Hints Mode Feedback

Name dcss:brainstorm:interface:hints mode
Summary A collection of ideas of how to improve the Hints mode.
Further informationTutorial redesign, User Interface Implementable List, The Usability Project report
Added by jpeg
Added on 2010-02-04 13:59

The hints mode is intended to be a context-sensitive learning tool to be played after the tutorials. We had feedback from players who said they found it helpful but that we should add X and Y. In general, the tendency has been to add more and more triggers, but it's difficult to estimate how real newbies experience the game and the hints mode. This brainstorming page is intended to collect ideas to make the hints mode more accessible to new players.

Pointing out the hints mode to new players

For a new player who hasn't played any games before (empty morgue folder, empty preferences, date stamp, or whatever other means might tell us that) bring up an additional screen before prompting for the name. Some kind of welcome and the most important points (hints mode and '?' help screen). Should be short and to the point.

The above would mean that anyone doing a clean install for every new version gets to see the screen every time this happens, but really how much of a problem would this be, compared to the immense benefits to new players?

General observations

In preparation of 0.6, I played a couple of hints mode games. Here are a few general observations. — jpeg 2010-02-24 22:48

  1. The very first introductory screen is really nice!
    • I mean it, it's so pretty and compact. Actually, I wouldn't mind having such a screen in the regular game. (Controlled by an option, naturally.)
  2. The hints mode feels more annoying in ASCII than in Tiles.
    • Presumably this is because i + inventory letter is more tedious than mouseover/rightclick.
  3. There's too much information at the same time.
    • Often, a few steps into the game, the player will simultaneously encounter a monster, an item and some kind of feature (downstairs, doors). As a consequence, they don't get a chance at trying out the commands they just learned because there's already more information. A mini-game should make sure to give the player some room to experiment, to actually move around and play a bit.
  4. There's too much negligible information.
    • New players can't evaluate yet what of these is important right now, and what can be safely ignored.
  5. We need to stress the importance of examining (from the inventory, or with a mouseclick) new items you haven't seen before.
    • In fact, many of the item type specific messages could be gotten rid of, if this command was more obvious.
  6. Accessing the targeting information the first time is a bit tedious.
    • Shoving the targeting information into item descriptions greatly reduces message spam and makes sure that the player can reread the information from time to time, but the very first time it's one more step that shouldn't be necessary. A hints mode mini-game should solve that differently.
  7. The introductory information (e.g. about the stats and message area) should maybe also be available elsewhere.
  8. A few common events are unexplained, and leave the player to reach their own and possibly wrong conclusions. Examples:
    • Eating contaminated chunks can make you sick, which triggers a message about enchantments etc. This is good, but what we don't say is that these chunks only have a chance of making you sick and that there's not enough food around not to take said chance occasionally.
    • Reading a scroll with “nothing happening” might give a special message.
    • The “use on what item” type scrolls are rather confusing the first time around.
    • The player is advised to use 'xv' on monsters, but for the first few monsters this is likely to only display a quote. This might leave players with the impression that doing so is a waste of time, when in fact, they can also learn about monsters' resistances this way.

Cutting down on the text

While the hints mode has become more situation-aware and generally more useful, it also has become increasingly text-heavy. Does a beginning player really need to know about stabbing and stealth as soon as they encounter their first monster? Do we really need to overwhelm them with information about dangerous miscast effects when they're just trying to cast their first spell? Even if we don't cut down on information at all, many of the messages require multiple -more- to read through. I think many of the messages can become significantly shorter and still transfer all required information. Still confused? Read this article, and it'll all become painfully obvious.

Hints mode mode

Rather than offer three fixed character builds, we could offer a hints mode mode (option or something chooseable from the main menu) that works for all character builds. Would be a lot more work because there'd be more special cases, but there'd be no need to cover everything in detail (Vampire eating habits, Ghoul rotting, …)
I'm mostly thinking of the general events (finding an altar, being poisoned, becoming hungry, stuff that affects pretty much everyone).

Hints mode triggers

Here you can add comments to individual hints mode triggers. Here's a list of all triggers currently in the game. The names should be fairly self-explanatory.

  • HINT_SEEN_FIRST_OBJECT
  • HINT_SEEN_POTION
  • HINT_SEEN_SCROLL
  • HINT_SEEN_WAND
  • HINT_SEEN_SPBOOK
  • HINT_SEEN_JEWELLERY
  • HINT_SEEN_STAFF
  • HINT_SEEN_WEAPON
  • HINT_SEEN_MISSILES
  • HINT_SEEN_ARMOUR
  • HINT_SEEN_FOOD
  • HINT_SEEN_CARRION
  • HINT_SEEN_GOLD
  • HINT_SEEN_STAIRS
  • HINT_SEEN_TRAP
  • HINT_SEEN_DOOR
  • HINT_SEEN_MONSTER,
  • HINT_KILLED_MONSTER,
  • HINT_MAKE_CHUNKS,
  • HINT_OFFER_CORPSE
  • HINT_YOU_POISON

Most of the above (and maybe some of the below) could be externalized into a hints mode mini game, allowing the hints mode mode to give comments about situations the player actually hasn't encountered before.

  • HINT_SEEN_MISC
  • HINT_SEEN_RANDART
  • HINT_SEEN_ESCAPE_HATCH
  • HINT_SEEN_BRANCH
  • HINT_SEEN_PORTAL
  • HINT_SEEN_ALTAR
  • HINT_SEEN_SHOP
  • HINT_SEEN_SECRET_DOOR
  • HINT_SEEN_ZERO_EXP_MON
  • HINT_SEEN_TOADSTOOL
    • Do we really need this?
  • HINT_MONSTER_BRAND
  • HINT_MONSTER_FRIENDLY
  • HINT_MONSTER_SHOUT
  • HINT_MONSTER_LEFT_LOS
  • HINT_NEW_LEVEL
  • HINT_SKILL_RAISE
  • HINT_GAINED_MAGICAL_SKILL
  • HINT_GAINED_MELEE_SKILL
  • HINT_GAINED_RANGED_SKILL
  • HINT_CHOOSE_STAT
  • HINT_NEW_ABILITY_GOD
  • HINT_NEW_ABILITY_MUT
  • HINT_NEW_ABILITY_ITEM
  • HINT_FLEEING_MONSTER
  • HINT_ROTTEN_FOOD
  • HINT_CONVERT
  • HINT_GOD_DISPLEASED
  • HINT_EXCOMMUNICATE
  • HINT_SPELL_MISCAST
  • HINT_SPELL_HUNGER
  • HINT_GLOWING
  • HINT_YOU_RESIST
  • HINT_YOU_ENCHANTED
  • HINT_YOU_SICK
  • HINT_YOU_ROTTING
  • HINT_YOU_CURSED
  • HINT_YOU_HUNGRY
  • HINT_YOU_STARVING
  • HINT_YOU_MUTATED
  • HINT_CAN_BERSERK
  • HINT_POSTBERSERK
  • HINT_CAUGHT_IN_NET
  • HINT_RUN_AWAY
    • Explanation: hint when low on hitpoints.
  • HINT_RETREAT_CASTER
    • Explanation: hint when out of mana.
  • HINT_WIELD_WEAPON
    • Explanation: hint when attempting to bash monsters with a launcher.
  • HINT_NEED_HEALING
  • HINT_NEED_POISON_HEALING
  • HINT_INVISIBLE_DANGER
  • HINT_NEED_HEALING_INVIS
  • HINT_ABYSS
  • HINT_MULTI_PICKUP
  • HINT_HEAVY_LOAD
  • HINT_SHIFT_RUN
  • HINT_MAP_VIEW
  • HINT_AUTO_EXPLORE
  • HINT_DONE_EXPLORE
  • HINT_AUTO_EXCLUSION
  • HINT_STAIR_BRAND
  • HINT_HEAP_BRAND
  • HINT_TRAP_BRAND
  • HINT_LOAD_SAVED_GAME
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dcss/brainstorm/interface/hints_mode.txt · Last modified: 2011-12-22 19:35 by XuaXua
 
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