Author Topic: First Impressions - I need a tutorial :(  (Read 1280 times)

Offline Tridus

  • Master Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1,305
  • I'm going to do what I do best: lecture her!
First Impressions - I need a tutorial :(
« on: March 29, 2014, 09:29:10 AM »
So I've avoided reading most of the change logs, watching the videos, and so on. As such, I don't know how the game plays, or what I'm supposed to do other than what it tells me. Fired things up this morning for my first game... and was dead within about a minute. I'm only kind of clear why, because it seems like I'm using pistols and they're using nukes.

Fundamentally, I don't know what I'm supposed to be doing. I just hit Quick Start, read the text that came up, and saw two ships that I figured I'm supposed to kill. Here's where things went wrong. If this sounds harsh, then I'm sorry for that. Not trying to be mean, just giving an honest first impression.

1. It looks good. I enjoy the sound. It alt+tabs well. I ended up hitting alt+tab a lot while writing this.

2. Initially, at the start of the first combat, a wall of text appears. Behind that, the cursor was active with a ship outline. I realized later that's what it looks like when you're telling your ship where to move. Weird bug, but no problem. The wall of text is kind of a problem as it's just thrown at me at all at once, but I read it all.

3. There's some circles around my ship, I assume that's how far I can move. I'm not sure why there is four of them instead of one, what do the different distances mean?

4. I'll back up to get some distance with these two enemies. Next, I'll hover over them to see if they have any weaknesses (as the wall of text told me to do). The damage modifier text on enemy ships is hard to read. The grey doesn't stand out at all (in fact it blends in), and the modifier information actually starts at the end of the ship description, on the same line. First attachment shows that problem. I'm also not clear what -85% damage means. That means it takes 85% less damage, or it inflicts 85% less damage? I'll assume it's takes less, since that was mentioned in the wall of text. Maybe make this stuff red or something, so it stands out as a bad thing (like in other games). It should definitely start on its own line.

5. Assuming it's 85% less damage, looking at that ship and my weapons, I appear to only have one weapon that's not doing damage with a penalty: the gravity lance. So I switch to the gravity lance. Now I see an orange circle, which I soon discovered is my weapon range. I REALLY wish you'd shown me that when I was moving, because now I've moved myself out of shooting range. Oh well, I target an enemy anyway, and stuff happens. (In my second play through gathering information to write this report, I noticed that if you hover over a weapon you get another circle that shows it's firing range. While that's something, I really want it on screen when I'm aiming my movement. Plus, I had no idea it was there in my first game.)

6. Turns out I'm not outside of their range, as they're firing missiles at me.

7. I move closer, trying to get myself to the edge of my shooting range. As I can't see my shooting range until after I move, I fail to do so.

8. See #7, again. By now, they're managing to hit me with things.

9. Giving up on trying to get just inside range, I run in closer so I can definitely shoot. Now we're shooting each other, only they seem to be doing a lot more damage to me than I'm doing to them. Did I mention that there's two of them basically on top of each other? Because there is.

10. So I try some special abilities. The Gigacannon does... something. I'm not sure what, nor am I sure if it did more than the gravity laser. The predator drones did something, I think. I have different drones this time (interceptors).

11. Can we get some damage number combat text or something? I have no idea if what I'm shooting is effective or not, I just know my shields are going down a lot faster than theirs. I don't know how much theirs are going down by, because for some reason hull is a number and shield is a % without context. Did I do 42,000 damage, or 200? Was another weapon more effective? I have no idea.

12. That kind of went on for a couple of turns, where I tried to dodge around some but found it hard to dodge and aim my weapons accurately at the same time (though telling it to shoot a ship causes it to aim at it pretty well so long as I stay in very short range). I managed to get one of them down to 30% shields before dying. The other didn't appear to be scratched.

13. In my second game, I'm finding that I can avoid a lot of fire by moving around, but only at medium/long range. Based on those tooltips, the only weapon I have that really damages these guys is the gravity lance, which is short enough range that staying close enough to hit one of them gets me blasted to pieces once the second one shows up.

14. Why does the option to use special abilities go away after I click where I want to move? I can move and then change weapons, but I can't move and then use the Gigacannon? I don't understand that limitation.

15. Oh, apparently the gravity lance only does 25% damage against shields, while the energy blaster does triple. But this enemy ship says -85% energy damage. Is that all the time, or only on the hull? I have no idea. If it's only on the hull, why doesn't it say that those penalties don't apply to shields?

16. Also, why don't my weapons tell me that information in big red or green letters on their own line, so I know there's bonuses and penalties in play? It's at the end of otherwise descriptive text right now and I completely missed it. Only doing 25% of normal damage is kind of something that I'd want to know about. (Some damage numbers showing up on the enemy ships also would have made it clear that something's wrong, because they would have been way smaller than expected.)

17. So I switch to the energy blaster, and it's firing different types of shots. Seems to be having some effect, although I just got blown up again.


I'll freely admit that I may very well just suck at this style of combat, and that I haven't done any research outside of what the game tells me in what I'm doing wrong. But I've just hit game over twice without ever seeing the solar map or even breaching the shields of the enemies. I don't really understand what I'm doing wrong, and that is frustrating as hell. At this moment, I'm sufficiently annoyed that I don't want to try again.

On the upside, that will probably pass in time to try again tomorrow.

Offline x4000

  • Chris Park, Arcen Games Founder and Lead Designer
  • Arcen Staff
  • Zenith Council Member Mark III
  • *****
  • Posts: 31,403
Re: First Impressions - I need a tutorial :(
« Reply #1 on: March 29, 2014, 09:49:48 AM »
Cheers Tridus, thanks for the thoughts -- this is exactly the sort of thing we're looking for.  A few thoughts:

1. The fact that you came to this utterly blind is awesome, and I thank you.

2. I don't take offense at the fact that you were frustrated at not knowing what to do.  Anyone would be.

3. Part of being in round 0 is the fact that it's not well documented, and has no tutorial.  I know you said you wanted a later round, but based on your recent comments I added you earlier than that.  Now honestly I am glad I did, because what you just wrote out is actually a minor gold mine.  I apologize that it was frustrating for you, but it is very useful to me.

4. I'd suggest actually taking a break from the game for a while, until I get time to actually put in changes responding to your stuff.  I have more fundamental balance and so forth things to deal with first, but next week I also want to address your things here.  I will post back to here when I do.  If it's okay with you, I'd actually rather you really not read more about the game or play it more until then -- from my end, that would be the most useful thing.  I'll just come back and say "okay, there are updates, let's see now." And we'll see how you feel the next time around. :)

Thank you very much!
« Last Edit: March 29, 2014, 09:51:24 AM by x4000 »
Have ideas or bug reports for one of our games?  Mantis for Suggestions and Bug Reports. Thanks for helping to make our games better!

Offline Misery

  • Arcen Volunteer
  • Core Member Mark V
  • *****
  • Posts: 4,108
Re: First Impressions - I need a tutorial :(
« Reply #2 on: March 29, 2014, 10:05:19 AM »
I think the game is going to need some decent tutorials in a general sense.

I understand the combat and all aspects of it, but the solar map, not as much.  There's definitely a sense of "Okaaaayyyyy.... not really sure what I should start off doing....".  It's like, ok, I've got this overall goal here, but what do I do to get started moving towards it?  What should I be trying to accomplish, and how will these various options enable or hinder my ability to do that?

Now granted part of this is just that the game of course has a very high learning curve, and that's fine.  10 gazillion options, each race having different ones.... yeah, it's not going to be easy!  But some of the basics to get the player started and nudge them onto a course where they can then learn more as they go would be great. 

And sometimes I do know something that I want to accomplish, but it's not so clear as to what options might lead me there.  For example, in my current game, the Boarine regent is concerned about population, which makes sense as they have a very low 1 million.   I know that available land is tied to this, so I check that, and that bit is fine, but.... what else affects it is unclear.  My first thoughts were to increase the basic planet stats... economy and medical were just a bit below zero, so I started trends for those, but it's unclear as to what effects those are having.  Beyond this, it's hard to say what my options are here.   Mining or gifting materials is also a little confusing, because it's unclear as to what each one does and what it's used for.  Certain very specific things are obvious about it, like building outposts seems to require one of them, but other than that... confusing.

But yeah, there's confusion in a general sense overall.

Offline Tridus

  • Master Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1,305
  • I'm going to do what I do best: lecture her!
Re: First Impressions - I need a tutorial :(
« Reply #3 on: March 29, 2014, 10:06:54 AM »
Cool, I'm glad it was taken in the way it was intended. :)

And no problem. I've got the Galciv 3 alpha also just launched, Reaper of Souls, and Age of Wonders 3 on Monday. I can find something else to do until you can look at this stuff. :)

Offline Pepisolo

  • Arcen Volunteer
  • Master Member Mark II
  • *****
  • Posts: 1,508
Re: First Impressions - I need a tutorial :(
« Reply #4 on: March 29, 2014, 10:25:17 AM »
I'm quite pressed for time, but wanted to say that this is great feedback. I pretty much frustration quit my first game, too. At the moment, the longer term testers might have too much prior knowledge of the game to see just how frustrating this game is to fire up and play for the first time. It's nice that there are still some testing rounds to come.

Offline Cyborg

  • Master Member Mark III
  • *****
  • Posts: 1,935
Re: First Impressions - I need a tutorial :(
« Reply #5 on: March 29, 2014, 10:49:25 AM »
I had the same first experience, Chris told me not to use the minigun gun anymore. Things got better.


Really, you have to get back on the horse. The best part of the game is after that first  encounter!
Kahuna strategy guide:
http://www.arcengames.com/forums/index.php/topic,13369.0.html

Suggestions, bugs? Don't be lazy, give back:
http://www.arcengames.com/mantisbt/

Planetcracker. Believe it.

The stigma of hunger. http://wayw.re/Vi12BK

Offline x4000

  • Chris Park, Arcen Games Founder and Lead Designer
  • Arcen Staff
  • Zenith Council Member Mark III
  • *****
  • Posts: 31,403
Re: First Impressions - I need a tutorial :(
« Reply #6 on: March 29, 2014, 10:57:32 AM »
I think the game is going to need some decent tutorials in a general sense.

...

But yeah, there's confusion in a general sense overall.

Well... I mean, yeah.  But here's the thing: as the original signup noted:

1. We can't make effective tutorials until we find out where people are confused, so you guys get to be our guinea pigs to tell us specifically where you are confused, so we can make said tutorials.

2. At this point, since the mechanics are still shifting around some (though they are settling down some), creating tutorials would be a waste of time since we'd just have to redo them anyway.

But yes, I don't have an expectation of not needing a tutorial or anything like that, heh.

Cool, I'm glad it was taken in the way it was intended. :)

And no problem. I've got the Galciv 3 alpha also just launched, Reaper of Souls, and Age of Wonders 3 on Monday. I can find something else to do until you can look at this stuff. :)

Awesome, thanks!

I'm quite pressed for time, but wanted to say that this is great feedback. I pretty much frustration quit my first game, too. At the moment, the longer term testers might have too much prior knowledge of the game to see just how frustrating this game is to fire up and play for the first time. It's nice that there are still some testing rounds to come.

Awesome -- then I kindly request if you wouldn't play any more right now either, same as Tridus, until we get more tutorials in.  Getting your fresh reactions to that, same as his, will be much more valuable at that time.  And much more realistic in terms of someone who isn't specifically trying to help us out, if that makes sense.
Have ideas or bug reports for one of our games?  Mantis for Suggestions and Bug Reports. Thanks for helping to make our games better!

Offline Pepisolo

  • Arcen Volunteer
  • Master Member Mark II
  • *****
  • Posts: 1,508
Re: First Impressions - I need a tutorial :(
« Reply #7 on: March 29, 2014, 11:45:43 AM »
Quote
Awesome -- then I kindly request if you wouldn't play any more right now either, same as Tridus, until we get more tutorials in.  Getting your fresh reactions to that, same as his, will be much more valuable at that time.  And much more realistic in terms of someone who isn't specifically trying to help us out, if that makes sense.

OK, will do. I'll wait for a relevant update. Thanks.

Offline x4000

  • Chris Park, Arcen Games Founder and Lead Designer
  • Arcen Staff
  • Zenith Council Member Mark III
  • *****
  • Posts: 31,403
Re: First Impressions - I need a tutorial :(
« Reply #8 on: March 29, 2014, 11:47:10 AM »
Thank you!
Have ideas or bug reports for one of our games?  Mantis for Suggestions and Bug Reports. Thanks for helping to make our games better!

Offline x4000

  • Chris Park, Arcen Games Founder and Lead Designer
  • Arcen Staff
  • Zenith Council Member Mark III
  • *****
  • Posts: 31,403
Re: First Impressions - I need a tutorial :(
« Reply #9 on: April 02, 2014, 10:07:37 PM »
Okay, guys!  As of 0.816:

"If you were previously one of the rage-quitters, I'd like you to give combat another go and see how you feel.  The solar map isn't much better in the main in terms of what might confuse you there (we're getting to that), and no literal tutorial stuff has been added to the combat area.  However, hopefully combat itself is a lot more self-explanatory now, which is the goal.  And if not, I'd like to hear about what is still confusing, so that we can address that in one fashion or another."
Have ideas or bug reports for one of our games?  Mantis for Suggestions and Bug Reports. Thanks for helping to make our games better!

Offline Tridus

  • Master Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1,305
  • I'm going to do what I do best: lecture her!
Re: First Impressions - I need a tutorial :(
« Reply #10 on: April 03, 2014, 06:45:05 PM »
Okay, attempt #2. Did the same thing as last time - quick start, default settings.

1. I could quibble a bit about the formatting of the tooltip when hovering over an enemy ship, but it does a much better job of telling me what I want to know now. (That being: which gun is going to work on this thing?) Following its advice, the enemy ships kind of melted. They may be too weak, but this is a much better problem than before.

2. The arrow for ship movement is great. I'm not clear on what the red part means, though. Is that where I'm going to stop?

3. Power management? Great! One of my favorite things in games for customizing between a fast ship playstyle and a giant death star play style. Auto shifting away from shields when they're full is a nice touch, and the massively overclocked weapons I apparently have right now might be why stuff melted so easily. I'd suggest that maybe going too far, it more than doubled my weapon power simply because I avoided getting hit.

4. Having only skills that won't let me move as actions on the bar during the move phase is better than how it was before. When does ammo reload?

5. There's satellites in that opening map I can shoot down, but the mission seems to end when I take out the enemy ships. I'm not sure if I should be taking out satellites or not, but I'm also not sure I was given a chance with the mission end like that.

6. So I get out to the solar map, and the lack of a tutorial area will hurt here. I don't know what these stats do on the planets. I do know that a group of friendly robots seem like someone I also want in space, and the game suggested I can help make that happen by flying over there. Sure enough, flying over there leads me a friendly mission to smuggle them space technology. Okay, that's reasonable. They'll like me if I do that, and the other race will not. But they already don't like me, so screw them.

7. I added a screenshot of the left side of the screen in the second battle. If I'm helping the Andors, why are they my enemies here? Also, ships don't seem to be labelled, so I'm really not sure who on the map is them and who is the guys I don't like. (Mousing over the units, it looks like there are no Andors on this map, so I'm not sure why they were showing up.)

8. This mission was to smuggle something to them. It wasn't very clear what I had to do in order to accomplish that, but it appeared to be to move to a targeting circle lower on the map. Doing that sent a message across the screen so fast I couldn't read it, then triggered a withdrawl countdown. I assume now I have to either fight or kite the enemies until the timer is up.

9. Decided to do another smuggling mission because why not? This time I can't seem to move. I can pick my movement, but it wants me to pick a target to shoot at, and there aren't any. I'm stuck. Another screenshot attached. (Last time I used Afterburners on the first turn so I didn't have to pick a target, and then enemies appeared.)


Overall, a lot of improvement from the previous version I tried. This time I'm not blowing up without having an explanation for why. There is still UI issues to improve, but overall a much better early impression. :)

Offline alocritani

  • Jr. Member Mark III
  • **
  • Posts: 92
Re: First Impressions - I need a tutorial :(
« Reply #11 on: April 04, 2014, 01:02:28 AM »
@tridus:
#5 - hovering over satellites with your cursor explains that if you destroy that the owning race will suffer some penalties (lowered public order, etc...) for an year (usually)

#7 - it also seemed strange to me first time - I already reported it on bug tracker

#8 - you have a 5 turns timer before withdrawing and if you're hit timer will go up again (max 5 turns, anyway). so in this specific case, kill closest ship to avoiding being hit or give max power to movement and move away fast. hold on for 5 turns and you're done.

#9 - if you don't want to fire you can hold fire (key Q - or "hold fire" fire mode)

Offline x4000

  • Chris Park, Arcen Games Founder and Lead Designer
  • Arcen Staff
  • Zenith Council Member Mark III
  • *****
  • Posts: 31,403
Re: First Impressions - I need a tutorial :(
« Reply #12 on: April 04, 2014, 12:25:37 PM »
Awesome!  Okay, responses where needed:

1. Hopefully the red part thing is a lot more clear now in the .818, and in .819 I think it will be even moreso with the arrows reversed.  That said, the tutorial, when I get that in, will definitely make note of what the heck that is, because it's not fully clear to anyone.

2. In terms of the first battle, that was definitely overly easy in .817.  The ships of the enemies just didn't really have time to deploy, meaning that you could fire with impunity.  In .818, I adjusted that some because it was just too melting-like-butter as you and others noted (I actually skimmed your notes yesterday, but didn't have time to respond).

3. For the satellites, you can destroy them if you want, but you don't get any time after a mission is over because that then takes out the opportunity cost of having to try secondary objectives while being pursued by hostiles, heh.

4. Ammo and health is automatically restored between battles.  That will be in the tutorial as well.  I think right now the only place it is mentioned is in the tip of the day area on the main screen.

5. Yeah, noted on the bug with the race you are helping seeming like your enemies.  I saw that last version and fixed it. :)

6. Also noted on the need for a tutorial for the main solar map.  The tooltips explain most things reasonably well, but there are still a lot of holes, and things like econ, etc, are never explained.  And right now there is no advice on what to do first, etc.  My goal is to build in a basic sort of objectives system on the solar map that you can either listen to or ignore, your choice.

7. Hmm, "seeming to be stuck" when there are no enemies in range to shoot is definitely not what I would want.  I'm not really sure how to address that, as I've made it so that the mode icons highlight to point themselves out to you, but not looking through them doesn't make it clear.  Any ideas on what would have helped you?  I guess a little tutorial popup the first time you are in select targets mode but no targets are within your current range might be in order.
Have ideas or bug reports for one of our games?  Mantis for Suggestions and Bug Reports. Thanks for helping to make our games better!

Offline Mick

  • Hero Member Mark II
  • *****
  • Posts: 911
Re: First Impressions - I need a tutorial :(
« Reply #13 on: April 04, 2014, 12:35:23 PM »
My goal is to build in a basic sort of objectives system on the solar map that you can either listen to or ignore, your choice.


Ooooo, that's one of my favorite features in AI.War, I'd love this!

Offline Tridus

  • Master Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1,305
  • I'm going to do what I do best: lecture her!
Re: First Impressions - I need a tutorial :(
« Reply #14 on: April 04, 2014, 12:39:07 PM »
7. Hmm, "seeming to be stuck" when there are no enemies in range to shoot is definitely not what I would want.  I'm not really sure how to address that, as I've made it so that the mode icons highlight to point themselves out to you, but not looking through them doesn't make it clear.  Any ideas on what would have helped you?  I guess a little tutorial popup the first time you are in select targets mode but no targets are within your current range might be in order.

I don't think it's actually no targets in range, I think it's "no targets at all". On the first smuggling mission I did, I hit afterburners first. When I was kiting enemies around, there were on enemies in range of me for most of it (full engine power + afterburner = fast), but I could click one out of range and the game would accept that, while not actually shooting. That might require some scrolling to find them if I was zoomed in, but it worked.

In this case, I had no targets whatsoever. So I had nothing to click to tell the game what to shoot at (or not to shoot at, if it was out of range). alocritani mentioned there's a hold fire key. I'd never think to press Q in order to get around this, and I didn't notice the "hold fire" button at the time. So I see a couple of options for this situation:

1. Put a "hold fire/don't shoot" button next to the three weapon buttons I have while picking a target, which I can use to say that I don't want to use a gun this turn.
2. If there's no targets on the map to shoot at, don't ask me to pick a target.
« Last Edit: April 04, 2014, 12:41:40 PM by Tridus »