Is The Ultimate RPG’s Map Mono-Scale, or Dual-Scale?

Commenter Mark raised an interesting question concerning the second piece of the map puzzle released on the Ultimate RPG Facebook page.

Just a guess here, but it looks dual scale.

He has a point, Dragons and Dragonettes. The depiction of the castle on the rightmost puzzle piece pictured above is reminiscent of how such points of interest are depicted on the maps of the earlier Ultima games. Consider the map of Britannia, circa Ultima 4:

Britannia, Ultima 4

Castles, towns, and other such features are depicted as simple icons. Whereas, on the map of Ultima 6

Britannia, Ultima 4

…towns, in particular, are depicted in their entirety. The map itself gives away Ultima 6’s then-pioneering mono-scale world design, whereas the map of Ultima 4 reflected the dual-scale design of Ultimas 1 through 5, in which towns, castle interiors, and suchlike were stored on separate maps from the Britannian overworld.

The art style in what little we’ve seen of the Ultimate RPG’s map certainly seems closer to the style of Ultima 4 than that of Ultima 6. Could this be a subtle hint, for sharp-eyed Ultima fans, that the Ultimate RPG will feature a dual-scale world? Or is it simply — as was the case for e.g. the map for Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning — a stylistic choice on the part of the map’s artist, and can we expect that the entirety of the Ultimate RPG’s game world will be mono-scale in nature?

What say you, Dragons and Dragonettes?

9 Responses

  1. Sanctimonia Sanctimonia says:

    While it could go either way regardless of the puzzle piece map style, a dual-scale map provides a simpler networking solution for multiplayer and instancing. It affords an “all or nothing” analysis of groups of players rather than having to calculate grids or linear distances between players, NPCs and animals/monsters. While I’m sure Garriott and team could handle any kind of fancy implementation, if he’s taking his “getting back to roots” theme literally then it will probably be dual-scale. It’s just simpler to implement and gamers are accustomed to it (early Ultima, Dragon Quest, Final Fantasy, etc.).

    On the other hand (and while not exactly the same scenario) he ditched the separate 2D/3D overworld/dungeon design after Ultima V because the interactivity and detail levels had become so high that he was essentially having to create a second game with redundant mechanics. Improperly implementing a dual-scale map could flirt with that danger again, so he’d have to ensure they were treated equally from a coding standpoint even if the mechanics differed.

    Another benefit to the dual-scale design is that less wilderness content needs to be created. He can play fast and loose with relative scale all day long, but if a town is 32×32 tiles when inside it and 1 tile when outside it, the overworld map will need to be 32 times larger in single-scale than it would in dual-scale. A single-scale map could easily fall victim to the “running around without shit to do or see for hours” trap.

    I prefer single-scale, but if you’re going to do it right you need to really know what you’re doing.

  2. Sergorn says:

    I’d be okay with an overland map if done well. I love overland maps and I think more games should use them. It’d also fit well with «back to the roots» bit.

  3. cor2879 says:

    I think the map could appear ‘dual scale’ and still not affect whether or not the game itself is also dual scale. As for me, the first monoscale game I ever played was Ultima VII and I was kind of blown away by having what appeared to be a seamless world at my fingertips. Since then monoscale games have become a little more common. I guess though since I am hoping for a more Utlima VII-ish style game, I’d be hoping for monoscale as well but this is certainly no deal breaker for me as I’ve been a fan of many dual scale RPGs (not the least of which is Ultima IV in both its PC and NES incarnations).

  4. mark says:

    Yeah I would agree with you all, but if, like me, you are hoping for a return to the bread-baking style of ultimas, then dual scale bodes ill.

    I would say that the best thing dual scale gives you is a sense of great size. U5 definitely felt like the largest.

  5. mark says:

    Idk, I think so. Remember pixel-hunting treasure in the deep forest in U7? A place like the deep forest would just become ‘overland’ in a dual scale. I think a dual scale U7 would have been a let down. It would be like having a game where interactivity is limited to zones, and exploration disappears and becomes ‘random encounters’

    • Sergorn says:

      Well first, exploration and interactivity are two different things. 😉

      Second: I think you have a good point… but only if we limit Overland maps to what they offered in Ultima I~V.

      It has come a long way since then. And it can offer a lot more than just dungeons and cities. Essentially you could put any “Point of Interest” you’d like on the overland map to get to explorable area with a seamless feel. I mean sure the Deep Forest could just be overland… it could also be one huge or mulitples POI(so) you’d get access from the overland map.

      My point being basically that you can put tons of explorations on overland maps: there are tons of games that prove it. So I’d certainly be okay if URPG uses this.

      In the end both overlands and seamless worlds have their pros & cons. The important thing though is that both a very Ultima ish (indeed, Ultima pretty much invented the overland map!)

  6. mark says:

    Two more observations:
    One, its starting to look a little more like a stylized representation of mono scale to me. A couple of reasons,but primarily due to the relative size of roads compared to cities.
    Second, isn’t it interesting how roads appear to be following a hex pattern. Does this tell us something about the world building?

  7. Llama says:

    Assuming the second piece is an edge piece, the road(s) just stop at the edge. I suspect the mountains are impassable and the fortress blocks the pass. If that’s the case, and this is just part of a larger world, then any water travel (and balloon travel) will have to be limited. Could be like the Elder Scrolls games, where you’re locked into the part of the world the game takes place in. Could be like Dragon Age, where you don’t get to freely roam the overworld. Could be….something else?