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Other open-world game designers who aren't Nintendo or FromSoftware, here's a free suggestion.

Stop littering your map with icons on where to go. Seriously, stop.

Why do they do this? It kills the entire purpose of exploration.



Not only do there tell us where something is on every inch of the map, they even tell us WHAT is there (quest, outpost, etc).


Ok, honestly, I know WHY they do it. They're terrified the player might completely miss a side quest or scenery the developers worked so long on. But, that's okay. Without the possibility of missing things, the feeling of actually discovering those things is lost.

Yes, it takes more skill to design a world that will nudge the player into finding these cool things without just saying "GO HERE", but the payout is ten fold as the love of games like Breath of the Wild and Elden Ring prove.

I really hope developers finally understand this and design their world to be explored and not just a checklist of items written in map format in lieu of a numbered list.
 
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SF Kosmo

...please disperse...
These designs play to different sorts of gamers. Neither is "right" or "wrong," though perhaps it might seem that way because one is so overdone.

Fundamentally there are two kinds of gamers, those that want to have a unique experience based on their own choices, and those that want to see everything a game has to offer and "complete" it. And these two types of open world designs appeal to those two different types of gamers. This doesn't necessarily just apply to open world games; there are linear RPGs where making choices might lock you out of other paths and vice versa, and there are those where you can always go back, always check those boxes.

Again I don't think either of these is wrong. Spider-Man wouldn't be a better game if I had to comb through the city carefully to discover every mission trigger organically. Just as Breath of the Wild wouldn't be better if every Korok Seed was marked on the map. They're just different types of games.
 

Star-Lord

Gold Member
I mean, on most open-world games you can turn those markers off on the map/mini-map. I can’t remember if you can do that on BOTW or not.
 

ckaneo

Member
Honestly I think people dont understand why Zelda and From Software's open world "work" and why other people wont copy them. They have mastered their own craft but they did it in simplicity, but the actual worlds are nothing special and hardly worth copying unless you plan on making similar games

BOTW was able to put these puzzle shrines in their worlds, but they had to compromise and make them totally separate from the world.

Elden Ring and the souls series is basically a boss rush. From Software doesnt actually have to worry much about anything except populating the world with bosses and the side dungeon areas arent particularly diverse and you'll start to notice the repetition in bosses and areas eventually.

The ability to put the same thing all over the map but in remixed ways means that they dont have to worry about what others have to worry about. That doesnt mean I suddenly want other open world games to follow the same structure.

All goes back to "simplicity". Notice that both games take in post apocalyptic settings. Why have games started doing this? Social commentary? lol, because they dont have to populate their worlds in realistic ways. Allowing them to not have script actions for so many potential characters and so that the exploration and worlds can be as nonsensical as possible. It's one of the beneifts of making games as opposed to "interactive" realistic movies. You put shit wherever you want.

Neither game has a huge story that is followed so they focus on flashbacks and lore. Other games cannot do this, go anywhere approach if they want their story to be coherent. It doesnt make sense. If I want to follow the story of the game, I dont want to end up in the wrong part of the map that has nothing to do with it.

What makes BOTW so damn good is the ridiculous systems they incorporated. The way you can solve puzzles and challenges might be unmatched in gaming. I dont even think the creators knew all the shit that could be accomplished.

Elden Ring and From Software gets by by absolutely ridiculous bosses/scenarios. The games have a sort of spectacle to them that isnt graphic fidelity. And it would be hard to describe without putting in spoilers.
 
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RPSleon

Member
Stop littering your map with icons on where to go. Seriously, stop.

Why do they do this? It kills the entire purpose of exploration.



Not only do there tell us where something is on every inch of the map, they even tell us WHAT is there (quest, outpost, etc).


Ok, honestly, I know WHY they do it. They're terrified the player might completely miss a side quest or scenery the developers worked so long on. But, that's okay. Without the possibility of missing things, the feeling of actually discovering those things is lost.

Yes, it takes more skill to design a world that will nudge the player into finding these cool things without just saying "GO HERE", but the payout is ten fold as the love of games like Breath of the Wild and Elden Ring prove.

I really hope developers finally understand this and design their world to be explored and not just a checklist of items written in map format in lieu of a numbered list.
It makes me not go to the places that have no markers. I am not a fan. Only really want it if im trophy hunting or something. But at that point im not playing the game how its intended.
 

Swift_Star

Gold Member
Nah, icons are fine. I like to know there’s something where I’m going. There’s no need for everyone to do the same things in all games.
 
Again I don't think either of these is wrong. Spider-Man wouldn't be a better game if I had to comb through the city carefully to discover every mission trigger organically. Just as Breath of the Wild wouldn't be better if every Korok Seed was marked on the map. They're just different types of games.
I think the issue here is that Spiderman makes up for it in few great ways that separates it from other games.

1) It feels great to swing around the city from the instant you begin the game.
2) The map is somewhat tighter and not gigantic. The New York areas in the game are obviously much larger in real life than they are presented in Spiderman. The devs and art team did a great job of tricking you into thinking it's big, yet not too big, at the same time.
3) The gameplay makes up for the icon-filled map in a massive way, and even encourages you to do them so that you can unlock even better, more fun, gameplay.

The OP is most likely referring to games that aren't as polished and well thought out as Spiderman, specifically of the Ubisoft variety, and also these games don't have fun traversal and instead opt for you simply riding an animal or driving a car from destination to destination, almost like working a job for Uber/Lyft. The team at Insomniac thought things through very thoroughly and you can easily see it in the end product. They are an exception.
 
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its a matter of map and world design. Most open worlds aren't made in a way that funnels u to the content. so ur going to miss the NPCs, events, missions etc. A game like Assassins creed is just crowded with things everywhere. And a million things to look at. So there isn't a way to focus ur attention (unless its like a desert with one big pyramid out there. Or a small greek island with a big statue).

thats why BOTW and Elden Rings world kinda work. Because its more empty. With POI's littered in-between. So it gives ur eye something to catch.
 

Woggleman

Member
It seems sort of counterproductive to praise these games for their originality and then say that every open world should copy them. All types of games can peacefully coexist.
 
It seems sort of counterproductive to praise these games for their originality and then say that every open world should copy them. All types of games can peacefully coexist.
I wasn't praising them for being original. I praise them for making exploring in open world games more meaningful and interesting. I don't want to limit that to a handful of games, but would like to see it drive the genre, as a whole, forward.
 

Swift_Star

Gold Member
I
I wasn't praising them for being original. I praise them for making exploring in open world games more meaningful and interesting. I don't want to limit that to a handful of games, but would like to see it drive the genre, as a whole, forward.
i find HFW world exploration meaningful and interesting… the icons don’t detract from that at all.
 

Indyblue

Member
For myself, I agree, for the most part. But I can tell you that players like my dad would be utterly lost and hate it if every game was like Elden Ring and BOTW. He loves Assassins Creed and all it’s ilk. The more icons and cutscenes, the better.
 

bitbydeath

Member
Elden Ring could use a few more markers IMO, like when you discover a vendor or unopened stonekey location I’d want to revisit. My character should put it on the map.
 

01011001

Gold Member
Stop littering your map with icons on where to go. Seriously, stop.

Why do they do this? It kills the entire purpose of exploration.



Not only do there tell us where something is on every inch of the map, they even tell us WHAT is there (quest, outpost, etc).


Ok, honestly, I know WHY they do it. They're terrified the player might completely miss a side quest or scenery the developers worked so long on. But, that's okay. Without the possibility of missing things, the feeling of actually discovering those things is lost.

Yes, it takes more skill to design a world that will nudge the player into finding these cool things without just saying "GO HERE", but the payout is ten fold as the love of games like Breath of the Wild and Elden Ring prove.

I really hope developers finally understand this and design their world to be explored and not just a checklist of items written in map format in lieu of a numbered list.

Ubisoft ALMOST got this in Immortals, but I say almost... because... they implemented a "scanning" like feature where you can just randomly look around in first person and see everything near you and which then gets marked on the map after you saw it through that vision.

if that wasn't there it would have been a way more organic feeling world imo. but as soon as a developer relies on such a feature the level/world designers use it as a crutch and don't focus on designing the world in a way that you find things organically sadly...
 

adamsapple

Gold Member
I don't mind icons, there's a certain catharsis in clearing them off the map.

Especially if the game has a filter to hide specific/cleaned icons.
 
You can choose to play HFW in exploration mode, which I did. It adds more of an air of mystery to the map.
This is interesting. I chose the other option because I hate getting lost in a world with obscure clues as to where to go. Like, if I need to talk to Bill to progress the story, tell me where Bill is at. If it was designed like BOTW, that's great, because it doesn't matter when we get to Bill.

Are my fears unwarranted?
 
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Markio128

Member
This is interesting. I chose the other option because I hate getting lost in a world with obscure clues as to where to go. Like, if I need to talk to Bill to progress the story, tell me where Bill is at. If it was designed like BOTW, that's great, because it doesn't matter when we get to Bill.

Are my fears unwarranted?
Not really. Any quests that you undertake are clearly marked on the map when you activate them in the quest line. The difference with this mode is that you won’t know what you may bump into on the way there.
 

jakinov

Member
That’s part of the game. Assassins creed would not be more enjoyable if they got rid of it. It’d just be a pain in the ass. People enjoy clearing areas and maps and knowing where things relatively are. If your game is built around that kind of discovery you describe than sure remove. Not every game should be designed to be hard and time consuming to be enjoyable. People play automated battle games and cookie clicker clones these days, they enjoy the repetitive and cycles of satisfaction/improvement.
 

DarthPutin

Member
This stuff is much easier when you're not trying to tell a complex story. I'm waiting for the game that manages to marry more freedom of exploration with well-populated world and interesting storytelling.

Because otherwise, why wouldn't they let you run everywhere without guidance when it doesn't matter at all in which order you move. Still early in exploring ER, maybe I'll be more impressed later. I enjoy this kind of game same way I enjoyed Hollow Knight, but it doesn't feel particularly new.

Witcher 3 had all those signs on the map but you could also run into new quests when just exploring. Maybe there could be more of that, "extra stuff". It's true though that you can disable icons in HFW, for example, so just do that.

(We could also swim in Witcher, in Elden Ring I just drown... :( )
 

SlimeGooGoo

Party Gooper
This stuff is much easier when you're not trying to tell a complex story. I'm waiting for the game that manages to marry more freedom of exploration with well-populated world and interesting storytelling.
Why wait?

Kingdom Come Deliverance
Gothic 2
 

StreetsofBeige

Gold Member
Stop littering your map with icons on where to go. Seriously, stop.

Why do they do this? It kills the entire purpose of exploration.



Not only do there tell us where something is on every inch of the map, they even tell us WHAT is there (quest, outpost, etc).


Ok, honestly, I know WHY they do it. They're terrified the player might completely miss a side quest or scenery the developers worked so long on. But, that's okay. Without the possibility of missing things, the feeling of actually discovering those things is lost.

Yes, it takes more skill to design a world that will nudge the player into finding these cool things without just saying "GO HERE", but the payout is ten fold as the love of games like Breath of the Wild and Elden Ring prove.

I really hope developers finally understand this and design their world to be explored and not just a checklist of items written in map format in lieu of a numbered list.
Because gamers have no attention span and need to handheld.

RPGs and open world games:

1980s = Zero map. Get out graph paper and do it yourself
1990s = A compass and maybe the game had a shitty map system
2000s = A menu screen map with icons, a compass and even icon markers on the compass so you can make the perfect Bethesda bee-line
 

Amiga

Member
Ghost of Tsushima almost did this, they wanted the wind and the smoke to be the guides but changed their plan, likely after playtesting.
 

ahtlas7

Member
I thought Skyrim did a good job of getting me to investigate the world. I could see something interesting in the distance and wanted to see what was there. I didn’t feel like I was chasing icons and it was awesome!
 
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