Friday, January 29, 2010

The Path of Evil "Overland" Map

Technically, it's not one anymore... The overland map scripts from Obsidian slow down the player on the map tremendously. While it's more realistic over the regional map scale used in SoZ, it is just not "fun" over a Faerun map unless you want to put literally hundreds of regular map areas in tied to it. Otherwise it's an interminable length of time moving slowly overland.

This works much better for me. I've actually removed the Overland Map scripts. Our intrepid player is now full size on the map and moves at full speed with an unlocked camera. Because I'm using a projection map the abstraction of the players size is not jarring like it would be if they were on the standard Overland Map. Everything on this map becomes symbolic.

With the unlocked camera, tilting the map is now possible, allowing the player to see farther. The sense of scale is greatly increased. Distant areas look distant. The arbitrary inability to see as far south of the player as they can see north is removed. Look how distant those glacial lands look.

Of course there are some minor drawbacks to this. Many of the overland map placables from SoZ are designed specifically for the locked camera. They have things like missing backs, 2D parts etc. This makes them useless for me. Also odd things happen to the camea if the map placeables are set to walkable as Obsidian recommends. The camera takes a view under the player and map. So I'll have to be turning off the walkable settings for overland map placeables.

Also, now that the player can see the sky, they can see that they can apparently run the length of Faerun in a day. I know SoZ had faster day/night cycling, so I'll be looking into it.

Fortunately, there is plenty of solid prefab work available to fill in our overland map. So at the bottom are two screenshots from nice areas.


  1. Hi Kamal,

    Like you, I also did not like the slower movement speed on the map, and so I set it back to normal. However, I complemented it with a new travel/movement system instead. ;)

    Using map images is an interesting idea. I look forward to seeing how it pans out in the game. I think your most difficult problem will be creating enough material to cover all the different places the PC can theoretically travel to. Unless, of course, you are not going to let that happen ....

    Without doubt, including a world map encourages a deeper designed game from the builder and the player will expect more as a consequence.


  2. Well, the player can't interact with anything I haven't created content for, so no going to Waterdeep or anything. But I have some 250 areas and 150 quests, covering multiple cities, a town, and assorted random overland map areas, so I'm not hurting for content. (about 1/2 those areas are prefab)

    I like the projected map for two reasons. The first is it makes it much easier on the builder :-) Just project your image and your overland map is virtually done! Second it looks really good if there is a high resolution picture to serve as the projection. Fortunately, there is a 4000x3000 or so Faerun map on the web.

    I split the initial jpg into four, and overlaid them over four interconnecting overland maps. SoZ doesn't do it, but you can have standard area transitions between overland maps.

    My overland maps aren't completely flat, I made a small lowering in the seas, and cut the coasts with walkmesh triggers. Rendering them completely non-walkable would stop someone from using them for the boat travel systems demonstrated on the vault.

    Also the projected maps don't display on the minimap, so I did some basic texturing of the ground. The projections aren't completely opaque though, so you can see the textures through them. It looks pretty slick ingame.