The problem with TP's overworld and some recommendations going forward

#1biohazard151Posted 1/24/2014 11:31:40 AM
So i started playing TP again after a long hiatus, and one of the biggest disappointments for me had always been the overworld. It seemed to offer so much promise (a gigantic OoT world with more to do!) but in effect, it came out as much less than i had hoped. However, there is good news and bad too that, and i wanted to address what i feel are its primary flaws

1) Hallways and travel

I used to years ago feel like although I knew TP's overworld was better than OoT's, for some reason i always preferred the latter. I had no idea why, but going back one of the main reasons is hallways. It's an overworld that is large, much larger than Oot before it, but it is burdened by an overworld too populated with hallways. Here is what i mean:

http://polito.imgur.com/all/

As you can see the world itself has a number of small self-contained fields in the same vein that we saw of the only main field in OoT, Hyrule Field. But, the world is segemented vastly by a number of very linear and very plain hallways built into the overworld to transition from one area to another. Ofte time there is early on in the game only one way to get to an area, and as the game expans perhaps one or two more, but even these paths are usually quite narrows.

Now this has been a problem when comparing 3d to 2d zelda, for the most part. But i believe the primary problem is that TP felt small and boring partly because each area was too self-contained and seperated by what felt were designed hallways to traverse through, nothing felt like it was nearly as explorable because you were being funneled from A to B. Even though OoT was far smaller, it offered less in the way of hallways when traveling, which made it feel larger than it even was.

2) Sparsely populated

Again not just TP but 3d games in general dont often have much to do. Exploration for the sake of trekking is great, but it becomes less fun when you know there is very little out there to explore. Tp offered more than OoT, but for a game with such a larger overworld and came out 8 years after OoT, i think comparitively the jump felt quite small.Going back, there isnt really alot of exploring in the overworld; instead its more about seeing a clawshot target or bombable wall and then simply returning, making a mental note is all. Poes, heart pieces and bugs were nice, but you really werent doing too much exploring for them. One such example is that you could often "see" from plain view on the field were a chest was, and then either had the tool or didnt to get it. Although it may have had more than any zelda game before it on a field perspective, it felt small because the size wasnt populated enough.

3) Linear progression

This is a biggie and killed the "want" to explore. After the Deku tree in Oot, there was actually a great deal of adventuring you could do, surprisingly. Not alot of it amounted to finding much, but it "offered" it to you. You could go straight to the castle, Kakariko, the graveyard, Lake Hylia, Lon Lon Ranch, and of course the market on your way to the castle. The game even allowed you to sort of get a glimpse of things to come at zora's river and Gerudo valley, which is tantalizing because you feel curious at how to get around.

Compare this to TP. For the first roughly ten hours, the game opens up as a "path" to you guiding you along uts story. Now this made a stronger narrative, but i feel the trade-off was too large. There was almost no ability to explore an area or part of the game on your own unless you were supposed to be there. After the Forest Temple, unless you wanted to just hang around the field, you only had Kakariko. There was always a black twilight wall blocking you from even peeking into an area to explore.

The game did open up after the third temple, but the problem?
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"What is great in man is that he is a bridge and not an end"
#2biohazard151(Topic Creator)Posted 1/24/2014 11:32:43 AM
By that time you had already been to these places, both in the twilight and as human Link. By this time, the gloss of a new place had worn off, and now you were going back to explore something you simply saw before already. At no point in TP did i feel like it let the chain off and let me find something in a way someone else hadn't, or in an order they didn't intend. Now im not asking for an open world, but a semi-open world that allows me too quite quickly go off and explore is what i missed and made the game feel like an invisible hand was guiding me.

4) Awkward traveling

Now this one is a little odd, and maybe its just me, but TP is full of odd travel habits that bug me. Ill compare it to Oot for a minute. Remember when the bridge at Gerudo Valley was destroyed? Well, after either using the hookshot or epona to go over, it was possible to fix the bridge and allow for normal human travel, in a way you would expect a real person to use it. I like this, it offers progression and makes sense despite this being a video game.

However, TP has alot of travel mechanics that are maybe fun, but also make the game awkward. Now correct me if im wrong, but to get to Lake Hylia it's either warp, or use a mini game for 10 rupees to fly down. thats fun and all, and i like the ability to do that, but provide me a normal way to travel there, some way that a normal NPC could get down there. Everyone in the game talked about Lake Hylia as a place people went, but how? Furthermore, to get to Gerudo Desert it was a cannon or warp i believe. This one makes "more" sense because it doesnt have human NPC's, but i still would have liked the game to also allow me to get there naturally. To me its comparable in a way to the level select sky of SS, not nearly as inhibiting, but still a nuisance. The goron settlement and Zora's river also suffered from this partially, and it grated on me.

I believe that this is smaller than the other complaints, but its similar to the hallway argument and the overall weird feeling i have with the overworld.

Now a caveat ill add is many of these problems were probably due to timing and the technology, which is good and means with the wii u many of these problems could be avoided.

So going forward here are some of my recommendations and i bid other's to add to this

1. Reduce the hallways: We need hallways, of course, but TP went overboard i believe. Instead, try and design an overworld which allows more seamless travel, something that doesn't segment and structure the world in such a way that we feel like its less of an expansive world. For example, instead of having a narrow hallway, create multiple paths from A to B, perhaps we can use the naturally existing terrain to travel like mountain sides, structured cliffs over areas and valleys to get to new areas. A

2. Quality and quantity + diversify the terrain: I believe TP was a good size of overworld, its main issue was being too plain and being too sparsely populated. In addition, we need to feel like we can explore "into" the terrain, as opposed to just clawshotting to a rock and getting a chest. So i would recommend not creating an overworld much bigger than Tp, but instead diversifying the terrain with levels, more natural structures and mandmade structures, and allowing us to interact with the terrain at a greater level. Perhaps by going far enough in a direction, there could be a reward not in the form of just an item or heart, but maybe an "area", like a fishing spring with secret fish, or something that expands on the lore of the game without us being able to see it from terrain level.
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3DS FC: 1977-0747-7559 SV: 3974 IGN: X
"What is great in man is that he is a bridge and not an end"
#3biohazard151(Topic Creator)Posted 1/24/2014 11:32:56 AM
3. Reward travel: Simple one, find a way to throw new stuff at us in terms of items and such. Perhaps upgrades can make a comeback, or customizations. Maybe some items which serve only a fun purpose as opposed to an essential one could be found.
4. Open up early: Allow the gamer to feel like they are doing something fun and on their own. Good sidequests, NPC's and abundant towns are necessary for this as well, but let the player feel like this is an adventure and not just a story to complete piece by piece. By treating the player more intelligently, and allowing them to make mistakes, find new areas, or see new things all on their own, it will make the world feel like a real place and less a place where just a narrative occurs.

5. Allow the odd travel mechanics but then add normal ones: This is just a persona choice, but i want this world to feel like other people can travel it. Now there should be secret areas and structures only we can reach due to our items and skills, but for the main areas i want to feel like it could be inhabited by others not present at the time. So even if we need to do some weird bombing of walls or building of a cannon to get to area X, i believe either an optional or a forced mechanic which allows us to add or acquire a normal route of travel to an area will appease all fans.

Thanks hope that you all can add some specific design issues you have and what you want to see.

the good thins is i believe TP was a very cool starting point and given the leap in technology we have had since then, many of these ideas are feasible and would be worthwhile to the fans
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3DS FC: 1977-0747-7559 SV: 3974 IGN: X
"What is great in man is that he is a bridge and not an end"
#4MetaFalconPunchPosted 1/24/2014 2:35:17 PM
Whew! This was a kind of long read, but I'm glad I looked at it. Lots of good points of what should and shouldn't be done.

A few things I want to speak about though:

1. The game even allowed you to sort of get a glimpse of things to come at zora's river and Gerudo valley, which is tantalizing because you feel curious at how to get around.

This is all well and good for a first playthrough, but I feel like on later playthroughs this "taste of things to come" doesn't really matter since you know you can't fully explore these areas yet. Does anyone have an idea of how to make people want to come to these areas on a non-first playthrough before they're full opened up?

I also wonder if Zelda games are meant to be a "memorable first playthrough" kind of game, or one that people will want to replay a bunch (like Metroid). I feel like this would impact the importance of the "taste of things to come" areas like Gerudo Valley.

2. Now this made a stronger narrative, but i feel the trade-off was too large.

I'm not a problem solver, nor am I creative. But I'm certainly curious as to how you guys think a strong narrative could be included without the trade-off of less exploration. Does anyone have any ideas about this?

3. For example, instead of having a narrow hallway, create multiple paths from A to B, perhaps we can use the naturally existing terrain to travel like mountain sides, structured cliffs over areas and valleys to get to new areas.

I just didn't really "get" this part. It may be because the whole hallway thing never bothered me, but I'm having a hard time understanding what you're getting at here.

4. In addition, we need to feel like we can explore "into" the terrain, as opposed to just clawshotting to a rock and getting a chest

I was thinking a mixture of these two things seems appealing. Rather than just coming back to a chest once you have the item for it, I feel like they should make you work for the item, instead of having it in plain sight. The mini-dungeons are more or less what I'm referring too. Thinking on things...I'd like those to be expanded on. Maybe they can open up new parts of the overworld (not essential to the quest) or serve as shortcuts through the overworld (like Magmoor Caverns from Metroid Prime). By using them as shortcuts, it'd give players incentive to come back to these mini-dungeons with new items in hand, and get things there they may have missed before.

5. or something that expands on the lore of the game without us being able to see it from terrain level.

Pulling a Metroid Prime? Sign me up!

6. the main areas i want to feel like it could be inhabited by others not present at the time.

Definitely this. A minor gripe of mine is how these things (e.g. Pieces of Heart) show up in the overworld when no one but Link seems capable of getting to them.
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#5biohazard151(Topic Creator)Posted 1/24/2014 3:03:01 PM
MetaFalconPunch

Thanks! It definitely went on longer than i meant to, im a little long-winded according to my peers so my apologies.

You know i often have felt in general, the zelda adventure and story are a "first experience" sort of thing. That doesnt mean they arent as good the second time through, but whereas exploration for me is by far the best the first time because its inherently new. For subsequent playthroughs, i feel other areas need to be the things that shine, such as a good story, solid combat and the pacing needs to be well done. But ya, i feel like the "those things to come phenomenon is really a one time thing and getting around that is pretty hard.

"I'm not a problem solver, nor am I creative. But I'm certainly curious as to how you guys think a strong narrative could be included without the trade-off of less exploration. Does anyone have any ideas about this?"

Again a tough one, but i still feel like a good story could be told more indirectly. For example, TP and SS relied far more on cutscenes than any zelda game to date, by far. That said, i didn't feel like it made their stories that much greater given the abundant time given to them. I have always felt Nintendo are better at making solid games than stories. That said, i feel story could also be told through NPC's, smaller events, and more dedication to certain singular events. For example, ALBW was very non-linear for the last 5 dungeons. But, if there are set events along the way to those temples or dungeons, a story could still be strong. Someone on this board mentioned something like story-set dungeon-story- finish 3 dungeons in any order -story etc.

"I just didn't really "get" this part. It may be because the whole hallway thing never bothered me, but I'm having a hard time understanding what you're getting at here."

i explained that terribly, so not your fault. What i mean by that is often exploration should feel like a real environment, and hallways take away from that. TP often was a flat field, and then a hallway connecting to another flat field. That becomes very very boring. So instead, the "fields" or overworld should be designed with less hallways and more diversified terrain that allows me to get from A to B. So instead of a hallway built between two rocks as the only way from A -B,have a number of paths we can take, perhaps one is through a valley, maybe one is through a mountain trail, and another could be by navigating some of the higher level ground in the field. This would require less flat fields and more terrain, but it would really mean we can travel a number of different paths that feel more organic. Hallways are fine, but it makes a game feel less "expansive" because its use is to funnel us into areas, where as i would like to see an overworld with other more natural ways to an area.
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3DS FC: 1977-0747-7559 SV: 3974 IGN: X
"What is great in man is that he is a bridge and not an end"
#6biohazard151(Topic Creator)Posted 1/24/2014 3:08:31 PM
"I was thinking a mixture of these two things seems appealing. Rather than just coming back to a chest once you have the item for it, I feel like they should make you work for the item, instead of having it in plain sight. The mini-dungeons are more or less what I'm referring too. Thinking on things...I'd like those to be expanded on. Maybe they can open up new parts of the overworld (not essential to the quest) or serve as shortcuts through the overworld (like Magmoor Caverns from Metroid Prime). By using them as shortcuts, it'd give players incentive to come back to these mini-dungeons with new items in hand, and get things there they may have missed before."

Yeah i like that, and the idea of more organic minidungeons in the "open air". I think we are going beyond the "hole in ground" days and it would be cool to have us explore a find say....a spring on some mountain side, and it is built in a mini-dungeon way. And yes, non-essential is best, it makes it more exciting. I actually really like the way you described this, far better than me. Its all about expanding the world for me, making it both mroe welcoming, more adventurous, non-essential but so rewarding.

"Pulling a Metroid Prime? Sign me up!"

this really needs to happen. I mean eventually we run out of hearts, customizations, items etc., and to add more is met with diminishing returns. However, we could be led to explore simply for finding interesting stuff. Shadow of the colossus kinda did this, and i believe zelda could do it far better because it has such interesting npc's and lore we want expanded upon. Imagine we explore into the lost woods and find some little garden with a few weird statutes and some text on them expanding some sort of mysetry, maybe about an earlier game. It has intrinsic worth to us, we found something "mysterious" and even though we dont come away with a bottle, we do have this sense of discovery that zelda should be aiming for.

"Definitely this. A minor gripe of mine is how these things (e.g. Pieces of Heart) show up in the overworld when no one but Link seems capable of getting to them"

Yeah there is this weird dissonance sometimes between wanting hyrule to be a real place, but having it designed as if only link exists. Its why i disliked SS in alot of ways. But yes, the idea i would have is that the world should be designed so that a normal npc could be expected to horseback from Lake Hylia to the castle for example, or to go visit the goron springs in eldin province. The stuff beyond that, like exploring deep into the lost woods or going further beyond normal bounds of any area should be where we are expected to be the only ones to find it. If i feel like Lake Hylia can only be accessed by flying a cuckoo or teleporting there, its just weird and takes away from the experience.
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3DS FC: 1977-0747-7559 SV: 3974 IGN: X
"What is great in man is that he is a bridge and not an end"
#7wiiking96Posted 1/24/2014 3:15:20 PM
I came up with an overworld idea a while back:

http://www.gamefaqs.com/boards/632936-the-legend-of-zelda-wii-u/66097458

Though this was way before I played Oracle of Seasons and discovered Subrosia. The main difference with my idea would be that the underground part of the overworld would be directly connected to the top part, and at dozens of different locations across the map. There could also be some interaction between the surface and the caverns.

I think that this would work well because the overworld could be main overall larger, but without taking up too much horizontal space. There be many different locations that you could quickly access at any major point on the surface.
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#8MetaFalconPunchPosted 1/24/2014 3:38:14 PM
Random thought just came up and I wanted to post it here before I forget:

A lot of Zelda games seem to follow the trend of "3 dungeons>Story Event>more dungeons>Endgame", regardless of how linear the progression is. Not sure if "most" do it, but we've got OoT, TP, and ALBW off the top of my head (there's probably more).

What I'm wondering is if people would ever want to go back to the way things were in Zelda 1 where most (Level 4 (1st Quest) is one example of an exception) dungeons could be accessed at any time, even monsters like Level 6. Would you want to be able to access every single non-endgame dungeon at any time in the story (one still needed things like the candle to find a particular dungeon, so you can't go there immediately)? And if so, how would you want the story to progress? Would you want fixed events that occur depending on which dungeons have been finished? Or depending on how many have been finished? Or something else?

Personally, I think this would be cool. As much as I don't want to admit to being wrong, ABLW sold me on the non-linearity of dungeons thing. However, it still kept the "3>Story>Rest" dungeon thing, and I'm wondering what it would be like to be able to go to any dungeon.
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#9MetaFalconPunchPosted 1/24/2014 3:40:19 PM
biohazard151 posted...
i explained that terribly, so not your fault. What i mean by that is often exploration should feel like a real environment, and hallways take away from that. TP often was a flat field, and then a hallway connecting to another flat field. That becomes very very boring. So instead, the "fields" or overworld should be designed with less hallways and more diversified terrain that allows me to get from A to B. So instead of a hallway built between two rocks as the only way from A -B,have a number of paths we can take, perhaps one is through a valley, maybe one is through a mountain trail, and another could be by navigating some of the higher level ground in the field. This would require less flat fields and more terrain, but it would really mean we can travel a number of different paths that feel more organic. Hallways are fine, but it makes a game feel less "expansive" because its use is to funnel us into areas, where as i would like to see an overworld with other more natural ways to an area.


Ah, I see what you mean now! Would players be able to go through all these terrains whenever they want, or would different ones open up upon subsequent visits to that part of the overworld? (perhaps to give players the incentive to come back instead of just warping everywhere)
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#10paco1995Posted 1/24/2014 6:13:27 PM
MetaFalconPunch posted...
A lot of Zelda games seem to follow the trend of "3 dungeons>Story Event>more dungeons>Endgame", regardless of how linear the progression is. Not sure if "most" do it, but we've got OoT, TP, and ALBW off the top of my head (there's probably more).


More: ALTTP, SS, WW and FS (there might be more)

Yeah, it's about damn time they change it up a bit.
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