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PostPosted: Mon Jun 07, 2010 9:03 am 
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Uru is a great game. Unfortunately, it's an MMO stripped back a single player game with a clear goal with some secondary goals added after the fact and then an online component added for experienced players that was then expanded back into an MMO. Which after all that, leads to quite possibly the least intuitive start in the history of MMOs.

So with Uru now free, and about (for a given value of about) to become open, let's try to come up with a to-do list of small changes that might be able to rectify that unfortunate situation and actually make this game playable from the start in a non-frustrating way without someone over your shoulder telling you what to do. All sorts of suggestions to make it a smooth experience.

Let's try and avoid talking about things that would require a long committed rewrite of basic mechanics for the moment, though; those can have discussions all to themselves. This is just for all those little things that confuse people and stop them sticking with trying out this neat game they found for free and thought they'd give a go; things that once it is open we could fairly easily have at and improve, assuming they get approved by whatever mechanism ends up in place to do so that's still to be settled on elsewhere.


Start of the Game
  • Return to starting in the cleft
This has been said before many a time, for obvious reasons. Jumping into the game at Relto just makes no narrative sense, and leaves players with no idea how to proceed. Dropping them in at the Cleft gives them a clear purpose, introduces them to the idea of completing ages with journeys, lets them know WHY they end up on Relto, serves as a tutorial, and just plain works well as a start of a game.

Leaves the issue of what to do if you quit or you want to go straight into the city. Possible suggestions:
  • If you quit in this section you simply return to the desert in the same state upon return instead of to your Relto.
  • A button in place of the Relto book presents you with a fourth-wall breaking dialog allowing you to skip this section for the moment, leaving you with the one-pillar starting Relto.
Also, if we are considering this a tutorial section for people who might go 'oh hey a free game let's give this a go', and as considering that it's the only totally single-player portion of the game:
  • Consider speeding up the cleft to get them to Relto ASAP, at the very least by moving the evil annoying journey to the other side of the metal sheet where it can be seen.
I predict much disagreement on that last so likely ain't gonna happen though.

Hitting Relto

So in any case, you appear in Relto. This is a Myst game, which means the first thing that you do, the place you think you're meant to go, is the most obvious book available to you; what's currently on the bookshelf. This obviously wasn't an issue in the original Ages Beyond Myst, but now when you first reach Relto you have multiple paths before you, and people aren't going to pay much attention to some weird metal cylinder with no obvious switches or buttons on it. They'll assume the game is in the book, and how often do we have people asking "hay guys I found my way to this weird town place with a fountain but I don't know where the game is"? The solution to this is simple:
  • Have the Pillar(s) already open when you first reach Relto
Obvious, displayed and open book in significant-looking holders, it's clear where the game's first puzzles are. Problem solved.

The Confusing-ass instancing

Right now the most confusing point of the instancing is the Hood instance of Ae'gura. Now, I know there needs to be a hood instance so you can have somewhere when the ages link to a city location without hitting up against the 50-person limit, but putting it on the bookshelf means people will assume that that's the main city link and be totally confused when they end up in this empty city, and stay confused until someone explains the distinction to them. The idea of there being two different versions of the city is very counterintuitive, and if we need it we should at least hide it away a bit.

Ergo, I'd like to remove the Ae'gura book from the bookshelf. Personally, I'd prefer to replace it with a book that links to the city, but apparently that'd take some deep engine meddling, as existing book code can't check how many people are in an age. So if we do that the City is reached through the nexus, and the Hood version is only accessed via the various links from the ages (I don't believe any of the age->city links let you wander around the city proper and discover it's empty. Except Kadish, but that could be changed back to how it was (blocked off)

Of course, that brings up the issue of what to do if you want to link into the bits of the city that on the bookshelf book are other pages. Um.

Let's discuss this. I think there'd probably be a quite simple solution to this (maybe use Nexus for those links?) but I really do think that having the Ae'gura book on the shelf linking to the hood instance just invites a massive amount of confusion.

Neighborhoods

When I go to public links at the moment, all I see is a bajillion little "PantaloonConsumer8764's neighborhood population 0"s, and if I don't know PantaloonConsumer8764 then I don't think I would ever really have a need to visit. If I do know him, I can just get a Ki invite into the hood.

That said, there ARE circumstances where you want public hoods, though; specific language hoods ('German hood'), things like the GoG. How about if you want to create a public hood you have to ask for one to be created from the game masters (on the understanding that they'll approve most anything so we don't get into arguments about what's needed) That'd remove the issue of a billion public hoods clogging things up because every Tom, expletive and Harry made a hood and public'd it just because they could, whilst not impeding the creation of a hood when someone legitimately wants to make one. Also fix up having to create a character called GoG to create the GoG neighborhood.
  • Remove the ability to make your hood public. Make public hoods something that Mods need to create on request.
To make the DRC hoods as effective as possible as general more personal and small meeting places:
  • Order them with generic DRC hoods at the top then the specific purpose hoods below. Have headers if possible, dividing it into sections.
  • Make sure the number of DRC hoods are kept to a bare minimum - preferable that people get into gaps in older existing public hoods rather than endless numbers of new ones be created that soon get mostly abandoned. (No idea if this is what happens now)
And changing your hood is fiddly as fiery abyss. Alternative suggestion?
  • Make changing your hood a matter of clicking, say, a pile of linking books in the hood and accepting a prompt telling you that taking this book will replace your current hood.
And Just Because
  • Name the DRC hoods something like and 'Bevin Neighborhood' or 'Seret Neighborhood' or 'Trelen Neighborhood' or other things off a list of d'ni sounding names, rather than DRC Hood (532). (Only would work if we do separate the list into DRC hoods and Other Public hoods)
  • Alphabetise the list of hoods so I can find what I'm looking for.
Obtaining the ugh Ki

This, of everything, is the most important change here. The other issues are counterintuitive, whereas the process of getting your Ki at the moment is actively obstructionist for a person without someone to tell them what to do. Especially for something that's so key to the online community. So here's what I suggest:
  • Remove the initial neighbourhood book on your Relto bookshelf, and add a Nexus book that's there at the start. When you link into the Nexus book and try to use the nexus without your Ki, an error tone sounds and the Nexus presents you with a link to the Ki-dispensing only version of Gahreesen currently in the hood. After obtaining the Ki, the Nexus works normally and you can use it to reach the City and the Hoods (we remove this Gahreesen instance from the hoods)
Or there's always an alternative that a friend suggested:
  • Again, have the Nexus as the book that's there from the start. The Nexus is also a Ki despenser. The lesser Gahreesen instance is altogether removed.
They both work, make sense in-canon and out of canon, and are nice, simple solutions.

Speaking of the nexus...

The Nexus

Back when the Nexus debuted, it wasn't something that you'd use THAT often or repeatedly. Nowadays, however, it's a much more integral part of uru, and when you're multiplayering in friends' ages it can be especially annoying every time you panic link or the game crashes to have to go Relto->Bookshelf->Pull out book->Link->Open Interface->Navigate to Age->Call up Book->Link. As a result, the process of reaching and using the Nexus should be much faster. Suggestions for this:
  • Move the Nexus book to a Pedestal in Relto or some similar "single-click to bring up the linking panel" location rather than the bookshelf (perhaps propped open on the opposite shelf?)
Speeding up the actual use of the Nexus by truncating or removing unnecessary animation and interaction.
  • Have the Nexus interface already open to the last screen screen it was on and the last entry already selected, ready to hit the top button to bring up the book.
  • Have the Nexus always spinning whenever it's not presenting a book so that the animation to actually present a book only requires a (relatively immediate) slow-down and unfold book upon hitting the button, not the full spin-up, spin for a while, slow-down, unfold book.
Also
  • Reduce Confusion in the Nexus by renaming the categories to something more self-explanatory. Suggestion: "Central City", "Neighborhoods", "[Character Name]'s Books", "Shared Books"
Using the ugh Ki

Has whole threads to itself and I'm not even gonna try and talk about it here. Some of you have seen my suggestion, there are many others, talk about it in those threads. Suffice to say I think something should be done. In the interim, there should be a very simple and explanatory Ki guide in-game that's easy to find. Maybe put one in Relto on the Opposite Shelf when you get your Ki. Or in Gahreesen on a pedestal next to the dispenser with a few explanatory sketches for the basic functions.

Path of the Shell End

At the moment, Ahnonay and Er'cana are multiplayer puzzles, ones you can only complete as a group. But once you complete someone's pair of these instances, the final combination you get for the Cleft imager only works for whoever's hosting the group, and you all have to go and help each member of the group complete their pair of instances. That's just silly. Simple solution to this:
  • Everyone sees their own combination on the wall, no matter whose wall it is.
Admittedly that'd mean some people could just cheat, but if they'd cheat like that then they'd cheat anyway and get solutions for the two ages (which are extremely simple when you have them)



Debate. Continue. Suggest more. Let's try and make a list that's generally agreed on so that when the Open Uru Era begins and whatever structure ends up being used to develop the game is in place we can get started and have some things to check with it from the go and hopefully get patchin'. Also a convenient list of suggestions for the unlikely scenario that Cyan gets to the point where they can continue to develop parts of the game properly so they can yoink ideas from us if they like them. (And remember, some things may be harder to do than they seem (I'm looking at you, global Ae'gura book), so we'll have to be prepared to accept some ideas as non-viable for the moment.)


Last edited by Bellerophon on Mon Jun 07, 2010 12:36 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Mon Jun 07, 2010 10:07 am 
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I must say I was not comfortable with all the swearing... Anyway, onto the ideas. There are multiple threads dealing with some of the specific issues quoted above, but yes it may be nice to have a place where everything is gathered together.
Here are some thoughts:

Bellerophon wrote:
*Return to starting in the cleft

Pretty much the whole community agrees that starting in Relto does not make much sense, unless you've already played Uru/MOUL. The proposal that makes the most sense to me (I don't remember who first suggested it, I'm sorry) was an option, when creating a new Avatar, whether to start as a new player (Cleft) or as a returning explorer (Relto).

Related to this, is the issue of the single-player Cleft. It has been noted that, from a gameplay point of view, a multiplayer Cleft would be simply a matter of having the puzzles reset after a while (the windmill stops working, the bucket and doors reset). Maybe some very minor tweaking of the puzzles logic would be required, but I think it would be worth it if it means having Greeters greeting people together with / instead of Zandi, who's now starting to become a bit anachronistic.

Quote:
Right now the most confusing point of the instancing is the Hood instance of Ae'gura.

I agree. There's some good discussion about how to improve instancing here.

Moreover, I don't think that enforcing the 50-person limit is a problem given the current status of MOULa, but there might still be the issue of link-in link-out lag. Disregarding the Kadish gallery issue for a second: as much as we are all used to Bahro stones, such balcony links were probably put there just as teasers for Ae'gura and the online portion of Uru. I do not think it is still necessary to have them at all, although taking them away requires moving some GZ markers.

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PostPosted: Mon Jun 07, 2010 10:16 am 
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Simone wrote:
Zandi, who's now starting to become a bit anachronistic.


What?? But...but Peter Gabriel never goes out of date! (Some sort of updateable playlist might be nice though...:lol:)

Seriously, these are good suggestions. I think there have been other attempts to gather all the problems/solutions together in one thread, but it never hurts to have one at the top of the page. Maybe one day one will be deemed good enough to get stickied. Maybe this one...


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 07, 2010 12:26 pm 
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I like the KI. It gives a sense of project. I mean as i am in the cavern, the KI makes it possible to address all people in the city, or make exceptions to talk to a buddy accross blocks of buildings or even larger space. What a weird piece of half understood tech. Difficult to use at times yes, but very handy. The alternative should be to only hear and be heard similar to vouice reach. We could fill the ages and city with accesspionts and all have Iphones what? Or create someting OC that is only a piece of interface. Dull.
The KI is strong in creating that IC feel. I love it. Why should there be an odd interface that makes all type of computergame communications etc. possible in a real world underground city with its annex of worldly otherworlds. The only thing that could beat the KI is that all communication has voice chat range. That would be the best. Why should a person to person kommunication work smothly during a parade. It does not in the real world.

The instancing takes a while to grasp. Great fun.

I like a MYST game.

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Last edited by Rudolfson on Mon Jun 07, 2010 7:07 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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PostPosted: Mon Jun 07, 2010 12:35 pm 
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Rudolfson wrote:
I like the KI. It gives a sense of project. I mean as i am in the cavern, the KI makes it possible to adress all people in the city, or make exceptions to talk to a buddy accross blocks of buildings or even larger space. What a weird piece of half understood tech. Difficult to use at times yes, but very handy. The alternative should be to only hear and be heard similar to vouice reach. We could fill the ages and city with accesspionts and all have Iphones what? Or create someting OC that is only a piece of interface. Dull.
The KI is a strong in creating that IC feel.


Oh, I'm not suggesting replacing it at all, just making it a) easier to get and b) easier to use.


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 07, 2010 1:28 pm 
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I 'm afraid I fall into that group of gamers who enjoy being brain challenged. I don't want to see Uru dumbed down. There is nothing difficult about getting the KI. It requires exploration and discovery and a questing mind that seeks answers.

As chat is now possible without the KI, the problem of newcomers not being able to ask for help has been addressed. I regarded the getting of the KI and learning how it works as simply just another puzzle to be solved.

The nexus works just fine for me and even manages not to annoy me or perhaps, as one who falls off things a lot, I've learnt patience?

As for the idea of starting in the Cleft - I thought it was neat hiding the journey cloth behind the metal sheet. I'd hate to see Greeters hanging around there - especially as there aren't enough volunteers to cover all time zones. There has to be some challenges you know. And for those who prefer to be spoon fed the solutions, there is always the option of a walk-through.

It strikes me that some of the suggestions listed are not really improvements but simply changes, such as opening the nexus book, and the pedestals, etc.

Perhaps I'm easily pleased but I have no complaints to add to your list.

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PostPosted: Mon Jun 07, 2010 1:34 pm 
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To address one of your concerns, A'na, the Greeters or whoever may be in the Cleft area, would not be there to spoil the puzzle for the newcomers. They could of course provide help, but the main reason for having a multi-player Cleft would be to confirm that yes, MOUL is indeed an online multiplayer, and yes, there are other people playing it! Even now, that people begin at Relto and they're only a couple of steps (well, maybe three or four) away from the City, newcomers come to the forums asking if there's something wrong with their game because every place looks desert to them. I think that is a problem of the game as it is now, i.e. not attached to a single-player, offline component anymore.

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PostPosted: Mon Jun 07, 2010 3:11 pm 
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I agree with all the suggestions here. One thing, though. I would have every new person get placed in either Bevin or Seret and people who wanted to go to the other hoods could. I'm not really fond of the idea of changing a million DRC (number) hoods with a million D'ni-sounding names. I'd like one or two "official" hoods with public hoods, as you said, something a mod has to do.Some hoods are very good and they deserve to be on that public list (Greeters, TMP, UO, etc.) but then there's the personal hoods "Billy's Bevin" that are not doing anything.

I'd also like to see the Mayor system of Prologue, was it? The Mayor could make changes to the hood like shut of the water, take away the cones, change the name, etc. Maybe have a "voting" system so members could replace a Mayor who leaves.

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PostPosted: Mon Jun 07, 2010 3:19 pm 
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Whilyam wrote:
I'd also like to see the Mayor system of Prologue, was it? The Mayor could make changes to the hood like shut of the water, take away the cones, change the name, etc. Maybe have a "voting" system so members could replace a Mayor who leaves.

I honestly do not remember the ability to "mod" neighbourhood appearance even in Prologue; but it might be nice to have it. But yes, in old times, the founder of a 'hood could change the 'hood name... no silly avatars wasted only to give a proper name to a 'hood!

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PostPosted: Mon Jun 07, 2010 3:25 pm 
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Location: Sitting on the DRC map in the city
I know starting in Relto is controversial, maybe confusing for the newbie who comes into the game, find themselves on a 'floating' island in the middle of nowhere and no direction of what to do or where to go. But I feel there is a solution without having to re-jig the whole game.

My suggestion is to have a book on the second bookshelf with just enough explanations on where they are, what and where a Bevin is, the orange pillar outside the hut, what a KI is and where to get it, written in IC, with a hint of OOC, all written in concise simple English which will give the "What am I supposed to do now?" newbie a direction and purpose, at least enough to get started.

I know Myst games have this wander-around-until-we-find-something approach, but maybe this needs to be looked at again to accommodate those who would at least prefer to start with a few pointers and some simple background as to their purpose.

Personally, I would love to have the ability and permission to do exactly that. :D

I also have plans for a special Greeters Age where the newbie can go and there read (IC) where they are (The Cavern), who built it, what happened to it (without spoiling the books), the Cavern's past (MOUL days), its present and its possible future. Probably throw in a few "Inspired Verse" books for those who would like them.


Also, I have never liked going into Bevin and linking to that strange instance of Gahreesen to pick up your KI. I would prefer it was some other KI-dispenser Age, much like the Nexus and just as simple.


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 07, 2010 3:58 pm 
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First and formost - character generation. It needs revamping with more options. This should be a top priority.

The entire intro needs rejigging. A newbie who is just starting most likely will not want to be wandering around the Island chatting - they will want to play the game.

The Cleft as it stands is actually perfectly fine. Start there, beat it, get your Relto book (on top of the book should be a letter, saying something like "This book is not like the others. It will follow you. Keep it close." or something. Bit weird your explorer knows to attach it to his belt on sight!) A new intro video would be nice (and the ability to watch all three by that point videos on the opening screen?) - maybe one of the DRC members writing a letter to everyone? If so, that should certainly be fanmade.

Once you're at the Relto, things start getting a little clumsy. I'd argue that the Ki should be a reward for beating an age of its own, or put it at the end of the Cleft. I'd like to see more Relto pages too.

Find a way of lifting the cap of 50 people in one area, then immediately applying that to everywhere to facilitate actually having genuine crowds in what should be bustling areas of the cavern. The neighbourhood system needs replacing and should be voluntary. The lake-lightening project needs to continue.

The rest is just content generation, and the community pulling together more. Oh, and graphical updates!


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 07, 2010 4:45 pm 
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Great suggestions.

I have a couple.
-- start in the cleft, make it multiplayer. I don't know if that is possible. Everyone would have to see the state of the puzzles differently, but there would be people to talk to.

-- get rid of the KI quest. You are in the game, that KI is on your wrist. I assume it also puts you in a default neighborhood. It's still a challenge in figuring out how to use the darn thing. Communication should not be a puzzle. I hate that KI, always have.

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PostPosted: Mon Jun 07, 2010 6:01 pm 
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- Start in the cleft singleplayer, make your way to D'ni through the volcano (after you go through that-door-which-you-couldn't-open you immediately tranported to D'ni). You also have an option, once in the cave under the caldera, to transport you to D'ni right away).

- Get rid of Relto as home. Relto should be an age for The Journey. Your home is your 'hood. You can change clothes there, talk with friends and everything. The owner/s of the 'hood can change it's name, and collect 'hood pages which upgrades the 'hood. Everyone has a personal 'hood, it's just that they don't have to "live" there.

- Instancing: all of the game is singleplayer, except for the 'hoods, which are public (group public or fully public- the owner chooses). Ae'gura has different public instances, which can be chosen when going there.

- Get rid of the KI as a communication device. The KI was communication ICized. The thing is that D'ni seems to use these clunky machines, and suddenly they have this little awesome gadget which can communicate through ages, and send pictures and nexus invites and whatnot. Rather see those options in a human-gadget, a cellphone of some sort (it would make more sense). Have the KI as a key (for the nexus and stuff like that), and to show cavern coordination.

- And much, much more :wink:

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PostPosted: Mon Jun 07, 2010 7:19 pm 
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I strongly oppose "start in the cleft," at least as it stands. It is too hard by FAR for a new, non-Myst player to be forced to solve it before they can play the game.

I know it's easy for all of us, but if you've talked friends into trying the game and found yourself stuck trying to talk them through the cleft, you know what I'm talking about.

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PostPosted: Mon Jun 07, 2010 7:21 pm 
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@vidroth: would you have concerns also if the Cleft was multiplayer?

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