|I have always felt that maps need to be more than two dimensional, for one. I mean, first off, if you have up and down, then its **going** to be 3D at least in that sense. But more to the point, its not always practical to fit odd exits into the system, so dropping them under or over the room they go from, until the program can make a decent guess as to where the entire section its mapping should be, would be quite helpful. I see the problem as one of algorythms. Obviously, if you go up, then south 4, west 6, north 2 and then northeast, and you end up at the *same* place you entered from (assuming you tell the program that, 'yes it is the same room', then the mapper should be able to adjust the layer info to "show" that you went back down, by either adjusting color darker, or shifting the "coordinates" to a percentage of one unit. You can always go back later and adjust it so the "gentle slope" is where the height change happens.|
In probably 90% of cases, it shouldn't be impossible to make an adjustment for where something should be, even if height changes happen, but it needs to involve "warning" you that its about to connect section A to B, or, if you say, "not now", "I am not sure" or what ever, then it should change the apparent color, so even if rooms "overlap", they do so in a way that makes it reasonably obvious that they might be the same room. Adjusting it later just means something like ctrl-clicking the two rooms, then right clicking to pick "link", on a context menu or something. The few times that won't work mostly involve teleports and the like. Point being, the mapper should only provisionally assume that rooms are the same, unless the threshold rises above some point, like 10 rooms that are identical in exits, features, etc., *after* you reach the first one that seems like its the same as one you where already in, and in the same general location (mind you letting the user always decide should also be an option). Hand editing is always going to be needed though, just because people design muds to trick mappers. The real issue is which format to use, boxes + lines, in 3D, where you can partly see the layers "under" and "over" them? Or, the other one is to show the "current" level clearly, then all "visible" rooms (not covered by others), as darker/lighter than the one you are on, with some visibility threshold, like 2 units above and below (normally two levels). That would be a lot harder to deal with imho, since it would be a fixed grid with only one view direction, but might work OK. Existing mappers don't even try to show things in a way that gives you clear clues about how far above/below you may be to something. You get lost, you get lost, unless you are lucky and 100% of the rooms you are looking for are on one layer.
Oh, and one other trick one could do in 3D. A search path system could not only provide a "speed walk", if you intended to run there, but instead also make the map locations "pulse" so you could simply follow the map to get there slowly. Most of them, if they support that at all, probably dim/hide the entire rest of the map, so only the rooms you are passing through are clearly visible. That is imho, not optimal, since you may find that the path accidentally leads through a room you don't want to travel through, so having the other rooms still visible means you could go around. As per the pathing in something like MMOs, it may also be nice to have it dynamically adjust the path, as you move closer, or take alternate routes around something, until you reach the intended location (or disable the pathing).
Oh, and to DMpk2k, a lot of the discussion about programming here is directed at providing ways to do UI stuff that isn't currently available, so, I presume, most of us agree with you. ;)