At first sight I would say this is way better than the current outlands design but I’m not sure if it’s better than the beta1 or even alpha map design.
I’m afraid the timezone system will not work on this scale at all. It’s already super annoying in the live game to hold territories that have strategic value but are not in your timezone. For example, our home plot was in 16:00 UTC but for some reason to cluster next to it was 13:00 UTC, which was way early for us. We could either just leave it and allow enemies to attack our farm constantly or conquer it and be forced to defend that plot constantly at a weird time. In this new design we see gaps like 16:00 -> 14:00 which is bad but still manageable, but we also see 16:00 -> 0:00.
Two castles being 2 clusters apart from each other seems weird. Does this mean you have no other plans for castles and they will just have this passive chest opening as their mechanic?
Another thing I don’t like is the overall shape of the map. It’s a thin, long stretch of land whereas I feel a circle or half-circle design would work much better. In the alpha test were the big guilds/alliances were constantly contesting the Necropolis (the VM2-alpha) it was awesome to have each good guild worry about their own area while constantly fighting different enemies coming towards the middle to contest the dungeon. What I think is awesome about AO Gold are the story lines of war. Guilds and alliances develop in their own way and eventually have a big clash. These story lines a very cool aspect and I think they really bind players to the game. It provides some form of backstory to the otherwise uninspiring endless GvG’s between the known guilds. Crucial to making these story lines happen is having places for super powers to breed.
I’m trying to figure out a good way to explain this but I might have to get back to it later. I feel like the live outlands and this new design both make for an extremely stale landscape that does not provide interesting story lines for guilds to latch on to and participate in. Instead they will just have numerous GvG’s throughout the week over in essence meaningless plots.
The distribution of the biomes and cities also looks to be sub-par (e.g. 2 t6 forests vs. 5 t6 highlands). This is really a new issue for you guys and also one that I myself don’t have much experience with as all clusters contained every resource in the past.
There are some things that I like as well. The raid dungeons being very central is one of them. You have to make sure you take the time to design the raid, castle and chest clusters very well! They will be the main stages for big group fights. The number of dungeons also seems to be better than the current number in live while it might still be on the high side. You’ll earn the Albion Online Gold to balance the dungeons out correctly so that we won’t see every guild camping their local solo dungeons.
I have a few questions if you would be so kind to answer them:
When considering a realistic world it would make more sense of the cities were also harbors to the royal lands. What is the purpose for the separate harbors in this iteration of the map? Having the cities also be harbors would likely also make them good starting points for non-outland guilds to get into the end-game.
There seems to be a somewhat imbalanced distribution of cities. For example the high end mountains are right next to a city whereas the high end swamps are up to 8 clusters away, even more if they take a safer route. What is the reasoning behind this? Having more cities than this would obviously be unwise. However, what are the goals in terms of logistics and trade in this new design? Do you expect people from the swamps to carry their goods to the city to sell them? What about farming, have you considered that swamp guilds will have to travel to the city a lot to farm on their islands?
It looks like you placed 4 siege camps in the low-, medium- and high-end areas. Is this intended? What kind of cooldown do you think these camps should have if there are indeed 4 in such a small area?
In the development video ‘Creating a new world’ you note that a main point of criticism was that the beta1 world didn’t feel alive. Can we expect additions to the game to make the world feel more alive and worth fighting over?
I realize this is not a Q&A so I’ll leave it at that but I think it might be very interesting for others to read your answers as well.
In the end I’m still disappointed. Mainly because this designs confirms that will be looking at a copy-paste map with copy-paste clusters and towns. No immersive world with awesome cities. That hope probably died when seeing the new biomes for the first time but for me this thread confirms it will never be a reality. All that aside, you need to make sure that you get it right in terms of gameplay.