Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Tutorials, Mums, Bunnies, and Bowling

With Items systems in a good place at the moment, I've been spending the last few days helping out the UI team. Yesterday it was audio cues and today was tutorial tips.

Tutorials are a mixed bag. Some games do a really good job, while others stink at it.
Some games have separate tutorials while others build them into the first level/mission, etc.
MMOs normally just throw you in at the deep end and assume an awful lot of previous genre knowledge.

With WAR, we hope to get lots of tabletop hobbyists playing. For some, it may be the first MMO they've ever played.
Fo those of us who've played lots of video games over the years, the tutorials can be aspects of the game that we just want to skip over so we can get to the main chunk of the game. But imagine that you've never played WoW or EQ or UO, and you are loading the game for the first time. What aspects of MMO gaming - that you or I would consider to be obvious - need to be explained to an absolute novice?

Well I did a little bit of research. Mums are great for this btw.
  • For brand new players (i.e Mums), moving around is problematic.
  • Once moving backward and forwards along a line has been discovered, using the mouse to look becomes a logical jump that is completely alien to some people. (by "some people". I mean "Mums".)
  • Once moving and looking have been "mastered", the next biggest problem becomes "turning". All movement is done in very-slow right angles. If the first quest giver is not directly in a straight line from the spawn-in point, you're doomed.
  • Pressing the space bar over and over soon becomes a substitute for real navigation. Spastic jumping is fascinating to a newb.
  • Also, new players will actually read the quest descriptions, even the flavorful story nonsense, instead of heading to the bottom and distilling the quest's objectives down to its essence. This can take many minutes.
  • Ambient level-0 monsters, like squirrels and bunnies, must be chased.
  • First combat will be a massacre. The hotbar might as well be on the moon. There will be running away ... then more death.
  • Eventually Mums will say "This is stupid. Let's play Wii Bowling again!" or something to do with "cups of tea".

Actually, this kind of research is ultimately incredibly useful. (Thanks Mum!) It's a great lesson in assumptions. (Just reading this back, I've realized that I've already made that cardinal sin five times, by assuming you all already know your gaming acronyms back-to-front.)

Annoyingly, my Mum is really good at Wii Bowling.

Have any of you guys tried to get your Mums to play video games with hilarious results?

1 comment:

arbitrary said...

Spastic jumping also seems a given for any dwarf players across any game I've ever played. Or other small races.