asheron's Call had the biggest area of any MMO i've played. So huge and spacious. 270 sq km of open world - no invisible walls - no loading - no nothing.  It's really easy to get around the world via portals but if you wanted to you could take an entire day to run across the continent..

That worked in Asheron's Call because it was designed very differently from today's MMOs. The most significant difference was that mobs and player levels were no so locked together as they currently are. In most MMOs, from DAoC to today, if you try to fight something more than five levels above you, you're facing almost certain death. The way this plays into the terrain design is that such an open area would have to be very tiered in content, lending to a feeling of being multiple zones with within a zone. In the Direlands, you had no idea what you'd meet travelling between point A and point B. With such a zone in today's MMOs, you'd know that the minute you landed at the AB drop, there'd be mob X then mob Y then mob Z between you and town. Much of the vast world feel would get diluted in the predictability. 

While some might suggest that modern MMOs can easily solve that by having varied mob spawns... good luck with that. 

"And wikipedia is as accurate as Britannica. Wikipedia is very reliable. You would be hard pressed to find a more reliable source for these kinds of things." -fovoroth

  VengeSunsoar

Hard Core Member

Joined: 3/10/04
Posts: 4760

Be Brief, Be Bright... Be Gone.

6/08/14 11:31:05 AM#27

I almost think we are talking about 2 different things here.

1.  A vast open place where there is very little in there.

2.  A place where there are little mobs.

and possible 3.  There is a huge entire world of difference between a place where not every single square inch has something to a vast open place with very little.

 

The first 2 are very different.  Someone talked about a vast forest with a little café.  The forest has trees, mountains, hills, animals, maybe some bandits.  I wouldn't call that vast open place, but it may not have a lot of mobs.  There is tons to explore

But in a vast open place where there is very little at all, there is very very little reason to go there.  No reason to explore, there is almost nothing there.  No mobs so no reason to fight, very little for crafting, so no reason to dig....

I absolutely do not agree with vast open places with very little there.  It's boring for the customer who may go there once, realize there is nothing there and never return and a waste of resources for the devs.

However a place with very little mobs to fight.  Sure, there are loads of other things to do.

Quit worrying about other players in a game and just play.

  Sovrath

Elite Member

Joined: 1/06/05
Posts: 17080

6/08/14 11:50:57 AM#28
Originally posted by VengeSunsoar

I almost think we are talking about 2 different things here.

1.  A vast open place where there is very little in there.

2.  A place where there are little mobs.

and possible 3.  There is a huge entire world of difference between a place where not every single square inch has something to a vast open place with very little.

 

The first 2 are very different.  Someone talked about a vast forest with a little café.  The forest has trees, mountains, hills, animals, maybe some bandits.  I wouldn't call that vast open place, but it may not have a lot of mobs.  There is tons to explore

But in a vast open place where there is very little at all, there is very very little reason to go there.  No reason to explore, there is almost nothing there.  No mobs so no reason to fight, very little for crafting, so no reason to dig....

I absolutely do not agree with vast open places with very little there.  It's boring for the customer who may go there once, realize there is nothing there and never return and a waste of resources for the devs.

However a place with very little mobs to fight.  Sure, there are loads of other things to do.

What about a vast open place that, after traversing it, you find something to do at its end?

Or better yet, several somethings to do.

One explores to eventually find something, very true, but I feel it's ok to have those things to do more spread out yet each of those things be more meaningful. A large area could lead to a small area with several things to do and see and test and try.

 

 

  Raxeon

Hard Core Member

Joined: 7/10/10
Posts: 2062

6/08/14 11:52:58 AM#29
archeage has areas like this maybe not as big tho
  Sovrath

Elite Member

Joined: 1/06/05
Posts: 17080

6/08/14 11:57:05 AM#30
Originally posted by Saxx0n

No walls here, no zones. One vast open world. Vast qualifies as 5 to 6 hours to cross the world on foot.

 

edit - That's running not walking.

and the game is ...?

  Lord.Bachus

Elite Member

Joined: 5/14/07
Posts: 8588

I believe in life before death... So dont forget to enjoy it while you still can.

6/08/14 12:13:40 PM#31

Its because most top AAA games are theme parks.... and in general themepark players want their games action packed..   So yes, this is by design and with a reason as it fits themeparks very very well

 

if there ever comes a true sandbox game, it should have lots of wide open lands...

Best MMO experiences : EQ(PvE), DAoC(PvP), WoW(total package) LOTRO (worldfeel) GW2 (Artstyle and animations and worlddesign) SWTOR (Story immersion) TSW (story) ESO (character advancement)

  immodium

Hard Core Member

Joined: 11/03/07
Posts: 1276

6/08/14 12:21:55 PM#32
Originally posted by donjn

You could walk for a long time and not see a thing:

Isn't that the problem? It's fun to trek through country side in the real world, not a virtual one or even a game for that matter. Maybe in the future when technology has advanced to a certain level.

  Loke666

Elite Member

Joined: 10/29/07
Posts: 16576

6/08/14 12:22:34 PM#33

It is true that certain areas in some MMOs with very few mobs still did set an awesome atmosphere to the game, like a big dark forest or some huge fields. The problem is that making zones like that with modern graphics is really expensive so most games just can't afford it.

GW2 do have some areas who just are made for that though, and not just only in the cities but they are nowhere near what EQ had. TERA actually had a few as well.

The thing is that if you have too much of those areas the game can feel boring to many players, so I guess that besides money they thought that it was better to cut them out altogether instead of figuring out a good ratio. in most modern games.

But don't expect too much work into atmosphere in the games that doesn't have the absolutely highest budgets, it is a good addition to any game but it is not the top priority (and shouldn't be, fun gameplay is more important).

  Loke666

Elite Member

Joined: 10/29/07
Posts: 16576

6/08/14 12:24:58 PM#34
Originally posted by Lord.Bachus

Its because most top AAA games are theme parks.... and in general themepark players want their games action packed..   So yes, this is by design and with a reason as it fits themeparks very very well

if there ever comes a true sandbox game, it should have lots of wide open lands...

EQ had plenty of them, some calm areas is not bad and you just avoid those anyways when you feel for action.

It have more to do with development cost, making an area like that in EQ wasn't really that expensive.

  samsweet

Novice Member

Joined: 5/08/14
Posts: 26

6/08/14 4:17:17 PM#35
Originally posted by Vermillion_Raventhal
It's because exploration is a dead aspect of the genre.  Its all about achievements every two steps.  New weapons and armor every 5 seconds.  New generic task popping all over.   

I've always said features don't make a game, large empty fields do. Preferably with wildlife mobs sparsely placed where you can't quite grind off of them but they will still be in your way. It's also nice when they scatter impassable mountains ranges throughout the zone to make exploration more of a challenge.

  Vermillion_Raventhal

Spotlight Poster

Joined: 6/01/04
Posts: 1006

6/08/14 4:42:26 PM#36
Originally posted by immodium
Originally posted by donjn

You could walk for a long time and not see a thing:

Isn't that the problem? It's fun to trek through country side in the real world, not a virtual one or even a game for that matter. Maybe in the future when technology has advanced to a certain level.

Depends if its rewarding.  But in most games grind quest is number 1 priority so I guess it make little sense to get the hamsters of the treadmills.

  Foobarx

Advanced Member

Joined: 3/16/14
Posts: 459

6/08/14 4:47:16 PM#37

Funny, but the world is full of open landscapes and we typically get our speeding tickets there as we pass through them...

 

 

  twrule

Novice Member

Joined: 7/15/09
Posts: 1260

6/08/14 5:26:12 PM#38

I think the OP is touching on a good point here even if he's approaching it from the wrong angle. The question here is how you make a virtual world feel like a *world* rather than just an artificial collection of set-pieces which were obviously intended solely to be interacted with by players via specific game mechanics.

A good virtual world should produce that sensation in the player of being situated in a strange new environment that is a whole unto itself, while making the game mechanics that allow the player to navigate that environment more subtle - having them fade into the background beyond the player's immediate conscious attention.

If recent games have failed in this respect, it's because they've made those navigational game mechanics and set-pieces too obvious and/or transparent. The environment appears to the player more like a playground for his amusement than anything else. Not to say that one can't enjoy a good jungle-gym every so often, but something like that will fail to capture the feeling of adventuring through a world.

Now, that is not to say that simply putting more 'open spaces' into a game world, where there is literally nothing of interest, will remedy this. However, that sort of thing can be done in certain ways which put it in the service of establishing that world-sensation. When early WoW did large open spaces or desolate zones, they were still clearly hand-crafted to evoke this kind of sensation. The zone "Desolace", for example, was designed to feel like a desolate area of the world, but that is not the same as if the devs had simply added a plain, featureless space. The zone contrasts in significant ways from other areas of the game, feeling distinctive, and yet like a place that could exist in the context of the larger world in which is was placed. There were still points of interest, both aesthetically (skeletons of large beasts, cliffs overlooking the ocean, mazes of narrow mountain passes, etc.) and in terms of game mechanics (scattered mobs to kill, resources to harvest, the odd NPC encampment). So the zone was worth visiting in several ways, and felt like an important, distinctive part of the world that still flowed together seamlessly into the rest of that world and made sense in the context of it's totality.

Later expansions of WoW tended to introduce progressively busier maps, to the point where the player found it more and more natural to view each zone explicitly as the collection of set-pieces it was; zones felt more thematically disjointed and stretched the suspension of disbelief to a breaking point. Each quest hub now felt like its own little self-contained environment, cut off from the rest of the world, yet more obviously calling the player to use certain game mechanics to have the intended mini-experience. Of course, that lead to the entire 'world' feeling less world-like and more like a juxtaposed collection of rides like you'd find at an amusement park.

TL;DR: It's not building 'open landscapes' that is the sorely-lacking 'art' - it is world-building.

  nariusseldon

Elite Member

Joined: 12/21/07
Posts: 19455

6/08/14 7:43:10 PM#39
Originally posted by immodium
Originally posted by donjn

You could walk for a long time and not see a thing:

Isn't that the problem? It's fun to trek through country side in the real world, not a virtual one or even a game for that matter. Maybe in the future when technology has advanced to a certain level.

It is not fun for me. I don't trek through country side in the real world. If i want to look at scenary (which i seldom do), I will buy a post-card. (well .. or just look at it on the web).

I don't play games to walk.

 

  skeaser

Apprentice Member

Joined: 6/13/07
Posts: 3687

Don't die mad, just die.

6/08/14 11:08:05 PM#40
I loved Vanguard for this. I miss finding random dungeons/crypts and things to explore, random bosses and the like, not tied to any quest line or hub.


A casual stroll through the lunatic asylum shows that faith does not prove anything.
-Friedrich Nietzsche

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