Author Topic: Humor In Tooltips  (Read 5696 times)

Offline tombik

  • Full Member Mark II
  • ***
  • Posts: 168
Humor In Tooltips
« on: July 20, 2015, 05:27:44 AM »
I completed Tidalis and killed one overlord in AVWW, tried bionic dues for 5 hour, a skyward collapse for 2 hour, and the biggest common bugging thing between all for me was this.

Humor in tooltips. Every single tooltip includes some witty comment, making tips hard to remember, hard to read, and not efficient screen-space wise. It also kills the mood for me sometimes. I know you are not supposed to feel like the ultimate mastermind in Tidalis for example, but I like things nice, neat, well documented, and summarized.

As an example for this I can give the Pistol tooltip in Bionic Dues. I dont know what does it say except that it is mindlessly long. I am okay with wall of texts when they are needed, but when they are not needed, it really feels not polished.

This is not a problem with Stars Beyond Reach, yet. But since I know that documentation and tutorials will be implemented, I just want to remark on this:

I like your style, your chracteristics, your humor etc. But please dont do it in documentation and tutorials. It does not enhance the experience, it only makes the game more gamey, basically kills the mood for me. I would like to have more cold-factually accurate and really summarized sentences, which does not leave me the need for reading the same tooltip 3 times at least.

I am not trying to be offensive, and I know this is a topic highly subjective. Still, I think this is what beta testers do: Whining about things you may not consider even worthwhile.
« Last Edit: July 20, 2015, 07:37:07 AM by tombik »

Offline Shrugging Khan

  • Hero Member Mark III
  • *****
  • Posts: 1,216
  • Neinzul Y PzKpfw Tiger!
Re: Humor In Tooltips
« Reply #1 on: July 20, 2015, 09:03:29 AM »
makes the game more gamey, basically kills the mood for me.

This is one my biggest gripes with recent Arcen games. AIW, back in the day, was a fairly immersive experience of struggling against the AIs. But later games just adopted this mood of..."it's a game, lol". Which doesn't make them bad games, mind you. But it does take something away.
The beatings shall continue
until morale improves!

Offline Traveller

  • Jr. Member Mark III
  • **
  • Posts: 94
Re: Humor In Tooltips
« Reply #2 on: July 20, 2015, 02:16:19 PM »
Yeah, I've got pretty strong feelings about this too.  For example I absolutely couldn't stand the humor in GalCiv II (partially because it was so hamfisted); I think that game would have been way better if they'd played it straight.  Actually I'm thinking back at all the different space-ish 4x-ish games I've played, and humor always seems to break character or rub me the wrong way.

TLF's bugs me less, but still bugs me...partially because of the way it pushes its way into the interface.  Spoken disease notifications for example.  At high speeds it seems like the computer never actually stops talking about funny disease blurbs.  Low volume, plus log messages that don't actually function as subtitles, means that to this day I still can't figure out some of what she says even though she says it all the time.  Even still, having a comedy narrator kind of feels like watching a movie with that weird uncle who won't stop pointing out how funny the movie is.

For space games, Alpha Centauri nailed humor for me because it was generally dark, dry, societal, and very very limited.

AVWW1 seemed generally alright for me.  Humor was mostly in the tutorial messages and I'm okay with that, largely because it helped set them apart as "this is out of character".  That and the difficulty messages, I snickered at the platforming difficulty "I have no desire to be The Guy".  Difficulty messages have a long and storied history of humor in gaming.  The oddball achievement description for the lava escape worked really well, because it was just so out of place.


Trying to think deeper about why stuff bugs me...I feel like putting humor into the interface takes away a lot of the player's autonomy of tone and intent.  Writing too much story of any kind into the interface itself would do the same thing though.  Europa Universalis IV is guilty of the same thing right now as well--sign a treaty giving someone right of passage through your lands, and the interface says how nice it is they can go kill themselves on someone else's borders!  Well, no, if you've got a long term alliance and actually want to see them succeed, it feels really jarring.

If something's funny, as a player I'd rather have to find the funny myself.  See: Tropico.  Being a comically petty dictator is pretty hilarious, but if you want to play it absolutely straight, (in the first game at least) it doesn't force a comedic interpretation on you.  Hell, even Tropico 2 (which was a ridiculous pirate simulator) tried really hard to play it as straight as possible in the interface, which actually made it more successful as comedy in my opinion. 

So...yeah.  Situations are funny, societies are funny, but neither of them really needs that funny to be in the text itself.  If Lasers VII technology is almost exactly like Lasers VI with a slightly different label stuck on it, you don't need to hang the world's biggest lampshade on it in the research text (GalCiv 2).  That's a job for LPers.  And if someone's on their tenth playthrough, it's a lot easier for them to take something that's written deadly-serious and re-interpret it as parody, than it is for them to take something already written as parody and find something else interesting in it.


So uh...sorry, ramble over.  I didn't realize I had such an issue with this.

Offline Aklyon

  • Core Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2,089
Re: Humor In Tooltips
« Reply #3 on: July 20, 2015, 02:26:05 PM »
I think the humor in tooltips is fine, although I can see why others would disagree.

Offline Shrugging Khan

  • Hero Member Mark III
  • *****
  • Posts: 1,216
  • Neinzul Y PzKpfw Tiger!
Re: Humor In Tooltips
« Reply #4 on: July 20, 2015, 02:48:46 PM »
One simple aspect is probably this: No matter what it is, chances are it's funny just about one single time.

A less simple aspect is the following: Once the game acknowledges that it's merely a game, immersion in the theme is automatically impossible. The gamier a game is, the more arbitrary the rules are (this is mitigated by exotic themes, which is why sci-fi games like AIW can get away with more than earthbound ones like SBR), the more it keeps treating itself as a set of arbitrary rules rather than as an immersive experience...the more I have to ask: Why even give it a theme? Why not just make it a game of numbers and abstract icons?
« Last Edit: July 20, 2015, 02:52:25 PM by Shrugging Khan »
The beatings shall continue
until morale improves!

Offline tombik

  • Full Member Mark II
  • ***
  • Posts: 168
Re: Humor In Tooltips
« Reply #5 on: July 20, 2015, 04:27:14 PM »
Why even give it a theme? Why not just make it a game of numbers and abstract icons?

Yeah this is a better summary to what I was trying to say. Thank you.

I know that this stance may hurt feelings, since the overenthusiasm clearly shows that they really care about their stuff, but sometimes... Less is more.

Offline wwwhhattt

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 124
Re: Humor In Tooltips
« Reply #6 on: July 21, 2015, 02:04:30 AM »
I don't mind the humour, but it does need a huge amount of variety to stop it from becoming stale.
The only parts of SBR I've noticed with this problem are first encounters - "I'm sure that wont be a problem" - and diseases - "I blame the Evucks, even if they had nothing to do with it". They'd be much more effective if there were other lines, or if they only happened occasionally.

Offline Mánagarmr

  • Core Member Mark V
  • *****
  • Posts: 4,270
  • if (isInRange(target)) { kill(target); }
Re: Humor In Tooltips
« Reply #7 on: July 21, 2015, 08:52:36 AM »
Humor in tooltips and tutorials feels a touch out of place. Those things are there to help you, as the player, to learn the game and receive information. If you want to convey humor, you do this through dialogue.
Click here to get started with Mantis for Suggestions and Bug Reports.

Thank you for contributing to making the game better!

Offline Aklyon

  • Core Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2,089
Re: Humor In Tooltips
« Reply #8 on: July 21, 2015, 05:04:11 PM »
Humor in tooltips and tutorials feels a touch out of place. Those things are there to help you, as the player, to learn the game and receive information. If you want to convey humor, you do this through dialogue.
Arcen rarely ever has dialogue though. There was some in Valley2 at the beginning, but most of it that I saw was boss lines.

All the AI War dialogue (besides the intro scroll on the main menu) is hidden until you trigger it through minor factions and optional to read anyway, and SBR in its current pre-diplomatic state has no dialogue to speak of (that I've seen) outside of the sayings you get for deciphering languages.
So instead, you get the humor spread out all over the place, and perhaps too often. I still think 'This will sink in the water, sir' is more amusing than 'Cannot place here' would be, though :)

Offline Bluddy

  • Sr. Member Mark III
  • ****
  • Posts: 433
Re: Humor In Tooltips
« Reply #9 on: July 21, 2015, 05:57:29 PM »
Coming out of lurking mode to post this.

This is a big problem in almost every Arcen game. Arcen don't seem to understand the importance of maintaining the suspension of disbelief as much as possible, or at least they don't consider it of high enough importance.

Tooltips already break the 4th wall. How can you have information about various elements of the game if not from the game devs? However, tooltips that just give you the information you need allow you to smooth over the 4th wall. You get the information, consume it, and are still within the world of the game. Tooltips that scream, "yoo-hoo! we're here and you're playing our game, remember?" are jolting. It can't ever be more than a flat game if you don't allow the player to get lost in the world.

It's ok to have a narrator who jokes with the player, a la Dungeon Keeper or Startopia. The narrator exists in the world of the game, and you expect his snide British remarks. Dungeons of Dredmore is another good example. Here, the game quickly makes it known that everything will be funny, down to the tooltips. As you play, you imagine yourself in a Douglas Adams or Terry Pratchett-like version of a roguelike, where everything is whimsical and silly. The downside of this approach is that you begin to expect real humor, and jokes that fall flat ruin the experience somewhat. Also, you don't take anything in this particular world very seriously -- it's all just silly stuff, and the devs are OK with that.

The important thing is to maintain a sense of cohesion and tone, and to know what world you want the player to enter. If it's a serious world of war and survival, adding humor is dangerous to that atmosphere (though it can be done to a limited degree). Certainly tooltips should not feature anonymous devs suddenly stepping in and having a conversation with the player.

Offline Aklyon

  • Core Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2,089
Re: Humor In Tooltips
« Reply #10 on: July 21, 2015, 06:56:59 PM »
I think I'm looking at it from a different view than the rest of the thread then. (To be fair, I'm not exactly the most critical person about games, or entertainment in general. I do that to less fun things instead.) While you can overdo it (GalCiv2 as far as I know, is the clearest example of 'Too many repetitive techs does not mean make every weapon tech discovery text a joke'), I just don't worry about them that much, they're tooltips.

Except in some cases (like Metroid Prime for example, or other kinds of diegetic interface or minimal UI setups), the necessary interface to make it work as a game and not a motion picture is going to break the fourth wall regardless of immersive efforts, so I don't care whats going on in it as long as its effective. Effective plus humor aftterwards? Even better, but not required.
The game and the game world are separable things in most cases to me and do not have to blend together in a big pool of immersion if that would make it harder to play; one has a variety of necessary information, menus, options, and/or jokes, the other has story, enviroments, worldbuilding, dialogue, and if the theme supports it, the occasional IC joke.
« Last Edit: July 21, 2015, 07:02:04 PM by Aklyon »

Offline Shrugging Khan

  • Hero Member Mark III
  • *****
  • Posts: 1,216
  • Neinzul Y PzKpfw Tiger!
Re: Humor In Tooltips
« Reply #11 on: July 22, 2015, 03:01:35 AM »
[...]
Boo! Shun the non-immersionist!  :P
The beatings shall continue
until morale improves!

Offline kasnavada

  • Hero Member Mark II
  • *****
  • Posts: 911
Re: Humor In Tooltips
« Reply #12 on: July 22, 2015, 04:47:35 AM »
Actually the tooltip humor in SBR is really fine for me, and completely in-character.

I mean from the videos, we're supposed to be some kind of leader helped by a computer AI... and it's got a dubious humor, has quite a temper at best. I feel like the UI is what this particular companion is telling me. Maybe the videos needs to be in the game for this feeling to be conveyed properly ?

"It will sink into water" in particular sounds particularly great to me, it changes from every other "Me Am Serious Game" out there and they're usual "Cannot place here" which barely explains stuff. I mean I'm playing a game here, not working, and it's fine with me if the universe ain't serious. I loved deadpool, for example, even if the game itself is average, his comments breaking the 4th wall all the time are immersive and completely in-character. Not to mention the spreech box.


About tooltips giving "information" and "breaking the fourth wall"... All games require some level of abstraction in the first place, otherwise it's called "real life". Second, there is no reason why the UI has no place in the game itself. An example:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dBkuG-q98S4
Around 3 minutes in. The character (you), in universe, has the same screen you have. Some other games (DEUS EX for example) justify the interface in game.

So... for me, humor in tooltips and UI has its place as long as there is a reason for it, and... there actually is for SBR. Videos, diseases, item names are also absurd. I'm waiting for what diplomacy offers here, once there we might see a coherent whole.

Offline tombik

  • Full Member Mark II
  • ***
  • Posts: 168
Re: Humor In Tooltips
« Reply #13 on: July 22, 2015, 02:24:05 PM »
I am not saying that current level of humour in SBR is extreme, but I know that tutorials and more tooltips etc is upcoming, so I said this to express my opinion prematurely (before it is too late).

And yes, trying to deal with crime, diseases, wars, terraforming and humour in the mentioned videos are incompatible for me. If I want humour, turn based strategy is not a good genre to play, at least that is what I am used to. Deadpool is a good example, but Deadpool is already funny by definition. For me, extraterrestrial city building is not that hilarious, no matter how stupid your population here.

By the way, the population in the videos are waaaay more stupid than in the game, dont u think.

Still, this is a matter of personal taste. The thing which is not a personal taste is inefficiently long humour in tooltips, and even worse, tutorials.

To make my point clearer, I wont object humour in game, even though I personally may not like it. What I am specifically objecting is, humour in mentioned texts, which are supposed to make things easier. I dont read tooltips to have fun, I read them to understand what I am doing, then have fun with the game itself. What I am meaning by efficiency is this.

No matter how hard they try to make tooltips , tutorial texts hilarious, game always be the main source of fun. Tooltips should be written keeping this in mind. For me, they lost some purpose of them in Arcen's other games for the sake of being funny at the same time, that is why I started this thread.
« Last Edit: July 22, 2015, 03:23:10 PM by tombik »

Offline kasnavada

  • Hero Member Mark II
  • *****
  • Posts: 911
Re: Humor In Tooltips
« Reply #14 on: July 23, 2015, 04:23:23 AM »
Quote
And yes, trying to deal with crime, diseases, wars, terraforming and humour in the mentioned videos are incompatible for me. If I want humour, turn based strategy is not a good genre to play, at least that is what I am used to. Deadpool is a good example, but Deadpool is already funny by definition. For me, extraterrestrial city building is not that hilarious, no matter how stupid your population here.

Then, yes, huge difference of opinion. IRL things classified as horrible are horrible. In a fiction ? Everything can range from horrible to funniest thing ever. Not to everyone, I agree, but still.

So... no, for me, not of those are incompatible with humour nor fun, and neither either extraterritorial city building. Disease, death and fun reminds me of theme hospital =), but the tropico series, as you mentioned, basically has the same elements mix fun and rather horrible stuff. Like one great french comedian said : "On peut rire de tout, mais pas avec tout le monde" which I'd translate as "everything can be laughed at, but not with everyone".

I got absolutely no problem with tooltips having jokes, because basically, it fits the lore & theme. And... no, I don't think my population is smarter than what's shown in the videos. I mean, placing them in front of a TV pacifies them, and not doing so means they kill / wound themselves for no other reason than boredom.

I don't think it makes the game "inefficient", however, it makes the game different, unique, and allows people to search for Easter eggs. As long as the meaning behind the tooltip is conveyed properly ("It will sink, sir" and "cannot be placed in water" have the exact same obvious meaning), humor can and should be there if it fits the theme, and from the videos and other "fluff" things in the game, we've had, it does. SBR does not seem to take itself too seriously, from what is in the game currently. Maybe that'll change with diplomacy when it's in the game =).

Quote
No matter how hard they try to make tooltips , tutorial texts hilarious, game always be the main source of fun. Tooltips should be written keeping this in mind.

I disagree with that. UI is part of the game, if the game is supposed to be hilarious, then the UI / tooltip must also be. Nothing kills fun as well as a bland functionnal "Cannot place thing" message in the middle of funny things, rather than "Nope, blocks of concrete don't float". As long as the message relayed by the tooltip is conveyed properly of course - if the meaning is lost, I'd agree. But, the humor in arcen games is rather light and is written respecting that point.

Tooltips should be written so they provide "tooltip information" properly. Whether it's comprising jokes or not is dependant on what the game's feeling is supposed to be. And, it's possible to do both if the theme fit, so why not do so ?
« Last Edit: July 23, 2015, 04:24:55 AM by kasnavada »