MMO minimaps became the topic of a weird debate this week, as multiple sites appeared to have misunderstood a Belgian magazine’s interpretation of the Red Dead Redemption 2 minimap, which they said could be turned off in favor of NPC-directed navigation. The claim turns out to have been incorrect, but it prompted fun discussion all the same from MMO developers who’ve been dealing with the struggle over minimaps for decades.
“Well hell, I remember when we were forced to ADD minimaps because players refused to get directions from NPCs. :P” tweeted longtime MMO designer Raph Koster, who put it all down to the “vagaries of marketing” but welcomed it anyway: “Player demand for convenience won that battle oh, 15-20 years ago. I’m glad to see immersion coming back!”
I like maps period, and I especially like minimaps. They seem like such an essential component of MMOs – all the way back to Ultima Online – that if a game lacks one, I’m going to mod one in. I’m the kind of player who’s more immersed when I have context for where I am, and I don’t feel less immersed in real life when I’m in my car with GPS turned on and an atlas in my lap either.
But not everyone agrees. How important are minimaps to your MMORPG experience?