I haven’t got much actual programming on the game done this weekend because I’m faced with two rather major decisions to make before progressing too much further least I change my mind and have to undo a whole lotta work.
The first is whether or not to create the map a seamless world like in Ultima7 – I kinda want the game to be completely playable using only the mouse and to keep the player in the centre of the screen – Using the same mouse controls that are in Caverns of Underkeep
This becomes a little bit strange when the player comes to the edge of maps as I either A) Have to break this rule, or B) Add a lot of padding to the maps so the player doesn’t just see black tiles around the maps edges – This was ok for Caverns of Underkeep as the game takes place inside of a cave, but it looks a bit funny on maps that are supposed to take place in a forest.
So the decision to make is do I enforce padding on maps? Leave a border made up of black tiles? or make the overworld seemless?
Enforcing padding is more work when it comes to design maps, as it is time spent dolling up what are effectively non-play areas.
Seemless overworld is more upfront work for me (as I have to implement a cache tree of some kind to load and unload adjacent maps in order to hide load times.) But would scale alot better – And besides I don’t think there are many other old school style RPGs that do that kind of thing – With the exception Ultima7 already noted.
The second major decision is what kind of resolution to run in, which effects what size each individual tile should be, which effects the time and skill required to make good looking tiles, which increases my budget required to get the game finished.
Originally I planned to run in 800×600 – But I just fired up fullscreen mode on my 19″ LCD and it looked like complete arse due to the game not running at native resolution. I can’t even take a screenshot because this is a physical hardware problem due to the physical nature of LCDs – But you can reproduce the effect if you want, go find some perscription glasses for which you are not perscribed and wear them.
Many game developers will fix this by rendering at some fixed rate, say 800×600 and then scaling up to whatever the native resolution should be. Thats fine for anti-alised games or vector graphics games, but mine is very purposefully supposed to be pixel art and when you’re working with discrete pixels you don’t get nice scaling without distorting your image.
Adding to the complexity, there are widescreens, non-widescreens and crts, all running at various resolutions and each with various native resolutions, I have to come up with a solution that will not look like arse to one particular group and at the same time doesn’t compromise the entire look overall.
I’ll let you know what I decide when I decide.