The Captionator

Thursday, August 5, 2010


So, I know you got your design notes fix for the day, but you can never have too much of a good thing, right?


Except for chocolate, and peanut butter.  You can have too much of those, but we don’t talk about that car ride anymore.

So I’m over caffeinated and tired, but thought I’d share with you about the bane of my existence this week: The dreaded OVERMAP*.

For you to understand the OVERMAP you need to understand maps in general.

It's a MAP!

No.  Not those maps. Keep up.  The Map that the player walks around on.

There are several levels in the DF map system. There’s the Undermap, which contains the art and anything that makes stuff happen on the quest.  On top of that sits the place where the player ‘lives’ It’s a happy, quiet place, and usually pretty empty.  The only remarkable thing about the player level is that it’s next to the monster level, where they tend to throw fun parties.


Then there’s the OVERMAP**.  Let me tell you about the OVERMAP.  There is no way to directly have the player affect it, so we get a fun little game of telephone between the things that players CAN affect and the OVERMAP. 

Not only that, but there are no developer tools for it. We’ve also used it very seldom (three times?) in the entire history of DF.  Meaning that every time we want to use it (again, very seldom) we more or less get to learn the whole system all over again.

Sound fun?  Naturally, there are a lot of times where we find creative and artistic ways to avoid having to have stuff happen on top of the player.  We think about these alternative ways and try to find ways for the game to look even better without the limitations the OVERMAP presents. 

This week, though, we have a quest (the Dragonsgrasp quest) that we really do want/need to have things happen in front of the player.

See this tree?

A TREE!!!!

It’s going to pass ON TOP of the player.  You very likely wouldn’t have noticed and that’s the point, for it to feel natural.  But that simple effect has been my obsession for the last 3 days.  And I figured I’d fill you in.

*We use a different name, but when Lim said "OVERMAP!"in a dark looming voice I think its name changed.

**I think the CAPSLOCK does a good job showing my dread of the word.

Tags: #Rolith