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Travelling About

“It's a dangerous business...going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don't keep your feet, there's no knowing where you might be swept off to.” 
― J.R.R. TolkienThe Lord of the Rings

Okay, so the above quote doesn't really have much to do with the ocean, but it is applicable nonetheless.  Sail out of the harbour, and who knows what you will find lurking within the depths of the sea, or beyond the reach of the horizon.  A current less traveled by, and you may find yourself staring down the throat of the kraken, or with the Scourge's swords at your throat.

Travel mechanics within video games serve a number of purposes from satisfying the player's need for exploration to providing a chance for random encounters with enemies. So what exactly is travel?  Simply put, travel is getting from point A to point B.  Take a closer look at it,  however, and it is not merely A to B, but also how the player does this.  Is it by boat?  Are they walking? Is there a car?

The next factor involved is distance, and by proxy, time. How far away is the objective, and how does the player get there?  Is there a risk in deviating from the quickest route, is there reward?  In games like Elder Scrolls: Oblivion and Final Fantasy, the mechanics allow the player to pick a destination or point of interest and follow their map to the objective.  These two games may seem similar when it comes to travelling, but there is a very big distinction between the two. 

Open world or linear?

Above we see a screenshot of Final Fantasy X, courtesy of Google Images.  While the game itself may seem like an open world game, the story for Final Fantasy X, and its priors, is in fact very linear.  In the game the player must get to point B, and they have very little choice in terms of plot progression, thus making it a linear experience without room for real exploration. 

Take Elder Scrolls: Oblivion, and you are given an entirely open world experience, where the player can choose their destiny, so to speak.  If they wish to deviate from the main story line, they are more than welcome to do so, and they can return to it when they have satisfied their need for exploration. 

Sailing the Waters

When it comes to travel in Iron Tides, we put a lot of thought into checkpoints, points of interest, and a randomly generated map to provide chance encounters. We have also paid close attention to starting points and different hurdles the player has to conquer.  Travel within the tides is not necessarily linear, because of the randomly generated world feature. The player is not following any set guidelines and is instead left to their whims, however there is strong incentive for the player to follow the game in a linear manner.  This brings together the two mechanics - linear and open world - into a single game.  

We are still working on our travel feature, testing the waters if you will, and so we cannot clearly define travel within our game. We look forward to working hard on this feature, and will have more to say about it in our next post!  Stay tuned!