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Going in circles.

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How can we stop the common occurence of the player getting stuck, and walking around in circles until they find the exit, or the well-hidden NPC? (Or even resource item).

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Yep. Better map design, no tricks. Maybe some kind of waypoint marker or map radar if you don't mind taking the hit to immersion. In X2, I can never tell the stations apart, and it sucks to flay all over a sector until my close-range scanners ID the one I want. So I fire up the chart, set it as a target, and auto-pilot gets me there. That's good stuff right there.

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Allow the player to attempt/complete tasks in almost any order, so that when they get stuck and/or frustrated by one they can try another for a while.

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