Why world maps deserve their place in RPG.

#11ChiroteraPosted 2/7/2013 4:27:11 PM
It also gives you much needed sense of scale and context.

When I think about the FFXIII world, or even the world in FFX. I have a really hard time recalling where anything I did in the game was or how it was that I got there. Not so for Ni No Kuni or Lost Odyssey.

The little detail of having that scale and context to your actions really goes a long way to drawing you into the world and thus actually caring about it.
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#12Ryumoau23Posted 2/7/2013 4:31:56 PM
i like that the world is big, but i'm glad they had the sense enough to also include a fast travel spell. Not reason to be forced to manually walk to previously explored areas.
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#13VudoodudePosted 2/7/2013 4:47:30 PM
A world map is only as useful as the developers decide to make it. Sometimes games that focus more on plot rather than exploration can do without a world map, whereas games that focus more on exploration may adopt the world map system. Games that focus on exploration may not necessarily need a world map though if they follow the dungeon crawler design, i.e. .hack games.

Once again, it is really dependent on what the developers decide to make of it, for example if the world map has secret points, or secret dungeons that are not to obvious which would require some exploration to find. FF8's island closest to heaven/hell, and the secret research lab in the middle of the ocean is a good example for this. If a more linear game, or dungeon crawler style game wants to do this, they have to add it as end game content, or as codes/secret items you need to find to unlock that area.

It's a subtle difference though, because while storytelling games may lack a complete world, they're depth in plot often covers various aspects of the culture that most world map games fail to cover. As well, world map games often have far tooooo few cities/countries, and lack cultural and ethnic differences.
#14DDR MidianPosted 2/7/2013 4:52:35 PM
World maps are nice, and I enjoyed looking around NnK's, but on reflection it's kinda generic and empty. Nothing special.
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#15SigmaHacielPosted 2/7/2013 4:57:50 PM
DDR Midian posted...
World maps are nice, and I enjoyed looking around NnK's, but on reflection it's kinda generic and empty. Nothing special.


I kind of have to agree with this.

Conversely, I can recall, in vivid detail, the moment I first stepped into Eryth Sea in Xenoblade.

THAT is just one of the many breathtaking locales in XBC.

I will admit to liking a World Map, but at the same time, a poorly done World Map is more of a bane than a boon.
#16AP3BrainPosted 2/7/2013 5:00:15 PM
In general I do like JRPGs with world maps more... but they are definitely not necessary.
#17FoofyheadPosted 2/7/2013 5:09:14 PM
World maps in general are boring, and they just add time between the good parts (the dungeons).

Ni No's map was pretty decent though.
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#18pariah23Posted 2/7/2013 5:42:14 PM
Resonance of Fate's is about the only world map I'd say added anything meaningful to the game. Normally they are instantly forgettable.
#19Black_BoxxPosted 2/7/2013 5:45:43 PM
I certainly love me some world map in my RPG, but they are far from a necessity. The purpose of a world map is to provide a sense of place and exploration to a game. Those things can be added in other ways that allow a world map to be omitted.

A sense of placement is easily accomplished by making the world sensibly connected. If the story's progression takes the player to a snowy mountain directly after a desert field, that is going to throw them off kilter. Usually, this is done with a menu based map system, where the player simply chooses where they want to go from a list of ever-increasing options. This is the lazy way to do it in my opinion. Instead, the player should be required to venture back into zones they have already explored and find a new path, unlock a door, activate something, or whatever. The point is, they should get to know the zones through repeated travel through them.

Exploration is done in many ways. All that is needed is for there to be many things to see and acquire and possibly a lot of space in which to see them. If you think about it, a traditional world map can actually decrease the options for exploration. If secret areas and treasures are withheld until late in the game (when the player has the means to open whatever is sealing them off), the player may be accustomed to just running to the next plot point. Then, when the world finally opens up, they have little to no reason to explore it. They should already have everything they need to beat the game. If not, then the game was poorly designed and suddenly forces the player to adopt a different play style to win.

Instead, if exploration is a constantly rewarded action, then the player will look forward to getting new vehicles and powers. Ni No Kuni, for example; once I got Esther's Serenade, I immediately went backtracking to go get some new familiars in the Rolling Hills and Deep Dark Woods. Then, when I got Swaine, I backtracked again for all those pesky green chests I couldn't figure out how to open. Then, when I got the spoilerific item (perhaps not really a spoiler, but just in case), I went and opened all the purple chests, backtracking yet again. I loved every second of it. Each undiscovered landmass is a treat to hop off the boat to begin collecting the indigenous familiars. I can't wait until I figure out how to clear fog (not looking for a handout answer, so please don't give it).

So yeah... Ni No Kuni has a good world map, despite it being smaller than some other games. It is possible to screw up a world map. I would say Legend of Legaia as an example (still a fun game). It's highly atmospheric for its time, but there just wasn't much to find on it, and you move at a snail's pace with consumable items as your only means of fast travel. And guess what? The sequel made the world map even worse; a literal rail-guided path system on a tiny island where all locations must be unlocked before they can be entered.......

Where was I going with this? Oh yeah!

TL;DR- World maps aren't necessary to do the things the TC likes, but Ni No Kuni's does a fine job of it.
#20FishermanFriendPosted 2/7/2013 5:48:12 PM
naaros posted...
I love world maps in JRPGs, but I don't feel like it's required or even count it as a penalty if they don't have one.

One recent example would be Xenoblade - with the way that game is structured and the setting, a world map really wouldn't work all that well imo. So the way they did it - huge areas to explore - with no world map was perfect.


These are my thoughts exactly. It's nice when it's there, but it's not a game changer if it isn't. For example, if this game lacked a world map but had a better combat system I think the game would be a million times better.