Gamer exploration habbits.

Being an old school gamer(pen and paper and computer) I started in the days of making your own maps as you run around. Nowadays many gamers have never played games that don’t automatically map for ya.

I notice a lot of the people I team with in MMORPGs either go with an always right, or always left search of a dungeon. Many go with the always middle first, then right or always middle then left. Me? I go with my gut, I have played enough games that I feel confident in my ability to predict accurately enough where the designers will have put their good stuff. If it’s wrong I go back to what ever intersection turn was highest on my intriguing meter. Back to the days when a brute force left or right search meant you had more crap to map, I try to optimize, but sometimes have to retrace a bit to get to the next try.

What’s your strategy?

Games have evolved as computers have. I don’t think there are many games out there now where mapping is necessary.

For instance, Halo requires no map. You can’t get an overhead automap, but you don’t really need one. I feel that is a fundamental improvement in game design: don’t waste the effort creating a mapper function if it isn’t critical to gameplay. Instead they use waypoints and Go This Way 510 Meters (similar to what Star Wars: Galaxies used). It’s both more functional and more immersive.

Games also don’t spend a lot of design effort on the obligatory maze, either. That makes a difference.

Me? I don’t have a rule for Always Go Right or Always Go Left unless I come to a place where it feels like I need it. I’m happy to trust my gut most of the time.

I spent a fair bit of time reverse-engineering the randomized map generator in Diablo II. When you can enter a map and immediately know which way the exit to the next area is, it really shaves a lot of time off of runs. Other folks in pub games who played with us reacted anywhere from awe to calling us cheaters and refusing to play with us (in one amusing incident, a fellow was furious that I was “cheating”, because Blizzard was sure to notice two cheaters in the same game, and then he, the guy who was supposed to be the only one cheating in that game, would get busted).

Unfortunately, I never was able to figure out any of the overworld maps, just (most of) the dungeons.

With RPGs on consoles, I can usually trust my gut due to various observations. Some of these might include: ends of the map, which way they lead you to (the treasure is usually where they don’t lead you), and other stuff. Although I can say 98% of the time the treasure isn’t really worth the time going to get them so in the end, it all doesn’t matter.