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When creating open-world maps, a big issue to take into consideration is how "borders" of sorts are implemented. Obviously, in an open-world game, there shouldn't be invisible-wall borders, as it ruins immersion, and makes the game feel more "artificial".

I've done a little bit of research online and I've found the following methods:

  • Have the map be an island, surrounded by water that will kill you if you venture out too far.
  • Have the map be surrounded by mountains that are much too steep to climb over.
  • A combination of the above; mountains plus a body of water. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim does something like this but does have places where paths lead out of the world. (Thanks @Pharap)

These seem like the best methods but I'm wondering if there are any other methods that can be used to create borders in an open world without ruining immersion.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Actually I think you'll find Skyrim has pathways 'leaving' the world at ground level and explicitly tells the player they cannot venture any further. I am thinking particularly of one on the far south east of the map by Black Briar Lodge. The game explicitly tells you "You cannot go that way". imgur.com/rjCQLAz (End of pedantic comment) \$\endgroup\$ – Pharap Dec 2 '15 at 11:42
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    \$\begingroup\$ The first thing that came to my mind would be to make your world flat, like how everyone once thought the Earth was. If you go to the edge, you could end up falling off of the edge of the Earth. You could then do a neat scene where you swell and die in space or get spitted by the Gods! \$\endgroup\$ – WebWanderer Dec 2 '15 at 21:32
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    \$\begingroup\$ Another option could be to make your world spherical so you don't need borders. I've always liked the few games that I have played that implemented this, such as the old Rachet and Clank I played as a kid. \$\endgroup\$ – WebWanderer Dec 2 '15 at 21:37
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    \$\begingroup\$ I don't know but I really like the Witcher 3's idea: "You have reached the world's edge, none but devils play past here" \$\endgroup\$ – spauny Dec 2 '15 at 22:45
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    \$\begingroup\$ Just a quick addition of a common boundary method for shooter maps - "landmines" cause the player death when they venture too far off screen. \$\endgroup\$ – DoubleDouble Dec 3 '15 at 17:24

11 Answers 11

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Just some quick additional suggestions, that sometimes complement what others have already said.

1) water solution: I never understood why killing the player with a shark or something. Just let him/her swim infinitely (like with a proceduraly generated infinite ocean). That alone would closer resemble the idea of how distant it would be in real life to cross an ocean by swimming. The player would just get tired at some point of going forward and then would decide to reload (because going back all over again would be just as tedious).

Of course, if you have modern boats, ships, jet-skis, etc, and the concept of gas as resource, that works well too and then it becomes part of the item number 4 below, since the player can just sail until running out of gas. Then, if he/she can swim, it becomes again a problem of just letting him/her swim forever.

2) scene barrier: it does not have to be mountains. A dense forest, as someone else told here. A canyon with a beautiful view. A part of a city with too many buildings in the way and the only possible streets blocked. A huge fire destroying parts of a city, or a gas leak, or a radiation accident in part of a city that blocks the way. If the city was invaded by aliens, maybe the gigantic spaceship is itself blocking the path to other parts of the city as it crushed when arriving. Or, why not, you can have flying islands like in Zelda Skyward Sword, where the boundary is given by not-falling-to-death.

3) challenging who tries: you can always increase the challenge exponentially as far as the player goes. Imagine an open-world in the country fields. The player crosses farms in the direction of the inner-lands of your world. More and more enemies show up with no power-up, health kits or something in the way. If you make these field camps procedural and increase the challenge, the player will eventually get killed without having the feeling that he/she was cheated by an artificial border. I like this approach because it even creates in the mind of the players the impression that there might be something hidden ahead (of course, you have to take care and don't abuse on this illusion, to avoid the players becoming mad at you!).

4) lack of resources: if a player has to eat/take medicine/whatever, and/or if vehicles have gas, you don't need boundaries. Let the player and/or its vehicles die. That is particularly useful in a space game, where creating a non-artificial barrier is quite difficult. In other words, if that suits your gameplay framework, make the open world finite by not being accessible due to being impossible to accumulate resources to go beyond a give distance.


I won't keep going with a ton of suggestions based on storyline and gameplay. My reasons: first I don't know which type of game we are talking about. Second: frankly, as nice as it can be to have a story-line or gameplay related solution such as failing missions because some hostage has died when you tried to get out of the borders, I don't think that is exactly what you meant and, on the contrary, I found those to be usually harmful for immersion. But if you happen to be interested in these types too, let me know and I can drop some ideas that I have either seen or thought.

Also, as a general point, notice that more than once I touched procedural generation. Really, I think procedural generation is your friend here. You don't need to use it only for having infinite worlds. I always say we should start using it much more often to make the finite open-games more realistic and diverse. Using it for a fake endless border would be a neat use.

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    \$\begingroup\$ It's also quite handy to give the player a quick way to return back to the "actual game zone" when they're in the endless ocean/forest/... People don't save their games anymore - if you don't have some kind of "Teleport home", show them something like "It seems like you're lost. Press F1 to teleport back to shore." \$\endgroup\$ – Luaan Dec 2 '15 at 8:17
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    \$\begingroup\$ I guess you could invent some way to keep this without breaking the immersion. For example, if it's a modern game, a patrol boat might approach you, and give you a lift if desired. \$\endgroup\$ – Luaan Dec 2 '15 at 8:38
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    \$\begingroup\$ The "Scene Barrier" concept made me think of how Metal Gear Solid V does the opposite. In MGSV's Afghanistan map, there are unclimbable cliffs, bluffs and outcroppings throughout the area, not just at the edges. This, combined with an irregularly-shaped map, makes the edges of the map blend in. It's not a sudden change in terrain when you reach the edge, it's just another area you can't climb. The disadvantage is that much of the map is valleys and mountain passes, with less open land. But using the same features for map borders and interior map features is a good idea. \$\endgroup\$ – recognizer Dec 2 '15 at 16:24
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    \$\begingroup\$ An alternate solution to the "player has swum too far from shore" problem is to let the player swim pretty far out and then simply animate the water as moving without actually letting the player get any further away. That way when they turn around to go back it will always take a fixed (and reasonable) amount of time to swim back to shore regardless of long they persevered in trying to get away. Now you don't have to break immersion by offering a teleport dialog and it shouldn't take forever to return to the actual map. \$\endgroup\$ – Mike D. Dec 3 '15 at 3:32
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Random832 Sounds like you really care about your users' experience... If I remember correctly, games such as GTA have done what MikeD suggests. Sometimes you just want to see how far the game lets you go. At that point, the player is not "immersed" already. A limit on how far they actually proceed helps prevent wasting too much time not being immersed and gets them back into playing the game, rather than wasting maybe 15-30 minutes and then turning off the game - and then the game is off already so, might as well leave with that feeling of boredom.. possibly not to come back. \$\endgroup\$ – DoubleDouble Dec 3 '15 at 17:37
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Different games have different requirements in how realistic they are to their genre, e.g. FPS games can constrain to a building, whereas RPG games like Rust / DayZ / Skyrim have larger and more open world maps to suit their style.

Some common ones across games (and examples) include:

  • Constrain to an Island and:
    • Ruin the only bridge out (GTA 3, Vice City, Unturned, etc)
    • The ferry only comes sometimes
    • You're trapped (Dead Island, Just Cause, Crysis)
  • Forest/Open World games with large continents (parent maps):
    • Blocked by trees except for a few areas (Pokemon, Legend of Zelda)
    • Blocked mountains (Skyrim, as you pointed out)
  • Out-of-bounds areas (A higher governing force controls where you can and can't go, meaning you are killed when exiting):
    • Turrets shoot you down (Borderlands, Batman: Arkham City)
    • You fail the mission (CoD, probably Battlefield too)
  • Objectives unlock continuation (Literal, not the metaphoric idea embodied by gaming):
    • More enemies spawn until you do and you die eventually (CoD: Zombies, Left 4 Dead)
  • You get moved by a higher power:
    • Picked up / teleported back (Imagine AM from Harlan Ellison's I have no mouth and I must scream (the story, not the game adaption))
  • Don't have borders, increase map size until your program cannot handle it
    • Walking and discovering increasing size of world (Minecraft and the concept of program failure at a certain distance from the centre of the map).
  • In a city:
    • Barricades / cars block you from moving (Left 4 Dead)
    • Buildings blocking your path (Pretty much every urban level of FPS games)
  • On a cliff / high place:
    • If you traverse past the edge, you fall off and die (A few Borderlands levels)
  • Your character physically cannot handle the outside environment:
    • Other planets & the moon with an artificial environment (WORLD END ECONOMiCA)
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    \$\begingroup\$ You get moved by a higher power - e.g. Lakitu in Mario Kart!! \$\endgroup\$ – Mathieu Guindon Dec 2 '15 at 2:13
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    \$\begingroup\$ Another important option is "randomly generate wilderness beyond the map borders". Kind of like the Minecraft one, although the purpose is to make it not worthwhile so that the players eventually decide to go back in bounds where interesting things are happening. That's what The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind did. The game took place on an island, and if you went too far past the shoreline in any direction, you would find yourself in randomly generated "Wilderness" maps that were just empty ocean. \$\endgroup\$ – Thunderforge Dec 2 '15 at 3:58
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    \$\begingroup\$ World of Warcraft has an implementation where the world itself is completely open but there is a fatigue bar and if you swim out too far, the fatigue bar will start draining. After it is completely drained, you will lose health and eventually die. This ends up with funny scenarios where players who move fast enough can get to restricted areas (GM Island). Also worth noting that while Minecraft has an open world, the distance from the center to the 'far lands' (the 'edge' of the universe in Minecraft) is so large it's impractical to get there with normal means (i.e, without cheating). \$\endgroup\$ – Dan Pantry Dec 2 '15 at 9:19
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    \$\begingroup\$ Just when I thought I could forget 'I have no mouth and I must scream' was a thing. Also Skyrim had more than just mountains stopping you, and Minecraft added optional world borders a few updates/months ago. \$\endgroup\$ – Pharap Dec 2 '15 at 11:45
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    \$\begingroup\$ In GTA Vice City you can reach invisible borders if you go far enough into the ocean by boat or plane (your vehicle will be reflected without being damaged, so you you may not even notice this at the first time). \$\endgroup\$ – Ruslan Dec 8 '15 at 11:17
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I am a bit hesitant to add this option, but it could work.

Torus.

When seen in 2D (neglect height for a moment) the inside AND the outside of a torus are endless. They simply wrap around on both axes.

Placing your characters on a shape like that could be tricky. You could always go easy on yourself and get a less exact torus.

Wolfram Torus

(source)

Now we're talking 3D objects, how about a plain old sphere? They don't necessarily have to be as big as Earth. Make them the size of a small moon, like Dactyl, the moon of 243 Ida. I can imagine writing a story for such a setting can be quite the challenge (same goes for the torus).

Mario Galaxy makes use of this by making very small planetoids. If it works for Nintendo there's probably some merit to the concept.

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    \$\begingroup\$ A toroidal world has been used to good effect in several classic RTS / "god games", such as the original Settlers and Populous: The Beginning (which further played with the perspective to make the actually toroidal maps look like spheres). \$\endgroup\$ – Ilmari Karonen Dec 2 '15 at 11:31
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    \$\begingroup\$ @R1ck77 by carefully designing your land masses you can prevent that. If you've 3 islands around the toroid you can swim from #1 to #2 to #3 to #1. Not perfect, but most people will never try and the rest may not notice. \$\endgroup\$ – jwenting Dec 2 '15 at 11:37
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Pharap Once you allow your game to contain toroidal worlds, I'm quite sure such plot devices would be well within the sphere of possibilities. \$\endgroup\$ – Mast Dec 2 '15 at 11:52
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Mast That reminds me where I've seen this done before. Most games in the Dragon Quest series have full free roaming and the (2D) map wraps around when you go over the edge, making the world effectively a torus. Or a UV-mapped sphere, but that has weird implications about the shape of the tiles and by extension the world. I know at least DQ IX and DQ VI did it, fairly certain IV and V did it. \$\endgroup\$ – Pharap Dec 2 '15 at 11:56
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    \$\begingroup\$ The most obvious way to expand: "different planets". Also, this can be a part of a "flat word" that teleports the player in a torus style loop, with an in-universe explanation, "gods enclosed their believers in a small piece of universe carved for them..." - in such a case the borders can move to allow for expansion, following plot developments. \$\endgroup\$ – SF. Dec 2 '15 at 13:59
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Basically, you just need to put something at the edge of the world that the player can't move past for some reason. Anything will work, as long as it stops the player from going any further in a particular direction while using the actions allowed by your game.

You seem to be looking for a comprehensive list, so here you go; I think this covers all the viable possibilities:

  • A mountain.
  • A pond (if the player can't swim)
  • A river or canal or sea (if the player can swim, but is a vampire)
  • An extremely long train.
  • A fence (if the player cannot destroy or clamber over fences)
  • An infinitely-long cylinder (as all players intuitively know that games don't ever let you clamber over cylindrical objects)
  • An angry poodle which moves around the world boundary to block the player's path.
  • Lasers.
  • An insoluble maze.
  • A water-resistant cornfield (if the player is afraid of insoluble maize).
  • Inexplicable but conveniently placed mines.
  • An unexpectedly large dachshund.
  • Quicksand.
  • A densely packed Thanksgiving-day parade which the player cannot move past.
  • A bridge which is closed off due to zombie outbreak.
  • zombies (who presumably got across the bridge before it was closed).
  • Giant zombies.
  • Mutant zombies.
  • Fast zombies.
  • Extremely slow zombies.
  • Thanksgiving-day zombie parade which the player cannot move past.
  • A line of women all named Helen.
  • A line of men all named Steve.
  • A force field (N.B.: Not an invisible wall)
  • An invisible wall (N.B.: Not a force field)
  • Choking jungle.
  • Giant space piranhas.
  • A "do not cross - police line" tape facing inward (if the player is a law-abiding citizen).
  • A "do not cross - police line" tape facing outward (if the player is not a law-abiding citizen).
  • A large building.
  • A small building (if the player cannot climb over small buildings).
  • A kitten (if the player cannot climb over kittens).
  • A sachet of Cup-o-Soup powdered soup, Chicken Noodle flavour. (If the player cannot climb over sachets of Cup-o-Soup powdered soup, Chicken Noodle flavour.)
  • Poison fog.
  • Noby Noby Girl (see above comment re: infinitely-long cylinders)
  • Poison frogs.
  • The trailer for the upcoming Star Wars film. (Or at least this seems to work on the majority of my friends, even though they must have already watched it a dozen times. Your mileage may vary. May need to issue patches to the game as new Star Wars films are released. Possible Copyright issues, too.)
  • God.
  • Infinite hinterland.
  • A mountain of bones.
  • Giant magnets.
  • Outside the playable area there is only Pong.
  • Chain-link fence.
  • Make game online-only, and pretend there was a connection error if the player gets too close to the edge of the world. Teleport them back to the start, and tell them they need to reboot their router.
  • A link to TVTropes.
  • Impenetrable fire.
  • Crushing despair.
  • Meticulously planted gardens, upon which the player does not wish to tread.
  • An infinite list.
  • Have EULA restrict player from traveling too far.
  • A manned border crossing, and the player doesn't have the necessary paperwork.
  • A fake loading screen.
  • Grey squares (if your game is Chess).
  • Have protagonist's mother call on their mobile if the player starts wandering off.
  • Have player's actual mother call on their mobile if the player starts wandering off. (Requires a lot more micromanagement, but very effective)
  • Spawn easy-to-defeat but wealthy enemies for the player to kill and loot, breadcrumbing the player back into the main game area.
  • The bridge of death.
  • Any incline steeper than 30 degrees either up or down, with a visible crack in the mesh between it and the playable area.
  • Electroconvulsive therapy.
  • Extreme homeopathy (see pond, river, canal, and sea, above)
  • Nesting birds. (Seriously. You do not want to mess with these.)
  • @JoshPetrie. Just saying; nothing seems to get past him! :)
  • A pit so wide that the player cannot jump over it (this is basically the 'canal' solution, above, but without needing the potentially expensive water shader)
  • Cliffs.
  • Progressive SAN loss.
  • The infinite blackness of space.
  • The inarticulate raving of a lunatic.
  • The ineffable beauty of a daffodil.
  • The interminable loneliness of the soul.
  • A wall.

...hope that helps!

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    \$\begingroup\$ You could put this list in their way. Nice little wall going on here :) \$\endgroup\$ – WernerCD Dec 2 '15 at 13:00
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    \$\begingroup\$ This is an amazing answer. I had a really good chuckle reading this while eating breakfast this morning. :) \$\endgroup\$ – Ethan Bierlein Dec 2 '15 at 14:19
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    \$\begingroup\$ disappointed that "Sharks" and "Laser Sharks" were not the two options immediately following "Lasers" \$\endgroup\$ – corsiKa Dec 2 '15 at 21:37
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    \$\begingroup\$ "A manned border crossing, and the player doesn't have the necessary paperwork." - room for an expansion pack, too. \$\endgroup\$ – Random832 Dec 3 '15 at 16:32
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    \$\begingroup\$ "Have EULA restrict player from traveling too far" +9001 \$\endgroup\$ – Kroltan Dec 4 '15 at 0:58
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Flat Earth

The Earth is flat, so why not border the world realistically; A cliff that falls into space.

enter image description here

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Caves.

enter image description here

No start, no end, no invisible walls. There will be no obvious 'walls designed to keep the player from leaving the playing area', since you're in a cave. All walls are the same.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Of course that use is quite limited. But I honestly thought it to be a rather interesting idea to have games happening at all inside a cave or indoors in general. \$\endgroup\$ – MAnd Dec 2 '15 at 2:42
  • \$\begingroup\$ @MAnd Games like Red Faction:Armageddon happen for a a major part in caves. It doesn't feel limiting. It's not open world, but I see no reason why it wouldn't work for open world just as well. \$\endgroup\$ – Mast Dec 2 '15 at 2:47
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    \$\begingroup\$ I guess the problem lies in how one defines "open". But I am not against the idea, on the contrary I was intrigued by it. I never played Red Faction: Armageddon, but now I got interested to try and see it. Thanks for mentioning it. \$\endgroup\$ – MAnd Dec 2 '15 at 2:49
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    \$\begingroup\$ Also, think of Metroid/Super Metroid... all caves - with a few spates in space ships and what not. "Massive". Open. Gated. etc. Or Resident Evil... the movie where they have to go into the under ground research compound. Going deeper. Running into more problems. Then more problems. Then the fight to get out... .. . \$\endgroup\$ – WernerCD Dec 2 '15 at 12:55
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    \$\begingroup\$ Although it doesn't always feel like it, this is effectively what you have in most first person shooters, e.g. Quake / Unreal Tournament. The map editor starts with a solid world, and you carve rooms and tunnels out of it to make your level. \$\endgroup\$ – joeytwiddle Dec 9 '15 at 10:56
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A very interesting example is in the first scene of Fallout 4 :

You are in your normal house during a normal day and suddenly there are news reports and alerts of nuclear bombs (the beginning of the nuclear war of 2077). You are then tasked to go to the nearby vault as soon as possible. But you can take a long time to do so if you wish. The relevant part is that when you try to leave the map, the bomb actually explodes nearby (it normally explodes only when you reached the vault), killing everyone, setting a hidden limit to the map. You can see this in action here.

This is the same kind of border as the turrets in Borderlands (as noted in Quill's answer), but kind of hidden as it then feels like it is time-related while it is not.

In the same vein I've seen in Hitman Absolution's Streets of Hope level a border implemented in a similar fashion with a train. In a town, as long as the player stays far from the railroad there is no train, but as soon as the player approaches, the train comes, preventing the player from crossing. The train is actually an infinite train and doesn't end as long as the player stays close. As soon as the player goes far enough, the train ends.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ In the same vein I've seen (in a game I can't remember) a border implemented in a similar fashion with a train. In a town, as long as the player stays far from the railroad there is no train, but as soon as the player approaches, the train comes, preventing the player from crossing. It wasn't syndicate was it? (the original version) . \$\endgroup\$ – Chris H Dec 2 '15 at 13:43
  • \$\begingroup\$ @ChrisH I can't find it right now but yeah, that's a possibility. \$\endgroup\$ – Autar Dec 2 '15 at 19:25
  • \$\begingroup\$ @ChrisH I remember Hitman Absolution's Streets of Hope level having this kind of border. \$\endgroup\$ – TidB Dec 2 '15 at 23:00
  • \$\begingroup\$ @TidB It was indeed Hitman Absolution. I can't right now but I'll look for a link to show it in action. \$\endgroup\$ – Autar Dec 4 '15 at 8:41
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    \$\begingroup\$ I get so distracted with stuff like this. I will try to trick the train in every way possible so I can get past somehow...okay maybe not every way possible but there's a good 5 minutes of time being wasted. \$\endgroup\$ – Matthew Dec 4 '15 at 22:42
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Include leaving the game area in your story.

Perhaps those pesky guards wont let you leave the city. Perhaps the front door or gate is blocked/locked. It might not all be impossible, but still hard to leave the game area.

What happens when the player does leave? You win the game! (but perhaps there is another better ending?)

The point is the player need to have a incentive to stay in the game area. This does not have to be by force, as long as it's clear that leaving will have a bad outcome to the story. The player might not be able to rescue his friend, might never be able to unravel the secret story, might not be able to find the holy grail.

In an open world the player might go further out of bound than in a completely railroaded game. However, when the player does not return in time, objectives might run out of time, enemies might replenish or puzzles reset.

Now, when the player does reach the edge of the map, based on the story we can do different things.

  • The game can end in a win or lose condition.
  • The hero can refuse to abandon his quest.
  • The hero can get tired of travelling in the wrong direction, and return to known ground.
  • The hero can get in trouble (tired at sea, dehydrated in the dessert), be rescued, and wake up in the play area.
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    \$\begingroup\$ This can be done well, and make a lot of sense, even for an "open" game - if it's made so that leaving in certain directions means choosing to leave this part of the world for a while, and so ending the game for that character in a certain way (depending on where and the character's situation, leaving might be a win, a draw, a retirement, a vacation where the player returns after a bunch of time passes, or stepping up to a more abstract play mode, or the next module of the game coming out some time in the future, or...) \$\endgroup\$ – Dronz Dec 2 '15 at 16:11
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    \$\begingroup\$ If you want some food for thought on ways to do this kind of transition, check out The Stanley Parable. Though that's perhaps a bit of a pathological case, since 'railroading' and the player's desire to escape it are a large part of the theme. I have a soft spot in my heart for the broom closet, even if it has now escaped me. \$\endgroup\$ – Dan Bryant Dec 2 '15 at 18:14
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A neat trick I've seen in a game from the past (Ultima 7): make the entire world map seamless, namely once the player has reached an edge, (s)he gets teleported to the opposite side.

This technique could work pretty well also if your map is surrounded by water, without the need of blocking the player o killing him/her.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Could be a spherical world, even... \$\endgroup\$ – Dronz Dec 2 '15 at 16:11
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    \$\begingroup\$ Actually, combining this with the infinite swimming is really cool. \$\endgroup\$ – Tomáš Zato Dec 4 '15 at 12:32
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Dronz: Yeah, but who would believe in something as unlikely as that??? :) \$\endgroup\$ – Tom Zych Dec 6 '15 at 16:37
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Your question is very general to being with, so a specific answer (like mountains, water, or caves) can't really be given as we don't know what specific setting you are talking about.

A general answer would be to incorporate things from the environment into the border. Some examples would be:

  • A city. Construction can block exits.
  • The wilderness. As you said, water, mountains, etc.
  • Space. An asteroid belt.

The key is to think of normal situations you would find in the environment that is in the game, and to strategically place these situations around your borders so everything looks natural to the user.

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    \$\begingroup\$ How could an asteroid belt work? Like, if the asteroids are big and your ship is small, now way the belt can block you without an invisible wall of some sort. If the asteroids are small and the ship is big, it would fell a bit irrealistic to be blocked by small rocks floating ahead. But don't get me wrong, I truly curious about what you have thought, because I myself have been dealing with space settings lately and space is maybe the hardest case for a physical barrier anyway. \$\endgroup\$ – MAnd Dec 2 '15 at 2:45
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    \$\begingroup\$ @MAnd maybe you can't leave the asteroid field because of X radiation that would be fatal if exposed for any significant amount of time \$\endgroup\$ – user2813274 Dec 2 '15 at 4:14
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    \$\begingroup\$ @user2813274 that's not a bad idea. I myself thought about that but regarding nebulae instead of asteroids, thinking of how FTL handles them. I also thought about radiation in proximity-from-star base, like in Freelancer \$\endgroup\$ – MAnd Dec 2 '15 at 5:20
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    \$\begingroup\$ @user2813274 That doesn't avoid the fact that the asteroid belt is effectively only a torus, it still leaves a lot of exposed area above and below \$\endgroup\$ – Pharap Dec 2 '15 at 11:51
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    \$\begingroup\$ Just bear in mind that real asteroid belts are extremely sparse. You could travel through one 100 times with never a collision. Of course for gaming purposes you can ignore this and have a fatal collision every time. \$\endgroup\$ – Tom Zych Dec 6 '15 at 16:36
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Make the whole game's art style feel artificial

This was the solution adopted by Valve for Team Fortress 2. From the Hydro developer commentary (2:29):

Maps require impassable boundaries, but unless we restrict the environments to either interior spaces or steep canyons, these boundaries can't always block the player's view of the outlying, unreachable area. In our more realistic titles, like HL2, these boundaries often require fictional and visual explanations. In the heavily stylized Team Fortress world, however, conspicuous artificiality is a core design principle and so we can simplify or altogether ignore these explanations without compromising the player experience. Playtesting showed, for instance, that these low fences leading to an empty expanse successfully conveyed the message that the area beyond the fence is uninteresting and out-of-bounds.

enter image description here

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protected by Community Dec 2 '15 at 15:30

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