Hello all, it's Cassel, developer of <Ratopia>.
Ratopia’s Steam Next Fest schedule has ended great!
Thank you so much for the interest.
Even the festival ended, the demo is still available on Steam so hope you enjoy it any time you wish.
On today’s DevDiary, I brought the topic that was a hot potato: tutorials.
With this chance I would like to explain how this massive (and quite tedious) tutorial has produced,
And how are we planning to improve it.
First thought: Tutorial Stages
The early plan was to make separated stage for tutorial
The tutor would’ve been the queen, who was a formal ruler and also mother of the player character.
With her education, the player was to understand the system of the world,
And later lose everything because of the trouble inside of the kingdom, and the outer threats.
So the part where the Player plays was to rebuild the kingdom as rightful heir of the land.
Ruin has come to our family…
This was to make the players experience developed city,
So that they would get inspiration and the willingness to build something from nothingness.
Moreover, we were sure that the story would enhance the immersion of the game.
But always, what is good is hard to make.
This was a job that could be done only at the very end of the development,
and we all knew it.
If we have begun with making such styled tutorial, the game might have ended with it.
Time flew while we were in hesitation,
and various exhibitions were upcoming.
There was no time, but the tutorial was needed.
So we’ve decided to make temporary tutorials.
Making a tutorial all the sudden was quite hard.
The time was limited, and when used too much on current tutorial could possibly ends with giving up what we have intended to make.
In addition, tutorials on current state had high chance to be changed.
Separating the stage on current stage would need great time on both developing and managing,
So we had to make it as efficient as possible, within the boundary of functions implemented.
With so much time on thinking, we’ve tried to make tutorials using alarm function.
A little rat twits endlessly
This, never ending twittering was quite problematic.
Not only the players were unable to follow the scenario of learning,
But also they could not read all because the texts would disappear after short time.
In addition, back than there were few basic ratizens from the beginning,
So if player is not quick enough, they could not follow what was written because the ratizens would do whatever the player ordered.
So we’ve decided to make a better one,
organizing the order of explanation again.
Firstly, we’ve removed all the base ratizens to remove possible variables.
Begin with basic character moves, we’ve put objectives in a mission-like form,
So that to make the players to know what to do, and to make them play the next tutorials after the mission.
Unrelated functions were even locked so that the players would not get lost in the middle.
Early tutorial flow
However, among the tutorials some were not really fit with such linear structure.
For example, jump, hunting, and battle were those.
This was mainly caused by the variety of the maps, and the situation caused by it.
For instance, hunting tutorial could pop up even where there’s none to hunt.
So we’ve changed some tutorial to be a trigger method, which is followed by the player’s action.
Now the jump tutorial will be played when the player meets a cliff,
And the hunting tutorial would come out if a rabbit is standing in front.
These temporal tutorials seemed great, and we thought the players would play the game easily.
And the exhibition begun.
So many problems were followed.
From those who forget to aim to those who build a structure on a plane cannot be reached,
And some were just digging underground and could not come out from there.
So many situations that cannot be solved were happening.
Arrrrrrrrrrrgh! There’s empty space right! There!
Jump and hunting were also causing problems.
They were just popped up way too soon, because the players were just wondering around.
Many were hunting rabbits as they were enjoying RPGs.
Well, enjoying would not be that bad, but we did not want the game to be a Rabbit Hunter.
Pull out your sword! Yeah! And smash the rabbit!
Players who were following the tutorial well were also hunted rabbits,
And many just forgot what they were doing before.
Because those tutorials were unable to be checked,
many players had no choice but to stop playing the game.
It was really heartbreaking to watch.
After the exhibition we were in hurry to improve the tutorial.
The first we have added was help tips that can be readable any time.
We thought the players now can check what they want to know any time so through this,
it seemed that we could reduce the player dropout rate,
and since it was easy to develop, we could add it quickly.
This help tips were written in short terms with key words to make information easier to find,
And later we’ve added pictures and highlights for better understanding.
Gif or videos could be better but we decided to postpone such things,
because we were worried about the chance to be changed, and their data sizes.
I have a dream that one day we might use it as an archive
After that, we’ve added tutorial to notice the players about the existence of help tips.
Then we’ve added tutorials about the features of the game that we’ve forgot to put on the first place,
such as to build toilet that is hygiene structure, and to build cercus stand that is joy structure.
Some triggers were fixed too.
We’ve placed rabbit holes and other animal-spawn objects a bit further away,
so that the hunting tutorial would not pops up in the middle of other actions.
In addition, we've postponed enemy spawn time so the players could focus more on system understanding.
Those changes were simple but effective.
Then we’ve done online tests.
Still, a lot of people were asking for tutorial’s improvements.
This time the problem was not from the basics, but on the later contents.
Look at the graph! Yeah! We need more explanations! Horraaaaayy!
So this time, we’ve decided to remake the tutorial from the base.
After this, Steam Next Fest was planned,
and we were sure that this is the biggest chance to hear the voice of all players in the world.
The goal of the tutorial this time was to make none to fail to understand the game’s features.
From zero to hundred, if followed tutorial with time.
To make this happen, we had to lessen the linear parts,
and make most of the tutorials to be based on trigger system.
This had a high chance to interrupt the player’s actions,
But could show what kind of action could be done on current page with great chance.
So now even if you do not need a tutorial but if you opened the storage,
Explanations about the storage would pop up and tell you what you can do with it.
Moreover, to prevent from could-not-read-because-I-was-doing-something situation,
We’ve implemented pause feature to all the tutorials.
Follow the yellow icons, and save the world!
We knew some problems could be followed,
but thought it would be okay because at lease the goal could be reached.
Now the Steam next fest have begun, and we could see many streamers were playing the game.
But what we have neglected was quite problematic.
Because there were so many texts, but the speed of the words were same from the earlier,
We could see that so many were repeating to press buttons to skip the words.
Because of that, even something was taught right before, some could not remember it.
The problem was greater in English version.
Since we are Koreans and could make Korean language short enough to understand,
But while we were translating Korean to English,
we’ve focused too much to make sure there’s no misunderstanding,
making the words way too much repetitive and boring.
And the pausing feature were continually interrupting the flow of play,
added the boredom and frustration.
Good news was that now we could see really few players were wondering around like they did before due to lack of the tutorial.
Well, many got tired while pressing E or A to skip the words, but still, the main goal was achieved.
But we could clearly see the problem too.
I think the main reason why this got this tedious is because we had so many to explain,
In fact, what we wish to explain, not had to explain.
So we have boosted up the texts speed,
and tried to shorten the words by removing unnecessary repeats.
We are quite sure that you will feel much
Though we are still unsure where to show what and until which point the tutorial supposed to exist,
And how should we make it less boring and more enjoyable,
But since there is no clear answer, so that part is on us.
So the July’s DevDiary is ends here.
The weather got really hot and wet, so please be careful of the Summer.
The sentence sounded a bit weird, but yes, it’s Summer, so…
Hope you have a great month, and I’ll meet you on the next DevDiary :)