Friday, August 29, 2008

Click It or Ticket

Wilhelm doesn't believe he should have to read the fucking manual.
To that I can only ask, how well does RTFM work as an answer in your world? Because it doesn’t fare so well in mine, so RTFVM isn’t going to fly. (V is for virtual for those who are still in shock after following that link and finding out what the F stood for.)
Now, he does have a somewhat valid point. Games, especially MMORPGs, can't abandon new players to simply learn from a manual. There needs to be something there the moment a player logs into the game to direct them in the right direction.

I think Wilhelm has some valid criticisms of WAR. The game does drop in new players disoriented from their starting quests (a bug maybe?). Yellow dots on the map are confusing.

However, the question I have is whether or not a player that refuses to read the manual when presented with a problem has any right to complain? I can't walk into court and say "But your honor, I didn't bother to find out whether or not I needed to wear a seat belt in South Carolina!" and expect to walk away without a ticket. I can argue that the state didn't put up enough signs. I can complain that the signs are hard to read.

There are valid arguments on both sides here. At some point the state can't be blamed, after all there are signs at the state border, on the highway at various intervals, and continuing television commercials telling drivers to Click It or Ticket. However, if these items are not in place, I have a valid argument (but I am still not absolved of being guilty).

For Wilhelm, he feels that Mythic has not reasonably planted enough signs or aired enough commercials. I'm not quite sure what he expected though. There is no evidence he has these complaints about other games he has played, and he seems to have adjusted over the years he has played them. Actually, he mentions that WAR simplifies a lot of things into a single tome of knowledge (an example directly compared to EVE's hundreds of screens).

There are other leanings in his post that show he didn't even really try. For example: he heard somewhere that Public Quests > sliced bread. In his experience, he didn't really get them. To quote:
This is supposed to encourage community and cooperation. It does so about as well as WoW battlegrounds do, from my own limited observations. Everybody ran about in a mad rush at each stage with no plan or order. However, the “everybody” was enough people that we defeated each stage and nobody died.
There in lies the problem, he didn't adjust. He felt it was a WoW battleground and evidenced by his own post, played like it was one. It didn't seem he tried to learn about open groups, even with the giant pop up when entering the area, which are all over the place in Public Quests. He didn't bother to click his Tome of Knowledge unlock to figure out what the quest was about. He failed to notice the constant stream of +influence messages and quest pop ups detailing his progress in that area which would net him rewards. Worst of all, he just assumed everyone else was in it for themselves.

Wilhelm didn't seem to really try. He missed the forest for the trees. He ran around in WAR as though it was WoW. Bartle was right, he has played WAR before, it was WoW.


  1. Ok yes thank you.

    That's what I meant :)

  2. Heh, you were talking about three different topics though, so it was tough to follow.

  3. Anonymous10:05 AM

    I miss the manuals PC games used to have, they were books. Also, they made great bathroom reading.

  4. Ha, I used to show up to my high school classes with manuals for games. I remember getting Baldurs Gate II and that very same night I had the strategy guide and big fat manual out at work reading up, taking notes, and being generally unproductive.

  5. I am still unproductive, hence 37 blog posts this month

    I really need to start breaking my articles up, I ramble too much.

  6. I think MMOs often rely on the multiplayer aspect for instruction. The devs expect players to be able to ask around in the game for answers. The problem is that this doesn't always work, even when there are plenty of people logged in. Sometimes it just so happens that everyone's distracted or disinterested at the moment you ask your question, and all you get is silence. Even when you do get an answer, it's easily lost in all the chat spam.

    The right answer's probably in the middle somewhere. It's easy for MMO veterans to learn the ropes alone, but there might be no form of entertainment as complicated as playing an MMO. Perhaps the best thing's to have a pop-up that asks, "Have you played an MMO before?", and for those who answer "no" just use big bold text and arrows to highlight UI elements and goals as a walkthrough. Then make it easier for someone to replay the tutorial at any point.

  7. No one wins.
    Make a good tutorial, and people piss on it (LOTRO, AoC), make no tutorial, people piss on it.

    It is a lose, lose.

    I figure if a game inundates me with stuff I cannot understand within 2-4 hours, then that game will continue to be a frustration (i.e: DDO and the launch. Talk about swinging my weapon around all the time like an idiot...or FFXI and the abnormal control scheme)
    If WAR is low on the "feedback" situation, it will continue to be a frustration.
    It has nothing to do with the manual or needing to be hand all depends on feedback.
    Take Hudsons blog about Tactics and Masteries for example.
    Was it THAT difficult to understand that people were questioning it?
    If feedback is non-existent, then yes, people will complain.
    Hopefully this is changed for launch.

  8. That is part of the point I was making Open. Wilhelm ignored the feedback he was getting, for whatever reason.

    Hudson's blog posts are simply informative. Yes, some people won't understand it and *gosh* will search out an answer. Maybe they will have already bookmarked something like Hudson's post.

    Also Open, you go a bit far. There is a point at which a tutorial steam rolls a new player with too much information. EVE Online's tutorial being a particular favorite dead horse of mine. There is no sensible way for a new player to understand all that EVE's tutorial gives them.

    At some point, the game has to let the player sink or swim. Fortunately for MMOs, players usually pick up at that point and guide the newbs to a safe landing.

  9. as far as players picking up the slack, you have a good point, however nobody cares about helping people much in
    Elwynn forest, its only in Westfall that they start to take the players a little more seriously and certainly by duskwood.

    My point is the developers have to help them get used to the basics as smoothly and invitingly as possible before they say, "ok go make friends!"

  10. Anonymous8:11 AM

    I like to have a manual I can thumb through. I hate Virtual Manuals, I mean I really do.

    If a manual is an inch thick, I am probably not going to bother reading it. If it 5 pages, then I will, and even better if it tells me what every key does.

    Asking in-game for information is a good way to go, but thallian, here is a typical example of player laziness:
    I was in a large WoW guild, and someone asked in Guildchat

    "Can someone tell me where I get my Warlock's Imp?"

    I checked the guy's level, and he was level 1. He hadn't even bothered to explore his immediate surroundings. Lazy lazy lazy.


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