ARGGGH (Adelaide Really Good Gathering of Gamedevs, H is silent) was today. It went swimmingly, but now I've crashed after all the coffee I had in the middle of the day.
In any case, it is my solemn duty to inform you of the past week's game design. With distractions now limited to civilian leisure, we have started regular face to face meetings to draw up maps.
We've had the master world map for a few months when we finalized the plot, so the next stage is to draw up a web connecting all the overworld levels in the game. Since exploration is one of the things we want to focus on, we are now planning how the player can explore the world. From the starting point, they should be able to move in any direction and after fighting the elements and their foes, they should arrive at some cool places. This requires some freedom of movement but also challenges to block the player, because afterall the challenge is what makes it a game. Sightseeing tours don't have the same sense of adventure.
We've completed the webs of levels (not the levels themselves mind you, just maps showing how they connect to each other). Levels are represented by squares, and a line between two levels indicated a link between them. Across these links we will place symbols to indicate barriers that need to be overcome with a certain tool or quest.
With the level webs done, we are currently placing obstacles to the player's exploration, either to be unlocked with progressing through the story or gathering new equipment. We should be able to draw zones the player can access at each stage of the game.
Terrain includes mountains, volcanic wasteland, the tunnels and caverns of the dark-dwelling Selenites, the rusty Ferrite zone, mud flats filled with sinkholes, grassland, riverland, icy high plateaux, gorges filled with fast moving rivers, tropical islands and storm-lashed cliffs on the edge of nowhere.