The Philosophy of Roads

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HavenBastion

Starting Adventurer
Oct 20, 2014
12
3
4
#1
by... well, me of course.

First the bad (the good comes later, scroll down)

Roads are a path of least resistance. There are several reasons a road might deviate from a straight path; aesthetics, desirability (a well, ease) or necessity. Aside from the roads marked on official maps, many of the roads in MCMiddleEarth don't follow this rule.

In the case of roads which Are official, there needs to be a reason for each deviation, be it a village, a water source, a view, to avoid a horrid looking tree, whatever, but there needs to be a reason each and ever time. Many times that reason would be following the landscape, and that's perfectly in line with how people (even non-human people) would operate. When a road deviates without a real reason it can only be because it has traditionally gone that way but there was a reason in the past. There is a strict upper limit to how far roads can deviate without a reason no matter how perfect they were in the past and that excuse should not be mis-used or over-used. That's on the large scale.

On the smaller scale, I've noticed any number of places where roads do things that are just plain illogical. No One would follow such a road and the road would evolve to a straighter or easier path. When a road goes over a hillock instead of around it, that kills the suspension of disbelief that makes the world Work. When there's an easier path down a mountain, or in particular up one, that's the Only way people will go, regardless of where the road is and it becomes, de facto, the road.

You may think this is all beneath notice, but I disagree. In a fantasy world it is all the More important that things look and act as you would expect (in the context of the fantasy). It has to be internally consistant. If fire acts like fire and the sun and moon act like the sun and the moon, then roads need to act (and look) like roads. If importance is put into texturing on the small scale, it needs to be put into texturing on the large scale. We aren't merely talking about ways to more easily get between various interesting historical places, we're talking about thoroughfares which are used on a daily basis by an entire population of different races, an entire world's worth, and they're not going to put up with a road that doesn't make sense.

Now for some good stuff... I really like the quasi-roads that currently exist. My problem isn't with their design, it's with their layout. They shouldn't be everywhere and they should be along natural flow-lines. Just like water, people move in a particular way and that ought to be reflected. The bridges all seem very well done within the engineering constraints required. The overall flow of the roads is good, in particular heading through saddles in the mountains. Meandering roads are fine in some instances. In pretty places people like to take their time. It's just that when roads are used for transportation instead of sight-seeing that will never fly. I like most of what has been done and I really respect the amount of work that has gone into it but...

But, there is room for improvement. I would like to at least be given the means to mark out where roads would Not do what they're doing, show the proper path, and have some artist or designer take a look. What can I do to make this happen?

Side note: some of the roads would be well-maintained. This has much to do with the current political climate but we shouldn't have all rough ideas throughout, and we definitely need roads which are broader or have wagon-wheel tracks along major trade routes and deeper marked paths through narrow areas, etc. Horses, carts, armies, etc. all leave their own mark along the landscape. New paths are created anywhere it's convenient (looking at you, Shire). and so forth.
 

DSESGH

Manual Treebuilder
Mar 2, 2014
1,219
1,801
59
#3
If you take screenshots with coordinates and post them, we can look at the issue and perhaps change it.
 

Fireinferno13

Hardcore MCME-er
Donor
Mar 1, 2014
1,857
4,891
102
United States
#4
Having constructed more roads than I can count, I'm not sure I see your point unless you provide some clear examples of where you think a road "deviates" from what should be... Personally I can say that my roads tried to follow both a smooth and easy to walk path for the most part in getting from point A to point B. We would even alter the terrain just to fit the road better.
 

FireFuss

Starting Adventurer
Mar 6, 2014
405
1,438
0
#5
If you literally walk along the roads, you'll see, they take you exactly where they're supposed to.

This isn't a modern nation with a civil engineer planning the layout of route connections between cities and towns.

Then again, maybe it is and I just misinterpreted that part in the Silmarillion. :p
 

TheSpeedy_

Slab Fanatic
Mar 17, 2014
575
1,430
48
117
Amazon Prime Racetrack
#6
Well, the Roman Empire had civil projects, which laid out roads across the empire. However, as far as I am aware, outside of the major cities and kingdoms, there would not be mass roads that match that of real world projects.
 

Portalrules333

Dirt Conaisseur
Apr 9, 2014
767
565
30
17
Canada
#7
Next time, title the post "Issues with MCME Roads", instead of the misleading philosophy context, as Cred said.
 

Jodandotson

Aspiring Commoner
Mar 5, 2014
8
6
10
23
#8
Since Haven addresses why roads exist in detail and some guiding principles we should have while constructing roads, I think "philosophy" is a reasonable word to use here.

As for the roads, I think Haven has a good point. Based on the road jobs that I have taken part in, I have noticed that there is always plenty of emphasis on making the road look curvy or organic, but the road as it exists in the world, with a history and surrounding landscape, is rarely mentioned. If we have placed roads consistent with how whole civilizations would have efficiently traveled throughout history, than we have gotten very lucky.

Also, it doesn't take a modern civilization or formal road planning to find an efficient path to travel. Its not as if ancient people traveled on an arbitrary path in the general direction of their destination. Even animals travel efficiently.

With all that being said, I realize that a lot of this stuff is addressed in the background by the staff. However, I would be surprised if there were not many side paths, often guided less strictly by the staff, that needed attention like this. I do not have any examples, but it is certainly something that the community can keep an eye out for.
 

FallenSanity

Aspiring Commoner
Mar 7, 2014
33
208
17
22
#9
A road is more than a simple route taken by the many. It is a passage earned by the few. Who walked that road first? What compelled them to walk it? How long has it been walked? Indeed, it is questions like these that make us think most deeply about our own souls, after all, it is our souls that house our own roads, our inner roads, the roads we most travel and walk in our lifetimes. One must wonder again then, within us, what of those roads we did not take? If we had not done this thing, would we be fundamentally different beings now? I believe these questions must resound into the server, where we submit not only 'passages' and 'roads', but walks of life, taken by those who would have known where they went and where they wished to go, and then those taken by the lost and the confused, who walked and turned back, or who made the choice not to walk at all.

---

A Philosophy of Roads, by Fallen O. Sanity
 

HavenBastion

Starting Adventurer
Oct 20, 2014
12
3
4
#11
The main thing i saw which prompted this rant was basically wandering along here and here, coming over some small rise, seeing the road ahead of me on the next hill, and realising that i could take a straight shot to get there and it would be just as easy or easier than the curvy path that was laid out. this happened over and over following baggins' tracks. As pointed out in other posts, and as I also saw, there are places, particularly in the Misty Mountains where this problem is accentuated, where the path takes a really bizarre track that would make a weary traveller smite their brow or something.
 

DSESGH

Manual Treebuilder
Mar 2, 2014
1,219
1,801
59
#12
The main thing i saw which prompted this rant was basically wandering along here and here, coming over some small rise, seeing the road ahead of me on the next hill, and realising that i could take a straight shot to get there and it would be just as easy or easier than the curvy path that was laid out. this happened over and over following baggins' tracks. As pointed out in other posts, and as I also saw, there are places, particularly in the Misty Mountains where this problem is accentuated, where the path takes a really bizarre track that would make a weary traveller smite their brow or something.
Again, please take a screenshot when you see one of these places. It's very hard for us to fix the issues if we have to scan all the roads on the whole map to do it. Thanks;)

Saw your post on the other thread: screenshots are much more efficient than placing a marker. If you take screenshots, you simply press F3 (or fn + f3), press f2 or fn + f2, then upload your shots to an imgur album and post the link here. When you place a marker, you have to post the coordinates on the forums anyway, or it will take quite a while before a staff or artist sees a marker. Besides, we are not going to give you build perms unless you are a good builder and trusted enough to become staff or artist.

If you want, you can just post coordinates and maybe a description of the issue on the forums. That would be fine too.
 
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Portalrules333

Dirt Conaisseur
Apr 9, 2014
767
565
30
17
Canada
#13
The main thing i saw which prompted this rant was basically wandering along here and here, coming over some small rise, seeing the road ahead of me on the next hill, and realising that i could take a straight shot to get there and it would be just as easy or easier than the curvy path that was laid out. this happened over and over following baggins' tracks. As pointed out in other posts, and as I also saw, there are places, particularly in the Misty Mountains where this problem is accentuated, where the path takes a really bizarre track that would make a weary traveller smite their brow or something.
Were you following the footprints, or just using the great east road? I want to check for this myself.
 

Ardelenia

Slab Fanatic
Mar 1, 2014
572
1,063
43
19
Chicago, USA
#14
The main thing i saw which prompted this rant was basically wandering along here and here, coming over some small rise, seeing the road ahead of me on the next hill, and realising that i could take a straight shot to get there and it would be just as easy or easier than the curvy path that was laid out. this happened over and over following baggins' tracks. As pointed out in other posts, and as I also saw, there are places, particularly in the Misty Mountains where this problem is accentuated, where the path takes a really bizarre track that would make a weary traveller smite their brow or something.
also, in the misty mountains, am i correct in assuming you mean the high and low passes? like @333478 i want to look for myself.
 

Finrod_Amandil

Head Designer
Staff member
Head Designer
Designer
Donor
Media Team
Mar 2, 2014
2,751
5,753
160
23
Switzerland
www.elbisch.ch
Languages
German (native), English, French
#15
also, in the misty mountains, am i correct in assuming you mean the high and low passes? like @333478 i want to look for myself.
Oh that would make much more sense actually lel. I want to redo that eventually and by that consider getting rid of the low road cuz' lore and logic (but thats nothing official yet)
 

Top_Gun

Aspiring Commoner
Mar 5, 2014
159
194
17
#16
Kinda-sorta related, but one thing that always nags at my mind a bit is just how many roads we build in a half-ruined state, i.e. with tons of grass blocks poking through. Obviously that's exactly as it should be for a mostly-disused road in the middle of nowhere, but there are many other places where I don't think it makes much sense at all. For instance, the portion of the Great East Road that cuts through the heart of the Shire is presumably the most heavily-trafficked road in it, and thus the most well-maintained (hell, maintaining it was one of the original conditions placed on the hobbits for inhabiting the Shire), and you'd think many of the other roads between major towns would be equally well-kept. Hobbits weren't exactly known as master builders, but I think even they could manage to keep things on the level.

And all of this definitely goes double for Gondor. Whether you view them as a Rome analogue or not, they were certainly the most advanced nation in western Middle-earth at that time, and even after centuries of decline they carried on the legacy of Numenor. So when I look right outside Minas Tirith, and see roads already going to grass as they cross the Pelennor, all I can think of is...why? This is an active, prosperous country we're talking about, and the roads between major points of interest should be the most well-maintained in all of Middle-earth. If you look outside your front door or neighborhood, you don't see your roads falling all to pieces do you? (Well, unless you live in my state, anyway.) That's how it should be for Gondor. To go back to Rome for a second, think of the Via Appia, which even in its long-unused state still looks pretty darn good in many places. Just my own opinion, anyway.
 

HavenBastion

Starting Adventurer
Oct 20, 2014
12
3
4
#17
yes, following the footprints from the shire, and taking the high road from rivendell into the misty mountains.
 

Will_Slams

Slab Fanatic
Mar 1, 2014
235
417
46
18
The Upside-Down
Languages
English
#19
Kinda-sorta related, but one thing that always nags at my mind a bit is just how many roads we build in a half-ruined state, i.e. with tons of grass blocks poking through. Obviously that's exactly as it should be for a mostly-disused road in the middle of nowhere, but there are many other places where I don't think it makes much sense at all. For instance, the portion of the Great East Road that cuts through the heart of the Shire is presumably the most heavily-trafficked road in it, and thus the most well-maintained (hell, maintaining it was one of the original conditions placed on the hobbits for inhabiting the Shire), and you'd think many of the other roads between major towns would be equally well-kept. Hobbits weren't exactly known as master builders, but I think even they could manage to keep things on the level.

And all of this definitely goes double for Gondor. Whether you view them as a Rome analogue or not, they were certainly the most advanced nation in western Middle-earth at that time, and even after centuries of decline they carried on the legacy of Numenor. So when I look right outside Minas Tirith, and see roads already going to grass as they cross the Pelennor, all I can think of is...why? This is an active, prosperous country we're talking about, and the roads between major points of interest should be the most well-maintained in all of Middle-earth. If you look outside your front door or neighborhood, you don't see your roads falling all to pieces do you? (Well, unless you live in my state, anyway.) That's how it should be for Gondor. To go back to Rome for a second, think of the Via Appia, which even in its long-unused state still looks pretty darn good in many places. Just my own opinion, anyway.
The roads in Pelennor seem pretty well-maintained to me, except maybe that bit right in front of Minas Tirith. Putting that one twenty-foot stretch aside, think about the roads outside Pelennor. These roads were made using cobblestones, it's not like they were paved with cement, asphalt, or concrete, which is much more durable. The cobblestone have spaces in between each rock/pebble/thing, and weeds, dirt, and grass would tend to sprout up in those. And they aren't in awful condition. If the road is still useable, I don't think Denethor would have seen much point in rebuilding all the roads in the country.
And then you can also think about modern-day roads that ARE paved with cement, asphalt, or concrete. They aren't flawless. Look at any given road or path made from these in your hometown and I guarantee you will be able to find cracks, broken chunks, and awkward patches of different-colored pavement from when it HAS been repaired.
 

HavenBastion

Starting Adventurer
Oct 20, 2014
12
3
4
#20
because of obvious limitations what needs to be represented is the overall state of the road. overall most roads are maintained to at least some level, particularly ones which are well travelled in peaceful areas.