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  1. #1
    Administrator Rossignol's Avatar
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    Games that are purely about exploration

    Ok, so I was just looking at this http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/foru...-am-a-tiny-man

    And that game is basically just exploration. It's fun. Which led me think: are there any other games which are just exploration? There's a couple of other side-scrollers I guess, but what others? Anyone got any suggestions?

  2. #2
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Faldrath's Avatar
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    Only one that comes to mind right now is Noctis.

  3. #3
    Network Hub Megagun's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Faldrath View Post
    Only one that comes to mind right now is Noctis.
    Yes, Noctis is one of the few games that is purely about exploration, without having anything that's not exploration. The game never ends, and there are no goals other than exploration and writing about the things you've explored.

    (Disclaimer: I was one of the two main developers of the Noctis IV CE mod, and have also been one of the two main developers of the Noctis IV Plus modification that backported popular features from CE into a more vanilla, bug-free version of Noctis IV)

    Noctis IV has a fully procedurally generated universe. 70 billion stars, each containing up to 128 planets and moons (if I recall correctly; it's been a while). There's planets containing life, planets that resemble Mars, planets that resemble Venus, gas giants, planets resembling Io (one of Jupiter's moons, Noctis IV CE only), and various types of rocky/icy no-atmosphere worlds. Best of all, all of this is rendered in an amazing screen resolution of 320x200. :)

    Every planet and star you find can be named and commented upon through a console aboard your ship. Once you're done, you can compile a list of changes and send a file to the Starmap maintainer to get your comments included in a next release of the Starmap. The current starmap can be browsed over at the GOESXNET website. Do search for Felysia and Suricrasia to read some of the notes people have written over the past few years.

    Noctis has notoriously difficult controls. For one, there's no WASD+mouse. Instead, you just use the mouse to move, and hold the right mouse button to look up and down. Furthermore, most of your ship controls are located within the ship itself. You'll have to walk over to the main console and (somewhat) push a button, in order to move towards a star. Noctis IV CE and Noctis IV Plus somewhat improve upon this, luckily.

    Noctis is also notoriously difficult to start up. It's a DOS game, and the recent improvements in technology have made it nearly impossible to play on a modern Windows 7 system. DosBOX is just a bit too slow.

    There are currently two ways to play Noctis effectively and painlessly on a modern PC: VNoctis, a virtualized environment for Virtualbox, and The Noctis USB Bootdisk. VNoctis should work nicely with vanilla Noctis IV and Noctis IV Plus (as long as you have hardware virtualization acceleration; AMD CPUs usually have them, with Intel it's unfortunately a shot in the dark). The USB bootdisk should work well with Noctis IV CE, too, but it has the significant disadvantage that you can't open up a webbrowser to read the manual as you're playing. :)

    Here is a neat Youtube video showing off some random scenes.
    Last edited by Megagun; 26-06-2011 at 02:30 PM. Reason: 320x200, not 320x240, oops.

  4. #4
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus ColOfNature's Avatar
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    Googling for exploration games reveals this old thing. Seems no-one was listening!


  5. #5
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    What do you mean by "pure" exploration? Exploring environments to find unusual combat encounters would be pure exploration in my view. Do you mean exploring environments with absolutely nothing interactive to come across? No levers to pull, no enemies to kill, no items to pick up? Exploring a world in a game where movement is the only thing you can do as a player?

  6. #6
    Administrator Rossignol's Avatar
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    @Wizardry, yes I was thinking about just movement.

  7. #7
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    Ah, right. One more clarification. Do you mean "games" that only feature movement through a game world? Or do you mean games where you can get enough exploratory satisfaction from moving around the game world while skipping/avoiding all other interactive aspects?

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    Secondary Hivemind Nexus vinraith's Avatar
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    Dear Esther springs to mind. In general yes, there aren't nearly enough of such things.

  9. #9
    Administrator Rossignol's Avatar
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    Dear Esther is a good one, Vinraith.

  10. #10
    Activated Node TimA's Avatar
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    What about civilian flight simulators?

    Many, many hours I've sunk in to flight sims, picking a location in the world that took my fancy and seeing what I could. Even with combat sims I often just take off by myself and fly around to enjoy the scenery.

    Suppose the same could go for railway sims or ship sims... And of course, Orbiter, which is truly wonderful for solar system exploration...

  11. #11
    Obscure Node TheTourist314's Avatar
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    Small Worlds is pretty fun. The music in the first area sounds like Scott Walker, the green area sounds like Sigur Ros.

  12. #12
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus The JG Man's Avatar
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    I know this gets to a case of 'Well if you do X and Y..." but what about Minecraft? Put it on that difficulty where enemies can't harm you and then just go for a wander. And obviously the best part is if you're getting bored, you can create a new world and start again. Not to mention, when you load up the world at start, you do essentially just explore.

    Are there any space sims with a focus on exploration? I imagine with the right spectacles, you could have something pretty amazing.

  13. #13
    Obscure Node
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rossignol
    @Wizardry, yes I was thinking about just movement.
    This seems needlessly narrow to me. I'd include any game where exploration of an enviroment was the primary or sole focus. Though I suppose it's a short leap from there to including all roguelikes.

    Anyway:

    Seiklus
    Knytt
    Within a Deep Forest

    just off the top of my head, of varying levels of purity.

  14. #14
    Obscure Node dyst's Avatar
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    I feel like a scumbag for posting it, but Journey is coming out on PSN in the next year or so and that is all about exploration. It also looks fantastic. I know it's not really relevant to this forum but it's still worth mentioning I guess. Here's a thing about it. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x2dCU...feature=relmfu We need to get a petition going for a PC version.

    For the PC, I can only really think of Knytt.
    Last edited by dyst; 25-06-2011 at 06:44 PM.

  15. #15
    Journey looks awesome. A PC port would be a day one purchase for me.

  16. #16
    Administrator Rossignol's Avatar
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    Journey does look awesome, but I think those dudes are part owned by Sony, so there will never be a PC release.

    @Wizardry: well I don't want to lock it down to *just* movement, but I am thinking games that you can get a kick out of exploring the world and see what is out there, rather than being funnelled and channelled and controlled in terms of how you play. No linear game is truly exploration based, for example.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rossignol View Post
    Journey does look awesome, but I think those dudes are part owned by Sony, so there will never be a PC release.

    @Wizardry: well I don't want to lock it down to *just* movement, but I am thinking games that you can get a kick out of exploring the world and see what is out there, rather than being funnelled and channelled and controlled in terms of how you play. No linear game is truly exploration based, for example.
    In that case, Ultima VII has more stuff per square metre than any other game I've played. It's just full of content to find while being completely open world. I can't think of a more fun exploration game than Ultima VII. You can find to-scale renders of the entire game world here, though the full image is 84mb. You can download each quadrant of the game world for ~25mb per image.

  18. #18
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus laneford's Avatar
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    Flower

    Pilotwings (N64) had a purely exploratory 'mode' within it where all objectives were removed and you could simply fly about. I remember that being lovely.

  19. #19
    Activated Node CWalker's Avatar
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    I would second a vote for flight simulators. Plopping yourself at a random airport then touring the scenery is a lovely therapeutic thing. Unless you're my dad, in which case you take off then immediately urge into the nearest mountain.

    Also, that freeware pioneer alpha thing that came out, with spaceflight and planet surfaces and such.
    http://pioneerspacesim.net/

  20. #20
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    @Jim, Metroid Zero Mission and Super Metroid might fit that criteria. Sure, there's combat, but apart from the minibosses or bossfights, the games are more about navigating the environment with the tools you're given and unlocking new ones as you go. By that vein, what about Batman Arkham Asylum- you're basically handed a whole island and when you've finished the storyline it's yours to explore as you will.

    Edit: Didn't include Metroid Fusion because it seems to be much more linear and fight-y than the previous games.

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