Tutorial and help rewrite September 10, 2009 cliffski I have two big areas of gsb to fix. Challenges (adding features) and tutorial stuff. My straw poll of friends suggests that the initial mission and tutorial are what needs more urgent work. I was going to scribble this in my default ‘working.txt’ file, which is where I cache my brain, but I thought what the hell, why not just do it in public via the blog? Current problems with the tutorial/learning stuff Nobody notices the manual, or reads it The timed ‘helpful’ popup windows are annoying and interrupt the game The tutorial windows are often ignored or deleted, and cannot be recalled once skipped The tutorial stuff breaks immersion, and interrupts what should be fun The game is initially overwhelming for some players, and they have no idea what to do or how to do it I don’t want to spend weeks fiddling with this right now, but it’s clear this needs fixing. I think the first item is a lost cause, it’s a PDF manual so not easily integrated into the game, especially as I’m too stupid to have integrated a built-in web browser for stuff like that (which would be ideal). The only possible tweak would be to have the manual mentioned by a hint when the game is first run, or maybe in a loading-screen tip? I think just ditching this silly idea of popping up windows when I notice someone hasn’t used a certain feature might be the best idea. Ideally I’ll come up with a less intrusive way to deliver that information. Maybe an easily ignored little scrolling message at the bottom of the screen? The problem is that ship design mode uses 100% of the screen on minimum res… Maybe the tutorial windows could be a little flashing question mark window that you can click to get help, which the first time player could ignore? (until they realise they need it). That might work much better. One of the major things I need to do is flatten out the learning curve right at the start. Possibly give the player some starting ships which *can* actually win the first battle, write off the first battle as a tutorial (or add a new ‘trainer’ mission with just one level of difficulty). I could disable the ‘new ship design’ button at the start, and let the player just learn the basics of the deployment screen for the first battle. Battle #2 could come with a different tutorial window which pointed you at the ‘new ship’ button. If I wanted it REALLY basic, I could also grey out all of the ship orders here too… In fact I wonder if that is 90% of the learning curve sorted? I guess that people got overwhelmed with setting up orders and designing ships? My idea is that people learn the game like this: 1) learn how to add ships to a fleet and position them (could be mission #1) 2) learn how to use orders to control ship behavior. (could be mission #2) 3) learn how to design new ships (this could be unlocked after mission #2 with extensive popup and tooltip help for that screen) I think I’ll address the tutorial stuff with this plan in mind. For now, I’ll go through the current system and remove everything that doesn’t fit this ‘new model’.