Author Topic: New life for Freespace?  (Read 12698 times)

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Offline General Battuta

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Re: New life for Freespace?
I just want to interject that TAGs, in fact, rock, and anyone who says otherwise doesn't know how to use them.

Seriously, they're uber.

Where can I find this parallel universe version of FS2? Sounds interesting. :P

The only problem they have is that their overwhelming firepower and incredible range often mean you get hit too if you're behind the target.

 

Offline Mongoose

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Re: New life for Freespace?
Man, this thread has ballooned since I last stuck my head in.  I do agree with the sentiment that the training missions as they stand are very effective from a technical standpoint; the fact that they taught us all as well as they did is testament to that.  I'll also agree that, given the type of game that FreeSpace is, progressive instruction probably wouldn't be nearly as effective, no matter how much I like that concept in general.  (I'm glad you brought up those Valve commentaries, paul; they give some fascinating insights into game design at its most fundamental level.)  But I also firmly agree with AA and Thaeris that there are many concrete ways to make those training missions far more interesting than they are now.  Give the instructor an actual personality, as opposed to being a faceless trainer or simulation narrator.  Have him/her chat with the pilot about current events, or the ship you're stationed on, or whatever.  Add some other friendly ships to the mission as background pieces, doing things like hauling cargo or escorting a cruiser, to generate a bit of background chatter.  Hell, like I suggested before, maybe go as far as to have a legitimate enemy attack at the end, albeit one that's pretty much survivable no matter what you do, just to make the player feel like they're part of a dynamic universe.  (From the little I played of Tachyon, I think it pulled off something like that in its training mission.)  Make the training missions something that older players would actually want to replay, instead of heading for the skip button every time (unless they're OCD like me and want those wings).  All of that could be accomplished within the effective framework of the training missions we already have, but it would go a long way toward engaging the new player from the moment they first pick up the game.

 

Offline Woolie Wool

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Re: New life for Freespace?
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I get that. I just disagree with it on a fundamental level. And the simple fact is that although you don't want to call level 1 for newbies a tutorial mission that is in effect what it is.
As I said, illusion is a powerful thing. With crafty mission design you can make someone feel like they did something cool even if their performance was pathetic by the standards of anyone with real experience at the game. Even if they didn't really earn it, if you make them think they just made it through a big fight it's far more gratifying than "you have successfully completed Class Z qualification for the GTF Hermaphroditus Space Inferiority Fighter".

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In the entire time I've been in this community you're one of the few people who has complained about the tutorials. We have lots of those newbie gamers coming here every week and I don't hear complaints about the tutorials turning them off. If you hear different I suspect it says more about the kind of people you're trying to get into FS2 than anything else.
I don't know about you, but most of the people I tried to get into playing FreeSpace turned it down because they got sick of training missions. I find them tolerable. They could be a lot better (and some campaigns have training missions that ARE a lot better), but they're tolerable.  However, it seems to me to me that a very large portion, perhaps overwhelming, of typical video game players will not find them tolerable. They whine about the missions taking too long. They complain that they're boring. They want to know when they'll be able to blow something big up, and more often than not I'm unable to convince them to stick with it.

So you have to work instant gratification and instant action into learning how to play the game without sacrificing FreeSpace's gameplay depth.

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Quite simply I don't think it's just a case of the newbie gamers wanting instant action so much as that being all they are ever given.
It's a vicious cycle. Player demand for instant gratification suppresses the financial viability of games without instant gratification, and THQ is not a niche company. They're about big budgets and big audiences.

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Yes. And in case you hadn't noticed my point is "Is it worth it?" To be honest I think not. For the same effort I could rewrite the mission so that it plays differently on every playthrough regardless of the difficulty. Thus allowing people who aren't particularly good at the game to see everything rather than just the super-gamers who can play on ultra-violent.

As far as I'm concerned that's far better design than having to redesign the mission for each difficulty level.
And somehow despite the game having radically faster progression on higher difficulty levels, Doom sold millions of copies and singlehandedly made Id Software a household names. If that's not success, nothing is. Changing the way the mission plays for higher difficulty levels is done because it works and has worked for a very long time. It also gives an incentive for players to play the game again and push themselves to the limit, because the game is like "Medium was cool huh? Try it on Hard and you'll see even more cool stuff!"

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Evidently you haven't thought this one through. They die. They start the mission again. And they have to sit through the same popup tutorial they heard once already.

Remember your entire argument is predicated on not losing the ADHD kids because they get bored easily. Congratulations. You just lost them. Which basically makes your entire argument pointless.
splicing in quote from later because it is related
So your solution to the problem is to break flow, turn the tutorials off and hope these idiots remember to turn them back on at the start of the next mission? :lol:
I said press X to banish a popup screen, not disable tutorials. Playing through it the second time around. The screen dims--tutorial time! Bam, it's gone. Another box? Bam, it's gone. The Instructor Shut Up Button. If the player needs to reload the first mission more than twice the mission is too hard. Remember that looking intense and challenging is more important for the first mission than being intense and challenging. Seeing whole fleets slug it out in the background, even if they won't shoot at you and Command might even reprimand you for wandering outside your assigned zone (because in real world militaries playing Rambo and wandering off into parts of the battle that aren't your problem will probably not endear you to your superiors), makes an instant impression that can make the game's success in five seconds of hitting the Commit button.

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Incorrect. It may take 10 minutes with the first drone but you get dozens to practice on. By the time the player gets to the real missions they've already learned the skills they need to play the game. Your method simply pushes them in the deep end of the pool, throws some water wings at them and says "Look out for the sharks!"
Well that's why enemies can come in different strengths. The first mission's enemies can only kill you if you do a colossal screw-up but they can kill you. The next mission's enemies are somewhat harder and the game is holding your hand less. And the third mission's are harder than those and the game's hardly holding your hand at all. Preferably the enemies should be made to appear stronger than they really are to make Alpha 1 feel like he is achieving something.

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And again you're confusing your personal dislike of the FS2 instructor with the concept of tutorial missions. I've not heard a single complaint about the sterile BtRL instructor. Yet that was a mission very much in the mould of the FS2 tutorials.
Somehow I think the average person who downloaded BTRL is quite the same as the average person who rents an action game for the XBox 360 from Blockbuster. It's a fan work that tends to attract fan-type people who are really into what the game is about and will gladly sit through the tutorials. I thought the BTRL tutorial was hilarious, but THQ isn't selling games to those sorts of people because there aren't enough of them. Game audiences were much smaller and more dedicated even in 1999 (never mind in the early 90s or before) than they are today. Now the genre is mainstream and action games are marketed towards the same general demographic as meatheaded explosion movies. So to protect FreeSpace from being severely dumbed down, the game's early missions must be structured in a way so that you can get the fundamentals through that demographic's skulls while providing enough action and explosions to keep them stimulated until they've got the hang of it and making a huge first impression. Once that's done, it's smooth sailing from there on out.

I don't think training missions are necessarily horrible, but I think that they're horrible to the Target Demographic of modern action games, which is all THQ is going to care about. Twist of Fate has a couple of training missions (more elaborate than the TSM modules--the first even starts you off looking directly at the 1st Fleet orbiting Earth to make a big impression--but I'm not making it for those people.

(and speaking of those people, FS3 must have a VOIP mute command, because those people are also the people who call people who kill them "faggots". Nothing's worse than a VOIP temper tantrum.)
« Last Edit: August 31, 2009, 10:39:53 pm by Woolie Wool »
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Offline karajorma

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Re: New life for Freespace?
As I said, illusion is a powerful thing. With crafty mission design you can make someone feel like they did something cool even if their performance was pathetic by the standards of anyone with real experience at the game. Even if they didn't really earn it, if you make them think they just made it through a big fight it's far more gratifying than "you have successfully completed Class Z qualification for the GTF Hermaphroditus Space Inferiority Fighter".

Can be done in a tutorial mission too. Just because you can't think of methods to do it doesn't mean it can't be done. Putting them up against supposedly experienced NPC pilots would have the same effect. Letting them take on the instructor. There are ways to do it without needing to stick the player in a situation where they can get killed.

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I don't know about you, but most of the people I tried to get into playing FreeSpace turned it down because they got sick of training missions. I find them tolerable. They could be a lot better (and some campaigns have training missions that ARE a lot better), but they're tolerable.  However, it seems to me to me that a very large portion, perhaps overwhelming, of typical video game players will not find them tolerable. They whine about the missions taking too long. They complain that they're boring. They want to know when they'll be able to blow something big up, and more often than not I'm unable to convince them to stick with it.

Again you fail to distinguish between the specific FS2 tutorials and the method they were done in. Just because you found the FS2 tutorial missions boring (and I'll admit they were on the long side) you seem to assume that a hypothetical FS3 could only have boring tutorial missions. That's just ludicrous. You need to prove a flaw in the idea not simply the execution in a single game to make that point stick.

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And somehow despite the game having radically faster progression on higher difficulty levels, Doom sold millions of copies and singlehandedly made Id Software a household names. If that's not success, nothing is. Changing the way the mission plays for higher difficulty levels is done because it works and has worked for a very long time. It also gives an incentive for players to play the game again and push themselves to the limit, because the game is like "Medium was cool huh? Try it on Hard and you'll see even more cool stuff!"

Doom sold millions cause it was basically the first big FPS. So your point is rather irrelevant.

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I said press X to banish a popup screen, not disable tutorials. Playing through it the second time around. The screen dims--tutorial time! Bam, it's gone. Another box? Bam, it's gone. The Instructor Shut Up Button.

And that isn't going to get annoying? After you died you are going to have to close pop up boxes explaining the following.

Basic flight controls: yaw, pitch, roll, throttle.
Matching speed: Alt-M.
Basic targeting: T, H, F, E, R, and B.
Afterburners
Primary and secondary weapon triggers.
Bank switching

That's going to lose the ADHD kids pretty quickly. Even if they do close the pop up they're still going to have to do the action in order to progress.

Not to mention what the **** do you do if someone accidentally presses that button the first time they are playing the game and thereby misses the information they needed? I've lost count of the number of times in a pop up tutorial I've ended up spinning my wheels not knowing what to do cause I've cancelled a popup too quickly or cause it has vanished before I got the chance to assimilate the information it contained.

It's a fundamental flaw of all tutorial missions but it's aggravated when the player is able to close the pop ups themselves or make them vanish by carrying out the action immediately upon seeing the key they need to press.

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If the player needs to reload the first mission more than twice the mission is too hard.

But we're talking about people supposedly turned off by 3 tutorial missions. And if they die twice they will now have gone through the same tutorial mission 3 times. You've lost them.

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Remember that looking intense and challenging is more important for the first mission than being intense and challenging. Seeing whole fleets slug it out in the background, even if they won't shoot at you and Command might even reprimand you for wandering outside your assigned zone (because in real world militaries playing Rambo and wandering off into parts of the battle that aren't your problem will probably not endear you to your superiors), makes an instant impression that can make the game's success in five seconds of hitting the Commit button.

So stick that in the back of a tutorial mission simulation then.

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Well that's why enemies can come in different strengths. The first mission's enemies can only kill you if you do a colossal screw-up but they can kill you. The next mission's enemies are somewhat harder and the game is holding your hand less. And the third mission's are harder than those and the game's hardly holding your hand at all. Preferably the enemies should be made to appear stronger than they really are to make Alpha 1 feel like he is achieving something.

And you've killed replayability on the same difficulty level. If I want to replay on easy I'm going to find the first mission ludicrously easy. This is the exact point I made right when this started. The first FS2 mission is still playable for me on easy now, maybe a touch easy but that's fine as it never reaches the level where I could play it with one hand behind my back.

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Somehow I think the average person who downloaded BTRL is quite the same as the average person who rents an action game for the XBox 360 from Blockbuster. It's a fan work that tends to attract fan-type people who are really into what the game is about and will gladly sit through the tutorials.

Given that I wouldn't attempt to say who the BtRL fanbase was it's rather presumptuous of you to say you know who it is.
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Offline NGTM-1R

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Re: New life for Freespace?
The only problem they have is that their overwhelming firepower and incredible range often mean you get hit too if you're behind the target.

I'm pretty sure Woolie's not playing on Insane or anything, so, y'know, damage cut.
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Offline Woolie Wool

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Re: New life for Freespace?
Can be done in a tutorial mission too. Just because you can't think of methods to do it doesn't mean it can't be done. Putting them up against supposedly experienced NPC pilots would have the same effect. Letting them take on the instructor. There are ways to do it without needing to stick the player in a situation where they can get killed.
But if they can't theoretically be killed then the experience isn't the same as a real battle.

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Again you fail to distinguish between the specific FS2 tutorials and the method they were done in. Just because you found the FS2 tutorial missions boring (and I'll admit they were on the long side) you seem to assume that a hypothetical FS3 could only have boring tutorial missions. That's just ludicrous. You need to prove a flaw in the idea not simply the execution in a single game to make that point stick.


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Doom sold millions cause it was basically the first big FPS. So your point is rather irrelevant.
And pretty much every FPS thereafter has cleaved to the same formula, as well as most platform games, some flight games (see Descent), etc. Having a fixed number of enemies is more the exception than the rule.

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That's going to lose the ADHD kids pretty quickly. Even if they do close the pop up they're still going to have to do the action in order to progress.
It's a lot less tedious than actually looking at it all again. A couple of seconds now and then is not much, and Neanderthal Man still has a fleet engagement with big explosions in the distance to satisfy his base desires. "Ooooh, pretty beams *hits X*"

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Not to mention what the **** do you do if someone accidentally presses that button the first time they are playing the game and thereby misses the information they needed? I've lost count of the number of times in a pop up tutorial I've ended up spinning my wheels not knowing what to do cause I've cancelled a popup too quickly or cause it has vanished before I got the chance to assimilate the information it contained.

It's a fundamental flaw of all tutorial missions but it's aggravated when the player is able to close the pop ups themselves or make them vanish by carrying out the action immediately upon seeing the key they need to press.
There's no real way out of this. You either have tutorials (or cutscenes, or briefings, whatever) you can't skip or similar things that you can skip by accident. I guess you could make them unskippable the first time through but if the player is dead it probably because he wasn't paying attention the first time.

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But we're talking about people supposedly turned off by 3 tutorial missions. And if they die twice they will now have gone through the same tutorial mission 3 times. You've lost them.
The tutorial mission is grandiose and flashy and dramatic. Eye-catching fleet engagements don't happen in basic training. They're still getting more gratification than they otherwise would.

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So stick that in the back of a tutorial mission simulation then.
But basic training (in universe) would not happen in that sort of situation. And it might not be "real" enough.

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And you've killed replayability on the same difficulty level. If I want to replay on easy I'm going to find the first mission ludicrously easy. This is the exact point I made right when this started. The first FS2 mission is still playable for me on easy now, maybe a touch easy but that's fine as it never reaches the level where I could play it with one hand behind my back.
Does every mission have to pose a challenge to be playable? I've replayed through many games where the first level was an absolute joke in terms of difficulty. Hell, FreeSpace 1 has such a mission to start with and it's perfectly replayable.

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Given that I wouldn't attempt to say who the BtRL fanbase was it's rather presumptuous of you to say you know who it is.
We're talking about people who probably have never even heard of indie gaming or games that don't retail for $59.95 at their local Gamestop. At best indie games to them are something the weird geek kid in class plays. It's completely outside of their purview. We're talking serious Unwashed Masses types here. Remember that my argument is not really "Training missions are evil", but "FS3 will have to be sold to a demographic of total morons who want to be in the middle of things in two minutes or else to avoid being a commercial disaster in the current market. We must teach the morons how to play the game while continually distracting them from the fact that they are learning how to play the game."
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Okay I have a question. Did the FS2 Demo have a training mission?

Because really. That's what's going to hook people. If they're playing the training mission, they've already bought the game. So if they drop it right away too bad. But if they're playign the demo then they get their pretty beams and so on. All I remember about the demo is that it was in a Nebula and there was another mission with a lot of ship to ship beam fire.

Oh and I also remember that the Hornet missiles were fakking awesome.

 

Offline Androgeos Exeunt

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I haven't bought a new game for months... I find most new games often incredibly shallow. I usually end up playing older games instead... I'm really really starting to dislike this 'console generation' more and more. To the point where I almost start hoping that piracy will destroy the industry so we can go back to the time where gamers = nerds & games = gameplay instead of this gamers = 'cool' & games = grinding or shallow shootan game #13251 bullcrap
*Ramble, rant rant  :hopping: *
I feel like a grumpy old man talking about the good old days when I write stuff like this... i'm only 22 damnit!

I'm only 18, and I share your sentiments. Happy now? :p

Okay I have a question. Did the FS2 Demo have a training mission?

Because really. That's what's going to hook people. If they're playing the training mission, they've already bought the game. So if they drop it right away too bad. But if they're playign the demo then they get their pretty beams and so on. All I remember about the demo is that it was in a Nebula and there was another mission with a lot of ship to ship beam fire.

Oh and I also remember that the Hornet missiles were fakking awesome.

The FS2 demo has TSM-107C, Class C Qualification for the Hercules Mark II Heavy Assault Fighter. 107C acquaints pilots with everything covered in 103C and also includes a short "Argo protection" segment.

In the FS2 demo campaign, the Herc II and Perseus are available as flyable ships, although the Perseus can only be flown if you complete the bonus objective in the first mission. Usable weapons are the Subach HL-7, the Prometheus R, the Maxim HiVel Cannon, the Rockeye heat-seeking missile, and the GTW-4a Tornado.

In the demo, the Prometheus R is a much better weapon to use than the HL-7 or the Maxim, and the Tornado performs worse than the Hornet in retail FS2. In addition, Rockeyes are smaller and can be mounted on ships in greater quantities.

The only graphical difference in the demo is the lock indicator, which is a circle instead of a rotating triangle.
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Offline General Battuta

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I just want to point out that Androgeos hasn't played anything new and his qualifications for 'it sucks' are 'it won't run on my system.'  :p

 

Offline Stormkeeper

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I just want to point out that Androgeos hasn't played anything new and his qualifications for 'it sucks' are 'it won't run on my system.'  :p
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Offline Androgeos Exeunt

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:lol:

The Battle for Wesnoth isn't that old, you know.
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Quote: Wednesday, 6 November 2019, 1845hrs UTC, #gaming
The_E
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z64555
but does it destroy planets with a turbo laser

 

Offline Thaeris

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I must confess... I would not mind at all if someone produced a "mini-campaign" based off of the FS2 demo... which I never played...

Regardless, training is good. Separates men from boys... pitiers of foos from foos... Spartans from... well, Sparta is not really a credible military power any more, is it?

And ask yourself this: if someone is not capable of sitting through what amounts to be an interactive informational session (sort of the real definition of training), is it worth trying to bring a story of depth and/or complexity to them anyway? After all, if you don't "have the time" to be taught anything, how does a story like FS have any appeal? The sim is about flying SPACE SHIPS W/GUNZ! As such, as a pilot, you need to know what you're doing. Without training, the game is... incomplete.

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Offline Androgeos Exeunt

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Well, some say that the best way to learn it is to do it. Perhaps :v: followed this.
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Quote: Wednesday, 6 November 2019, 1845hrs UTC, #gaming
The_E
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Offline General Battuta

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I must confess... I would not mind at all if someone produced a "mini-campaign" based off of the FS2 demo... which I never played...

Already been done. Not sure where it is (installer might install it...)

 

Offline Scotty

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The GIGANTIC problem with watered down combat missions for tutorials is that it breaks immersion.  It doesn't just slow it down for a minute.  It shatters it into teeny tiny pieces.  "Alright, let's go shoot down these bad guys!" BOOP Tutorial window pauses game.  Immersion breaker.

Tutorial missions serve the twofold purpose of getting those annoying things out of the way early, and also give an atmosphere to the game.  You are flying a VERY expensive piece of machinery, and if you value your career, you WILL NOT **** up with it.  You don't get that with a "go blow up these horribly watered down bad guys."

 

Offline Stormkeeper

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* Stormkeeper squints, looks at the first post, and looks at the previous post.

It's a mark of HLP that we can go from New Life for Freespace to debating tutorial missions.
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Offline Androgeos Exeunt

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We always do that. Why else do you think HLP has to be maintained by so many moderators and administrators? :p
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Quote: Wednesday, 6 November 2019, 1845hrs UTC, #gaming
The_E
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z64555
but does it destroy planets with a turbo laser

 

Offline Killer Whale

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I'm for tutorials :nervous:
They're short, easy to make, get everything out of the way at the start, bundle up all the boring bits in one small package (enhancing the rest of the game), completely skippable and bring the feeling of "this is a powerful weapon" to fighters.
In-campaign learning though.... they're spread throughout the game, so you'll be doing them all the time, very difficult to make, lower the immersion (and thus, the decrease the fun of the game), are always going to leave bits you have to do that remind you of the tutorials and make you feel like you know nothing in the actual campaign.
Tutorials would be better if you could go back to them after skipping them, or maybe you can from the tech room... Perhaps, but if so a newbie wouldn't find them. So make them more obvious such as on the main menu.
They would also be better if they had a more lively instructor, eye candy, and lots of explosions. Which is very do-able.

 

Offline Dilmah G

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Yeah, indeed.

- Interesting instructor with an attitude
- Some interesting shizz
- Mission flow that crawls faster than a snail
- EXPLOSIONZ

There gentlemen, is your successful tutorial. (As so many people have pointed out before me, :P)
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Offline Stormkeeper

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You forgot. You need Michael Bay to make those explosions.
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