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I've created a playable oblique-styled adventure game in HTML5, using Tiled for tilemapping. I have a storyline set up, and am ready to make my final draft map.

The game world will be loosely based on areas of East Asia.

The issue is, my game is more dependent on player interacting with NPCs than on locations. How do you go about designing a map? Should I throw down the loose representation of a city, and then fit my game into it?

I guess I'm not sure how you'd go about creating a meaningful map for an adventure game or of any special considerations.

While I'm looking for an objective answer, opinions can help a lot too.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Whatever suits your game? \$\endgroup\$ – JPtheK9 Jun 30 '15 at 4:46
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    \$\begingroup\$ Short ways, closely packed maps. No need to stretch anything. \$\endgroup\$ – aggsol Jun 30 '15 at 7:45
  • \$\begingroup\$ One of aspects that should be considered is time needed for character to reach each of the points of interest. Especially if you have no fast travel option or equivalent. In my opinion time spent by player should be carefully estimated and then tested with a stop-clock. \$\endgroup\$ – rostok Jun 30 '15 at 16:13
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There is a reason the Thriving Ghost Town - villages represented by about 3 buildings and huge metropoles represented by about 20 - is such a common trope in games. Even a small town of realistic size would be far too large for most story-focused game concepts. You simply don't have the resources to add content to make all of it interesting, and even if you would, it would just end up distracting from your main plot. So exploring and navigating it will inevitably become tedious and boring for the player.

So you usually tightly pack all story- and gameplay-relevant locations of your game into small, densely-packed maps. Avoid adding any locations which are irrelevant to the player, except when it's for aesthetics. When you feel that such unrealistically small cities break immersion too much (usually they don't - players are quite used to this), you can hand-wave it by implying that the parts of a city the player can explore is just a very small part of it and the city is actually much larger. An interesting way to do this is by having an overview map the player can navigate on which highlights "areas of interest" the player can explore but also implies that there is quite a lot of "uninteresting" city between them they wouldn't want to explore anyway when they could, like in this example from Baldur's Gate: enter image description here

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Excellent answer Phillip. This is exactly what I was looking for :) Not accepting just yet as I'd like to hear opinions of others. \$\endgroup\$ – Growler Jun 30 '15 at 13:36

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