Cartoon owl holding up a controller. Pixelated red background. Text: Quest markers? Get out!

Hi! Hello?

Gheralf here.

It’s been a while!

We’re still here, exploring the depths of what makes a great game! (Or ruins it.)

Last time I talked about how fast travel ruins games. Today, we’re throwing some dirt on quest markers.

But something’s a little different. Because instead of writing, we’re actually on camera.

Quest markers are ruining games!

Two hoots on camera, disgusted by the horrid effect of quest markers in games.

It’s pretty long, a whoppin’ 1 hour and 23 minutes. And mostly “podcast style”.

(That’s what youtubers say when they mean “long and scarcely edited”. The more you know!)

The great thing is that Youtube allows you to set the speed of videos, so you can watch us at 1.5x or 2x speed! That shortens the video to around 55 or 41 minutes!

(Uhh, that’s still pretty long…)

But! The video isn’t all that heavy on anything worth seeing, so you can listen to us while you work or travel!

Hopefully you enjoy it! We don’t have any fancy editing magic, but we do have a whole load of thoughts on the subject!

There’s other stuff, too!

We’ve actually been making these videos for quite some time now, so there’s quite a lot of stuff to watch (or listen).

We’ve talked about things such as

  • gaming swag (the physical stuff that used to come with games)
  • food mechanics (how games incorporate food and eating)
  • financing (how games affect our perception of money and its usage)

Additionally, there’s a whole bunch of reviews about games we’ve played (Brütal Legend, Wingspan, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, Carrion and much more).

And! We’re in the process of making a whole retrospective about the Kunio-kun series! Feel free to subscribe or at least check and refresh our channel once a week if that sounds like something you’d like to know about!

And uhh, since it’s an Owl Basket channel, there’s also a lot of time-lapse videos about the creation our webcomic, Realm of Owls, for our lovely and hooty patrons. Since you’re here, I assume you care more about games than comics, so feel free to ignore them (or check them out, who am I to tell you what to do)!

We could use some feedback!

Any thoughts on our content or format? Do you agree or disagree with our thoughts? Do you prefer reading the articles or watching/listening to videos? Would you prefer shorter, edited content or are these laid-back videos better? Does it bother you that there’s more than just gaming related videos on the channel?

Let us know!

The comment section is down below or head on to Youtube and make your comment there!

Gheralf H. Swiftwar

Gheralf H. Swiftwar

Crazy owlmister. Eternally attemps to find ways to prove that his thousands of hours put into video and computer games has not been just an utter waste of time.

4 thoughts on “Quest Markers Are Ruining Games (and we’re on Youtube now)

  1. Yep, I follow where you’re going for most of the video. In general I’m somewhat conflicted about how much guidance indicators like quest markers should and can effectively be used in adventure games, but there are some more middle-ground mechanics that I’ve seen used that deal with most of the problems you guys outlined. Since it’s what I’ve been playing most recently, I’ll probably mostly use Genshin Impact as an example.

    The biggest dichotemy between convenience and exploration/worldbuilding/atmosphere seems like the range, and the accuracy, that the player is being fed. So while a player could be told to go look for a certain NPC that’s somewhere in say, the southern region of the map (and no other information about their location)- sure, the player with explore a huge area, but with also end up pretty frustrated and may just ignore the questline altogether. On the other hand, if the player is just led to the exact coordinates of the NPC, then like you said there’s no challenge and the player just makes a beeline most of the time. Although Genshin Impact does rely a bit heavily on the latter option, it has developed some very interesting alternatives. For example, for many quests, the location of whatever you’re trying to find is somewhere within a yellow circle marked on the minimap. Sometimes this circle will only be a few feet across, but sometimes it’s up to 70 or 80 meters across, basically the size of a small city. This strikes a pretty good balance IMO between the two problems. Another rarer method (often for puzzles with long instructions) is that the player is given an old map or piece of a map which the player has to reference from their inventory against the minimap and try to figure out what the less detailed map is referring to.

    Even as far as the coordinate-leading goes, GI has actually lampshaded the issue during several quests by a character telling you that they’ll ‘Mark the location of xxx on your map for you’. Oh and yes, it does have custom map pins, to a maximum of 150 :3 So many fishing spots to keep track of… but I digress.

    Anyway, just personally, I perfer the written articles for a variety of reasons (bad internet connection for one :p), but the videos are definitely interesting and enjoyable nonetheless. Since you’re heading the route of podcast-style videos anyway, have you considered Spotify as another hosting platform?

    1. Hey, thanks again for the feedback!

      Just out of curiosity, what are you playing Genshin Impact on? I’ve actually been somewhat interested to try it out, but I don’t want to make promises since it does seem like quite a time sink 🙂

      I think you’re onto something with the range and accuracy (and the developers of games like WoW and KCD definitely thought so too!), but I think that they’re still something of a compromise. An alright compromise, but still, a compromise. It’s like looking at the situation from the viewpoint: “Okay, we have these quest markers that are making things too easy because they show the exact location of the destination. What can we do to make things a bit harder?” instead of going to the actual root of the problem, which is: “Okay, we got quests. We don’t want them to be so hard that players give up, but also not so easy that it just feels like busywork. What could be a good way to accomplish that?”

      A third example of a middleground solution that comes to mind is utilized in Xenoblade Chronicles series: you always get the exact location for where to go, but since the terrain of the world is a natural maze with many layers, hidden paths, platforming and enemies of varying levels (sometimes WAY over your current level), those make it so that you still need to pay good attention to your surroundings and it makes for a compelling challenge to navigate to your destination (even if you know where it is on the map).

      And, I think you’re onto something much more with that NPCs saying that they’ll mark it on your map or giving you a piece of an old map. Because those immediately add a layer to the immersion. (Unless, of course, what they mark on your map is something that they should NOT know the exact location of!)

      There are a few other games I’ve seen using “treasure maps” (Ultima IX and KCD at least), and I’ve always loved those. (Breath of the Wild also uses “photos” that give you a scenery you need to find in the world.) Even if I sometimes end up googling hints or even the answer for them, at least it’s my personal decision.

      “…end up pretty frustrated and may just ignore the questline altogether. On the other hand, if the player is just led to the exact coordinates of the NPC, then like you said there’s no challenge and the player just makes a beeline most of the time.”

      Yeah, I think that’s the big issue that developers are wrestling with. My problem is that it’s a bit too often I see this situation of “Well, too many players clearly lose interest in this quest because it’s hard… so here, let’s just give them the solution.” That’s hopping from one end of the spectrum to the other!

      One thing I’d like to see games do more is ramp up the rewards: if the game has a quest that people are having a lot of trouble with, make it really worth their while.

      Thank you for feedback about the format!
      We both have this problem with writing articles is that we feel like there’s always something missing or worth polishing before the article is “good enough”. That is why it’s often hard to publish any of the stuff we’ve written. With video/sound we’re at this “we don’t know how to do this properly so let’s just sit down and talk and that’s good enough” phase, so it’s a lot easier to get stuff done and out. But we’ll keep trying to make things so that we can put out more stuff, eventually!

      About Spotify: Vayandil has actually mentioned several times that we should try some sound-only podcast platform. I’ve been on the edge about it, for various reasons that I can’t even remember anymore. Probably the fact that I do want some visual examples in the stuff we talk about, and that our sound equipment is somewhat questionable in the stuff we currently have uploaded. (Basically all we had is a tiny mic hidden on the backside of the middlemost owl’s fancy bowtie.) We do have slightly better equipment now, although it won’t show up for a while – I still need to edit quite a few videos >_> We’ll have to look into Spotify at some point.

      1. I actually mostly just play Genshin Impact via mobile, and I’m pretty impressed in how seamless and intuitive the controls and menu-navigation are. I’ve tried other games with similar mobile ports (Brawlhalla, for example) that feel really janky. It is a bit of a time sink, but it’s pretty easy to drop and pick up where you left off pretty much anywhere… which is actually another aspect I didn’t think of with quest markers… Overall I have some quibbles definitely, but it’s still a great, well polished product IMO.

        And yeah, risk effort/reward balancing is always an interesting tightrope for the developers in trying to make progression feel worthwhile, but not gamebreaking. A lot of times even just some lore, if well presented, makes a great reward for some of the longer questlines in open world games.

        I sympathize with the need to make your work something polished enough that you can feel satisfied with it too. 🙂

        1. Nice to know it works well on mobile! I’ve mostly heard bad things about games that aren’t designed for touch controls on phones, but well… I don’t really have much personal experience since my phone is old enough that it doesn’t even have internet >_> (the battery lasts for weeks, though!)

          I think I’ll give it a go on PC when I get a chance. I really want to at least finish Xenoblade 2 first, since that’s quite a massive game as well.

          Huh, good point about quest markers and being able to continue where you left off. I feel like “making players able to come back to a game after a longer pause” is something that developers seem to struggle with sometimes. Games like LoZ: Skyward Sword even implemented a whole “crawl into this hole to read about what happened in the story last time you played” mechanic to help players with that, and… I really don’t think it was done all that well. It’d be nice to hear if anybody found ithat feature useful.

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