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View Poll Results: If the mainmenu of the game contains instructions, do you read them before you start?

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  • No, I never read them, I'd rather learn the game myself by trial-and-error

    13 29.55%
  • I scan them quick and roughly so I have atleast a small idea about what the game is about

    18 40.91%
  • Yes, I always read them before I start playing

    8 18.18%
  • Depends on...

    5 11.36%
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Thread: [research/poll] Game instruction? Do they support/influence you?

  1. #1
    Lunatic Baukereg's Avatar
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    [research/poll] Game instruction? Do they support/influence you?

    Im working on an assay about gamedesign as part of my final school assignment. As part of a chapter about usability, I would like to know more abour game instructions. I'd really appriciate it if you would contribute to this poll. Thanks you.

    Also, please tell me if you create a game, how do you implement instructions and why so?
    Last edited by Baukereg; 08-01-2007 at 04:57 AM.

  2. #2
    Trainee coder Viza's Avatar
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    Reading Instructions:
    Personally, I just quickly scan through them.

    Incorperating Instructions:
    I believe the best implemented game instructions are always quick and to the point (due to the nature of Flash games, people dont particualrly enjoy reading lengthy instructions for a game that could possibly only last for a few minutes), and don't disturb/force the player into reading them.
    Some things that I'll do when incorperating instructions in my games (aswell as the standard menu help) would be to either:
    1. Have an OPTIONAL tutorial or practise based level, for players to get used to the controls.
    2. Instructions during preloader. Unless you have a sponsorship or mochi-ad's, I dont understand why many people neglect showing atleast some instructions while people are doing nothing but waiting!
    3. Help bubbles (or whatever) that can optionally (again, dont force me to read instructions) pop up with a help message.
    I believe HA3 did both steps 1 + 3, if you need to see these steps in action or need a reference.
    Hope that helps.

    Viza

  3. #3
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    That's really interesting.

    For all the comercial games we made, the client ALWAYS ask for written explanation, too afraid to lose a customer no matter how clumsy that customer could ever be. It had to be the first screen after the splash one.

    We had to suck on lemon and implement that ugly/pointless thing all the time.

    But my personal experience has taught me that even when there is a popup window with only one button on it and quoting "to continue click the OK button", people still ask: What do I have to do?

    I think a game should be lke a story that leads you by the hand, silently and words kinda break that magic. Well the game I play anyway...
    Hope nobody knows I am still on Flash 5
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  4. #4
    M.D. mr_malee's Avatar
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    No, i hardly read instructions, only when i fail miserably will i return to the menu and read them. And then if I'm presented with any more than 2 paragraphs, its exit for me.

    I like training instructions, even a specialized training level is good, but Its better if you can just get straight into the action after familiarizing yourself with controls.

    I think there are two types of instructions, controls and aim. The aim of a game usually needs paragraphs, whereas controls need some graphics.

    I also think that most games shouldn't need them at all, like a shooter. Most gamers know that mouse shoots, W,A,S,D or keys move, and maybe SpaceBar jumps. Ctrl and shift are used sometimes, and very rarely is anything else, unless the game contains special functionality.

    Like artlink said, most clients require the stupid instructions screen, with the next, prev buttons. As above, I think its a tedious task to undertake for both developer and player. If I were to make some instructions today, it would be in the form of some training level or integrated within the first level.

    If you're looking for resources, try Heli Attack 3, i remember that having a nice introduction to the controls. If your after bad examples, try every single castle defense game out now.
    lather yourself up with soap - soap arcade

  5. #5
    Yes we can tomsamson's Avatar
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    i´ve added tracking for various sections of games several times and from my experience i can tell you that most people don´t visit dedicated instructions sections in games the first time round.
    So its heavily important where you place instructions.
    Its good to have a special instructions section/button on your main menu for the few that want to visit it but yeah, you´d also do good in placing them onto initial loading screens and in a first level or have a tutorial level as first one since most people will want to jump right into the game without reading anything ahead (and then might feel lost not even knowing the controls).
    Also, as malee pointed out, the length of instructions is very important, a dedicated instructions section could be a bit longer and in more detail while loading screen/in level instructions/guides should be way shorter, right on the spot.
    With web games one has to expect way lower attention spans per game/user than let´s say for a console title someone spent 60 bucks for, so yeah, you should try to make as many possible user types happy as possible to make sure they don´t quit the game again after two minutes while not having seen even just 1% of it.
    Last edited by tomsamson; 08-01-2007 at 07:19 AM.

  6. #6
    ism BlinkOk's Avatar
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    usually i add instructions to the splash screen.
    the best instructions are those that pop up in game, don't stop the game play and are intuitive enough to figure out when you understand them.
    i think people are too precious about the actual game play. they always add a tutorial level separate from the game. i almost never opt for the tutorial. i don't think people mind crashing and burning on their first try, especially if they learn how to play the game.
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  7. #7
    Senior Member Alluvian's Avatar
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    I was one of the 'depends on'. To help you break down my view on instructions, I never read them the first time I am playing a game.

    Two reasons for this:
    1) Most flash based games are not even worth the effort of reading the instructions. That is time I will never get back. I jump into the game to see what it is like. Often the game is such a train wreck that I just run away from it never to return.
    2) Most flash based games are so painfully simple that reading the instructions would take more than the .2 seconds it takes to understand the game by playing it.

    That said, I DO read the instructions if the game is worth my time and I want to see if there are any tips/tricks to help me get more enjoyment out of it. Basically I read the instructions for the nuances of the game that may not be readily apparent. Maybe there is some tips to how to get a higer score, or some ability I was not aware of.

    I will also read the instructions if the game looks nice, and I have no idea what buttons do what. This usually annoys me though, as I think the games should be easy enough to understand and at least get some rudimentary play out of them by just using the mouse or some quick keyboard experimentation.

  8. #8
    Senior Member UnknownGuy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BlinkOk
    i don't think people mind crashing and burning on their first try, especially if they learn how to play the game.
    That is so very true for me.

  9. #9
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    building a instuction sub menu is as dump imo. as adding a intro with a skip button. Exceptions may be if the game really is that difficult but for a simple keyboard game it should be enough overlaying the key- layout at loading time or as soon as the game starts.
    I always get irritated of menus that are bloated with intro´s slef promotion click banners (you can´t skip usually those) and complicated menu structure - all I want is to play the game.

    I think many games could be simplified by just removing the main menu at all - and just put everything directly into the game. E.g a copyright link (and please not big and bold)could be placed on the border,- control & rules layout overlayed when clicking on an "?" or automaticly at the beginning (and no fuc king X close wich are outdated,- just clickin on it or outside will hide it).

    Anyway the problem I think is that almost everyone thinks in clichés like having a main menu and a settings menu,load/save menu... ect.
    Esspecially with online games imo. the user ( at least I myself) don´t care about anything else except the core game itself (menu, intro, copyright,instructions) - so reduce them or replace them in a new way so that the user can play instantly because that´s usually what a online user expects - direct connection.

  10. #10
    Hype over content... Squize's Avatar
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    I'm not an instruction reader myself. I don't play many Flash games and if I'm looking at something that I need the instructions for then I switch off.

    In saying that, every game should have some form of instructions, to not have that is so wrong. It's a painful part of the development, but it's got to be done.
    Every game should be playable by the dumbest user to load it ( That's a rule of thumb which I took an age to learn ).

    In terms of how to implement your instructions, it does depend on the game type.
    With Polarity we needed quite a few pages of instructions to explain it, but we also catered for the gamers out there who would just want to dive straight in and play by displaying the keyboard controls when first starting ( Which are only displayed when you've not read all the instructions, once you've read them we dropped them out of the sequence ).

    There was talk of having pop-up instructions during the game, which we didn't go with because of the nature of it. It's a fast action blaster, the last thing you want to be doing is taking that away from the player straight away with a pause and a pop-up. What's suitable for a puzzle game, isn't the best way for a platformer, or a shoot'em up.

    In the Game of life, we did a similar two pronged approach, with instructions there for people who like that kind of thing, and an intro story giving you a gist of what you'd be doing ( To hopefully convey the reason behind doing what you're doing, and giving you a taste of what's to come without having to read pages of instructions ), and a controls overlay during the game ( Due to their being multiple control types with their being multiple games ).
    We also supplemented some of the games with on-screen prompts too.

    Again we were planning on having help pop-ups, but time / budget was against us, and there's a fine line between hand holding and just getting in the way.

    Squize.

  11. #11
    file not found Captain_404's Avatar
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    The one thing I absolutely hate is when a game forces instructions on you, I think the option should always be present, but not obligatory.

    The only time that I ever read instructions is when I can't figure out what on earth is going on in the game, which is not often considering most games are simple rehashes of other games, or at least use a common game mechanic.

  12. #12
    Senior Member Ray Beez's Avatar
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    I'm a big believer in:
    - intuitive gameplay
    - teaching the player in Level 1, with easy option to turn it off

    By intuitive gameplay I mean that the first level is designed in such a way that the player will inherently figure out what does what. That means a level that is very LOW on threats. It means, time or an area where you can move, jump, whatever, without risk of injury, and then introducing threats gradually; Introducing skills one at a time.

    That is the way most of the best Nintendo, and other games are structured. Best to learn by DOING than it is to read huge paragraphs of ugly text.

    Other than Nintendo games, a good reference are the top casual games from PopCap, GameHouse and others. They teach you what to do, and I really don't mind. Hell even the great Civilization games "teach as you go" on the first time playing.

    Here's a great example of "teaching the player" through gameplay:
    I remember playing this side scroller, way back when. I was in a level for the first time, that took place in a cave. At one point there were stalagtites you could shoot and they fall down. Well, the first time you encounter this, there is an enemy there, and your instinct is to immediately shoot your weapon. Well the level layout was such that the weapon shot hits the stalagtite, breaks it off, and it fallson the enemy killing it. So there you go. Through gameplay I learned to kill those guys by shooting the stalagtites. No need for a frigging pop-up to tell me this, and no need to let me find out the hard way by dieing ten times trying to figure out how to beat this enemy.
    Last edited by Ray Beez; 08-01-2007 at 05:44 PM.

  13. #13
    Pencil Farmer cadin's Avatar
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    I wrote about this on my blog some time ago. Here's the post:
    How To Play

    In a nutshell: Less is more.

  14. #14
    Zombie Coder EvilKris's Avatar
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    I'll read through instructions. The one thing that is death for a game in my viewpoint is a crappy vector drawn intro. If your art is anything but gorgeous, don't bother IMO.

  15. #15
    Game Player - Developer scheletro's Avatar
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    I almost never read instructions, if I do I just want to see what key to press and to make what

    If I see those instructions that make me go to one screen to another i just close the game

    And for experience with clients, the always ask me to make a hole explanation of whats going to happen in the game, no graphics, I prefer a little paragraph and some graphic buttons and what the do, thats all

    Meya be we need to divide instructions and how, so the people that doesnt want to read just know which buttons use and if the game is so good, maybe you want to read what is all about, maybe the story or why the hero has to rescue the princes


    "I love to make them as I love to play them"

  16. #16
    Who needs pants? hooligan2001's Avatar
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    I agree with marlee, I don't read them to begin with. When It isn't obvious to me what to do after a few goes I quickly scan through it. The less reading the better

    I like what they did with heli attack 3 and have a quick training level that goes over the basics of the game. Its a very intuitive idea.

  17. #17
    ....he's amazing!!! lesli_felix's Avatar
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    I just want to pick up and play a game. It's not something I can dedicate much time to doing. I've had PC full spectrum warrior sitting on my shelf for a while and I've not made it past the third training level. And I probably won't.

    Game developers should always find ways to make games as accessible as possible, and if the controls are more than cursor keys and space, they should find fun ways of instructing players along the way. A training level is the most obvious, but even this can be dull (see above)

    I've been playing mario bros on the nintendoDS, and the hidden instruction system is genius. You're prompted to find marios extra moves by certain parts of levels that are unnaccessible without doing a wall jump, speed walk etc. It 100% seamless to the game. Ok it's not full spectrum warrior, but the principle can be applied anywhere.

    That's how it should be done. Ray Beez is right, nintendo really have intuitive gaming mastered.

    Oh and with web-based games... don't use the keyboard unless you absolutely have to. If you can make a game 100% mouse controlled, you'll appeal to about ten times as many potential players, and you won't need any control instructions because point and click is totally intuitive.

  18. #18
    Lunatic Baukereg's Avatar
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    Forgot to say thanks for all the replies!

  19. #19
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    I jump right into the game. Only if i cannot figure out what buttons to press to do "stuff" do i then go back and read, and then, it is only to get the controls, then its right back into the game.

  20. #20
    Who needs pants? hooligan2001's Avatar
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    Sorry malee no disrespect, don't know how I got your name wrong

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