Elemental: Advisors

By on April 13, 2010 4:19:26 PM from JoeUser Forums JoeUser Forums

Frogboy

Join Date 03/2001
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Galactic Civilizations II had advisors for the players. The players could query the advisors and it would give advice on what it thought they should do.

Unfortunately, I wrote the advisors in Galactic Civilizations II and my bias was always pretty anti-human so when I say players, I mean the computer players.  Humans did not have access to the advisors. It was always considered an unfortunate necessity that the computer players had to tolerate having humans in their game since humans were the ones who spending money to play it.

In Elemental, the advisors will be back and this time human players will be able to access them for help and advice.  The idea is that, especially early game and for new players, the advisors will offer a means to walk the player through the game.  I very much want to avoid putting in some sort of “tutorial” but rather have a system where players can learn the game by AI driven advisors.

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April 14, 2010 1:24:29 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I do not really feel that an actual tutorial is needed,, however i am not sure what my opinion would be if I had never previously played a 4X game.

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April 14, 2010 1:28:25 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

A tutorial can be phrased as an internal dialog of the sovereign, if you're worried about breaking immersion.  I'm fairly confident that there are some fun conceits to play with in that regard.

A tutorial also gives firmer control over the player's initial experience with the game, which can be helpful.

I would like a tutorial. 

Also, when faced with loading screens, a pool of one-line "tips and tricks" is pretty standard now-a-days and I think they're a good idea.

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April 14, 2010 1:30:02 AM from Stardock Forums Stardock Forums

hmmm would be good if the advisors had personalitys that make them unique, kinda like to chose them simalair to how you make your Sov so they don't feel like your stuck with them, they should have enough depth to them to make fit in with this being part Rpg.

you might need a tutorial for people that have never played something like this before or you could just use videos which were nice for Gal Civ 2.

make sure we can toggle advisors off.

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April 14, 2010 2:02:39 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

What if your advisor is a sort of familiar.  You can choose to have a wise owl for an advisor, or a defensive minded turtle etc...

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April 14, 2010 2:25:35 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Frogboy,
Sounds to me that people DO want a tutorial. If that is the case, we'll need to revisit that.

In fact I'd like a tutorial (and I would kill to help write it ) AND advisors. At the moment I'm playing king's arthur the roleplaying wargame, and each time somethign new appears, a help windows explain what I need to know. Every options like map, round table, objectives are introduced one after another.

But what would be even better is the sUpreme Commander way to do it : first you get on the map, but you're restricted to a little area, and when you reach objectives your area expands, you don't start another game or whatever. So you feel that every actions from the start will matter at the end.

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April 14, 2010 4:23:19 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

If you're going to have a campaign, then the first, preferably optional, mission should double as a tutorial. Many people, myself sometimes included, will jump into a game without reading any of the manual. In the absence of a tutorial, it means you just have to figure things out yourself and it is usually pretty easy to go a long time ignorant of some very basic parts of the game (I could imagine people not really knowing how prestige connects to many game mechanics, etc).

Some tutorials fail because they try to do too much; a tutorial will never teach a new player to be an advanced player. Keep the tutorial simple, use it to familiarize players with the game's foundation and any concepts or mechanics that aren't self-explanatory. Essentially, a tutorial should give a good enough grasp of the game so that when something happens, they can understand/figure out why and how it happened. For example, there will be too many structures for a tutorial to cover exhaustively; instead the tutorial should be focused on providing the player with the insight necessary to understand what all the buildings do based on their infocard.

A civilopedia-type interface goes a long way, as well. Don't remember what that particular property does? Look it up in-game! It's like having an in-game wikipedia, where all the information a player could want is available. If I look up "Prestige" it should tell me exactly what it does, and what affects it.

I think the combination of a tutorial with a "civilopedia" is the best combination; the tutorial helps you get started, the civilopedia helps you learn the ins and outs of everything as you encounter them, at your own pace and also gives advanced players a place to go if they forget or want to double-check something.

Advisors are great for beginners, but tend to be very annoying for advanced players. That, of course, depends on their implementation. For example in SimCity 2000, advisors warnings were useful, but I usually ignored their advice and solved the problems in my own way. 

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April 14, 2010 4:50:50 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I do not entirely understand why so many people are worried about the Advisors being "annoying" or detrimental. The only "negative" aspect to the Advisors I can see is that it would give the human player too an "unfair" advantage. I imagine the advisors being like the f5 tab in the Civilization series -- after a while, an experienced player simply does not look at it anymore, but it is very helpful for a new player.

That being said, I have rarely seen a tutorial I did not find helpful. I would only leave a tutorial out of the game if it required too much of my precious resources. But if you have the time for making a tutorial, you should certainly consider having one.

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April 14, 2010 5:18:38 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I also like to have a tutorial in the game. I think a well done tutorial is essential in making a game, especially a 4x game accessible to new players. Prologue in a campaign is an usual but perfectly acceptable way.

Advisors would be nice for intermidate players but i would also like it very much to see them represented in a meaningful manner in the game world - be it as a real circle of advisors you have to recruit with their own bonuses and personalities, different familiars or companions. It would get annoying to see the same 3 or 4 faces with the same advices playing kingdom or empire.

A good civilopedia which also should be easy to adapt to mods is a powerful tool for any player, beginner or advanced alike and should be included as well.

Last but not least i really would like to see a good printed or pdf manual, but this manual will get more and more inaccurate as the game gets updates, so the integrated game help is more important in my opinion.

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April 14, 2010 5:23:44 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

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April 14, 2010 5:33:24 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

A good civilopedia which also should be easy to adapt to mods is a powerful tool for any player, beginner or advanced alike and should be included as well.

Aye, a tutorial is nice to have. But an elementopedia is a must.

Imho it's much more useful for new players to be able to click on context sensitive links in game which explains them what certain buildings and concepts do then a one time tutorial.

 

For example, when I build my first city it currently says:

Because this land is forsaken, it will cost 5 your essence to build on. Acceptable?

 

This doesn't tell anything to a new player. (Btw. it also needs it's grammar fixed. ) A newbie doesn't know what forsaken land is and what's that essence stuff he's supposed to spend on.

 

Because this land is forsaken, it will cost 5 your essence to build on. Acceptable?

Forsaken leads to an article explaining native land types for Men and Fallen.

Essence leads to an article explaining the game concept behind essence and what's it used for.

 

This is much more useful for new players since they can ask for crucial help when they need it and it goes much better with the game flow.

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April 14, 2010 7:06:19 AM from Sins of a Solar Empire Forums Sins of a Solar Empire Forums

Quoting Wintersong,
pretty pictures of furries and some paperclip

When using war advice simulations, always upgrade to the latest version because military doctrine changes fast. Don't make Hitlers mistake of using a BETA version when the rest of the world was on version 4.6.1 with the trial version of the race compatability pack installed.

 

Tutorials work best in the form of compelling framerates gameplay. That is a real story with objectives that match instructive goals. I don't think its going to help anyone to see a video in the top corner of brad in a tshirt saying

"Hi there, Im Brad. This is Elemetal and Im going to teach you how to play the game. First select the unit on the screen. Now click on the marry button. No click on another unit. You clicked on [WILD DRAGON]. Cool. Now that you are married to your new friend you can have children and you can exploit them just like I exploit my workers. Who are also my children (but don't tell anyone). Why don't you take your [WILD DRAGON] for a romantic night out? This will increase your bond and improve the moral of your soldiers who get to watch your love making. [YOU HAVE RECIVED -1000 MORALE AS YOUR SOLDIERS WITNESSED THE DESTRESSING ACT OF THIER SOVERIGN MATING WITH A [WILD DRAGON]. 7 SOLDIERS HAVE DIED.]

Now that you know how to play with your soverign why don't I teach you about city management? First off you will need food to feed the people so build a farm now.

[You have built a farm.]

Now build some of the housing buildings. Until you get enough hosuing for 10 people.

[You have built a large mud hut.] [You now have room for 1 person(s).] [You have built a large mud hut.] [You have built a large mud hut.] [You now have room for 2 person(s).] [You have built a large mud hut.][You have built a large mud hut.][You have built a large mud hut.][You have built a large mud hut.][You have built a large mud hut.][You have built a large mud hut.][You have built a large mud hut.][You have built a large mud hut.][You have built a large mud hut.][You have built a large mud hut.][You have built a large mud hut.][You have built a large mud hut.][You have built a large mud hut.][You have built a large mud hut.][You have built a large mud hut.][You have built a large mud hut.][You have built a large mud hut.]

[Turn 147] [You now have room for 10 person(s).]

Okay now that you have 10 people why don't you build a weaponsmith?

[You cannot build that - your city does not have enough room - to make more room destroy unessesary buildings].

[You have destroyed: FARM]

[Turn 148]

[GAME OVER - Your city starved to death.]"

 

 

(I was bored)

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April 14, 2010 7:27:29 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Frogboy,
Sounds to me that people DO want a tutorial. If that is the case, we'll need to revisit that.

If you look over the general forum there's a couple of "new tester, what do I do?" threads. For anybody who has already played a similar TBS game, it's fairly obvious how most of the controls work and what you're supposed to be doing (except for how to send units together as a group, THAT part of the UI needs work).

But for a player new to this type of game, exactly what they're supposed to be doing at the beginning of a game is pretty mysterious. Those people are the ones who need a tutorial, and that's even more true if there is eventual plans for a demo version of Elemental. When a new person is trying it, you don't want them to give up because they don't know how to build their first city.

 

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April 14, 2010 8:39:15 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Advisors tend to

1 have no idea what they are talking about, since player strategies develop over time and get refined. The advisors will then keep telling you that you need to do X, when you know that Y is perfectly fine and that you certainly have enough X.

2 be annoying.

3 be oblivious to whatever is going on so they are moderately useful at best.

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April 14, 2010 8:39:57 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Do you guys remember Civ2? It had advisors, six of them, if I remember correctly, each representing a facet of you empire. Sometimes the advisors weren't in touch with reality, but often they could give you a quick glimpse of what's wrong in their area. For example, to this day, I remember my military advisor saying 'You need to build more ships, your majesty, and LET THE SEAS GET RED, WITH BLOOD!'. It was voice acted, and was awesome.

As for Elemental:

Advisors are an excellent idea. Suppose, in mid-late game, you open your finance tab to see why you are losing money. Now, an experienced player could tell from the data what's wrong, but even he would need some time for that. An advising AI, on the other hand, could simply point the player's attention to the fact that, say, the army is just too big for your empire and you can't support it. A player who is unfamiliar with the mechanics won't be able to judge whether it's the army that is too big or whether it's his economy that's in shambles.

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April 14, 2010 9:15:47 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I see two separate components to learning a game where a tutorial and advisors are each respectively helpful.

The first is learning the UI and mechanical interactions within a game. Here a tutorial mission is very useful as it gives new players an idea of what is possible within the game world. Missions like this should generally be stand-alone and skippable so players that feel comfortable can skip it and not be bored. Nothing is more frustrating to a new player than not knowing how to perform an action or not realizing some very useful ability exists until it is too late, which is what a tutorial of this nature helps avoid. I definitely support the addition of something like this as it usually amounts to a nice comfortable introduction to the basics of the game.

The second aspect of learning a game is the part that Gazing was touching on. Understanding the more abstract elements of how individual components interact and how to exploit them is a lot tougher than learning the UI and is pretty difficult to teach in a tutorial (this is a good thing, as this is where the meat of the  game lies). I feel similarly to Gazing in that an AI advisor should not necessarily tell a human player what to do next, as that will inevitable stifle creative thinking and often be less than ideal for a given situation. They should, however, be able to tell a player what is causing problems within their empire so the player can find solutions.

Edit: It should be noted I think the level of advisor help should be tunable on a game by game basis to the player's liking. A new player (or me, who generally can use all the help he can get ), for example, might want to see an event notification (like when a new building is made) whenever an advisor has something new to share. Clicking the notification would bring the player there. A player who wants only occasional assistance could turn these off but manually get to them when desired. An experienced player who finds them annoying or a player who just wants to avoid using them could turn the panel off altogether.

 

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April 14, 2010 9:42:05 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

This may not apply exactly, but one of the features Worldwide Soccer Manager (aka Football Manager) implemented in the past few years was bolstering the advice of the assistant coaches.  The game had so many options and strategies that having AI help you make choices made the game so much more playable and informative.  Now, not all of the advice was good or accurate (it was your job as the manager to determine this), but the advice made the game so much more enjoyable.

Advisors coupled with charts, graphs, and data really would help to formulate a great strategy.  This is assuming they're helpful and provide good advice, but this probably also fits in with AI programming work anyway.

I vote for a tutorial for two reasons:

1.  You'll be docked by reviewers for not having one.

2.  It will help you better identify with players playing for the first time.  What things to they need to know?  How do they interact with the game?  This keeps your focus on usability.  It wouldn't have to be long or extensive but available for those that want it.

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April 14, 2010 9:47:42 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

If i remember correctly, the Civ 2 advisors were extremely annoying (war guy allways told me to either build up my army or go to war, science guy allways said "research more" or "we're #1")  \

 

Please try to avoid this.

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April 14, 2010 10:09:47 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

i vote for tutorial videos i always learn the most from them

 

 

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April 14, 2010 10:46:33 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I can see 4 viable options (some listed already)

1 - Pop up Info/Tip Boxes (of any highlighted object on the map) via the F(?) button. (on demand mode)

2 - Advisers - again in some form of on-demand mode (advise could be categorized for ease of use.... Cities/Tech/Questing

3 - A Demo (no better way to get into a game than playing a small demo version)

4 - A comprehensive in Box manual, that is then supplemented by an Online Elementalpedia

 

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April 14, 2010 11:46:09 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting John_Hughes,
I can see 4 viable options (some listed already)

1 - Pop up Info/Tip Boxes (of any highlighted object on the map) via the F(?) button. (on demand mode)

2 - Advisers - again in some form of on-demand mode (advise could be categorized for ease of use.... Cities/Tech/Questing

3 - A Demo (no better way to get into a game than playing a small demo version)

4 - A comprehensive in Box manual, that is then supplemented by an Online Elementalpedia

 

 

I am all for a good manual (in fact I got the limited edition mainly for the promise of a big fat tome of a manual) but we must remember that a lot of people will be getting this digitally. In that format a pdf manual is only of limited utility as it is tough to refer to while playing the game and frankly not all that readable even in better situations. With that in mind some kind of in-game assistance is vital.

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April 14, 2010 11:57:45 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I'm thinking of having it part of the event tree that would be able to be turned on and off in teh options.

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April 14, 2010 12:50:16 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Frogboy,
Sounds to me that people DO want a tutorial. If that is the case, we'll need to revisit that.

For a tutorial, I always liked the way the first Imperium Galactica was set up. The entire map was present in the game, but you only had access to small bit at first. As you progressed you would increase in rank and the scope of what you could do and your area of responsibility would increase.

It kept you from having everything thrown at you all at once.

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April 14, 2010 1:12:16 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Wintersong... your a sick person... but I am giving Karma for that pic... Cause I can hear that stupid voice in my head saying that exact line...

 

(Comment more later on Tutorials. Just got off a 12hr shift need to sleep... sleep...)

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April 14, 2010 1:26:43 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Event tree, Nah make it a Tech, You could have Tutorial, Advanced Tutorials, and Refined Tutorials

Of course you only can research this tech if you have a Pioneer who have built a Tutorial improvement which is on the little island out in the sea gaurded by a dragon.

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April 14, 2010 1:57:23 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Frogboy,
I'm thinking of having it part of the event tree that would be able to be turned on and off in the options.

 

I think we may have a winner.

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