Official RPG Codex Discord Server

  1. Welcome to rpgcodex.net, a site dedicated to discussing computer based role-playing games in a free and open fashion. We're less strict than other forums, but please refer to the rules.

    "This message is awaiting moderator approval": All new users must pass through our moderation queue before they will be able to post normally. Until your account has "passed" your posts will only be visible to yourself (and moderators) until they are approved. Give us a week to get around to approving / deleting / ignoring your mundane opinion on crap before hassling us about it. Once you have passed the moderation period (think of it as a test), you will be able to post normally, just like all the other retards.
    Dismiss Notice

Should minimaps and compasses be gone from RPGs?

Discussion in 'General RPG Discussion' started by S.torch, Nov 21, 2019.

?

They should...

  1. Neither of them, exploration is the only way!

    18 vote(s)
    21.7%
  2. Compasses are good, but no minimaps

    26 vote(s)
    31.3%
  3. Minimaps are good, but no compass

    15 vote(s)
    18.1%
  4. I like both, minimaps and compass

    24 vote(s)
    28.9%
  1. Carrion Arcane Patron

    Carrion
    Joined:
    Jun 30, 2011
    Messages:
    3,613
    Location:
    Lost in Necropolis
    The Morrowind route is great, but I doubt we'll see anything like that with the current trend of full voice-acting. Not only is it a question of resources, but there's also the practical issue of having to lock down all those lines early in the development without being able to change them later on with lots of hassle. Also, devs are lazy hacks.

    That said, there are definitely other ways to avoid using quest markers, even in open-world games. Just a few examples in addition to the previous ones:
    — In Outcast characters moved around the map, but if you had to find someone, you could just ask other NPCs for directions. They might say something like "I last saw him in the fields out there" or literally point you in the right direction. Admittedly this was helped by the fact that the game featured alien characters and had a limited number of voice actors, but nonetheless it was a fully-voiced open-world game that worked perfectly without any intrusive markers — twenty years ago.
    — The hardcore mode of Kingdom Come: Deliverance disables the cardinal directions from your compass and hides your character marker from the map. The quest markers are still there, but they only show on your compass/radar when you're close by, and since you can't see where your character is, it's very much possible to get lost altogether. Even in the normal modes the game usually just points you to the general area your objective is located, so you still have to look around a bit on your own.
    — Most of New Vegas can be played without the quest compass. The game does nothing special in this regard, it just has location markers and simple quest descriptions that give you enough information that you can easily find your destination on your own. There are some exceptions, like the BoS quests (some of which are about tracking down in-game GPS signals) and some random side quests here and there, but not that many. It's not up to par with something like Morrowind, obviously, but it's a standard that any game with a decent budget should be able to reach without any excuses.

    Unfortunately quest markers and minimaps are the easy solution. Most devs don't have the will to come up with an alternative, and most players don't care about that kind of stuff either. Decline bloody decline.
     
    • NPC #61873 came up with this opinion all by his / herself NPC #61873 came up with this opinion all by his / herself x 2
    • Agree Agree x 1
    ^ Top  
  2. Generic-Giant-Spider Arcane

    Generic-Giant-Spider
    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2018
    Messages:
    5,480
    Location:
    Every fantasy game ever.
    Thinking about it, I can't name a game in which I felt a minimap added to the game in any meaningful way.
     
    • Agree Agree x 3
    ^ Top  
  3. LudensCogitet Learned

    LudensCogitet
    Joined:
    Nov 4, 2019
    Messages:
    170
    Who wants this anyway? Why would I want to sit and listen to someone recite something I can read in a quarter of the time? Maybe there are examples of it working really well, but I'm not aware of any. I'd always prefer to just read the dialogue. And I absolutely would rather read if it means more C&C and flexibility.
     
    • Brofist Brofist x 2
    • Agree Agree x 2
    ^ Top  
  4. Bad Sector Arcane Patron

    Bad Sector
    Joined:
    Mar 25, 2012
    Messages:
    1,255
    Insert Title Here RPG Wokedex
    It really depends on the game. For something like VtMB with small straightforward areas i do not care for any sort of mapping, but for a seamless open world game like Morrowind i think that some sort of map and a way to know where you are facing towards is essential (you could use something like the sun rising to find east or other similar approaches, but... eh, i find this too gimmicky and chances are if a game implements something like this i'll rest/wait until morning just to figure out where i am which would be more annoying than entertaining).

    I do not like quest markers though nor auto-navigation features (but i'll use them if they are there because whenever they are the game is always designed primarily with them in mind and ignoring features the game provides doesn't feel very different from pretending my character is/does something when the game's systems do not support that). In fact one of my favorite aspects in Morrowind is figuring out how to go somewhere from the descriptions, following the road signs, etc including getting sidetracked towards some tomb/whatever that after i clean up then i reorient myself using the map (the local map "fading out" areas i haven't visited helps here... and it'd help even more if Morrowind wasn't buggy and every time you changed cell there is a chance to stop updating and instead "reveal" some other place several meters away :-/).

    A mini-map (meaning a part of the screen where you can see the map "live") and a compass aren't really essential, but i see them more of a convenience than anything else. If there aren't there, there should be a single key to bring up the regular map though since i like consulting the map often. Though if possible, i'd like Morrowind's approach where i can pin and resize the regular map in "exploration mode" (but i'd like it better if the frame around the map would disappear or become thinner when in that mode). Also i think Morrowind's arrow instead of a compass saves some space (...which then it loses with the frame around the pinned map, though i guess i could use the real minimap but that is too small for my taste).

    And since i'm making wishes now, i'd also like to be able to put comments and custom markers on the map, like in Ultima Underworld and System Shock (i also like that in SS you get a 3D marker in the world - a prism like in SS might only make sense in a sci-fi environment, so for something like fantasy you could use puffy particles or whatever). Morrowind also has comments (double click) but only on the local map and on the global map they appear only if the local map comment is done in a city, which is a bit limiting since i cannot place markers in places where i've left stuff for example :-P. Which also reminds me, if i can add comments/markers i'd also like to be able to see a list of them (especially if the world is very big). And since all that would require some way to enter text, then having some way to write down notes like in Deus Ex would be nice.

    As for skill-driven mapping/cartography... perhaps it could drive the automapping details like in Eschalon? I'm not sure TBH, as i haven't really seen it in enough games to judge. I didn't dislike it in Eschalon, but it wasn't something i thought i'd like to see in other games either.
     
    • I found this text to be too long and as such I didn't read it I found this text to be too long and as such I didn't read it x 1
    ^ Top  
  5. DalekFlay Arcane Patron

    DalekFlay
    Joined:
    Oct 5, 2010
    Messages:
    14,118
    Location:
    New Vegas
    If there's no mini-map I'm probably looking at the menus to get my bearings anyway, like looking at a map in real ye olden days. Compass doesn't make much difference, and clutters the HUD needlessly.
     
    • Agree Agree x 2
    ^ Top  
  6. It's mod friendlier as well.
    And it has a lot more possibilites. You can't voice everything you would just write.
    It just has benefits.
     
    • Brofist Brofist x 1
    ^ Top  
  7. Dorateen Arcane

    Dorateen
    Joined:
    Aug 30, 2012
    Messages:
    3,753
    Location:
    The Crystal Mist Mountains
    Any type of in game map or other orientation device ought to be tied to a character cartography skill. Having a spell that brings up a compass or opens an area view works too.
     
    • Brofist Brofist x 2
    ^ Top  
  8. JarlFrank I like Thief THIS much Patron

    JarlFrank
    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2007
    Messages:
    28,086
    Location:
    KA.DINGIR.RA.KI
    Yes, absolutely. There are no better maps than Thief's maps. Depending on location they can be cryptic (WTF is that Lost City map?!?) or missing areas (all the question marks and haphazardly filled in areas in the Bonehoard map, or Contantine's manor only having the outer hallways mapped and the inner areas not mapped, etc), but sometimes they're very complete (a lot of Thief 2's mansion and city maps) and give you a good overview of the area. They help you find your rough orientation, or they contribute to your disorientation in the case of only partially filled or outdated maps. They also increase the immersion because they're not some abstact UI element, but a concrete part of the game's world. An old map you found in a library, a hand-drawn map given to you by a servant who works in the manor, etc. Even Thief 2's automaps that fill themselves as you explore the level have that immersive element, as the way they work feels very much like Garrett filling in the map as he explores the place. They still have a very hand-drawn quality, and there's always some hand-written scribblings on them, often with question marks because whoever drew the map wasn't entirely sure about everything.

    This is just absolute 10/10 stuff. It helps you get your basic bearings, but still leaves an air of mystery about the place rather than spoiling everything for you.

    Show Spoiler
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]


    Now that's what I call proper maps.

    Exploring Morrowind using its paper map is also great fun. The paper map of Morrowind has so many little details drawn into it, including little crosses in the sea where shipwrecks are located.
    Show Spoiler
    [​IMG]


    Every little detail drawn in this map is an actual thing existing in-game. Using this map as an exploration guide is fucking awesome.

    Morrowind also had a minimap, but no quest markers whatsoever. It was mostly a tool to find your location in the world and plan a route to your destination. Questgivers would give you detailed descriptions on how to reach your destination. In many cases they wouldn't even mark it on your map since the dungeon doesn't have a map marker, only major cities and ruins had markers on Morrowind's in-game world map. And then there are the cryptic oracle quests of the Imperial Cult, where the oracle would describe a location to you based on its geographical features and you'd have to find that place and get a unique item from there. 10/10, this is how cryptic exploraiton quests should be designed.

    A compass is fine, as all a compass does is tell you which direction you are facing. It actually helps you find your bearings, especially when combined with a Morrowind or Thief style paper map. You look at your surroundings, compare them to the map, determine that the location you want to go to is in the north, so you point your compass north and go that way.

    Minimaps can be acceptable if they're minimalist enough. Morrowind's is okay. The one in Elex is okay, too - I've been playing Elex recently and the minimap is totally fine, it just shows you the direction you're facing (in-built compass), nearby enemies if they are currently attacking you or you invested a point into a skill that shows all nearby hostiles on the map (very good decision to lock this behind a skill, rather than just showing red blips on your map by default as if it were a radar), and quest markers. I don't like quest markers in general but at least Elex only marks quests and not other things. Dungeons and ruins are found by stumbling upon them while exploring. It doesn't mark them in any way, unlike the recent Elder Scrolls games. Therefore, exploration actually feels like exploration as you constantly discover new locations you didn't know existed.

    When markers are used excessively, they completely ruin a game's exploration. In recent Bethesda games, all you do is follow those little blips on your compass. There's a dungeon nearby? It's shown on your compass as soon as you get close enough, and "close enough" is a pretty fair distance usually. You're not really exploring in those games, you are just following the direction of the markers. In Morrowind, I would often get sidetracked by spotting a dungeon entrance next to the road, or would wonder how to even get to the location described to me in a quest. Wait, was the dungeon north or south of town? And am I even in the correct town? The game allowed you to get lost wandering the world, and it felt amazing. Every location you found was a true discovery.

    When you add markers for literally everything, this sense of exploration and discovery is gone. You can't get lost in the world, because there's always a pointer in your interface showing you the nearest location of interest. Even worse, those markers train you to look at your interface elements all the time, rather than looking at the actual fucking world around you. Morrowind, Gothic, Ultima Underworld, Thief - they all encourage you to look into the environment and pay attention to your surroundings. But a game with excessive markers encourages you to stare at your minimap or your compass all the time, because that's where the markers will pop up. You're not actually looking at the gameworld, finding your bearings and exploring your surroundings. You're looking at an interface element and follow its instructions.

    Markers kill exploration. Death to markers.
     
    • Brofist Brofist x 7
    • I found this text to be too long and as such I didn't read it I found this text to be too long and as such I didn't read it x 1
    • Despair Despair x 1
    • Friendly Friendly x 1
    ^ Top  
  9. rusty_shackleford Arcane

    rusty_shackleford
    Joined:
    Jan 14, 2018
    Messages:
    33,559
    One of the few uses I found for compasses is if I'm trying to find something based on a screenshot from someone else :M
    Being able to align your compass perfectly with theirs typically makes it a lot easier
     
    • popamole popamole x 1
    ^ Top  
  10. JarlFrank I like Thief THIS much Patron

    JarlFrank
    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2007
    Messages:
    28,086
    Location:
    KA.DINGIR.RA.KI
    It's the quest markers that led to this decline in world design in the first place.

    Morrowind: some of the rivers and other geographical features were actually named, and NPCs would refer to them by name when giving you directions (I still remember the "foyada Mamaea"); NPCs would give you detailed directions to your destinations, mentioning geographical features you will pass on the way.
    Arcanum: Tarant had street signs and numbers for the houses. When someone told you to go to "Number 5, Kensington Road" you could just follow the road signs and easily find it. I still know most of Tarant's roads by name because that's how you navigated the city.

    Meanwhile, in modern RPGs with quest markers this is missing because it is no longer necessary. The devs don't bother naming every street and having NPCs give you detailed directions to your quest destination, because the markers tell you where to go! And if you use, for example, a marker-removing mod for Skyrim, you will have no fucking clue where to go because the only directions you get from NPCs are "I want you to go to Bumfuck Dungeon to retrieve a sword I lost. I'll mark it on your map." That's it. "I'll mark it on your map." Not even a mention of the rough geographical region the dungeon is located in. It might be located half the world away or right next door and you wouldn't know without checking your map, because the NPC never told you. Because of that design, disabling the markers will just leave you directionless.
     
    • Brofist Brofist x 3
    • Agree Agree x 3
    • Rage Rage x 1
    ^ Top  
  11. Catacombs Magister Patron

    Catacombs
    Joined:
    Aug 10, 2017
    Messages:
    4,192
    Not an RPG obviously, but I always liked the maps that came with the GTA games.
     
    • Yes Yes x 1
    ^ Top  
  12. Generic-Giant-Spider Arcane

    Generic-Giant-Spider
    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2018
    Messages:
    5,480
    Location:
    Every fantasy game ever.
    Markers are lazy and take away a lot of fun opportunity for immersion/roleplay. If for example you were playing a Ranger style class that would likely have excellent pathfinding then you could easily use your knowledge to create a layout of the land and personally identify certain memory-created landmarks to keep your bearings and avoid ever feeling lost (if using an isometric viewpoint then have them uncover more fog of war as well). If that same Ranger wandered into an unexplored section then he could examine certain objects to ascertain what to expect before ever coming into contact with it from possible hazards like poisonous berries or what creatures inhabit this area. It would be a lot more interesting than having forewarning no matter what you are that there are hostile enemies ahead or you just follow the big arrow pointing at the place you're supposed to go to.
     
    • Brofist Brofist x 1
    ^ Top  
  13. laclongquan Arcane

    laclongquan
    Joined:
    Jan 10, 2007
    Messages:
    1,869,133
    Location:
    Searching for my kidnapped sister
    You like hike sims, basically. All of you who want minimap and compass begone like hike sims. Because you like the feeling of being lost.

    But we dont like being lost. We are out there to do something, go somewhere, not watching the pixelated scenery passed by. You can complain and accuse all you want but we. DONT. WANT. TO. LOSE. THE. WAY.

    I am not against proper description about going somewhere. PROVIDED that the writing is good, precise, and useful.

    Unfortunately, asking about that from game writers is a little too much. Therefore minimap and compass is VERY useful.
     
    • popamole x 3
    • Agree x 1
    • Disagree x 1
    • decline x 1
    • retadred x 1
    ^ Top  
  14. Another good example with maps and exploration done right are the Stalker games. You had a pda which showed a map comparable to google maps which made perfectly sense. You could not look inside buildings so you had to
    actually explore them.

    The worst thing are maps that mark everything. Like enemies, items, pickups etc. These omniscient maps are terrible but otherwise i don't think that maps are bad.
     
    ^ Top  
  15. J_C One Bit Studio Patron Developer Sad Loser

    J_C
    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2010
    Messages:
    16,725
    Location:
    Pannonia
    Project: Eternity Wasteland 2 Shadorwun: Hong Kong
    Exactly. I would have probably quit some RPG if they didn't have minimaps and compasses, because some of them would be a chore to navigate without these. Just don't put objective markers all over them.
     
    • Brofist Brofist x 3
    ^ Top  
  16. PorkyThePaladin Arcane

    PorkyThePaladin
    Joined:
    Dec 17, 2013
    Messages:
    3,230
    In my opinion, maps and compasses the way they are currently implemented in games are generally bad. Older games had much better implementations. Remember in Gothic, you could buy a map of the prison colony after a while, but it would be like an actual RL map, something to consult, not something that told you meta-information. Or in Ultima Underworld, where the map would be painted in as you explored the places. Compasses also should just be tools to show the general direction, as in RL, not some magic thing that leads exactly by the hand.

    I've played KCD on Hardcore and with a mod that removed pretty much all UI, so it was amazing how much more fun the experience was without any map/compass. I would actually note landmarks, consult map, and travel as in RL.
     
    • Brofist Brofist x 2
    • :M :M x 1
    ^ Top  
  17. Xeon Augur

    Xeon
    Joined:
    Apr 9, 2013
    Messages:
    1,858
    Man, I want a compass. I recently played KCD and it has 2 modes, normal and hardcore. Tried hardcore first and the compass doesn't work, it was a hassle to play, restarted to normal and it was a lot better.

    Probably decline from all the new games relaying on it too much but if you value your time and would like to skip the hassle then compass is great and quest markers are great.
     
    • decline decline x 5
    ^ Top  
  18. LudensCogitet Learned

    LudensCogitet
    Joined:
    Nov 4, 2019
    Messages:
    170
    Here's a question: in a game with quest markers and a minimap, why is there an open world? Why not just click a button to be taken to an instanced dungeon, get the mcguffin, and then click a button to get back to town?

    You don't like being lost but you like walking in a straight line staring at a blip on your HUD?

    The problem with these mechanics is that they are conveniences that are literally only convenient because they trivialize the actual content in the game, like a microtransaction that speeds up leveling because they made it awful and boring to play without it.
     
    • Brofist Brofist x 1
    • Agree Agree x 1
    • Disagree Disagree x 1
    ^ Top  
  19. Bad Sector Arcane Patron

    Bad Sector
    Joined:
    Mar 25, 2012
    Messages:
    1,255
    Insert Title Here RPG Wokedex
    IMO for the *very specific case* of "I'll mark it on your map" it does make sense that the NPC wont give you any other directions: they already gave you a specific place to go (of course also adding some details can help but it isn't totally meaningless).

    However there is a catch: this only works if the rest of description makes sense. I've mentioned Morrowind as a positive example so far and there are cases where Morrowind where they go "i'll mark it on your map" and it does work fine (more on that below) but there are also a couple of cases where the quest is "i've lost X, it is located at Y, i'll mark it on your map" which always make me wonder "what do you mean 'lost' it? You just told me where it is and if you know where it is then why don't you go take it yourself?" (of course this also feeds into the whole "why should *i* do XYZ?" but that is another topic).

    So something like your guildmaster or captain or who-ever-you-are-working-for telling you "go at X and deal with the Y, let me show you on your map where X is" where X is something that is supposedly well known (e.g. a city, a port) or the quest giver is supposed to know it (e.g. it is their house/farm/workplace/etc) makes sense. Similarly a "go at X, which is near/east/west/etc Y, let me show you on your map where Y is" with similar constraints that Y is known, etc also makes sense.

    Morrowind does that for example, most often with cities and settlements. Also what it does (and makes sense) is that it only gives you markers to the world map (which you could theoretically hold in your hands) and these markers are vague. Though that is mainly because of the setting - a sci-fi game could get away with more precise locations.

    So in these very specific circumstances i think "i'll mark it on your map" makes sense and is fine.
     
    • "It was Aliens" "It was Aliens" x 1
    ^ Top  
  20. laclongquan Arcane

    laclongquan
    Joined:
    Jan 10, 2007
    Messages:
    1,869,133
    Location:
    Searching for my kidnapped sister
    This is a strawman argument. IT's rarely that the game devs allow you to walk in a straight line from faraway to destination. Short distance, sure, but not long. For long distance you usually meander here there around the obstacles put in your way: river, cliff, boss area...

    Also strawman because noone would stare at a blip on your HUD unless you have a problem at playing game. At the minimum, my character walk/run while I was staring at her very shapely ass, generally with very little cloth or armor in the way.

    The biggest draw to play an open world hike sim is the possibility of modding in female figures in a 3rd POV over the shoulder a meter behind. If it's a 1st POV, fuck you, blow me, uninstall.exe if I even bother to remove from inventory in the 1st place.

    Like I said, you like hike sims. We dont like hike sims, but we like staring at some female figures while playing. That's the difference between you and us while playing such things.
     
    • Excited! Excited! x 1
    ^ Top  
  21. JarlFrank I like Thief THIS much Patron

    JarlFrank
    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2007
    Messages:
    28,086
    Location:
    KA.DINGIR.RA.KI
    Ok so basically you're saying you have ADHD and don't give a shit about immersion? Have fun with Skyrim then, games for people like you already exist in droves.

    It's a little too much to expect game writers to actually do the fucking job they are paid for? Okay then. I guess it's also too much to expect from the programmers that a game runs smoothly most of the time and doesn't crash every two minutes, or from the systems designers that the character system and combat are fun and challenging. Let's all just accept mediocrity and plain bad design because expecting anything good would be too much to expect.

    Who is this "us" you are talking about? Perverts? Obsessive masturbators? Repressed trannies?

    I also pick female characters 100% of the time when it's possible, but first person perspective is my favorite since it's best for exploration (and immersion). I play games for the exploration, the questing, the combat, the story... having a cute female player character is just the cherry on top.
    I guess you don't like Piranha Bytes games or Witcher because you have to look at a dude all the time.

    But don't worry, I found the perfect games for you!
     
    • Funny Funny x 1
    ^ Top  
  22. CrustyBot Arcane Patron

    CrustyBot
    Joined:
    Dec 29, 2011
    Messages:
    814
    Codex 2012
    I don't mind minimaps or compasses and I think it depends on the game. The general problem of minimaps is that they're used as a google map. Minimaps, compasses and especially GPS objective markers all form this feeling of mindless exploration, where you just follow the marker rather than actually focusing on the world. I'd like to see RPGs attempt to integrate mechanics like a minimap or compass with character knowledge, so you still get the convenience associated with not needing to press M for a map every few minutes, but without ruining the thrill of exploration. So let's say you buy a map from a shop in town for the surrounding area. Suddenly you get an idea of major landmarks, general topography, etc. So your minimap will automatically display all this info. But you don't get the fine details. Then when you explore the map, the details fill themselves in as you see everything up close. That would represent the character making mental/physical notes without engaging the player in some kind of notetaking mechanic (which I would totally support in certain games but it's unrealistic to expect).

    By laying those kinds of ground rules, then you lay the foundation for unreliable information, because your knowledge of an area is contingent on what someone else has provided you. And from that, there's a lot of potential to work with when it comes to quests, encounter design, etc.
     
    ^ Top  
  23. Xeon Augur

    Xeon
    Joined:
    Apr 9, 2013
    Messages:
    1,858
    Eschalon games had a skill for map making or something I kinda liked. IIRC at first you didn't have a map but if you invest points to the skill, you get a shitty looking map and a mini map maybe and with each point the map improves with details I think.
     
    • Agree Agree x 2
    ^ Top  
  24. laclongquan Arcane

    laclongquan
    Joined:
    Jan 10, 2007
    Messages:
    1,869,133
    Location:
    Searching for my kidnapped sister
    Bitch please~ If you want to snark choose a better example to snark about. Skyrim is perfect game for hike sim gamers. But without the 3rd person view and the ability to mod in clothless clothes, ie gamers and modders like us, it would not be the commercial success that it was.


    You whine like a current year poster instead of the jaded, experienced, repeatedly disappointed by game industry player that you really are. I have to double take on that whine alone~ :hah:
    Bitch please~ The very statement about Witcher quality is that I can play Witcher at all.

    Also hike simmer being hike simmer. :hah:

    As for your perfect game, sad to say I dont enable adobe flash, so I dont know how it is~ you have to tell me about it.
     
    Last edited: Nov 23, 2019
    ^ Top  
  25. JarlFrank I like Thief THIS much Patron

    JarlFrank
    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2007
    Messages:
    28,086
    Location:
    KA.DINGIR.RA.KI
    Maybe, but it's a terrible game for people who actually enjoy exploration!
     
    ^ Top  

As an Amazon Associate, rpgcodex.net earns from qualifying purchases.