Ultima Game Developer: A Seamless, Dual-Scale, or Leveled World?
The early days of Ultima features a dual-scale map: when you explored a town or castle, or when you got into combat, the game “zoomed in” to a closer view of your surroundings. While you travelled, however, the map “zoomed out” to give you a wider look at the world. These games also featured a different perspective for dungeons, allowing you to see in first-person while exploring the caves and caverns of Britannia.
Later, beginning with Ultima VI but culmunating in Ultima VII and Serpent Isle, the world was seamless, with no transitioning (except for between dungeon floors). Combat, puzzles, and dungeon exploration all took place in a single view.
Ultima VIII, and many other games, feature a leveled gameplay. Each area is a seperate “level” or “zone”. When you move between these areas, there is a slight delay as one area is unloaded and the next takes its place.
When you create your Ultima-like game, what type of world should you use?
The answer depends on several factors: How big is your game world? What engine do you use? But mainly, what style of game do you prefer?
Some engines, such as UDK, have a finite size for how large a single map can be. This makes creating a huge, seamless map quite difficult (although not impossible). One way to get around this is to use an overland map to transition between two areas, thereby giving the appearance of a dual-scale game. Another is to stream different maps in when you get near the edge of one map, and reset the global player position (essentially allowing you to travel from the center of the map to the edge, and then “snapping” the player back to the center again). While different techniques will work for different kinds of games, each has its own problems and pitfalls to overcome.
What style are your game worlds: Seamless, dual-scale, or leveled?