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Exploring: Random or Directional?


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I'm about to start working on the explore feature for Wild Souls, and I wanted it to be where the user can discover new areas. There would be an image map where the places you haven't been to are greyed out and marked with "???", and you can't fast-travel to them until you discover it. The things is, I'm not sure which would appeal to people more:

  1. You follow certain steps and you'll end up in another area, along the way you run into stuff. Straight-forward. Good for mapping out certain events in certain places. Rare or secret places become not-so-hidden with user created guides.
  2. Clicking the "explore" button won't send you in any given direction, it just makes makes stuff happen (think lioden's explore system). You're more likely to stumble upon common areas, and rare or well hidden areas will have a low chance of appearing, and will be harder to find.
Edited by Dinocanid
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I personally like directional a little more but I think both have advantages and disadvantages anyway. 

With the directional I think it can feel more immersive and give you a sense of actually going somewhere. Feels more like an rpg to me, like this is the world you are exploring. Random can be fun too, but it's not specific so doesn't have the same feeling. Seems like it'd be simpler to design and program though, since you don't have to map out the world, just the general rates you want. 

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It depends on the game for me. Some games work really well with guiding users through various unlock able destinations (usually accompanied by great storyline), while others can work really well in an open world concept.

I've never played a game that provided locations entirely on luck/chance/random. For me that sounds too frustrating!

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My take would be directional. World's usually aren't very random, most are fixed.

Also, the community aspect of discovering how to find stuff could be a really cool inclusionary side-effect. I suspect you will see your community documenting how to unlock certain areas, or discovering new places.

Think back to early Neopets when they did site events. It often included people looking through the HTML code for hints or tips to get to the next secret page in the community event. It was often a huge deal. Obviously, there are more elegant ways to explore these days, but I would prefer direction over random.

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