Question on Map Layout

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Nicholas Hartshorn

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Dec 7, 2001, 12:17:58 PM12/7/01
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First, as I'm new to this newsgroup, let me say hello to all of you. I hope
that you guys can help me out with a question about laying out a map.
Here's the issue...
I'm trying to decide how best to approach the layout of a cloister with
many exits. If I create one room for the cloister it fits in well with the
general scale of the place and should make player mapping of the area easy.
However, keeping it as one room is a problem as I'm looking to have two
eastern exits (one to a large chapter house, and the other to a smallish
walk-in closet beside the chapter house), in addition to a ne and se exit.
I've been thinking about several possible answers to this problem, but I'm
curious which you think is best, or if you have any other suggestions.
1) Simply get rid of one of the 2 eastern exits, this would be the
easiest solution, but isn't appealing to me.
2) Create the closet as some sort of container within the chapter house
room, so that it's not a full fledged location that would overlap (on player
drawn maps) with the room to the se of the cloister. This seems to be the
best option (I think), but isn't entirely accurate, which kind of irks me.
3) Divide the cloister up into a grid of several areas. I think this
would be really confusing for those mapping it out when playing. It's
perceived scale would be significantly larger than the rest of the place,
and would generate a slew of other issues.
4) Enable the game to understand directions like north-north-east (nne).
This would ensure the most geographically accurate representation of my
vision for the place, but all those additional directions might prove
confusing for players.
So, there you have it, a bit of a problem, but I'm sure with your input
and experience I can reach a good solution. If you're confused about the
layout as I've explained it, below you can see (I hope the formatting isn't
screwed up) a basic idea of the area in question...
CH = Chapter House, C = Closet, NE = NE Room, SE = SE Room
____
___ | | ___
NE| | CH |_ |SE
_ |____|_ _|C|____| __
| |
| (Cloister) |
| E |
| N<-+-S |
| W |

Thanks for your help in advance, and I look forward to hearing your
thoughts.

-Nick

Gregg V. Carroll

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Dec 7, 2001, 1:28:31 PM12/7/01
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On 12/7/01 12:17 PM, Nicholas Hartshorn at nrts...@maine.rr.com posted:

> I'm trying to decide how best to approach the layout of a cloister with
> many exits. If I create one room for the cloister it fits in well with the
> general scale of the place and should make player mapping of the area easy.
> However, keeping it as one room is a problem as I'm looking to have two
> eastern exits (one to a large chapter house, and the other to a smallish
> walk-in closet beside the chapter house), in addition to a ne and se exit.
> I've been thinking about several possible answers to this problem, but I'm
> curious which you think is best, or if you have any other suggestions.

> 2) Create the closet as some sort of container within the chapter house


> room, so that it's not a full fledged location that would overlap (on player
> drawn maps) with the room to the se of the cloister. This seems to be the
> best option (I think), but isn't entirely accurate, which kind of irks me.

The closet is supposed to be east of the cloister, though, right? So what if
you assign the chapter house to "east" and assign the closet to "enter"?
That way, you could say, "There is an exit to the northeast, east, and
sothwest, and a closet which can be entered to the east." If you cue the
word "enter" with regard to the closet, I think people would figure out that
they need to type "ENTER" or "ENTER CLOSET" to go there instead of the
chapter house. I think you might have to make the closet a nested room of
the cloister for this to work.

The only problem I can see off the top of my head is if going into the
chapter house by accident somehow disallows free movement. In other words,
if a player types "EAST" to get into the closet, winds up in the chapter
house, and can't backtrack (because, say, an NPC in the chapter house keeps
them from leaving). That would be a problem, but if there isn't anything
like that, it should be okay. The worst thing that can happen is the player
has to backtrack a bit.

> 3) Divide the cloister up into a grid of several areas. I think this
> would be really confusing for those mapping it out when playing. It's
> perceived scale would be significantly larger than the rest of the place,
> and would generate a slew of other issues.

Well, the "scale" I think is only partially dependant on the map grid
(someone else brought this up, in the reverse, with regards to mapping a
city without having to implement a massive number of rooms to suggest large
scale). You can downplay the "scale" suggested by the extra "rooms" in the
descriptions by mentioning details of the other "room" descriptions in each
sub-section. As in:

HALLWAY
This is the east end of the hallway. To the north is the door to your room.
To the west, the hallway continues, and you can see the entrance to Phil's
room.

> WEST

HALLWAY
This is the west end of the hallway. A set of stairs leads down, and to the
north is Phil's room. To the east, the hallway continues, and you can see
the door to your room.

This sort of implies that the division of the hall is for the sake of
keeping the two "norths" apart, and is actually short enough that you can
see doors to other rooms from either end. I have a feeling that it's such a
convention in IF that it's not that much of an issue.

Plenty of Infocom games did this. They also did the reverse, by using one
room to symbolize a large area that had a limited number of exits, sometimes
both in the same game. I'm thinking of Enchanter, for one, which used a
number of "Courtyard" rooms while at the same time using only one "Gallery"
room to represent a long hall.

Seeing as how it's the game map, this is something of a SPOILER for
Enchanter, but if you've played it, or don't care, see:
http://infocom.topcities.com/enchanter_invisiclues/enchanter-map.jpg

> 4) Enable the game to understand directions like north-north-east (nne).
> This would ensure the most geographically accurate representation of my
> vision for the place, but all those additional directions might prove
> confusing for players.

It's ususally considered a bad idea to modify standard IF commands unless
you have no other option or a really good reason to (ie, The game design
depends on it. A good example of the latter is Small World, which slightly
modifies directional movement by necessity, becuase the game space is a
sphere.)

> I hope the formatting isn't screwed up)

Should be fine as long as the person looking at it is using a mono-spaced
font in their newsreader.

Gregg

D M Sparrow

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Dec 7, 2001, 2:00:11 PM12/7/01
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"Nicholas Hartshorn" <nrts...@maine.rr.com> wrote in message
news:B8366307.1355%nrts...@maine.rr.com...

> First, as I'm new to this newsgroup, let me say hello to all of you. I
hope
> that you guys can help me out with a question about laying out a map.
> Here's the issue...
> I'm trying to decide how best to approach the layout of a cloister
with
> many exits. If I create one room for the cloister it fits in

You may wish to keep your existing idea of one room, but just from a general
description of the area you should be able to create a sense of scale. For
example:
'You are in a large cloister, torchlight bathes the walls in an eery light.
To the east you see the grand entrance to the Chapter house, whilst almost
hidden in the darkness nearby is a smaller door also leading East.'
Don't critique about style its a one minute job, but hopefully from the
style of description players should get a general idea about the exits
present. As coding this might be a hassle you may wish to say the room is to
the NorthWest instead whilst still maintaining the placement of the closet.
And maybe having a major detail or find there.
Ie: nearby is a smaller door leading northwest.

Daz.


Adam Thornton

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Dec 7, 2001, 3:03:46 PM12/7/01
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In article <B8366307.1355%nrts...@maine.rr.com>,

Nicholas Hartshorn <nrts...@maine.rr.com> wrote:
>CH = Chapter House, C = Closet, NE = NE Room, SE = SE Room
> ____
>___ | | ___
> NE| | CH |_ |SE
> _ |____|_ _|C|____| __
>| |
>| (Cloister) |
>| E |
>| N<-+-S |
>| W |
>
>Thanks for your help in advance, and I look forward to hearing your
>thoughts.

Give the relative scales, I'd have east put you in the Chapter House,
and force the player to "enter closet", or "enter wooden door", or
whatever--go through a specific exit, anyway--to get to the closet.

Adam

Joe Mason

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Dec 7, 2001, 2:31:00 PM12/7/01
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In article <B836747C.EB5%gr...@midcoast.com>,

Gregg V. Carroll <gr...@midcoast.com> wrote:
>
>The closet is supposed to be east of the cloister, though, right? So what if
>you assign the chapter house to "east" and assign the closet to "enter"?
>That way, you could say, "There is an exit to the northeast, east, and
>sothwest, and a closet which can be entered to the east." If you cue the
>word "enter" with regard to the closet, I think people would figure out that
>they need to type "ENTER" or "ENTER CLOSET" to go there instead of the
>chapter house. I think you might have to make the closet a nested room of
>the cloister for this to work.

Yeah, this is what I'd do:

>E
To the east are the chapter house and the closet. Please "enter" one of
them.

>ENTER CHAPTER HOUSE (or) ENTER CLOSET

That's a pretty horrible message for E, but I couldn't think of a better one.
(I was trying to avoid, "which do you mean?" since it's hard to hook into the
parser's method of accepting answers.)

Joe

Joe Mason

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Dec 7, 2001, 2:36:28 PM12/7/01
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In article <9ur5dk$nmi$1...@watserv3.uwaterloo.ca>,

Actually, the more I think about this, the more I prefer dropping the closet
as a separate room. "You can enter the chapter house or the closer" is, well,
pretty funny, so if this isn't a comedy you'll probably want to avoid it.

You talked about "scale", and that's an important thing to get right. Every
nook and cranny can be an implemented location, or locations can each be entire
city blocks, but you have to keep it consistent. Here, the cloister and chapter
house are much bigger than the closet, so it just feels strange to have such a
small location implemented in detail. If the closet's important to the story,
I'd prefer to have it a "container" in the chapter house, so you can "hang coat
in closet" but not actually spend any time in it. If not, I'd just cut it
completely or make it scenery. (I can't recall where I read it - Status Line? -
but one thing that's stuck with me was Brian Moriarty's description of cutting
down the farmhouse in Trinity from 10 or 20 rooms to 2 or 3.

Joe

Nicholas Hartshorn

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Dec 7, 2001, 4:11:42 PM12/7/01
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Thanks for all the quick feedback Gregg, Daz, Joe and Adam! You've
definitely helped me narrow my options and steer me onto a solid course for
solving my question. I think between a clear description and using either
Enter or perhaps the container idea I'll be able to get the desired effect.
I'm going to try your suggestions and see which combination works best.
Thanks again for your help. It's nice to see such an active community of IF
fans and authors.
-Nick

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