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Old 09-08-2022, 11:23 AM   #33
Join Date: Jun 2013
Default Re: Depicting the SF sandbox

Originally Posted by thrash View Post
I don't play video games, so let me ask those who do: in a wide-ranging, sandboxy video game, how does one find the quests or minigames that the system is set up to provide? Is it all out-of-context clues (menus and such), or are there effective in-context pointers?
As others have noted, there are a variety of means. There may be obvious roads/paths, and while on such you get a good view from which you can see cities, ruins, caves, bandit camps, etc in the distance. You may be able to find habitations - friendly or hostile - from seeing the smoke of cook-fires. When you're in an area with people, quest-givers will generally call out to you (or talk about something interesting with someone else while you're nearby) and/or have icons above their heads to indicate they have a quest for you. And, of course, there's usually a main questline, where following it will take you to locations that basically serve as "adventure hubs," with plenty of quest-givers and/or interesting things to find nearby.

Sandbox games also tend to have a lot of content that doesn't have any explicit quest attached to it - caves and ruins to explore, bandit camps to wipe out, puzzles to complete, etc. In addition to cases where you can see signs for such in the distance, many games have the compass and/or map display areas of interest once you've gotten within a certain range of them - Oblivion and Skyrim typically have question marks denoting such initially, with this turning into a greyed-out icon denoting what it is (ruin, cave, city, camp, etc) when you get closer, and eventually filling in when you get close enough to count the location as "found" (which gives you the location's name, some XP, and unlocks the ability to fast-travel to it later). Horizon: Zero Dawn and Horizon: Forbidden West do something similar, but generally don't reveal what the location actually is until you're close enough to count it as "found" (also, you can generally only fast-travel to campfires... but those are displayed greyed out as soon as you're close enough to detect them, never being question marks). You can typically see where you've gone by looking at your map, with unexplored areas generally greyed out or invisible beneath fog. Many games have special vantage points - ancient Forge Towers in Shadow of Mordor/Shadow of War, perches from which you can view everything nearby (and typically do a Leap of Faith) in the Assassin's Creed series, or mobile towers (Longnecks, patterned off of giraffes) in the Horizon series - that will reveal a lot of the nearby map, as well as automatically revealing the points of interest within that; these are typically detectable from a long way off. Such marked locations also conveniently gain a check mark and/or a "(Completed)" note on them once the game determines you've "finished" the area - solved the puzzle, wiped out the monsters/bandits, opened the important treasure chest(s), collected the rare material, etc. Enemies, and in some cases minor treasures (not the ones that you need to acquire to mark a location as completed), will typically respawn after some set or random amount of time. This is normally just a thing that happens, although Breath of the Wild actually incorporates it into the story - every few nights there's a chance that instead of a normal moon you'll experience a Blood Moon - when it reaches the apex of its journey (right at midnight), there's a cutscene (of modest length the first time it happens, with Zelda telling link what's going on, but fairly short on later occurrences) that shows monsters being brought back to life (also, while for most games each location has its own timer for when enemies will return, this hits everything all at once - you could be in the middle of clearing out a Bokoblin camp when the reset occurs, and find yourself having to refight all the monsters you just killed).
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