Friday Facts #241 - New player experience

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Sander_Bouwhuis
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Re: Friday Facts #241 - New player experience

Post by Sander_Bouwhuis » Fri May 04, 2018 6:37 pm

If you want people to not refund the game within 30 minutes because of boredom and confusion, why not start them out with a tiny well-built base? Have some missing things like a row of 3 missing belt pieces, a few missing electricity poles and a few missing inserters.
That way, they see how Factorio works:
1. Build things by placing them on the map (e.g., belt pieces)
2. If even a single thing is missing in your base, it's possible your whole base could be shutdown
3. How to have a chain of things (e.g., miner -> belt -> inserter -> furnace -> inserter -> chest)

After you have them solve a few missing pieces, ask them to build another furnace next to a row of 3 or so existing furnaces. They can literally copy the layout by looking at the existing things. Continue like that.

PS
When I started with this game, I first watched a 1-hour Youtube video of a guy playing the game. When I started Factorio for the first time, I had my guy standing there and I had literally no idea what buttons to press and what to do. I had to rewatch the Youtube video and follow along with his steps to get an idea what was possible and what needed to be done and what the purpose of it all was.
It's a small miracle that I continued the game instead of refunding it.

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Re: Friday Facts #241 - New player experience

Post by DerivePi » Fri May 04, 2018 6:58 pm

I second Sander's idea. A "finish the factory" tutorial should be instructive and fun.

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Re: Friday Facts #241 - New player experience

Post by Tomik » Fri May 04, 2018 7:10 pm

Sander_Bouwhuis wrote:If you want people to not refund the game within 30 minutes because of boredom and confusion, why not start them out with a tiny well-built base? Have some missing things like a row of 3 missing belt pieces, a few missing electricity poles and a few missing inserters.
That way, they see how Factorio works:
1. Build things by placing them on the map (e.g., belt pieces)
2. If even a single thing is missing in your base, it's possible your whole base could be shutdown
3. How to have a chain of things (e.g., miner -> belt -> inserter -> furnace -> inserter -> chest)

After you have them solve a few missing pieces, ask them to build another furnace next to a row of 3 or so existing furnaces. They can literally copy the layout by looking at the existing things. Continue like that.

PS
When I started with this game, I first watched a 1-hour Youtube video of a guy playing the game. When I started Factorio for the first time, I had my guy standing there and I had literally no idea what buttons to press and what to do. I had to rewatch the Youtube video and follow along with his steps to get an idea what was possible and what needed to be done and what the purpose of it all was.
It's a small miracle that I continued the game instead of refunding it.
Also add my idea of star ship wrecks strewn close by in Freeplay Mode, with resources and products in them as in a chest and you will cut down on early base building time A LOT.
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Re: Friday Facts #241 - New player experience

Post by Dry Hairy Tree » Fri May 04, 2018 7:30 pm

Campaign First Steps: The insistent speech bubbles and sound effects are annoying. It says push a button you push it and... do it again, again, again... Nearly over it by this point it's patronising and badly designed. This is before a player has even started.

Why not a cut scene of a crash? Cut scenes are obscenely easy in other game engines, how bout yours? You crash and then some dialogue. I love the idea above of a robot helper. Brilliant. You are made aware of bots in the first few frames. Now just add some goals, and emotional impetus to reach them (reasons for achieving them) and you are well on the right track.

A robot helper could begin to instruct your building. It could fly over to the ore "This is iron ore' you can mine this for smelting into iron plate..."

"An alien presence has been detected, it is advised you build some defenses"...

A series of achievable goals with reasons for achieving them. That's the bare bones you need.

And yes, arbitrary items to collect makes no sense. Ammo is for defense, as are walls and turrets. There are things for power, things for automation, things to research for higher tiers of power/military/automation.

Making the car is a good goal. Making 1500 plates (good for nothing) is silly.

A good campaign is a story played out.

If you need a story writer, I've noticed several talented poets round these parts, throw a stone, you might hit one. ;)

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Re: Friday Facts #241 - New player experience

Post by SilverWarior » Fri May 04, 2018 8:22 pm

Here are my thoughts on game tutorial:

First thing that I would do is scrap the "one level for one tutorial" design and instead join all of the tutorials into one level. Now if you want to prevent player from wandering off you can always limit him by generating just part of the map first and then gradually expanding it as the player progresses through the tutorial. Such approach of expandable maps is heavily used in game called Supreme Commander and I must say that I love it. And if memory serves me correctly Age of Empires 2 also supported such feature but in AOE2 it didn't impress me. Perhaps because the scenarios that used it weren't written god enough.
Any way using such approach would keep all of the work done by player throughout the whole tutorial and therefore give him the nice picture of game progress. You can make special save games which will be saved when player reaches certain important points in tutorial, so he can always resume from, that point forward in the future if he wishes so. These save games could even be available directly from main menu, similar as individual tutorial scenarios are now. And the best thing is that at the end of tutorial you can simply enable the default game infinite map generation so player can continue playing for as long as he wishes or gets eaten by biters :lol:

Also I'm pretty sure that if you guys add such feature for controlled level expanding into the game players would surely use in game editor for creating of all sorts of custom scenarios. Right now I believe that the in game editor is pretty unused feature. And even when used it is probably more or les used just to create a good starting point for new games.

I also like the mentioned approach where you would offer a player a partially built or should I say partially destroyed bases (these would be on parts of the map that are not available to the player right from the start) which the player would then restore. This can be especially useful to skip certain grinding phases that might be otherwise necessary if the player would have to build everything for themselves.

EDIT: Speaking of adding features into game I think that adding support for visually creating some basic event driven mission scripts would also allow community to create some interesting scenarios. Currently if someone wants to create some custom scenario it needs to write all the scripts by hand. And that actually requires quite a lot of knowledge.

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Re: Friday Facts #241 - New player experience

Post by Tomplus » Fri May 04, 2018 9:15 pm

Maybe not remove confusing names but create a second list that users will turn on themselves in options.

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Re: Friday Facts #241 - New player experience

Post by hi_impact » Fri May 04, 2018 9:34 pm

I've witnessed about six completely unspoiled new player experiences, four friends in person and two over the internet who intentionally avoided spoilers (Quill18 and Brothgar)

All six experiences hit a huge speedbump at blue science. Understanding blue science was not the wall, it was the combined assault of oil and throughput. Blue science and difficulty has been debated since 0.13. I will not go too far into it but I think it is fine. But some things have changed since 0.15 science revamp and that is the increased throughput demand, especially with the new science packs.

A big problem is with Basic Oil Refining. People can follow the Petroleum path to Plastic easily. It's fun and engaging. But then their refineries stop working because Heavy and Light are backed up and the game really has nothing for them to do with it, except Solid Fuel, which does not appear useful at all when trying to set up science. The concept of buffering byproducts is foreign until now and it caused almost every player to step away from the game.

Also, every blueprint uses Advanced Oil Refining. New players who get frustrated and/or spoil Oil builds then question why they cannot crack Light & Heavy. I've seen new players stuck at backed up Heavy Light for so long, every time. Honestly, I wish Basic Oil Refining was removed. You throw it away after 75 blue science packs. It would make teaching Oil easier too. Every time I teach Oil to new players, I tell them to arbitrarily store all of their Heavy + Light for no good reason because they do not have the ability to crack. Then, I have to tell them that their build is useless because it doesn't match up with Adv. Oil Processing ratios. They have to tear down their hard work to make a new Adv. Oil build and also learn that when you pick up a storage tank, you lose all of your stored liquids. Lots of negative experiences in one session of the game.

In order to keep things punctual, the issues are exactly as follows for all the new players I've seen:
  • 1. Oil Refineries backing up with Light/Heavy/Petroleum causing multiple frustrations. Perhaps remove Basic Oil Processing and just give us Advanced immediately??
    2. New players use very small builds for a long time. When they set up Military and Blue Science, they are starved out completely and either restart (new Factorio fan is born) or quit.
    3. The demo, tutorial, and campaign should teach players how to make good smelters. Throughput is the second biggest problem to getting new players into the midgame.

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Re: Friday Facts #241 - New player experience

Post by planetfall » Fri May 04, 2018 10:18 pm

A backer name like "copper ore unloading" would kill a few careless players and is a far classier troll than any sort of flagrant obscenity.

As for the entity most representative of the overall game, for me it's a toss-up between inserters and construction bots.

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Re: Friday Facts #241 - New player experience

Post by Koub » Fri May 04, 2018 10:23 pm

I vote inserter :) I mean, yeah, one can hesitate between belts and inserters, but even in a full bot base without belts, you'll still need a shitload of inserters. they're totally unavoidable.
Also +1000 for a proper demo, and a proper campaign, that articulate well to teach new players what is Factorio (without compelling them to watch let's plays on Youtube). They're not mandatory as long as the game is in alpha, but they are to get a finished game.
Koub - Please consider English is not my native language.

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Re: Friday Facts #241 - New player experience

Post by welens » Fri May 04, 2018 10:37 pm

bbgun06 wrote:
MasterBuilder wrote:It's not a good idea to have special rules or recipes for the tutorial. That would confuse new players even more. Without electricity, use burner inserters and burner assemblers.
So the setup would be Miner -> Belt -> Furnace -> Burner Inserter -> Burner Assembler -> Burner Inserter -> Chest.
I know burner assemblers don't exist yet, but they would be easy to implement. Perhaps make lvl 1 assemblers into burners, since lvl 2s are not very hard to make and are used for most of the game already.
Burner assemblers for AM1 sound so wierd what I even like it. :)

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Re: Friday Facts #241 - New player experience

Post by EntroperZero » Fri May 04, 2018 11:55 pm

hi_impact wrote:I've witnessed about six completely unspoiled new player experiences, four friends in person and two over the internet who intentionally avoided spoilers (Quill18 and Brothgar)

All six experiences hit a huge speedbump at blue science. Understanding blue science was not the wall, it was the combined assault of oil and throughput. Blue science and difficulty has been debated since 0.13. I will not go too far into it but I think it is fine. But some things have changed since 0.15 science revamp and that is the increased throughput demand, especially with the new science packs.

A big problem is with Basic Oil Refining. People can follow the Petroleum path to Plastic easily. It's fun and engaging. But then their refineries stop working because Heavy and Light are backed up and the game really has nothing for them to do with it, except Solid Fuel, which does not appear useful at all when trying to set up science. The concept of buffering byproducts is foreign until now and it caused almost every player to step away from the game.

Also, every blueprint uses Advanced Oil Refining. New players who get frustrated and/or spoil Oil builds then question why they cannot crack Light & Heavy. I've seen new players stuck at backed up Heavy Light for so long, every time. Honestly, I wish Basic Oil Refining was removed. You throw it away after 75 blue science packs. It would make teaching Oil easier too. Every time I teach Oil to new players, I tell them to arbitrarily store all of their Heavy + Light for no good reason because they do not have the ability to crack. Then, I have to tell them that their build is useless because it doesn't match up with Adv. Oil Processing ratios. They have to tear down their hard work to make a new Adv. Oil build and also learn that when you pick up a storage tank, you lose all of your stored liquids. Lots of negative experiences in one session of the game.

In order to keep things punctual, the issues are exactly as follows for all the new players I've seen:
  • 1. Oil Refineries backing up with Light/Heavy/Petroleum causing multiple frustrations. Perhaps remove Basic Oil Processing and just give us Advanced immediately??
    2. New players use very small builds for a long time. When they set up Military and Blue Science, they are starved out completely and either restart (new Factorio fan is born) or quit.
    3. The demo, tutorial, and campaign should teach players how to make good smelters. Throughput is the second biggest problem to getting new players into the midgame.
This is a really good point about Advanced Oil Refining. Blue science is not the wall that it used to be in 0.13, but oil is definitely a weird thing for newbies, and even veterans get annoyed at having to set up the whole prerequisite chain for blue science just to be able to "unblock" themselves with oil cracking. And let's not forget "wait, which side is water going to be on??" Maybe advanced refining shouldn't require blue science, but I think more likely, basic refining should just not exist. It's just a really awkward step, much more so than e.g. replacing stone furnaces with steel ones or upgrading assemblers.

Maybe advanced refining can still exist, if oil cracking is a separate technology that doesn't require blue science. Even if your ratios are bad, all you need is one heavy->light cracker and one light->petrol cracker to avoid shutting down your entire oil processing setup.

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Re: Friday Facts #241 - New player experience

Post by Deadlock989 » Sat May 05, 2018 12:08 am

Yeah. I usually craft the 75 blue science by hand while I go and have several cups of tea, just so I don't have to bother with non-Advanced at all.

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Re: Friday Facts #241 - New player experience

Post by Amegatron » Sat May 05, 2018 12:40 am

Maybe you can beat the situation with "independent levels" in campaing as like a preparation of a young cosmonaut for future odessey to space?
I mean make the campaign levels in terms of training missions, that are happening on Earth before the player got really crashed in space and have to survive in freeplay.
This could much explain why the levels differ from each other. Something like different train chambers with independant setup.

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Re: Friday Facts #241 - New player experience

Post by Scourge » Sat May 05, 2018 2:48 am

It would be a dream if maps could be scripted so that part of them is inaccessible and "paused" until enabled via script. It's hard to avoid overwhelming the player when your only option for expanding the scope and scale of a level is to transition to a new one, since the player not only has to deal with the increased scale but also wrap their head around the new terrain and base. Warzone 2100 is a example of a game that does this well, and somebody already mentioned Supreme Commander.

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Re: Friday Facts #241 - New player experience

Post by bobucles » Sat May 05, 2018 3:41 am

This seems like a good opportunity to plug the campaign I wrote up a while back:
viewtopic.php?f=6&t=58987
It tries to hit on a lot of those key points like teaching game concepts one at a time, having good continuity, having objectives that make sense, and showing off late game teasers early on. It even builds a rocket! Isn't that a novel idea.

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Re: Friday Facts #241 - New player experience

Post by Glitterspin » Sat May 05, 2018 3:42 am

I'd like to third Supreme Commander as a game to copy for campaign levels expanding well. It's just so smooth and well-implemented!
Looking for people to play with! Not sure the ettiquette or things. Ideally, I'd like peeps that can play fairly often, and with voicechat.

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Re: Friday Facts #241 - New player experience

Post by Kryoclasm » Sat May 05, 2018 3:58 am

A guided naritive ala Mark Watney from the martian.

A journal that details the suituation and ideas of our factorio guy. He would have to be an engineer of some sort. In the journal, he would also hand draw his vision of the equipment he needs to go from nothing to communication satellite so he can phone home.

As he comes up with an idea of what he needs to build or accomplish, new items will show up in the research tab.

I guess, the first thing he will put his mind to is how to retrieve and process the resources he finds around him.
"Need to dig out some coal and iron... Going to need a tool to dig with."

Later...

"It is taking up all my time refuling the furnaces and loading them with the ore.... Maybe I can make a robotic arm to insert the raw material?... Going to have sicence the crap out of this.". On the other page is a rough draft of an inserter.

Ok, anyway... The journal will pop up any time something relevant the player needs to know. At the same time the player gets a short story and some drawings of what is needed to progress.
Not exactally hand holding, just a entertaining story.

Later, "The indigenous species of insectoids seem to be aggressive, not sure why they are now, but weren't when I first crashed here.... There must be a reason.
Anyway, the best defence is a good offence. I wonder what kind of weapons I can make that will put a dent in those dang biting... Biters."

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Re: Friday Facts #241 - New player experience

Post by Oktokolo » Sat May 05, 2018 4:32 am

The inserter is not only the logistics element you can't avoid. But it also is modeled after the classic industrial robot everyone associates with automation in the real world.

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Re: Friday Facts #241 - New player experience

Post by cpy » Sat May 05, 2018 4:43 am

Someone needs to make game on factor.io :D

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Re: Friday Facts #241 - New player experience

Post by bobucles » Sat May 05, 2018 4:49 am

EntroperZero wrote:This is a really good point about Advanced Oil Refining. Blue science is not the wall that it used to be in 0.13, but oil is definitely a weird thing for newbies, and even veterans get annoyed at having to set up the whole prerequisite chain for blue science just to be able to "unblock" themselves with oil cracking. And let's not forget "wait, which side is water going to be on??" Maybe advanced refining shouldn't require blue science, but I think more likely, basic refining should just not exist. It's just a really awkward step, much more so than e.g. replacing stone furnaces with steel ones or upgrading assemblers.
The green to blue curve is probably a little TOO steep. Consider that half, HALF of the tech tree is green tier science. Why isn't any green tier stuff deeper in the tech tree? That's because the tech would be too difficult to pick up if you needed oil. That's how difficult oil refining REALLY is. My faux campaign made it to mission 7 before getting out of green tier science!

I don't know why blue science requires miners when players clearly need more smelters. Mining outpost doesn't become a major stumbling block until purple science. The player needs twice as many steel furnaces as they need miners, or 4 times as many stone furnaces. You need cooked stone to unlock refineries anyway.

I think blue tier should pick an easier and more useful step. Stone becomes a major stumbling block mid way through green science, so this is a great time to demand that players start stone production. Maybe stone furnaces or steel furnaces would be a good pick?
Green tech isn't half of the tech tree!
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