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Question: Questarrow / Guide That Fits With Ingame World?

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Howdy, I'm working on a simple 2D isometric adventure-exploration game where you discover the world, lead your children, learn their language, and harvest sacrifice for the Gods. Since the world is randomly generated and player can stray anywhere, I want to gently guide them towards the next objective. I don't want to use a gaudy arrow but something that sort of fits with the in-game world. Here's a screenshot; the pylon could be an example of a potential next objective to reach. 
 
vHM4f69.jpg
 
I had two ideas so far:
1) The further away you get, the more the screen dims down leaving a "shaft" of brightness pointing in the direction you need to go. 
2) A small, erratically moving bee that stays slightly ahead of you (in the direction of the objective) and starts flying around your objective once you get close. 
 
I like the second idea a bit better as it fits with the game world, but still feels a little too forced/obtuse. (But at least it doesn't scream HEY LISTEN hehe)
 
Thanks for your piece of mind! By the way, here's the game's page if you're curious.

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Personally I prefer when the object is a arrow that runs around the outter edge of the screen. They are usually out of the way and very intuitive.

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Personally I prefer when the object is a arrow that runs around the outter edge of the screen. They are usually out of the way and very intuitive.

 

I think the OP is looking for something more subtle than that. Not everyone wants to be explicitly told exactly which way to go.

 

What about giving out very small rewards to the player for moving in the right direction? Think of something like a Super Mario style game where the coins are laid out along the path you need to take. If you're collecting all the coins then you'll naturally move towards the level goal, or you might even find something secret or hidden that the coin-path led you to. You could apply something like that to your game where you place small rewards between the player and the next objective. I don't know what rewards are thematically appropriate for your game -- maybe it's berries to collect, or small animals to kill -- but the point is that as long as the player moves toward the next goal then there will be something to see and to do. The player can still move away from the next objective and explore but they'll quickly find that it's kind of boring.

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I like when the quest arrow is something that you can do, like holding your sword up to the light in Shadow of the Colossus.  Maybe you have a bag of bees, or a bee-summoning spell.  

 

Giving the quest arrow an opportunity cost is interesting (e.g., you have to buy some bees with money you could have spent on something else, spend mana summoning them, spent time catching them, however you get bees).  You can have them still be plentiful for players who want to play follow-the-arrow, but there's at least a gameplay incentive to conserving them and orienteering a bit more on your own.

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I rather like the bee idea, it doesn't seem particularly forced to me (especially if the bee is very small and can essentially be ignored if you aren't currently going after the objective). Like Valrus I enjoy it when your "quest arrow" is a result of an action the player takes.

 

Couple ideas off the top of my head:

  • Throw a rock up, rock turns into a bird, bird flies in the general direction of objective. (though I don't know if there is magic or anything like that in your game)
  • Blowing the seeds off a fuzzball and they drift towards the objective.
  • Something about the environment always pointing the way: like the way moss tends to grow on the north side of trees (in the northern hemisphere). Maybe trees tend to lean towards the pylon, or their leaves grow thicker on the pylon-facing side, or something like that.

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The bee idea is pretty good.

 

I another, however:

 

Given that you mentioned the function of religion in the game, why not have a dialogue box containing text from the resident deities as a guide? This text could mentions specific landmarks, objectives, and even a bit of lore. This could also work aside from the bees-as-quest arrow, however. (it is an interesting concept to allow for the directional marker to be spawned as a direct result of player action.)

 

Maybe, because the bees run on a limited resource, you could have the "god dialogue" as a permanent, yet indirect/imprecise marker that only serves to remind the player of their objectives while the bees actually show you where to go.

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