AVWW - Why Being A "Completionist" Is Both Futile And Boring Here
Why It's Not The Best Idea To Explore Every Building Or Cave Completely
First of all, talk about a yawn fest. AVWW isn't scaled to real life, but it's also scaled larger than most games. This is great, because it gives you a sense of being in a real world that is actually of sufficient scope to be interesting to explore. It was also important to us to have the general rule "if you can see it, you can go there." That means that if there's a bunch of houses in a town, well... you can go into each one. But who in their right mind wants to wander through 60 houses?
Here's the cool thing: we made it really easy for you to tell which houses you have and have not been into. And inside almost every building, there is at least one "stash room" with some supplies that you desperately need. AND you can see those stash rooms as a nice yellow node on your dungeon map. So this makes the looting actually about efficiency rather than completionism. Your goal isn't to "get everything" in every area, because frankly you cannot. There are not enough hours in the day, even if you quit your job.
Rather, your job is to be an effective looter. Enter a house, and quickly size up its dungeon map. Does it look promising? If so, maybe explore a room or two, to push your scouting boundaries out. Still seem promising? Great! Go get the loot, then get on with things. Not seeing anything that looks worth your while? No problem! Head right back out the way you came in; an excursion of that sort into a little building takes under a minute to do for an experienced player.
The same general logic holds for cave systems, except that they always have lots of stuff worth exploring, and take longer to do (and are also less plentiful).
Don't Get Distracted By Too-Small Rewards
Yes, in every cavern in every cave system, and in every room in every building, there is something there.
Inside, you can find small caches of consciousness shards, the occasional enchant container, and other little goodies. There's at least one in every non-destroyed room in every building. Not to mention things like vases that you can destroy to get clay, or other background objects you can break for other common crafting ingredients.
In caverns, there's even more: granite, quartz, and other goodies abound. There are sources of cedar logs and of refined lumber. Way more consciousness shard caches, in general, per cave.
Here's the thing: it's not that you shouldn't be collecting this stuff, it's that you shouldn't be blinded by it. If you're passing right by some quartz, and are running low on quartz, and are planning to do something that requires quartz on this continent, then by all means take a moment to shatter the quartz vein and grab the quartz that pops out. If there's a cache of consciousness shards right above you, it's worth double-jumping up there or using a platform to pop up and get them. That's what they're there for! As you travel around, you'll naturally pass lots of "low hanging fruit" of this sort, and you can easily grab what you need most of the time.
However, unless you're on a specific hunt for granite or something (which does happen from time to time), there's simply no reason to go into a lot of the caves. You can see where the bosses are, where the gem veins are, where the secret missions are, and all that sort of thing, right on the dungeon map (presuming you've entered a cave within two connections of the cave you're looking at -- but scouting is a different matter, see below). What you really want to do is just go for the caves -- or interior rooms -- that hold the object of your current mini-quest, and ignore the rest as background noise.
What Exploration Here Is All About: Sorting Wheat From Chaff
A big part of being an effective AVWW player, the same as with being a good AI War player for that matter, is being able to sort the great tactical opportunities from the not-useful-enough ones, and then pursue only those which matter to you. Rather than being led on a linear quest through levels where everything matters, you're presented with a sprawling world with a lot of red herrings. Thus as you're walking around the world, you're not just blindly going everywhere and then trying to remember everywhere you're been. You're instead analyzing your surroundings and trying to pick out what seems worthwhile and what doesn't, and then pursuing that which does.
As a matter of fact, were we living through a post-apocalyptic world, I'd like to think that's how it would be.
Methods For Efficiently Scouting
When you enter a building or a cave, the first thing you want to know is if there's anything interesting in there (almost always the answer is yes, unless the building is very small or almost completely collapsed-in on itself). The second thing you want to know is where those items of interest are, and how to get there the quickest.
Scouting works by a really simple rule: all dungeon map nodes within two connections of your current location are automatically revealed. There are several strategies that we can thus divine from that:
1. If there's a room that has a lot of connections to child rooms, entering that room will scout a larger chunk of the map all at once.
2. Entering a room that's only connected to one room (the room you are currently in) won't help your scouting efforts at all.
3. Destroyed rooms can get in the way of your scouting by preventing your movement.
Note 1: "Side links" (vents in buildings, holes in the wall in caves -- both marked with the while line through the node on the dungeon map) do not count for scouting proximity purposes.
Note 2: If you scout a destroyed room, and it has any "children" that are also destroyed, the game will reveal them all to you at once. There's nothing of interest in them, anyhow.
Finding Elusive Secret Rooms
If you think you've scouted an entire building, but the percentage still says something like "97% scouted" or whatever, then you've missed a secret room. Look for the white lines on the dungeon map, which indicate where you can get into the ventilation system. One of those leads to a room that is behind several destroyed rooms, and thus out of range of traditional scouting. Could be nothing of interest in there, or it could be the stash! But it's cool to find these things anyhow.
What To Do When You Seem To Be Blocked Off From Most Of The Building
Suppose you walk into a building, and the room is destroyed. You can't get out of it except to leave the way you came. But there's all this other stuff beyond your current room -- you can see it right there on the map! Or it may be more subtle than this, and you can get to a few rooms, but then the rest of the building seems mysteriously blocked off to you -- even after you've looked for ventilation passages that might lead across.
This is not a bug! That generally means there are two entrances to the building. What you should do is go back out of the building, and then look around for another door. Chances are it will lead you into the section of the building that was previously inaccessible to you.
What's With All The Destroyed Rooms?
Destroyed rooms, which some players refer to as "bombed out" rooms (because of the little bomb icon that used to be on the door), are something that exist -- thematically speaking -- because of the cataclysm that shook up the world prior to the start of the game. There are destroyed rooms for the same reason there are chunks out of the moon, or clocks that have fallen down to the floor.
From a gameplay standpoint, what purpose do they serve?
1. They make the buildings smaller. Having to always explore enormous buildings in any game is annoying. Most players also hate locked doors that you can't go into for mysterious reasons (unless the game you're playing is survival horror, in which case it's a relief every time; but that's a very different genre). Our solution was to let you go into any room, but destroy some of them. We make them obviously destroyed just from looking at their entrance, and make it so that they never have nothing of interest at all inside them. Repeat: there is never anything of interest to find in destroyed rooms, which means you can safely ignore them as you explore around.
2. Destroyed rooms also make buildings non-linear. In real life, buildings are constructed to make it as EASY as possible for people to get around in. There are often big loops, multiple ways to get to any spot in a building, and so on. The only barriers we really put up in most buildings are locked doors, but it's expected that anyone with a key will have quick access to any part of the building. For a game, of course, this is terrible: there's no sense of exploration, there's no secret passages, etc. Having destroyed rooms in AVWW means that sometimes you find a room BEHIND that destroyed room that is only accessible through, say, the vent ducts. Or sometimes part of the building is only accessible through the back door of the building, while the front door just leads to a few rooms that are collapsed-in. Etc. A lot of games use this trick; you'll see it everywhere if you know to look for it.
3. Destroyed rooms also do provide a little hidey-hole for your character to step into and safely let their mana recharge, reorganize inventory, wait out enemies, or whatever.