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terrain suggestions

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I would love to see.

Natural arches and natural bridges.

Basalt columns like Giant's causeway and Svartifoss Waterfall.

Waterfalls & waterfall caves

Sea cave ylands and sea caves as part of ylands

Crevices for late game spelunking

Sinkholes that drop you into a cave

Geysers and hot springs

Mountains big enough to have elevated lakes/ponds. 
Streams that flow down the outside of said mountains into surface level lakes or the ocean.
Streams that flow inside tunnels through said mountains into the aforementioned hot springs

If there is currently a chance of things I have mentioned, I haven't seen it yet.

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The only map closely resembling most of that is Origins. Underwater cave and big mountains. It was an old style map, but I wish they would bring back some of the terrain features from the old styles.

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In the several years I have played in the Ylands game I have seen steady improvements along many lines of development and I have been thrilled by it. After trying out several sandbox games and learning the basics, I quickly purchased the Exploration Pack. And this was nice. I played several games of Exploration but soon found a growing sense of boredom. Every game was different, of course, but what was disappointing was that there was too much predictability, too little opportunity for surprise discovery. For example, you had the usual safe ‘home island’ and the standard set of 5 or 6 outer islands not too far away, some of which you could see from your home island. It became a feeling that could be expressed as: OK, here we go again; same old, same old.

About this time I stumbled on Keralis’ YouTube series on Ylands. Once his game was complete he made the game save file available for others to follow in his tracks. Recently I have replayed this game (called simply ‘Explore’) and made a striking discovery. (Yet be forewarned: the game has some major downsides too. There are file corruptions or incompatibilities that make the game crash if you go do certain islands, including the island where he put all his amazing constructions. Also ocean areas near islands can be prohibitive for large ships because of extreme shallowness.)

My discovery is in the naturalistic features of the shorelines and interesting and variegated physical features of the land in Keralis’ game, which was merely an automatically generated game of that era of Ylands Exploration. There is so much diversity: irregular shorelines that feature strands of sand islets, clumps of rock, and sand bars, or small irregular peninsulas stretching way out into the sea. There is a combination of striking and beautiful sweeps of desert sand or lush green valleys but also areas of incredibly rugged and jagged land with fissures, arroyos, cliffs, ridges, steep banks and scarps, deep gorges, etc. All this seemed more interesting and exhilarating. For me this is more exciting than many of the glitzy attractions that are now often plopped into the landscape that seem to lack any coherent context, like brightly colored goodies for small children.

This is not to say that the existing state of Exploration, including the new experimental Exploration is completely devoid of beauty and interest. Not at all. But the past shows that the present offering could include some of the more striking and naturalistic features of that era several years ago.

Recently, after some people reportedly asked for variety in the shapes of islands, we were given a few new shapes, the elongated, the smaller, the larger, the ‘C’ shape, the ‘I’ shape, the ‘O’ shape. But this is SO non-naturalistic. No more naturalistic than the repetitive globular forms with mostly smooth shorelines that were so over-used before.

I do not know about the challenges of devising the automated methods of island generation. But I do see clearly that it can be done because it WAS done, several years ago.

Another point. One of the strategies today is to dot the landscape on some Ylands with about as many rhinos, hyenas or tigers as is possible. This seems to me to be contrived and unnaturalistic! 

Yet another point. I can imagine that the new Exploration is more stable; creating the possibility of essentially linking numerous separate game modules together to make it seem like one open, vast world. But it does not really feel that way. It feels like what it is; linked separate games served up to you by developers. I do acknowledge that it is nice to be able to keep your ship and move around much of your inventory from one area to the next. A huge map all in one game is probably less stable, more likely to be lost; and it is impossible to replace portions that are completed (or uninteresting) with new ones. But there was something to be said for the huge map in Keralis’ game: you really felt like you were exploring not just waiting for the next thing that would be plopped in front of you as you crossed over into a new map.

Edited by Jstuts
to remove unwarranted aspersions and negativity

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By the way, another thing that strikes me is that in Keralis' map of Exploration caves were also much more interesting and perhaps more naturalistic. The entrances were often more difficult to find, which makes for a better experience of exploration; not like today's trite image of a grand large opening, as if announced so you won't miss it. And the caves in Karalis' game required your full attention so you wouldn't get lost or disoriented. You need to place some form of 'breadcrumbs' to find your way out.

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Here is a screenshot of Keralis' start island map. Notice that the complex string of islets and sand bars make a fair refuge from hostile predators without the protection being absolute.


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