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Making LANDMARKS More Immersive
Since coming back, I've had a love-hate relationship with the new LANDMARKS system.
On the one hand, I think eliminating the tedium of walking to common destinations is great and I think it's also incredible
for new players.
On the other hand, it's very
odd that adventurers can suddenly walk through even the most obscure shortcuts. It's strange that the default method of getting between many places is to treat the rivers as highways. It's weird that using landmarks is actually better
than knowing the way and moving manually for most people in most situations.
I would like to propose a solution that is, I think, tractable - and then I'll talk about the benefits I see:
- Player does WALK TO TARGOSSAS
- Calculate path from current room to nearest major-road room (the nearest room that is part of the main loop).
- Calculate path from destination to nearest major-road room.
- Calculate path along road.
- Execute the autowalking as normal: current room to road, along road, off road to destination.
Now some crucial points and some benefits:
- These things can be precalculated. I don't know how the current system is implemented, but it has to deal with a combinatorial explosion of starting locations and destinations. Under this system, for every room/NPC location, the path to the major-road room can be precalculated and stored - it's just one path per room. Similarly for every destination. After that, calculating the shortest path along only the highway loop is completely trivial. Computationally, this is an easier problem (in that it can be turned into a simple lookup - the initial calculation is harder, but whatever) than the current pathing problem, so it can't be infeasible from a resources standpoint.
- This avoids problems like the issue with rivers interrupting autowalking - there aren't many rooms where newbies without waterwalking can still be swept away without any real recourse, but there are still a few. And things like river currents could be more liberal without having to worry about newbies getting stuck on them while autowalking.
- It eliminates the weird issue of people autowalking through areas they don't even know exist, which is weird for immersion. Similarly, not everyone in the game should be some incredible trailblazer that knows every shortcut in the world at 18.
- It makes learning your way around as a newbie easier. Instead of watching the map go crazy while they walk through a river, three forests, and a swamp to get between two places and then a desert, a lake, and a bog the next time, newbies see the same roads each time and can actually start to learn where things are. I think this is actually a more substantial problem than people realise - right now it's very easy for a newbie to get around for quite a while without actually developing any understanding of where things are in relation to one another. This hurts immersion, makes the world feel less cohesive than it is, and it also makes things more harrowing when, for whatever reason, landmarks aren't an option.
- It makes roads feel more like roads. Roads that actually function like roads.
- It makes LANDMARKS a convenience rather than an optimising strategy. These routes are slightly less efficient - they'd work fine if you're just traveling and don't want to bother typing in directions, but they retain an advantage to knowing your way around when you really need to get somewhere quickly.