Get Rid of the Dang Arrows

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This is actually a very serious problem that needs rectifying. I have always said the "Minimap" is ruining gaming, and it has.. and continues to do so. Mainly because, as Yahtzee said, you spend the majority of your time gluing your eyes to a 4-square inch circle instead of playing.

When it's not the "Minimap" it's the stupid arrows. The biggest offender for this, in my opinion, is Skyrim. Why Skyrim? Well, because Skyrim already has all the resources in place that would be necessary to guide the players through meta-exploration or adventure. I've known no other game that puts in so many useless world objects, or hundreds of readable books.

What happens when you read a book in Skyrim, detailing a lost treasure begging to be found? It puts a "quest marker" in your hud when you close that book. Ugh. Instead, the path should be explained in the story, by either simple instruction, all the way to a complex adventure that chains together a volume of books in a series to complete the journey for your reward. You know, adventure game stuff. It's not possible to just turn off the relevant hud features and quest by longhand, because there is no alternative. Lazy. I haven't decided if it's Bethesda being lazy, or development time constraints.. or they fear the average player will scoff at having to be an active player, thus less sales and such. I fear it is the latter...

Remember what Red Dead Redemption did with the treasure maps? Very simple. They showed you a small hand-drawn map displaying landmarks. Instead of looking at the hud, or stupid minimap, you spent the majority of that time scanning the beautiful horizon and countryside that was beautifully drawn and meticulously detailed. That was the only way to complete the treasure tasks, no waypoints. Unless of course you wiki'd it, you pussy.

Am I the only gamer who looks at the mini map when I want to look at the mini map, and not find that his eyes are glued to it?

I'm playing the hell out of AC3 right now, and I've think I've ran past feathers at least 6 or more times, because well, I'M NOT LOOKING AT THE FUCKING MINI MAP!

Was was partly annoyed in Skyrim with all the arrows, but I was glad that I was able to remove all but one or 2 I've wanted to mark (and mostly I would only remark it because I was getting lost) after the 4 bear/dragon/NPC attack that had me turned around.

But as with arrows, it mostly feeds into the ADD crowd whom don't want to listen to directions, they just want to know where they want to go the moment a quest/task/objective is given to them.

I think they serve a good purpose in a lot of games. But the bullshit that is corridor shooters is a joke. I have seen some playing of the new MoH game, and the environments are tiny and not in need of them, it's fuckin' stupid. I like how they did it on games like Deadspace. You hit a button and it gives you a quick temporary look of where to go. It's totally optional and it doesn't detract from your ability or want to explore in the game. I just hope they don't fuck it up on DS3, but I won't hold my breath.

Something I'd like to see in games would he a HUD powered by items. For example Halflife, there was no HUD until you put on the suit. Things like that. A tutorial level where you had a a HUD then the accident that destroys the suit - so the player has no HUD anymore and has to explore. Or alternatively, if it were an RPG, you could buy equipment for certain aspects of the HUD. Compass and map for direction, medical implant to show HP or whatever. This would allow the player to decide what is really useful for them.

Zhukov:
Eh, I actually rather like the markers. They let me know where to go last after I've explored everywhere else. Few things irritate me like accidentally stumbling into the next level/area/cutscene before I've explored to my heart's content.

Back in the day it used to be done with smart level design, colour palettes and or lighting. Not only did you know where you needed to go, but you had a sense you were going somewhere, and you knew where you were. These days no effort is put in. /EndCrankyKongRant

Having said that, Left 4 Dead 2 is a pretty good example of using good level design to guide a player - letting them explore while not holding their hand (in the context of the pacing of that game).

The Random One:

Jodah:
I'm fine either way so long as there are sufficient clues in the quest to tell you where to go. "Kill 10 Rabid Pheasants" isn't really going to work without a quest marker. "Kill 10 Rabid Pheasants located to the north of town", however, would work.

That's the entire point, isn't it? Because of the bloody markers, the designers don't need to type 'Kill 10 Rabid Pheasants located to the north of town' because they know the player will just follow the marker. Because of that, the location of the pheasants is a metagame aspect, never interacting with the game world, what diminishes it. Likewise, an arrow showing you where to go to reach your goal lets designers be lazy with the level design - instead of creating a level that clearly informs the player where they should go they just create whatever and the markers lead them on. (Conversely, play Slime Bomb Knight and marvel at how each screen's goal is always clear even though the game only works because it forbids itself from using any sort of video game indicator.)

Markers are a crutch, and if you start walking with a crutch when you don't need one you'll end up needing it soon.

I'm not disagreeing with you. I'm just saying I don't want a game that removes markers then just says "Go kill 10 Rabid Pheasants." I don't want to see devs taking the statement "get rid of the dang arrows" to mean just remove markers and let us figure it out without any clues what-so-ever.

I always liked games that just gave you a map (or filled one in as you visited places) and then let you make your own marks on it. To me, that keeps the fun of pen and paper without the hassle of actually getting any and still gives you the convenience of knowing where you've been and want to go.

I had the same problem with Skyrim, whenever you were near something undiscovered it would show up on the compass. No way to turn it off, in the end I had to cover the compass on my monitor because there was no way to turn it off and I wanted to Explore Damnit!

floppylobster:

Zhukov:
Eh, I actually rather like the markers. They let me know where to go last after I've explored everywhere else. Few things irritate me like accidentally stumbling into the next level/area/cutscene before I've explored to my heart's content.

Back in the day it used to be done with smart level design, colour palettes and or lighting. Not only did you know where you needed to go, but you had a sense you were going somewhere, and you knew where you were. These days no effort is put in. /EndCrankyKongRant

Oh no it bloody didn't.

The level design in older games sucked donkeys. The layouts made no sense, they were structured like a maze rather than a real-world environment. A significant amount of gameplay time was spent wandering about trying to figure out exactly which bullshit obscure path I was meant to take or which random button would open a door on the other side of the level.

Say what you will about arrows and objective markers, I'll take them any day over the obtuse bullshit of the old days.

I'd like to bring up the undisputed king of exploration games (Guild Wars 2) and even though everything is marked on the minimap, figuring out how to GET there can be nothing short of an absolute pain that could potentially take hours (see: Vistas).

Zhukov:
Eh, I actually rather like the markers. They let me know where to go last after I've explored everywhere else. Few things irritate me like accidentally stumbling into the next level/area/cutscene before I've explored to my heart's content.

I do find their presence in linear games a bit puzzling though. I'd prefer that they simply make the path clear through the level layout, Valve-style. Then again, that's much easier said than done.

I was gonna say that there's a counter argument to this philosophy, but bam, you got it in the first post, well done man. Infamous and Infamous 2 come to mind for this one. Large, open map with a point on the map (but not the minimap, I think) marked with a special color to indicate main objective versus side ones, and plenty of ways to get from here to there. But, there is a problem. If they say "head towards the tower, then over to the wharfs", and you don't know where either of those are situated, then you have to spend time learning your way around a fictional city before you can start to really enjoy the game. I have enough "fun" getting lost in my own city, using a sense of direction and some rudimentary knowledge of a a few major streets to construct a mental map of where I might be. I don't always have the time or desire to do that in a game, as well.

I play Star Trek Online and I enjoy the fact that if I read the quest and comprehend the information, like we're taught to do in school, I don't need directions.

I think it should be optional for the gamer to turn on or off directional help. Or make it part of the 'Easy' setting whereas Normal and Hard modes won't have it. There needs to be a challenge for me to enjoy the game and most of the games I like, at the heart of the mission is finding the objective.

As long as they don't get in the way or annoy me I can do with or without them. It's not like I'm automatically drawn to those things like a fly to a lamp. If there's something else more interesting in front of me to explore I'll happily do that first.

I love when games, especially the open world ones, give you written directions like "go north from here until you hit a small house, then turn right into the cave" or something. It feels much more natural and it gives me reason to explore, also, it extends the time a player spends playing the game, which is a plus. Far Cry 2 also handled markers in an interesting way that I enjoyed. It's map still had the markers on it to tell you where you needed to go, but the only map in the game was one that needed to be brought up to your eyes to actually see it, like a real map. So you would end up bringing up the map, looking where you need to go, and actually plotting the course and attempt to remember where to turn once the map is away. Even though a magically updating map is unrealistic, it's more in-place in a video game than a HUD ever will be, and it's one of my favorite ways that a game has implemented a map in a video game.

Highlighting the destination should be at least a toggle if only so if someone is in a hurry they can experience the relevant story quickly or be able to know where to avoid it. I personally would rather have a game where the need for such a cursor is vacant and it dumps you in a filled world with plentiful AI life, and isn't developed by Bethesda(I'm one of those people repulsed by their games for one reason or the other, probably the stare or glitches).

I don't mind markers myself. Especially in big open world games like Fallout NV or the Elder Scrolls games. Plus even with those markers, there's nothing stopping you from exploring the area around you.

I can see why it would annoy people if it were in a much more linear game however.

I think the markers serve a purpose at the beginning of a game, or if you shove it on easy. If you're playing on easy you're pretty much saying "show me the way".

Interesting article but Yahtzee misses something blindingly obvious (or doesn't address it)

If the player gets lost, they might get frustrated, if they frustrated, they might quit playing.

And if the player quits playing the game, that's a LOT of artwork that wont get seen.

i blame fable, ever since i was that sparkly line leading me about... I stopped playing it after 30mins, never played fable again. It's Peters fault. Get him Yathzee!

Akalabeth:
Interesting article but Yahtzee misses something blindingly obvious (or doesn't address it)

If the player gets lost, they might get frustrated, if they frustrated, they might quit playing.

And if the player quits playing the game, that's a LOT of artwork that wont get seen.

And these people wont check on line guides? god... Metroid would have be a little different if it just told you how to explore it and play it then patted you on the head if you got stuck.

Why should the game cater to these obtuse people? I remember that there used to be a sense of completion when playing a game. You ever beat silkworm on 2 player? I thought not...

I'm backwards on this matter. See... I like those damnable arrows and the river of lucky charms because I can't help but go the right way every time.

It never fails: In a more open RPG like Dark Souls or a big exploration world like Morrowind I try so very hard to find the out-of-the-way goodies but somehow manage to march my silly, under-leveled, ass right into the boss' room. I can't go the wrong way even if the wrong way smelled like fresh muffins.

So... I need those map markers to tell me where I'm supposed to go so I could then go everywhere else besides there.

there was a there was a term coined by a modder for oblivion players.. "green arrow blindness" it didnt matter how clear you were in an ingame letter, book, etc if it didnt have a honking great quest arrow saying "go here" players for the most part couldnt figutre out where they were meant to go.

basicalyl with open world games and quest markers it has a side effect of making players shut their brains off and just follow the arrow.

leave it as an option for those who want or need it but dont build your entire game around it. even an option to leave it off and a button to active it if you get stuck. a hints system

One thing I often wonder is *why* the arrows and markers and lines got so prevalent. A portion of it is probably WoW's wildspread success with it's ubiquitous quest log always telling you what to do next.

But the problem is larger than that.
It is a game-integrated Walkthrough, but the problem is that it's merged straight into the game design. In a certain way it is the *ultimate* easiest-difficulty-mode (as it is equivalent to playing the game exactly along a Walkthrough).

But why? Spatial feedback can be given without markers, using clear and easily distinguished visual style to indicate direction and area. This is how open world games should handle it, too (Skyrim did this quite badly, as it's art style was the same nearly everywhere, and many important landmarkers weren't visible enough from a distance to help. Sure it fit the lore, but the gameplay suffered for it.

It seems to come back to this developer-fear that players will turn their game off after 2 minutes if not 101%-totally-no-break engaged. Present the plot twist as a teaser immediately, then jump back in time, otherwise you know, we'd turn it off at the menu. Markers everywhere, never leaving a doubt where to go. Player could get lost and throw their console out the window in frustration.

*sigh*

Rack:
I need these markers because I have no sense of direction whatsoever. I can literally get lost in a straight line, I'll end up going backwards what feels like MORE than half the time. Options to turn them off? Sounds good to me.

Yeah but then you know there in the options and even that ruins the experience of discovery for me. Because ultimately it's there and you know the game is dying to show you. Some game are meant to be linear which is fine. If it's an open world then it's not fine at all. If you have problems with it perhaps its something you'd get better at without being led by the nose, you know learn a skill... It's junkfood gaming. Why bother if you have the bumpers up all the time.

First and foremost "boy scouting days" hahahahah Just imagine thise Yahtzee was a boy scout! He deserves some heavy bullying lol

Anyway, I do think it's avery useful to have markers and, at times, even "gps" in open world games. However, as Yahtzee said, I do feel that I spend more time appreciating a 2D mini-map than the carefully built environment around me. This happens particularly with games such as GTA and Sleeping Dogs...

When there are NO markers, like the GTA IV pigeons, I don't even bother hunting for the items (unless, obviously, it's something important), but then again, I usually hate collectibles, since they are no good for anything at all but grant a usually dumb achievement (I call them "wasted time achievement"). There are exceptions, like Bioshock's audio logs, in which case they gave a very nice backstory to the game, and even added context to everything, those are the only times I scavenge for collectibles EVEN if they don't have markers.

12th_milkshake:
i blame fable, ever since i was that sparkly line leading me about... I stopped playing it after 30mins, never played fable again. It's Peters fault. Get him Yathzee!

Akalabeth:
Interesting article but Yahtzee misses something blindingly obvious (or doesn't address it)

If the player gets lost, they might get frustrated, if they frustrated, they might quit playing.

And if the player quits playing the game, that's a LOT of artwork that wont get seen.

And these people wont check on line guides? god... Metroid would have be a little different if it just told you how to explore it and play it then patted you on the head if you got stuck.

Why should the game cater to these obtuse people? I remember that there used to be a sense of completion when playing a game. You ever beat silkworm on 2 player? I thought not...

I agree, but what happens when the gamer doesn't have enough time (due to work or anything else, other hobbies even) to submit himself to a "frustrating gameplay"? For one, imagine Fallout 3 WITHOUT that map system that would point which train station to get in in order to arrive, say, at the White House? There were many places there where one couldn't simply go straight ahead to, but it was also filled with subway tunnels leading to many different places, without the game's help a "busy" player will simply drop it in favor of another game, maybe an inferior one, but one he/she can get to the end of.

Plus, I firmly believe that a sense of completion is something "subjective", personally, i felt it at GTA IV, Sleeping Dogs, Deus Ex, and many other games that are considered "easy". However finishing, for instance, Dead Space 2 (which was easy, but harder than those other games), made me feel as frustrated at the game as while I was actually playing it, I felt like I had been cheated into buying not a survival horror, but a game that threw tons of alien/monsters to be destroyed by my weapons, and tried to get me "scared" by overwhelming me with enemies (well then, if that's survivor horror than Call of Duty and Gears of War are great horror titles!). In the end I realized that the sense of completion, TO ME, comes ou of fulfilling the character's tale, or at least the game's story.

marurder:
Something I'd like to see in games would he a HUD powered by items. For example Halflife, there was no HUD until you put on the suit. Things like that. A tutorial level where you had a a HUD then the accident that destroys the suit - so the player has no HUD anymore and has to explore. Or alternatively, if it were an RPG, you could buy equipment for certain aspects of the HUD. Compass and map for direction, medical implant to show HP or whatever. This would allow the player to decide what is really useful for them.

Dead Space did that, even Dead Space 2 which I hate. ALL Hud is located on your suit, life signs are displayed on the suit's "spine", bullets are right on top of the weapon, oxygen levels are at your back and so on, and what's more they really make you feel like they are information given by the suit for the character's need, rather than simply informing the player. The "GPS" thing came in the form of a guiding light connected to your hand and (presumably) the information on an "inside map" (one of the few things you had to manually access by pausing the game), to see this light you'd press R3 or something and that would prompt Isaac to open his right palm towards the floor (Iron Man style lol) and a laser of sorts would point a trail. It was nice because the trail wouldn't "stick" to the scenario, but disappear as soon as you "closed Isaac's hands", which means you'd use it more in the event of coming upon a bifurcation or something, to point which way to go and all.

nexus:
This is actually a very serious problem that needs rectifying. I have always said the "Minimap" is ruining gaming, and it has.. and continues to do so. Mainly because, as Yahtzee said, you spend the majority of your time gluing your eyes to a 4-square inch circle instead of playing.

When it's not the "Minimap" it's the stupid arrows. The biggest offender for this, in my opinion, is Skyrim. Why Skyrim? Well, because Skyrim already has all the resources in place that would be necessary to guide the players through meta-exploration or adventure. I've known no other game that puts in so many useless world objects, or hundreds of readable books.

What happens when you read a book in Skyrim, detailing a lost treasure begging to be found? It puts a "quest marker" in your hud when you close that book. Ugh. Instead, the path should be explained in the story, by either simple instruction, all the way to a complex adventure that chains together a volume of books in a series to complete the journey for your reward. You know, adventure game stuff. It's not possible to just turn off the relevant hud features and quest by longhand, because there is no alternative. Lazy. I haven't decided if it's Bethesda being lazy, or development time constraints.. or they fear the average player will scoff at having to be an active player, thus less sales and such. I fear it is the latter...

Remember what Red Dead Redemption did with the treasure maps? Very simple. They showed you a small hand-drawn map displaying landmarks. Instead of looking at the hud, or stupid minimap, you spent the majority of that time scanning the beautiful horizon and countryside that was beautifully drawn and meticulously detailed. That was the only way to complete the treasure tasks, no waypoints. Unless of course you wiki'd it, you pussy.

I was gonna argue. Then you mentioned the RDR treasure hunting. I had so much fun hunting for those treasures. However, in a game like Skyrim, you WOULD need something similar to RDR, ok, no marker, but a reminder that there's treasure to be collect and a general idea of the location, because mixing up the books in Skyrim would be VERY easy given the amount of text.

[quote="Thyunda" post="6.393716.15923020"
THEY'RE BY THE DIRTY BASE!

WHICH WAY IS THAT?![/quote]

Fucking Lol'd. I just run around the map like a madman slay any fucker in my way. Just follow the explosions.

Also, the compass would make it seem too much like a Modern military shooter.

Wait, I've just come up with a proper reason. They never fight on earth. The planets they fight on might have severely different magnetic fields making compasses useless. And even then, the battles aren't always fought on actual planets.

Yahtzee Croshaw:
there's not a single slightly significant thing in that game that doesn't sport a massive indicator on the minimap, so everything in between the icons is so much faff that you needn't even glance at.

This has been one of my big complaints about Guild Wars 2. There's a lot of emphasis on exploring and making sure you find everything in an area, but none of it actually involves any exploration at all. All you do is visit the giant coloured markers that can't be stopped from appearing automatically on your map, often also marked with giant pillars of light in the main game just in case you have some kind of selective map blindness. Occasionally there's a bit of a puzzle in figuring out how to actually get to them, but that's still not actually exploring.

On the other hand, I'm not a fan of having no indications at all. I'm not great with directions or remembering where I've been. Exploring can be fun, but wasting hours running around in circles with no clue where I am or where I'm supposed to be going really isn't. That's often exacerbated by having poor, or even just plain wrong, directions. Early WoW was pretty bad at that, and Skyrim has already been mentioned as another example where there often just isn't enough information given to find things without the markers.

So there had to be a balance. Always marking everything little thing takes all the fun of exploration and discovery out of a game, but not marking anything can just make it incredibly boring and frustrating. I thought WAR had quite a good system - quests had the general area marked rather than a specific point, so you could be sure that you weren't wasting your time looking in the wrong place, but still actually had to search for your target rather than having it handed to you on a platter. It even works in-game reasonably well. When someone says they'll mark your map with a person's location, having a magic marker that pinpoints their exact position and follows them around when they move is a tad unrealistic, but having a big circle around a wood that says "They're in here somewhere" is fairly sensible.

jollybarracuda:
Far Cry 2 also handled markers in an interesting way that I enjoyed. It's map still had the markers on it to tell you where you needed to go, but the only map in the game was one that needed to be brought up to your eyes to actually see it, like a real map. So you would end up bringing up the map, looking where you need to go, and actually plotting the course and attempt to remember where to turn once the map is away. Even though a magically updating map is unrealistic, it's more in-place in a video game than a HUD ever will be, and it's one of my favorite ways that a game has implemented a map in a video game.

Another thing I liked about Far Cry 2 was instead of having huge floating arrows telling you where to go, when you drove up to an intersection the physical road signs would be automatically color-coded to tell you which way to go. You actually had to pay attention to the environment instead of staring at the HUD, and if you were driving off-road you'd never even see them.

the arrows are necessary if the level/environment design isnt interesting and deliberate. i cant remember how many games ive seen where i literally wanted to give the fuck up and just go home because they told me where to go, but it all looked the fucking same.
but if the rooms look unique, the landscape is peppered with landmarks, the environment is interesting enough to draw the eye, and there are signs everywhere you can possibly justify putting signs? then the arrows distract from the game. they make it a lot worse. i dont remember if system shock two had arrows, but if it did i never used them, and i got lost in only two places (one of them engineering).

especially in sandbox games a lack of arrows (and the same could be said of no-fast-travel in just about every way, with the addition that there needs to be at least one fun way to move around more quickly) contribute to an ownership of the environment. again im using morrowind as an example because it did this so perfectly (even if it wasnt intentional): when you start everything looks foreign, you get lost constantly, and most directions lead to just walking up to every door and checking if its the right one. as you keep playing your familiarity and mastery of the environment grows, to the point where navigating it feels as natural and easy as getting around your own home/home town (+/- the occasional assassin), and suddenly everything is easy to find. it fits absurdly well with the main story of that particular game. and this post was just 'why morrowind was awesome', for which i am only mildly disappointed with myself.

12th_milkshake:

Rack:
I need these markers because I have no sense of direction whatsoever. I can literally get lost in a straight line, I'll end up going backwards what feels like MORE than half the time. Options to turn them off? Sounds good to me.

Yeah but then you know there in the options and even that ruins the experience of discovery for me. Because ultimately it's there and you know the game is dying to show you. Some game are meant to be linear which is fine. If it's an open world then it's not fine at all. If you have problems with it perhaps its something you'd get better at without being led by the nose, you know learn a skill... It's junkfood gaming. Why bother if you have the bumpers up all the time.

Nope, I'm old-school, been playing since Atari and if I ever had a chance to develop direction sense I would have done so playing Half Life, Morrowind, Duke Nukem and Deus Ex. I'm sorry you can't be happy if there is even an option to show quest arrows because that's as close to mainstream I can see this getting.

I would say your reaction seems a bit extreme though. If Dark Souls implemented an optional quest pointer you might not like it but I'd hardly say it would render the entire challenge defunct.

I've found that objective markers can actually HELP immersion. For about a week after I got Skyrim, I didn't know you could turn on objective markers for sidequests, and it was driving me INSANE trying to find the right houses for thieves' guild quests. Do you have any idea how many houses there are in Solitude? Enough that going door-to-door looking for Jala's house made me feel less like a dashing master thief and more like a travelling salesman. Part of the appeal of playing a game is that my character can easily do things I can't. I don't like having to really find my way around a new city any more than I'd like having to really walk 5 miles to get to the next objective.

Selective toggles to me are ideal. For one, like some, I have a poor sense of direction when gaming. Also, to me, markers and indicators are just a representation of what the character knows as feedback to me, the player. I may not be able to tell who You-Know-Who is via instructions relayed by an NPC, but I don't see why my character has to have the same problem.

12th_milkshake:
If it's an open world then it's not fine at all. If you have problems with it perhaps its something you'd get better at without being led by the nose, you know learn a skill... It's junkfood gaming. Why bother if you have the bumpers up all the time.

Oh I don't know, maybe for FUN? Sure, there's good times to be had in besting a challenging game, but that's not the ONLY kind of fun. Saints Row 2 and 3, for example, weren't exactly difficult, but they were still hugely enjoyable. Or maybe someone can only play for an hour or so a day and they'd rather spend that time FIGHTING the huge, epic battles the game has on offer instead of wasting it trying to FIND them. Also, have you ever gotten truly lost in a game? I have, and personally, I find turning on the "go this way" arrow to be less of an immersion breaker than stopping playing so I can Google it.

EDIT: also, this sums it up nicely:

kibbitz2000:
To me, markers and indicators are just a representation of what the character knows as feedback to me, the player. I may not be able to tell who You-Know-Who is via instructions relayed by an NPC, but I don't see why my character has to have the same problem.

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