Automapping feature instead of requiring Cartography skill.

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Automapping feature instead of requiring Cartography skill.

Postby BrianLeichty42 » Sun Dec 04, 2011 6:55 pm

It would be nice if the new characters in the new game weren't required to take the Cartography skill if they want to view the area map that they are in. It would make things a whole lot easier and you would be able to see where you are in the area that you are in.
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Re: Automapping feature instead of requiring Cartography ski

Postby IJBall » Sun Dec 04, 2011 7:07 pm

BrianLeichty42 wrote:It would be nice if the new characters in the new game weren't required to take the Cartography skill if they want to view the area map that they are in. It would make things a whole lot easier and you would be able to see where you are in the area that you are in.

There is currently a debate around here as to whether auto-starting with Level 1 in Cartography should be a customizable 'Game Option' or not.

Personally, I don't know where I come down on the issue, and BW hasn't weighed in on it yet.

Nonetheless, new players do have the option of 'biting the bullet' and starting with a Level in the Cartography skill. I know that in my first playthroughs of both Book I and Book II, I had the Cartography skill at game's start.
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Re: Automapping feature instead of requiring Cartography ski

Postby Vroqren » Sun Dec 04, 2011 11:08 pm

I believe that BW said something about there being a man training Cartography in the first town, here.

Unfortunately, from where we appear to start out by the end of Book II, that may not be for a while.
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Re: Automapping feature instead of requiring Cartography ski

Postby BrianLeichty42 » Mon Dec 05, 2011 1:24 am

That wasn't what I meant when I posted this. The Cartography skill is a good skill, but I don't understand why if I want to see a map of the area that I'm in that I should have to take it when the Auto-Map should already be working.
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Re: Automapping feature instead of requiring Cartography ski

Postby Vroqren » Mon Dec 05, 2011 9:09 am

I'm sorry, I don't quite understand - are you saying that we should just have the map fill itself in, without the cartography skill? BW has stated many times that he doesn't plan on doing that, though you can always buy a map from a store.
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Re: Automapping feature instead of requiring Cartography ski

Postby BrianLeichty42 » Mon Dec 05, 2011 12:13 pm

Vroqren wrote:I'm sorry, I don't quite understand - are you saying that we should just have the map fill itself in, without the cartography skill? BW has stated many times that he doesn't plan on doing that, though you can always buy a map from a store.


That or at least a basic outline.
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Re: Automapping feature instead of requiring Cartography ski

Postby Kreador Freeaxe » Mon Dec 05, 2011 12:33 pm

Maybe it's because I started gaming before there were auto maps--hell, before there were home computers--but I still find this complaint funny. I never start with Cartography, and some play-throughs I don't bother with it at all. The only place where it's really significant is that one maze in Fathamurk. Without the minimap, that would be pretty insane.
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Re: Automapping feature instead of requiring Cartography ski

Postby Necromis » Mon Dec 05, 2011 12:48 pm

Kreador Freeaxe wrote:Maybe it's because I started gaming before there were auto maps--hell, before there were home computers--but I still find this complaint funny. I never start with Cartography, and some play-throughs I don't bother with it at all. The only place where it's really significant is that one maze in Fathamurk. Without the minimap, that would be pretty insane.


You know Kreador, I think personally that is the one place it shouldn't work. I mean with cartography that blacked out area is easy as pie. Of course holding down the tab key works better. :mrgreen:
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Re: Automapping feature instead of requiring Cartography ski

Postby KillingMoon » Mon Dec 05, 2011 7:25 pm

BrianLeichty42 wrote:I don't understand why if I want to see a map of the area that I'm in that I should have to take it when the Auto-Map should already be working.
Have you ever been on a holiday? Now that may sound like a silly question, but when I am, then buying a map is one of the first things I'll do. I need to pay for it. They don't come automatically.

In most games they'll come automatically, but there's no reason why it should always be like that. Eschalon's game designer has done something different.
By making it a skill Cartography has become more a part of the game, and players can take it or leave it. The game has received praise for this design.

I believe I've seen BasiliskWrangler - Eschalon's main designer - say somewhere that he'll to re-write Cartography, there are some minor issues with the way it works now, but I believe he will stick to the basic idea. I certainly hope he will stick to the basic idea!
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Re: Automapping feature instead of requiring Cartography ski

Postby silverkitty » Mon Dec 05, 2011 8:37 pm

There are two basic concepts represented by an auto-map:

1) your character's detailed notes and measurements of their surroundings - cartography mostly represents that okay, but somehow fails to feel right on the detail level progression (I, personally, would sketch rivers and roads pretty quickly as distinguishable things - and I have had 0 levels of cartography training - my map, instead of having very detailed walls describing where I cannot go in a forest, would probably just have a bunch of tree sketches surrounding a rough road sketch). Cartography also breaks here in a way I (and many others) have reported as a bug (which is apparently too big of a bug to fix in this engine, sadly) - which is that if I had a good map of the next village, I would not start erasing features of the map with my inferior mapping skills.

2) your character's memory of their surroundings - part of playing a computer RPG is that you're playing on behalf of someone who lives in that world. Part of the computer's job in the RPG is mediate the transfer of knowledge that should be second-nature to the person living in the world to the player, who hopefully does not live in that world. If you were me, you would not need to consult a map to get to the local QFC - you'd just know. If you were playing a role-playing game where I was the character, you shouldn't have to explore to find the QFC, because I just know. At the start of Eschalon II, you have lived in that village for some time - but have no memory of where anything is? How can that be? The auto-map does not represent memory very well - it only vaguely works when you explore outside the village to places you have plausibly never been before in your life. But only the first time you go there - I can vaguely remember some details (mostly big features like roads and major stores) about places I have only been once (provided I've been there recently).

To represent memory and note-taking better, it would start with major features "this is the river," "this is the mayor's house," "there's a big road from the mayor's house to the blacksmith." And higher levels of cartography would start to fill in details "and the mayor has 3 trees between his west wall and the river," "there's a small dirt path from the blacksmith's to a clearing".

This representation is probably not technically feasible as a programming task, however. The compromise provided by most modern games is to err on the side of your character's memory being good and provide a free auto-map - your character won't forget the village he lives in, and the game is there to provide the knowledge to the player that the character already has.

The compromise provided by Eschalon is to treat your character like a complete idiot who forgets his way to the bathroom unless he takes notes - and his notes leave out important details like roads and rivers until he gets "good" at taking notes - and he will erase any notes magically made for him. That compromise seems to work for some people because they can get free skill points by leaving your character with a short-term memory problem and allocating those points to weapon skills, and offload all the memory and note-taking tasks that should be part of the game (in as much as the game represents your character's knowledge and abilities and mediates them to the player) into the player's hands.

Despite my use of the word "idiot," I think Eschalon's compromise is just fine because it reflects really, really, really old school RPGs where there simply were not resources to represent character knowledge of terrain and I had to draw maps on my own, anyway. The reason I'm writing, then, is not to degrade Eschalon's system, but to compare the reasoning behind it to the "rival" compromise chosen by many modern RPGs - the one that takes character memory and incorporates it into the game, at the cost of turning your character into Captain Eidetic.

Both compromises are dealing with the core issue of "actually realistically representing memory (supplemented by in-game note-taking) is really, really, really hard." Both compromises have their good sides and bad sides. Nobody is an fool or wrong-headed for wishing the game chose the other compromise, but no one is a fool or wrong-headed for supporting the current compromise, either. What you need to realize, then, is that arguing over which compromise is better is pointless - neither is true to character memory (the character should neither be a complete idiot about their surroundings, nor should they have perfect memory of their surroundings).

I think that's mostly what I want to say. I'll probably get "tl;dr" on this, and I imagine people will cherry pick sentences and miss my entire point, because that's the nature of posting on the internet. I can live with that, but here's the summary: "there is no realistic automap feature to be found in any game in the near future. There are two systems, neither of which is perfect, and BW has chosen one of them. If you like the other one, that's fine for you, but unlikely to change Book III since BW is unlikely to majorly rewrite core mechanics. There is no real argument to be had with people who like the other system - it's just a matter of opinion."
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Re: Automapping feature instead of requiring Cartography ski

Postby BrianLeichty42 » Mon Dec 05, 2011 10:38 pm

I know that the examples that I am about to give are not Eschalon, but they are games that have the auto-map feature, or at least a mini-map feature. Games like Diablo, Diablo II and Lord of Destruction, Dungeon Siege 2 and Broken World. They allow you to see where you are in relation to everything else, the places that you've explored, etc. I think that that is something that could make the Eschalon games even better. And they aren't dependent upon having to select a skill such as Cartography.
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Re: Automapping feature instead of requiring Cartography ski

Postby Unbeliever » Tue Jan 24, 2012 7:07 pm

I see this as something that could be easily added as an option at the beginning.

Just like the "no food required" option, we could have the "I want decent mapping skills from the start without having to pay for it" option, and receive free max points in cartography at the outset.

People don't want it, don't check the box. BW wants to penalize our final score for selecting it, fine.

Just like the other "make it easier" options, we can get higher final scores and bragging rights for NOT enabling the option -- but those of us who just "play for fun" won't need to feel we are "wasting" valuable skill points on something that "should just be part of the game interface"...

[Even better -- make the option a slider, so we can pick some intermediate cartography skill level to start at. That way, we can just set a more reasonable "minimum cartography", and still get some benefit from items that improve cartography in-game...]

*SHRUG* Just my 2 cents...
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Re: Automapping feature instead of requiring Cartography ski

Postby raverdave2k » Tue Jan 24, 2012 8:22 pm

Have to agree this would be nice to have as a startup option option depending what kind of game I was in the mood for.
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Re: Automapping feature instead of requiring Cartography ski

Postby severian » Fri Jan 27, 2012 3:42 pm

no, no, no.

I`m against "press button A to win the game" solutions.

Eschalon is so playable because it reminds me of those old hardcore cRPGs like Wizardry, M&M, Ultima and others - with dozens of skills and stats that matter (and some dont`t , but well ;) )

Cartography was generally well implemented, and one thing lacking is to somehow combine increaced skill level with extended range.

Having to walk by every damn tree to put it in the map was a little bit to tedious task, so I hope that there will be an improvement.

like, "for every 2 skill levels range of cartography increases by 1 square, starting form square PC is standing next to, at level 1, reaching maximum of 5 squares at level 11"

if that`s too much, let`s limit this to the forested or open areas only, and allow mapping "secret spots" form close range only.
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Re: Automapping feature instead of requiring Cartography ski

Postby norolim » Tue Feb 07, 2012 5:30 am

I agree with severian. I like Eschalon because it has no auto-map, no quest indicators, because you have to eat, drink, sleep and above all THINK, to finish the game.

Give people auto-maps, and next they'll want auto-level, auto-equip the best gear, auto-destroy everything, auto-do all that stuff that requires thinking and let me mash my xbox controller button mindlessly...Let's leave streamlining ( :evil: ) to EAware and their platformer series Mass Deffect.
Last edited by norolim on Tue Feb 07, 2012 8:42 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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