To Automap or not to Automap?

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ZiN
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Re: To Automap or not to Automap?

Post by ZiN » July 19th, 2017, 1:40 am

_noblesse_oblige_ wrote:
July 18th, 2017, 7:15 pm
I also do see a potential issue with hand-mapping in BT4. The grid is not very obvious from what we've seen thus far. Unless there is an option to turn on fine grid lines, hand-mapping to graph paper could actually be quite difficult in the BT4 environments, since there are not a bunch of repeated textures spaced at regular intervals.
Good point. It seems like hand-mapping and the whole grid-based movement is going to be very cumbersome and no more than a gimmick, and is only there because it's "old-school". I'd be quite pleasantly surprised, if they manage to actually pull it off somehow, but won't be holding my breath. Let's just wait for that certain update, where they show us "traditional grid-based movement and other great features".
Drool wrote:
July 18th, 2017, 8:44 pm
_noblesse_oblige_ wrote:
July 18th, 2017, 8:00 pm
Interesting, but it would still preclude the use of subtle teleports, spinners, etc... as means of messing with the player.
Nah. BT3 still had all of that.
Also BT2, GS version, which had a decent automap (better than BT3). Even with that, Cranford-style puzzles had proven to be extremely vicious, having to do those without automap, could be literally used for torture.

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Re: To Automap or not to Automap?

Post by Gizmo » July 19th, 2017, 2:57 am

ZiN wrote:
July 19th, 2017, 1:40 am
It seems like hand-mapping and the whole grid-based movement is going to be very cumbersome and no more than a gimmick, and is only there because it's "old-school". I'd be quite pleasantly surprised, if they manage to actually pull it off somehow, but won't be holding my breath. Let's just wait for that certain update, where they show us "traditional grid-based movement and other great features".
SSI's Menzobaranzan & Ravenloft:Stone Prophet both have some vast and irregular maps; both outdoor and indoor, and both with optional grid-step, or free movement, Each has a decent automap that allowed allowed custom notes, and even had a built in print function to make hard copies of the maps. It's certainly possible to do, and do well, with a bit of thought.

The automap in those two marked: Walls, Insets, Doors, Floors, Pits, Teleporters, Objects, Illusionary walls, The Party's Location, Special areas, Creature NPCs, and even furniture.

*And by 'vast', I mean a 64x64 grid per floor. :shock:

(Funny, but Grimrock 2's excellent automap cannot map more than 32x32 cells, even though the engine technically supports larger maps. If you want a bigger area, and have an accurate automap...you have to write your own from scratch, in LUA.)
Also BT2, GS version, which had a decent automap (better than BT3). Even with that, Cranford-style puzzles had proven to be extremely vicious, having to do those without automap, could be literally used for torture.
Was he not once quoted as expressing that if his game beats the player, then he's won?

(That's a question... I'm not necessarily disagreeing with the sentiment. :twisted: )

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Re: To Automap or not to Automap?

Post by thebruce » July 19th, 2017, 7:02 am

Drool wrote:
July 18th, 2017, 8:44 pm
_noblesse_oblige_ wrote:
July 18th, 2017, 8:00 pm
Interesting, but it would still preclude the use of subtle teleports, spinners, etc... as means of messing with the player.
Nah. BT3 still had all of that.
It also kind of gave away the results of teleports and spinners. Spinner in anti-magic zones meant you -had- to rely on your map and visuals to determine your orientation without MACO. The map told you where you were and which direction you moved. It made spinners merely a movement annoyance, and removed any mystery of locating teleport destinations. Perhaps that was intended, dunno. But that's a factor to consider in the existence or use of an automapper. Some ideas were discussed in the other thread about how those mystery elements could be retained in an automapper, by introducing an uncertainty element in the automapper (dizziness for unknown orientation, or a new layer for unknown location, both 'fixed' with the ability to cut and/or rotate map sections as desired, as one would effectively resort to were one hand-mapping).

If the intent is to get rid of that level of mystery factor of spinner and teleports, then ok (not a fan, but understandable for "modern" gaming). As long as it's recognized that it is an element of mapping that will no longer be relevant with an automapper that doesn't handle it. :)
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Re: To Automap or not to Automap?

Post by Crosmando » July 19th, 2017, 7:49 am

Discussion is a tad redundant, of course BT4 is going to have automap, there's no doubt about it.
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Re: To Automap or not to Automap?

Post by thebruce » July 19th, 2017, 9:33 am

Sure, but there's no harm in discussion how it could/should be implemented...
(I take the thread title more like "to (use) automap, or not (use) automap" :P)
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Re: To Automap or not to Automap?

Post by _noblesse_oblige_ » July 19th, 2017, 4:26 pm

ZiN wrote:
July 19th, 2017, 1:40 am
It seems like hand-mapping and the whole grid-based movement is going to be very cumbersome and no more than a gimmick, and is only there because it's "old-school". I'd be quite pleasantly surprised, if they manage to actually pull it off somehow, but won't be holding my breath. Let's just wait for that certain update, where they show us "traditional grid-based movement and other great features".
Agreed. I think that trying to cater to the "old school" crowd half-assedly is possibly worse than not catering to us at all.
thebruce wrote:
July 19th, 2017, 7:02 am
Drool wrote:
July 18th, 2017, 8:44 pm
_noblesse_oblige_ wrote:
July 18th, 2017, 8:00 pm
Interesting, but it would still preclude the use of subtle teleports, spinners, etc... as means of messing with the player.
Nah. BT3 still had all of that.
It also kind of gave away the results of teleports and spinners. Spinner in anti-magic zones meant you -had- to rely on your map and visuals to determine your orientation without MACO. The map told you where you were and which direction you moved. It made spinners merely a movement annoyance, and removed any mystery of locating teleport destinations.
Yes. Exactly the point I have been trying to make.
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Re: To Automap or not to Automap?

Post by Lord of Riva » July 21st, 2017, 3:11 am

im gonna bet 20$ that there will be an Automap, regardless of the discussions here.

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Re: To Automap or not to Automap?

Post by Gizmo » July 21st, 2017, 3:24 am

Lord of Riva wrote:
July 21st, 2017, 3:11 am
im gonna bet 20$ that there will be an Automap, regardless of the discussions here.
Grimrock released with an optional off switch for the automap. Come to think of it, so did Lands of Lore. It's not beyond possibility that BT4 would ship with the automap as optionally absent.

*In my case, though I'd laud giving us the option, I doubt I'd avail myself of the experience... not unless it was somehow a really bad automap. ;)
(Or... if it was a really incredible map layout.)

I've seen good automaps with the built in option to print the explored parts of the map; does Unreal have printer support?

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Re: To Automap or not to Automap?

Post by thebruce » July 21st, 2017, 5:46 am

I would use the automap if it's a partial mapping to augment manual mapping. If it's attempting to be a full-on automapper, I'll be turning it off.
Assuming of course the levels are reasonably grid-mappable and the automapper isn't needed to make sense of the levels... which I truly hope not.
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Re: To Automap or not to Automap?

Post by _noblesse_oblige_ » July 21st, 2017, 5:23 pm

Lord of Riva wrote:
July 21st, 2017, 3:11 am
im gonna bet 20$ that there will be an Automap, regardless of the discussions here.
I don't think anyone believes that there won't be an automapper feature. The discussion here is more about what form it should take and whether people should receive incentives for not playing with it on, assuming that it can be turned off.
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Re: To Automap or not to Automap?

Post by Lord of Riva » July 22nd, 2017, 2:31 am

Gizmo wrote:
July 21st, 2017, 3:24 am
Lord of Riva wrote:
July 21st, 2017, 3:11 am
im gonna bet 20$ that there will be an Automap, regardless of the discussions here.
Grimrock released with an optional off switch for the automap. Come to think of it, so did Lands of Lore. It's not beyond possibility that BT4 would ship with the automap as optionally absent.

*In my case, though I'd laud giving us the option, I doubt I'd avail myself of the experience... not unless it was somehow a really bad automap. ;)
(Or... if it was a really incredible map layout.)

I've seen good automaps with the built in option to print the explored parts of the map; does Unreal have printer support?
yeah sure,optional may be the case.

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Re: To Automap or not to Automap?

Post by thebruce » July 26th, 2017, 11:20 am

An interesting discovery...

In the BT2 clue book, map "wraparound magic" is referred to as breaking the "Law of Marduk":

~ "Since no one dares to defy Marduk the Dragon God, all castles and dungeons, fortresses and complexes must be built according to his Law; eighty-eight paces by eighty-eight paces" (or four paces per square) "They continued north until, according to the dimensions of my map on the facing page, they should have been stopped by the confines of the dungeon walls. But they continued north! At first I was shocked, thinking that whoever built this place ignored the Law of Marduk"

Of course, the clue book is a self-contained story, but I found it intriguing and neat that it was given an in-universe explanation. Guessing there's a reason the author chose Marduk as the name, but, something to keep in mind? :) Storywise, clearly breaking the Law of Marduk became the norm (or his law didn't apply outside the main realm?) after BT2, heh.
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Re: To Automap or not to Automap?

Post by _noblesse_oblige_ » July 26th, 2017, 5:18 pm

Ssh. Don't tell inXile that, in the real world, Marduk was worshiped by the ancient Babylonians as one of their chief deities. Otherwise we will end up with a Babylonian-Scottish mythos for BT4. ;)
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Re: To Automap or not to Automap?

Post by phimseto » July 26th, 2017, 8:45 pm

All this talk of Marduk is prompting me to pass along a book recommendation. If you like historical fiction, I encourage you to read "The Assyrian" and its sequel "The Blood Star" by Nicholas Guild. Fun times in Babylon.

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Re: To Automap or not to Automap?

Post by _noblesse_oblige_ » July 27th, 2017, 5:32 pm

Thanks, phimseto. I have not read that series before. Grabbing the first book now.
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Re: To Automap or not to Automap?

Post by waltc » August 16th, 2017, 5:50 am

I did the original BT games with graph paper--I doubt I'll ever forget the advice in the manual about using plain old graph paper with 22x22-square grids for each level (unless, that is, I'm mistaken about that--it's been a *long* time...;)) I find it interesting that I still recall it so clearly after all these years. It was indeed an experience of discovery and intrigue to be remembered--but, otoh, it also sort of kills the notion of replays--whether you retain the maps--because the mystery is gone--or you lose them--which makes the idea of remapping by hand all the more daunting. IE, there is a reason why automapping has become pervasive. In the original BT I&2 games, mapping by hand was an actual part of the games--at the time it was nearly unique as in the latter 80's I had never seen it before--it added both time and mystery to the game. But games today can be so much richer than those early games, which were essentially text games with graphics--barely more advanced than Zork with graphics--although the Amiga and Mac versions made much, much better use of sound in the games--for both 1 & 2, the Amiga versions were the one to play, imo--with the caveat that the Amiga versions arrived a year or two after the DOS version--which used nothing save the infamous "whistling speaker beep" for everything audible...;) I had played the DOS version first, of course. Automapping frees the player to enjoy the *game* these days, without the trudge of move-pick-up-pencil-map-square, move-pick-up-pencil-map-square, the whole game through.

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Re: To Automap or not to Automap?

Post by thebruce » August 16th, 2017, 6:20 am

Automapping also became more pervasive because the maps themselves beame FAR more complex. There's an easy structure to 4-wall grid squares that is easily recorded on paper. Everyone learned their own way to make notes and depict various effects and in-map content. It's fascinating to compare different mapipng techniques.

Personally, BT games would be too much to play any more than a number of years apart. By the time I would go back to play, I'd have forgotten the details of the maps, and every time I'd play I would re-map. Because there's so much content in the games, there's a sense of accomplishment if I was able to revisit and map every square of every level. I mean, the game really is fast if you just go to the necessary points in order to complete the story; which you can do if you use your prior maps. So really a part of fully enjoying the game IS exploring and visiting as much as you can, in which case remapping is nullified if you use your old maps, and exploring seems redundant and pointless. If you replay BT games, you almost -need- to remap in order to take in the full game.

That's why I only come back to a game every few years. So it's not like I feel like I just played it and everything is fresh. Plus, each time my mapping technique changes just a bit. It's like honing skills :)

Hand-mapping in RPGs really is a lost art. I would devastated if it were not included in some manner, even if optional, in the next BT installment. Sure times have changed, but in the changing times, mapping has been lost because of complexity. "It's boring" is not excuse, that just means it's not for everyone. Well not every game mechanic is for everyone either.

Provide it. Those who love it will do it. Those who don't won't.
And by provide it, I just mean ensure the game is mappable. Throw some twists into what's required to map properly, since it's a next-gen BT title. By that I mean I'm not adamant about retaining the same 'classic' 22x22 map grid, or remaining consistent to the map content of the classic. I just mean keep hand-mapping in mind when designing areas, and consider how a player might be able to use the mapped levels themselves to discover things. Add value to the experience of mapping, whatever form it takes. I'd be up for that. Mapping is a gameplay element.

I'm fine if there's an optional automapper - but I'm making the argument that a MAJOR unique aspect to BT gameplay is mapping. If it's not there, it's just another modern RPG. This is Bard's Tale 4. It's modern, but it's also Bard's Tale. So bring hand-mapping to the "modern" gaming culture :)
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Re: To Automap or not to Automap?

Post by Gizmo » August 16th, 2017, 9:03 am

thebruce wrote:
August 16th, 2017, 6:20 am
Hand-mapping in RPGs really is a lost art. ...
Sure times have changed, but in the changing times, mapping has been lost because of complexity.
Handwriting has been lost because of complexity. :(

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Re: To Automap or not to Automap?

Post by thebruce » August 16th, 2017, 9:56 am

*sadface*
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Re: To Automap or not to Automap?

Post by _noblesse_oblige_ » August 16th, 2017, 6:55 pm

waltc wrote:
August 16th, 2017, 5:50 am
-although the Amiga and Mac versions made much, much better use of sound in the games--for both 1 & 2, the Amiga versions were the one to play, imo
<off-topic digression> Have you actually played either the Mac version or the IIgs version of BT1 with MIDI instruments? I've played the Amiga version in UAE and the sound quality is not even close to the Mac or the IIgs version with MIDI.
waltc wrote:
August 16th, 2017, 5:50 am
--with the caveat that the Amiga versions arrived a year or two after the DOS version--which used nothing save the infamous "whistling speaker beep" for everything audible...;)
The Mac version of BT1 also arrived later and, in addition to have perhaps the nicest sound, it also used a very pleasing font for the GUI (menus, party roster) - not the chunky, pixelated stuff that was ported among the other platforms, including the Amiga. But, yeah, I agree that the DOS version was aurally and visually jarring between the beep-boop speaker and strange coloration of the graphics. IMO, of course. I'm sure people who only played the DOS version think the colors look perfectly normal....
</off-topic digression>

Not having an automap allows the game to trick the player in ways that an automap would reveal - BT did this with teleport destinations that looked similar to their origins, the use of spinners (without MACO in effect), etc.... I also agree with thebruce's argument about a sense of discovery.
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