Get Rid of the Dang Arrows

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I don't think simply being able to turn them off is a viable option. Compare Morrowind to Skyrim for example, in the former you are given a description of the place and how to get there, whereas the latter simply gives you an objective and a marker; without that marker you'll have an incredibly difficult time finding where to go.

I think distinctive, memorable landscape is important; have a world you can figure out through exploration. There also needs to be more NPCs who give you directions.

Waypoints are fine. Metroid Prime uses Waypoints, and tells the player "Something happened here. Try to find a way to the location" and lets the player take over from there.

"Idiot Lights" are not. Fable sucked a hot one in part because of this. Combat carried no real risk or consequence because death is reserved only for your enemies, and exploration is of no concern when 80% of the game is linear and there are fucking lights leading you everywhere anyway!

As a counterpoint, consider Left4Dead. It's linear, yes, but each map is quite large, full of complex terrain, and contains at least a few points of semi-linearity (places you explore looking for weapons and supplies). It's also dark and fairly homogenous in its layout.

Yet it does not require the presence of those Idiot Lights one bit. Why? Because they are designed intelligently.

Color correction and lighting. Sections that fan and funnel between buildings/segments. Identifiable landmarks. These are all attributes that the brain recognizes subconsciously.
Not fucking ONCE do I have to whip out a minimap or press a "GO HERE, IDIOT" button.

Captcha: I think this is the first non-ad captcha I filled out in nearly a month.

I agree about having too many markers like AssC 3. But I'd rather they didn't get rid of main objective markers. It lets me know what part of the game I need to avoid for as long as possible until I have explored every possible other area.

rollerfox88:
But Yahtzee, every game has to have them, because previous games that have done well had them!! How can we ever make progress as people if we dont carry over every popular feature whether or not its necessary or appropriate?

Seriously though, I think, as with basically all elements of a HUD, it should be a toggle option in the menu. Those that want to explore the environment to find out where to go can do so unmolested, and those that arent able to think for themselves can be led by the nose by a flashing arrow.

Or those of us who would rather spend 6 hours playing through the story of a game than trying to find that one little hidden place that has something in it which is useful to the story.

So yeah - have it be a toggle setting or even part of a difficulty setting, so those people who want to enjoy the story can enjoy the story, and those people who want to masturbate game designers can masturbate game designers. We all win!

If I want hand holding I'll go to kindergarten, if I want to watch a film I will download a video. If I want to play a game I put it in this thing called a game system and play it via a controller...and hope I am not back in kindergarten being forced to watch a shity film.

make it on/off.

heck steal the compass from the pirates movies, there is something you could work into a game, have it point at your selected quest in your quest long so when you consort the compass it points towards it, can make it go haywire, send you off on something it finds interesting, or when your hurt it insists on pointing you towards the nearest doctor, or hungry resturant. etc all sorts of mini game you could build into something like that, and still give direction when the player had to have it.

And yea open world exploration is tricky in most games because the main quests tend to have game changing or game ending triggers, until games work past that, truely open explore and do wth ever you want will be broken in these games.

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

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).

Back in the day it was 2d you generally advanced left to right or up or had the literal screen scroll and force you a direction or cut you off from going back on one.

I'm slightly unhappy with the legacy of the playstation and even I am not going to not call the golden age or just the past on its faults. The issue, mainly is, in general, we've got no established way to explore and handle 3d environments well and the ways we do have are the result of spamming what worked on a popularly praised or just profitable title the once and is run into the ground even when the indepth mechanics aren't grokked.

How about having those ridiculous things off by default? That adds to the whole, "turn on Baby's First Video Game mode" setting.

I have to admit, watching Let's Plays and Playthroughs of popular games often leaves me baffled (and screaming at the screen) when players run around an environment for ten minutes before they find the door that I saw as soon as they entered the room. That this happens so often (or trying to figure out what to do) caused me to consider starting my own Let's Play series.

Markers serve a propose in The Elderscrolls/ Fallout type games were you have a massive map and you need a marker of were to go. but CoD just sucks so there.

Zhukov:

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.

You're talking about the old, old days. I'm talking about um, say... Yeah, you're right, they did suck. But the light of that can't penetrate my rose-tinted glasses.

(Banjo Kazooie had nice level design.)

Amen. Sleeping Dogs got traded pretty fast because missions were embarrassingly linear. It was like watching Rumble in the Bronx and having it pause and ask, "Send Jackie to gang hideout? Press X."

Firstly, I feel I'm obligated to repost this classic and depressingly true image:
image

With regard to open world games, markers are only necessary when the game requires you to find something that would not otherwise be obvious if you look for it. In Grand Theft Auto games, for example, you're often sent to a perfectly generic location in the middle of a bunch of equally generic locations -one city apartment block looks more or less like another one- to carry out your missions. On the other hand, in a game like The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening (still my favourite of the 2D Zelda games) you have to discover the locations of the game's 8 dungeons simply by exploring, but it's not phenomenally difficult (unlike in the original Legend of Zelda where finding some of the dungeons could drive you insane).

el_kabong:
A fair point. However, I've definitely lost enjoyment from games that don't have any kind of objective markers.

Discovery is usually only part of the "cake of fun" I'm trying to eat when playing a video game. Progression/advancement is another. The best games are when those two things go hand in hand. When you get rid of objective markers or maps entirely in an open-world game, you may (in effect) be killing any advancement or forcing players to Google an answer. Nothing breaks immersion more than having to look something up on Google just to continue the game.

This so very much, brought to you in flashing letters by Vanilla WoW. It's not that Thottbot wasn't *useful*, but it broke any sense of immersion to circle the same mountain six times and then go have to Thott the damn thing to find out where the 6 blue blunderbusses were to be found. Whichever expansion gave you a quest list with shaded areas on the mini-map was brilliant and I'd like to kiss it. Even better, it didn't get in the way of exploration at all, I could ignore the map shading as much as I wanted to, it was perfect.

I'll note, though, that I'm horribly navigationally challenged in general. I don't play new games on Easy because I can't handle the gameplay, I play them on Easy because I can't handle the combat while I'm trying that hard to stop getting lost! Once I know where I'm supposed to go, I bring it back up again. As you might imagine, I like waypoints. There can't be enough waypoints for me! So please, if you must get rid of them, let the perennially lost amongst you toggle the damn things on if we'd like to.

Actually... if you want to know what kills exploration for *me*, it's not the waypoint, it's your irritated buddy/commander in your ear constantly yelling at you to get a move on. (Jesus, shut UP, Cortana! I love you, but we really do need to talk about that...)

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.

Sort of like the tonics in Bioshock, then? Ooh. I LOVE this idea! I not only would pay in-game credits, in some games I'd be willing to part with $1 or $2 of real-world money just for a working in-game version of my phone's mapping app, with a little "find me" button. This would be the perfect solution, players like Yahtzee can get something better suited for their playstyle, and navigationally-challenged players like me could start on Normal or harder without having to artificially lower the difficulty to compensate for the greater degree of being hopelessly lost.

Developers, are you listening? That idea is genius!

The problem, as with everything in game design, is balance. I can exemplify both extremes using a single game: Skyrim. When following a quest and trying to find, say, Kynesgrove. It makes sense for me to have a map that points out locations; heck, in many quest conversations, the NPC saying "I'm too lazy to do this so you should do it for me" mentions said map and adding a marker to it. So having a quest marker pointed at the town (cave, lake, fortress, whatever) makes sense - it's physically marked on the map and map reading is far simpler than, say, dragon hunting. On the other hand, how do I know that the Dragonstone is contained in that particular chest within the dungeon. (Most of the dungeons are pretty linear as it is, and major chests already stick out like a sore thumb.)

Similarly, a well briefed special ops soldier (the PC in your average shooter) could plausibly know what building the target is in, maybe even what floor or wing to look in, but exactly where in the room should be an unknown. (Modern Warfare 2 has an excellent example of this - in the Russian airbase where you and your ally get caught, the first time through, I had already grabbed the item that triggers McTavish being caught before he was finished explaining what I'm supposed to do.)

I remember the first game I played with HUD based "this way" cues (as in, those attached to the game interface rather than subtly built into the level design like it should be). It was Final Fantasy X, where a big red arrow on the map pointed the way to go through at least 90% of the game. The previous 9 games didn't even have area maps - they're not necessary for most jrpgs (and when they are, it's generally because the map designer is being a dick, like the Labs dungeon in Xenogears). One could almost write a walkthrough for the entire storyline of the game as "follow the red arrow, killing anything that tries to stop you." Given that most of the map designs in the game were pretty hallways with different monsters and scenery, the red arrow becomes even less necessary.

I had hoped then that game developers wouldn't adopt the trend of hamfistedly pointing out the way, even when it's so stupidly obvious. But no, video gamers aren't allowed to be confused anymore. Even when we're given areas to explore (a concept that seems to have dropped out of the shooter genre, at least), we know exactly where to go to progress through the game even if we weren't paying attention to the storyline, because we've got this giant arrow pasted on the screen screaming "This way be story events!"

At least puzzle games like Portal haven't started using arrows. That said, Myst IV did come with a walkthrough built into it, which is, for a puzzle game, even worse.

PrototypeC:
How about having those ridiculous things off by default? That adds to the whole, "turn on Baby's First Video Game mode" setting.

That's not going to help, because the arrows by themselves aren't the problem. By including markers, whether their default is on or off, the developer is consigning the entirety of the gameplay to quests for "things" to find. Anything more intelligent like possibly observing the environment for clues or collecting sensory information from what you see or hear, is destroyed because such a puzzle cannot be catered for by a marker or a giant arrow pointing to a location.

Then again, this is the FPS genre we're talking about, where for over 20 years the gameplay has been 100% "use gun with bad guy".

I think a diary system is the best way to go, Morrowind had a system whereby your character would write down a vague outline of the quest and you had to ask other people about the topic and firgure your way around it.

I HATE these damn mission markers.

A lot of games today look like CNN with all the information they try to stuff down your throat.

They are worst in RPGs, because I can't NOT look at them. They distract me so fucking much.

I also hate it when a game like Batman: Arkham Asylum tells me 10 hours into the game that I can do some contextual thing to a wall, when I have done said contextual thing A THOUSAND TIMES already.

This always gives me the sense of the game playing me, not the other way around. "Go here, press Space, now go over there, await Quicktime-Event..."

People used to get by with a map and a compass. Now they crawl here pleaing "I need these markers 'cause I get lost." Play the damn game, get better.

I have to admit, this does make a lot of sense. I also hate to admit it, but while playing GW2, I tend to keep glancing at the minimap, looking to see if there are any harvest nodes nearby.

I realize now that like achievements, quest indicators are both blessings and curses, and for largely the same reasons. When you get the achievement or reach the quest indicator, you get a certain sense of accomplishment, the feeling you've made progress towards fully completing something. But at the same time, you lose a different sense of accomplishment with both; the sense of discovery you get when you find something without being blatantly pointed towards it. It's like we've sacrificed the chance to feel clever and adventurous in exchange for feeling a sense of satisfactory diligence. Instead of getting to feel like you've discovered something for yourself that not everybody else may have discovered (at least not yet), you get to feel like you've completed another step on a to-do list and are that much closer to the finish line. I once again find myself wondering if one is better or even as good as the other.

The golden crumb trail in Fable 2 and 3 was kind of a good idea in my opinion, while it wasn't the best solution to the minimap, it was one.

I personally hate playing games with huge beautiful overworlds which require me to look at the map while I walk around simply because I have no idea where the fuck i'm going.

Tono Makt:
Or those of us who would rather spend 6 hours playing through the story of a game than trying to find that one little hidden place that has something in it which is useful to the story.

So yeah - have it be a toggle setting or even part of a difficulty setting, so those people who want to enjoy the story can enjoy the story, and those people who want to masturbate game designers can masturbate game designers. We all win!

But quests are actually designed around the arrows. It just isn't the sort of feature that you can just remove without consequences. In older RPG's, you actually got directions to where you needed to go; now you just get an arrow, which is fine for those that like it, but those who don't can't turn it off cause then they would have no clue where to go.

Edit: For instance, in Red Dead Redemtion, there's a sidequest that requires you to go to a certain hilly area, forget the name, to find missing people. A small part of that area is highlighted on the map so you know where to go. If there were no quest markers, the description that the questgiver gives would be more specific--"He was around the east side. He never went too far in, he always felt like that place was dangerous. I guess he was right!" would tell you that you should look near the road and toward the east. It would also be a good way to tie the gameplay into the narrative, as opposed to the gaminess of the character psychically knowing where to go. But as it is, if there were an option to just turn the marker off, the player would have to scour the whole (comparatively large) area.

Celi:

Tono Makt:
Or those of us who would rather spend 6 hours playing through the story of a game than trying to find that one little hidden place that has something in it which is useful to the story.

So yeah - have it be a toggle setting or even part of a difficulty setting, so those people who want to enjoy the story can enjoy the story, and those people who want to masturbate game designers can masturbate game designers. We all win!

But quests are actually designed around the arrows. It just isn't the sort of feature that you can just remove without consequences. In older RPG's, you actually got directions to where you needed to go; now you just get an arrow, which is fine for those that like it, but those who don't can't turn it off cause then they would have no clue where to go.

Edit: For instance, in Red Dead Redemtion, there's a sidequest that requires you to go to a certain hilly area, forget the name, to find missing people. A small part of that area is highlighted on the map so you know where to go. If there were no quest markers, the description that the questgiver gives would be more specific--"He was around the east side. He never went too far in, he always felt like that place was dangerous. I guess he was right!" would tell you that you should look near the road and toward the east. It would also be a good way to tie the gameplay into the narrative, as opposed to the gaminess of the character psychically knowing where to go. But as it is, if there were an option to just turn the marker off, the player would have to scour the whole (comparatively large) area.

You can't always turn off the markers/arrows and not all games are big enough to need them to start with. So they are typically not needed. So less hand holding is always a good thing.

Dishonored! No, no. Fallout? Well, not really. Mirror's Edge! No, I guess not.

To be fair, I was actually warned before playing Dishonored to turn off the objective markers. But after searching every nook and cranny in the first level for my gear I got fed up and turned the indicators back on. Next time I play it I'll turn them off, that'll spice it up a hair. And Mirror's Edge had a system to guide you, but it got testy at times, pointing straight into a brick wall or off into an abyss. I did make certain to turn off the dumb red indicators before my first playthrough.

'when you highlight an objective, you're also de-highlighting the entire rest of the game.'

This is a lucent thought, one that I often ponder myself. Generally I do it more in regards to MMOs. There's this massive world to explore and sooner than later you're just looking at the map more than the actual landscape. F* that nice little gazebo, it doesn't have any epic weapons in it, I'm on the clock here.

Dishonored has well designed, compact, visually discernable levels for the most part. You could conceivably get through the game with no indicators at all. Listen to the story/read notes to determine your targets, runes would go back to the archaic mode of just being searched for. (I didn't find the last Piece of a Heart in Link's Awakening for 3 years, and I played that game on a daily basis for quite a while).

There's something to be said for guiding mechanisms, for in the larger open world games you could get lost. I recall playing Deus Ex years after its initial release and being dumbfounded as to where I was supposed to go. Granted I wasn't paying much attention to the story. Imagine Just Cause 2 without a map or map beacons.

But it's true that it's gone from being a utility to being omnipresent, and it ruins games that don't need it, or only need it to be optional, not active 100% of the time.

-I ignored Downpour, despite nice looking concept art, because I don't have a console setup anymore and the series has been diving so sharply in the past years. However hearing it praised here, and having seen some streams during Halloween twitch events, I may have to look in to it now.

I think map markers outright ruined Skyrim I even tried to turn them off on my next playthrough but they still showed up on my compass thingy :(

Devs who are making games where exploration is a big sell really need to tone it down.

needle in a haystack or objective marker hmm i think i like the markers better

Yep. Dark Souls, Yahtzee, Dark Souls. It has a big, sort-of-open world with no mini-map to distract You, no map of any kind, even, and no objective markers. You fight Your way out of the Undead Asylum because it's the only way forward and then some despondent guy tells You to "ring the bells of awakening" and not much else.

But you can say "screw those bells" and do something else. You can explore the Darkroot Garden and the Darkroot Basin, challenge the Hydra and Sif, join the Forest Hunter covenant and do some PvP. You can brave the rest of the Undead Burg, then the Depths and Blighttown and end up finding a completely hidden area. You can get cursed in the Depths and decide to explore Ruins of New Londo for a character who can cure You instead of buying an item. Like I did. Heck, You can spend hours getting to the bottom of the Catacombs without a divine weapon and obtaining the Rite of Kindling. Like I did. You can even proceed to the dead end awaiting You in the Tomb of Giants and then desperately try to claw Your way out. Luckily, I didn't do that.

And Dark Souls isn't hard or unfair. It's challenging and demands that You pay attention. If You do accept the challenge and do pay attention, You'll find that it's as fair as can be. The many deaths the player suffers are not punishment or a sign of failure. They are a tool to educate You. The fact that You can reclaim lost souls at the place of Your demise is a very clear mechanic that urges You to do as good as You did just now and then try to overcome Yourself by doing better and getting further.

Wolfenstein 3-D, Spear of Destiny, etc. You're a prisoner. No, you do not have a frickin' map of the joint. Shoot your way out, or you die. Now get on with it.

I got lost.
Man, did I get lost.
I got so very lost.

Then I found this SS officer who was so friendly that he put me out of my misery.

Of course, part of the problem was that the average player is looking for secret areas. Secret areas that are really, really well hidden. Searching every level made the game take 5-6 times as long as it should have done. And then some times I was so lost that I just saved the game and quit. (At least the save part was easy!)
I didn't have a quest arrow, and I friggin' loved it. Besides, W3D had *fake* level exits. That was hysterical - when it happens to someone else. You can't do that in modern games. That sort of arbitrary meanness is missing from modern games. Except for the Alpha Protocol series. All of the bosses in those games are artificially hard and serve no purpose.

Now, as I've said, I'm playing Alpha Protocol:Human Revolution. And its just occurred to me that having objectives marked on the mini-map is ruining the game. All of the locations are in urban areas. Urban areas have streets and addresses. It's not unreasonable to ask me to look for a specific street! The game was *already* encouraging me to talk to civilians just in case they give you side quests. You *already* find out where the arms dealers are by eavesdropping on other conversations! Why not have a few of them (just a few) able to give directions too? Not all of them, that's too much voice acting. But some 75% of them could say "Piss off Yankee dog" or "Sorry, I'm not from around here."

jollybarracuda:
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.

Well, you know what we used to do in the old days? Give oral directions with landmarks!
[That's not Twing-Twang with road rash!]
On two separate occasions, I was given directions to find places by counting traffic lights. And on both of those occasions, the directions were wrong! (Sad to say, there just weren't 13 stop-lights in Terra Haute, IN. So I kept going...) Why don't video games do this yet? Give the player bad directions that 'accidentally' send him/her where he/she will be lost, instead of to the next objective. Then the player has to realize that they are lost, and try to correct the mistake either by interaction, looking for landmarks, or possibly even finding a payphone! Or asking a fireman or gas station attendant.

Yes, I know, Yahtzee will say that its too much like work. But he's the one that thought that drawing his own map was fun! Maybe the misdirection was intentional by the quest giver. Maybe the misdirection was subterfuge. "Hey, I didn't know that someone had stolen the Washington Monument, and carried it two miles east before putting it down again for a breather!" Maybe the player character had a 'Would you kindly?' moment and blacked out for 30 minutes but kept on moving past the objective.

Now, I do use 'Useable Item Shimmer' when I play Bioshock, but I do that for a very specific reason. It's because I can't see the BLOODY pistols when they fall into water. And there is water everywhere! The easy way is to pull out the shotgun since it has the biggest target/reticle thing, but it still requires that I scan the entire floor with it.

One of the reasons why I love Morrowind so much is because of this. I will never forget the basic templates of the south side of the entire world, because you need to learn that shit by heart, so you can... You know... Play the game.

I totaly love the no hud approach, the best time I've had playing a game in recent memory is my first night ever playing DayZ with my friend who had also never played it. We spent hours clambering around in the dark scared to death of the zombies we could barely make out against the skyline trying to read road signs, in russian none the less to find eachother, only to completely pass eachother and have to turn around. This was before we had a compas, on a pitch black night, navigating by landmarks and road signs with a map we found on the internet. I want more experiances like that.

With the Skyrim thing. You guys are saying the developers are lazy with level design... The developers made the woods and lands between roads and towns to make a good open world experience. The game is amazing and takes a really long time to complete. Its not like a dumb 2 hour game that costs you 50 big ones. The amount of things the game has not including the dlc, gamers can forgive little things like this. Plus the developers are not lazy because if they were the game would not be as long as it is.

I mostly like the questmarkers, mapmarkers. I find them to really just be a symbolic representation of the characters knowledge. Then again, I choose to explorer willingly, and don't really need to "accidentally" explore because I got lost. Morrowind was alright most of the time, but it could get really obtuse and vague, and it highlighted the problem of not being able to get a clarification from the npc questgiver, like you would if it was the real world. I personally enjoyed Daggerfalls' approach much more, where you could get a straight direction to your object of interest by speaking with the locals. this worked very well with random generated quests also, because you could get npc directions independently of your location relative to the target. "That must be north/south/west/east of here", seems like a good alternative method of getting to your object if one finds the questgivers directions insufficient.

To address the concern of arrows and map markers encouraging lazy level design, I think the problem here seems parallel to the thing with being forced to explore through getting lost. I'm kind of concerned with this underlying philosophy. "remove map markers and the developers will be forced to create good level design!", "without a map marker the player will be forced to explore!" how about we just get a nonelazy developer regardless of having the option to be lazy, if anything, create the game with mapmarkers arrows, being added as the last thing.

If I can explore even though I know exactly where to go, then developers should be able to create good level design, npc directions, even if they in the end will add a navigational HUD system (Which of course should then be on/off togglable).

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