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On tutorials and playability

January 10, 2019

The focus this week has been on a big push towards improving the usability and 'discoverability' of Before. What I mean by that is that the best way to enjoy learning a game is for everything uninteresting to be obvious - in this case stuff like how and where to place buildings, what different buildings and resources do and so on.  That way they get out of the way, and the player can get on with the fun stuff.

 

What that means for this week was lots of work on what is displayed on the building cards, so that it's clearer what different buildings do, what they take to construct and so on.  The card for Port buildings - where resources are transferred between islands and docked ships - was a particularly bad example that's now much easier to use (note that the layout and artwork is still horrible, but the functionality is there, which is what I'm going for at the moment).

 

 

I've also made it that buildings you can't build yet aren't displayed, so that at the start of the game things are much less cluttered, and added tool tip so you can see what all the resources are, and added wee icons so you can see which buildings are newly unlocked and on and on.

 

The result of all this is that I'm now confident that the game is discoverable enough that I've cut the tutorial down from 35 steps - each one with a paragraph of text - to just two.  I'm under no illusions that this is done and dusted - there needs to be heaps of testing with people new to the game to make sure that it really is just right, but it's a major milestone nonetheless.

 

In other news, the artist has started making some test assets.  They look absolutely amazing, and I'm really looking forward to sharing them with you as soon as I can - but not just yet.  I've also started thinking about the long-term playability of the game.  Things like reasons to play through multiple times (or a campaign), features to allow people to create and share content and so on.  I'm really excited about the possibilities - I'll share more as soon as I have something a bit clearer nailed down!

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