I've consistently heard feedback that Transcendence is not well-suited to new players. Data supports this: lots of players try out the game but don't progress beyond a certain point. Conversely, players who persevere and reach (e.g., St. Kats) end up liking the game a lot.
I'd like to request feedback and ideas in this area. What do you think is difficult for new players? How can we improve this? If you've got something, please comment below.
I think we can organize the problems into three broad categories:
Don't know how to play: This category is about learning the game mechanics. How do I aim? How do I upgrade? What should I upgrade to? How come no one told me about Sustain? In general, these are the kinds of problems that can be solved either by a tutorial or by in-game hints.
Too hard to play: This category is for problems dealing with difficulty. The player knows what they need to do (hit the target) but can't do it (and gets frustrated). I also include quality-of-life problems that force the player to do tedious tasks.
Don't see a reason to play: This category focuses on goals (or lack thereof) for players. What should I do next? Where should I go? How do I advance in the game? Though this category sounds similar to the first (Don't know how to play), it is less about tutorials and more about new missions, progression ladders, and goals.
Are these reasonable categories? If they work for you, please try to attach your proposed solutions to one or more of these categories (i.e., what problem category are you trying to solve)? If you have other ways to think about the problems, please post those too.
Below I list various solutions that I've either thought about or heard from others:
PROBLEM (Don't know how to play): New players don't necessarily know which items to upgrade too. This problem is compounded by the fact that the player can find lower-level items that are clear downgrades (but how would the player know that)?
PROPOSAL: Add hints at upgrade time to help the player judge whether a weapon is better. Some examples:
- When trying to replace an omni weapon with a non-omni one, we should explain what's about to happen.
- When installing a second primary weapon, we should tell the player that they will need to switch between primary weapons; they can't fire both at the same time.
- In general, we should provide the same hints whenever the player acquires an item, e.g., in Commodities Exchange and when looting. For example, when looting a damaged weapon, we should have a warning about being (generally) unable to sell it. Similarly, Buy and Install should lead to the Dock Services UI so that the player can compare what they're about to buy with what they've got already.
Alternate Save Checkpoints
PROBLEM (Too hard to play): When players die, they lose all their progress, which can be frustrating. Moreover, it is not clear how much progress will be lost (when was the last checkpoint) nor how to save progress.
PROPOSAL: Add options for how to deal with player death. We can support three options:
- No Death: When the player dies, they are automatically resurrected (as if they had insurance). Their armor/fuel/shields/etc. are restored and they do not lose any progress. We track deaths in stats (and lower score as appropriate).
- Checkpoints: We save the game whenever the player undocks from a station, accepts a mission, or enters a stargate. If they player dies, they can resurrect at the most recent checkpoint. Player may also save the game to create a new checkpoint.
- Permadeath: Cannot resurrect after dying (except via insurance, etc.).
NOTE: We can use the UI for choosing debug mode to select this option. For debug mode we add an additional option that behaves as Checkpoints.
PROBLEM (Don't see a reason to play): Players don't have a sense of progress right now. How much of the game have I played? How much content is there? What kinds of things can I do?
PROPOSAL: Achievements could help by explicitly tracking how much of the game the player has completed. For example, we can have achievements for reaching various star systems (St. Kats, Sol, Point Juno, etc.). We can also have achievements for reaching the end of various mission arcs.
We should track achievements both per-player and per-game. Per-player achievements are stored on the Multiverse (or on Steam).
We can use the F2 UI to show achievements as well as stats (perhaps on two separate tabs). We should a list of all possible achievements. Each achievement is in one of three states: locked, unlocked in this game, unlocked in a previous game. At the bottom we might show something like, "Unlocked 97 of 102 achievements (35 in this game)", or something.