Monday, 11 July 2011

BioWare Blog: Maps, and their Making

Last Friday BioWare had a blog entry for us, written by Principal Lead Systems Designer Damion Schubert, about the ingame maps. Here's an excerpt from the full post:

Galactic cartography

Having good navigation is important for any game, but particularly so in any massively multiplayer game, where wanderlust is positively encouraged. For The Old Republic, we realized that we had some relatively unique problems early on.

First off, once your character leaves their Origin World, other planets tend to be significantly larger in terms of land mass than those you might find in other MMOs – sometimes five or six times as large. While this is really cool for creating canonically expansive worlds in the Star Wars™ universe like Hoth or Tatooine, it also creates interesting design considerations. As the player is only adventuring in perhaps one-sixth of the map at any given time, having one world map would result in everything he cares about at a given time being compressed into a tiny corner of the map, making that map pretty much unusable.

Read the full post to get the rest of it.

It's interesting to read how maps are created for the game and what functionality they have. I think it might take a little getting used to their icons (when I played I had no clue what icon was supposed to mean what, but that I didn't really take the time to find out) and I'm not sure I like having to hover over quest icons to see their area, but it's got a couple of other nice features such as sharing quest icons with others in the party.

There hasn't been a whole lot on SWTOR this week (probably waiting for the next round of conventions), so after the break all we've got left is the developer quotes (with only one I found worth repeating in full).

Developer Quotes

  • [link] to Georg Zoeller on testing system requirements.
  • [link] to Georg Zoeller on pistol sizes.
  • [link] to Georg Zoeller on testing system requirements, part 2.
  • [link] to Georg Zoeller on ingame titles.
  • [link] to Stephen Reid on (no) top guild testing invites.
  • [link] to Stephen Reid on (no) top guild testing invites, part 2.
  • [link] to David Bass on (no) Fan Site Blacklist.
  • [link] to Georg Zoeller on DPS balancing.
  • [link] to Stephen Reid on more to come about vehicles.
  • [link] to Stephen Reid on RP-PvP servers.
  • [link] to Stephen Reid on wait and see.
  • [link] to Stephen Reid on wait and see, part 2.
  • [link] to Stephen Reid on wait and see, part 3.
  • [link] to David Bass on Comic-Con Hilton event.
  • or
The only post I found interesting enough to repeat is one by Stephen Reid on server labels:
It's actually not as trivial as you may think.

Labelling a server is easy enough. However, the key decision is enforcement of the ruleset that label implies.

We'll have PvP servers, and we may have 'soft' RP servers (ie, labelled as such, but with no enforcement)... however, enforcing an RP ruleset is a big decision and one that's higher up the chain than me.

I'll look into it, but you might not get an answer just yet.

A good rule of thumb with MMO development is to never assume something is trivial.

The question of roleplaying enforcement on a roleplaying server is always a tricky one. I've never really seen any company manage it and there are always complaints about how roleplaying isn't enforced enough, though it could be that a lot happens behind the scenes that we don't see that help improve roleplaying.

I know that there are a few things that I would like. Enforcing names can be helpful, but is generally the least important thing (and usually the only real thing that seems to be enforced); a good roleplayer should be ignoring the names as anything but a reference to another character (in lieu of face recognition since MMO graphics aren't detailed and varied enough to rely on that). But it would be good to have some additional presence during larger RP events to take care of disrupting factors and in general a lower tolerance towards those trying (purposely or otherwise) to disrupt roleplaying. Anything else I'd want is probably beyond the scope of what SWTOR can do.

For the most part though, in my experience, official enforcement doesn't really do much of anything. It's usually all on the shoulders of the community to ensure that there's a roleplaying atmosphere on the server. That said, I do think that officially flagging a server (even if only as a 'soft' RP server) is a good idea as it would greatly facilitate roleplayers all flocking to the same server and non-roleplayers knowing to avoid it (unofficial servers are only known to those who happen to be in that specific community, while flagged servers are known to anyone looking at the server list ingame). One might argue that it would attract more griefers, but robust ignore functions and a roleplaying community pulling together should be enough. A bit of a harder official stance against roleplaying disruptions would still be appreciated a lot, but beyond that it's really just up to the community. Always has been.

Then there's the question of RP-PvE versus RP-PvP. Having experienced my share of RP-PvP servers (which generally are really just PvP servers where you can roleplay a bit in a corner if you're lucky; the PvP tends to greatly dominate over the RP part) I won't be starting on such a server ever again. I want to actually roleplay, not be constantly on the run from idiots who think random slaughter constitutes 'roleplay' with the roleplaying confined to safe areas only. But I'm still not sure that SWTOR will actually have the two different server types. Based on the official Guild HQ, where you can list a guild as "PvE", "PvP" or "RP" (and not yes/no to RP with next to that a preference for PvE or PvP) I suspect that they might only have one RP server type... unless they'll either update the Guild HQ or drop all the RP guilds on random RP servers or such.

We'll have to see I guess.

Anyway, that's all this time.

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