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Shroud of the Avatar uses a dual-scale world map where areas between villages and other significant locations is rendered at a smaller scale than the content in other areas, such as encounters. Dual-scale maps tended to be more common in RPGs of the past, but mono-scale maps where the areas between significant locations are rendered at the same scale.

Rationale

The developers have chosen to implement a dual-scale map for the following reasons:

  • More dynamic world: With the world map essentially existing as data rather than baked art, changes can be more easily made by the development team.
  • Less painful travel: With mono-scale maps, travel through significant locations and areas in-between happens at the same speed, not taking combat and other distractions into account. In a dual-scale map, travel across the world at large is typically much faster.
  • Quicker content creation: New content can be more quickly created with fewer bugs and more polish.
  • Lower machine requirements: Giant, seamless worlds can stretch the capabilities of even high-end PCs, while a world map rendered at a small scale can be rendered far more easily.
  • More scaleable multiplayer experience: Character and mob visibility is one of the most computationally expensive processes on large MMO servers. It takes a lot of processing to determine when one player's PC should be kept up-to-date on what another player is doing to make sure players can see the actions of other player characters around them. A smaller scale world map greatly simplifies the computations that have to be done to accurately make these determinations.
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