My first post… so my first paragraph won’t relate to the subject. Feel free to skip. I’ve played every major and many dozens of minor roguelikes over the last couple decades, and this has really caught my attention. Cudos! An amazing game, that’s fun to play, hard without feeling arbitrary, and with amazing depth. Seriously, an amazing game. I’ve told some of my non-rougelike friends some of the stories and they’re amazed. Please don’t take anything I’m about to say in anything but the most positive way.
The beginning of the game, as in most roguelikes, is difficult for new players, especially players that haven’t played a roguelike before. A tutorial mode, that outlined some of the more successful strategies and recommended things not to try until later, might ease that transition. With that in mind, and seemingly contrary to my point, I’ll lay out some things I hate about tutorials.
They aren’t the game. They’re a subset, and when you’re done, you have to start playing. That sucks.
You are limited.
Shit annoys you while you’re trying to play.
What about a tutorial mode that can be turned off (only once, in game, and stays off unless you turn it back on), and only spams your regular message buffer… not a pop up you have to clear, or anything, that triggers on certain things. Like when you get thirsty (or very thirsty, etc.) it says “Maybe you should look for a toilet… or cleaner water.” Or when you drink unclean water, “That might been better boiled… perhaps you should look for a pot.” Nothing spoily. And maybe a death message for players under 1 day old. Like, “Bears… Yeah. Bears are bad.” Or, “Spears can be thrown and are easy to craft… try smashing a bench for two-by-fours.”
I understand the game to be written in C++, and while I have only the most cursory understanding of C++, I know it might not be that easy to implement. And again, love the game.
Anyhow, the best part about Cata for me was discovering what strategies worked and what didn’t, what things were bad, etc. I learned a lot through trial and error. The “smash a bench to make some spears!” is metagamey and weird to me. It should be a skill and strategy you develop, not one that you’re supposed to “try out”.
My first run in Cataclysm (Whales’ version) had me walk out the front door (learning how to move around), lose a leg to a land mine (what those dirt mounds are) dodged some traps (not all things are good in the game) and snorted some cocaine (stimulant seems to help me). Then I died to wolves, because I had neglected to get a weapon.
The next game I found no cocaine, but did find a heavy stick in a forest. It turned out to be much better than just my fists.
I still died in a town, though, because too many zombies spawned. But I did notice the “grace period” that seemed to happen the first hour or so. So I went into towns early, silently, trying to find efficient strategies to get loot. I turned from breaking windows, to breaking windows and cleaning them, to smashing down doors, to making crowbars to pry in. My character sheets changed and adapted to the environment.
If some pop-up went “Those are traps! Avoid them!” or “You might need a weapon to get past these wolves” would eviscerate my experience.
I agree on the pop ups. Anything that stops your game is a Bad Thing. As an aside, this game has that a bit too much… certain actions will happily allow you to have a black widow chew on your leg while you do something unimportant. But it’s good that the way the game is designed the first few days, other than sleep, you’re playing every turn. Awesome.
A few suggestions might not be bad though. I know what you’re saying about making spears off the bat, and that’s not really what I mean. Just the first time you get a bite wound, “Ow! I wish I had a first aid kit…” and if you do… “Maybe I do?”
Coming from an Angband-style background, I found a number of early things to be unintuitive or non-obvious. An approach that I favor is to make the UI itself more obvious, so that you can rely more on UI indications and actual logic, and rely less on guides and spoilers.
However, I do agree that some unobtrusive messages might be helpful, in cases where it would be hard to make the UI better.
Coming from a nethack/crawl background, I found it entirely sensible
Crawl, if I remember, had a sort of tutorial. That was utterly bad at all of the things I said I didn’t like. Not to bash their efforts, but they didn’t make it part of the game. I like trying the hard mode, but I always spoil myself. I know I don’t have to, and I do stop myself from spoiling the deeper parts of the game… but, Google
And totally off topic, did Crawl really allow you to start playing as your cat? I love cats, have one even, but don’t want to adventure as one. Mountain dwarves aren’t worthy but house cats are? Huh?
…Not just cats but an octopus…
Shit’s weird. Not bat, just weird.
As for the idea of having little pointer messages I’d say they would help some new players but I’m glad I didn’t have them. Nothing wrong with them but there is some grim satisfaction of advancement as you drag your self to new [S]lows[/S] heights.
killed be wolves before reaching town > throw rocks at wolves but die to zombies > 2X4 your way through wolves and get some loot during the grace period > Go Rambo with your first gun > First car > First car… crash > and so on as you learn what not to do.
If having the tutorial messages pop up is too frustrating and remodeling how/where the information is presented is too challenging…
Why not just map direction keys (or other keys, or hell - ANY AND ALL KEYS) to likewise close the pop-up the way spacebar currently does? You wouldn’t have to change much that way, but the act of going about your business would feel less interrupted.
You’d definitely create the reverse complaint of “I played the tutorial and some text popped up but I accidentally kept walking and it closed before I could read it.” but such is attempting to please everybody and it might still result in smoother feeling gameplay for those who try the tutorial.
Alternatively for a bit more work, you could just have an extra key mapped for tutorial mode only that works like hitting P to view the action log. It’d just be for past tutorial notices.
The point isn’t immersion breaking or tedium, it’s the fact that I want to learn by myself and discover my own methods, instead of getting a hint from the game. If I go on the forum and get answers, that’s fine, that was my choice. If I’m playing, not knowing if these spears will be good (but excited for the fight) and the game goes “Those spears could come in handy! They’re mighty good for throwing.” I would have lost that cool moment of trying and failing.
My tutorial mode, which I outlined in the bug section, was me setting a puddle of gasoline on fire, with ensuing explosion, then upon re-entry to tutorial mode, the entire building was on fire, and threw an error the third time I tried to load the tutorial (died by huddling in a corner the second time while the building burned down around me), only to find that when the third time crashed, I reopened the game and it was back to square 2, though it saved that time I died again, and on the new third spawn, I smelled something funny at a square, for like 200 lines of text until the game crashed because the entire room was on fire and I was smelling fire.