Let’s face it, MMOs by the very nature of being considered “massive” tend to have huge areas of ‘game land’ for players to walk/run/ride around in. It’s easy to get lost! Especially if the player has never been in the game before. And well, today we have technology that fits in the palms of our hands that can carry maps, our phones. So, why can’t the player of an MMO have a map on their phone too?
And that is exactly what Mystic Riders wants to have, a map, in an in-game phone user interface. (Yes, part of our proposed in game user interface looks like a modern cellphone.)
The thing that I hate the most about many MMO maps is that they are impossible to read. They’re things that are made of pixels that seemingly have been created by the game designers zooming out from the game area and taking a picture. Then, if you’re lucky, they might draw some road squiggles on it.
In Mystic Riders, what we want is a map that is legible and interactive so the player can see how much of it they have left to explore. The closest I’ve seen to this is the interactive 3D map provided by Black Desert Online.
With the BDO map, the player can view the map from above it looks like a Google earth type map and as they zoom in, they can see actual 3D representations of the trees, landscape, and buildings. There’s fog over areas of the map that the player hasn’t explored yet.
Now, another option or ‘layer’ for the map that I’d like to implement into Mystic Riders is a standard cartographer’s road map. The player would be able to see the entire road map that is marked with roads, towns, hiking trails, and train tracks of the entire district that they’re in. Important places would be labelled including castles, stables, shops, overlooks, and forests and so on.
A third option would be being able to take the road section of the road map and overlay it onto the 3D realistic map, much like you can in Google Earth. That way the player can see where the road goes off into the fog of war area that they haven’t explored yet.
The more the player zooms into the map, the more of a specific area and the more labels of shops and lakes and so on they can see. The player should be able to move the map around by clicking on the screen and dragging it to see other areas if they’re too far zoomed in. (Or they can zoom out and click and zoom back in on another area, their choice.)
The player should be able to set waypoints on the map if they like and have either a marker on the ground or a marker in the sky to show where the way point is. The BDO map also has markers for important NPCs. (If it can be done, I don’t see why not.)
The map’s purpose is ultimately to help the player get around and find the fast way between point A and point B that won’t lead them over a cliff!
Because we want the map to have the fog over it, the map could have a completion achievement for players. This would encourage the explorers and not-so explorers to check out every cranny of the map that they can get to. (Possibly only 100% achievable of the entire country if you take the archeologist profession, more on this next week.)
The players would get new sections of the map to explore as they unlock the new districts. They’d only start out with the first district they are in, and then get Diamond District, and from there they can choose any district they want to unlock in whatever order they want to unlock and play the story.
Maps are an important part to me of the MMO game experience and as such, they should be as complete and legible as possible. Especially if your game involves any sort of orienteering whatsoever. Down with pixel maps. Up with road maps and 3D maps!