I’m trying to think of ways to improve the ‘experience’ opf playing GSB2 to encourage a lot more newcomers to the series to enjoy their first few plays of the game. GSB2 can be a bit complex, a bit fiddly, and a bit hardcore, and I don’t want anyone who tries out the game to ‘bounce off’ it.
I think the worst possible situation is someone who fires it up, skips the tutorial (many people do), and then fights a battle which they lose and they do not understand why.
Now I think since initial release a lot of improvements have already happened in that area, mostly the ability to see ‘shield resistance too high’ and other such messages drifting up from impacts, but this information is mostly contained during the battle, which is effectively too late.
I’ve been thinking that the ship design screen needs to provide this information in a much, much clearer and more obvious way. For example when I hover my mouse over the shield resistance of a shield module, wouldn’t it be great if a floating popup told me what weapons can, and can not penetrate that shield?
I’m gonna go out on a limb here and be the first to reply.
Any game has a learning curve. Some people enjoy games with lots of fiddly bits and min/maxing. I do; that’s why I’m such a fan of GSB/GSB 2. Some people don’t. No amount of explaining and pop-up tips will change a Type 2 person into a Type 1. They’ll still get bored, leave, and go back to blowing some people away on Call of Duty.
I think the shipbuilding interface works pretty well already. I know that if I want to see a list of weapons ordered by their shield penetration values, I can click on that value in the weapon details and it will bring up a list. I know that because YOUR TUTORIAL TOLD ME. I’ll admit; I skipped it the first time I played GSB. I got really confused, went back, read every message in the tutorial, and had several “Ah ha!” moments. Then I had most of the tools I needed to design ships that actually stood a chance in a battle.
Having that pop up automatically would be super annoying to an experienced player. Some people just don’t read instructions, even if they have to go out of their way to NOT read them. (I work with some people like that.)
The pop-ups in the Ship Design section are pretty comprehensive already, and do a good job of explaining things. The original GSB has a button on the Main Menu screen that says “Manual”. That .pdf contains a lot of helpful and in-depth information, especially for someone just learning the game. That manual, or one like it, isn’t included with GSB 2?
The only other thing I can think of would be to provide problem-specific “Help” missions where a new player can load up the mission, have a pre-set ship deployment and ship designs, and watch the battle unfold with detailed explanations of what’s happening, and why. Like a little pop-up video window in-game with someone explaining, “These fighters are attacking a cruiser, but are unable to penetrate its shields. You can avoid this by doing one of the following: Mounting shield disruptors on your fighters, telling them to ignore cruisers, etc…” Dunno how that would work with the actual game engine, though.
The explanations and pop-ups are already good.
Adding in which weapons can penetrate shields would be an excellent addition.
The details on weapons and equipment could use a little work.
-Damage percentages is too complicated (you need a calculator to figure out ‘real’ damage)
—automatically calculate and display DPS values to make it clear how effective the weapon is
—display DPS values separately for Hull/Armor/Shields
—remove the basic damage value and the percentages
-----most important change to help people know the value of the weapon
-clearly state what the weapon is good for (probably add it above the Cost entry)
—Anti-Shield, Anti-Armor, deals only Radiation, EMP subsystems, etc.
-----this will help new people understand the intended use of the weapon at a glance
-Payload becomes redundant
-The order of the details should be more intuitive
-----(tbh Dmg first is a trap for new players – Real DPS is dependent on the above values)
—Other (Fuel, Turn speed, etc.)
Balance the Game…
-Balancing is hurting the new player experience. You are guaranteed to not pen with at least some weapons in the first few missions, and that makes people wonder why – even if they did not bother with the tool tips. A friend commented to me that once you understand how penetration works, you can write-off over half the available weapons – and all Frigates. With that revelation he paid more attention to the details… and quickly found the best-in-slot weapons. He got bored the game in a few days. I guess the only upside was that he did not run into any major technical issues. My impression was that he liked the graphics but found the lack of real choice ‘meh’.
In this case, I think many people who ‘bounce off’ the enemy the first few times will pay closer attention to what is going on. They did just hand over money for the game so I don’t think they will drop it after a few minutes for any reason other than technical difficulties. The tool tips for Armor and Shields in the bottom right (and the ‘resistance’ messages in-battle) lead players right to the weakest part of the game – balancing – and… well its not a good thing. It is not good for a new player to read the fine print on the weapons and realize most of them are just fluff.
Clearly showing which weapons work against shields, showing DPS values against Hull/Shields/Armor, and clearly listing the intended role of the weapon would really help new players get a grasp on what is going on… but I fear it will only make the underlying issues more obvious.
Heh, balance is hurting the ‘dedicated player’ experience, too.