I'm considering making a jrpg in Pico 8 at some point. Yes, I know it is a very tired genre. However I really don't mind, I still love it.
One thing I was wondering was how to make an overworld that's larger than the 128x64 cels in the built in map memory.
My current idea is to represent the overworld in terms of geometry instead of in terms of a grid, rendering the tiles manually (or temporarily filling a portion of the map cel memory). So I'd have like, a mountain range defined as a rectangle, and then I'd overlay rectangles to give them a shape, and have some logic for arranging the tiles around the edges to look correct, etc.
Then individual tiny dungeons perhaps would just be hard coded in the map cels. Not sure.
I have seen several adventure type games in Pico 8, but...are there any that are trying to give the appearance of being "vast?"
I am really interested in the idea of packing a lot of engaging gameplay into a tiny space like this.
Start building! You will most likely run into issues with token limit, then when you solve that you start hitting character limits. Alot has been said about token optimisation here: https://github.com/seleb/PICO-8-Token-Optimizations
You could stringify your map data to save the map memory. But this will also push up your character and token count.
There is also some information around about multiple cart games which would allow you to split up your data across many carts which I think would be essential for this type of project. From memory, multi carts won't work on the Pico8 BBS but will on the web player.
Also I have been away from pico for a few months, so things may have changed. Someone around here will have some up to date knowledge on multi cart games.
I'm really not sure yet, just brainstorming. I have a list of small project ideas to work on working up to this jrpg idea. I'm thinking maybe Dragon Warrior 1 scope, nothing super huge. My hope is actually to see how much rpg I can pack into a "normal" pico 8 cart.
Trick is to build tiles out of tiles out of tiles, etc. Maybe come up with a way to lay out the important stuff by hand and leave the rest up to procedural generation with hinting. There's ultimately only so much you can do, but it's usually more than you think. :)
So, depending on what you want from an overworld map you could go left field - create a procedural world generation algorithm to allow an 'infinite' size world (obviously you can bound it by forcing sea to appear after certain limits, find a random seed that generates a vaguely interesting landmass and then implement hand crafted details (i.e. villages, dungeon entrances etc).
That gets you the mix of 'vast' world and actual bepsoke gameplay.
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