HAND-HOLDING IN GAMES

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Depends on how far the "hand-holding" goes for me. I love a challenge when it comes to combat, bosses and puzzles. I can play the hell out of a Souls game. I don't want my hand held in anyway when it comes to those aspects. I love the challenge.

However; I do want my hand held when it comes to traveling an open world. Nothing annoys me more than aimlessly around around searching for where I need to go to complete a quest or reach a destination. I'm OK if the boss is ridiculously difficult at my destination, but I want that glowing, gold path leading me there. LOL

AND NOW... story time with grandpa, kids ;-)

One of the most annoying parts of a game that I can remember (back during the good ol' NES days) was Zelda 2. I can't remember exactly the quest, but I recall needing to meet an old man in his cabin, which was in the forest... however; there was NO indication where it was except some dialogue describing it briefly. You, literally, had to find the exact tile in the center of a massive forest on the world map. And if you ever played Zelda 2... the world map had a LOT of forest. I actually broke that game when I was a kid because that part upset me so much, and I missed the dialogue explaining where it was. I played it again just a few years ago and looked it up online and was like... no wonder I never beat this stupid game as a kid!!
Hahah I remember that part.. or the part in Simon's Quest with the tornado you're supposed to wait for.. GOOD TIMES!

Demon/Dark Souls are great examples, loved the challenge in those games. Cryptic quests can be intriguing if done right but no one wants to be wondering what next on the main adventure.

I think it's cool when there is a side quest here and there that's mysterious and tempts you into walking off the beaten path but is also slightly obtuse so some people wonder if it means anything at all.
Jeroen_Sol
This time... I will revive mafia for sure... GIVE MY CREATURE LIFE!
3945
Woah, guess this thread has been summoned from the grave.

My position hasn't changed. I like challenges, but people should be able to play on lower difficulties if they want without the game or other players mocking them for it. Just gimme those shiny achievements for doing everything on the highest difficulty so I can feel self-accomplished, but don't interfere with the enjoyment of people who play on lower difficulties.

Though maybe a more interesting question to ask:
Some hand-holding is necessary. You can't just throw a player into a game without any tutorial whatsoever. What's the best way to handhold your players without them feeling handheld?
pianotm
The TM is for Turtle Motivator
21412
I take absolutely no issue with characters holding hands in video games. Displays of affection happen all the time in real life. It only makes sense when it happens between characters in games.

...

Oh...wait...

You didn't mean that kind of handholding.

For the first level or so, it's fine, particularly if there's a lot of complex control in the game. After that though, I start to get annoyed when I'm still getting tutorials 5 F**KING HOURS INTO THE GAME! I'M LOOKING AT YOU, SQUARE-ENIX!
author=Jeroen_Sol
Woah, guess this thread has been summoned from the grave.

My position hasn't changed. I like challenges, but people should be able to play on lower difficulties if they want without the game or other players mocking them for it. Just gimme those shiny achievements for doing everything on the highest difficulty so I can feel self-accomplished, but don't interfere with the enjoyment of people who play on lower difficulties.

Though maybe a more interesting question to ask:
Some hand-holding is necessary. You can't just throw a player into a game without any tutorial whatsoever. What's the best way to handhold your players without them feeling handheld?

Basically: give basic information to play the game up-front or early, then give information in a way in which you can read it yourself, at your pace - OR space and maps to try them out in a practical, non-dangerous way.

Seriously, just having text-boxes is great because you can skip them. If you can't skip them, then change the boxes. Also make them short and snappy. Add some pictures if you like. Unless it is a game where all details are needed, give people the gist of things, and then let them figure out the finer details. Given you can observe and try these things out without dying or dead-locking your safe files. If lack of a bit of knowledge will screw you up forever always, well, provide the knowledge.
Have visual clues for your interface, and intuitive names/mechanics. Visuals HELP SO MUCH ALWAYS. And then trust them. Give a short explanation, and let it be done. Visuals help you remember that information, and it's easy enough to try out in many cases.
DO NOT. DO NOT have the player act out every single command unless your system is waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay too complex - in which case you still do not have them act out every single command, you just let them act out the basic "I need this or I die" stuff. That's the usual terrible hand-holding case people fear, and it is real, and it is painful.

On the negative side...
I remember one SRPG .. was it FE Awakening? That literally had a full map explaining and needing you to execute EVERY SINGLE MOVEMENT AND INTERACTION THING ON MAP. Like "hey, this is how you move a unit. See? Try it - Now, this grid around you shows you how far you can move, and the red one how far you can attack. No, don't move to this space. THAT space. Right there, we marked it for you. Great! You never would've figured that out! Now try attacking something. Oh no, not that unit. THIS ONE." It was bad. It was painful, and it took WAY. TOO. LONG. The new Three Houses does it far better as first off, this basic info is given, but is not needed to be re-enacted by the player in any way, ever. Instead you get text boxes throughout the game, and they slowly introduce mechanics one by one. Then they do not explain everything, which is a mixed blessing as some things are very vague, but it works great. You get the gist, and you can figure out the details as you do it. Some people wished they knew some things before they started, while others maximize efforts immediately. Everyone's able to play and finish the game, though.

All this can come in various flavors, really. Beat 'em up games aren't great to get into, but they offer the "just get started!"-modes additionally to a training mode, where you get the explanation of moves, need to execute them, or can just try out things at random on your own without anything attacking you. Players can still try to figure it out while playing, but it can greatly help players advance. It also means veterans can just do their thing and ignore it entirely.

One similar, but less elegant option for that is tutorial manuals, thinking of the first Disgaea here (I played it on the DS so not sure if added later). In the menu you have a tutorial part that has all the info you want so that the actual tutorial can be kept brief to get used to the basics. If you want all the details, you can check it out little by little. Not an elegant solution gameplay-wise as it's a heft bulky read that you do not want all at once, but it definitely works.

Other ways... visible clues help, or things you CAN try out without set-backs. Monster Hunter pretty much offers a field study of lacking tutorials in a variety of ways. Some editions of Monster Hunters had nothing in the way of tutorials (Hi Freedom Unite), while also having NO indication whatsoever about which areas are mineable or not, and generally gave a crap about even having a skeleton of a story. That's bad, and really hard to get into. It wasn't meant to be friendly, but it feels off even if you do know the system imho - and I fear for whoever didn't. If you know the game you can work it out, with emphasis on: can work it out. Just a short overview ANYWHERE would be much appreciated, especially since different gaming systems do things slightly different. Thankfully those have been console-only, so the number of buttons are limited, and most attack styles are fairly simple to execute as well. So it is awkward, but very much possible to still get into the game. If you care about it. Which it gives little incentive for.
Other entries are much more accessible, and I think it's different to look at how they make all of these work. It's a trial and error I'd say. Some had a detailed tutorial - Tri in particular, but it took quite a while to get to the quests/monster bits - for which you still had the low barrier entry quests first AFTER the tutorial (which usually serve as your orientation point), which pretty much doubled the experienced tutorial period time. They didn't cover everything though so it was still great to have some weapon-specific details you could read up on in your home (if there's 10 weapon types and you usually focus on one or two, you do NOT want to hear the ins and outs of every single one of them before you get started). Some say World is so newbie-friendly because of the gameplay mechanics, but I am really curious to how they set their tutorials up there.

It's fine and dandy if you do not force people to sit through lessons on gameplay, but if you lack that information and cannot read up on it somewhere, or gleam it from what you are doing, then you are setting up players to do worse at the game. Confusion isn't fun, or good. And even as a hardcore player I love a short reminder of the basic basics just to confirm how this particular game works (sometimes mechanics vary yknow). If your difficulty only persists when people have no clue what they are doing, then I think it's not quite fine-tuned.


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Edit: I don't think the new generation has much more hand-holding tbh. But then I avoid a lot of mainstream games like the plague. Not all though, as evidenced by the Three Houses reference. It's still very much dependent on genre, and a well-implemented tutorial is always welcome.
Different target audiences do show through, of course. More hard-core orientated games do tend to have less visible or hidden tutorials far more often. I think that's natural and good.

What I assume it boils down to is that a lot of your favorite games have opened up more and so they have made some early game adjustments you don't like?

I've become far less aggressively hardcore and just more appreciative of different playstyles over time. There's much to learn from the casual peeps - and if I am being perfectly honest, a lot of peeps find the same games more difficult than me, but as far as I could see they often handle those challenges far better than me.
It'd be nice if more elaborate tutorials had a simple skip button, then all is well.
I don't mind helper-devices in any shape or form tho, personally. I do think it's a bit annoying to start with em all on, though - I'd like to at least be given the choice. It kinda makes sense in the way that a lot of peeps who'd like that (like, say, very young children) probably aren't the most interested in digging through menus.
Jeroen_Sol
This time... I will revive mafia for sure... GIVE MY CREATURE LIFE!
3945
Yeah, all of that makes sense. I'm a big fan of show, don't tell for tutorials, like the way The Witness handles it. It really respects player intelligence to just give players increasingly more difficult challenges without ever using a single text box/voice line.

But that's not really possible for every type of game, and I find that if I try it myself, I end up with something that is hard and unparseable for players, so I don't know how to strike the correct balance.
author=Jeroen_Sol
Some hand-holding is necessary. You can't just throw a player into a game without any tutorial whatsoever. What's the best way to handhold your players without them feeling handheld?


Instruction manual.
author=Liberty
Teaching your player how to do shit (with the option to skip the tutorial) is infinitely better than just dumping them in the game and saying "yeah, go play. I ain't gonna teach you jack. Have 'fun'."

I love the Souls games, I'm v. far from alone in that, and their approach feels very much like pitching you in to the deep end of a piranha filled pool (well, it's a pool the size of an ocean, which is another thing I like about the Souls games) and yelling after you "have fun learning 2 swim, bitch!". And it's amazing. Just saying. "Oh God, what's happening, which way do I go, HOW DO I NOT DIE!?" And figuring that out with no help is extremely fun and rewarding.

Now, there is complex stuff going on in terms of exploration and the player experience of challenge in the Souls games that I could write a lot about if I had more time, if I was smarter, or if someone was paying me to, but there's a lot more to it than being very hard. Souls games do teach you how to play them, but they do so in a way that feels like the very opposite of "holding hands" (call it "dry humping on a park bench"?).

Obviously challenge is not the only way to make a game engaging or enjoyable, but it is one accepted way. I adore Dwarf Fortress' core philosophy of "losing is fun".

That said, "hand-holding" is something I've always associated with the linearity factor as much as with the difficulty factor, so I'm a little surprised this thread is entirely about the easy-hard continuum and not the tunnel-sandbox continuum. (I first saw "take my hand and follow me" used in video games to describe the beginning of FF7, the whole Midgard first act, which is much more linear than the rest of the game and provides a denser blend of spectacle vs. exploration.)

I assume most people here are familiar w/ the "Nintendo Hard" trope, right? (I'm not going to actually link to tvtropes, I think that's in breach of net ethics.) Basically, videogames have been being "dumbed" down difficulty-wise with each successive generation from the 8-bit era to the 16-bit era to the 32/64 bit era to the last few modern console generations. This has been going on a long time. Likewise, US releases of videogames have often been "toned down" difficulty wise compared to their Japanese counterparts to better appeal to the relatively "casual" market in the US. A couple of console generations back, the idea of what a "normal" difficulty should be gelled, so even if that definition was three to five times easier than the difficulty one could expect in the 8-bit days, to me the increasing easiness of video games in the past few years has really slowed down in pace. Videogames aren't getting harder with subsequent console generations by any means, but the rate at which they're getting easier with subsequent console generations has fallen off sharply. And the industry isn't a monolith, and it isn't a universal trend any more. Outside of the Souls series which has made difficulty a very public aspect of its brand, some recent western games have had difficulty levels that I found relatively shocking, not in and of itself, but relative to how complacent, for lack of a better word, I'd become in expecting modern games to present very little challenge. The two Wolfenstein games and the most recent Doom are the games I'm thinking of here. Wolfenstein more than Doom. As someone who plays a lot of western AAA shooters (for someone on here, anyway), Wolfenstein's abandonment of the "industry standard since Halo: Combat Evolved regenerating health" mechanic in favor of health that did not regenerate in any way shape or form felt brutal. Which is I think part of the retro magic they were going for.

My least favorite developments in video games in the last five years are the nigh-total death of couch co-op and the audacity of games that seriously will not let me pause in single player mode each of which is only tangentially related to this topic. But the latter is a problem I find far more disrespectful of the modern, busy adult gamer's time than almost any difficulty level decisions could be: just because MOST people like to play this game online, I have to decide between going to the bathroom/checking on my kids/pets or not dying in this game when I'm playing on solo? Unfuckingbelievable.

"I hope you like being forced through ten million mandatory tutorials before actually getting to play the game" is another problem related to this issue, but it looks like I'm out of time.
Jeroen_Sol
This time... I will revive mafia for sure... GIVE MY CREATURE LIFE!
3945
author=Zachary_Braun
author=Jeroen_Sol
Some hand-holding is necessary. You can't just throw a player into a game without any tutorial whatsoever. What's the best way to handhold your players without them feeling handheld?
Instruction manual.


Sure, they may not feel handheld, but they sure as hell will feel bored/frustrated, which is probably not what you're going for.
kory_toombs
I won the RMN 2019 Stanley Cup Playoff Pool. Now I will never stop bragging about it.
12624

Hand Holding... While playing games...

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