The World Map: Making Travel Easier

in Design

Many games are abandoning the classic world map, but there is still a charm to them that I find appealing.

A sense of exploration, a sense of scale.

But that doesn’t mean that world maps aren’t without problems. Backtracking over and over again between the same areas can be time consuming. In general, it isn’t fun to make players do the same thing they already did again. So let’s look at solutions!

Classic Solutions: Vehicles, Quick Travel, Teleport

First, let’s cover all the obvious, often used solutions out of the way.

Vehicles are a great solution. They both make it easier to bypass challenges that have already been faced, and open up new parts of the map to explore. The big thing to remember here is when you add a new vehicle, try to give it as many shortcuts to earlier locations as possible. Add a boat that can go down rivers? Try to make sure there are rivers that can lead back to most of the previous towns!

Quick Travel and Teleport are very similar. Either something in the towns lets you travel from one to another, like gates that unlock once you find a new gate, or in the case of Teleports, a character learns a skill or an item allows you to travel to a variety of locations you’ve been to. This solution is perhaps the most direct, but sometimes feels like it can diminish the feeling of a world map’s scale.

Roads!

One of the new solutions that I’ve used before is the Roads.

Using tiles and RegionIDs add roads between well traveled areas of the map. Then have no encounters set for that RegionID. This lets players get from city to city quickly, while still making getting to some dungeons and out of the way locations just as challenging. As a bonus, it also explains how the world actually has functional trade. In world you can just have them patrolled by soldiers of the various areas.

I like this solution a lot because it makes exploring, going off the beaten trail the hard part, but makes travel easier. It also doesn’t ruin the sense of scale of the world map.

Weak Encounters Don’t Happen

This one will require a plugin, but let’s face it. At some point, it isn’t worth it for your party to fight two numpty slimes from the beginning of the game. Just make encounters not happen in areas where the players are over the level of the encounters.

This lets people backtrack to old areas without wasting time, and even lets them visit non-town areas if they need to. It’s a pretty good solution but does have one downside: What if the player needs an item that an enemy drops for some reason but it is well below their level?

The easy solution is to just add an equip piece that turns off the feature, or just have a spell that calls an appropriate fight for the area (like whistle from the Dragon Quest Games.

So we’ve covered several ways to make travelling your world more convenient for players, what methods do you use? Join us in the conversation below!

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