Are Dev's getting lazier about tutorials, or catering to "Influencers"

While its been kind of a trend for awhile now to have the "wiki game" where you need a browser open to figure stuff out. Is it just me or does it seem more games, even big budget accessible ones are just flat out dropping tutorials and/or contextual instructions.

Meanwhile we have an upsurge in partnered streamers/youtubers who are immediately popping out guides and how tos for the same game. To the point it becomes a question of whether the game is being designed so that those sort of things can be made, and attracting that marketing stream inherently by giving them viewers desperate to figure out WTF is going on in a game.

Apex is the most recent example. A hero game that told Overwatch to hold its beer and gives you training in literally one character's basic abilities. Have fun joining a game and trying to figure out what Wraith's powers do for you, or how to use smoke or what it does. Or what a survey beacon for Pathfinder looks like.

Anthem of course, had the worlds worst demo. Apparently deigning to highlight next to nothing of any of its unique mechanics and leaving the heavy lifting for the video crowd to try and highlight.

Destiny's always kind of pulled that trick with its Raids, but even some basic tier content is just baffling lacking in contextual clues. Go find that Ascendant portal in this map by wandering around an entire area for an hour listening for a buzzing, before using a rare consumable. Or watch the convenient youtube guide that somehow found it within an hour of it going up. (And some of the challenges themselves, though they are more Destiny's godawful platforming combined with a middle finger to anyone with any kind of vision issues)

Seth Carter:
Have fun joining a game and trying to figure out what Wraith's powers do for you

Yeah, probably the most egregious example. The description of her passive ability reads:

"Voices from the Void: A voice warns you when danger approaches. As far as you can tell, it's on your side."

Like, what the hell does this even mean? And how does it manifest itself in actual gameplay?

IceForce:

Seth Carter:
Have fun joining a game and trying to figure out what Wraith's powers do for you

Yeah, probably the most egregious example. The description of her passive ability reads:

"Voices from the Void: A voice warns you when danger approaches. As far as you can tell, it's on your side."

Like, what the hell does this even mean? And how does it manifest itself in actual gameplay?

Heh. There's a similarly obtuse example in Warframe. Nova's 4th ability "Primes enemies with antimatter".

Which slows enemies down and makes them take double damage, and explode when killed. But how you would pull that out of that incredibly terse description, who knows.

As to Wraith's voice thing, I got nothing. Played her a few times, never heard anything even as the enemies came bursting through the doors.

Seth Carter:

Destiny's always kind of pulled that trick with its Raids, but even some basic tier content is just baffling lacking in contextual clues. Go find that Ascendant portal in this map by wandering around an entire area for an hour listening for a buzzing, before using a rare consumable. Or watch the convenient youtube guide that somehow found it within an hour of it going up. (And some of the challenges themselves, though they are more Destiny's godawful platforming combined with a middle finger to anyone with any kind of vision issues)

I'd have been more inclined to point to the recent Niobe Labs debacle for Destiny, Ascendant Challenge does give you an onscreen notification when you're in the right area. The raids are just absurd in general, being hard to figure out is just their shtick (Last Wish only took as long as it did for first clear because of the power/Light level gap).

I can't disagree with the premise that streamers and instantly-available guides are having negative effects on games, though. Both in how EVERYTHING is about catering to streams now and how puzzles have to be increasingly ridiculous (see: aforementioned Niobe Labs shitshow) and deeply hidden so they're not solved instantly on release. You don't get stuff like skulls in Halo anymore, or the hidden basement in Borderlands. That, or you get the Elite: Dangerous model where people solve baffling puzzles like the Unknown Probe signal (which involved scanning a certain object, feeding the noise it makes in response through a spectrogram, then interpreting the image hidden inside the audio to find a location) to maybe get some payoff in three months with the next big patch.

Ravinoff:

Seth Carter:

Destiny's always kind of pulled that trick with its Raids, but even some basic tier content is just baffling lacking in contextual clues. Go find that Ascendant portal in this map by wandering around an entire area for an hour listening for a buzzing, before using a rare consumable. Or watch the convenient youtube guide that somehow found it within an hour of it going up. (And some of the challenges themselves, though they are more Destiny's godawful platforming combined with a middle finger to anyone with any kind of vision issues)

I'd have been more inclined to point to the recent Niobe Labs debacle for Destiny, Ascendant Challenge does give you an onscreen notification when you're in the right area. The raids are just absurd in general, being hard to figure out is just their shtick (Last Wish only took as long as it did for first clear because of the power/Light level gap).

I can't disagree with the premise that streamers and instantly-available guides are having negative effects on games, though. Both in how EVERYTHING is about catering to streams now and how puzzles have to be increasingly ridiculous (see: aforementioned Niobe Labs shitshow) and deeply hidden so they're not solved instantly on release. You don't get stuff like skulls in Halo anymore, or the hidden basement in Borderlands. That, or you get the Elite: Dangerous model where people solve baffling puzzles like the Unknown Probe signal (which involved scanning a certain object, feeding the noise it makes in response through a spectrogram, then interpreting the image hidden inside the audio to find a location) to maybe get some payoff in three months with the next big patch.

Well, friends bought me the pass, but I haven't done the Forges yet (I think thats what Niode is). Took a stab at the first one today, and man have they gone downhill in design. Its Kuva survival from Warframe, but in a giant open room, and without the crowd control powers.

Puzzles that can't be solved in a game are their own little bugaboo. That certainly sounds obnoxious, unless a spectrogram is in the game. Destiny of course had the Rise of Iron thing where you both had to do some random junk in a room, and have a working knowledge of binary to figure out (Funny story, I did that with someone who was incensed that I could convert the numbers in my head before he got them off whatever phone app he was using, lol).

And I just looked up Niobe Labs, and WTF lol. Arranging musical notes to Frere Jacque, and listing the order of silverware with wingdings or someshit, lol. Even the first part with Runic letters I only kind of glossed over cause Ultima obsession. And shooting at wall symbols to "type" while jumping just sounds like "F the console players" mechanic.

I thought this was what "True Gamers" wanted.

Something Amyss:
I thought this was what "True Gamers" wanted.

There does seem to be a certain segment of gamers who really like it if a game is (intentionally or not) difficult to figure out. Like, say, the stat system in Dark Souls.

Apparently it keeps the plebs out or something.

If it's a competitive game with depth you can't really do a proper tutorial cause that'd be something like a 200 hour course someone has to take. It's better to just let people learn at their own pace with the help of a wiki and the community.

Shitty tutorials have always existed, and the presence of good ones hasn't dwindled I think. The only difference nowadays compared to oldschool games is that wikis and the like have replaced instruction booklets.

Dalisclock:

Something Amyss:
I thought this was what "True Gamers" wanted.

There does seem to be a certain segment of gamers who really like it if a game is (intentionally or not) difficult to figure out. Like, say, the stat system in Dark Souls.

Apparently it keeps the plebs out or something.

You sure about that Dark Souls thing? There's a help button in all the games which tells you what each stat does, even gives you exact numbers and percentages on the screen.

Dalisclock:

Something Amyss:
I thought this was what "True Gamers" wanted.

There does seem to be a certain segment of gamers who really like it if a game is (intentionally or not) difficult to figure out. Like, say, the stat system in Dark Souls.

Apparently it keeps the plebs out or something.

I call it Mike Mattei Syndrome.

Named after a livestream in which he condemned modern games while playing Mega Man because heaven for bid they let you figure it out on your own, but then kept asking what the power-ups did.

Back when DS came out and everyone was trying to hype it, they kept telling me it was simple: I just had to go to X wiki, watch several videos by Y, and study spreadsheet Z. It's not about being difficult or even not explaining things, it's about being obtuse enough that only True Gamers who are dedicated to making gaming a second job (or, in some cases, first) will get anywhere.

So yeah. Keeping the plebs out.

I grew up on Nintendo Power games, but apparently, that's what True Gamers want.

In tho old times we had a saying: RTFM (Read The Fucking Manual). This is no different. /jk

I remember that there's one bonus puzzle in Fez that has no actual way to figure out the solution other than just guessing.

Anyway, this topic makes me appreciate Nintendo's continued commitment to the craft of teaching players how to play and leading players to where they need to go.

Back in my day...

Seriously though, People are just gonna look this shit up anyways. so Why bother putting in the effort.

I do miss manuals though.

Something Amyss:

Back when DS came out and everyone was trying to hype it, they kept telling me it was simple: I just had to go to X wiki, watch several videos by Y, and study spreadsheet Z. It's not about being difficult or even not explaining things, it's about being obtuse enough that only True Gamers who are dedicated to making gaming a second job (or, in some cases, first) will get anywhere.

There was very little hype when Dark Souls originally came out in 2011. A bit more popular perhaps than Demon's Souls in 2009 but still way before lore videos by epicnamebro, the massive popularity of vaatividya(or youtube/streamers in general), the PC port or the ''souls community'' that all turned Dark Souls into the stupid meme it is today.

Back in oct 2011 the wiki was actually part of the experience. The ambiguity and sense of discovery is what made the game so memorable, espescially since it matched so perfectly with the dream like atmosphere of the game itself. Nowadays the internet hive mind will have plucked a game apart literal hours after it is released(sometimes even sooner) but when DkS was released it did what no game had done in decades: it made you intrigued, actively search for information and wait for new information to arrive(on the painfully slow updated wiki) while you explored the game for yourself.

With time and when the game got popular that part of the experience was completely lost and it's unlikely any game will be ever like that again. That kind of game design was already a lost art(even more impossible now) but it was definitely very cool to see it's return while it lasted.

stroopwafel:

Something Amyss:

Back when DS came out and everyone was trying to hype it, they kept telling me it was simple: I just had to go to X wiki, watch several videos by Y, and study spreadsheet Z. It's not about being difficult or even not explaining things, it's about being obtuse enough that only True Gamers who are dedicated to making gaming a second job (or, in some cases, first) will get anywhere.

There was very little hype when Dark Souls originally came out in 2011. A bit more popular perhaps than Demon's Souls in 2009 but still way before lore videos by epicnamebro, the massive popularity of vaatividya(or youtube/streamers in general), the PC port or the ''souls community'' that all turned Dark Souls into the stupid meme it is today.

Back in oct 2011 the wiki was actually part of the experience. The ambiguity and sense of discovery is what made the game so memorable, espescially since it matched so perfectly with the dream like atmosphere of the game itself. Nowadays the internet hive mind will have plucked a game apart literal hours after it is released(sometimes even sooner) but when DkS was released it did what no game had done in decades: it made you intrigued, actively search for information and wait for new information to arrive(on the painfully slow updated wiki) while you explored the game for yourself.

With time and when the game got popular that part of the experience was completely lost and it's unlikely any game will be ever like that again. That kind of game design was already a lost art(even more impossible now) but it was definitely very cool to see it's return while it lasted.

I love these retcon saving throws. Nothing like a touch of gaslighting to start my day.

Dalisclock:

Something Amyss:
I thought this was what "True Gamers" wanted.

There does seem to be a certain segment of gamers who really like it if a game is (intentionally or not) difficult to figure out. Like, say, the stat system in Dark Souls.

Apparently it keeps the plebs out or something.

There's actually a button for that on the inventory screen. Not to mention the game front loads a bunch of tutorials and stuff. And most of the hidden stuff is really only there for people who want to explore the game to its fullest. Just FYI.

Probably a lot of both. The soon to be/already released Anthem has a combo attack mechanic. Basically, some abilities Prime enemies, setting them up for the combo, and other abilities Detonate, executing the combo. What the game doesn't tell you is how to tell which abilities Detonate or Prime. The abilities that do have those effects have symbols next to them, but the game will never tell you what those symbols mean. The game also doesn't tell you that each suit has a different combo effect. The Ranger's combo does increased damage to the target primed. The Storm's combo spreads status effects to the surrounding enemies. Etc. One would think this information needs to be front and center so players know what they need if they're going solo, with randos, or with a team, but NOPE! I get the feeling this was more incompetence than catering to influencers, but I honestly can't tell.

Okay so what's considered bad tutorial vs expected exploration?
Look at Dark Souls. It's considered a great epic exploration game. Yet it tells you fuck all. Tells you how to move and hit and then just expects you to figure the rest out yourself. But no one considers it poorly tutorialized.

Older games had far more convoluted/obtuse systems and gave you a lot less to work from.

IMO devs have always been really shit about teaching people how to play their games and haven't exactly gotten lazier over time. But honestly I see this more as a design issue. Good games should be intuitive to learn how to play. Whether they use an actual tutorial, just have the level design accommodate, tooltips or a mix of everything.

Silentpony:
Okay so what's considered bad tutorial vs expected exploration?
Look at Dark Souls. It's considered a great epic exploration game. Yet it tells you fuck all. Tells you how to move and hit and then just expects you to figure the rest out yourself. But no one considers it poorly tutorialized.

No, pretty much everyone considers it poorly tutorialized.

You basically have to have someone teach you how the weapon upgrades work because otherwise it makes no sense.

Love the games, but there's a reason there's so many community guides for them, it's because pretty much all the mechanics are incredibly poorly explained.

Dirty Hipsters:

Silentpony:
Okay so what's considered bad tutorial vs expected exploration?
Look at Dark Souls. It's considered a great epic exploration game. Yet it tells you fuck all. Tells you how to move and hit and then just expects you to figure the rest out yourself. But no one considers it poorly tutorialized.

No, pretty much everyone considers it poorly tutorialized.

You basically have to have someone teach you how the weapon upgrades work because otherwise it makes no sense.

Love the games, but there's a reason there's so many community guides for them, it's because pretty much all the mechanics are incredibly poorly explained.

That's just to keep the filthy casuals out and so you can get that sense of Pride and Accomplishment /sarcasm

Silentpony:
Okay so what's considered bad tutorial vs expected exploration?
Look at Dark Souls. It's considered a great epic exploration game. Yet it tells you fuck all. Tells you how to move and hit and then just expects you to figure the rest out yourself. But no one considers it poorly tutorialized.

Honestly, knowing how to move and hit and what some fairly self explanatory stats like strength, health and stamina do will get you through most of the game just fine.

Silentpony:
Okay so what's considered bad tutorial vs expected exploration?
Look at Dark Souls. It's considered a great epic exploration game. Yet it tells you fuck all. Tells you how to move and hit and then just expects you to figure the rest out yourself. But no one considers it poorly tutorialized.

Dark Souls is an example of poor tutorialization.

I would point out Horizon Zero Dawn, Dead Space 2, or the new Tomb Raider games as games that did their "tutorials" well. The first few missions have short but informative hints that hover over things, then after that you are on your own.

The Dead Space games in particular are a brilliant master stroke in the shear level of detail in making things accessible. The games have no HUD elements. Everything you see is generated in the environment itself. Such as Isaac's space-suit RIG and it's spine-as-a-healthbar. Everything is made as intuitive as possible. While the combat brings the difficulty.

...

There are a lot of games that are way too reliant on their wikis. "Lets make the game, then just let the players have to explain it." I've been playing Elite Dangerous a bit lately and that game is really bad about that. It has interesting exploration elements (it has a very fascinating 1-1 simulation of the real milky way galaxy), but nothing is ever explained. While I appreciate having wiki's as a resource to consult in a pinch, I hate it when I have to use them for central game mechanics.

I remember this:

image

That's an perfect example of a proper tutorial to an INSANELY COMPLEX game. But most developers are too lazy to write an entire carefully detailed flight manual.

 

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