Register a SA Forums Account here!
JOINING THE SA FORUMS WILL REMOVE THIS BIG AD, THE ANNOYING UNDERLINED ADS, AND STUPID INTERSTITIAL ADS!!!

You can: log in, read the tech support FAQ, or request your lost password. This dumb message (and those ads) will appear on every screen until you register! Get rid of this crap by registering your own SA Forums Account and joining roughly 150,000 Goons, for the one-time price of $9.95! We charge money because it costs us $3,400 per month for bandwidth bills alone, and since we don't believe in shoving popup ads to our registered users, we try to make the money back through forum registrations.
  • Post
  • Reply
John Murdoch
May 19, 2009

I have special eyes.

Just think of all the cool stuff I can see.


Q: This is a bit of a open-ended question, but it's been on my mind recently. How do game devs view and/or handle accessibility, particularly in the context of things like difficulty options and tutorials?

In the former case, I've always been frustrated with difficulty options that amount to a quick and dirty behind the scenes adjustment in math, so for instance enemies just have double health on Hard. By comparison, you have the occasional example that goes above and beyond, such as the Devil May Cry games changing up entire encounters and enemy behaviors between difficulties. Nowadays it seems like most games are somewhere in the middle between those two. Ultimately I've always suspected that in most cases there's just not enough time/money to invest into polishing alternate difficulty modes, and probably additional pressure to ensure the experience the grand majority of players are going to experience is good versus spending effort on making sure Hard isn't too much of a kick in the dick. How true is that?

As for tutorials, there's a vocal contingent out there that seethes at "condescending" tutorials giving "obvious" information like using the left stick to move. Meanwhile, I'm often at the opposite end of the spectrum, getting annoyed by tutorials that only cover the very basics. For example, Civilization's tutorial might explain what all the buttons on the UI do, but I'd argue it doesn't actually teach the player how to play Civ very well. I guess, broadly speaking, how do you approach tutorial design? Do tutorials suffer moreso from budget constraints than other parts of the game? Do the Big Three, or other controlling forces have guidelines or outright mandates governing how much information you're ideally supposed to give to the player? Playtesting obviously exists for a reason, but do you have any notable stories about blind spots caused by proximity to a game and its guts?

And finally, the thorniest part of this, what might be called the Problem: There are obviously economic reasons for big budget games to maintain a certain level of accessibility, since trying to hook Literally Everyone onto your game is going to pay off better than designing for a purely niche market. But in creative terms, where do you personally draw the line when it comes to accessibility versus artistic intent? Would you rather everyone get to experience your game exactly how they want, or design for a specific experience that will find whatever audience it finds? Have there been times you've stuck to your guns on a particular design decision w/r/t something like a difficult boss encounter?

John Murdoch fucked around with this message at Sep 17, 2017 around 02:25

Adbot
ADBOT LOVES YOU

John Murdoch
May 19, 2009

I have special eyes.

Just think of all the cool stuff I can see.


It's both fascinating and worrying to see the level of ire that basic tutorials engender in some people. Especially since it's always couched in this bizarre, generally imaginary antagonism between the developer and the player. These people feel genuinely insulted by the developer when they have to take two seconds to prove they know how to jump and crouch. Meanwhile the dev just wants to make sure little Timmy who just got the game for Christmas knows what the buttons do.

There's definitely a real conversation to be had about tutorial design, but usually the complaints are pure pass/fail. If a tutorial has to actually pop up a box that says "press A to jump" then the game is 100% garbage. Why can't every game be like Megaman X???? (Manual? What manual?)

I feel like I should also point out the reason why the subject has been on my mind is that I've dipped my toe into some off-site arguments about it recently, and there's been some real whoppers coming out of those discussions. I figured it would be fun to ask actual gamesfolk for their take on some of the especially wacky stuff on top of my own thoughts.

John Murdoch fucked around with this message at Sep 17, 2017 around 23:39

John Murdoch
May 19, 2009

I have special eyes.

Just think of all the cool stuff I can see.


theflyingorc posted:

Yeah, these kind of examples drive me crazy - Megaman X works because it's a 2D plain and you inherently do what the game wants because all the necessary information is on your screen at the same time. But it's actually possible to do things like "look straight up and miss something important" or "not understand how to use 2 control sticks together" really easily.

I love Dark Souls, but it's existence has made arguing about game design REALLY stupid, as well.
Not to mention how the complexity of the actual controllers has only gone up. Something simple like an Atari joystick or an NES pad (or hell a Pong knob) is a far, far cry from the button-packed monsters we have today. And even with all those buttons, games often still need to carefully cram in as much functionality as possible using button combos or contextual commands, none of which are necessarily going to be intuitive enough for even experienced games to magically know.

And there's even a pretty clear progression in how much of the control space was intended to be used frequently. You had early NES games where Start and Select only existed to interact with the menu at the beginning of the game, and maybe later pause the game if you were lucky. You also had the three spokes of the N64 controller which clearly assumed that you'd only ever want or need to use two spokes at a time. Nowadays a whole lot of games absolutely expect you to be using both sticks, possibly both stick buttons (which I suspect a lot of people don't even know are a thing), the d-pad, and start and select/back/whatever frequently on top of the 8~ other buttons.

MMF Freeway posted:

Extra funny because even dark souls has a "press r1 to attack" style tutorial.
On the plus side, reading the tutorial messages isn't mandatory. That said, there's also something to be said for Mean Ole Dark Souls That Doesn't Hold Your Hand Like A Baby putting a non-hostile NPC three steps outside of the tutorial that explicitly gives you a goal and a direction. After which everyone promptly turns right and dies to immortal skeletons.

I wonder what the overlap is on people who bitch about waypoints and compass arrows and tutorial pop-ups and whatever else, but also never check the options menu to see if they can turn all of that stuff off.

mutata posted:

I generally agree with all of the above re tutorials, but I also agree that many in-game tutorials are last minute additions, but more than that, they are designed by people who do not understand teaching and learning. The opening moments of a game are extremely important (as dropout data has shown) and they have to accomplish a lot of things. I suspect that the most grievous on-boarding sequences (like possibly the Cuphead tutorial that's been in the news lately? I dunno, I haven't played it, but it looks intensely boring) fall in the category of "We're out of time, just make it real quick." These are fine because it's better to have SOMETHING there than nothing (unless you're Minecraft).

Generally speaking, though, game designers are not often good teachers and they certainly aren't professional curriculum architects which is what we're asking them to do when designing tutorials. At the risk of oversimplifying, humans prefer to learn in different ways, but 2 of the most common are either DIRECT INSTRUCTION or KINESTHETIC DISCOVERY. People who prefer direct instruction are those who carefully read the side of the arcade cabinet before even considering to put their quarter in. Those who prefer kinesthetic learning put their quarter in right away and just go. For direct learners, information is king ("Just tell me what you want me to do!") and for kinesthetic learners context and story are king ("This button pop up poo poo is ruining MY IMMERSION!") I suspect that part of the disdain for 'lazy' tutorials are that people are being forced into a sequence that pets them against the fur and forces them to learn in the wrong way.
Good poo poo. I've always wondered how much the industry would benefit from hiring on learning specialists in some capacity. I can't imagine it's literally never happened once, but it sure doesn't seem to be the norm as far as I can tell.

On a big team, who all actually ends up working on the tutorials (ie, who do I blame? )? Is it basically just a small group of programmers, artists, and/or designers putting their heads together and winging it?

John Murdoch
May 19, 2009

I have special eyes.

Just think of all the cool stuff I can see.


theflyingorc posted:

Also weren't the stock weapons best-in-slot for a great number of the classes?

Ehh, how important unlockable/droppable weapons were was always pretty murky. And Valve was never good at creating a fair system to distribute them.

John Murdoch
May 19, 2009

I have special eyes.

Just think of all the cool stuff I can see.


Even as someone who has a soft spot for WD1, I was baffled at the inclusion of what, four different chess minigames?

John Murdoch
May 19, 2009

I have special eyes.

Just think of all the cool stuff I can see.


mutata posted:

No worries! I wasn't trying to argue as much as add a synopsis of my thoughts to the subject.

Here's a Twitter thread from a F2P game designer about loot boxes and how easy they are to screw up. I've seen it passed around from some other devs today. It should be helpful to the conversation as well:

https://twitter.com/ZenOfDesign/sta...809632859344896

This was a good thread, though I vehemently disagree with him w/r/t Blizzard games. From a certain perspective he's right that they do MTX "right" but I'm increasingly tired of people brushing off the problems with Blizzard's monetization schemes because they simply aren't as bad as the current source of controversy.

Triarii posted:

I feel like, if lootbox-type systems continue to become more prominent, people in general are going to start mentally slotting video games into the same category of entertainment as casinos, which will eventually bring social stigma against them as well as legal regulation (as has already happened in China and Japan).

I feel like it says a lot about these companies that they will only do things like disclose drop rates when compelled to by law. Companies could start disclosing that information tomorrow, worldwide if they really wanted to...but they won't.

John Murdoch
May 19, 2009

I have special eyes.

Just think of all the cool stuff I can see.


Triarii posted:

Not that much of a mystery - it would make them less money, in the same way that a casino would be less profitable if they made it clear up front that you're going to lose money on average.

I was being sarcastic.

John Murdoch
May 19, 2009

I have special eyes.

Just think of all the cool stuff I can see.


CodfishCartographer posted:

You know I have to wonder if Destiny 2's exp thing is just an extremely unfortunate bug that got WNF'd in QA, and since the game has loot crates it instead looks like manipulation at its worst. (being optimistic here)

There's no way it was a bug. If we're being generous, the XP limiter might have been intended as an anti-poopsocking measure. Dis-incentivizing mindless grinding is definitely a noble goal, IMO. But those systems are usually surfaced and not connected to MTX in any way, and their reaction unfortunately came off more like "oh poo poo they caught us, abort abort" rather than an honest mea culpa.

John Murdoch
May 19, 2009

I have special eyes.

Just think of all the cool stuff I can see.


Valve is depressing to watch because they come off as being terrified of turning into a hyper-capitalistic hell company, but they've long since become exactly that and just obfuscate it with bullshit.

Adbot
ADBOT LOVES YOU

John Murdoch
May 19, 2009

I have special eyes.

Just think of all the cool stuff I can see.


Discendo Vox posted:

I'm a payday 2 whale, ama.

How do we rate whale-ness when it comes to games with Steam marketplace integration, because I'm pretty sure UnknownMerc has you beat there.

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • Post
  • Reply