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  #1  
Unread 02-09-2012, 07:11 AM
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Digging for some feedback on LotROMaps direction

First of all, the new project is progressing nicely - with basically just blending the subzone parchment maps into the main zone parchments is all that's left of getting the maps themselves ready, before chopping up the various tiles.

However, since I'm at this point, I'd like to get some feedback from those of you who have had the chance to test out the plugin "proof of concept" involving which method you would prefer.

My initial goal/idea was to make the map zone-based, where there would be a separate set of tiles for each zone, as defined by the parchment map, with similar methods of switching between zones. Basically similar to how the dynamic map at ruslotro.com works - or even the in-game parchment map, except with the added benefit of zoom and a terrain view. This is basically the idea that was illustrated by the concept plugin - minus the "shortcuts" over the "to (bordering zone)" text.

The reason for this decision was two-fold. First, thanks to the parchment map, most players are used to the zone-based map interface - making such a similar technique theoretically more intuitive and faster than navigating through a continuous map like the Lorebook Google Map. The second reason is that the vast majority of quests are single-zone based - meaning that it's unlikely for there to be much of a reason to seamlessly scroll from one zone to another.

But - those are at least my ideas on the matter. Although a seamless map has an undeniable "cool factor", I haven't seen much evidence that this not only gives an inherent advantage, but is actually more popular than the zone-based quest helpers. This, essentially is what I am interested in hearing from you. Which type do you feel would be the most convenient for you to use?

Of course, any other questions or suggestions are welcome, but in order to keep things interesting, I'll throw out a mini FAQ here.

Q: Can I beta test?

A: When the zone maps are finished, and the navigation is working completely (including switching "hot spots") then I will make a public beta available for those with at least Android 1.6. Although the minimum version is not yet set in stone - it is my goal.

Q: What devices will this be released for?

A: Initially Android - but mostly because I actually have an Android I can test with. From there, iPhone and Windows Phone 7 are strong possibilities - depending on how much free time I have, and how quickly I can pick up those APIs.

Q: Will there be any way I can see my location on the map?

A: Hopefully, yes. I can't give a definite answer until I can test whether the performance will be acceptable or not; but it certainly is very high on the list of features I want to provide. It will however require a Windows application (to retrieve and "broadcast" the data) so your device can get it.

Q: Will I be able to add custom points to it?

A: Yes - in fact, in the long run this will be a very important ability. Outside of the location info idea, I'm still thinking on the best way to communicate location coordinates between the game and the device. I'm leaning towards QR Codes, but the implementation right now is still up in the air

Q: Will this have instance maps as well?

A: Yes...eventually. The tricky part essentially boils down to matching up the instances with the appropriate map tiles. Understandably end-game related instances/raids will be easier to pull off than Cave #125 that requires a specific quest to enter.

Q: Will this be another app I have to update 500 times a year?

A: Hopefully not, as that's a personal pet peeve of mine. It's also why I plan on doing at least a couple of beta tests before it hits the Market. On top of that, all necessary data will be web based - including zone information. This way, as soon as a new zone/instance map is ready, I just have to add it to the list, and you should be able to access that area almost immediately. The only time you should see an actual update is if something broke, or a new feature has been added - y'know, the kind of updates people actually like


Q: Is this just another "Proof of Concept" that is going to end up being abandoned like the plugin?

A: No. First, and probably most importantly, the plugin was abandoned only due to the limitations of that platform - if anything, my desire to make this was actually increased by the overwhelmingly favorable reception the plugin got. I realize that not everybody has a smartphone - but this seemed to be the best alternative that would be useful to the largest number of people. Second, that's why I'm getting all the maps together and ready, before I even release a beta - this way, even if I get abducted by aliens, you'll still have something somewhat useful - at least more useful than a map of Lothlorien .
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Unread 02-09-2012, 06:51 PM
K1R4D3L K1R4D3L is offline
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I have been looking for a good LotRO-related use of my iPad.... I know you're focused on Android first, but if you do hopefully get to iOS, please don't forget the iPad - the expanded size compared to a phone would be awesome for this.

As for your specific questions, I agree that zone-based maps would be fine given the intended functionality. Something to consider, however - if you do get the "where am I now?" functionality working, and if the Compendium or a similar resource ever became a reliable source of quest lists and related coordinates, you could imagine the ability to choose a quest(s) that you're tracking and have the rings/shading show up in the app, essentially replacing the in-game parchment map altogether. That's a lot of ifs, I realize, but just from a design perspective, if that ever became possible, it would be nice to have the seamless map to show distant quest-related points. That's a big frustration with the in-game map - you have to hunt for the rings in the zone you're in, and then if you don't find them zoom out and look again. Of course you could also address that to some degree by putting an indicator on the appropriate edge of the screen to denote that the location is in another zone in that direction.

I personally also think that a seamless map helps with world immersion...if you never zoom out of the parchment map and look around you can easily lose track of where different zones are in relation to one another. A seamless map would promote that world awareness, and a simple button like "center on me" would help with "getting lost" on the map.

A point in favor of zones, however - instances, and especially housing neighborhoods (low priority perhaps, but would be nice to have the ability to flag friend/kin houses, etc.), would not really be able to be placed on the seamless map, meaning you'd have to build the zone-like interface anyways.

I'm probably rambling, but I also have a thought on the problem of communicating points between the client and the mobile app - what if you had a lightweight plugin running in the client that could record the point data in-game to a file (plugin settings file, whatever) that the Windows client (the one transmitting the "where am I now?" coordinates) could read and pass along? I personally don't like the idea of having to pick up my iPad and point it at the screen in order to load a new point via QR code. Not as bad with a phone perhaps, but then phones can't be used as a real-time map as easily as a tablet that can be docked and placed near the monitor, which is how I would hope to use this eventually.

Hope this was helpful feedback. I'm really looking forward to this!
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Unread 02-10-2012, 03:24 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by K1R4D3L
I have been looking for a good LotRO-related use of my iPad.... I know you're focused on Android first, but if you do hopefully get to iOS, please don't forget the iPad - the expanded size compared to a phone would be awesome for this.

As for your specific questions, I agree that zone-based maps would be fine given the intended functionality. Something to consider, however - if you do get the "where am I now?" functionality working, and if the Compendium or a similar resource ever became a reliable source of quest lists and related coordinates, you could imagine the ability to choose a quest(s) that you're tracking and have the rings/shading show up in the app, essentially replacing the in-game parchment map altogether. That's a lot of ifs, I realize, but just from a design perspective, if that ever became possible, it would be nice to have the seamless map to show distant quest-related points. That's a big frustration with the in-game map - you have to hunt for the rings in the zone you're in, and then if you don't find them zoom out and look again. Of course you could also address that to some degree by putting an indicator on the appropriate edge of the screen to denote that the location is in another zone in that direction.

I personally also think that a seamless map helps with world immersion...if you never zoom out of the parchment map and look around you can easily lose track of where different zones are in relation to one another. A seamless map would promote that world awareness, and a simple button like "center on me" would help with "getting lost" on the map.

A point in favor of zones, however - instances, and especially housing neighborhoods (low priority perhaps, but would be nice to have the ability to flag friend/kin houses, etc.), would not really be able to be placed on the seamless map, meaning you'd have to build the zone-like interface anyways.

I'm probably rambling, but I also have a thought on the problem of communicating points between the client and the mobile app - what if you had a lightweight plugin running in the client that could record the point data in-game to a file (plugin settings file, whatever) that the Windows client (the one transmitting the "where am I now?" coordinates) could read and pass along? I personally don't like the idea of having to pick up my iPad and point it at the screen in order to load a new point via QR code. Not as bad with a phone perhaps, but then phones can't be used as a real-time map as easily as a tablet that can be docked and placed near the monitor, which is how I would hope to use this eventually.

Hope this was helpful feedback. I'm really looking forward to this!
First off, thanks for taking the time to reply and I'm sorry about the confusion. I should really stick to saying iOS instead of specifying a device. I do realize that both iPad and iPod Touch also use the same OS, and as Android has tablets as well, supporting multiple resolutions will be a forgone conclusion.

To be honest, beyond the basics, a lot of quest-related ideas still haven't been decided on - beyond the fact that I'd like to make it quest-based, so you're not stuck sifting through a drop down list of multiple items - such as in the ruslotro dynamic map. However, after reading this, I did take some time to think about handling those small amount of quests that do cover more than one zone, or at the very least, take place in a zone other than where you are. I was originally planning on including a sort of quest tracker panel any way, where clicking on a quest would display the information about it. However, one thing that could also be done is to provide a long-press context menu, that among other things could list the zone(s) and objective count(s) where this quest takes place in. Allowing for basically a jump-list functionality for navigating to the appropriate zone, or even just letting you know where you have to go. That being said, unfortunately, there is no reliable way to import the in-game quest tracker into the app. The plugin system doesn't support quests at this point, and like most server-stored data, there's no reliable way to get quest names from the memory of the client itself. So unfortunately, you'll have to manually add those quests until a more convenient way can be done.

As far as player location data goes - the most basic plan right now is to use a Windows helper application to grab the location/heading data from the client, and have it sent out using a specific port - to which the device could connect, and display real-time location/heading. Although the communication part hasn't been tested, that shouldn't have any issues related to it at all. Most of the "performance related" testing has more to do with another idea that may or may not show up later. Currently I have a test application (currently named LotROGPS) that does grab such data from the client - but I haven't gotten to the point where I can test the device communication part. As far as location data for other points go, I think you've got the right idea for the best solution. As much as I hate taking advantage of the necessary plugin "hack" - it most likely is the most user-friendly way of going about it. This "hack" I speak of is basically taking advantage of the ability for plugins to load/unload other plugins, and the fact that a plugin will always save its data prior to unloading. Essentially what happens is a "parent" plugin loads a child, gives the child information to save, and then unloads it - effectively resulting in real-time data saving. In this particular case, the parent plugin would load the child plugin, and monitor the chat window. When it recognizes the pattern of a /loc output, it will ask the player if he/she wants to add the point. If the player agrees, it would then send that information to the child plugin, and then unload it - causing the data to be immediately saved before reloading it. Then, the Windows helper app would detect that this file has been modified, and send the new point's data along with the player location data. When the device notices that the length of the data is larger than normal, it will trigger the "add point" dialogue.

Now about the map type itself...

One of the advantages of a strictly zone-based, "contained" map (i.e. with bounds keeping the map always within the screen), is that I can display pretty much anything in the same basic area. Whether it be an interior location, a zone, or even...an easily accessible overview map that could be viewed/interacted with at any time by doing something as simple as maybe double tapping on the title bar for instance. For example, let's say you were currently in Bree, and wanted to check out something in Mirkwood. Now, on a seamless map, you'd have to zoom out/pan, maybe tap on Mirkwood to center it, and then zoom back in. Now, to be fair, let's say that seamless map had "shortcuts" , where you could pick the zone from the list, and the map would automatically pan/focus on that zone. So the theoretical steps would be to open up the drop-down/spinner, scroll down, and pick Mirkwood from the list. Ok. final scenario. You're viewing the Bree map, so you double-tap the title bar (again, just an example), which displays a map of middle earth, and then you simply tap on Mirkwood. Which one do you think would be easier for you?

I don't want to make it seem like the only reason I requested feedback on it is so I can argue against one type or the other. I have however, said that I was leaning towards the zone-based map; but my ultimate goal is to provide an interface that provides for the quickest and easiest methods for the user/player to get to where they want and the information they need. So my initial reaction towards anything supporting the seamless map is to see if there's a way to achieve the same result, while making it just as easy or (preferably) easier, with the zone based map. So if I come up with an idea, such as the quest tracker jump list, or the overview map above, my goal isn't to prove anybody wrong; but to honestly see if my idea would compensate (or be even better) than the perceived advantage of the other type. I just wanted to make it clear that I hope for a discussion and not to win a debate .

One last thing - I would like to ultimately include some degree of a community editing/feedback system, not only to save myself time - but also because, if done right, it can be a great way for the community to basically help themselves. The reason I bring this up has to do with user-added points, and most notably housing neighborhoods. First, I'd like to stress that there will be a difference between a personally added note, and a submitted point. However, there are roughly (at this point) 300+ possible neighborhoods per racial neighborhood-per server, with some-odd 30 servers. This means that a particular house could have upwards of 30,000 points on it! With that in mind, I think it would be best to keep "who lives here" to personal notes, as opposed to the actual data feed. Other than that though, the only reason housing is instanced, is due to multiple neighborhoods. All 4 racial neighborhoods are visible in the world map, and as such, will be included within their respective zone - both in the terrain, and parchment blended into the main zone parchment. Just to clarify, because i'm not sure I explained what "blended" means: Essentially, since sub-zone parchment maps only exist because there is no zooming ability, one of the key benefits of a Google Map-style map, there's no reason to maintain separate sub-zones, when they can just be included within that zone's parchment. So the sub-zone parchment maps are placed and scaled so they correspond to the location on the terrain map, and then edited so the extra detail that they show is added to the main parchment map.

At any rate, I think I've gone on for long enough - I hope I touched on everything. Thanks again for the feedback, and like I said, if you have anything to add - please do so
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Unread 02-11-2012, 10:02 PM
K1R4D3L K1R4D3L is offline
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No worries - I enjoy a good design discussion as well, and that was the spirit in which I posted...to some degree playing devil's advocate to offer food for thought.

I assumed as much about quest tracking - not perfect, but limited by platform, and if the list can be filtered by level range or area, and searched by name, it wouldn't necessarily be too bad to find the appropriate quests from a list.

You know though...it would be extremely cool if we could take screenshots of our quest log and map with quests tracked, have them loaded by the windows agent and then processed into the app. You know, simple binary image comparisons, adjusting for screen resolution, pulling out the quest rings and area shading from the maps, OCRing the quest names from the log screenshots. No problem, right?

Zone vs. seamless - I have to say at this point I'd probably draw the same conclusion you're leaning towards. The navigation with seamless probably isn't as bad as you think though, and it's a paradigm we're used to with other apps, like Google Maps. Pinch to zoom out, double tap on another area to zoom in and center...not too bad. I still don't see a clear winner either way, but because some instances will have to be in "zone" format, it seems to lend itself to using zones for everything - but maybe zones that are aware of their relative position in the world, so that if you're trying to display quest objectives for a location outside your current zone, it could possibly display arrows pointing out of the zone, like the radar map does, rather than just not showing the location indicator at all like the in-game parchment map does.

I understand the neighborhood problem, and agree with the basic idea of personal vs. shared/submitted points. The only issue with neighborhoods is that you'd need to be able to flag, at least with a note or something, which neighborhood that point is in. Even then, they might overlap/collide, which could be troublesome. Let's say you have two friends with houses at the same address in different neighborhoods....
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Unread 02-12-2012, 06:27 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by K1R4D3L
No worries - I enjoy a good design discussion as well, and that was the spirit in which I posted...to some degree playing devil's advocate to offer food for thought.
Ok cool . Just wanted to make sure.

Quote:
Originally Posted by K1R4D3L
I assumed as much about quest tracking - not perfect, but limited by platform, and if the list can be filtered by level range or area, and searched by name, it wouldn't necessarily be too bad to find the appropriate quests from a list.

You know though...it would be extremely cool if we could take screenshots of our quest log and map with quests tracked, have them loaded by the windows agent and then processed into the app. You know, simple binary image comparisons, adjusting for screen resolution, pulling out the quest rings and area shading from the maps, OCRing the quest names from the log screenshots. No problem, right?
I've actually thought about that; but LotRO's bitmap fonts would make OCR a bit more difficult than normal. Not saying it isn't possible; but it would probably have the best chance of working if it was done with the quest log, as the varying colors of the world, combined with the ability to resize/reposition the quest tracker would introduce far too many variables. That is of course, as long as the player is using the default background skin.

At any rate, I was going to use existing sources to build a quest list, so at the very least, a smart search should be more than possible

Quote:
Originally Posted by K1R4D3L
Zone vs. seamless - I have to say at this point I'd probably draw the same conclusion you're leaning towards. The navigation with seamless probably isn't as bad as you think though, and it's a paradigm we're used to with other apps, like Google Maps. Pinch to zoom out, double tap on another area to zoom in and center...not too bad. I still don't see a clear winner either way, but because some instances will have to be in "zone" format, it seems to lend itself to using zones for everything - but maybe zones that are aware of their relative position in the world, so that if you're trying to display quest objectives for a location outside your current zone, it could possibly display arrows pointing out of the zone, like the radar map does, rather than just not showing the location indicator at all like the in-game parchment map does.
The one thing that troubles me about it - more than anything else, is the tendency of a lock-up happening. Although this won't be using the Google Maps API, you can observe a similar thing with the lorebook map. Attempting to do massive changes, like zooming or panning, will result in a situation where too many tiles are attempting to load at once, causing a traffic jam of course. Now with a web based map,it's simple enough just to refresh it - with an app, not so much. Maybe that's one of the reasons why the Google Map API for Android doesn't support custom tiles.

I'm not entirely sold on the necessity for the arrow indicators though. This is the way I'm thinking of it. If you're in a zone, and you look at your quest tracker, you generally want to know two things. First, do I have any quests in this zone to do and Second, if not, where do I need to go? So the first key is to indicate which quests on the tracker are in the current zone (maybe by using a color-code icon, set the quest name in bold, or both), and the second is to provide that long-press functionality I talked about previously, that shows what zone(s) that quest takes place in. Then, if the player doesn't know where that zone is, they can look on the overview map. This way they can see for themselves where they have to go - which, at least in my opinion, is a lot more helpful than an arrow pointing in a linear direction, that pays no attention to how many zones are between the current and the target, nor does it take landscape into account. However, such arrows would certainly help a lot more within the same zone.

Of course, those arrows would only be visible if you're in "GPS mode". Similar to the Google Maps implementation, and provided you have the Windows app running, you can either choose free navigation, or have the map center and lock on your current position. Enabling it, at any time, will automatically switch to your current zone, and center the map (if possible) on your position. Zoom control of course, would work regardless. I'll have to play around with the behavior, but another solution would be, while locked to your position, that any panning done would work, but after letting go, it would snap back to your position.

Quote:
Originally Posted by K1R4D3L
I understand the neighborhood problem, and agree with the basic idea of personal vs. shared/submitted points. The only issue with neighborhoods is that you'd need to be able to flag, at least with a note or something, which neighborhood that point is in. Even then, they might overlap/collide, which could be troublesome. Let's say you have two friends with houses at the same address in different neighborhoods....
That really might not be as much of an issue as one would think. Although the Google Map app switches to an info page when clicking the ">" arrow on a map marker tooltip, I was thinking more of a pop-up window. But either way, if you have more than one marker at a specific point, there's nothing stopping me from indicating how many points are at that location, and cycling through them within the info page. Something as simple as a single bar with the text (1 of X) and a forward and back arrow (also could have swipe support of course), could let the player cycle through the points to find the specific item they are looking for. All they'd really need to do is add the neighborhood/server name to the note, and they could easily get the info they need. Since it's very unlikely that someone would know an excessive number of people that all live at the same house, that should be easy enough to work with. Of course, player added notes won't necessarily have to have a world coordinate to place them, allowing the player to simply long-press on the map where ever they want - so there's nothing stopping them from adding multiple markers in different spots on the same house. Maybe a "add note to current marker" option would also be available when a player long-presses a marker.

At any rate, thanks again for the reply - it's nice to get some of these finer ideas a bit more concrete by being introduced to situations I haven't thought of.
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Unread 02-14-2012, 11:13 AM
K1R4D3L K1R4D3L is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Digital_Utopia
At any rate, I was going to use existing sources to build a quest list, so at the very least, a smart search should be more than possible
Sounds good...this should certainly be sufficient as long as the quests sources are accurate, up to date and have the necessary details. If you're just searching by quest name, it's probably fine. Sometimes I may want to go the other way though - look for available quests that I don't yet have. In that case they would need to be filterable by level and party size, exclude limited-time or retired quests that aren't currently available, etc. The Compendium plugin demonstrates some of this, but often the filtered list is still so long as to be unusable.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Digital_Utopia
The one thing that troubles me about it - more than anything else, is the tendency of a lock-up happening.
Darn technical limitations...you're right though - I'd rather have it work well in zone format than be seamless, but work sporadically. Requires quick navigation short-cuts to be well designed, as you've said, but that's completely solvable.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Digital_Utopia
I'm not entirely sold on the necessity for the arrow indicators though.
Agreed that your color-coding and other ideas address most of the concern here. My main frustration is when I'm looking at the parchment map for the rings and can only find 4 out of 5, only to realize after scouring the entire map several times that one of them is in another zone. The color-coding, provided it's visible while I'm looking at the map, should address that.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Digital_Utopia
Of course, those arrows would only be visible if you're in "GPS mode".
Thinking of GPS for a moment, I wonder how feasible it would be to develop some kind of path-finding algorithms for travelling between points. I realize this wouldn't be easy, but it would be extremely helpful to see a dotted line on the map indicating the most direct, reachable route between two points. I can't begin to count the number of times I've headed towards a point on the map only to realize that the direct route is impassible, causing me to have to backtrack around half the map to find another route. Could possibly even allow users to manually adjust the line with waypoints in order to manually plot out a path to follow that avoids known areas of certain death. This would also enable a much-improved version of the in-game Track Nearby Quests feature, since it could take actual travel distance into account.
Of course, another aspect of the navigation idea would be to consider nearby stables and their destinations, swift travel options, etc., but that would complicate things by a large degree, as it would depend on the character what options would be available. Just having wayfinding by foot/mount would be huge.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Digital_Utopia
That really might not be as much of an issue as one would think.
You're right - multiple notes on a point, with server/neighborhood included in the notes, would address the issue.

Another idea as food for thought, though perhaps way down the road - could character coordinates be shared across users, such that I could authorize members of my fellowship/kin/friends to see where I am, and vice-versa? Could be a nice community-building feature.
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Unread 02-16-2012, 03:30 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by K1R4D3L
Sounds good...this should certainly be sufficient as long as the quests sources are accurate, up to date and have the necessary details. If you're just searching by quest name, it's probably fine. Sometimes I may want to go the other way though - look for available quests that I don't yet have. In that case they would need to be filterable by level and party size, exclude limited-time or retired quests that aren't currently available, etc. The Compendium plugin demonstrates some of this, but often the filtered list is still so long as to be unusable.
Sounds like a good idea for a separate activity - meaning something one doesn't mind switching away from the map for (but still remain in the app). It could provide a better UI for such advanced search criteria, as well as a method to add multiple to the tracker.

Quote:
Originally Posted by K1R4D3L
Darn technical limitations...you're right though - I'd rather have it work well in zone format than be seamless, but work sporadically. Requires quick navigation short-cuts to be well designed, as you've said, but that's completely solvable.
Yeah, basically I think that there's just a lot of room for improvement in the parchment UI in the first place.


Quote:
Originally Posted by K1R4D3L
Agreed that your color-coding and other ideas address most of the concern here. My main frustration is when I'm looking at the parchment map for the rings and can only find 4 out of 5, only to realize after scouring the entire map several times that one of them is in another zone. The color-coding, provided it's visible while I'm looking at the map, should address that.
Another limitation of LotRO's quest tracker - one that the "MMO-which-must-not-be-named" does a little better at, at least to the point of showing when a particular quest isn't within the current zone.


Quote:
Originally Posted by K1R4D3L
Thinking of GPS for a moment, I wonder how feasible it would be to develop some kind of path-finding algorithms for travelling between points. I realize this wouldn't be easy, but it would be extremely helpful to see a dotted line on the map indicating the most direct, reachable route between two points. I can't begin to count the number of times I've headed towards a point on the map only to realize that the direct route is impassible, causing me to have to backtrack around half the map to find another route. Could possibly even allow users to manually adjust the line with waypoints in order to manually plot out a path to follow that avoids known areas of certain death. This would also enable a much-improved version of the in-game Track Nearby Quests feature, since it could take actual travel distance into account.
Of course, another aspect of the navigation idea would be to consider nearby stables and their destinations, swift travel options, etc., but that would complicate things by a large degree, as it would depend on the character what options would be available. Just having wayfinding by foot/mount would be huge.
Oh wow, you're starting to make me shudder here.
Awesome idea though, but collecting the amount of data required to even hope to make such a feature, let alone doing the actual pathfinding code itself, would be a nightmare. First a height map of the entire zone would need to be created, then determining what is and what isn't passable variations in height, and finally doing what would probably be starting with a linear path, and continuing to attempt that until an impassable point is reached, then going to the nearest passable direction, before attempting a linear path again and so on, until the objective is reached. At least that would be my understanding of how to do such a thing.

Quote:
Originally Posted by K1R4D3L
Another idea as food for thought, though perhaps way down the road - could character coordinates be shared across users, such that I could authorize members of my fellowship/kin/friends to see where I am, and vice-versa? Could be a nice community-building feature.
Y'know, the funny thing is - that the "performance testing" I mentioned in the first post, has a lot to do with this idea; before realizing that player position itself could be handled separately and far more directly. At any rate, the basic idea is a separate web based account setup, where "friends" can be added mutually (i.e. it requires confirmation from both parties), with the option (at least currently - due to the limitations of the Lua API) to display your location to fellowship members. This way, you could sign up (for free obviously) on a web site, and log in via the helper application and the mobile device. The helper application would then broadcast your position, and current character to the web server, where anybody that has permission to do so could view your location, and whether you're on/off line. Of course from there, the options and possibilities are practically endless - but it could be a really cool social tool. Of course, first priority is the actual map/quest-helper functionality; but yeah, I definitely see the potential for it to be much more.
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Unread 02-17-2012, 11:33 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Digital_Utopia
Oh wow, you're starting to make me shudder here.
Awesome idea though, but collecting the amount of data required to even hope to make such a feature, let alone doing the actual pathfinding code itself, would be a nightmare. First a height map of the entire zone would need to be created, then determining what is and what isn't passable variations in height, and finally doing what would probably be starting with a linear path, and continuing to attempt that until an impassable point is reached, then going to the nearest passable direction, before attempting a linear path again and so on, until the objective is reached. At least that would be my understanding of how to do such a thing.
What is needed is the classic "Lewis and Clark" method.... (compass and pacing)

I doubt that "height" is a meaningful measure -- just because visually there looks like a pass there, doesn't mean that it isn't simply a "pretty backdrop painting. --- at any rate...

I just stumbled across your WP blog (chasing OSX and LOTRO "stuff") and noticed a comment about /loc in "Of Coordinates and the LotRO Client"

I believe that the comment "For each complete cycle, lx and ly will increase by 8 points. So essentially, every 20 points ox or oy increase or decrease, lx or ly will increase or decrease by 1. Even understanding that, it’s not very handy to attempt to use a 2-part x and y coordinate, so for actual placement purposes, it’s beneficial to convert these into a single x/y coordinate set. Now, there’s really no “official” method of doing this – or at least, no way of telling what that method is. " relates to Land Blocks. (That is what they are called in LOTRO.) Which is to say, somewhere in a discussion of "Distance Imposters" I encountered the explanation of how Turbine only reveals what's in the next or next two (I forget) land blocks, hence the "pop-up" effect seen with distance imposters. That said, I believe the reference in /loc is to "tiles". Put another way, "/loc" is so that the Devs can pinpoint the specific tile which has the "bug" in it. --- I don't really know anything more than this as I've never really bothered to investigate the issue... and to see where it is all explained.

... so I just went and looked through the Forums a bit and found this description...

Quote:
High resolution rendering is limited to the landblock you are in which 160 x 160 meters. Plus the surrounding land blocks. I believe the maximum render range is 160 meters. That all you have when you are at the edge of a land block looking across the next one. -- Yula_the_Mighty

BTW, I've been playing LOTRO (and DDO before that) on the Mac using Codeweaves CrossOver Games (CXG) [which is basically the folks who provide the home (computers, storage, staff support, etc.) for WINE] since the pre-betas of both. (I'm a lifetime/founder). I also happen to be a retired Unix SysAdmin, so I have never had an issue using the Unix underpinnings of OSX to link various things around, independent of the Mac GUI. It's pretty trivial to generate a symbolic link between the Bootcamp and OSX partitions so that the same LOTRO files can be accessed by both.
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Unread 02-18-2012, 08:39 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by magill
What is needed is the classic "Lewis and Clark" method.... (compass and pacing)

I doubt that "height" is a meaningful measure -- just because visually there looks like a pass there, doesn't mean that it isn't simply a "pretty backdrop painting. --- at any rate...
The trouble is, if you're going to do any routing whatsoever - such as finding a path between an arbitrary point A, and a quest objective, you need to know what is, and what isn't passable terrain. If it was going to be something like the path between two predetermined locations, that could be as easy (but time consuming) as just walking the path yourself, and use that. However, in this case - the path can't be predetermined, and certainly drawing a linear path between the two points would help as much as it wouldn't. Now, ordinarily - if we were talking about a game, there would be an invisible grid with passable and unpassable nodes where the lines would intersect. In this case, finding the path would be a logical "connect the dots" game, connecting passable nodes from start to finish points. This is most likely what LotRO uses for their AI pathing, as does Valve's Source games. This same technique could probably be used for this case, as long as the grid was detailed enough to work through the narrowest of paths. However, before that can be done, such a grid would need height/obstacle information in order to classify the nodes.

Quote:
Originally Posted by magill
I just stumbled across your WP blog (chasing OSX and LOTRO "stuff") and noticed a comment about /loc in "Of Coordinates and the LotRO Client"

I believe that the comment "For each complete cycle, lx and ly will increase by 8 points. So essentially, every 20 points ox or oy increase or decrease, lx or ly will increase or decrease by 1. Even understanding that, it’s not very handy to attempt to use a 2-part x and y coordinate, so for actual placement purposes, it’s beneficial to convert these into a single x/y coordinate set. Now, there’s really no “official” method of doing this – or at least, no way of telling what that method is. " relates to Land Blocks. (That is what they are called in LOTRO.) Which is to say, somewhere in a discussion of "Distance Imposters" I encountered the explanation of how Turbine only reveals what's in the next or next two (I forget) land blocks, hence the "pop-up" effect seen with distance imposters. That said, I believe the reference in /loc is to "tiles". Put another way, "/loc" is so that the Devs can pinpoint the specific tile which has the "bug" in it. --- I don't really know anything more than this as I've never really bothered to investigate the issue... and to see where it is all explained.

... so I just went and looked through the Forums a bit and found this description...
After I posted that, it did occur to me that these land blocks, and the map tiles corresponded to each other - and that when I looked at this previously, I seem to remember making that connection (back around, before the plugin concept). At any rate, the fact that I'm not using the Google Maps API is even handier in this regard, because I can use 200px tiles instead of the 256px tiles Google Maps uses. So even in a zone based map, I can maintain the original tile layout - making a lot of things a lot easier on the coding end.

Quote:
Originally Posted by magill
BTW, I've been playing LOTRO (and DDO before that) on the Mac using Codeweaves CrossOver Games (CXG) [which is basically the folks who provide the home (computers, storage, staff support, etc.) for WINE] since the pre-betas of both. (I'm a lifetime/founder). I also happen to be a retired Unix SysAdmin, so I have never had an issue using the Unix underpinnings of OSX to link various things around, independent of the Mac GUI. It's pretty trivial to generate a symbolic link between the Bootcamp and OSX partitions so that the same LOTRO files can be accessed by both.
I agree, a symbolic link really would be the best case to use in that situation. Although my experience with Unix, and Unix based operating systems is still pretty minimal, Google is my best friend . In the case of the guide, I wanted to make things as user friendly as possible - as if Mac users are anything like Windows users, the UI is pretty much all they know.

That being said, I think someone should try a different approach with LotRO and WINE/Wineskin. Currently it's being run in a single bottle, when there's really two to three separate apps here. However, my knowledge is a little sketchy on exactly how they all work together. I know that the launcher launches the client via command line parameters that includes a hash that seems to be seeded by the time/date - as it changes each sign on. I'm also fairly certain that for patching, the launcher makes library calls to datexport.dll; but as far as how that hash is generated, or the purpose of TurbineInvoker.exe, I'm not sure. I'm also not sure exactly how pyLotRO works, nor how closely it works with the Windows API. However, what I'd like to see is a version of the Launcher as a native OS X app, while keeping the client itself in a wrapper/bottle. This way it would escape that issue that WINE alternatives have with games that have a launcher.

Anyway, that's a bit off topic here, but it did bear mentioning regardless
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Unread 02-20-2012, 11:35 AM
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Well I'm up for some testing. I'm running android 2.3.5 and expecting an upgrade to 4 sometime this year. Let me know when you're ready to move forward.

I'm running windows-7 64bit.
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