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I am trying to design a map for souls-like game and stumbled upon such problem:

According to the lore i have a self-contained city that is supposed to be built with convenience in mind.

I am currently designing a graph that represents which locations i have within the city and how they are connected to each other.

For the sake of convenience (for people living in the city) it makes sense for this graph to be somewhat reminiscent of a star (a central square/street and other minor streets flowing from it leading to different locations). Thus it would never take too long to go from point A to point B.

The problem is that with such design player has no obvious reason to go through every single location (which i really want to enforce).

The final goal of the game is to reach certain location on the map (not in the city, the city is just a part of a bigger world) and from player's perspective it makes sense to take the shortest path available.

How could i force the player to go through all the locations without making it obvious that the city was designed just for this and not actually for people to live in it?

In some places i would put doors that only open from one side or require keys from a location that player would otherwise not go through, but using this everywhere quickly gets old and annoying. What else can i do?

I'm fine with altering the city's layout as far as it makes sense in the game's world. Like having a city built like a spiral because it's built on a mountain. But then i need to come up with an idea why would people build the city on a mountain in the first place?

Edit: originally i did not make it clear that i to make it unavoidable for the player to go through all locations, not just strongly encourage

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If you want to make sure the player must go through several locations, then each of those locations must have something that is required to progress in some way (abilities, keys, knowledge, etc). If you're looking for a way to strongly encourage players to go through several locations, then each of those locations must have some thing the player wants (extra health, money, supplemental knowledge, etc).

This sounds like a Metroidvania style system, where there are new abilities that unlock through the course of the game which unlock new paths to new abilities to let you progress. This is sort of what you said you didn't want, except the keys are not simple McGuffins, but actually useful things for the player to be able to use layer as well.

However, depending on how big a part of the game this city is, you may not want to put a new ability at the end of each street. You may want to rely on a simple McGuffin in most of these cases to be able to get to the last one. For example, you have to bribe, sneak, or fight your way past an NPC who is guarding the exit from town, but the ability to do so can only be earned by performing jobs around the city. Another NPC who lives in the center of town tells you to go fetch a thing from point A and deliver it to point B, then come back for some reward (cash for a bribe, or training for the ability to sneak out fight, etc), and get another job to deliver from point C to point D to get more rewards. Rinse and repeat.

If you're not keen on using NPCs, this could still be accomplished with other methods of assigning tasks to the player, such as a simple scavenger hunt with a list of parts required to fix some broken "thing" in the way of the gate of of town, where fixing it is the only way to get it to move. It can be made obvious in the game that different pieces are going to be found at the end of each of the different roads (eg. with signage in the game world, or straight up goal markers on a minimap). For an added bonus, that thing you just fixed can be legitimately helpful for you later on (or if could fly away and come back to haunt you later as another plot point).

This sounds sort of like your problem with requiring just a bunch of keys to get past a bunch of locked doors, but this has the advantage of being nonlinear throughout the town. The player can choose to perform the tasks in any order. Maybe there are other useful items along each path which can help the player later on with other paths. If they're having trouble with one path, they can choose to keep trying or to go down another path first to get extra health, or ammo, or information about a weakness in the armor, etc. depending on your style of game.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks very much for the idea! i do want to make sure the player MUST go through all locations. The problem i have with this approach is not the linear nature of it (i plan to divide the game into three distinct linear paths that can be traversed in any order including switching mid-way at any point). It is the similar format of these missions (no matter if it is a key, a replacement gear for a broken bridge lifting mechanism, some valuable item to bribe the guard or something along these lines). It is always just go-fetch format. \$\endgroup\$ – MadCake Nov 4 '18 at 20:09
  • \$\begingroup\$ For those who have the same problem it might be helpful to make it so the player can not go through the city as the inhabitants normally would due to destruction and/or barricades so he has to take a longer path around. I did it in some places but once again it gets boring if overused. \$\endgroup\$ – MadCake Nov 4 '18 at 20:09
  • \$\begingroup\$ As they say, it’s the journey, not the destination. The interesting part is not the fetch quest (as you point out), but the puzzles you have to solve to get there. Plenty of games are designed this way, where the entire game is a series of fetch quests, eg. Super Mario Odyssey where you must collect Moons, or Scribblenauts with Starites, or even Zelda to some extent, with pieces of the Triforce, etc. the point is, fetch quests aren’t inherently boring, even if what you are fetching is. \$\endgroup\$ – Ed Marty Nov 4 '18 at 23:21
  • \$\begingroup\$ This is actually a very helpful insight. I spent a lot of time trying to find similar situations where people intuitively get a wrong idea of what actually makes the game good or bad but this one eluded me (like one would assume that giving the player a lot of choices that do not affect the story outcome is bad, but if these choices allow the player to express his character, his values and beliefs they would feel VERY meaningful). \$\endgroup\$ – MadCake Nov 4 '18 at 23:57

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