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Reader Comments (42)

Posted: Jun 18th 2011 8:12AM BigAndShiny said

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I wish every game had a voiced, story based introduction. Even if they can't afford to voice the whole game, an AOC style tutorial ensure good launch day numbers that mean you get funding for at least 3 more months before you have to lay people off.

Posted: Jun 18th 2011 8:15AM Danteeeee said

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It should be humiliatingly brutal so only the Gods can pass through unscathed.

Posted: Jun 18th 2011 8:32AM Dunraven said

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@Danteeeee Yeah good luck finding a developer willing to turn away truckloads of money just to appease a few obese virgins with God complexes.
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Posted: Jun 18th 2011 9:50AM Borick said

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There are lots of ways to do it. I think that the box/download should provide a personal 'shard' that scales with the player. You can take things at your own pace and once you've completed the trainer you have your own stakehold from which to enter the 'MMO'.

A large part of the hump could be made navigable with better mentoring systems. If the player's personal shard is also a source of game resources, then more advanced players could be given incentive to introduce new players and assist them in getting through all of the 'certs' they need to play the game at a base level of competence.
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Posted: Jun 18th 2011 10:28AM Skyydragonn said

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@Borick
breath mints are now required raid tools?

man WoW subs will drop faster than horseflies sprayed with raid if thats the case.
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Posted: Jun 18th 2011 8:24AM Greyhame said

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If the game is too hard to get into, you're going to loose people who are interested. But I'd say it depends on the game. EVE Online is not terribly new player friendly, but with the game (from what I've heard, never got past the trials) the way it is, that's probably a good thing.

Posted: Jun 18th 2011 9:54AM Borick said

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@Greyhame I've just started playing Eve, and even for an old gamer it was a bit rough to figure out.

It's ironic that once I made the association that I was playing Nettrek instead of Elite, I 'got' it.
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Posted: Jun 18th 2011 8:28AM Dumac said

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I just like to know where i am and how to get around, the rest of the little things can be learned over time, but the difficulty of the early areas should be easy enough to not be pressuring. Im not sure that it's the right approach to try to teach the player everything right away, inexperienced MMO players might just get put off by the information overload like that.

I think Allods has one of the nicest tutorials around.

Posted: Jun 18th 2011 8:35AM JuliusSeizure said

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Every game should be different. This is definitely one of those areas where there's no wrong answer, just a bunch of niches to be filled. The more variety there is in ways games approach this issue, the better for the industry and for gamers.

Posted: Jun 18th 2011 8:45AM Space Cobra said

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You know, for some reason, in a single-player game or a complete indie game (or even a totally off-the-wall-experimental game) I am more welcoming of no tutorial and no instructions when compared to an MMORPG...or even an MMO.

I think the factors for this is that I can see other players who know what to do when I can't and I feel a bit like the immersion/barrier thing collapsed in a "well, they know what they are doing, why shouldn't I when "born" into this world?" Yes, I can /shout questions, but sometimes you don't get an answer or even a helpful one. This goes for f2p and p2p games: I fully appreciate the "let me take you by the hand" approach, especially when starting out. There are times I do not mind figuring things out (and my history with games helps) but sometimes, I just want to get into a game and not knowing some basics can be a turn off.

I agree that some challenging aspects of finding things are alright, but, for example, when it is late night and I am tired and I am trying to find the quest-giver, searching for them for hours can be a real pain in the butt if they aren't marked on your map or have familiar !/? marks over their heads.

Posted: Jun 18th 2011 11:48AM DarkWalker said

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@Space Cobra
I mostly agree. In special, I think early challenge and teaching how to play don't need to be tied together; I love when the game holds a new player's hand in teaching how to play, but this shouldn't require perfectly safe gameplay. After all, failure is often the best teacher, as long as the player can understand why he failed.

BTW, I'm the kind of player that often refuses to ask questions in open chat. If, between the game itself, the manual, reading forums/internet pages, and asking friends, I can't figure out how to play the game, I would most likely be out. Never happened before, though, at least not with any game I cared enough to play more than half an hour.
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Posted: Jun 18th 2011 9:06AM belgeode said

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Just give me an idea of the controls, and a background of the story I am participating in, then I will figure out the rest. Games like Rift were great in that from the get go you are totally in the story. There is no mistaking what is going on around you, and what you have to do to get through it.

By contrast, I love EVE Online as well, a game notorious for its sink or swim attitude. I caught on to it within the first week and it is still one of my favorites. I love learning new and challenging things, and this definitely fits the bill.

It is hard to contain my excitement for Guild Wars 2, since the story will be a pretty solid, if not available to read already. From the videos I have seen, the gameplay should be pretty easy to figure out as well. I suspect that will be one of those, "just gimme the basics" games, where my exploration will be paramount to my experience.

Posted: Jun 18th 2011 9:21AM pcgneurotic said

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Another thing is, how is that welcoming feeling produced? Does it come from intuitive controls and easily thought-through systems - coupled with the 'hostile world' gameplay, OR, does it come from a lot of tutorial hints, pop-up explanations, detailed tooltips and friendly, encouraging NPCs, all set within a 'safe zone full of non-aggro mobs?

A good example of the former would be Minecraft or Terreria, where it's easy to figure out the basics on your own, which is fortunate because you get little to no extra help (as opposed to say, any standard 3D mmorpg with the plethora of helping NPCs), and the mobs come thick 'n fast from the word 'go'.

Posted: Jun 18th 2011 9:47AM (Unverified) said

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I've always enjoyed the games that just drop you somewhere and basically say "Good luck!" To me, the joy of learning new things and new ways to interact with the world on my own is fun in and of itself. I can see where that doesn't have mass appeal, though. Not everyone has time to sit down and try to "figure out" a game. But to me, a tutorial newbie section just breaks the immersion. As long as there are both types of games, I'll be happy.

Posted: Jun 18th 2011 10:00AM Dril said

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They should be brutal.

Easiness and having to make no effort to understand everything breeds a playerbase that can't think for itself and can't tackle challenges without big yellow neon signs pointing them in the right direction.

Posted: Jun 18th 2011 10:12AM Jorev said

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The term welcoming is a politically correct way of saying handholding.

It really is a disservice to gamers to remove aspects of discovery and trial and error from MMOs. I personally liked it when there was no tutorial, no minimap, no stupid unrealistic icons floating over NPCs heads, no linear task driven experience system leading players from one point to the next with full disclosure of what to do and where to go.
Some of the new gamers say they like this handholding, but it just quickens the pace at which these same players lose interest in the virtual world and become bored with the game itself.

Players will often choose the path of least resistance, even at detriment to the overall gaming experience. Developers who have a vision of a true virtual world experience need to stand firm to old school philosophies of game design.

Posted: Jun 18th 2011 10:31AM Pingles said

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I remember starting in World of Warcraft and not being able to afford a sword for the longest time. I LIKED that struggle.

It's not the same any more and while I miss it I realize that they are catering to their core market (and doing very well with that) and not me.

Posted: Jun 18th 2011 10:47AM Silverangel said

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The essentials of the game mechanics should be thoroughly explained and as clear as crystal. This doesn't mean the game world has to be easy. There is a difference between not knowing where to get a non-rusty sword and not knowing how to allocate skill points. I think really friendly and likeable NPC's can go a long way to making a game feel welcome. But once you leave that NPC's hut, you could still get torn apart by wolves.

Posted: Jun 18th 2011 11:03AM real65rcncom said

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"In many ways, themepark games like RIFT can be seen as a direct counter to that playstyle, giving players a clear sense of purpose and a direction so reliable it can feel like handholding."

It IS handholding.

Get 5 quests. Go do them in small area. Turn quests in.

One quest leads to new area where 7 quests are.

Get 7 new quests in small area.

Do 5 quests. Two quests lead to new hubs where 10 quests are.

Do 10 quests in small area. 3 quests lead to new hub where 8 quests are.


It's all handholding.

Posted: Jun 18th 2011 11:12AM stealthrider said

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I think the best way to structure a game is to handhold during the tutorial and gradually let the player branch out on his own throughout the leveling process, culminating in a sandbox endgame.

The vast majority of players cannot be expected to log into a new game and know all of its intricacies (unless it's a carbon-copy of another game), so the tutorial process and early stages need to introduce not just the basics of combat and such, but also help them through stat-building, skill selection, etc so that they avoid making the kinds of mistakes that could force them to reroll or play gimped once the endgame comes.

As the player progresses, though, the game should gradually drop its hints and guides, leaving the player with more room to customize his experience. The game can't let go completely just yet, though, as the player still needs to understand his progression path. Item choice and role diversity are the things to focus on at this stage. Crafting (if applicable) should make its appearance here--any earlier and the player is tempted to craft instead of level, wasting lots of time and money for things he won't likely need (and could likely get from another player if he did need them).

Eventually, though, the game needs to let go and allow the player complete freedom. By then, the player has a robust knowledge of the game and its mechanics, and can be let on his own to find his own endgame path. He'll know what he needs for each of his options,and would not need to consult guides or spend hours upon hours failing before figuring something out.

But if TOR is a success, we'll never get that.

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