Dev Discussion #21 - Quest Breadcrumbs

VioletLightVioletLight Moderator, Member, Staff, Royalty

Glorious Ashes community - it's time for another Dev Discussion! Dev Discussion topics are kind of like a "reverse Q&A" - rather than you asking us questions about Ashes of Creation, we want to ask YOU what your thoughts are.

Our design team has compiled a list of burning questions we'd love to get your feedback on regarding gameplay, your past MMO experiences, and more. Join in on the Dev Discussion and share what makes gaming special to you!

Dev Discussion #21 - Quest Breadcrumbs
What is your opinion on quest breadcrumbs (target locations highlighted, quest givers with icons above their heads, etc)? How much is too much? How much is too little?

Keep an eye out for our next Dev Discussion topic regarding immersion!


  • I prefer breadcrumbs! Maybe an icon on the map or a general zone for some direction. Just my personal preference! Ultimately, i trust AoC with whatever direction they want to go regarding this matter.
    Squire of [Stormborn]
  • Hmm personally, as a newer player to MMO's , knowing where the person is and who it is, helps, however when I start a quest, I don't want help in finding location / person. to continue the quest like after I talk to person a to start quest, I don't want help indications that tell me who player b is or where on a map, I want to find it myself.
  • AeriAeri Member, Settler
    I think anymore, quest icons are almost a must, if you don't want half the playerbase to rebel. I would definitely be okay with the icon being significantly smaller and less intrusive than most modern MMOs use, though. Something that lets you know a quest is available, but isn't a gigantic question mark above an NPC.

    For other breadcrumbs, depends on the quest.

    I am a big proponent of actually reading quests (even the "Kill 10 Rats" quests), at least one time. If a quest description gives you enough information that you would never really need a location highlighted, I'm all for leaving them out. Some other types of quests, it is nice to have a highlighted area, though. It certainly makes a quest easier. Could definitely see something like the highlighting be available or not depending on how difficult the quest is supposed to be.

    Anything like an Epic Quest (think oldschool EverQuest 1.0 Epic Weapons), minimal breadcrumbs should be given: an initial icon for the starting NPC, and maybe a few highlighted locations throughout the quest. Other than that, it should rely almost entirely on reading the quest text and figuring things out. Eventually the quests will be figured out and guides will be available online, but that still gives people the option to do the quests without having their hand held the entire way.
  • I would prefer to keep all breadcrumbs to a minimum, such as, not having giant question marks over NPCs or large sparkling effects over a quest item. I want things to blend seemingly with the environment to maintain the world's immersion.
  • nykznykz Member
    No questmarkers above heads is a little too much for my taste.

    Would really like to see markers above heads and the general spawn area on the map. Tagets themself dont need to be highlighted but searching the map all day to finish this gosh darn quest is way too annoying for me honestly.
  • I think immersion and realism shouldn't conflated. I don't think its a good idea to hide crucial in game information like quest givers, highlighted items and map/minimap guides. The game should be more game like, and if you wish to make everyone happy you can allow each player to customize their own UI and other visual elements like quest icons above NPCs etc.
  • NeurotoxinNeurotoxin Member
    edited August 2020
    A journal indicator. If there's something about a character or object that is relevant to my journal (or whatever represents my collection of quests, important info, etc) it would be nice for there to be a prompt. It doesn't even have to be over their head, maybe there;s a circle icon on the UI with a book, and it glows and gains a back light as the player approaches potential interactions of interest.

    Whatever it is, it has to all be stashed server side so there's nothing players can datamine to determine patterns, trends or anything else that will help them blaze through what should be kinda-nebulous discovery-based quests.
  • I'd personally prefer area highlights coupled w/ descriptive text. Add in a way to toggle off hints or highlights for those wanting increased immersion.

    Having just a singular point turns questing into a checklist which sucks out the soul and having nothing can be frustrating b/c everyone reads the quest text differently and no one likes being 20 minutes in the opposite direction of where they should go.
  • Personally I hate the glowing path method since it makes me feel like I'm constantly discouraged from going off the beaten bath, so to speak. Having an icon above quest-giver heads is important, but I don't think quest progression should always be highlighted.

    A good middle ground for, say, a quest where you have to speak with a person is to highlight a somewhat large area of the map where this individual could be found. That way you're not being told exactly where they are, and it encourages exploration and speaking to NPCs who would normally be completely ignored.
  • Open world? New adv please! Get lost, F stuff up..... Ultimately the community will be the guide for things u don’t find. Thought that was the point
  • What I would like to see is a mix of things, not making every quest really difficult to find npcs or location. Why don't do both? Some quests with another without, maybe the first quest with hints and while we progress in the game the hints start to vanish.
  • CaptnChuckCaptnChuck Member
    edited August 2020
    I think there should be targets above quest givers, as otherwise it would be too difficult to know who gives a quest and who doesn't.

    However, you should not show the quest target precisely. For eg: If its a quest to kill 7 silver wolves, their position shouldn't be shown on the map precisely, you could instead use an arrow that indicates the general direction of their location. This way players will have to actually read the quest and won't be spoon-fed every detail.
  • raislerraisler Member, Leader of Men
    I would prefer a marker above a quest giver, but end it at that. The quest text should be descriptive enough to tell me where I need to go and what needs to be done to complete the quest.
  • Just let us know who gives tasks, and that should do it!
    Micah Black
  • MykkalaMykkala Member, Braver of Worlds
    edited August 2020
    I feel that it should be a mix of NPC Icons and area quests popups and auto completions

    I really liked the event system in Gw2, and heart quests that pop up when you go near an area that just complete when your done. So for minor side quests that wouldn't necessarily hinder you if you skipped them, or daily quests / bosses. But this also encourages map exploration to find those quests.
    For the main story line. have icon's on NPC's to gently push you to certain areas (if needed). This can also apply to specific Class quests, profession , religion, or society quests. I do like the option for a toggle able glowy trail for these quests types if i click on the quest.

    That would be a good balance imo, without feeling like its an endless loop of clicking on npcs and going back into the city, just to find out you now have a quest to kill the things you just killed.

  • I prefer compass indicators for my currently elected highest-priority quest pointing me in the direction of the target POI, but not map overlay telling me exactly where to go or how to get there. Adds a bit of mystery and intrigue. Vague areas of interest for all the other quests I'm participating in on the map with some generous location but which are not selected as my current active quest... this way I know that I'm somewhat near where I need to do other things but I would need to switch my actively tracked quest to get more detailed compass-style directions.

    As the above indicates, I'm on the opinion and preference to not clutter the UI with tracking information for the multiple quests I am participating in but rather force me to pick the one I'm actively doing with more detailed info. In order to prevent frustration with running back and forth when I was near other quest objectives but they weren't active I recommend cloud-like generous regions on the map notifying me that there is additional other quest objectives somewhere in the region I could participate in.
  • unknownsystemerrorunknownsystemerror Member, Phoenix Initiative, Royalty
    I would prefer them not to be on rails like so many themeparks. It allows the content locusts to binge and then spend the intervening time complaining about how there is nothing for them to do. If there is a shining path or map indicators showing exactly where to go it just dumbs down the game. Intrepid has repeated the mantra of taking things that used to work in games and bringing them back to a new generation. Show them the value of hard work. Too many are easily spoofed by guides within the first week of release anyways, or even before release when put on a ptr. While I understand the need to keep that reward trigger for the brain firing to give the game "fun factor" also don't make it boring af. Only so many "kill 10 wolves and bring me their pelts" you can do, especially when there is a circle telling you exactly where the wolves are.
  • Personally I don't enjoy opening the map and seeing a bazillion icons immediately showing me where to go.
    It makes me not remember where stuff is. I'd rather look around, navigate with Landmarks and other stuff.
    I found (when creating scavenger hunts in GTA V RP) people enjoy looking for things when you give them something to look for in a general area.

    I don't mind NPCs having a ? or ! above their heads as a point of interest indicator. I also don't mind having an area highlighted on the map but what I really enjoy is genuine exploration.

    The reason why I loved Breath of the Wild so much is that there was almost NOTHING on the Wold Map that pointed me into any direction. You just went into the direction you liked the most and stumbled upon stuff.
    When I played the Witcher 3 shortly after I was overwhelmed by the sheer amount of icons everywhere on the map. The same happened when I tried BDO which I quit just a few hours in because I couldn't decide where to go due to all these freaking icons everywhere. It just makes me feel uncomfortable and pressured to visit it all.

    That being said: A good mix of things is always good.

    Maybe there is a Villager that wants you to kill a certain alpha wolf and he knows roughly where the wolf and his pack roams the land and points you in that direction.

    Maybe there is a wandering merchant you come across that heard rumors of a Sasquatch living somewhere high up in the mountains that is supposed to sometimes come down to grab sheep of a nearby farm.

    Now the difference between those two might be that the Villager knows for certain that the wolf is there and will give you a quest to kill it while the wandering merchant won't give you a quest but if the player is curious enough they can go and seek out a sheep farm near the base of a mountain and then venture up into the mountains to maybe find said Sasquatch. The Sasquatch would then drop an item that starts a quest upon its death which the player can then trade in for a more special reward. Sasquatches are ferocious creatures so you would expect that one or two adventurers won't really be enough to take one down.
    Now if said Sasquatch would also have pathing from a cave in the mountains down to the village where it steals the sheep from every now and then (I am talking maybe once a day or even week) then people who just hang out near the area might see it pop up and can try to fight it.

    But yea having to actively look around in the world to try and find stuff rewards the player not only with experience for their characters and other rewards but also orientation and "map knowledge" at the end of the day, which might come in handy later down the line. Just opening the map and going from point to point to point without ever having to look around is boring and makes the world feel less organic.
  • As a long time MMORPG player who has played nearly all reputable MMORPGs I have always enjoyed the system where you have to pay attention to the text given to truly understand where the next objective lies. However, with this in mind it may not suit all audiences.

    I would nearly suggest that the user gets to choose and perhaps even enabling toggle ability support for any/all of these

    * Guide lines or pointers
    * Quest giver indicators
    * Emboldened text queues
    **There could be a baseline default functionality as well so no one accidentally turns off all indications and is running around aimlessly

    Just my 2 cents though :)
  • Well, I do not think that quest NPC's need any icons above their head. That starts to distract from the overall atmosphere of the area.

    How hard would it be to have journal entries with hyperlinks? Click the name of the person or area that is in the link and will either show you a picture of the person or area with a bit of background for it? This way if you are on a quest and get lost you can open your journal and find more information there. That way your screen is not so cluttered up when you are not actively looking for someone or something. Finding quests is part of the fun of the game. Getting spoon fed is getting old.
  • Ah, this is a terrific question.

    Hard to gauge what could be considered too much, but IMO, WoW would fit that bill. Specifically WoW with Add-ons. You can quite literally never read a single piece of text in a questline and complete it without issue. That's too much autopilot for my taste.

    Now, on the other hand, as some of the Intredpid staff have played Lineage II. They will know that it was quite the opposite. Quests were not very well thought out, but forced the player to read each menu of dialogue to squeeze out hints for locations and types of monsters they had to hunt for quests. Most of the time it was along the lines of "Find <NPC Name> in <Zone>" without really telling you where in the zone.. When I was completing my 2nd class change quest I was hunting the wrong zombies in The Wastelands for my quest items for almost an entire day.. and here I was, thinking they just had a low drop

    Not that this ruined my experience with L2 by any means, but it definitely made me pay more attention to quest dialog.

    A nice middle ground would be my preference. As far as your quest log pointing out on your map as to which area your quest is supposed to take place in, I am not a fan of that. That being said you should be able to look at your quest log and know exactly where to go. I feel like this isn't something the design team wants to hear, because it would add more work for them when designing their quests but I feel like adding a pin to the map where the quest mobs are is a cop-out.

    When it comes to quest giver locations I believe they should appear on your minimap, but not the world/zone map. I also see no issue with the customary exclamation mark that has become synonymous in MMOs over NPCs heads.
  • RalizekRalizek Member, Braver of Worlds
    I do not agree with having quest helpers, auto questing or pathing, highlighted paths, and NPC's. Millions of MMO players got along just fine before any of that was implemented into games. The Only actual downside to not having them is the time it takes a non-immersive player who wants instant gratification to complete a quest. Most players can read about a quest in a quest journal and know the basic area they need to be in, then its only a matter of locating the item or actually reading the name above an NPC. The game wasn't meant to be beaten in a day, why rush through questing, that only takes away from the experience.
  • Perhaps in some specific quests there could be dialogues where the npc tell us that they will mark us the approximate area on our map of the target place in addition to some comments. Then we would see a kind of hand-drawn circle on the map. That way the immersion in the world would not be completely lost. And we wouldn't have huge markers or arrows pointing the way.

    I think you have to find a balance in the difficulty so that players do not look for a guide on the web that would also break the immersion.
  • FantmxFantmx Member, Braver of Worlds
    edited August 2020
    I don't mind some help. At least if it makes sense to the scenario and world. For example if a quest giver knows the possible location of an item I am supposed to find then placing a mark on my game map with a heading on my compass is fine. But there may be instances where the quest giver does not have a clue to location and in that case I should not receive a map location. What I do not prefer are scenarios where the quest giver has a mark over its head and upon accepting the quest I have a glowing gold line leading me exactly where I am supposed to.

    And please let us be able to turn off and on whatever breadcrumb system is decided upon.
  • I would prefer that the quest/task text contain the information I need rather than giant glowing exclamation and question marks over people's heads. To me, including those markers over people's heads makes it feel too much on rails where things are just done for you rather than you getting immersed in the world.

    If you do want to give more guidance to players, then you have the option of making the nouns in the quest/task text a different color since that's generally the things telling you who, what, and where.
  • Leave the breadcrumbs to just markers above npc heads for pick up/turn in. I wouldnt be against the same for them being on minimap/large map with filters to toggle them off/on for the maps. I am not a fan of having the area circled and highlighted for where to find the kills/gathers for required by the quest. A perfect world for me would be to have the journal show the rp/story of the quest where you would have to read it to get your details as to where to go, what to kill, why you are killing it, etc. Then below that have a quick tldr that cuts the fluff essentially. "NPC X wants you to kill 10 rats around this BROAD area".
    My logic behind this is that it appeases both RP players for full quest log contents of story and stuff, and players like myself - give me the meat of the quest and lets roll. Don't highlight the area on the map, dont give a literal glowing trail that leads you to the mobs, and no auto-completion.
  • I think there is a good balance that can be achieved. First and foremost I don’t want side quests to feel like filler quests, I hope they will have unique stories and adventures on there own. As far as how the quests are performed sure you can have shaded areas on the map or small indicators on the generalities of the quest, but I’ve always enjoyed having to go back and read through to find a little detail or two that you will need to actually complete the quest. This goes back to making the quests interesting in the first place, that way reading through may not seem so bad, and for the players who really don’t care they can just skim through to get their answer. The Witcher 3 (although not an mmo) did a great job at balancing the questing features.
  • KneczhevoKneczhevo Member
    edited August 2020
    I was a MUDD player. So that should tell you something. I liked EQ's style, having to "hunt" for dialog in your quests. But, that really was a pain. They say 25% of quests were never found or completed. And that's an issue.

    WOW really dumbed down their quest system with dailies and just made it so quests were just filler to level.

    Radars telling you exactly where your quests are, is just dumb. All your doing, is chasing dots, not searching or understanding the quest.

    Multi response quests quests don't get the player involved, Just click to accept. When you have to read or research, at least your absorbing the enviornment.

    Dailies and simple redundant quests don't need to be absorbed, but at least the story about how Arthur threw a sword in a lake needs to be told, so players will wonder and chase for it. But if it's always on that giant, well just farm that giant until everyone has Excalibur.

    Dumbing quests Is understandable. To many casual players who don't have the time and some people just don't get it. Etc. But there must be a way to get people "involved" in the story, without just clicking the accept button.

    To sum up my opinion... I don't know WoWs story, because I just clicked through. But, can can tell you many stories from EQ, because I had to research.

    EQ Denny's FTW. Look it up for laughs.
  • Perhaps have a range of them?

    Quests with a more straight forward and obvious path to follow are useful because
    - intro to questing for those who aren't
    - can be a nice way to introduce new topics, game mechanics, important locations

    Quests with less obvious bread crumbs, that require you to deduce more on your own could have better rewards for having to figure out more on your own
  • I like it when you need to read an actual quest to find a way to target. Also, I like the system when you don't have an area of the quest but there is a symbol above needed mobs. And I really love iconic WoW quest givers
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