Loading Tips are too Quick to Read -- and other First Reactions

I finally had a look at PQ3, inspired by watching the stream with Sirrian from 2 months ago. It looks interesting, though I’m not sure how likely I am to play it – the PQ2 dungeon crawl will likely always be my favourite. :smiley:

Three things immediately sprang to mind, from both the game and the stream.

  1. The correct length of time to display a loading tip is 20 seconds.

I know this goes against the industry’s established norm of 5 seconds. But the truth is, 20 seconds is about the minimum time it takes to read, comprehend and absorb a loading tip. If you change the text every 5 seconds, you’re better off showing pretty pictures or animations, because the text-based loading tips are not helping anyone. Sorry.

  1. Managing inventory should never be a grind.

In the video, Steve was asked about inventory space, and he talked about the balance between encouraging people to salvage items versus keep them.

This may not be directly relevant to PQ3, but I think it’s worth mentioning regardless. Inventory management at the end of a season of Diablo III had a severe, negative effect on my mental health. Blizzard didn’t take me seriously (of course). They could/should have sold extra character slots for a small fee (as Steve suggested), but I don’t think they understood the problem.

After a certain point in the game, I believe the amount of inventory or stash space you have should have a logical foundation. For example, in Diablo III, it makes sense to have 3 character slots per class (one male, one female, one Hardcore). It also makes sense to have 4 stash tabs per class: one for weapons, one for armour, one for jewellery, and one for sets (I’ve reduced the actual complexity for this example).

The key reason for all this is that sorting inventory is boring and stressful. One of the easiest ways to reduce that stress is to make sure there’s room to do the sorting in a logical manner (even if that space is temporary).

I’ve only played about 5 minutes of PQ3, but I recommend deciding the amount of inventory space on the basis of this kind of logic, rather than small tweaks based on “game theory.” If you can’t make sorting items fun, at least don’t make it a major pain point.

  1. Truly random item drops are not fun.

Steve mentioned the possible introduction of sets of items, which presumably provide added bonuses when you have the full set.

Going all the way back to the first Diablo (although my memory of TitanQuest is much clearer), item sets were a major annoyance, because you could never get the items you needed to complete the set.

A similar example is the new Verses in Gems of War: very few people have the same number of each verse. Personally, I have no copies of verse 4 and 13 copies of verse 2.

Despite the desire to make drops completely random, on some level, true randomness is not something that humans actually like. What humans really want is uniformity. It makes a lot of sense to build tweaks into drop rates that increase the likelihood of completing sets of items, once you start collecting the set. The other reasonable option is to use crafting systems to compensate for extreme situations of unwelcome randomness.

  1. Steve may love Live Services, but…

In the video, Steve mentioned that he loved Live Services the moment he saw them. The main reason he quoted was the same one quoted by Kafka, and many other people: “With a Live Service game, you can always go back to something and change it.”

The problem is, InfinityPlus2 does not appear to have the processes in place to “go back and change things” at the time it needs to be done.

This has been a long-running argument of mine in the Gems of War forums. Instead of going through long lists of issues, I’m just going to make two points:

a) Failing to fix small problems quickly makes the devs look both incompetent and uncaring. (eg: The empty screens in GoW’s Guild Wars interface during off-weeks – no change after at least 4 years.)

b) Assume every new feature will need to be tweaked, both graphically and functionally, after release, and provide time in the schedule to do this.

The second point is effectively about having a good philosophy that takes into account human psychology. If you don’t make the small tweaks immediately, you never come back to them, and they annoy the players every single day for years on end. I believe this effect is logarithmically cumulative, and does lead directly to players quitting.

This is as relevant to PQ3 as it is to GoW – or any other game.

I hope you can see the value of my first reactions and do pass this on to @Sirrian – despite its length.

BONUS TIP: Every single word you write, pass it through a grammar checker, and a spelling checker with your own custom dictionary! It’s just so easy, there really isn’t an excuse not to.