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"Now where could they possibly be hiding that mission-critical object?"

"Experience has taught me to investigate anything that glows."

If you want the player to notice something, you gotta make it obvious. No, more obvious than that. Neon sign visible from orbit obvious. Fourth Wall endangeringly obvious.

You might try:

  • Turning the item a different color from the rest of the scene, like an intentional Conspicuously Light Patch.
  • Turning the character's head toward said object.
  • Making the item glow.
  • Making the item sparkle.
  • Making it emit a sound.
  • Making it huge compared with everything nearby.
  • Have a marker show up over it, or the player character if he's near it.
  • Have the Exposition Fairy zoom off towards it.
  • Refocusing the camera onto them when you enter an area.
  • Have the item hover slightly and spin around.
  • Showing an "inventory" of all items in an area on the screen.
  • Making the cursor or crosshair change shape, size or color when pointed at the item.
  • Advertisement:
  • Making a brief sparkle appear over-top the item on occasion.
  • Having a nearby NPC verbally point it out.

The antithesis of Pixel Hunt. Compare Expressive Health Bar.


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    Action Game 
  • Played for laughs in Deadpool in a case of The Guards Must Be Crazy, where at some point the mooks will basically explain what you need to do with a blatantly parodistic voice tone.
    Mook 1: Alright the cart is ready, pull that lever to open the gate!
    Mook 2: Ok! I'm pulling this lever, RIGHT HERE, to open the gate!
    Mook 1: Which lever? (camera pans to Mook 2)
    Mook 2: (gestures to lever) THIS lever!
    Mook 1: (camera pans to gate as it opens) That's fine work with that lever, son!
    Mook 2: Yes. The gate is now open because I pulled this lever!
    Deadpool: Dude! We get it High Moon. Thanks.
    Mook 1 (later on): WE FORGOT TO PULL THE LEVER!
  • The Matrix: Path of Neo uses a glowing, purple circle around weapons, it's bright against the Real Is Brown rather dull color scheme.
  • Some out-of-the-way ledges that Wolf can either sidle along or climb up in Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice are cracked and chipped, creating clear white streaks on dark stone.
  • In the Open World side quest areas in Honkai Impact 3rd, certain items will have a hand icon floating over them. When the player gets close enough to them, a button will appear on screen that allows the item to be picked up or activated.
  • In Hotline Miami, wearing the "Rasmus" mask will add a faint twinkling effect to hidden items across the map.

    Adventure Game 
  • 96: Anything Niles and Elise can pick up are indicated by a twinkle.
    • Meanwhile, the gun found in the gas station owner's house has a glowing aura.
  • The Convenience Store: Things you can interact with are indicated by a little yellow circle/icon.
  • The God of War games mark interactive parts of the stage and scenery with a blinking point of light. It's small so as to not get in the way, but it's definitely noticeable.
    • In the sequel, stuff you can destroy is shiny.
  • Missing Children: Things you can interact with have a white arrow icon over them.
  • Psychonauts:
    • The game has interactable objects glow with an aqua blue aura or sparkle silvery.
    • You'll know when you can dig up an Arrowhead when Raz is looking at the purple smoke.
    • This trope is the only way to find Deep Arrowheads. You can only dig them up when the Dowsing Rod is out and the higher the sound it makes, the easier it is to pull one up. If your computer is good enough to run it on the highest settings, there's also a distortion effect around the tip of the Dowsing Rod that increases along with the sound. When it's making things nigh-impossible to see, you're right on top of one.
  • Tomb Raider:
    • The Original Series made key items far larger than they would probably realistically be. Tomb Raider: Legend and Tomb Raider: Anniversary have them large and glowing (and in all the games, Lara occasionally looks in the direction of important items).
    • In Tomb Raider: Underworld, there's a distinctive "jingle" sound effect when Lara is near a treasure or a relic. The sound only plays the first time she approaches it, though. In the previous game, Tomb Raider: Legend, Objects that the grapple can be used on shimmer.
    • Tomb Raider (2013) uses white paint to highlight grabbable ledges, similar to how the Uncharted series uses yellow.
  • In Grim Fandango, Manny will look at any object you can interact with.
    • Escape from Monkey Island, which uses the same engine, adds a line of sight to make it easier to determine what Guybrush is looking at, something players often wish they'd had in Grim Fandango.
  • Metroid:
    • Items and item expansions in the Metroid Prime Trilogy make a mechanical humming noise; the hum gets louder as you approach. Also, in Echoes and Corruption, if you use the Scan Visor, anything you can scan or otherwise interact with is highlighted in either red or blue (if you haven't scanned it; red denotes plot-importance) or green (if you have). (Metroid Prime uses orange and red icons that serve the same purpose and turn semitransparent once scanned.)
    • In Metroid Prime 3: Corruption, objects that can be moved or torn away with the Grapple Lasso have a distinctive yellow shimmer to them; once scanned, the visor's HUD also superimposes a semitransparent grapple icon over them. Ledges that Samus will automatically pull herself up onto when she leaps at them similarly shimmer in green.
  • The Legend of Zelda:
    • In Ocarina of Time and Majora's Mask, Navi or Tatl will flit to any important area nearby, often turning a different color depending on what sort of item/action is required. For example, if she flits above you and turns green, it means you can summon a scarecrow to use as a hookshot anchor. On a few occasions, though, she indicates nothing at all, usually because whatever was there was Dummied Out.
    • The Zelda games will also occasionally take control of the camera to pan from you to the item you need to collect, or for a Puzzle Pan.
    • Starting with Wind Waker, if the camera is to Link's face, he'll occasionally look at something to the side. Occasionally, there is an enemy hidden where he's looking. This can range from turning his head, to just simply moving his eyes in that direction.
    • The weather vanes in A Link Between Worlds will squawk and spin around to remind you to save if you've recently done something plot-important.
    • In Breath of the Wild, objects that you can pick up (food, weapons, and so forth) off the ground will sparkle.
  • In Mirror's Edge, things such as pipes, boxes usable as springboards, and ramps are highlighted in bright red, called "Runner Vision". It also highlights doors in red that you can go through, and guards you have to pass (instead of avoid). It does not, however, change the color of all doors, some of which are red by default and cannot be opened. And on Hard mode and time trials, Runner Vision is disabled.
  • In Shadow Complex, the flashlight will make destructible things glow different colors according to what can destroy them.
  • In Ōkami, a variety of things are used, including Issun hopping in front of something whilst glowing yellow (as opposed to his usual green), an item sparkling (or having a strange haze around it, as in the case of keys), and the camera suddenly changing to a fixed angle (often indicating the need to use the Celestial Brush).
  • Castlevania: Symphony of the Night features the Imp familiar suddenly taking interest in two breakable walls/pushable levers. "What does THIS switch do?!" The hundreds of other secrets in the castle don't seem to catch his interest.
    • At least two of the other familiars give reactions to hidden rooms. The fairy will float near a wall and tell you that there's something funny about it. The sword, on the other hand, skips the small talk and breaks the wall down for you.
  • In Pickory, one of the "secret" items has giant arrows pointing to it that say SECRET HERE.
  • Used heavily in Deadly Premonition: items you can pick up are highlighted with blue sparkles, Plot Coupons with red.
  • In Cave Story, any item you can pick up but is not visible right away is marked with sparkles.
  • It requires active purchase and equipping by the player (literal purchase, as it's only available as part of a DLC pack), but Brütal Legend features an item called the Oculus of the Lost, which swivels to stare at a collectible (Bound Serpent, Legend, Vista, Plug Jump) that the player missed when they get within a particular (fairly large) range.
  • Every Sierra adventure game ever. The most memorable example being: at the beginning of King's Quest VI: Heir Today, Gone Tomorrow, you can see Alexander's tiny signet ring in the sand only because it's really sparkly and animated.
    • The Police Quest series is less forgiving, requiring you to (for example) figure out that that mess of pixels is actually a footprint and act accordingly.
    • King's Quest I: Quest For The Crown requires using the "LOOK" command a lot to figure out what is usable and what is not.
    • King's Quest V: Absence Makes the Heart Go Yonder! uses the "sparkly" method several times (a coin on the street, a locket in a giant bird's nest etc.). It's one of the incredibly few times the game is somewhat forgiving (of course, missing them anyway will ultimately result in you being stuck forever and the game being Unwinnable).
    • King's Quest VII: The Princeless Bride has your cursor (which looks like a magic wand) sparkle when it's hovering over an object the player character can interact with.
  • In the various LEGO games, any objects that can be collected, destroyed, or otherwise interacted with are appropriately made of LEGO pieces, while the rest of the background is a standard non-LEGO environment.
  • L.A. Noire features a detective mechanic whereby Cole Phelps examines crime scenes for clues. When you navigate him close enough to items that can be picked up and given a closer look (some of which turn out to be Red Herrings), the controller vibrates, and a two-note piano chime plays on the soundtrack. This effect can be disabled. It can also be enhanced, as the player has the option of spending earned "Intuition Points" to highlight the locations of all of the important crime scene clues in the map section of the HUD.
  • Riven uses Moiety daggers to get the players attention, particularly in two scenarios.
    • The first one has you arrive at a wooden door sealed with a padlock. There are no keys to be picked up in the game. However, a dagger is visible on the ground. You click it, and- surprise! You could just crawl under the door!
    • The second one has a gigantic dagger engrained in a rock in the jungle. This, combined with the fact that your view is centered towards it instead of 90 degrees off the path, leads you to discover a path towards it that nets you another animal eyeball.
  • Some Jak and Daxter games will mark your next MacGuffin or checkpoint with a pillar of light that goes all the way to the sky. Notice This, indeed.
  • in Control, collectibles and interactables have a circle close in on them when you point the camera in their direction from a good ways away.
  • In Life Is Strange things you can interact with are outlined in a messy doodle-like texture and have an arrow pointing to them, even from a distance, allowing the player to easily see what can be fiddled with in a given scene. The prequel and the sequel also use similar effects.
  • The Radio Station: Objects that can be interacted with have yellow question marks above them.

    First Person Shooter 
  • Some objectives (documents to collect, places to plant explosives, weapons in the tutorial levels, etc.) in the Call of Duty and Medal of Honor games glow golden.
  • Half-Life:
    • While playtesting Episode Two, the developers realised that players kept losing their car. To help players notice it they made the car's hazard lights flash when the player leaves the car and eventually resorted to adding a compass that points to the car to the player's HUD.
    • The commentary for Episode One mentions that play testers were not noticing a scripted scene in the Citadel which took place in the opposite direction the players were supposed to head. In order to draw attention to this, the devs added a small platform with a single soldier who would begin firing at you. The soldier was far enough away that he's essentially harmless, but players would turn around to fire at the soldier and then see the scripted event.
    • A more subtle example is the use of coloured lighting: open, outdoor areas are often dark or lit with a cold blue light, while the path to the next area or a saferoom with item pickups will usually have a normal-sized doorway (or clean-edged hole of some kind) with warm orange light, to encourage the player to investigate it.
    • In the Black Mesa Fan Remake of the first game, red emergency lights are often used to guide the player's path and make them notice doors or hatches.
  • In BioShock, items like ammo and medkits are noticeably shinier than the environment around them. Particularly important items are highlighted in glowing gold, with a "sparkly" tinkle-bell sound when the player gets close. The player can turn the shininess off for added difficulty and immersion.
  • Left 4 Dead
    • Items have a blue halo around them, as well as displaying a pickup prompt when you approach them early in the campaign. In realism mode, these are disabled, but even then the characters will often clue the others in on their finds ("Pills here!"), and if you keep your crosshair on the item for a few seconds, they will start pointing at it with their hands.
    • Left 4 Dead, with its low key setup, often uses lighting cues to direct attention to places you're supposed to go. They use car headlights a lot. This is a great solution because with few other light sources competing, the low-angle headlights are bound to be eye catching. And as a bonus, abandoned cars with headlights still on fit really well into the atmosphere of the game.
    • The safe room doors also glow. If you're on your last "life" (got downed twice, the third one will result in death), items and the safe door are displayed in red, probably trying to tell you to find a med kit and heal up. The game tells you how to do certain commands the first time you encounter them (item pick ups, healing others, etc.) but will stop displaying them once you manage to do these several times on your own.
    • The Witch glows bright red in the dark — which is definitely a good thing, as shining a flashlight on her... well, let's just say it's a bad idea, to the point that most players will turn their lights off if they hear so much as a sob. Valve discussed this in the commentary. Every boss zombie and each survivor is designed to have a very distinct shape and sound so they can be identified quickly. Picking off priority targets first is half the challenge of Left 4 Dead. The Witch was designed to be noticed, but not always easy to spot, since you're supposed to shut off your light. Valve wanted to add in a change of pace stealth element with the Witch.
  • The fundamental reason for the cartoony art style of Team Fortress 2 is to make the classes, teams and weapons as distinctive from each other (and from the background) as possible. In a realistic game, like say, Counter-Strike, you can't easily distinguish one soldier from the other, because soldiers wear uniforms and uniforms are well... uniform. The cartoony style gives TF2 the freedom to do whatever they want to let you know about important events and objects at a glance. It also lets them get away with outrageous humour and politically incorrect characters.
    • Capture the Flag mode features arrows on the Heads-Up Display pointing to each team's Intelligence, whether it's safe, being captured, or dropped, and if you're holding said Intelligence, the direction of your home base.
    • A glowing team-coloured outline appears around the Payload Cart and the Intelligence briefcase that can be seen through any obstacle, so no matter where you are on the map you know exactly where they are.
    • All items considered 'map' items instead of player items (that is, things like health and ammo pickups, briefcases, or various holiday-themed items as opposed to items like sticky bombs or the weapons of defeated enemies) are always spinning in place, and none of the items are perfectly radially symmetrical. This is intended to break up the object's outline against the background and encourage players to approach them due to their movement.
    • Fallen weapons of the same class as yours now have a yellow outline when you hover your cursor over them. This indicates that you can swap your current weapon with the one on the ground, which can sometimes provide a tactical advantage... or just net you a pretty-looking gun for one life.
    • Teammates now have outlines for the first few seconds after you respawn. This lets you see where they are in order to move towards the action. Incidentally, this also applies to spies disguised as teammates — this lets you see if you're at risk of getting spawn camped and take the appropriate steps to avoid it.
  • NetBat in the Battlefield series, based on real-life network-centric operations, is a means of putting icons on everything. In Battlefield's case, these would be the red diamonds/lozenges on enemies, and green circles on friendlies. Similar systems appear in other realistic FPSes, like SOCOM and Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon.
  • According to Portal's in-game commentary, the developers tried to design a level that required the player to reuse one of the Weighted Storage Cubes. But players kept leaving it behind, not realizing they would need it for later. So the developers gave it a different texture, had GLaDOS tell the player they needed it, and the Companion Cube was born.
    • Portal includes many instances of this trope. Another example is the level where the player first acquires the Aperture Science Hand-Held Portal Device. Chell is forced to wait in front of a closed door next to a window through which the portal gun can be seen (and heard via its self-charging noise), to ensure that it's noticed. The excuse is that GLaDOS needs to acquaint Chell with the possible side-effects of the Aperture Science Material Emancipation Grill.
    • The developers also said on the commentary about the portal gun that they had to find a way to tell players what portals do without straight out telling them. They say that they added in a few levels before you acquire the gun, in order for players to grasp the concept of "go in one, walk out the other", seeing as how many of the test players found themselves believing that the portals sent them to different versions of a room or "auto warped" you somewhere. In actuality, the portals work on a basis of "what goes in must come out".
      • The commentary also notes how, when playing the "falling rooms" (where you must use falling to get flung forward), most test players thought that going through a portal while falling would cause you to go back to normal speed. For this reason, they added in the advice that GLaDOS gives.
    "Momentum, a function of mass and velocity, is conserved between portals. In layman's terms: speedy thing goes in, speedy thing comes out."
    • Portal 2 has a part in the final confrontation in which the player has to fire a portal onto the surface of the Moon, which as just been revealed in the night sky thanks to the roof of the room getting a hole in it. The developers on the commentary noted how players would either not realize that there was a hole in the roof, or if they did, they didn't think of shooting the portal gun. For this reason, they made the camera automatically turn itself upwards towards the hole to give an indication to players that it was meant to be used for something. They however also faced another problem: due to how players had become used to instantly appearing portals, they still expected the portal to appear instantly, even though due to the speed of light and how far the moon is away from the Earth it would take at least a few seconds before it appears. Many test players ended up thinking that the portal could not be placed as it did not appear instantly. So the developers ended up locking the player's view once they had successfully made the shot to solve this problem.
  • Reality Bytes' all-but-unknown shooter Sensory Overload had a text window that would announce nearby objects as you walked past, punctuated with an audible "Wow!"
  • In Die Hard Vendetta, a little-known FPS, any new objects picked up will have a "You have the [object name]" message.
    • Weapons that can be dual-wielded (Revolver, 9MM, Submachine Gun, and the Tactical SMG, for some reason) will display the same message upon a second of those guns being picked up, considering how it's the same gun, only now you can fire two at a time.
  • Duke Nukem Forever will make the next objective glow bright yellow, whether it's the door you need to breach, the turret you need to man, etc.
  • In the first two Descent games, the powerups were represented with 2D sprite animations that were completely visible, even in pitch darkness. In Descent 3, they were replaced with 3D models that weren't as easy to spot. To compensate, the powerups now had a glowing "halo" effect on them to make them noticeable. Nearby shield orbs and energy sparkles will also make noise in D3 to make locating them a little easier.
  • Items in Serious Sam 3: BFE glow with a colour dependant on what they are: armour glows blue, health items red, ammo yellow and weapons green. The further away the player is, the more noticable the glow.
  • Borderlands and Borderlands 2 rely on several of these techniques to guide players through the setting and allow them to interact with the cluttered environment.
    • All items that can be picked up have an indicator rising up about three feet from its point of origin, all Color-Coded for Your Convenience: health items are red, money is yellow, ammunition is a lightly pulsing gray, and equipment ranges from white to orange.
    • All mission-related objects (but not enemies) that can be interacted with either glow green, have a prominent diamond displayed over them on the HUD, or have a unique cyan indicator projecting from them.
    • Lootable containers have some sort of small, green light prominently displayed on their door or lid, while lootable item piles will emit either a light green glow or strange clouds of green gas.
    • Destructible objects (usually some variation of Exploding Barrels) always have red health indicators when the crosshair is placed over them, just like enemies, to encourage players to shoot them either preemptively or to use against enemies.
  • DOOM (2016) uses green lights to indicate the path forward. These take many forms, from light strips to light poles, to even green teleporters. DOOM Eternal takes it a step further, and uses the color green to also indicate cracked walls and push buttons, that the Doom Slayer can "interact" with.
  • Deep Rock Galactic: Since every mission takes place in natural caverns, the game is hella dark; thankfully, not only do all the valuable ores you might find have a slight glow and/or have colorful traces in the rock that contain them, but they all stand out much more than regular rock when illuminated in any way thanks to reflectiveness and colors. Even the plants you may need to grab are glowy, and the organic material surrounding alien eggs you might need to pick up has bioluminiscent nodules. And Aquarqs, the giant gems you need to find during Point Extraction missions (which are in a single huge cavern full of enemies) are absurdly glowy, so that even if you need to toss them before you get buried in angry insects you can easily find where they went.
  • Metro: Last Light: White bioluminescence will often mark the way forward in outdoor levels.

    Idle Game 
  • Disco Zoo: When searching your zoo for a lost animal or hat, a ticking noise will play if you're within a screen of it, and the lost thing will emit a big "!" particle to draw visual attention.

    Interactive Movie Game 
  • This happens in the iOS port of Brain Dead 13 when the move guide allows the player to quickly press the appropriate button as soon as it lights up in certain areas, helping you to guide Lance in the right direction, as long as the move guide is turned on. However, it still counts as a Guide Dang It! if you press a lit button that turns out to be a wrong move, especially in The Maze and in certain boss battles that make the game Unwinnable by Design if you run away from them.

    Platform Game 
  • Rayman Advance marked spots that triggered events with twinkling stars.
  • When Kirby encounters Meta Knight, there is always a sword that falls from the ceiling that you can touch to receive the Sword ability. As if, you know, a sword falling from the sky isn't unusual enough, there will also always be a giant blinking label reading "GET IT!" or "GRAB THIS!" with an arrow pointing to the sword. Yeah, designed for a younger audience, but still.
  • Glider PRO:
    • Sparkles, though sometimes just for show, are often used to point out an otherwise invisible bonus, switch or transport.
    • The Magic Stars spin in place continuously until collected. They keep spinning even if they happen to be destroyed by a switch (which is very rarely done since it not only looks horrible but makes the house unwinnable).
  • Red Faction: Guerrilla highlights scrap with a prominent shine that moves in a synchronised wave from left to right. The effect can be jarring: target arrows look like HUD symbols, but this is "in-world". Fallen guns are also highlighted this way.
  • In the Wii A Boy and His Blob, any pathway covered in fireflies (Or their Bloblonian equivalent, fluttery rainbow... thingamabobs) is very, very likely to have a treasure chest at the end.
  • In Mega Man & Bass, some of the CDs are hidden underground and must be uncovered with the Rush Search. If the player is playing as Mega Man and has the CD Finder item, stars will briefly appear to indicate where they are located.
    • In Mega Man 7, using Rush Search may lead to him barking at seemingly nothing, indicating hidden items of great value or secret passages.
  • In Abe's Oddysee, secret passages were marked with small falling rocks. These were often hidden behind foreground objects. Abe's Exoddus made it much simpler, by having giant piles of bright green Soul Storm Brew bottles next to every secret passage.
  • Sly Cooper puts blue sparkles on any items Sly can interact with. When playing as other characters, the sparkles change to their personal color — usually the same as the main color of their skin or costume. According to Bentley this is how Sly perceives his thiefly instincts at work. Other Notice This markers are stated to be part of a HUD on the characters' goggles/masks.
  • In Super Mario Odyssey, rays of light shine gold on areas hiding coins, and in a rainbow of colors on areas hiding power moons.
  • In Hollow Knight you have to find Cornifer the mapmaker in each area to get the area's map, but this can be difficult without...well...a map. To make things easier, a patch made it so that you can hear him humming when in the same room, and added a trail of papers a short distance away from him.
  • In order to get around the limitations of the PlayStation, Spyro the Dragon rendered everything far away at a much lower level of detail, as well as limiting how far you can see enemies and items. However, the little sparkles that gems have can be seen from anywhere, all the time — making it easier to spot gems located off in out-of-the-way areas.

    Puzzle Games 
  • Bendy and the Ink Machine: Progress-critical items will shine, making them easier to spot.
  • In the Puyo Puyo series, Nomi, a three pixel wide minor character, requires this in order to be noticed, being a flea and all. At least in Madou Monogatari ARS's “R” side (Rulue’s story), a magnifier was placed on Nomi to show the clearer appearance while encountering it.

    Role Playing Game 
  • Team Slacker's primary function in Bug Fables is to clue players into nearby bounties and give them clues on how to find them.
  • In City of Heroes, relevant items or objectives in a mission will both glow and emit a pulsing noise to indicate that it is nearby. This means that occasionally, when the object is well-hidden enough that the glow isn't visible, players will find themselves in the position of listening for crates of drugs and so on.
  • Some games have the habit of showing the name of every single usable item on the ground. Players of the Diablo series will know how annoying this gets when you kill a particularly generous boss.
    • The first Diablo didn't do this, and items on the floor were otherwise unremarkable and only highlighted when the mouse hovered over them. Now imagine rings and amulets, which have a "on-floor" graphic that's a blue ring a couple of pixels across. On a blue floor. In a dark dungeon. While the unofficial expansion added a spell which highlighted every lost item on the floor, and there was a built-in zoom function in the game, cooperative multiplay could (and often did) degenerate into the equivalent of searching for a dropped contact lens whenever that distinctive "ding!" was heard.
  • MegaTraveller 2: Quest for the Ancients. When you entered an area, the NPC characters worth interacting with were colored differently from the filler characters.
  • In the later Rune Factory games, any item, person or monster you can interact with will have an indicator hovering above it. Extremely useful when giving gifts, since the indicator shows who receives it (and none shows if you would drop the gift on the ground).
  • Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines: Plot-significant or interactable objects are highlighted with polychromatic floating particles if the Player Character's perceptiveness stat is high enough. In addition, the Auspex power makes the character more observant for a short time.
  • In Might and Magic VII, when a character with a high enough Perception skill is selected, parts of the scenery containing secrets are highlighted in red. A more subtle clue in the series is "special" ornamental items (like torches in walls) having capitalized names (due to the sublety, this is often Lost in Translation).
  • In the DS remake of Final Fantasy IV, Augments appear as golden sparkles on the ground.
    • Those same sparklies appear to mark items hidden on the ground in the Final Fantasy III remake, but only if you zoom the camera in really close.
    • Also present in the DS titles of Square Enix's other flagship series: Dragon Quest. Certain items hidden and marked in this way were originally marked on the NES or SNES by way of signs pointing to them or dogs guarding their spots; these original hints still remain in the DS versions.
  • Final Fantasy IX uses this by having an icon "!" appear over the character's head whenever he approaches a treasure or trigger. This is immensely helpful to the player when the character is "off in the distance" where perspective makes everything ridiculously small, or when triggers are part of the natural landscape, or when chests blend in with the environment.
    • It tried to keep things interesting by making a number of those "!" just pointing out signs or notes. But if you didn't see something tacked on a wall, it's a fair bet there's an item there.
  • Final Fantasy XII had the "!" icon and a ding noise as well, which was handy for chests you might've missed because the camera angle was wrong or they were behind a tree. It also had items lying on the ground glint if you were nearby.
  • In a particularly ludicrous example from Skies of Arcadia, while in the Valuan sewers, if you investigate a certain patch of wall, Vyse will wonder if there's something about this bit of wall that's different from the rest, before dismissing it as his imagination. The "nothing" he dismisses? A patch of wall whose coloration is not unlike that of a patch of wall that has had the picture removed for the first time in a decade. Not long after, Vyse learns what the player has known since they first laid eyes on the wall: there's a secret passage behind it.
  • Knights of the Old Republic, Jade Empire and Mass Effect all put floating icons over items, NPCs and enemies.
    • From Mass Effect 2 onwards, ammunition reloads very thoughtfully glint and shimmer. Especially handy in the second half of Jack's recruitment mission, since the emergency lighting has dyed everything red and the crimson disposable heat sinks otherwise don't show up very well.
  • Baldur's Gate II lights up all dropped items and lootable areas if you hold down the Tab key. The first game didn't have this at all, which meant lots of pixel-hunting, even for common stuff like looting the bodies after a random encounter.
    • You can, with the help of the internet, play the first game on the second game's engine. Doing so will let you find things that you were meant to Pixel Hunt for, like the very valuable (by early game standards) diamond two screens out of Candlekeep. Or the Ring of Wizardry on the third map.
  • The Shadow Hearts games put an exclamation point over the main character's head when he's near an (otherwise invisible) item on the ground.
  • The Elder Scrolls:
    • Morrowind gives enchanted items a magical "sheen" with a slight glow. Given the game's propensity for stashing hidden items in nooks and crannies, this can help them be found more easily. They retain this feature even after you've picked them.
    • Oblivion:
      • The crosshair changes its shape when aimed at something you can interact with; e.g. a hand-shaped reticle means the item it's pointed at can be picked up.
      • The color also changes if it would be illegal to interact with it (e.g. stealing owned property or breaking into a house).
      • In an audio version of this trope, when you are near a Nirnroot, you will hear a little tinkling sound, like faint bells. It gets louder the closer you get to it.
    • Skyrim:
      • Nirnroot plants return and still glow as well as emit a sound a bit like a metal tube that's been struck, except the ringing doesn't die off.
      • Word Walls (from which you learn Dragon Shouts), begin glowing bright blue and you hear a chorus vocalizing as you get closer. The rest of your vision also darkens considerably, effectively making the word the only thing you can see. This is very handy, since the Word Walls otherwise don't look that special, and there are a few similar structures that don't do anything.
  • Fable II has a golden trail of light that leads you to most of your objectives, and when you get there, highlights them in a big shiny circle. Plus, there's your ever-helpful dog, who points at treasure chests and spots to dig.
    • Unfortunately, the glowing path sometimes takes a while to load, making you think you just left the area you were supposed to find in a previous screen, backtracking, and then finding out the game is just having trouble figuring out what it's really trying to do.
    • The first Fable also has items you can examine glow blue when you get near them, and people important for sidequests appear as green dots on the mini-map (and glow green when you get near them).
  • World of Warcraft uses sparkles to indicate slain enemies that still have items on them. The same sparkles were added to many quest item pickups to make them easier to see, as well as herbs and veins if you are able to gather these. In addition, all characters are able to track most vital NPCs, seeing them indicated on the minimap. In some cases with larger view distances, large red arrows are also used.
    • The Lord of the Rings Online does things similarly, with quest objects having their own (overly obvious) sparkle as well.
    • This has become fairly standard for MMOs, now. Some shine like WoW and LotRO, others shine or glow like Star Wars: The Old Republic or DC Universe Online.
  • Pressing the tab key in Neverwinter Nights causes every interactive object onscreen to glow and display its name. This is very handy when you walk into a storage room and want to know which crates might be holding useful items and which crates are just window dressing. Also, the toolset contains a lot of visual effects — sparkles, beams of light, and so on — that can be superimposed over any object you want to be conspicuous in your module.
    • The Infinity Engine D&D games (Icewind Dale 2, Baldur's Gate) did something very similar with the left alt key, highlight dropped loot, door and containers. A loading screen tip recommended keeping one's left pinky over the key while exploring and pressing it whenever nothing else was happening. There were also a handful of secret stashes that were flagged not to light up this way, the only clue to their existence being the mouse cursor changing to the 'loot' icon if you happened to cross the couple-pixel hotspot.
  • Dragon Age:
    • Dragon Age: Origins lets you hold down a key to make every item you can interact with glow and display its name. Containers and bodies that have loot will also sparkle, a feature that can be turned off in the options menu.
    • Dragon Age: Inquisition has a search key that highlights all interactable objects nearby, including doors, collectible herbs and minerals, and loot. The same key is also used to search for hidden objects when their presence is indicated by the glow of the radar's outline.
  • In Earth Eternal objects you have to pick up or interact with as part of a quest are surrounded by floating sparks. The same sparks appear around the bag some slain foes leave behind, indicating that you can click it to 'loot the corpse'.
  • In Neo Steam the position of your quest objective is indicated by a pillar of light.
  • In The Legend of Dragoon, a yellow icon with an exclamation mark pops up above the main character's head when he's near something he can interact with, like a treasure chest or an elevator.
  • In Gothic, interactive items will highlight and display their names when the protagonist is close enough to interact with them.
  • Deus Ex: Human Revolution has all interact-able objects highlighted with glowing yellow, including breakable walls that would be quite hard to notice otherwise. However, the game does offer the option to turn the object highlighting off, which pleased the more critical fans of the original game.
  • Crisis Core uses either a dialogue window or a small glow for objects you need to collect on some side missions.
  • Fallout:
    • Fallout 3 doesn't normally do this, and sifting through wreckage to find a syringe full of Med-X among empty syringes or plasma rifle ammunition among shot glasses in the game's (many) ruins can be tough... but the Operation: Anchorage downloadable content expansion lets you into a military simulation where this is used to the point of being lampshaded, with anything in the simulation you'd want to pick up pulsing with a bright red glow.
    • Fallout: New Vegas has companions provide you with a perk while they are in your service. Boone's "Spotter" perk will highlight enemies in a red glow when you zoom in with your weapon. Rex's "Search and Mark" perk highlights containers/corpses that have weapons, ammo, chems, or caps.
  • Pokémon:
    • Items found on the ground use a Poké Ball sprite (usually called an item ball), but quite a few items aren't represented at all, or are found in scenery. Some of the latter cases are easy to spot (such as being located under a rock in a cave or within a patch of tall grass on a square without tall grass in outdoor areas), while the rest rely on an item specifically for finding them, called the Itemfinder in the first three generations' English translations and the Dowsing Machine in the Japanese versions and the English translations of Generation IV and on.
    • Generation VII has a random chance of items dropping after being ambushed by flying Pokemon and breaking rocks. This is signified by an easily seen twinkle and a sound effect when it drops just in case the player isn't paying attention.
    • The GameCube titles have small items you might find on the ground (key cards, TM disks, etc.) sparkle repeatedly so that you are sure to see them. They also block your path as an Invisible Wall, so you can find them based on not being able to walk through them.
  • A strange in-universe example in The Witcher 2. Objects you can pick up and doors you can open usually look just like everything else, but activating your witcher amulet makes them glow orange and wiggle a bit. The amulet's purpose in the story is as a sort of Everything Sensor that points out magic and other important things.
  • Solatorobo marks the location of hidden rings and P-crystals with blue sparkles.
  • Pandora's Tower shows anything Aeron can pick up as a flashing sparkle, white for sundry goods, red for books and texts. The manual actually uses this trope indirectly to explain why Aeron can occasionally find new things in the Observatory's cellar despite being the only one who goes down there: there's so much miscellaneous junk crammed down there that another perusal with fresh eyes is sometimes enough to spot something useful he previously overlooked.
  • Chrono Trigger: Tabs (consumables that gave your character a permanent stat boost) sparkle if they are laying around on the floor not in a box. And at one point, you pick up such a shiny, only to be told to put it back because it's not ready yet.
  • Alpha Protocol has golden icons over collectibles and other interactive items such as ladders.
  • Persona 5:
    • Quest Givers have a red speech bubble with an exclamation mark over their head. NPCs with general dialogue have a black speech bubble or 3 white sound lines popping out from around their heads.
    • Using Joker's Third Eye ability will cause important things around him to start glowing. Gold indicates treasure, while blue indicates something that he can use to progress. In the real world, available Confidants will have huge glowing blue cards above their heads, and yen signs will appear at any shops. This becomes extremely useful in the sixth Palace, because the party find themselves in a pitch-black labyrinth they must escape in order to progress. By using Third Eye, Joker can easily navigate the labyrinth, surprising the hell out of the Shadows guarding it since it isn't meant to be possible to beat.
  • In Ravensword: Shadowlands, chests and corpses that have loot in them emit a green glow when near.
  • Unhappy Ever After: Items and quests are indicated by a little sparkle.
  • Divinity: Original Sin II: When a player character walks by a hidden object, such as the site of a buried chest, and has a high enough Wits score to detect it, a distinctive sound effect plays and the object glows for a few seconds.
  • Genshin Impact:
    • If a quest waypoint or marker is being tracked, a tall pillar of light will shine on its location when the player is still far away from it. When the objective is just close by, a sparkling trail on the ground leads to it instead.
    • Objects that give a small shine can be investigated, usually yielding some items in the process.
    • When you activate "elemental sight", on-screen enemies and objects that have an elemental attribute will be tinted with a specific color related to their element. Breakable walls are also highlighted with a vibrant color, while the Seelie Garden statues have a green mist that point to where their respective Seelies are stranded.
    • If it's your first time visiting the edge of Cape Oath, the camera will automatically focus your attention to the floating wormhole in the sky.
    • A complex puzzle in Liyue requires three crane statues to be rotated and face Qingyun Peak in order to activate a mechanism. While the game doesn't explicitly show the location of the statues on the mini-map, standing near the mechanism causes blinking lights to appear from a distance, hinting at the statues' locations.
    • During the "Unreconciled Stars" event, the playable characters' Visions glow and produce a noise when they are near a meteorite shard.
    • The "Lost Riches" event gives you a "Mini Seelie" that will help you locate the Iron Coins used to buy the items in the event shop. When you get closer to the coins' location, the Seelie will glow brighter; when the coins are nearby, the Seelie will emit blinking noises.
  • Mass Effect: Andromeda: Plot-relevant systems and planets give off a small pulse on the Galaxy Map, which can be helpful if the names don't pop up (which has been known to happen).
  • Items that can be picked up, and bodies that can be looted, in the Demon's Souls/Dark Souls/Bloodborne meta-franchise have big glowing particles coming out of them that are visible even when they should be obscured by the item/body itself.
    • 2022's entry to the meta-franchise, Elden Ring, also adds a big shiny orange light that turns on to tell you where to stand in order to get a Critical Hit on a stance-broken opponent.
  • The Lord of the Rings: The Third Age makes the screen faintly glow when hero Berethor approaches a treasure chest. If you play the Xbox version on an Xbox 360, the effect is glitched and floods the screen with light.

  • Need for Speed: Most Wanted flashes the screen and pans the camera towards the fuzz every time you're spotted. Carbon also has scout teammates that highlight the course's shortcuts by taking them while leaving glowing tire marks. And even if you miss THAT, the path is also marked on your minimap. But then again, that's the whole point of a scout teammate.
  • In FUEL, whose whole premise was its huge open world, interesting objects like car wrecks were often many kilometres away behind the horizon. How does the game point them out? With smoke signals where possible, with a giant red laser beam from the sky where not.

  • In Assassin's Creed, all flags, city guards and (after you get the throwing knives) random thugs that you can pickpocket are highlighted with Animus-powered Matrix Raining Code to show that they're important.
    • In addition there's the "Eagle Vision" mechanic in which you can switch to first-person-mode, and targets, guards, friendlies, and regular people will glow specific colors for a while. This is very handy when trying to find a specific target in a crowd of people who all look exactly the same.
    • The sequels modify Eagle Vision the player can use it while moving, and during trailing missions the target leaves a golden trail that makes it that much easier.
  • In Metal Gear, the sprites for items were the same size as the Player Character.
  • The first 3 Metal Gear Solid games have the items hover and spin. Metal Gear Solid 4 has items appear mostly realistically, but items, weapons and people are highlighted when using the Solid-Eye.
  • The old, old eight-bit game The Last Ninja on the Commodore 64 had this trope.
    • In Last Ninja 2, if you find a map, from now on all collectible items will blink the first time you enter a screen.
  • In Thief: Deadly Shadows, lootable items glint and sparkle subtly every few seconds to differentiate them from normal stage props. In essence, the message is, "Steal me."
    • The previous Thief games had differences in colors to signify value. For example, a white plate has no value and can only be picked up, not stolen. A decorated gold-colored plate is likely of some value. Deadly Shadows was disliked quite a bit by fans of the previous games for, among other things, this mechanic.
  • Batman: Arkham Asylum features Detective Mode, which offers a visual representation of Bruce Wayne's remarkable detective intellect (as well as a device activating in his mask letting him see through walls) to the player by highlighting useful items in the environment (such as grates to pop open and gargoyles to climb onto) and showing enemy locations from behind barriers.
    • Arkham City has the same feature, and clarifies it as a combination of Wayne's detective skills and a collation of all the data his surveillance gadgetry is feeding into his cowl. By contrast, Catwoman has Thief Vision, which can only highlight enemies and her exclusive escape routes, which makes sense since she's relying on only her five senses.
      • It also makes the Riddler's informers glow green to set them apart from common thugs, so you know exactly the ones you shouldn't take out in order to interrogate them.
    • The game subtly uses red lighting to draw the player's attention towards cracks in walls the player is supposed to hang from and shimmy across.
    • All playable characters in the series have their own variation of Detective Vision. Joker in the Arkham Asylum DLC has X-Ray specs that lets him see through walls but only work in first person and force him to stand still. Harley Quinn in the Arkham Knight DLC has Psycho Vision, which works about the same as Catwoman's version.

    Survival Horror 
  • Resident Evil games have important items stand out through sparkles. This is explained in the official books that they are well-used and thus cleaned items that show up against the filthy-un-used corridors, battle debris or blood-smeared walls.
  • Resident Evil: Outbreak has Jim Chapman possessing the ability to see any items available on a current screen by checking the map; they'll be unidentified until he goes to pick one up, but he'll know they exist before anyone else.
  • The Resident Evil 3 (Remake) uses the color yellow to direct you toward paths that otherwise wouldn't be obvious. If you see a broken window with yellow caution tape around it then you'll be able to climb through it, or if you see yellow debris around a wall you'll be able to crawl through an opening. Sometimes it's even as subtle as flashing signal light on a crashed vehicle, yellow advertisements and store signs, or yellow curbs and handrails funneling you toward your objective.
    • The "bright yellow = something important" device is kept up in Resident Evil Village, where environmental objects and breakable containers will either be marked with yellow tape/paint or simply be colored yellow to begin with.
  • Silent Hill:
    • Done as a result of something being Dummied Out, and possibly left in to mess with the player, in Silent Hill. The camera will fixate on the wheel of a boat and Harry will even stare at it. Try as you might though, the wheel does nothing and the boat can't be operated. There is absolutely nothing of note or value on the boat; not even a health drink or box of bullets.
    • Beginning with Silent Hill 2's James Sunderland, the protagonists will turn their heads to look at anything that's collectible or interactive. Unfortunately, they also turn their heads to look at enemies and Death Traps. Starting with 3, the protagonist will even look at doors they can open, even when they shouldn't know they can yet. Saves a lot of time checking doors.
    • In the later games, items (And save points in the first three) will gleam when you shine the flashlight at them.
    • Silent Hill: Shattered Memories doesn't have Harry looking at hotspots, but it does have the Shadow Girl, who will run in the direction you need to go when approached; this is extremely merciful on the developers' parts in some places, because indoors, the flashlight is your only light source, and without the Shadow Girl, the player is reduced to scouring the walls for subtle doors outside the flashlight's illumination. Also, when running around in the Nightmare, doors, climbable ledges, and fences are laced with gently glowing blue frost, so you can find your way even if you turn your flashlight off, and there is always a source of light such as a lamp or the moon hovering over your ultimate destination.
  • Aka Manto: Items you can pick up give off a green aura.
  • In the related Amnesia: The Dark Descent, tinderboxes, key items and jars of lantern oil glow a soft blue when you're near them. When your hand hovers over them, the cursor changes to a hand picking something up, in contrast to the open hand when it's just a movable object.
  • Blame Him: Objects you can pick up and interact with have a white circle with an image inside above them. How the objects can be interacted with depends on what the picture inside the circle is.
  • Blood Breed: Objects that you can interact with in the game are indicated by a little ball of light over them.
  • In the PS2 games Clock Tower 3, Haunting Ground and Kuon, items appear as shining objects, much like the Resident Evil series. Kuon even throws in head-turning ala Silent Hill, though this is often misleading as apparently doors qualify for head-turning as much as items do.
  • In Dead Space ammo and pickup items pop up an impossible to miss hologram when you get near them. Important item also glow at a distance.
  • The matchstick mechanic in ENIGMA: An Illusion Named Family revolves around this. Lighting matches causes important items to sparkle, making them easier to find. However, you only have a limited amount of matches to work with. While everything can still be investigated without having to spend matches, it cuts down the chances of accidentally making noise and attracting the killer's attention.
  • Items in Eternal Darkness faintly glow, and your character will turn their head to look at them when they stand/walk nearby.
  • Objects in most of the Fatal Frame series appear as shimmering dots of light that must be picked up, in order to learn what they are. Until Fatal Frame V: Maiden of Black Water, where healing items are shown in their actual form.
  • In HEPH, crafting stations have a white aura around them when the cursor's trained on them, and objects that you can destroy for resources have an orange aura around them under the same circumstances.
  • The Last of Us has many different methods to guide you to items and goals, such as flashing objects, various icons for interactions, characters pointing things out, optional camera angles, and the colour yellow.
  • Livestream: Escape from Hotel Izanami: If you're close to something that can be interacted with, a question mark will appear above the Player Character's head. The object to be interacted with is indicated by a floating diamond.
  • The Night Way Home: Objects that can be interacted with have a yellow question mark over them.
  • In ObsCure, items do not stand out from regular pre-rendered graphics. Instead you rely on character Josh's special ability, which allows him to tell the player if there're any items left to pick up in the room you're currently in.
  • In Odium, markers pop up over interactive objects and exits when your characters get close to them, and important items flicker in and out.
  • Onryo (2020): Items you can interact with have a white marker above them.
    • Items you can pick up spin in place.
  • Parasite Eve 2 has an interesting and very subtle take on this - early in the game the main character "notices something", as noted in a small dialogue box... and a barely-perceptible flicker appears where that "something" is. If you don't know the flicker is there, you might not even realize why you're going in that direction.
  • In the Penumbra series, items that can be picked up glow when you get near. This can actually be turned off in the options to make the game more "challenging".
  • Important things in Perception will be green instead of blue when you use your echolocation on them, either serving as land marks or hiding places. Additionally, audiologs are easily located because they emit a constant humming sound that allows Cassie to "see" them.
  • In Rule of Rose all important items glisten with white light, but most don't become visible until your dog sniffs them out. A major exception are the ornamental knives held by some enemies that are needed to gain a secret weapon late in the game; there's absolutely no indication of what they are unless you look closely and see that they are gold-coloured, until the enemy drops them and they become ordinary items. Finding them is almost impossible without a guide, as they only appear during times you are normally supposed to avoid enemies instead of fighting them.
  • Shut Eye: The batteries that the girl can collect to recharge her flashlight have a yellow aura surrounding them.
  • Skinwalker Hunt: Mysterious items have a question mark inside a circle pointing down at them.
  • In Slender: the Eight Pages, the eponymous pages glow when approached.
  • Items in The X-Files: Resist or Serve will gleam if you shine your flashlight beam over them.
  • Yuki Onna (2020): Items you can pick up give off a green aura.

    Third Person Shooter 
  • In Warframe Corpus storage containers shine, Grineer storage containers have two glowing lights and modules give off blue sparks.
    • There is also the Waypoint function, which makes a certain spot in the map noticeable from miles away, sometimes pointing to modules or enemies.

    Wide Open Sandbox 
  • In Grand Theft Auto, weapons glow and float in the air, and collectibles glow as well. Grand Theft Auto IV does away with the floating in favor of a red glow.
  • In The Godfather: The Game, stuff like dropped guns, Healing Potions and accessible doors glow.
  • Horizon Zero Dawn: Interactable items glow with a purple light. This is justified because Aloy is wearing a device called a Focus, which is a headpiece that provides her with an Augmented Reality interface and actually does highlight important things like resources and tracks for her.
  • In Saints Row: The Third, collectibles have icons floating above them.
  • Mad Max uses the colours yellow and (to a lesser degree) red. Climbable ladders are yellow, ledges you can balance on are marked with a yellow streak, doors that can be kicked open have a yellow frame and a small red spot in the center, doors that can be opened via an explosion have a larger red splash in the middle, exposed fuel tanks are always red and so on. In general, yellow means "Go there", while red is "destory this".

  • The Dresden Files: In this series there are Knights of the Cross. God will speak to each one in a method that best helps them realize it is time for a Mission. The newest member of the group is a great lover of various MMORPGs. So, when he is out training with a retired Knight and God needs him to help a homeless man, the new Knight sees an exclamation point hanging out over the homeless man.
  • flOw: The creatures that send you up and down a level if you eat them radiate a pulse of blue and red if they're off the screen, so you know where they are.
  • The Ghost Train: Items you need to interact with have a yellow icon above them.
  • Inunaki Tunnel: Items you can interact with have a little yellow icon above them.
  • Stigmatized Property: Items you can pick up have a yellow emblem above them.
  • During a car chase in Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Benie the Cab orders Eddie and Roger to pull the lever. They panic and ask which lever of his dash to pull, causing a large sign to pop up pointing to the lever in question that reads, "THIS LEVER, STUPID", while the round ball on the lever blinks.
  • The Imperial Hereditary Seal glows in Farce of the Three Kingdoms, just to make sure everyone realizes that it's a MacGuffin.
  • In Enter the Gungeon, objects and characters that can be interacted with take on a white outline when close enough to interact with.
  • Harry Potter: Puzzles and Spells: If you let the game sit long enough, gems that make a playable move will highlight themselves and move slightly. Items will also do this if they are the only available move.

    Real Life 
  • Fruits. When they are ready to be eaten, they typically turn a color that stands out of the ubiquitous greenness, so that fruit-eating animals can spot them quickly.
  • The same goes for flowers, whose bright coloration serves to attract pollinators and guide them to the center of the flower, where the nectar and the pollen is.
    • And it’s not just color. One species pollinated by bats does this by sound: the Cuban vine Marcgravia evenia shapes its leaves like satellite dishes. Bat echolocation ("biosonar") picks these out from other flora.
  • Venomous/poisonous animals are often brightly colored to warn off predators (something that otherwise harmless animals take advantage of).
  • Some insects have false eyespots that look like predators or are simply located in a part of their body that wouldn't kill them if attacked.
  • Male animals often put on ostentatious displays to attract a mate; females might use a Wounded Gazelle Gambit to draw predators away from their babies.
  • This is the reason rabbits thump their feet when scared. One of course, is to warn other rabbits in the vicinity that a potential threat is nearby. The other is to let the predator know they know it is there: most predators of rabbits are ambush predators not actually capable of outrunning or outmaneuvering a rabbit, and if the predator knows its cover is blown it's not as likely to bother giving chase.
  • The atolla jellyfish is bioluminescent, and uses this to deter predators. When attacked, it lets off pulses of bright blue light that attract the attention of every other predator in the area, many of whom will be larger than the thing attacking the jellyfish. In other words, its self-defense tactic is weaponizing Always a Bigger Fish: predators are deterred from attacking the aptly-nicknamed "alarm jelly" since they know doing so means they'll have to deal with a predator attack as well.