Monday, October 28, 2013

It's All About The Map

My ever changing side project, Stellar Fortune, is a multi-player sandbox game.  One of the core ideas behind it is to have meaningful exploration.  To accomplish this, I need a large game world for the players to be able to explore.  That also means I need a good map system.

There are four levels to the game world:  Quadrant, Sector, System and Planet.  Each one is basically it's own map.  So I need a system that allows players to drill down all the way to a planet view.  I am currently going with a simple grid for each map level. Click on the Quadrant, click on the System, click on the planet and you are at the lowest level.

That's not too complicated, but in order for exploration to be meaningful I have to track what every player knows about.  So every system visited has to be noted.  Also, one way to make exploration profitable is for players to be able to sell information about systems they have visited.

As this is a sandbox, I want players to be able to exploit these newly discovered systems by being able to build there.  That brings up the question of fog of war... should players be able to see what's going on in a system once discovered even if they don't have anything there?  The easy answer is yes, the tough answer is no.

I also want discovered systems to eventually become public knowledge.  So those who discover a system will have some time to do with it as they please (claim, sell) but after a period of time passes, everyone will know about it.

This all presents some programming challenges, but I think it would provide an interesting game world for players to explore and exploit.