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Floating quest markers


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Wouldn't it be  totally awesome if PoE had little exclamation marks floating over the heads of questgiving NPC's? Well, no. It wouldn't. It would make the game significantly more arcady, and less 'immersive' (or whatever term people prefer). Furthermore, it would make every non-questgiving NPC in the world come off as static insignificant windowdressing, because you know they don't have anything to contribute since they lack that infamous quest marker. 

 

So getting to my point now, because there is actually one: PoE does have quest markers. In a matter of minutes playing the game, it becomes abundantly clear, which NPC's are quest and story relevant, and which NPC's that are just filler, because this is clearly signified by whether or not they have a unique name or not. The problem with this is that no matter how many NPC's that populate a certain area of the world, e.g. a city, it makes the world very empty, because simply pressing TAB will imidiately give let you gauge the degree of quest and story activity in a given area. Note, it's not a matter of how much you can actually do in the world, it's how clear it is. The world in many cases feel more like a movie set, then an immersive experience. 

 

After finishing PoE, which IMO is a great game, I started a new campaign of Baldur's Gate. An my immidiate impression here is, that is doesn't suffer from the same movie-set feel as PoE. One of the reasons is that there are significantly more unique NPC's. Take a place like the Nashkel Mine. In the three levels of that dungeon/mine, there are only two quest-relevant NPC interactions (Kylee's knife, and talking to/killing Mulahey). However, the area still doesn't feel devoid of life, because many of the miners have unique names, and unique, but very short, conversation options. Of course, by your 20th playthrough, you know that you don't need to talk in order to make the quest progress, but the fact that they are there, still give the level a less artificial feel to it. Furthermore, almost every wilderness area in BG, has a couple of small questy kind of NPC's like the fortune teller, the potions salesman, the mage who experiences with scrolls and oozes, Elminster running around, stoned women, lost cat's, talking chicken...... I could seriously go on and on. The same with towns. Beregost is full of small insignificant quests, most of which you have to actively go look for, and probably don't find till your 3-4th playthrough. PoE? Meh. It's certainly pretty, and I liked most aspects of it. But the world itself seemed dead, and not worth exploring.

 

So... my suggestions: 

 

Many more stupid little quests, and NPC's with a couple of lines of unique lines of dialogue. And make it less obvious which NPC's are actually have quests, and who don't. Why not e.g. anonymise NPC's untill you either talk to them, or have information about how they look. Imagine e.g. that you are looking for some dude. You don't know who he is, other than having his name. Wouldn't it then make sense, that he didn't have a floating name over his head, till you actually get a description of him? Something like this - I imagine - would give the player the illusion that everyone could be an interesting and alive NPC. Again, it's not necessarily a question of whether the NPC's actually play a relevant role in the world, but rather, just don't give the player the impression, that the world is empty.

 

 

 

 

...Sorry, got a bit ranty

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Yes, most named npc are or quest givers, or quest related, or they sell something. That's mostl likely scope related, as they couldn't afford to bring much fluff with the resources available and the scale the game needed to have. I don't know how anything of this is related to quest markers.

 

Quest markers tell you exactly where to go and who to see, nothing of this sort happens in PoE, as you have to find those named guys without the help of an arrow pointing to them.

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Yes, most named npc are or quest givers, or quest related, or they sell something. That's mostl likely scope related, as they couldn't afford to bring much fluff with the resources available and the scale the game needed to have. I don't know how anything of this is related to quest markers.

 

Quest markers tell you exactly where to go and who to see, nothing of this sort happens in PoE, as you have to find those named guys without the help of an arrow pointing to them.

They are not explicit quest markers of course, but giving only (mostly) relevant NPC's unique names, clearly implies who are quest-relevant, and who are not = implicit questmarkers (you can disagree with my terminology and still get the point). This results in those issues I have highlighted, giving the world a more artificial and arcady feel than necessary. And surely it may be a matter of resources. I'm simply making the point that it's worth discussing how big a deal it is, and whether it's worth prioritizing this further, compared to something else. 

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So are you saying you want it to be harder to find a quest related person, or that you wish the non-quest related people had more to offer, or both?

 

Why would you want to make it harder somehow to find the person you are looking for? Having to click on everyone in a city or tavern or area or whatever would just make it stupidly annoying. I don't need a floating exclamation point but the way it is now is fine.

 

Having more things for non-important NPC's to say would be nice, but that would probably just come down to budget and time.

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So are you saying you want it to be harder to find a quest related person, or that you wish the non-quest related people had more to offer, or both?

 

Why would you want to make it harder somehow to find the person you are looking for? Having to click on everyone in a city or tavern or area or whatever would just make it stupidly annoying. I don't need a floating exclamation point but the way it is now is fine.

 

Having more things for non-important NPC's to say would be nice, but that would probably just come down to budget and time.

Not necessarily harder at all. E.g. if person 'A' tells you to look for person 'B' at the tavern, and that person B is called Captain Rum, and has red hair, and a big bushy beard, then it would be appropriate for him to have a name floating above his head at this particular point in time because now you actually know who you're looking for. But it wouldn't make sense for him to know his name before getting the actual quest and description. The other point I was making is further, that if all important NPC's have a unique floating name above them, you get a quickly get the sense that everyone else is a static insignificant peice of windowdressing.

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This is a game in which more than 50% of the non-quest giving NPCs have massive blocks of crowd-sourced backstory that's available at the click of a button. Yeah, there are plenty of generic Tom **** & Harrys, esp. in Twin Elms, but of all the games to nitpick cookie-cutter NPCs, this ain't the one.

 

*edit* Tom, Rick, & Harrys?

Edited by flyingsaucers
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This is a game in which more than 50% of the non-quest giving NPCs have massive blocks of crowd-sourced backstory that's available at the click of a button. Yeah, there are plenty of generic Tom **** & Harrys, esp. in Twin Elms, but of all the games to nitpick cookie-cutter NPCs, this ain't the one.

 

*edit* Tom, Rick, & Harrys?

But that's the point. They aren't quest-giving, clearly, and you know almost imidiately that they will do nothing to further the story or gameplay, and can thus be ignored in this regard. Their name in gold-letters clearly signify this. Press TAB, and ignore, unless for some reason are in the mood for a nice, unrelated story. Otherwise they might as well be invisible, just like most other NPC's. I wasn't critiqueing the genericness of the NPC's in itself, I was critiqueing the game for not giving the player the illusion of relevance. It is immidiately clear which NPC's are just part of the backdrop, and which NPC's the player can engage with. And you may disagree, but to me, this makes the world feel much less alive and uninsteresting.

Edited by Prime-Mover
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I think he's just saying you shouldn't automatically know someone's name from pressing the tab key or hovering over their avatar. I would say the same thing about portraits, you really shouldn't see them until you know they are important (or possible companions).

Edited by Dadalama
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Nah.

 

There's hand-holding, and then there's making things intentionally obscure. 

 

I have played games where I've really had to hunt for stuff this way, and it wasn't all that much fun.

 

If you hid the names, you would at the very least need to add a system that lets you ask people where to find things and other people. So if you're looking for Captain Eadweard and you know he lives in Ondra's Gift, you could go to the Salty Mast and ask someone there if they've seen him; they could tell you where he lives and so on. 

 

Which would be cool but also a fair bit of work. Ever played Dwarf Fortress by any chance?

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But the "if they have no unique name, they can be ignored" school of thought is exactly what BG&Co. did - with some minor exceptions like some Nashkel miners (not even all of them, everyone with a name had a piece of specific dialogue, and they were very handily outnumbered by the very generic "Amnish Soldier"s).

So yes, maybe a few more non-generic NPCs would've been nice. But in this regard, PoE follows the IE tradition quite religiously.

Edited by Varana

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I think it wouldn't necessarily have to be the way where you mask quest-npc names behind generic descriptions. But it sure would be nice to see more non-quest-related-npcs to have names and a bit of situational dialog. BG had those, too. Not every npc was named, but that doesn't need to be the case. There were just enough npcs who had a unique name and told you something no other npc would say and I liked it. It really adds to the immersion, flair and atmosphere and while PoE isn't necessarily lacking much in these areas, it is lacking in unimportant characters that will interact with you.

 

I totally agree with Magnum here. As soon as I noticed that all golden-plated chars were backer characters and that every unimportant npc didn't have a name, I felt like they could've as well been removed from the game entirely. No smalltalk with common folk, only long (sometimes expletive) descriptions of disconnected situations and some floating texts. You know exactly who you need to talk to, or will need to talk to, and who's just filling up the emptiness of the map. If the backer characters had actually interacted with the player character in some way, that would've been awesome. I was actually hoping that it would be just like that and if I had paid for a character of mine to be ingame, I would've been disappointed to see it integrated into the environment in such a - very sorry to say it that way - cheap fashion. It's not like Obsidian would've had to do the dialog all by themselves. They would've only had to supervise dialog scripts a bit, which would've been the same effort as supervising the backer character stories, and those were quite atmospheric, just much too passive.

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But the "if they have no unique name, they can be ignored" school of thought is exactly what BG&Co. did - with some minor exceptions like some Nashkel miners (not even all of them, everyone with a name had a piece of specific dialogue, and they were very handily outnumbered by the very generic "Amnish Soldier"s).

So yes, maybe a few more non-generic NPCs would've been nice. But in this regard, PoE follows the IE tradition quite religiously.

Ah, yes. I meant that BG1+2 compensated by having many more named NPC's than POE. So I just suggested to anonymise NPC names, until you actually spoke to them, or had some information about their name and appearence. Anonymising the NPC names is just a fairly low cost way of giving the player the impression that the world is more alive, because potentially everyone, from the players perspective, could have something relevant to say.

 

This is more a suggestion for a future release. But I don't think it would make the game more tedious. Rather, it would make the game more immersive, since you actually need to have a motivation to talk to someone. They may e.g. approach you when you walk into the tavern, or they may be related to some quest, or you may overhear gossip... whatever. There are many ways to avoid the frustration, and actually make the interaction better motivated. Today, you just TAB, and look for the unique names, when looking for a quest, again, which makes it somewhat on par with WOW floating quest markers.

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there's other ways to subtly point to important NPCs, the town crier for instance, could slip some info. The idle chit chat between npcs could drop hints. Ask the tavern owner "got any work?". The ability to ask people "I heard such and such had a problem, you know where to find them?".

 

However if you're the town hero they may approach you.

Edited by Dadalama
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