Documentation, Manual, and Tutorial?

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Earthmichael
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Documentation, Manual, and Tutorial?

Post by Earthmichael » Sat Jun 01, 2013 12:02 am

I cannot find any documentation or manual for Pandora. I saw one post about the tech tree. Is there some secret place that documentation is stored? Documentation and manuals SHOULD be installed with the game to minimize frustration.

I saw that one poster talked about a tutorial. Where is the tutorial? I did not see any tutorial option when I started the game. How does one get to the tutorial?

The interface is far from intuitive. I cannot even make my first move on the game. I have tried everything I can think of with the keypad, direction keys, and mouse, with no luck. I am sure that I will feel silly after I view a tutorial or some documentation, but it surprises me that clicking, dragging, keypad, and direction keys do nothing.

EDIT: It turns out the key to movement is to select a unit, then right-click the square to move to. This should be explained in the readme file. I am amazed that none of the standard movement hot keys work.
Last edited by Earthmichael on Sat Jun 01, 2013 3:44 am, edited 1 time in total.

Earthmichael
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Re: Documentation, Manual, and Tutorial?

Post by Earthmichael » Sat Jun 01, 2013 3:41 am

I have just finished putting about 2 hours into playing the game, and I find that playing without any documentation that explains the cause and effects of a complex economy is just NOT fun. I do not have hours to play just to try to discover the rules. Think of trying to play chess without first being given any of the rules, and how frustrating that would be, then realize than this game is an order of magnitude more complex.

Perhaps the need for documentation is not appreciated by the developers; after all, they know what the game is doing.

The basic rules could surely be explained in less than a day of writing, which would be time well spent! I can't believe a game is being released for beta with no more documentation than a partial hot key list! I am not asking for a glossy manual with tons of graphics; I would settle for some plain text which explains the basics of the game.

If someone can point me to some basic documentation, I would be happy to continue the beta. Otherwise, you would be better served to give my beta key to someone else.
Last edited by Earthmichael on Sat Jun 01, 2013 5:42 am, edited 2 times in total.

Earthmichael
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Re: Documentation, Manual, and Tutorial?

Post by Earthmichael » Sat Jun 01, 2013 4:07 am

I was selected for the Pandora Beta test yesterday.

I have not yet been able to find one shred of documentation about Pandora beyond the readme file. I can't believe they expect us to playtest a game as complex as this without any documentation as to how things are supposed to work. How are playtesters supposed to give meaningful feedback if we don't know what is normal behavior and what is a bug???

For example, I cannot find a command for terraformers to build roads. Is that a bug, or is there some tech to be researched first? Does a city work all of the 6 hexagons surrounding it from the start, or does the population factor in? What happens when a city grows? Do units have any kind of support cost (like SMAC)? What determines how strong units will be in battle? Does attack strength get used by attackers, and armor strength by defenders? Or are both factors used by both attackers and defenders? Is there any kind of random factors in battles? Does terrain factor into battles? What determines production rate? City growth? Research rate?

If anyone happens to know where one can find some Pandora documentation, that would be nice. Otherwise, this may be one of my shortest beta tests ever, since I have no intention of playtesting a game without knowing anything about how it is supposed to work.

Giskler
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Re: Documentation, Manual, and Tutorial?

Post by Giskler » Sat Jun 01, 2013 8:16 am

If you select a Former and look at the command list there's an arrow to the right which you can click and it opens up more commands. This is where you find building roads etc.

mundi
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Re: Documentation, Manual, and Tutorial?

Post by mundi » Sat Jun 01, 2013 9:02 am

I have to agree with Earthmichael. It's very difficult to just thrust into this quite complex game without any guidance.
The part I'm having the most difficulty with is the dynamics of settlements. For example I'm running out of food, and I can't work out how to get more. Pollution is high and I don't know how to lower it. My second cities have a production time of 99 turns for everything and I don't know why, or how to reduce that time. I really love complex dynamics in a game, but if you don't know whats causing what, or how to remedy it, it only makes it frustrating.

Giskler
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Re: Documentation, Manual, and Tutorial?

Post by Giskler » Sat Jun 01, 2013 10:19 am

All resources are shared between all your cities. You are low on food because you are not producing enough to support your population. Solution is building more farms and don't build the population cap increasing buildings too soon.

Pollution is reduced by buildings you can research, certain terrain types also reduce pollution.

Cities with 99 production means there's unrest/low morale. At least that's what I think, I have to play another game to see if what the causes are since I didn't pay much attention to it during my first game.

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Re: Documentation, Manual, and Tutorial?

Post by mundi » Sat Jun 01, 2013 12:15 pm

Thanks for the tips, I would have worked it out eventually I think. The issue I'm trying to raise here though is not for my own game, but the playability and survivability of the final product when released.

I would have to assume that the devs have something in mind to help make this more accessible to a first time player? A tutorial mission would be ideal.

Giskler
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Re: Documentation, Manual, and Tutorial?

Post by Giskler » Sat Jun 01, 2013 12:30 pm

I imagine a tutorial and manual will be included before they ship the game.

SephiRok
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Re: Documentation, Manual, and Tutorial?

Post by SephiRok » Sat Jun 01, 2013 1:36 pm

A manual will be shipped with the final game. We have opted to have tips during the game rather than a separate tutorial, which you should have seen at the top of your screen -- it explains both movement, city population allocation et cetera.

By not providing explicit documentation out of the game, we can find out what are the most common usability issues and misunderstandings, and try to fix them. We will do our best to make the final product as understandable and intuitive as possible, and that is also what this beta is for.

Thanks for the input!

Cheers,
Rok
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Earthmichael
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Re: Documentation, Manual, and Tutorial?

Post by Earthmichael » Sat Jun 01, 2013 2:27 pm

SephiRok wrote:A manual will be shipped with the final game. We have opted to have tips during the game rather than a separate tutorial, which you should have seen at the top of your screen -- it explains both movement, city population allocation et cetera.
I read one of the other posts talking about a tutorial? I wonder what he was talking about?

There is some basic information that should be written down regardless of the approach you are taking, just like the hot key list in the readme file, except more important. It took me a long time and a lot of frustration to figure out that none of the hotkeys or movement techniques from SMAC would work, despite the similarities. You should document that movement is done my selecting a unit, and right-clicking the destination. Who knows how many other beta testers just gave up in frustration, and we too embarrassed to admit that they could not figure out how to move a unit?

Similarly, that box to the right of the former with the extra orders should be noted in the readme file at least.

But I think your entire concept on the need for documentation is wrong. People who play complex games like this want to know how things work. They do not want to go through the frustration of trying to figure it out. Furthermore, as beta testers, if we don't know what the game SHOULD be doing, how can we tell if there is a bug or not?

A lot of questions arise from the global pool of resources. For example, can we control which minerals go to production in which city? Same with food for growth?

Also, what is specific to a given city? Morale? Anything else?

You also have to look at previous games. If your mechanisms are different that what the other games are doing, the player will not understand without documentation, and will be frustrated. For example, previous games of this style allocated population to work the surrounding squares, and the player could choose which squares to work. Your game does not seem to behave that way, but I am not sure how is does behave.

Look at the excellent manual for Heroes V if you want an example of quality documentation. This manual GREATLY enhances the game. And the manual is PLAYER written, BUT the developers had to feed the knowledge to the players, and the players made it beautiful!
SephiRok wrote:By not providing explicit documentation out of the game, we can find out what are the most common usability issues and misunderstandings, and try to fix them. We will do our best to make the final product as understandable and intuitive as possible, and that is also what this beta is for.
This is flawed reasoning. The game is full of misunderstandings, and the only way to fix them is to document them, either in game, or externally, or preferably both.

You should supply a beta manual with the game, since you plan on including a manual when the game is released, and that will allow testers to help you figure out what should be in the manual, and how to best present the information.

I for one will not waste my time on a beta test with no documentation; I think the quality of the feedback you are getting from the beta testers is suspect, considering they can't be sure what they are experiencing is a bug or not.

SephiRok
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Re: Documentation, Manual, and Tutorial?

Post by SephiRok » Sat Jun 01, 2013 2:58 pm

Most of your questions, including how to move a unit, allocate colonists and what is pooled, are answered during the game in the form of tips and hover text. Some people prefer a manual they can study, some prefer to find out things by exploration. In the end, there will be both.

We are now starting to lock down the last features so the manual will be coming to life; I'd love to see the community be involved.

Regards,
Rok
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Earthmichael
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Re: Documentation, Manual, and Tutorial?

Post by Earthmichael » Sat Jun 01, 2013 7:22 pm

SephiRok wrote:Most of your questions, including how to move a unit, allocate colonists and what is pooled, are answered during the game in the form of tips and hover text. Some people prefer a manual they can study, some prefer to find out things by exploration. In the end, there will be both.

We are now starting to lock down the last features so the manual will be coming to life; I'd love to see the community be involved.
You don't need to "lock down the last feature" before you share what you know. You should publish what you know about the game right now in the forums if nowhere else. Then the players may help you put together a good manual and save you some work. You will just need to review and correct what the players write, but that is much easier than writing a good manual yourself. See the HOMM5 Manual to see an excellent example of this approach.

1. I did not see any tips or hover text on how to move a unit before I wasted twenty minutes figuring it out myself. If there was supposed to some helpful tip, I did not see it or it came too late, since you have to move a unit on the first turn. Nor did I see any tip or hover text explain how to find the extra options available for the terraformer. If help was supposed to be popped-up when you need it, the help system failed miserably.

2. I also have seen no tips or help about allocating colonists. Nor any explanation of the effect of putting a colonist one place or another.

3, The hover text on pooled resources is woefully inadequate to try to figure out what is going on and why. I get no clue as to how I can preference production in one city verses another.

4. You really need to explain the combat system. It would probably take about 15 minutes for someone who know what they were doing to write up a few paragraphs. Otherwise, it would take me or some other poor fool 2 hours or longer to reverse engineer your combat system, and we would still have things which are wrong. From examples I have seen so far, armor has no effect on the survivability of my units. Why? Can I allocate some units of a stack to combat, and have other units stay back and heal? If so, how?

5. NOBODY wants to discover the rules of a complex game by exploration (really reverse engineering)! You get your new titanium armor on your troopers, expecting them to be much tougher, and then they die just as fast. And you have no idea why. Is it a bug? Impossible to know, since you don't know the combat rules.

6. I do not know what your aversion is to providing basic beta documentation. So the documentation has to change if some aspect of the game evolves. Maybe the documentation is text only with no pretty pictures. No big deal. The players can deal with changing and beautifying the documentation, but they first need the basic information provided. If I were to attempt to ship a beta version of my software to a customer to test with no documentation available, I would be fired! All this does is frustrate the customer and damage the reputation of my company.

mundi
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Re: Documentation, Manual, and Tutorial?

Post by mundi » Sat Jun 01, 2013 11:21 pm

I remember seeing a popup for colonists, that mentioned you could drag them to where you need them, but I was unable to work out what that meant, or where I was supposed to drag them to. Is it on the map screen or to a different work category? I just don't know.
I'm quite happy to nut this stuff out, and I would also be happy to help work out a manual with the devs.

Giskler
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Re: Documentation, Manual, and Tutorial?

Post by Giskler » Sun Jun 02, 2013 12:02 pm

I was wondering if it's ok for me to start typing up stuff. I was mainly thinking for my own reference, but I can also post it on the forum for other testers.

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Re: Documentation, Manual, and Tutorial?

Post by SephiRok » Sun Jun 02, 2013 12:19 pm

I'll make a thread for the manual, we should have an outline and someone to oversee it next week. You can go ahead and type anything you wish, I won't stop you. :-)

Earthmichael: Did a tip panel in the top center of the screen not appear? Can you check if you have tips enabled in the settings, if so you could try resetting them.

Regards,
Rok
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Earthmichael
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Re: Documentation, Manual, and Tutorial?

Post by Earthmichael » Sun Jun 02, 2013 1:17 pm

SephiRok wrote: Earthmichael: Did a tip panel in the top center of the screen not appear? Can you check if you have tips enabled in the settings, if so you could try resetting them.
There is no tip panel. The top center of the screen is the current research. Clicking on this opens the technology tree. I checked the settings, and tips are enabled. I reset the tips, but this had not effect.

If you were thinking we were picking up useful information from tips, this could be part of the disconnect. Why don't you just post the text files which drive the tips for now?

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Re: Documentation, Manual, and Tutorial?

Post by SephiRok » Sun Jun 02, 2013 1:23 pm

I would like to get it fixed if it doesn't show up. Being in the main menu, resetting tips and then starting a new game does not show any? Could you please attach the Pandora config file from "C:\Users\<user>\AppData\Roaming\Proxy Studios\Pandora Beta\Config\" and the game's logs from the install dir?

We'll add all the tips to the help panel, for now you can find them in Data/Languages/English/Tips.xml if you really wanted to.
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Earthmichael
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Re: Documentation, Manual, and Tutorial?

Post by Earthmichael » Mon Jun 03, 2013 12:38 am

OK, after I started a new game, some tips started showing up. The tip about moving by right clicking was almost lost in the rest of the text. I could not advance to the next tip, there was not mechanism for that. I had to wait for the game to decide to pop up another tip. After reading the XML file, I realized that I had probably already seen the dozen or so available tips.

BTW, the xml file for tips on my system is located at C:\Program Files (x86)\Proxy Studios\Pandora Beta\Data\Core\Languages\English, which is not the same location for your system it appears. I do not think it matters, since I did get a few tips after I started a new game.

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