Okay I worked though some BS in my code and now the only bottleneck is maploading from a savefile.
In a fit of ultimate coolness, the player can actually do things while the map loads -- read and send email, talk to others, etc.
Anyway, Tom, to see how long it's taking, you can run
and watch the status messages. When it starts loading the zone, it spits out percentage numbers. Each percentage number comes after it has read through and initialized one line of the map, or, at this time, 55 turfs.
It appears to take from half a second to a second to do 55 turfs, which is, alas, too long if I can avoid it.
Given the admittedly inefficient way you've seen I'm using savefiles, is this something I will just have to live with or is there some chance of more improvement on the byond side?