New Player Experience Personal Feedback

I’d like to start off by saying thank you Alta for making such a wonderful game. I think what you are doing is amazing, and I really appreciate all the work and love put into the game! Sorry if this is a lot of over-explanation, but I just think back to posts stating things like, “The game’s a slog! Why can’t we have X or Y!” and the devs/community simply iterate “This game’s not for you.” I feel that I might have a slightly different frame of mind than the general core audience, but I really do believe that this game is for me and that my issues can be common to all players.

Some clarification, I absolutely love the level of detail that is required for each game system. The multi-staged crafting processes are extremely rewarding, and as someone who lives for meaningful hard work and progression, this game is perfect. I am however extremely introverted, and my close friends don’t play online games with me, so as I love to play MMO/multiplayer games, I tend to play by myself. I would never ask for the team to change their game’s essence by designing for a single player experience, but my issues lead to me wanting an increased focus on the new player experience which I think will help empower every player regardless how they play.

Here is my personal discovery of the game and how it led to my specific issues. Feel free to jump ahead to TLDR where I outline main issue categories and my feedback/suggestions.

I found this game through a reddit comment suggestion on someone who was looking for recommendations for VR MMO’s. I googled it and found the woodcutting quick look video, which showed me the charming art style, but also the sneak peek into the intricate systems as simple as gathering wood takes. Looking on the website I saw the dev blog stopped as of last year (:frowning: not entirely sure the story on that), and then found the wiki. From there I saw the “Quick Start Guide” video made by Kazun. That video is a spectacular overview, but I had to stop it at around minute 3 at the sheer overload of wonderful information on different systems that made me want to stop watching and start experiencing. I then was pointed to the Discord in order to download and found it was primary place of communication between the team/community. Jumping into the game, I really appreciate the tutorial world. I think it’s designed beautifully and is a really smart intro into the game. Some parts can be a bit clearer (I really didn’t get pulling apart the bags) but overall, I think this is an amazing start. Finishing that and character customization is probably my favorite customization I’ve ever done in any game. I love how tactile the options are both in customization and the menus. Once I jumped into the world (US2 as recommended or top server) eager to experience the game to its entirety and fresh out of the tutorial world I joined US2 and found myself in the starting zone. I ducked down and grabbed every item I could in preparation for the upcoming world. Although once I hit the town, that’s when my experience kind of halted.

The new player experience is sheer overload of understanding the world and game because you join an already developed town/server. If you don’t have an experienced player/friend to guide you, you are mostly just urged to just “explore the town” which unfortunately led to more questions. I appreciate the “intro” tasks for each building, however after joining a developed server you’ll find items everywhere, tons of buildings partially upgraded, areas already unlocked, most if not all pages found, etc. I completely get the growing community and world, but for a new player the first thing you have to do is understand the state of town.

  1. There isn’t a clear description of how items/storage on server/world actually works.

Seeing items on shelves and on the ground, I quickly realized that these things were left by people (or at least some things). I had to try to distinguish what seemed okay to take and what not. I had to try to distinguish whether people were throwing away things, people accidentally leaving stuff, or things just placed by the game. This led me to not want to touch anything without knowing what was “okay” for me to take while also trying to figure out what I personally wanted to avoid in sake of skipping progression (grabbing left over items/materials to jump into higher tier weapons/tools). For example, I didn’t want to grab made hammers at the blacksmith, and I wasn’t sure if I could take items in the chest in front of mines in fear that it was someone else’s loot.

  1. The overall reliance on asking others or the wiki

This point is where I fear I might cause the most contention. As I mentioned in the beginning, the primary response to the learning curve is just to talk and ask someone. Whereas I’m extremely glad that this is a valid option, I firmly believe players should be given enough tools to figure out everything by themselves without asking or the wiki. As I mentioned I’m not someone who interacts much online, asking questions in the Discord or in game is never my first choice, so I was comfortable resorting to the wiki to figure out more.

I’m not a novice for living on a game wiki either, the hours I spent learning and formulating goals on the Warframe wiki was crazy, but the problem I found with this game is that ATT tends to be a game of discovery. I didn’t want to just look up what each of the pictograms was to craft a backpack, where to get each of them, and more info about the environment that those items are located within. My issue is that ATT doesn’t exactly provide a streamlined way to learn these things in game without asking someone or looking it up (and to mention that the wiki can occasionally be outdated). For example, I walked into the carpentry building and opened the book. Every page was in there (which I later found out doesn’t default that way). Books don’t distinctly differentiate instructions vs. recipes so the first few pages of a book that intro the system blended with what you should rip out and use. Again, I loved the intro guides at most buildings, but upon first entry to the game, you are asked to put the short handle page on the table and I have to flip through a 32 page book I am seeing for the first time and thinking, “Is this a short handle or is this one?” (Didn’t help that the guide checklist was bugged and didn’t actually check off when I put the right page on the table).

Another example is my attempts to craft a backpack. An early goal I saw recommended by people online through searching. However, everyone was mentioning that you can get a backpack through the town hall? I’m still not sure if that is a thing, since when I went there it was a mess and the only intros are for the coin and storage bank. I went to the crafting building and found people working on a backpack together (as well as some left backpacks on the ground which I didn’t want to take), I looked at the building book and found the recipe for backpack and just was like “??? Okay I need, some wrappy thingies, some ropy thingies, and some strippy thingies?” I was determined to just learn as I go so I accepted I would figure it out by encountering those items later. I eventually checked out the mines, figured the boxes down there were isolated enough for me to take, finding some buckles and rope bundle things, just to eventually realize I have no idea what these things were, but knowing that at least one of them kind of looked like one of the pictograms in the recipe (buckle) and I had no further idea of how to get the rest without going back into the mines, so I just checked the wiki (which sucks because you have to leave the game (side note in a side note, is there anyway to quit the game from the main menu? I just have to take the headset off and force quit the game)).

  1. Loss of proper player progression

I spent the rest of my time before diving into the wiki looking at most places on the map (without enemies). I checked out all of the major buildings in town, found the woodcutter’s hut and path to the forest, etc. I found all the areas that had the upgradable kiosks, trying to discern whether it was a new addition or just another stall to an existing machine. I saw a lot of areas already developed and I didn’t really see a clear area of development I felt I could contribute toward as a new player.

On top of that my tool progression is kind of ruined. Why would I ever make lower grade tools if I already had access to extra materials, all recipes, etc. It was kind of just a bummer overall that made me struggle to find goals in an already developed server.

This is when I decided to potentially look at another server. “What if I find a less developed server where I can learn with it and grow together?” However, server browsing in game isn’t as descriptive and after I found out how to do it in the launcher, I still don’t exactly know what the different tags mean (what does it mean for a server to not be “Cooperative”, but not necessarily “Anarchy” or potentially “PvP”?) and ultimately found I wish I could just create my own server. So I became a Supporter and created my own private server. Upon entering a fresh server, is where I realized how different of an experience it could have been. I found out that bridges were blocked, you didn’t have access to the blacksmith so you can’t smelt, etc etc. All things that would drive the player to realize they have to mine tan rocks vs grey rocks (wasn’t clear of difference at the time, later found out it was sandstone) to get the bridge to the wood cutters hut. Then from the forest gather logs to unlock the blacksmith, etc. These goals have driven me to learn a ton about the game naturally that I haven’t been able to on developed servers. Being truly by myself has definitely improved my experience, but didn’t solve everything. I don’t mind doing the work needed by the whole server, but there were things I noticed that still wasn’t clear.

  1. Information on building upgrades/machines

I’m really excited to find more pages to gain more knowledge on the different options for crafting. However, this system is only in place for most of the major machines, but there still are some I have no idea what they do (coin press for example). There are no floating guides for some of these, or pictogram books associated with these (I don’t think), so there is literally no way I can find out what they are or what they do without looking them up.

Similarly, building upgrades/expansions have no detail on them as well. Trying to distinguish if a component repair stall will give access to something new or simply give you a duplicated station can be frustrating. Sometimes it’s clear, like the tavern with the barrels. I would imagine that upgrading the slot next to the first barrel would give me another barrel to use rather than something completely new. However, that’s not always clear cut, and the game gives you no info on what it’ll do so I am reluctant to waste my materials on some of those things (and end up going to the wiki to learn about it). For map areas these are clear, repair boxes are next to broken bridges and other things that make it clear what you are working towards.

TLDR
Feedback

  1. There isn’t a clear description of how items/storage on server/world actually works.

I don’t know how anyone (without a guide) can easily understand what to do and what not to do in terms of existing items on a server.

Suggestions:

  • Adding a storage shelf to the crafting room in the tutorial where users can place extra items to help out people learning
    • Additional signage that lets players know all storage areas (aside from the bank) are open to other players
    • Additional signage that states they can gather materials outside or grab items from shelves
  • Add a looting component in the mining island with the tutorial that explains how chests work
    • Clarify chests are not valid storage options (loot rotates, still unsure, need to look at wiki to figure out)
    • Clarify chests can contain random items to help with crafting, fighting, etc
  1. The overall reliance on asking others or the wiki

Again, the community is great and asking others for clarification and help should always still be encouraged, but additional methods of gathering information should be implemented for newer players. I think there needs to be some sort of database for information on things within the world, specifically items.

Suggestions:

  • Page description for each item (yes I know)
    • The game can try to do pictogram descriptions of what each item is (I know localization can be arduous)
    • Pages could be collected into item books categorized by type of item
    • Item books could be held in commonly suggested library
    • New profession: Scribe
      • Someone who builds pages of useful knowledge
        • Can craft pages using page template and preconfigured pictograms
      • Manages library, can be the go to person to ask about items and potentially unexplained systems of the game
  • “Inspection” of an item that gives name (and maybe description)
    • Putting an item infront of your face for longer than 3 seconds could toggle a floating name
    • Putting any item on the crafting tables will give you more information
    • Just the name can lead to a lot more understanding (i.e. knowing this item is a leather roll can potentially lead you to infer that you can derive leather strips from it)
  • Separation of instruction/overview pages and recipes
    • Books should be exclusive to recipes
    • All pages describing workstations or systems should be more accessible
      • Pictogram pages in a separate area closer to workstation
      • Pictogram pages displayed on walls by workstations
      • Pictogram pages exclusive area of “how to” library
      • Example: Deconstruction page on wall and also in how to book alongside basic carpentry overview
  1. Loss of proper player progression

Joining an established server was extremely disappointing on learning system progressions. Experiencing a fresh private server showed me what I could have naturally learned.

Suggestions:

  • Locking access to certain parts of buildings until completing tasks to enforce understanding of systems knowledge before continuing
    • Example: not gaining access to forge until using the smelter
  • Add level/experience requirements to higher tier crafting/tools
    • You can’t just pick up someone’s high tier item
  • Add crafting progression to craft higher tier items
    • Just because you found the materials doesn’t mean you can actually craft it just because you know/found the recipe
  • Implementing a starter town/world with limited access to items
    • Similar to tutorial world, but more of a transition before established servers with super experienced players
    • Not a great idea, but it is one
  1. Information on building machines/upgrades

Not all systems have a book with how to pages on it and upgrade “stalls” don’t always infer what you are contributing towards.

Suggestions:

  • Every interactable machine has a pictogram page about it
    • Coin bank
    • Coin press
    • Mail machine
  • Any contribution upgrade stall has a corresponding broken model of the item you are putting towards
    • The upgrade stalls next to the coin bank show broken coin banks
    • The upgrade stalls next to the smelter recipe holders show broken holders
    • If the broken model is something not originally accessible then pictogram describing what the repair box unlocks

Overall I think the game is fantastic, these are just things that I felt would have improved my experience as a new player and in some cases would help my ongoing learning of the game. After I have taken some time learning more about the game in my private world, I feel as though I would feel empowered enough to join a public server again. Possibly take up the ranger profession like I hoped and be the go to person for all things archery. Thanks Alta for creating a game wonderful enough for me to want to contribute this much of my time to initial feedback.

10/10, definitely needs to be more guidance at the start of the game for beginners. Good write.

2 Likes

Some stuff I disagree with (mainly restricting what you can and can’t use based on material), but overall these are all necessary and most importantly realistic changes that I could see Alta making.

According to the latest Altacast, it appears that a large part of 2021 will be dedicated to QoL and stability changes, so hopefully many of these issues will be addressed.

2 Likes

Yeah I definitely expect some disagreements with the suggestions and issues which is totally fair. Plus, the suggestions are mostly just a bunch of different potential solutions or ideas so I don’t think implementing every single thing would necessarily be right, but I’m mostly throwing out ideas.

Feel free to expand or add additional suggestions if you want!

1 Like