Pointing the way
Our goal is to cover large areas of a destination with Explore levels to give the user the best sense of place. As with the real location, thIs will result in a large network of tracks offering a wide choice of routes and we are beginning to see this in our Eastern Fells model. As the network grows the issue of navigation becomes an increasing concern and the question is raised of how much to augment the natural environment in order to aid this task.
In previous posts we have discussed the display of Heading, Location and Elevation and these capabilities already provide additional assistance to the user in addition to the Peak Labels. However the real world environment provides other guidance in the form of signs and way markers and thus we feel it is important to add these and in the picture below you can see two examples where these have been added to the model.
Signpost and Way Marker
Typically the frequency of such guidance decreases as you move up the fells increasing the difficulty of navigation. It should still be possible to navigate the model using a standard map and the Heading, Location and Elevation data as the model faithfully reflects the real world environment. However it is also possible to provide further additional information to aid the user. One possibility would be to have a direction arrow permanently displayed to guide the user with pop-up directions at path intersections, providing a kind of head up display. Another option would be to create a real time map, perhaps with a GPS like display. We are considering these ideas along with the option to disable if the user wants a more challenging navigational task.
Another related issue is how we handle gates. Currently, as shown below, we have automated the opening and closing of gates to provide a smooth user experience. Thus when the user approaches to within a certain distance the gate will open and close when the user has passed through. However more realistic options are possible where some action is required to open the gate but the current thinking is that this could become quite tedious after a while.
Gate opened automatically as user approaches
We will continue to evolve these aspects of the model and are very interested to hear user feedback on these topics.