Wow, between the user feedback I've gotten (and if you're wondering, I devour it ALL) and the data coming in that's automatically collected, I have been able to formulate an excellent plan for the next alpha. Besides bugfixes, here's what's (probably) coming:
I haven't figured this out exactly. Should it be an automapper, like Super Metroid, or more of a "you get a map object and then you get to see a map with your position", like Super Zelda. Of course, Super Metroid has it's own version of the map item, those little charge stations that give you a map. But being able to see where you have explored is a nice feature.
I don't know yet! Other questions are, should the map be only per-area (i.e., one map square per area) or not?
To tell you the truth, I like the idea of a pre-drawn map with a grid overlaid on it. You'll have a "dot" showing your position in the grid. Perhaps we can show which grid squares you've explored. A map like this needn't show too much detail, but would give you an immediate sense of where you are at. Being able to find/collect maps would be really useful.
We can even show NPCs as dots along with the player. This is maybe (definitely) unrealistic but that doesn't matter as much as a person might think. The main thing is to give the player the information they need. Sometimes, you just tell them.
Telling the player radar-like, without an in-game explanation, where NPCs are: that's breaking the third wall. But your choice might be to dumb-down the NPCs daily schedules, so that they are easy to find, or this. I think you're giving the player a more interesting world to explore in the latter.
Another example is say Castlevania: SoTN. As you enter areas, it tells you the name of the area. As you strike enemies, it tells you their name as well. It's breaking the third wall, but it adds a lot to the feel of the game.
I had rather forgotten how irritating it is to walk along walls in the game! The player should of course slide smoothly along the walls, not instantly get stuck on them.
This is the real value of the data collection. I can see what people are trying, and make it work, or lead them in different directions. For example, more than one player has tried to smash the other car in the parking lot, and more than one player has gone back to their car to put the parking ticket on it. These are obvious things that I wouldn't have been aware of if it weren't for the data collection system in place.
Once again, to all the testers, Thank You!