My point was that "epic worlds and real time gameplay don't mix" is kind of the opposite of true. You might not like that design approach (which is fine btw) but on a technical level you can't
have that kind of epic open world without
also having real-time travel through it (or at least the option to do it).
It's about design goals at the end of the day.
Big open worlds aren't actually realistic of course. They massively compress the space you're in, which goes along with compressing the time. Like how you can see Whiterun from Riverwood in Skyrim and walk there in a few minutes IRL, but much more time passes in the game world. It's all about tradeoffs and which ones fit best for the intended design. Worlds like Skyrim are the way they are because the game is meant to emphasize a wide-open-sandbox approach where you can just go anywhere and do any of the game's content in whatever order you want. Basically an a-la-carte approach. But that means you have to make sacrifices in the realism department, because nobody wants to actually sit there for a realistic amount of time to travel between a medieval town and city. Same as how actually building a realistically sized town or city would not be that conducive to the kind of gameplay Skyrim emphasizes, it would mostly be adding a bunch of filler buildings between the important ones making it take longer to travel between key locations with more NPCs spouting their one line of dialogue as you pass. Daggerfall did this and the result is a world crammed to the gills with filler. The compression of the world is necessary to making it acceptable to play, and finding the exact right balance is a challenge.
Of course, you can forego that balancing act entirely if you just have a different game structure, like the "classic" discreet levels. More recently there's been the "open zone" method getting attention (Mario Odyssey and Sonic Frontiers), although it's older, going back as far as Deus Ex and other immersive sim types. That's potentially a better balance for this kind of open gameplay because it's a lot easier to design a more compartmentalized zone than an entire world where you can just walk from any one place to any other. This could be combined with the other really key feature of these sandbox type of games, which is the seamless
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