Arcen Games

Games => A Valley Without Wind 1 & 2 => AVWW Brainstorming => Topic started by: Bluddy on April 26, 2012, 11:55:01 AM

Title: Ideas for exploration enhancement
Post by: Bluddy on April 26, 2012, 11:55:01 AM
I'd like to address one of the points that I think AVWW doesn't have down yet completely: exploration. The reason I'm doing it here rather than on Mantis is because I'd like maximum feedback and because I think there is SO much potential for ideas on this front.

I've thought long and hard about this topic. I used to be averse to the huge number of areas and rooms AVWW generates. I thought that it could easily generate far fewer meaningful areas rather than so many ones that are uninteresting. Remember that there's an issue with the game where people tend to over-explore after losing track of a goal, and then they get bored. This is something that's been an issue with the game for a while: you have to actively stop yourself from exploring.

I've come around to seeing the advantage of having a huge world with many rooms. As Chris says, it's more realistic: you have to zero in on the good stuff and separate the wheat from the chaff. But I think there are some hindrances from this philosophy really excelling in the game. The major problem as far as I can tell is having the map be auto-explored.

Let me explain. What is fun about exploration? I think the thing that's most fun is the thought: what's waiting for me just around the corner? What cool thing am I going to find now? Also, where can I find some secret goodies? The map really prevents that from happening. It also doesn't make sense -- how can I always see what's in rooms 2 levels away from me? This mechanism isn't intuitive and it doesn't relate to the subject matter of the game.

So how would I like to see exploration of say, a cave? First, I would like the map to be used for what it's usually for: showing you where you are and how to get back to places you've been, and incorporating new information you've learned. This will restore the surprise of "oh crap I just stepped into a boss cave and there are 3 frackin' bosses here!" and the joy of finding a gem vein. It also presents so many other opportunities. But more on that later.

Second, I keep thinking about Chris's notion of exploration in the real world. How would I explore a huge open world? Well, I would try to get to the good stuff. But how do I do that without a magical map? I'd look for clues of course. If I'm looking for a gem vein, a empty gem bag would be a clue that someone came out of that door and had gems at some point. Or I could find a broken gem on the ground. Where did it come from? There's seemingly no entrance around here? Wait a minute -- if I climb all the way up this cave, there's a hole in the wall directly above this dropped gem! That's where it came from! Another good aspect of this is that I'm looking at the main screen to try find my way and clues about where to go -- not just the map all the time.

There's also the potential for hiding entrances behind things, with clues. I've found a gem bag on the ground but I've checked all the entrances and there's nothing there to be found within a couple of chunks. Where's this gem from? Wait it was next to this mushroom... Destroy the mushroom and there's a secret entrance to another cave! This of course should be rare so you're not constantly destroying every item. Also if mushrooms can explode and spray gas etc you have an incentive not to blow up all of them.

I think there's still place for the map to expand and give you some knowledge, but that knowledge could come from maps that you find or are given. So looking for gravestones is a good idea, because someone might have etched a map onto that. Or you might just find a random map on the ground. These things are likely because the caves were inhabited at some point, and the inhabitants needed a way to find their way or to tell others how not to get lost.

Then you get into all the potential things that you could find and that could surprise you once you're not tied to the map telling you everything. You find an old madman running back and forth and shouting crazy things related to what happened to the world. He may have a clue about a gem vein, or a room where another survivor can be found. He can mark it on your map.

This also brings me to another (minor) point, which is the way that 'missions' are such a rigid, defined structure. They break the 4th wall of the game -- especially secret ones. I'd much prefer it if an Ilari stone told you about something to do, and especially if it didn't call it a mission. Or it could just be 'attempt to rescue survivor' by going in through a door. Yes, it's a mission, but we don't have to call it that. Anyway that was a tangent.

What would going through buildings be like? Actually it would be even cooler than going through caves. Remember, buildings are mostly empty, but there were some survivors who tried to protect themselves from the monsters that were unleashed before they died. So they created bunkers out of objects and crates and... traps!. So you're going through the building looking for some signs that something was alive here recently. Some food on the floor would be a clue that you should keep going down this hallway. A trap would be a great sign, because survivors would have set that. As you get closer to a stash, you'd find more traps and barricades. This would have the serendipitous effect of making the path to the stash more and more difficult as you got closer and closer, making things more and more interesting.

Anyway, I think that this method of leaving clues to the whereabouts of things and distributing maps minimally would really restore that sense of exploration that's missing with the map uncovering stuff for you. What do you guys think? And what ideas do you have for exploration (along the lines I sketched here)?
Title: Re: Ideas for exploration enhancement
Post by: KingIsaacLinksr on April 26, 2012, 12:15:32 PM
So the tl;dr of this is that you want us to replace maps with clues.  Which ultimately...idk if that fits in this rather fast-paced game.  idk, I need to think on it and I'll see what other people say before I chime in again but I'm a bit iffy on the idea you present of clues-over-maps. 

King
Title: Re: Ideas for exploration enhancement
Post by: Bluddy on April 26, 2012, 12:41:50 PM
So the tl;dr of this is that you want us to replace maps with clues.  Which ultimately...idk if that fits in this rather fast-paced game.  idk, I need to think on it and I'll see what other people say before I chime in again but I'm a bit iffy on the idea you present of clues-over-maps. 

King

Well, clues and maps that you find or are given. Basically stuff to find in the 'empty' areas that'll let you figure out which way to go. And to restore the surprise that's currently missing. And allow secret passages that aren't just marked on your map.
Title: Re: Ideas for exploration enhancement
Post by: KingIsaacLinksr on April 26, 2012, 12:54:48 PM
So the tl;dr of this is that you want us to replace maps with clues.  Which ultimately...idk if that fits in this rather fast-paced game.  idk, I need to think on it and I'll see what other people say before I chime in again but I'm a bit iffy on the idea you present of clues-over-maps. 

King

Well, clues and maps that you find or are given. Basically stuff to find in the 'empty' areas that'll let you figure out which way to go. And to restore the surprise that's currently missing. And allow secret passages that aren't just marked on your map.

Technically, we have secret passages that don't show up on the map, being the vent ducts in destroyed rooms.  But I get what your saying.

On the one hand I agree in that exploration with the map showing a couple levels feels a slight bit much.  I would rather it was toned down more, although getting rid of it completely and having map pieces lying around seems like just another thing we have to gather and I think we have plenty of those as-is. 

On the other hand though, I've gone into buildings where I explored to the end of it and I didn't find much at all.  Its maybe 1/15 buildings that happens, but it does and having the look-ahead-scouting feature prevents that from being a problem. It would essentially require us to make all buildings have something good or exploration will get aggravating in the long run. 

King
Title: Re: Ideas for exploration enhancement
Post by: Bluddy on April 26, 2012, 12:59:33 PM
Or the approach to this would be similar to what you'd do in real life. Think about exploring 5 huge buildings. You scout the first few levels of a building and if you don't find anything interesting, no signs of life so to speak, move on to the next one. It's just moved it from the map telling you what's there to actually engaging the player actively with things to look for in the main screen. Also, it deals with maps where there's a stash at the very end and you have to dig all the way for it. If there's no clue at all, don't even both exploring it. Then, while you're on your way to finding the thing you found the clue for, you can be surprised by bosses, random encounters, missions etc, so again the map isn't spilling the beans.

Except for when you find a map piece -- that'll always lead to something interesting and may reveal the location of a boss or mission.
Title: Re: Ideas for exploration enhancement
Post by: Bluddy on April 26, 2012, 01:00:52 PM
It also allows you to come back to a building you left because you thought it was abandoned and suddenly find another clue. "Oh -- so there is something here after all." Now you go looking for it. Pretty cool I think.
Title: Re: Ideas for exploration enhancement
Post by: Penumbra on April 26, 2012, 01:07:04 PM
Two words: Secret Doors.
Title: Re: Ideas for exploration enhancement
Post by: KingIsaacLinksr on April 26, 2012, 01:08:30 PM
That's a great idea...in theory.  However, here's the thing, the game already works like this, at least with larger buildings.  You scout a few levels, the map tells you whether or not something is there and you make a decision to move forward or backward.  With your system of finding clues, it just adds work, not fun.  I have yet to play a game where I found pieces of the map and thought "Hey, that's a lot of fun".  Its usually just busy work. 

But I think Penumbra hit upon a good idea, secret doors would encourage more exploration while keeping it fun. 

King
Title: Re: Ideas for exploration enhancement
Post by: madcow on April 26, 2012, 01:11:59 PM
I actually like the way exploring works at the moment more or less. Though I would say it would be cool if there were additional mechanics that lead to other goodies. I like the idea of finding maps that point to hidden rooms. Perhaps in addition to the way things currently are, some (but not all) of the stashes could be unmarked, and picking up a map would reveal these hidden stashes. Though really, I wouldn't want to change the minimap mechanic too much. Sure it makes small houses easy, but I can't imagine going through a pyramid without those two levels of depth...

Another thing that would make exploring interesting, is if some of the stash rooms had a chance of having a boss in it instead (or guarding the loot). There you are trying to get a treasure, not expecting much trouble when you get an "oh crap, there's a boss instead!" moment.
Title: Re: Ideas for exploration enhancement
Post by: KingIsaacLinksr on April 26, 2012, 01:15:39 PM
I actually like the way exploring works at the moment more or less. Though I would say it would be cool if there were additional mechanics that lead to other goodies. I like the idea of finding maps that point to hidden rooms. Perhaps in addition to the way things currently are, some (but not all) of the stashes could be unmarked, and picking up a map would reveal these hidden stashes. Though really, I wouldn't want to change the minimap mechanic too much. Sure it makes small houses easy, but I can't imagine going through a pyramid without those two levels of depth...

Another thing that would make exploring interesting, is if some of the stash rooms had a chance of having a boss in it instead (or guarding the loot). There you are trying to get a treasure, not expecting much trouble when you get an "oh crap, there's a boss instead!" moment.

I actually think it should be some sort of trap rather than a boss.  We don't want to oversaturate the games with bosses but I think if we added some kind of trap on a rare chance to these rooms, that would make it a little more interesting.  Granted, I have no idea what kind of trap. 

King
Title: Re: Ideas for exploration enhancement
Post by: Bluddy on April 26, 2012, 01:19:05 PM
So let me list the benefits I can think of:

1. There's reason to pay careful attention to useless rooms. You're really exploring things and objects start to matter. An enemy in the corner of a useless room didn't matter before, but now that he's guarding a gravestone that may have a map, he's important. (Granted if you need to get to an entrance that's guarded by an enemy that also worked in the current system).
2. Surprise is retained. This is huge. With the current system you can't really be surprised.
3. With the current system, you aren't told if there's anything there. You're just told that there's stairs going deeper. With clues, you know there's something worth pursuing.
4. The clues in buildings would mostly be traps. You're be approaching areas of increasing trap danger, because that's where survivors holed themselves up. This in itself is (IMO) a cool mechanic.
5. It allows for many ways of unveiling parts of maps -- things much more varied than just scanning through them. You could have an NPC that's rescued and he gives you a pretty thorough map of a specific building etc. The potential is endless, because you're not using a set mechanism that always scans 2 doors deep. This mechanism IMO removes the joy of exploration. This is why I found assassination missions so invigorating -- you're not told what's where and you have to discover it.
6. It's an explanation that makes sense. Scanning 2 levels deep isn't intuitive and doesn't really make sense.

I wrote this before other things were posted. I'm also ok with other ways of bringing surprise back into the game... Just thought people would like the clues idea.
Title: Re: Ideas for exploration enhancement
Post by: madcow on April 26, 2012, 01:20:04 PM
Oh, it didn't have to be a boss, traps would be cool too. My idea was basically to add a little more spice beyond what you expect.
Title: Re: Ideas for exploration enhancement
Post by: x4000 on April 26, 2012, 01:21:09 PM
Some grouped responses:

----------------------------------------

Regarding the clues and exploration based on that:  While I get what you're after, I don't really agree that it's a fit for the game.

First, given that this is procedurally generated we can't just leave clues in a really obvious fashion around.  What I mean is, the seeding logic would be such that sometimes a clue wouldn't fit, or would behind some giant plant, or whatever else.  As the guy behind the procedural generation, I can tell you that's probably a time-sink of a month or so of coding to get that working right, spread over a 6+ month period.  I just don't see it as being tenable.

Second, I also don't think that looking for clues would be very fun as a player.  You're focused on being stealthy or attacking enemies, and not necessarily scraping every last bit of ground with your eyes.  You're using the maps to navigate, which is pretty much exactly what maps are for.  If the maps weren't there, and you came into a hallways with 11 doors, there's not much you can do other than open them all and then see what happens.  And repeat, all the way through the building.  The reason for the current scouting system is that it actually lets players just go to their direct destination. 

I know that the whole clues thing is supposed to help with that instead, but I was just playing the Gerudo Trial thing in Ocarina of Time where they take away your map and make you find the last keys based on clues such as a popup when you approach the left or right door.  It was... not fun.  The dungeons where you actually have a map were way more fun, and I didn't ever lose a sense of exploration in Zelda simply because I had the map.  And remember that Zelda is a hand-crafted game with something useful in every room, compared to here.

Third, with the clues thing, those would be about impossible to do art-wise.  A bag of gems would look just like any other bag, presumably.  Or a gem would be small and get lost in the scenery, as noted above.  But when you get to more abstract things like "a boss is up ahead," that gets even more challenging.

Ultimately, this is only somewhat a game about exploration in the first place.  It's a lot more about combat, choice, and so on.  Anything that hampers the players' ability to make long-range choices is particularly damaging to the game.  Hiding the maps makes for a lot of negative consequences, I think.

----------------------------------------

Regarding alternate scouting mechanics: I'm open to the idea.

Having buildings and exteriors be explored as they are now works because it's simple and new players "get it" instantly and intuitively from what I've seen.  Potentially there's something better, though it's not a high priority for me to search for something like that.  If somebody has a cool idea, I'm certainly open to it, though.

----------------------------------------

Regarding missions breaking the fourth wall: not much I can do about that.

The structure of missions is really important for clarity and player choice.  That trumps the fourth wall for me.  It's like how you have Quests that pop up from NPCs in other games, and which clearly break the fourth wall as well.  In those you get even special icons showing in your main game view right above the heads of NPCs with quests, often.  How intrusive!  But we're all used to it.

Changing the missions to be more vague and story-integrated and harder to find would be the antitheses of where I'd want to take this game, honestly.  The clarity of what your options are and what you can do (what you get as well as what the challenge is) are really something that this game revolves around at this point, I feel.  That's where the strategic thinking becomes possible, which makes this not an RPG.

And yep, by breaking the fourth wall on occasion we move further and further from being an RPG -- but that's okay, RPG was never among the things this game was supposed to be.  Strategy game is, and that's where anything that reduces the players' ability to plan or make choices quickly and clearly isn't something I want to do.

----------------------------------------

All that said, variety is good.  If there were some ways to have some "untamed wilderness" areas that you could find, which didn't scout the maps for you but worked more like you described in that you can only go through them one at a time, it could be interesting.  Though how exactly such an area might function I don't really know.

It's kind of a complicated matter and it's something that seems low down on the priority list to me at the moment compared to augmenting the existing game.  Your prior suggestions about making background objects more interactive, for instance, is something I really want to do more of since I think it's a bigger bang for the time investment involved.

But having some more pure-exploration-centric areas, missions, or whatever could be very interesting down the line.  And if folks have ideas on ways that the sense of exploration could be improved without cutting down on player agency or clarity, I could be really open to those, too.
Title: Re: Ideas for exploration enhancement
Post by: KingIsaacLinksr on April 26, 2012, 01:22:12 PM
Just a hilarious idea would be a giant swinging ball comes and smacks you outside the building and you watch yourself fall to the ground.  Although then you would die....why did I think that was hilarious?  ;)

King
Title: Re: Ideas for exploration enhancement
Post by: madcow on April 26, 2012, 01:34:26 PM
Just a hilarious idea would be a giant swinging ball comes and smacks you outside the building and you watch yourself fall to the ground.  Although then you would die....why did I think that was hilarious?  ;)

King

Hah, you pick up an upgrade stone and the floor collapses, sending you plummeting to your death.
Title: Re: Ideas for exploration enhancement
Post by: Bluddy on April 26, 2012, 01:36:54 PM
I agree that exploration isn't the main part of the game, but it is a part of the game nonetheless, so why not polish it and make it more fun?

How about passing next to a door will give you a sense of whether there's something interesting through this door. You don't know what it is, but there's something there. That gives you a way to explore a large space without giving away what's behind this door or 2 doors down, so there's plenty of surprise left. And gravestones could still have maps etched onto them.

I also agree that objects are a more important thing to focus on right now. I place them under 'making procedural generation more interesting for combat' and I have several ideas there. Like a 'caution waxed floor' sign next to... a waxed floor that makes you slip around. Or a trolley that when hit by a spell with mass flies off and hits whatever's behind it. Anyway that's for another thread.
Title: Re: Ideas for exploration enhancement
Post by: x4000 on April 26, 2012, 01:44:43 PM
Having clues from the doors when you pass in front of them could work really well.  I still think that taking out the map in its current form would be a great way to really upend the current playerbase and reviewers, though.  Like it or not, that general mechanic of using the maps to navigate is pretty much how this works now -- there are certain things that we can't change right after release in particular.  Now isn't a time where we can just reinvent massive portions of the game, because players are getting attached to them in a non-beta format, etc.

That said, we do plenty of reinvention post-release.  AI War 4.0 was practically a complete re-imagining of that game.  We did lose some players who said they never wanted to upgrade past 3.x, but since 3.x was really stable and had been out for years at that point, that was their prerogative.  With AVWW it's far too early to rock the boat on that scale, which is why we were rushing so much prior to 1.0 to get everything as close to perfect as possible when it came to the broad strokes of what the game is and isn't.

Now is absolutely the time for refinement of what is already here and that works well, and shoring up of things that are here and that don't work well, don't get me wrong.  But that's a matter of degree rather than kind, I guess.  Removing the maps entirely or changing the basics of how you explore would change... everything! ;)
Title: Re: Ideas for exploration enhancement
Post by: KingIsaacLinksr on April 26, 2012, 01:46:24 PM
(Also, thinking we should move this to the brain-storming sub-forum to think it over).

Well, it never hurts to talk about it, though I agree with Chris, exploration improving atm is a low-priority "issue" compared to the other issues being discussed. But talking about it never hurts and we could figure something out along the way that could be cool.  I personally want to enhance it as well as I find the exploration engaging for the first time in forever and would like to see it even better.  But map-pieces, seems a bit iffy to me.

King
Title: Re: Ideas for exploration enhancement
Post by: Dizzard on April 26, 2012, 01:46:55 PM
Maybe Boss rooms could be completely secret? (except in boss towers, lieutenant/overlords keeps obviously...)

I can understand how stash/gem vein rooms would need to appear on the map since people will be actively looking for them for often used items.....but what about those random boss rooms? They should be more like an unexpected trap or ambush.

Although I do like the idea of finding or interacting with clues, so the map of the area gets filled in as you move from node to node.
Title: Re: Ideas for exploration enhancement
Post by: bvchaosinc on April 26, 2012, 01:58:48 PM
I think you might go far in making the exploration part of the game more fun by just making the dungeon map more interesting.  Right now it is basically a spread sheet, great for quickly finding information, but about as exciting as eating plain white wonder bread, for the 3 month in a row. 
Title: Re: Ideas for exploration enhancement
Post by: Hyfrydle on April 26, 2012, 02:03:02 PM
I have a couple of ideas firstly why not incorporate the exploration mechanic into the spell mechanic. Have some kind of spell that can be crafted and allow scanning of buildings and caves etc. As it reaches higher levels it becomes more affective giving more accurate information.

The second thing is not labelling rooms on the map just colour coding that somethings there but randomising what to expect in the room so it could be good or bad.

Hope this is food for thought but I agree the exploration mechanic requires a bit of a tweak.
Title: Re: Ideas for exploration enhancement
Post by: tigersfan on April 26, 2012, 02:04:51 PM
I think you might go far in making the exploration part of the game more fun by just making the dungeon map more interesting.  Right now it is basically a spread sheet, great for quickly finding information, but about as exciting as eating plain white wonder bread, for the 3 month in a row.

Personally, I like the idea, but, to be perfectly honest, I'm not sure how we might go about doing that. Did you have any specific ideas in mind?
Title: Re: Ideas for exploration enhancement
Post by: Bluddy on April 26, 2012, 02:09:18 PM
Having clues from the doors when you pass in front of them could work really well.  I still think that taking out the map in its current form would be a great way to really upend the current playerbase and reviewers, though.  Like it or not, that general mechanic of using the maps to navigate is pretty much how this works now -- there are certain things that we can't change right after release in particular.  Now isn't a time where we can just reinvent massive portions of the game, because players are getting attached to them in a non-beta format, etc.

That said, we do plenty of reinvention post-release.  AI War 4.0 was practically a complete re-imagining of that game.  We did lose some players who said they never wanted to upgrade past 3.x, but since 3.x was really stable and had been out for years at that point, that was their prerogative.  With AVWW it's far too early to rock the boat on that scale, which is why we were rushing so much prior to 1.0 to get everything as close to perfect as possible when it came to the broad strokes of what the game is and isn't.

Now is absolutely the time for refinement of what is already here and that works well, and shoring up of things that are here and that don't work well, don't get me wrong.  But that's a matter of degree rather than kind, I guess.  Removing the maps entirely or changing the basics of how you explore would change... everything! ;)

I realize that there are limitations with what can be done right after releasing 1.0. I think I just couldn't identify specifically the map mechanism as something I didn't like -- before I just thought the space itself was too large and just accepted it as it is. But once I started thinking about it some more I realized that it was the lack of surprise from the automatic map exploration that was really bothering me. Unfortunately that realization took place this morning :)

Anyway, while releasing this kind of change now would seem like you're quickly patching up a fairly major game mechanic, doing so in about a month shouldn't be too bad, right? Especially because I do think it would contribute to player enjoyment. I'm not trying to get you to commit to this particular way of doing things -- I'm just asking if that timeframe seems more appropriate for this kind of change as it'd be seen more like you released the product, listened to fan feedback, thought about it for a month and then decided on this fairly major (ish) change. Object stuff can be done right now of course because that's adding more content to the game, which is seen as a positive.
Title: Re: Ideas for exploration enhancement
Post by: TechSY730 on April 26, 2012, 02:11:55 PM
I think you might go far in making the exploration part of the game more fun by just making the dungeon map more interesting.  Right now it is basically a spread sheet, great for quickly finding information, but about as exciting as eating plain white wonder bread, for the 3 month in a row.

Well, can you think of a "room connectivity" map system that can "look good", scale, and still be automatically generable for any arbitrary room configuration, as this is a procedurally generated game? That seems very difficult. That's probably why they settled on the "spreadsheet" look in the first place, because it scales well, is informative, and can easily be generated for any set of rooms and their connections that this game can generate, even though it may sacrifice a bit on aesthetics. (It may be that with a few additional restrictions on how the generator is allowed to connect rooms in a building/dungeon/cave/whatever may make a "nice looking", "traditional" dungeon map system feasible. Something to think about)

I have a couple of ideas firstly why not incorporate the exploration mechanic into the spell mechanic. Have some kind of spell that can be crafted and allow scanning of buildings and caves etc. As it reaches higher levels it becomes more affective giving more accurate information.

The second thing is not labelling rooms on the map just colour coding that somethings there but randomising what to expect in the room so it could be good or bad.

Hope this is food for thought but I agree the exploration mechanic requires a bit of a tweak.

I could go for that. Have a chance that a room might not be able to be fully identifiable until you enter it sounds like a cool idea. Some hint about whether it is probably a "good" or "bad" room may be helpful, but it wouldn't give any specifics until you enter it.

Also, "secret doors" that the "auto scout" cannot "search through" for the map until you go through that door seems like a great idea.
Title: Re: Ideas for exploration enhancement
Post by: madcow on April 26, 2012, 02:16:30 PM
I think its not so much the mechanic of exploring that needs changing, but more cool variety in what you can find in those stash rooms.

Having some of the stash rooms (or making a new type of rooms called I don't know, challenge rooms or something along those lines) packed with even more goodies - but also tons of enemies, traps (of some sort), maybe difficult platforming would add more variety to what you find while keeping the same exploration mechanic.

Edit: I realize its easy to say more content, I know there's a lot already. I like the way exploration is done in AVWW, and I would love ways to see it even more interesting with unexpected surprises.
Title: Re: Ideas for exploration enhancement
Post by: Hunam on April 26, 2012, 03:00:56 PM
In order for exploration to be enjoyable the world needs to be fun to explore obviously. In my opinion the best exploration comes from the players desire to simply learn more about the game world. Right now exploration is basically going from point A to B while attempting to complete objectives, and while the world is vast and beautiful I never find myself just randomly exploring.

One thing that would make more want to explore more would be to just learn more about enemies. There are already many types of diverse foes in the game but they are not that interesting from an exploration standpoint (Of course, don't get me wrong, from a combat perspective they are quite interesting and fun to fight.) Maybe adding some type of spell that exist  for the sole purpose of learning more about the characteristics of enemies would add more depth to the world. This spell could pull up a window with basic things like appearance, behavior, (ex what it preys on etc.) and other random facts.

This could be taken further by just throwing in various creatures that don't do anything other than exist in the world. They could be common or rare depending on the creature. For instance, maybe some creature only appears when creatures from the lava areas begin to migrate into other zones. This would give me some reason to just explore to learn more about Environ.

Finally I don't know if this is even practical but the spell could pull up a detailed drawing of the creature in question along with the other info. I don't know if these could be submitted by the community based on occasional contest or whatever.

I guess the game that really got me thinking along these lines was Beyond Good and Evil and the photography element where you take pictures and earn points (or whatever) when you discover a new creature.

Also congratulations on the official launch and already creating such an awesome game! :)
Title: Re: Ideas for exploration enhancement
Post by: madcow on April 26, 2012, 03:06:36 PM
Oh man, finding scrolls with monster info to go in a monster compendium would be pretty cool.

Or finding little monster hatchlings that you could tame (by just finding them), and then let them wander around your settlement.
Title: Re: Ideas for exploration enhancement
Post by: KingIsaacLinksr on April 26, 2012, 03:07:53 PM
Oh man, finding scrolls with monster info to go in a monster compendium would be pretty cool.

Or finding little monster hatchlings that you could tame (by just finding them), and then let them wander around your settlement.

Ooo I like this idea, maybe with a spell that let us get a copy of the monster somehow. Similar to how the Shrink spell works. 

King
Title: Re: Ideas for exploration enhancement
Post by: bvchaosinc on April 26, 2012, 03:11:42 PM
Well I got some ideas. 

Ditch the mini dungeon map, push a key open a big screen blocking map.  Keep time running, but once a mob(or projectile) get so close to the toon (distance modified by combat difficulty) map auto closes.  So now their is some danger in rout planing with out the "Really my guy is just going to stand their looking at a map while the terrible slim monster dissolves his flesh!?" 

What really interesting about navigating is planing a rout and adapting to surprises along that rout.  This requires that land marks in the game be identifiable on the map and visa versa.  This also allow you to ditch the you are here marker, which in turn allows for getting lost despite having a fully defined map which can also be fun.

To do that you just need to string striped down versions of the chunk mini maps together.  Since your using the whole screen, you should be able to do that via the tried a true method of blue door in chunk A follow blue line to chunk F which will also have a blue door in it.
Title: Re: Ideas for exploration enhancement
Post by: KingIsaacLinksr on April 26, 2012, 03:15:56 PM
Well I got some ideas. 

Ditch the mini dungeon map, push a key open a big screen blocking map.  Keep time running, but once a mob(or projectile) get so close to the toon (distance modified by combat difficulty) map auto closes.  So now their is some danger in rout planing with out the "Really my guy is just going to stand their looking at a map while the terrible slim monster dissolves his flesh!?" 

No, do not like. Based off AIW that did the same thing, people didn't like that idea do much.  And I don't like it either, it requires me to push a button at arbitrary placed and really breaks up the flow of the game.  I never liked it in other games that did it either. 

As for "adaptive routing", that's a cool idea in theory, but idk if that would work in this game. Hmm...
King
Title: Re: Ideas for exploration enhancement
Post by: bvchaosinc on April 26, 2012, 03:31:21 PM
I can't think of away to make exploration itself interesting in a situation were your map is always fully defined (which as I understand is a core mechanic of this game) and always available with out penalty or danger.  If you always know the way then it will always be "turn right in 400 yrd" which is very convenient, but never interesting.   
Title: Re: Ideas for exploration enhancement
Post by: Wanderer on April 26, 2012, 04:59:54 PM
To add to this conversation: On entry to a building, if I can't see a stash, I will almost always immediately just leave.  I might go one door in if a stair or something looks to cover 5 or more rooms, but otherwise, I'm outta there.

I REALLY, REALLY want nothing to do with wasting MORE time trying to find stashes, secret missions, and the like.  I would expect a lot of other players feel the same way.
Title: Re: Ideas for exploration enhancement
Post by: Wanderer on April 26, 2012, 05:13:00 PM
I should add to my above comment.  The only reason I enter buildings unless I'm farming spell/building materials at this point are the following reasons:

1) I'm looking for more upgrade stones to cover lemming deaths.
2) I'm trying to hunt down an NPC secret mission.

Otherwise, I've gotten enough enchants that I don't need to churn through 30 more of them to find one I might like, particularly when I can go whack a lieutenant and even those super-enchants don't necessarily improve on what I've already got.  My character on the server has something like 4000 platforms and another 4000 crates, I'm good there.  I've got a few ellusion scrolls to get me out of bugged entrances or wall-sticks or whatnot, so they're solid.

Because of this, exploring is a 'get in/get out' kind of thing, so I can get back to whacking the overlord or moving the missions foward for tiers.  Heck, I usually don't even slow down to kill things unless I'm hurting for hit points or need to for a mission... or they're in my way in a tight corridor.

IE: If I'm looking for a cavern to do some mining, I'll usually doublejump+ride the lightning while doing a storm dash across the entire surface.  I'll take a bit of damage from a fall at the end, hit the next screen, pop a few things for health, and repeat until I get to where I need to be.

If I want a deep, long-run game, I'll turn to AI War or Railroads! or Capitalism II.  What's nice about this game is you can pick it up, and get something reasonable done in 15 minutes as a quickie break or something.  If the game is turned towards heavy exploration and a lot of hidden places, you'll lose that.
Title: Re: Ideas for exploration enhancement
Post by: Hunam on April 26, 2012, 05:21:53 PM
To add to this conversation: On entry to a building, if I can't see a stash, I will almost always immediately just leave.  I might go one door in if a stair or something looks to cover 5 or more rooms, but otherwise, I'm outta there.

I REALLY, REALLY want nothing to do with wasting MORE time trying to find stashes, secret missions, and the like.  I would expect a lot of other players feel the same way.

I agree with this. I feel that finding stashes is simply a task that must be done out of necessity but is thankfully very easy to do at the moment.
Prolonging the process would not help create a sense of exploration in my mind.

I will consider the game to have a fun world to explore when I am pulled away from missions, locating gem veins, finding exp containers, etc. and get sidetracked just trying to see what is around the next corner regardless of how this benefits my character.

I see no problem with leaving "clues" or "secret doors" or whatever as long as it is not vital to strengthen my character. Whatever lies at the end of this searching should be game knowledge, unique areas, achievements etc and not something I feel obligated to do unless I am curious.

Oh man, finding scrolls with monster info to go in a monster compendium would be pretty cool.

Or finding little monster hatchlings that you could tame (by just finding them), and then let them wander around your settlement.

Ooo I like this idea, maybe with a spell that let us get a copy of the monster somehow. Similar to how the Shrink spell works. 

King

I also like the idea of collecting....something. Maybe have like a trophy room in a settlement to display the knowledge you have collected about the world or frozen statues of monsters with info?  Regardless simply having a monster compendium with detailed collected info would be fun.
Title: Re: Ideas for exploration enhancement
Post by: Bluddy on April 26, 2012, 08:11:37 PM
To add to this conversation: On entry to a building, if I can't see a stash, I will almost always immediately just leave.  I might go one door in if a stair or something looks to cover 5 or more rooms, but otherwise, I'm outta there.

I REALLY, REALLY want nothing to do with wasting MORE time trying to find stashes, secret missions, and the like.  I would expect a lot of other players feel the same way.

This is a good point. There has to be a balance between getting your resources fast and allowing for some exploration if you want to do that. Think about GTA3 (the closest model out there to AVWW): you want to be able to go get your weapons quickly, but you also want to have interesting things to explore. I think the system where you get a visual signal that the door leads to something good won't be much slower than the current system. You could even have one signal for resources and one for other interesting things to make it even easier. This signals could be in response to a spell that you activate or just walking by the door. But what you get in return is that you might walk into a boss room on your way to a resource, or you might stumble into something completely unexpected. I think it's worth it.

Title: Re: Ideas for exploration enhancement
Post by: Wanderer on April 26, 2012, 08:51:29 PM
I think the system where you get a visual signal that the door leads to something good won't be much slower than the current system. You could even have one signal for resources and one for other interesting things to make it even easier. This signals could be in response to a spell that you activate or just walking by the door. But what you get in return is that you might walk into a boss room on your way to a resource, or you might stumble into something completely unexpected. I think it's worth it.

I think it's horribly not worth it.  Not knowing that the stash was a maze room before I wasted time heading there.  Tripping on a boss room while exploring with low health and expecting to clean out a few trash mobs.  Having no idea if it's two rooms away, or 8.

Honestly, that kind of 'exploration' with the rest of the game in its current state would just have me hang the game up completely.

I personally would like an 'echo' spell or something that would allow me to see further into buildings, not have them more hidden.
Title: Re: Ideas for exploration enhancement
Post by: Professor Paul1290 on April 27, 2012, 01:17:07 AM
I think any exploration elements added should be in addition to what's already there, not a replacement for something.
Title: Re: Ideas for exploration enhancement
Post by: Wanderer on April 27, 2012, 01:32:32 AM
You know, now that I think about it, some kind of enchant (most likely head based) that would let you see a room deeper or something would be really damn cool... :)  It'd also help to balance off the power by having you remove some other ability... and there's really not a lot of good, general usage items for headwear right now.
Title: Re: Ideas for exploration enhancement
Post by: jabrazelle on April 27, 2012, 08:18:17 AM
Regardless simply having a monster compendium with detailed collected info would be fun.

Perhaps the monster compendium could be steadily unlocked and reveal weaknesses and resistances of the monsters in game.  You shouldn't know what monsters are immune to what elements by default, it should be learned as you collect information.  Or maybe you can learn it from killing X many monsters.
Title: Re: Ideas for exploration enhancement
Post by: tigersfan on April 27, 2012, 08:24:33 AM
I think any exploration elements added should be in addition to what's already there, not a replacement for something.

I agree 100% here.
Title: Re: Ideas for exploration enhancement
Post by: Hunam on April 27, 2012, 02:03:12 PM
Regardless simply having a monster compendium with detailed collected info would be fun.

Perhaps the monster compendium could be steadily unlocked and reveal weaknesses and resistances of the monsters in game.  You shouldn't know what monsters are immune to what elements by default, it should be learned as you collect information.  Or maybe you can learn it from killing X many monsters.

While I don't mind this suggestion what I would really enjoy seeing in a compendium would be misc info.  Here are a few quick poor examples of what I mean as I am currently bored.

Picture listed here
Creature: Lightning Esper
Origin: Age of Magic?
Resistance: Air
Info: These floating orbs of energy seem to float about aimlessly on air currents; however, are quite capable of demonstrating basic intelligence in the form of pursing and attacking adventurers with clusters of high speed orbs of electrical energy. They appear as dense clusters of dense electrical charge and are often accompanied with a smell of ozone even when not in sight. They appear in numerous places throughout the world and sometimes travel in groups. There have been reports from lumbermancers in remote areas of large groups of lightning espers massing and forming massive storm cells creating large crater with massive discharges of electricity.

Picture listed here
Creature: Water Esper
Origin: Age of Magic?
Resistance: Water
Info: Like other members of the creatures known as espers, Water espers are magical beings that drift about with some basic level of intelligence and aggression. They appear to be roughly spherical blobs of pulsing water and, from reports of glyphbearers, appear to be very hot to touch. These entities will spew concentrated steam at adventurers causing extensive burns. Interestingly many adventurers have reported water espers vanishing in a pool of water or suddenly forming from a nearby pool. This has led some aquamancers? (dunno what they are called) to speculate that water espers are able to easily shift between forms and that they may play a key role in bringing water to remote locations in the world and thus altering the environment.

The following would be a really simple "peaceful" creature that would just vanish in a dust cloud if players approached with the most basic of animations.

Picture listed here
Creature: Rock Worm
Origin: Age of Magic? In caves
Resistance: Uknown
Info: These small worms are rarely seen in the deeper reaches of our world. They are not aggressive and quickly burrow if approached. From the few specimens captured and studied by technozoologist it seems they consist on a diet that consist solely of rocks. They emit an aura of heat around them after feeding possibly as a result of flatulence. Study from glyphbearers has suggested that within this worms is a compact compartment of magical fire that functions as a unusual stomach. The captured specimens were noted to release more intense heat the longer it was observed eventually resulting in the building catching fire. This, along with occasional reports of large serpentine swaths of land collapsing into tunnels of lava during intense localized earthquakes, has led some to believe that these worms are simply a larval stage of some massive creature that burrows through dense rock, releasing tunnels of magma in its wake. Luckily such reports are rare and the worst outcome of an encounter with one of these worms is a mildly burned thing on your foot.

I really think just having additional depth in the form of misc information about these monsters provides more vibrancy for the world and give me a reason to search these creatures out during exploration. On the other hand, maybe I am the only one that cares about this stuff and am just a profound nerd...
Title: Re: Ideas for exploration enhancement
Post by: DesiQ on April 29, 2012, 05:13:44 AM
To add to this conversation: On entry to a building, if I can't see a stash, I will almost always immediately just leave.  I might go one door in if a stair or something looks to cover 5 or more rooms, but otherwise, I'm outta there.

I REALLY, REALLY want nothing to do with wasting MORE time trying to find stashes, secret missions, and the like.  I would expect a lot of other players feel the same way.
The same for me, yes. In fact, I wouldn't complain if cruft like destroyed rooms and empty hallways and empty rooms were removed altogether; they may as well not exist already, to all intents and purposes.

It also bothers me that buildings are so large inside. A outbuilding with nine layers of rooms, seven of them being destroyed and inaccessible? I think building interiors should be sized appropriately for the kind of building they're supposed to be (maybe just have Small/Medium/Large building dungeons in the same way you have Surface and Underground dungeons?), since it would mean that you'd be okay with ducking into a storage shed because you know they're only a screen large and usually have some handy stuff.
Title: Re: Ideas for exploration enhancement
Post by: KingIsaacLinksr on April 29, 2012, 01:35:55 PM
To add to this conversation: On entry to a building, if I can't see a stash, I will almost always immediately just leave.  I might go one door in if a stair or something looks to cover 5 or more rooms, but otherwise, I'm outta there.

I REALLY, REALLY want nothing to do with wasting MORE time trying to find stashes, secret missions, and the like.  I would expect a lot of other players feel the same way.
The same for me, yes. In fact, I wouldn't complain if cruft like destroyed rooms and empty hallways and empty rooms were removed altogether; they may as well not exist already, to all intents and purposes.

It also bothers me that buildings are so large inside. A outbuilding with nine layers of rooms, seven of them being destroyed and inaccessible? I think building interiors should be sized appropriately for the kind of building they're supposed to be (maybe just have Small/Medium/Large building dungeons in the same way you have Surface and Underground dungeons?), since it would mean that you'd be okay with ducking into a storage shed because you know they're only a screen large and usually have some handy stuff.

It does work like that actually. But sometimes it works like the Tardis, its bigger on the inside ;)

King
Title: Re: Ideas for exploration enhancement
Post by: Bluddy on April 29, 2012, 04:32:18 PM
I would like to see stashes and gem vein rooms become more rare so that they really matter. So that if the gem vein is blocked by a boss, you really need to defeat that boss or find a way past the boss -- you can't just rely on finding another gem vein elsewhere.

Here's my idea:

There are only a few gem veins per cave level. So at level 1, there will only be a few gem veins of a certain type across all the chunks. Once those are finished (and again, there aren't many of them), you have to go deeper to farm more gems to level 2. There are only a few at that level as well. Then there are a few at level 3 etc. The same applies to buildings: as you go deeper, the level will go up, and there are only a few stashes per building level.

So how do you find the remaining stashes at the lowest level possible? How do you know which buildings/caves to enter? One option is to greatly reduce the number of buildings/caves. Another option is to have a spell that charges based on kills or some resource that you get whenever you explore anywhere. This spell will show you which building has the nearest access stash in the current chunk, or which cave has the nearest gem vein.
Title: Re: Ideas for exploration enhancement
Post by: RetroNutcase on April 29, 2012, 08:51:06 PM
I've got some thoughts I'd like to share regarding exploration and how to improve it, in an area that specifically needs it: Underwater.

I am loving AVWW so far, but underwater exploration feels like more of a chore than fun because of a major, MAJOR annoyance: You have no platforms/crates that will stay where they are in water! This means any time you go underwater, you have to place new platforms/crates that will eventually float to the surface, and become wasted. This results in underwater exploration being an incredible waste of resources to the point it seems impractical, since early on if you don't have a massive crate/platform stockpile, lo and behold, you'll likely run out underwater and be forced to suicide as you have no way back up!

So, what can be done? In my opinion, the following two items could make underwater adventures a lot more feasible, and a lot less frustrating. They could also be useful for other purposes:

-Steel Platform-
Nearly identical to a Wooden Platform, except it has a considerably higher health value than a Wooden Platform, making it less suspect to destruction by enemies (Or your own attacks). In addition, because they're made of metal, they do not float in water and are ideal for making underwater jumping paths.

-Steel Crate-
See the above, except these are crates made of metal that can take more punishment than normal crates. Also, they sink in water instead of floating, making them ideal for creating underwater stairways.
Title: Re: Ideas for exploration enhancement
Post by: Singularity125 on April 30, 2012, 11:15:20 AM
First, I have to say that my friends and I really enjoy the game in its current state. We discovered it on Friday and have hardly been able to put it down since! We vanquished the first overlord last night. :D

That being said, I came up with an idea that would make things interesting for exploration while being entirely optional. I don't know if the idea would work with the way the game currently generates chunks and regions, however. Here's the idea in a nutshell: have some warp gates very rarely contain another gate within them (perhaps called a wormhole). This wormhole would have two functions:

1. Like other warps, a wormhole would let you warp to any other discovered wormhole. However, instead of being restricted to the current world map square, you can warp between wormholes all over the current continent. This is a convenience factor, but on its own has little importance since the world map is risk-free. However, to expand on this I'd humbly suggest two other changes:
       a. There is always a wormhole within the settlement, so finding one deep within a cave makes it even easier to go back and heal.
       b. A wormhole that's been discovered causes its square to be considered a candidate for a wind shelter (it is "adjacent" to a safe square this way). This makes a potential reward for exploring stormy squares because it is more efficient to place shelters in the middle of the storm than on the edge of it, but people who didn't want to take that risk can still use the old method.

2. The other thing that would be cool would be to make the wormhole "enterable", treating it like a side link. This would link it to one other wormhole elsewhere on the continent. This would be a stable link, but would add an element of surprise for exploration again, for those seeking one. Who knows whether you end up out in the ocean or deep under a lava flat? You always have that invincibility from standing still in a new room, so there's really no risk involved, just fun! This is a part that I'm not sure could be done with the current map generation (because I understand it's done on the fly, and piecemeal)... how hard would it be to "place" a wormhole in an unvisited region? Say, roll some numbers when you enter one, so you know it's on map square X,Y, in surface square Z, and probably at a cave depth Q... and then generate the other layers as you explore upwards or downwards from that point?

This post is long enough as is, but I'll end by saying this seems like a neat way to add surprise that is still optional for people who didn't care, and hopefully wouldn't be a pain to implement... though I could be very wrong. :D
Title: Re: Ideas for exploration enhancement
Post by: junker154 on May 01, 2012, 05:08:39 PM
I would suggest there the devs put more furniture or random stuff around in buildings and such. Furthermore add maybe a reward to the player or hidden treasure in those things.

Also you guys should get rid of the insane amount of crates that are blocking the ways and that you have to destroy. It is simply annoying and unrealistic. (Usually found in sheds)

Most of the exploration is great though  8)
Title: Re: Ideas for exploration enhancement
Post by: The Wuggly Ump on May 02, 2012, 04:02:12 PM
Ultimately, this is only somewhat a game about exploration in the first place.  It's a lot more about combat, choice, and so on.

In AVWW, the focus is on exploration, and seeing things you've never seen before. It's not on killing every enemy and feeling accomplished by the body count.

Can we get some clarification about this? Thanks.
Title: Re: Ideas for exploration enhancement
Post by: jabrazelle on May 02, 2012, 04:13:18 PM
I would suggest there the devs put more furniture or random stuff around in buildings and such.

The bathrooms especially need more toilets.  Last few that I was in only had about six. :P
Title: Re: Ideas for exploration enhancement
Post by: Bluddy on May 02, 2012, 04:25:14 PM
Ultimately, this is only somewhat a game about exploration in the first place.  It's a lot more about combat, choice, and so on.

In AVWW, the focus is on exploration, and seeing things you've never seen before. It's not on killing every enemy and feeling accomplished by the body count.

Can we get some clarification about this? Thanks.

I also noticed this. This is part of what I meant when I said the game is ambivalent about exploration (in the shrinking/expanding thread).
Title: Re: Ideas for exploration enhancement
Post by: zebramatt on May 02, 2012, 07:03:47 PM
All things to all people, like I said. Including, in this case, the people who helped make it.