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NateDog

Request: Critique the first 5 minutes of gameplay

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I've been working on the impossible dream of an MMO for the past few months. It's sort of space4x meets travian meets really, really mini eve.

I still have a long way to go, but I was wanting/craving real player feedback and so a few days ago I opened up for alpha testing. I have most of the mechanics worked out but I still have balancing, content, and lots and lots of tidying up.

I would really love to get some designer feedback on the first 5 minutes of gameplay.

My specific questions:

1) Even though this is an mmo, I intentionally wanted the first few minutes to be solo so I can control everything the player experiences. But, I'm afraid some players might immediately not understand it's multiplayer so what can I do immediately to make that clear to them while at the same keeping them in their own little training sector?

2) I guess this is the only question that really matters ... when you go through the intro (it will be obvious when it ends) are you engrossed to the point you want to keep going?

3) How far should I keep going with the intro feel? Once you're in the real game I lose a lot of control over what you're doing and experiencing so I plan on ending the tutorial and switching to missions ... most of which are there but need some polishing.

This is literally my 3rd version of an intro and I've gone through it at least 50 times so I think I'm getting numb to it and losing perspective and so looking for some fresh views/ideas. As a 2-man show we obviously aren't trying to make a AAA intro - but we definitely want to invest the time to make something that introduces basic mechanics and gets players to want to dig deeper is the goal.

Thanks in advance to anyone that takes a look: http://spacegame-eternity.com/

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[quote name='NateDog' timestamp='1297835192' post='4774831']1) Even though this is an mmo, I intentionally wanted the first few minutes to be solo [b]so I can control everything the player experiences[/b][/quote]

This put me off trying it tbh. The last thing I want in a game is to spend 5 minutes completely controlled by somebody else.

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OK, here are my $0.2.

First I was a little confused with the control scheme. It seems that you used the right mouse button for everything. This is kind of confusing. Maybe you can use the keyboard tho select weapons. I also spent some time trying to harvest material. Since the messages does't appear in the center of the screen I didn't notice it.

About the intro...almost all the "complex" games that I've played so far have some introductory sequence. Since the controller scheme is kind of "weird" it really helps a lot to have some time to get used to it.

Well but after the introductory part I was ready to go. In fact I ended really liking the game (I would like to continue playing it..but I get really addicted to MMORPG...so I'll have to pass) [img]http://public.gamedev.net/public/style_emoticons/default/tongue.gif[/img]. You can really notice the hard work that was poured into it...so keep going [img]http://public.gamedev.net/public/style_emoticons/default/biggrin.gif[/img]

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1) Typically, other newbies would appear in an instance of the training zone. They would be allies and would not affect what you're trying. It would be an instance because you only need 3-4 others to give the effect that there are other people in the universe without being overwhelming.

2) Yes, it is a good intro. It covers the basics of moving, mining, and attacking.

3) The intro was a good length. Once you pop out, I would make it really obvious to where to get your first mission. That gives players freedom to do free-form exploring if they want but if they still want to be guided, there is a mission waiting for them. This mission should explore whatever mechanic you want the player to learn next.


Note once I finished I decided to dock on the nearby star base. I was clicking on other tabs and then I couldn't figure out how to get back. The 'undock' button is too small and it should always be visible regardless of what tab you're viewing. Also there are too many options in that first star base imho. Can you make it a smaller one that only allows you to buy/sell resources?

Nicely done btw. Thanks for allowing me to join without having to enter an email address. Had you done that I wouldn't have even bothered.

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It's pretty good so far. It is easy to tell how much EVE influenced you, from the interface to the windows and the voices and the docking and the menus.

critiques that come to mind

1. Sometimes when I clicked an enemy the red ring would appear somewhere else and then teleport to my enemy. I'm not sure if anyone else experienced this, but there's a bug you can fix right there.

2. It's a bit too much like EVE, are these menus temporary? I'm only saying this because of Copyrights and all, and it would be nice to have a little more original menus to it.

3. The menus in the docking station could be reorganized slightly, like the leave dock button, as someone up there suggested, separate, but easy to get to buttons are the best ways to do that. Like if I wanted to see everything about mining, I could, or finance, or medical, etc. Sometimes it is nice to have overlay, but only when it's really needed.

4. To me, the buttons are a little small, maybe make them bigger? You're docked, you don't have to keep on the look out for enemy ships, some of the icons I had to squint to see the graphics on them properly.

With that being said, I had a lot of fun, I enjoy the 2d element and the grid system you did with the map, it really made things clear. I'd definitely look more into it as time goes by and see how it progresses. Very nice job so far, I hope to see how the player interaction plays out a bit later, but I have a job to go to right now, so I'll check back in a few hours. Good luck!

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[quote][color=#1C2837][size=2]It seems that you used the [b]right [/b]mouse button for everything.[/size][/color][/quote]

You mean left?

I actually found the controls very intuitive, I mean really its just one button. And the instructions were perfectly clear. Click this, do that. Having to remember various keyboard shortcuts would be a pain, at least in the beginning.

Anyway, I found the tutorial was short and sweet. No useless information. As mentioned before, once the tutorial is over the player should start off with a mission so that he knows what to do next. I was a bit confused so I just docked to the station and then quit the game.

Overall the game looks amazing, its really nicely polished already. I liked the fighting system, I liked mining. Definitely looking forward to this reaching a playable beta stage. Bookmarked. Keep up the good work.

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The main way I can usually tell a game is multiplayer is by the regional or global chat channel scrolling by in the corner.

My first comment is, the female faces are rather bizarre and unattractive. It's like someone used a male face as the base and didn't realize female facial structure is different, so they look like men in bad drag. No offense intended.

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[quote name='AdrianC' timestamp='1297873339' post='4775007']
[quote][color="#1C2837"][size="2"]It seems that you used the [b]right [/b]mouse button for everything.[/size][/color][/quote]

You mean left?
[/quote]

Mea culpa. I meant left [img]http://public.gamedev.net/public/style_emoticons/default/sad.gif[/img]

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Thanks everyone for checking it out and providing feedback.


[size="2"][color="#1C2837"]There are a lot of ideas here and as I expected some pretty varied opinions on how to approach it. I'll be tweaking and trying some of your suggestions and trying my best to quantitatively measure how changes affect new players.[/color][/size]
[size="2"] [/size]
[size="2"][color="#1C2837"]I will see what improvements I can eek out and may post for a second review when I enhance and extend it.[/color][/size]
[size="2"][color="#1C2837"]
[/color][/size]
[size="2"][color="#1C2837"][quote]The main way I can usually tell a game is multiplayer is by the regional or global chat channel scrolling by in the corner.[/quote]BTW - thanks especially for this little nugget ... so easy to implement and when I read it, it was one of those "ah ha" moments ... I think this right away will make players understand they aren't alone.[/color][/size]
[size="2"][color="#1C2837"]
[/color][/size][size="2"] [/size]
[size="2"][color="#1C2837"]Thanks again.[/color][/size]

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First off, your game looks really cool and polished !

To teach the players that it is multiplayer, I would sugguest to do some intro-quest with multiplayer elements.

One option would be a ad-hoc "defend" mission where all noobies have to gather at a special place (other spaceship, spacestation) to defend it vs some computer raiders. When displaying player names and adding some chat channels it should be clear that this is a multiplayer game. The amount of raiders depends on the amount of players gathered at the defend point.

When your game is PvP and less coop, then I would sugguest to add some noobie-area mode, where every noobie can register to take part in a little area fight, the winner is gaining some reward, but nobody will loss anything. It like a small ad-hoc battlefield in WoW or like the first PvP fight in GuildWars.

The two presented options works only if you have lot of noobies at the same time.

When you have any high player numbers yet, an other option which comes to mind is some kind of "mate" program where experienced players support noobies. This "mates" will tell noobs what to do, some stories etc. Do not unterestimate the social factor in a MMO, there're lot of gamers out there who are quite happy to lead a helping hand. This could be as simple as a noob-chat-channel.

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Good game from what i have played. There wasn't anything that jumped out atme and made me thing, wow they totally messed up there. If i was going to nit-picki would point out the following:

There isn't really a introduction to the UI itself, from what i could seeanyway. This along with the small buttons size it meant i would have to gothrough all the buttons to find the one i wanted.

It would be nice to have the option to trade with the stations while docked;i could only see the option to trade with them while outside the station. Itwould be nice to have a standalone tab with say the option to undock that’svisible the whole time you’re in the station. First time round it took me awhile to undock since i wasn't too sure where to look (and i was being a bit dense<span style="mso-no-proof:yes">

Other than that some more structure in the form or missions or task directlyafter the tutorial, but in open space, would be really nice for a first timeplayer. I have been wondering around mining and getting soundly whipped by aninvasion without any real sense of purpose.

I can’t think of anything else at the moment but if i play some more orsomething occurs to me I'll be sure to post it. :D






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