Monday, January 23, 2012

Last month I described the reasons I don’t like the maps in Skyrim. Below are some maps from Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning, a game that’s been compared to Skyrim.

Here’s the world map in the game:

It shows where I am, the areas I’ve discovered so far, my current destination, areas of the world along with their names, and ways to travel between areas/zones. The map uses light shading and subtle texturing to keep the main areas clear and readable. Non-walkable areas are darker and strongly shaded to distinguish them from the main areas.

Here’s a local area map in the game:

It shows where I am, portals, merchants, healers, NPCs (white circles), dungeons, roads (main and side), shrines (green circles), and things I’ve spotted but not investigated yet (brown boxes). The investigation spots only show up if I’ve leveled up an exploration skill. In the northwest an area is dark because I haven’t explored it yet. Walkable areas are tan or gray, with subtle texturing. Non-walkable areas and unexplored areas are dark.

Here’s another area:

It shows larger and smaller roads, two bridges, a river, and monsters I’ve spotted. The monsters only get placed on my map if I have leveled up an exploration skill. Several areas fade to black because I haven’t explored them yet.

I love these maps! They are clean and easy to read. They show what’s important. They omit irelevant details (clouds, rocks, trees, plants). They’re updated as I explore and discover new things. They help me figure out where to go and how to get there.

How well do these maps answer the questions from my post about Skyrim’s maps?

Player questionAmalurSkyrim
Where have I been?places, zones, roadsplaces only
What areas have I missed?area map onlyarea map only
What have I done?nono
Where can I find resources?some *no
Where can I get some product/service?yesno
What do I want to return to?nono
Where have I been told to go?one questall quests
What are the main areas?zones onlyzones, lakes, rivers, towns
What locations have I been told about?(don’t know)places only
How do I get to a specific place?yesno
How long would it take me to get somewherenono
What dangers are along various paths?in area map only *no
Where are events occurring?N/AN/A
What has changed?nono
What did I miss?N/AN/A
* requires leveling up an exploration skill

I only played the demo for a short time, so it’s possible I’ve missed some aspects of the maps in Kingdoms of Amalur. I’m finding the maps to be much more useful than the ones in Skyrim.

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Sunday, January 22, 2012

I’ve been interested in interactive diagrams for a while now, and started playing making illustrations with HTML5. I’ve written a tutorial on using randomness for damage rolls. Implementation notes:

  • I’m using Mike Bostock’s D3.js + SVG for the diagrams.
  • I’m using Bret Victor’s Tangle library for diagram parameters.
  • You can drag the parameters around to change the diagrams. The idea is that you can edit the parameters in the sample code, and see the diagram update too.
  • The draggable numbers from Tangle work on the iPad too.
  • Most (all?) Android and Touchpad browsers don’t support SVG. :-( (Maybe I should’ve used Canvas)
  • Older versions of Internet Explorer don’t support SVG. :-(
  • I designed the page to reformat itself for mobile browsers, narrow browsers, and wide browsers. I used CSS media queries for reformatting the text, but unfortunately had to use Javascript for redrawing the diagrams.
  • Red Blob Games is where I’ll be placing my new tutorials and articles, instead of my Stanford alumni account.

At some point I’d like to go back to my existing articles and update them with interactive diagrams. I’m just not yet sure where they might be useful instead of gimmicky. I’d also like to write a tutorial about random loot drops.

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