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mrimer
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icon TSS review on Leviathyn (+2)  
The reviewer on Leviathyn (Cameron Wade) was a complete newcomer to "DROD:TSS", and he had a hard time of it. He focused on this as the sole point of his review, and I can totally see the breadth and depth of puzzle content and mechanics as being an issue for new players. That being said, Cameron also mentioned that the quality of TSS's puzzles live comfortably alongside those of the other best puzzle games of all time.

http://leviathyn.com/pc/2014/07/13/drod-second-sky-review-unwelcoming-fun-puzzler/

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[Last edited by mrimer at 07-16-2014 06:18 PM]
07-16-2014 at 06:17 PM
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Jacob
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icon Re: TSS review on Leviathyn (+2)  
I don't know how to feel about this.

Certainly, TSS is not a good introduction to DROD. It's not really meant to be. It is DROD 5 after all.

This is not to say that you should have to play DROD 1-4 first, of course (for various reasons), but I don't think we should be penalised for not making DROD5 beginner friendly.

DROD 4 is intended as an easy introduction, but then people complained it was too easy and not enough of a challenge.

But also, there are tons of easy user holds to play, the "DROD starter pack", Smitemastery 101, Advanced Concepts ... The reviewer is not tied to playing TSS as his sole introduction to DROD. It has 4/5 roaches for difficulty on the Caravel sites

But I can't argue with his point that it is too hard to act as an introduction.

What confuses and angers surprises me are the statements that
- "Thereís an optional tutorial new players can go through but, like the ďPreviously on..Ē story catch-up, itís just too much information at once."
Really? I understand that what I am about to say sounds really patronising, but I can't actually see how it could be made more basic. The most complex room (as in, that combines several things at once) is a room with a brain and two roaches. Roaches have already been introduced and the only interaction with the brain required is killing it. I appreciate that quite a lot of elements are introduced but you don't even have to play it all at once, and you can easily come back to it again if needed to review a certain element.

That's before we even mention the in-game help and the online threads about how things work, the "get hints for room" button, the H+S forum...


- "When the game actually starts, all of that information has basically disappeared and youíre forced to relearn everything on the go."

But when the game starts you play a level where the only elements are pressure plates, roaches, orbs, arrows and tunnels. And pretty much every room has flashing instructions, tooltips or explanatory dialogue.
Training Halls is harder, sure, with a lot more elements, but also has a lot of explanation in it. Certainly the difficulty ramps up here already, but I don't think it's fair to say that "all that information has basically disappeared".

- "you donít know what is doing what or for what reason or how" and "itís easy to miss causes and effects"

I would be curious to know what this refers to.

Most interactions are local (X hits Y, or steps on Z). Of the ones that aren't - green/red/black/blue doors always behave the same predictable way, and orbs/PPs can be clicked on to see what they affect and similarly for yellow doors and toggleable arrows.

Fegundo are different though. It is not intuitive that stepping on a star-thing will set it in motion and then you can control it. And it may not be immediately clear that tar/mud mothers affect all tar/mud in the room, in contrast to gel.

I wonder what was being referred to though.

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07-17-2014 at 04:31 PM
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da rogu3
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icon Re: TSS review on Leviathyn (+1)  
quote:
Jacob wrote: What confuses and angers surprises me are the statements that..

I think the reviewer was pretty spot on. With so much experience with how the game works it's easy to forget how unintuitive/confusing a lot of the game's systems are - what the reviewer said is exactly what I'd imagine a new player to feel.
07-17-2014 at 05:40 PM
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mrimer
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Yeah, I can see this from both sides.
quote:
da rogu3 wrote:
quote:
Jacob wrote: What confuses and angers surprises me are the statements that..

I think the reviewer was pretty spot on. With so much experience with how the game works it's easy to forget how unintuitive/confusing a lot of the game's systems are - what the reviewer said is exactly what I'd imagine a new player to feel.
I agree, but this design aspect shouldn't be factored into downrating the objective merit of the game, unless one of the criteria is "noob friendliness". Taking a look at today's review on GamersFTW, Caravel is praised instead of dinged for taking this design direction. So, I see this type of judgment is always going to be subjective.

As a dev team, we need to stand by the decision we made early on that TSS is primarily made for fans, realizing that won't make it popular with the zombie killer crowd. If players want an entry puzzle title, Gunthro fits that bill. This is our offering to the world, and we want it to excel in doing what it does best. I note that no reviewer so far questions the superb quality of the puzzles. It's the niche line we need to walk in order to be spectacular at this one thing.

Maybe one day we'll make a Flappy Bird clone, but today is not that day.

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[Last edited by mrimer at 07-17-2014 06:32 PM]
07-17-2014 at 06:25 PM
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Jacob
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quote:
da rogu3 wrote:
quote:
Jacob wrote: What confuses and angers surprises me are the statements that..

I think the reviewer was pretty spot on. With so much experience with how the game works it's easy to forget how unintuitive/confusing a lot of the game's systems are - what the reviewer said is exactly what I'd imagine a new player to feel.


I'm not saying that he's not describing his actual experience. I am just struggling to understand (a) what is overwhelming about the tutorial (and therefore how it can be improved) and (b) why he felt that there weren't enough explanations in the first few levels (because it seemed to me there were lots).

Also, I am curious as to which behaviours he found to be unexpected (i.e to occur without a clear reason how or why). It would be useful to know this, to understand what behaviours are unintuitive to someone new to DROD.

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07-17-2014 at 07:03 PM
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da rogu3
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icon Re: TSS review on Leviathyn (+1)  
quote:
mrimer wrote: As a dev team, we need to stand by the decision we made early on that TSS is primarily made for fans, realizing that won't make it popular with the zombie killer crowd. If players want an entry puzzle title, Gunthro fits that bill. This is our offering to the world, and we want it to excel in doing what it does best. I note that no reviewer so far questions the superb quality of the puzzles. It's the niche line we need to walk in order to be spectacular at this one thing.

I agree completely that the game is excellent and designed with fans in mind, but..
quote:
Jacob wrote: I'm not saying that he's not describing his actual experience. I am just struggling to understand (a) what is overwhelming about the tutorial (and therefore how it can be improved) and (b) why he felt that there weren't enough explanations in the first few levels (because it seemed to me there were lots).

There is indeed a lot of explanation in the initial tutorial, but explanation alone isn't enough, to truly be comfortable with the various elements one needs to play several rooms with each element and get used to the various interactions and techniques (imagine how hard AE was when you first played it) - a lot of players will have this from previous exposure to DROD. (I should mention TSS does this very well with the new elements)

I think Training Hall is pretty overwhelming - there are so many different types of monsters, and a lot of thought is required to understand the whats/whys of each room. (again this doesn't apply to people who've played DROD before)

Is it fair that some reviews will focus on the unfriendliness of the main hold? (despite the fact there's H&S and plenty of appropriate user holds) - maybe not, but it's something that shouldn't be found surprising. I can't really fault the review, given that it's from the perspective of a new player talking to other new players. (of course the fans, whom this title is mostly aimed at, won't need a review when deciding whether or not to get this game)
07-17-2014 at 07:54 PM
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mrimer
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Yep, makes sense to me.

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07-18-2014 at 12:21 AM
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Tamsk
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icon Re: TSS review on Leviathyn (+1)  
TCB's approach of blue-square "here's a quick side-tutorial on elements we're introducing this level that players of previous games will be familiar with, in case you're not one of them" seemed to me to strike the right balance; what made you decide not to do that again? Just the strain on the fourth wall?
07-18-2014 at 12:27 AM
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tempestadept
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quote:
Jacob wrote:
But also, there are tons of easy user holds to play, the "DROD starter pack", Smitemastery 101, Advanced Concepts ...

Smitemastery 101 is an SMS, and I doubt that a newcomer will want to spend money on additional content if the main game is beyond him (and will he ever go reading about that additional content?)
Starter pack is nice, but... it's hidden in Data/Homemade. And the readme.txt explaining what to do to play those holds is also located there. And people usually don't look inside Data directories of installed games. Actually, I stumbled upon the Starter pack accidentally, when I tried to build DROD myself and needed to set data paths in config files.
07-18-2014 at 12:53 PM
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gamer_extreme_101
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Agreed 100% - I understand the point of the starter pack, but 95% of people will never find them or know about them, so using that as an arguement isn;t perfectly correct. I think it'd be nice if on first game load it prompts the player if they want to import the holds, and then gives a quick dialog box about where they can find them.

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07-18-2014 at 03:37 PM
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vinheim
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I did say in another topic how I was worried about TSS being difficult for newcomers, but seeing mrimer's 2nd post, I think this is a good thing. I know a lot of my favourite franchises have been dumbed down just to appeal to a broader audience, and even in this case, if we make the beginning easier to ease people in, what about possible new entries/SmS? Eventually we'd be continuously lowering more and more of the difficulty.

I guess you could do something like TCB's tutorial bits but they won't really ease you into the entire hold or techniques you need to conquer other holds, and playing levels of filler just doesn't seem fun for those of us already into the series.

Another alternative might be pre-including a tutorial hold with TSS which plays similar to Advanced Concepts but easier.

Either way, the reviewer does make a point about it not being beginner-friendly, but it's probably one of the last entries to be made, so at least it was quality for the core audience.
07-19-2014 at 09:28 AM
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Or just code Smitemastery 101 into the tutorial spot.

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07-19-2014 at 01:30 PM
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tempestadept
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I guess it would be nice to provide explicit instructions for importing starter pack in the built-in tutorial (it includes 'DROD Tutorials' hold, which I haven't played but I assume that it's good as an expanded tutorial)
07-19-2014 at 01:40 PM
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quote:
tempestadept wrote:
I guess it would be nice to provide explicit instructions for importing starter pack in the built-in tutorial (it includes 'DROD Tutorials' hold, which I haven't played but I assume that it's good as an expanded tutorial)

It's okay. It's a notch above the other tutorials because it includes some practice rooms for you to try out what you've learned, which helps the player become familiar with the rules. But it is basically an expanded Clearing School, with the same problem our reviewer had: too many rules are thrown at the player too quickly.

A much better "expanded tutorial" is Dan's Dungeon, which is included in the starter pack, but -- new players won't be able to tell just from the names which holds are recommended to start with and which should be left until after you've become familiar with the basics. Jacob's Beginners' Guide does contain more information about each hold, but it takes the form of a long list of recommendations without any very clear "this is where you should start", and anyway I'm not sure how easy it would be for newcomers to DROD to find that page.

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07-19-2014 at 04:14 PM
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Banjooie
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I do feel like Smitemastery 101 should just literally be the tutorial hold, in some ways.
07-21-2014 at 06:16 PM
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Tim
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quote:
Banjooie wrote:
I do feel like Smitemastery 101 should just literally be the tutorial hold, in some ways.


I quite like the idea but I'd only consider it, if it's been a bit more updated to TCB standards (only to make sure people are not screaming if they found things like pressure plates, for example).

Another idea is to hold a contest. Or a collaboration hold like Advanced Concepts. Or I could look if someone is willing to write a tutorial hold for an SmS.

But those are long term solutions. For a short term solution Smitemastery 101 doesn't sound too bad. At least that one has all the voice-acting done already.

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07-22-2014 at 01:20 AM
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ErikH2000
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Hmm. TSS isn't newbie material. Other stuff Caravel released is. There is so much you need to learn in order to play TSS decently, that it doesn't make sense to give people a tutorial. A sufficiently thorough tutorial would be too long. I think it would be better to point new players to GatEB.

On the web page for TSS ( http://www.caravelgames.com/Articles/Games_2/TSS.html ), I would change this line:

quote:
Are you new to DROD? If so, then I envy you. A vast, unexplored territory has just opened up!


...to something more like:

quote:
Are you new to DROD? Amazing puzzles in The Second Sky await you. But if you'd like to begin your journey at an easier point, try our less advanced title, Gunthro and the Epic Blunder. (link)


And a Danforth exit screen in the demo mentioning GatEB may be smart too. You can catch people before they give up over difficulty and complexity.

There's a ton of people that just will never like DROD. But you want to catch the newbies that would like DROD but had the misfortune of picking TSS as their intro.

-Erik

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07-26-2014 at 02:45 AM
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disoriented
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"TSS: The Game That Frustrates Even the Creator of DROD"

Tagline has a nice ring to it

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07-26-2014 at 02:56 AM
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ErikH2000
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quote:
disoriented wrote:
"TSS: The Game That Frustrates Even the Creator of DROD"

Tagline has a nice ring to it

It DOES frustrate me. I have never worked as hard to get through a game. But it's a really good game.


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07-27-2014 at 06:39 AM
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mrimer
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Thanks for the idea to update the TSS page on CG, Erik. I'll do it!

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07-28-2014 at 11:57 PM
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karlpopper
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Erik, you got your just deserts, buddy.

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07-29-2014 at 12:40 AM
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ErikH2000
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quote:
mrimer wrote:
Thanks for the idea to update the TSS page on CG, Erik. I'll do it!

Cool, Mike. It looks good.

-Erik

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08-17-2014 at 02:05 AM
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