General Category > Stars Beyond Reach Beta Discussion

Humor In Tooltips

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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.

Shrugging Khan:

--- Quote from: tombik on July 20, 2015, 05:27:44 am ---makes the game more gamey, basically kills the mood for me.

--- End quote ---

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.

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.

I think the humor in tooltips is fine, although I can see why others would disagree.

Shrugging Khan:
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?


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