My opinion is probably going to be all over the map on this topic. I obviously love creating my own maps, but it is cool to see maps as feelies in some games. As others have said, if the player-character is well-familiar with the geography, it makes sense to provide a map to the player so they’re on the same page, as it were.
Even if the player-character does not know the geography, a map might be a pleasant bonus. The in-game maps of, say, Bobby and Bonnie or The Dessert Island, were delightful. I remember another game where the map was a password-locked PDF, and when you found the map within the game, you were told the password for the map. And the styling of the map fit perfectly with the tone of the game. A map can be a very nice touch for the esthetics.
But I don’t always want a map and I love the exploration aspect of IF. Sometimes author’s maps leave off little secrets, though, and that’s something to consider too. You can get a good idea of the general scope and range of the game’s geography but still not know everything.
GO TO is really a whole other discussion. Sometimes the author wants to do away with compass directions and would rather you say GO TO KITCHEN or just KITCHEN to get there, and that’s a stylistic choice, and that’s fine, but I personally get a bit confused with the layout when the compass directions aren’t there.
And GO TO is potentially a lot of work for the author to add and get right. With many games, I don’t think it’s needed. But if your game has 30 locations or more, you should maybe think about it, and if you’ve got 80 locations or more, you should consider it. I used GO TO a lot while playing Hadean Lands, and I wish it had been provided in Birmingham IV.
And, y’know, there’s also games where GO TO might be a bad idea because there’s too many complications, or it kinda matters how the player-character moves around the game. GO TO would’ve been quite pointless to provide in Threediopolis.
So, um, to summarize:
- I like author’s maps if they match the style of the game.
- I don’t always want a map, but it’s fine if it makes sense to be provided.
- A map can be incomplete.
- I’m gonna make my own maps anyway, no matter what.
- GO TO is more trouble than it’s worth for small games, unless it’s a style choice.
- GO TO becomes more desirable as the number of locations in a game increases.
- If GO TO is provided, I will use it.
- In some weird cases, GO TO might be a bad idea.
Oh, and if we could stop doing ASCII art maps, that would be cool. Those things can be impossible to read, sometimes. Use normal graphics, please and thank you.