Picking oneself up, dusting oneself off

So yesterday ended on a bit of a downer;  the big system I’d been working on for much of the last month turns out to be non-workable.  And worse, it seems obvious in retrospect that it wasn’t ever going to be able to make the sorts of terrain that I actually want the game to have;  I should have realised that from the start.

SO, today I’ve made some decisions about where things are going.

  1. Work on interfaces for editing large-scale terrain shape ends now.  MMORPG Tycoon 2 will be released with approximately the terrain system that I’m using in its main development branch (not the one which has had screenshots recently).  This uses a very simple procedurally generated continent shape — the player will not be able to make large-scale changes to that shape.  I might come back to this, but not until after MMORPG Tycoon 2’s initial full release.
  2. Regions will still be divided into zones (which I’ve sometimes called “subregions”).  Rather than “painting” fields/mountains/deserts/lakes/etc onto the ground, they will assign them to individual zones.  At game start, each region will have a single terrain type, and all zones inside the region will share that type.  Terrain types can affect nearby zones — a “mountain” zone may, for example, cause hilly terrain in adjacent zones.  Need to experiment with that a little, but it feels like carefully placing clusters of terrain types might produce interesting gameplay effects.
  3. Zones containing mountains will not be traversible;  they will form barriers which players cannot travel through.
  4. The player will be able to lift/lower terrain using “paint on” controls like they can now (or maybe with a slightly tweaked UI, to make it easier for the player to preview their actions).  This terrain raise/lower occurs under the zone’s assigned terrain type.  The player cannot “paint” colors onto the terrain.  Instead, the player may configure a color palette for each region, and everything in that region will be colored using that palette.  So if you want fields of red grass, you configure that on the region, rather than needing to meticulously paint red over all the normally-green grass.  Like in most MMORPGs, those color palettes blend as you move from one region to another.
  5. Instead of a terrain type, a player may place MMORPG objects into a zone.  For example, a ‘town’ is treated as an “object” which goes into a zone.  Similarly, ‘feature objects’, ‘quest zone’, ‘dungeon’, ‘graveyard’, etc.  These are all objects which can be placed within a zone and then be customised, and with which AI players can interact.  Instead of being able to freely place these objects absolutely anywhere (as now), the player may only place these into zones, and may only place a single such object in each zone.

I still need to do some testing to figure out what the right number of zones is per region.  I suspect I have too many of them right now;  my instinct is that probably somewhere around 20 would be about right (right now an average region has about 50 zones in it), but it will take some experimenting to really sort this out.

But I really want to make some big progress very quickly.  Make up for lost time.