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Old 12-07-2007, 03:02 AM   #1
Muirdach
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Can "Not Newbie-Friendly" be a Selling Point?

Pretty much all the muds out there claim to be newbie-friendly. Even those that have no differentiating characteristics say that they are. So, and this isn't referring to any mud at all, but just as a point of discussion - is it possible that a mud might leverage NOT being newbie friendly in order to gain an advantage? By this, I don't mean actively being rude or driving away new players, just not going out of their way to help them. By newbie, I don't mean every new player, but those who share traits such as needing to be helped all the time, always asking questions that could probably be answered in a help file, generally acting confused and getting in the way.

Seems silly, but my thoughts are as follows:

1. Firstly, it's different. Nobody advertises that they're not newbie friendly. You never know what some people like.
2. Sometimes it makes a lot of sense given the game's storyline. It seems kind of weird to have a dark, bloodthirsty, backstabbing political arena where anyone who's new suddenly gets a lot of attention and aid with no strings attached.
3. A lot of more experienced players really dislike newbies. They find them clingy, irritating and generally brainless. Would advertising that you are not newbie friendly help to attract players who know what they are doing and appreciate not being expected to pander to newbies?
4. I guess somewhat related to 2, you can have much harsher game elements. For example, permadeath, death traps, situations where a new, unknowing player would have no hope and would probably quit.

I guess it mostly revolves around the trade-off in point 3. Most muds these days thrive on numbers, they want as many players as they can get. However, there's a definite trade-off that I've noticed between getting lots of new players and getting/retaining some more experienced players - where new doesn't really mean "new to the game", but the kind of "confused" newbie who needs a lot of help, etc. Is there some point where a designer might say, look - we don't want people who need their hands held, we want people who either know what they're doing, or are comfortable learning for their lives, possibly in a backs-to-the wall type situation. Often times, MUD staff do their best to make their games newbie friendly, but the players obviously don't want to go out of their way to do so, making the whole thing quite a contradictory exercise.

Would you, as an experienced MUD player, prefer to play on a game where those who joined were already experienced in mudding, and able to learn and catch up quickly, and where true newbies were weeded out as soon as possible?

Thoughts?
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Old 12-07-2007, 04:23 AM   #2
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Re: Can "Not Newbie-Friendly" be a Selling Point?

I can easily say that when my MUD is finally open it will be anything but newbie-friendly, if by newbie you refer to someone without any knowledge of the game world and social setting. Our goal is to create a game which features a more in-depth, socio-culturally accurate setting than has probably ever been attempted before. That's not to say we won't bend over backwards to help players prepare but once they're in the game there's no excuse for behaving according to 21st century thinking.

Now, if by being newbie-friendly you mean staff doesn't give a damn from the start and you can be killed by some asswipe ten seconds upon entering the game, it's unlikely. That's not to say it couldn't happen but there'd have to be a good reason for the murderer to do so. Still, if they have a reason, being a newbie or not doesn't excuse one from the dangers of a setting, especially if they make mistakes which put them in a dangerous situation.

Take care,

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Old 12-07-2007, 04:34 AM   #3
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Re: Can "Not Newbie-Friendly" be a Selling Point?

What I mean is more in terms of the promotion of it, for example writing in the MUD's profile on TMS or another site something like "This MUD is designed for the experienced mudder. If you are learning how to MUD or unconfident with your ability to adapt fast, do not expect a helping hand."

Not people going out of their way to be mean, but just a rugged, difficult world where people don't really care whether you succeed or not. Kind of like a "survival of the fittest" form of elitism, a MUD that's actually hard to play and survive in, both in terms of the code and roleplay. No quarter given, no toleration of whining, etc etc.
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Old 12-07-2007, 05:49 AM   #4
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Re: Can "Not Newbie-Friendly" be a Selling Point?

I think in most Muds this is handled by the general player attitude.

In 4D, for example, we claim to be newbie friendly on the basis of a very detailed Mud school and several newbie zones. The players are generally pretty nice to newbies, but they also generally tell them to go through the Newbie School and Quest academy first, before asking too many questions on the newbie channel, simply because most things that newbies ask about can be found there.

The usual response to the eternal question about where to go to level and find equipment, is generally to refer them to the Map room for directions of how to get to the different zones.

I doubt many of our players would take a newbie on a 'guided tour' before they have gone through the School and Academy. Afterwards some of them might - if they are in a good mood and the newbie seems sensible and polite. Obvious Twinks are usually ignored or made fun of. One of our rules states: 'If you act like a jerk, expect to be treated like a jerk'.

All players also typically refuse to answer any questions that have to do with Quests, except with the generic advice to 'use all your senses'; That's part of the Quest culture of 4D.
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Old 12-07-2007, 06:53 AM   #5
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Re: Can "Not Newbie-Friendly" be a Selling Point?

Anyone remember Ninja Gaiden (the one released a few years ago, not the old NES ones), which got a lot of free promotion (and likely more than a few players) for having a reputation of being crazy hard? I think you could certainly say a game is 'very challenging' and get some people who are into that.

As for saying 'not newbie friendly?' - I think this is the wrong way to look at the question. I always though of newbie friendly as 'Willing to give newbies the basic information and tools to succeed.' - I haven't played 4D, but Molly's example sounds like it'd be newbie friendly, since (in theory) a newbie and quest school should give a new player all they need to know to be able to get going, and is likely augmented by help files.

Hm, maybe a better question to start with is: "What is newbie friendly?" - For the purposes of this post, let us say newbie friendly has a definition of: "This MU* provides the resources and basic game training to allow a new player to MU*ing and this MU* a reasonable chance of success in playing the game." This means things like a newbie school if needed, a web site, help files, a wiki, perhaps a few pointers like 'help newbie' or a newbie section within a wiki.

If we assume this definition I provided, I think advertising as not newbie friendly is generally detrimental. Maybe you could get a few who want to be in an 'exclusive' club, but generally detrimental. However, I think my first point about challenging games could be advertised quite well, and may be closer to the question you're asking.
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Old 12-07-2007, 08:45 AM   #6
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Re: Can "Not Newbie-Friendly" be a Selling Point?

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Hm, maybe a better question to start with is: "What is newbie friendly?"
I couldn't agree more.

To some people 'newbie friendly' seems to mean a game where newbies are pampered and power-levelled and showered in high-powered equipment and spell-ups by both imms and players. To me that is not newbie friendly at all, it just creates level 50 newbies who know zilch about the actual game and are totally helpless when left on their own.

It might not be immediately apparent, but you do a new player a much larger favour by directing them to the right helpfile, so they can help themselves, than by leading them around by the hand.

Also 'challenging' and 'not newbie friendly' are not synonyms.
A game can be hard as hell, but still be newbie-friendly.
Likewise a game can have moronically simple mechanics and zones, but without proper starting info about the syntax and general lay-out, it's still not newbie friendly.

We're not making any secret in 4D that we are mainly targeting the 'smart' players, who like to use their brains. But we still like to think of ourselves as newbie friendly, because we provide basic and accurate information on both the website and in-game.
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Old 12-07-2007, 09:25 AM   #7
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Re: Can "Not Newbie-Friendly" be a Selling Point?

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Originally Posted by Muirdach View Post
Pretty much all the muds out there claim to be newbie-friendly. Even those that have no differentiating characteristics say that they are. So, and this isn't referring to any mud at all, but just as a point of discussion - is it possible that a mud might leverage NOT being newbie friendly in order to gain an advantage?
I'd say so, although I think it can be phrased better than "Not Newbie-Friendly". I've put a lot of effort into newbie training areas, detailed help files and context-sensitive hints, and there are usually people around who can answer questions, but my mud is still sufficiently complex that I've chosen not to click the "newbie friendly" radio button on listings even if it's available, and usually explain up-front that the learning curve is steep.

Despite that, I've still received a fair degree of criticism about the complexity, with the learning curve being described as a brick wall, the mud only really being "okay for an advanced mudder", and that the overall experience was "so alien and different from what I was looking for that I didn't feel I had the patience to re-learn what I knew".

Recently there was even an article on linux.com entitled Gaming from within the terminal, which mentioned "For a little check on what game developers can actually accomplish with MUDs, take a look at God Wars II, or at least look through its New Player's Guide -> Combat section, which is simply astonishing in its complexity."

One of the replies to the article made a point I found rather interesting, particularly within the context of this thread:

"I tried the God Wars II MUD and I must say it's very impressive. From the web page it looked too complex and intimidating, but I was surprised how natural it felt after a while. Maybe there's a lesson for game developers in this: instead of dumbing down everything, make it entertaining so that people will want to learn it."

Rather than trying to be "Not Newbie-Friendly" just for the sake of it, perhaps a better solution is simply to give newbie friendlyness a lower priority than other parts of the game design - for example, instead of compromising your vision by simplifying the combat system, you just accept that some players won't understand it (or be willing to make the additional effort to learn it), and work around that fact as best you can with tutorials and documentation.
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Old 12-07-2007, 10:01 AM   #8
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Re: Can "Not Newbie-Friendly" be a Selling Point?

I believe it can be a selling point if you don't mind selling to a very small customer base, as it were.

It's akin to the question of using other barriers to entry as selling points. A game that requires a player to do some writing on the front end, such as a biography, can pitch that it's promoting quality over quantity - but it does so at the risk of alienating a lot of players that might otherwise give it a try.

I don't think it's a bad thing for you to market a game as unfriendly to newbies, I just think it's risky. If you're willing to take that risk in the current MUD market conditions, then more power to you. You might succeed in spite of it!
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Old 12-07-2007, 11:07 AM   #9
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Re: Can "Not Newbie-Friendly" be a Selling Point?

The newbie friendly designation can have numerous meanings. Several meanings are just different magnitudes of one another, but others are completely different from one another. To illustrate my point, I have outlined 3 separate meanings for 'newbie friendly' wrt muds. I have also provided some examples of in-game features/play that illustrate that particular definition.

1) The mud has SUPPORT for new players to become aware of how the game works. I think this is the original intent of the 'newbie friendly' checkbox. The mud contains help files directed specifically for the new player, explaining the largest features of the mud, including combat, magic, guilds/classes, inventory manipulation, and npc interaction. The mud also contains newbie areas with low level monsters which will not blick the player.

2) General POLITENESS to new players. This can be anything from an automated greeting from an NPC on the public channel to a personalized greeting from a designated immortal greeter/helper. This is probably the bare minimum that would qualify as 'newbie friendly' and justify checking the 'newbie friendly' box. I think it would be fair to argue that this may not qualify as being a newbie friendly mud if this is all they offer. But I think technically someone might define it this way in a bare-minimum type of way.

But over the years, as newbies' desires and abilities have changed, established players'/creators' characterization of 'newbie' has changed and therefore so has 'newbie friendly'. It has come to be a euphemism for "I need my hand held until L20 and I have acceptable eq". That’s where varying degrees of the next category comes in, with varying degrees of assistance from wizards, other players and/or NPCs.

3) Newbies receive HANDHOLDING of some degree by wizards, other players and/or NPCs. There are newbie helpers who give players maps, eq, gp, quest advice and/or xp as the established norm of gameplay. Often this type of 'help' continues past L1. Old-schoolers typically frown on this type of thing because it defeats the dual purpose of the newbie areas and forcing the newbie to learn the mud rules/features themselves.

I will say one thing about this, as a counterpoint. I think that this level of newbie handholding and newbie friendliness can be made fun. If you do not believe me, go do the Duplo quest on 3Kingdoms mud. An NPC helper duplo-block thing walks around with you, gives you helpful tips and commands. It is a smart NPC, which alters its input based on the environment, without being overbearing, whinny or giving the player gear.

But in general, it is this definition which causes people the most trouble when defining their mud as 'newbie friendly'. Muds who fit the definition in (1) do not want to be grouped with muds that do extensive handholding to L20 complete with full gear.

You can ignore this checkbox in other more technical ways. If you truly are not 'newbie friendly' and have no interest in having new players play the mud, then simply disable allowing new players to be created. This can be easily accomplished with your login.c or whatever your mud uses for logging in.

Last edited by Detah : 12-07-2007 at 11:20 AM.
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Old 12-07-2007, 12:55 PM   #10
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Re: Can "Not Newbie-Friendly" be a Selling Point?

I agree, and I think God Wars II is a great example of a MUD where the engine itself makes it unwelcome to people who don't know what they're doing and aren't prepared to learn quickly or suffer the consequences - caused by the complexity, and the complexity itself is a great selling point as "advanced mudders" are drawn to it.

As for Detah's point about not allowing new players to created: yes, but I meant newbies perhaps more accurately as "new mudders" rather than "new players". There are people who play a complex world for the first time and relish the harshness and all the details. The ones I referring to I suppose are more often called noobs - the ones who just don't get it and take ages to understand anything, even when explained in the most basic language.

I suppose to clarify it a little - the part I was looking to explore (though all the comments are great) was whether the lack of help for newbies itself might be a selling point, as opposed to it being tough for newbies as a direct result of some game design (such as with Kavir's game). Essentially, an advertisement like "Experienced Mudders: Don't you just hate those games where as soon as you do anything, some noob comes up and demands to know all your secrets, or can't figure out the way to the bathroom? Our mud is ruthless and harsh and anyone who can't take it is quickly weeded out. Find your place and never have to deal with the brainless masses!"

Perhaps I'm overstating things a little, but I'm truly concerned that perhaps we as designers, in often doing what attracts the most people, may be turning away the best people. That while it may be nice to fill a who-list with a hundred names, 75% of them might be inanely chattering away or doing things that drive away those who know what they're doing. Of course, I'm not seriously suggesting we should start kicking off newbies, just exploring the whole thing from a different angle.

I guess that it's advertising a barrier to entry, as per Brody, I just thought I'd turn it around given how open and appealing MUDs are for players these days - basically begging, sometimes - it would be interesting to see if the "hard to get" approach might work as a differentiator.

Last edited by Muirdach : 12-07-2007 at 01:00 PM. Reason: Missed Brody's Post, oops.
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Old 12-07-2007, 01:18 PM   #11
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Re: Can "Not Newbie-Friendly" be a Selling Point?

I do agree with you here

Quote:
Originally Posted by Molly View Post
It might not be immediately apparent, but you do a new player a much larger favour by directing them to the right helpfile, so they can help themselves, than by leading them around by the hand.
Who was it who said:
Quote:

Give a man a fire, he’ll be warm for a day
Set him on fire, and he’ll be warm for the rest of his life.
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Old 12-07-2007, 01:59 PM   #12
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Re: Can "Not Newbie-Friendly" be a Selling Point?

Terry Pratchett for the win!
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Old 01-11-2008, 04:35 PM   #13
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Re: Can "Not Newbie-Friendly" be a Selling Point?

I don't know that "not newbie friendly" can be a "selling point", but I think that the difficulty of the game- the learning curve, can be. JTrek/MTrek is a game that's been around since 1986ish or so. If you are an unintelligent person, you will have no luck at this game. If you are just wanting to come in and "kick ass" right away, you don't stand a chance. The real cool part about it is the way it makes you "think outside the box" and learn strategy by looking at the actual mechanics of the game. You are forced to RTFM(read the ****ing manual) if you want to win. The game is a purely PK environment, and in there, you'll face players that have been possibly been playing the game since before you were born. That's not to say that you'll just get creamed endlessly until you reach your "ten-year mark" but there is a central core of old-time players who can teach you the in's and out's of the game and get you right up to a competitive level.

So considering the fact that the game is insanely hard, we have a rather broad player base and we, for the most part, play by the motto, "Live and Learn, Die and Learn Faster."

Perhaps it's a bit rough for some newbs.. but honestly, we, the hardcore players of many years, are expecting the newcoming crop of players to present a challenge to us. Every so often, someone comes along and displays a "nack" for the fast-paced combat in this game, and fits right right in with us. I have to admit though, it is a pretty exclusive group to be a part of, and you have to pay your dues to get in. This is mostly due to the fact that JTrek is completely levelless, and advancement is only gained through an increase in the individual player's skill.

So to sum it up, JTrek, like many other games, is not inherantly "newbie friendly" but does have many newb-friendly players.

It has been very successful either because of, or in spite of this fact, but no matter, you need a certain amount of balance, and you need to be sure of what type of players you're trying to get to play your game.
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Old 01-11-2008, 11:05 PM   #14
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Re: Can "Not Newbie-Friendly" be a Selling Point?

Was that a reply to the OP or was that an advertisement?
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Old 01-12-2008, 09:30 AM   #15
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Re: Can "Not Newbie-Friendly" be a Selling Point?

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Was that a reply to the OP or was that an advertisement?
No one says it can't be both. However, he was making the point that his game isn't all that newbie friendly, so it's not what I would call "optimal" advertising.
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Old 01-12-2008, 10:03 AM   #16
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Re: Can "Not Newbie-Friendly" be a Selling Point?

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No one says it can't be both. However, he was making the point that his game isn't all that newbie friendly, so it's not what I would call "optimal" advertising.
Unless, as a long-time veteran player, he's actively hoping that the "please hold my hand" kind of newbies give his game a miss! See, it all fits!

Never played JTrek, but from what it sounds like, it seems it would fit the bill as the kind of game where "survival of the fittest" is the order of the day, and newbies who won't roll with the punches really aren't an asset. Other than, I imagine, to those lucky enough to kill and loot them repeatedly until they disappear.
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Old 01-13-2008, 12:10 PM   #17
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Re: Can "Not Newbie-Friendly" be a Selling Point?

Even though NW is geared toward new players and coaching them, I find nothing wrong with being the opposite of that. Even on NW you are expected to do certain things and sometimes a game that is difficult or forces you to make it "on your own" can be fun and challenging. Armeggedon is like this and so are a few others and this style is well liked by many players.
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Old 01-13-2008, 05:01 PM   #18
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Re: Can "Not Newbie-Friendly" be a Selling Point?

Quote:
Originally Posted by KaVir View Post
"I tried the God Wars II MUD and I must say it's very impressive. From the web page it looked too complex and intimidating, but I was surprised how natural it felt after a while. Maybe there's a lesson for game developers in this: instead of dumbing down everything, make it entertaining so that people will want to learn it."

Rather than trying to be "Not Newbie-Friendly" just for the sake of it, perhaps a better solution is simply to give newbie friendlyness a lower priority than other parts of the game design - for example, instead of compromising your vision by simplifying the combat system, you just accept that some players won't understand it (or be willing to make the additional effort to learn it), and work around that fact as best you can with tutorials and documentation.
Newbie friendly is a good, providing that you don't have to sacrifice how you want your game to be like. My beef with your game was that it wasn't possible to combo the commands and it didn't have enough helpfiles that would have made learning the system easy. The game did tell me what comboes I can do, but not what those comboes did or that I would have to do the comboes one wiggle at a time. Also, I wanted to make a dragon, but it told me that I had to get a black belt first from the tutorial. I failed to defeat the green-belted fellow. I found the system to be somewhat unwieldy because of having to remember so much and having to react so quick after typing in one command in combat.

Few ideas that could make Godwars II more newbie friendly:

-Allow comboes like 'rcsss' instead of forcing it to be 'rc' 'rs' 'rs' 'rs'. Perhaps also allow them to name the combo for easy later use with some kind of skill command. For example, the system could work like 'skill rcsss "uppercut"', which would make a user-specific rcsss uppercut command (or you could make easy to remember names for commands in similar fashion as alternative way of doing things instead of dumbing the system down to some restricted version of kill command). This would make the system closer to that of other MUDs without effectively sacrificing any versatility from your own system.

-Have helpfiles for skills and spells available. Maybe the name of the spell could be revealed after you first cast that combo (that way people could remember what it does)? After that, reading the helpfile for that particular spell would be easy by typing the spell name.

The commentary on Gods wars II is based on few hours of being newbie there, so take it with a grain of salt.


To stay on topic, my answer to the original poster is no, not newbie friendly isn't a good advertising card. There are plenty of negative factors that can make the game not newbie friendly (such as lacking helpfiles, poor design etc.), so you are better off advertising with the positive factor that makes your game not newbie friendly (if such exists) than with the game being not newbie friendly.
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Old 01-13-2008, 08:39 PM   #19
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Re: Can "Not Newbie-Friendly" be a Selling Point?

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Originally Posted by DurNominator View Post
My beef with your game was that it wasn't possible to combo the commands and it didn't have enough helpfiles that would have made learning the system easy. The game did tell me what comboes I can do, but not what those comboes did or that I would have to do the comboes one wiggle at a time.
When you first create, you get a message recommending that you read 'help newbie', which leads you through the first steps of the game. The first section of instructions tells you to read 'help tutorial' to learn how combat works (and if you follow the hints through the game, you'll get told again to read 'help tutorial' when you first start fighting). The 'tutorial' help file is also highlighted on the basic 'help' page. In short, it's rather hard to miss.

The 'tutorial' help file explains exactly how to perform the combos, clarifying on the first two lines that you have to perform them one command at a time. There is also a 'combo' help file which goes into further detail about performing combos. The more generic 'combat' help file also gives a short overview of combos, and references several other combat-related help files.

Quote:
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Also, I wanted to make a dragon, but it told me that I had to get a black belt first from the tutorial.
The 'newbie' help file references a 'classing' help file, which explains exactly what you need to do to class. It states "The black sash is earned in the dojo, and needed for all classes except dragon." You can read 'help classes' for an overview of each class and 'help classed' to find out what to do after classing. Each class also has its own help file which lists its appropriate powers, and each power has its own help file. Those powers which give spells list each spell by name, and every spell has its own help file.

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Originally Posted by DurNominator View Post
I failed to defeat the green-belted fellow. I found the system to be somewhat unwieldy because of having to remember so much and having to react so quick after typing in one command in combat.
Well true, but that's the same for all muds. The real problem for GW2 is getting people to learn and remember a whole new set of things; those who haven't played muds before actually seem to pick it up faster than those from a mudding background.

Quote:
Originally Posted by DurNominator View Post
Allow comboes like 'rcsss' instead of forcing it to be 'rc' 'rs' 'rs' 'rs'.
That would clash with other commands, creating an inconsistent (and IMO more confusing) interface - for example, what if I tried to type a 're', 'rp', 'rl', 'ry' combo? I couldn't type 'reply', because that's a valid command.

The 'tutorial' help file (which you're told up front to read) explains on the first two lines "When learning the combat system, it is useful to remember the two-letter rule: Every combat command is two letters long." While it may not seem intuitive at first, it is clearly explained and thoroughly consistent throughout the mud - you use exactly the same system to cast spells, use tools, decypher maps, craft equipment, pick locks, and so on.

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Originally Posted by DurNominator View Post
Perhaps also allow them to name the combo for easy later use with some kind of skill command. For example, the system could work like 'skill rcsss "uppercut"', which would make a user-specific rcsss uppercut command
You can already do that by typing 'alias add uppercut rc:rs:rs:rs'. This is explained under 'help alias', which is referenced from the default 'help' page.

Quote:
Originally Posted by DurNominator View Post
Have helpfiles for skills and spells available. Maybe the name of the spell could be revealed after you first cast that combo (that way people could remember what it does)? After that, reading the helpfile for that particular spell would be easy by typing the spell name.
The skills are fairly simple, but you can get a summary of what they all do by typing 'help skills'. Typing 'help spells' will list all of the spells, and each has its own separate help file. Typing 'r? info' will list all of the spells you know (by name), along which the combo required to cast them.

Honestly, while GW2 certainly has its weak points, I don't think a lack of help files is one of them.
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Old 01-15-2008, 06:14 PM   #20
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Re: Can "Not Newbie-Friendly" be a Selling Point?

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Originally Posted by KaVir View Post
Honestly, while GW2 certainly has its weak points, I don't think a lack of help files is one of them.
You could be right. There's a lot to learn to begin with. I'm sort of used to pretty much everything having a help file in a MUD, so it's not necessarily a weak point of your game. It's also possible that I didn't read the helpfiles that well. I don't know if I'll return to your game in future and try to learn it, but these days I'm way too busy take the time it would need. You've probably added some cool stuff to the game after I visited it too, so some of the critisism might already be outdated.

However, your system has some perks and functionality that are intriguing in a sense, though I don't know if I can manage to keep the system working. It's a bit similar to a working implementation of the wrestling MUD idea that Matt brought up earlier in the wrestling MUD thread. Incidentally, God Wars II system would be a good starting point for such a MUD.
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