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View Full Version : How to make it less "confusing"


Dmytry
12-23-2010, 10:35 AM
So... if I'm to add more enemies, or weapons, or some stuff like that, there is this problem:

How do I explain what enemies do? (No, text won't do, studies had shown that people don't read it). I mean, I am already getting complaints it's too confusing.

Let's see, the game objects it got:
Arena attractor that you fly much faster if you go nearby.
Evil pacman which is as obviously evil/badguy as I can manage, which eats ghosts, and which you can kill when it is eating a ghost to score a "ghost saved". [Ahh, and on insane, if you shot at it but don't kill it quick, and it is nearby, it usually *will* kill you coz it gets annoyed and runs straight at you shooting you (and the bullet speed adds up to his speed and you take a ton of damage).]
Flowers that give you speed boost. All look different.
Ghosts that give you speed boost and heal you. All look different.
Wormholes, 2 different types that do different things but i can see in youtube videos that people don't get it.
Rings which I don't really make any good use of yet, but which looks pretty and mysterious and there's a working particle accelerator built out of them in level 1 (do all game objects have to do something to gameplay? No i dont think so).
3 different bonus types.

Say, I add a snake which goes around and eats flowers, and your bullets just bounce off snake, unless you hit snake on the head. Plus it will try to kill you somehow, i'm not yet decided how. Do I have to add more text to the giant wall of text that is already "tl;dr" for many people?

Do I even have to explain every enemy in detail? Maybe the game is clear to about 90% of people already just the 10% who don't get it are ten times more likely to check forums and post. Or not. Maybe it is very confusing and adding more enemies will make it only more confusing. It's an abstract game after all, it's one thing to add a tank to a war game, everyone knows what a tank is, everyone knows tank head is a gun, but it is another thing to add something abstract to an abstract game, then you got to explain what the hell is it. In 2D, like Geometry Wars, it is much clearer what something is doing, than in 3D.

I'd like to poll the people who came to the forum FOR TECHNICAL ISSUES ONLY if they find it clear how to play this game as it is, or if it is too confusing. Just discuss it but clearly post why you came to this forum.

SlyEnemy
12-23-2010, 11:28 AM
Hi Dmytry,

Firstly, love this game, it's literally one of the most beautiful things I've seen in a virtual format.

The main problem for me, initially, was I had no frigging idea what was going on. The wall of text at start up, coupled with the impressive amount of options is both a draw for people who like to play with sliders (Myself) and a put off to those with a Gnat's attention span.

I found that, to learn the game best, it was a case of switching it to Difficulty - None and then just run around for a while enjoying the scenery. I then started to increase the difficulty and gradually get used to each separate extra that was added in.

Would it not be wise to, say, have an almost tutorial mode, whereby you guide the player (initially without enemies) into the controls, how to fly through worm holes etc. then gradually introduce each enemy and feature?

That initial wall of text that appears at game start up looks fantastic, but to remember it all at once is a nightmare ('scuse me for saying).

Thumbs up from me though, and you're doing a brilliant job of keeping in touch with the community here on Steam, keep it up. :D

SnoopJeDi
12-23-2010, 12:15 PM
You have a few options in the "already been done very successfully" category:

-Color coding. If the snake/etc. has a 'weak spot,' color it hotter (reds, oranges, whites), and color the stronger portions cooler shades (blues, purples, blacks).

-A quick demonstration. I'm not sure how easy it would be for you to script enemy AND player movements (or if this is even possible within your framework), but it would be very demonstrative to just write a script wherein the player kills one of each enemy or accomplishes some feat (like saving an ally).


I remember in the "WTF is The Polynomial" review, the guy had to fly back to the wall of text to review the rules, which was difficult for him.

Could the text from the wall of text pop up individually as help-text the first time the player enters the game? I'm thinking something like Counter-Strike, when you first see a friend, "You have spotted a friend."

"You have spotted a nom-nom [small graphic of enemy]. Stupid, but fast. Shoot to destroy before it eats your allies! Dangerous in packs."

aaronmoi
12-23-2010, 12:30 PM
remove the wormhole that lets you go to the previous stage, its awkward imo

and make the other wormhole appear after you have beaten x number of pacmans

its my suggestion to give this game more of a "progress" feel. I was totally lost when I first played this game because everything is pretty much unlocked from the beggining and I always kept thinking "...should i keep killing pacmans or advance to the next stage?"

being allowed to enter the wormhole after u have beaten x number of pacman will make it a lot more simple for everyone i think

Dmytry
12-23-2010, 12:59 PM
Well i'd rather try to avoid scripted gameplay, like progression etc. This sort of stuff is good when programmers first develop the game engine then stop working on it, and then a much larger group of content people start scripting things. I kind of like geometry wars (the old one).

Regarding wall of text, yea, could be better this way perhaps. I can show the description on HUD for first time next to the aiming box. Still, a lot of extra weight for addition of any new things.

Dmytry
12-23-2010, 01:03 PM
-A quick demonstration. I'm not sure how easy it would be for you to script enemy AND player movements (or if this is even possible within your framework), but it would be very demonstrative to just write a script wherein the player kills one of each enemy or accomplishes some feat (like saving an ally).
there's a caveat, I have replay recording (it's unofficial and hidden and so on), but every time I update something about gameplay, obviously, some of the replays (or all) stop working because pressing same buttons and moving mouse the same no longer gives same result. It is also the issue of something that is easily done when engine is first made then games are made on that engine, the model that just doesn't work well for indie with custom game engine.
In general its just that it is entirely different when you don't have an employee to keep things like that up to date.

kn00tcn
12-23-2010, 10:20 PM
different walls for different info? almost like an interactive menu, wormhole per section

SnoopJeDi
12-24-2010, 09:08 PM
there's a caveat, I have replay recording (it's unofficial and hidden and so on), but every time I update something about gameplay, obviously, some of the replays (or all) stop working because pressing same buttons and moving mouse the same no longer gives same result. It is also the issue of something that is easily done when engine is first made then games are made on that engine, the model that just doesn't work well for indie with custom game engine.
In general its just that it is entirely different when you don't have an employee to keep things like that up to date.


Can you draw 2D textures with LuaGL, like the billboard text objects? A little graphic showing bullets going toward a nom-nom, and another of the nom-nom exploding, should do the trick. Non-textual methods are the most effective (imo) and also don't have to be localized.

A little graphic of a ship with an arrow representing velocity off of the attractor, then one on the attractor with a much larger arrow (and perhaps "2x" next to it) would give the attractor mechanics away, I think.


Text definitely isn't as helpful, not on a wall that the player could rotate upside down or be on the other side of. Helptips on the HUD, if nothing else.

Dmytry
12-25-2010, 01:25 AM
Can you draw 2D textures with LuaGL, like the billboard text objects? A little graphic showing bullets going toward a nom-nom, and another of the nom-nom exploding, should do the trick. Non-textual methods are the most effective (imo) and also don't have to be localized.

A little graphic of a ship with an arrow representing velocity off of the attractor, then one on the attractor with a much larger arrow (and perhaps "2x" next to it) would give the attractor mechanics away, I think.


Text definitely isn't as helpful, not on a wall that the player could rotate upside down or be on the other side of. Helptips on the HUD, if nothing else.
hmm that is actually a good idea. With the wall of text the original idea was that the very first thing you should learn is how to fly and find your way around a little, failing that you see it every time you get killed and respawn, but the text ended up too big.

cawlin
01-09-2011, 01:02 AM
Can you just make a help menu for the basic functions? It's true that people don't generally read instructions if they are required to start a game but if they start and are confused it's helpful to have something to refer to.

When I first played the game I missed the instruction wall completely somehow. I had no idea what was going on and couldn't find any help info other than controls.

spillblood
02-25-2011, 07:27 AM
Hehe, you could do a Centipede-like snake thing that splits into two enemies when hit and grows by eating ghosts.
On my graphics card the instructions wall simply wasn't visible in the first version of the game I downloaded after buying(I've got the version Dmytry offers directly on his Website, via Plimus). That was fixed in one of the next versions. So I simply had no instructions at all at first, but figured out the game anyway. After all it isn't very complicated.
I think you don't have to explain in the instructions what every enemy does. Players will figure that out for themselves. It's cooler to see for yourselves what the enemies are capable of. Geometry Wars also didn't have a full explanation of everything, did it?
There's no need to make the instructions "wall" bigger, you should rather replace it with info direct in Hud, or maybe just some instruction screens you can access in the main menu (like many old shareware games did).

Motorpsycho
03-12-2011, 12:16 AM
Can you PLEASE add something that lets us know we're getting hit? Like a sound or a visualization? Or both? I HATE thinking I'm doing great and all of a sudden I get the death screen. It really puts me off from playing more than 2 lives.

Xfer
04-13-2011, 08:43 PM
Love The Polynomial!

That said, I do think there are a few things that can make the game less confusing and easier to play.

First, I'd also recommend replacing the wall-o-text with some form of pop-up context-sensitive help or with a tutorial of some sort. While I didn't find the game concepts confusing, this may help others. A basic tutorial video which could be played from the menu may help this.

Second, addition of left/right movement (strafing, for lack of a better term), could help a lot with situational awareness and would allow for some pretty awesome moves in combination with the current inertia system you have - Much like in the Descent series of games. Not only would this make combat more enjoyable, but may also help ease confusion by making the controls more shooter or space-sim like (the two genres which you've based the game from.) Other similar games have this; Freelancer, for one, and Descent, for two - Two titles which, I would imagine, a large majority of your players have played before.

Third, addition of a second game-mode with some form of progression could also help ease confusion and provide an entirely different way to enjoy The Polynomial. For instance, force the player to start in the first Arena, then kill 2 enemies to open the wormhole to the next arena, where the requirement would be 4 enemies, then 6, then 8, and so on. Leaderboard scores could be the number of arenas survived before death.

CoE_Invader
07-04-2011, 07:46 PM
i don't know, i really like not understanding everything and just enjoying the visual experience