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Does more accessibility mean less challenge?


wpetula
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KSP 1 is an extremely difficult game, especially for people who aren't familiar with orbits and space travel. The developers stated that they are making KSP 2 more accessible by adding tutorials, better interfaces, and other quality of life improvements.  Reaching a broader audience and improving the feel of the game for everyone is great, but I am worried that it's going to ruin the best part about KSP. KSP 1 is immensely satisfying when you finally understand how a concept works after playing with it for some time. If the tutorials in KSP 2 are too abundant or reveal the answer to a problem before the player has had time to tinker with it, the "AH HA!" moment is lost. 

I think the quality of life improvements are amazing; I just hope the developers don't accidentally strip KSP of its magic.

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15 minutes ago, wpetula said:

If the tutorials in KSP 2 are too abundant or reveal the answer to a problem before the player has had time to tinker with it, the "AH HA!" moment is lost. 

It's not like they're mandatory. If you're fairly confident you can do it, do it and watch final result. If not, and can't figure out how to do certain things after long brainstorming, pick a tutorial that will explain things in funny but easy to understand way.

Mind you, KSP1 also has tutorials, but they're not very helpful now, are they? Slap a rocket and press space? Yeah everyone can do that. But getting through atmo, making proper gravity turn, reaching orbital speed, building aerodynamically stable rocket, well, you're very much on your own, despite the fact that tuts for some of these things exist in the game (but are often so strictly scripted that you can't finish them because you're locked from progressing for unknown reason) One of the reasons many people never go further than the Mun. Because interplanetary journeys are a mysterious concept the game fails to explain.

I feel like tutorials are not about giving man a fish (start here, fire here, boom you're at Duna) but teaching him how to catch fish. As in, showing how things work. It still can be "AH HA!" moment if you finally grasp it and successfully execute, despite not figuring out the whole mechanic on your own.

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I've been playing since KSP was released on Steam. There is still a challenge to the game even though I understand and can do everything but land. Yes Squad has added things to help make it easier, but there is still a challenge to it.

The biggest frustration I had in the beginning was there are no one place in the game to help. I had to look at outside sources to help me. Scott Manley's videos and this very forum helped me understand what was happening and showed me better ways to build craft and be more efficient with my maneuvers. That kept me playing for so long. Without these resources, I would have quit a long time ago.

29 minutes ago, wpetula said:

KSP 1 is immensely satisfying when you finally understand how a concept works after playing with it for some time.

There's a lot of people who never got to that point because they were to frustrated to continue.

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40 minutes ago, The Aziz said:

I feel like tutorials are not about giving man a fish (start here, fire here, boom you're at Duna) but teaching him how to catch fish. As in, showing how things work. It still can be "AH HA!" moment if you finally grasp it and successfully execute, despite not figuring out the whole mechanic on your own.

Absolutely agree. I was only concerned because the devs described a scenario where the tutorial just pops up before a major milestone (getting into orbit). If the tutorials appear without the user asking them to (which I hope won't happen), the solution can be spoiled.

If the tutorials teach a concept instead of "giving the man a fish", then I have no complaints. I doubt the devs would just throw people the answers.

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1 hour ago, wpetula said:

KSP 1 is an extremely difficult game, especially for people who aren't familiar with orbits and space travel. The developers stated that they are making KSP 2 more accessible by adding tutorials, better interfaces, and other quality of life improvements.  Reaching a broader audience and improving the feel of the game for everyone is great, but I am worried that it's going to ruin the best part about KSP. KSP 1 is immensely satisfying when you finally understand how a concept works after playing with it for some time. If the tutorials in KSP 2 are too abundant or reveal the answer to a problem before the player has had time to tinker with it, the "AH HA!" moment is lost. 

I think the quality of life improvements are amazing; I just hope the developers don't accidentally strip KSP of its magic.

There's challenging and then there's needlessly difficult. And it probably hinges on personal opinion where one crosses over into the other. If a tutorial says built this rocket, tilt over to 5° at 1000m, activate SAS, throttle back to 70% at 10,000m then yes, it's more a recipe than teaching someone.  It showing that getting into orbit is all about "going sideways fast enough" and not about going high enough is too easy, then I disagree.

I'm going to play Chess with you, but I'm not telling you the rules. That would be too easy. Half the fun is figuring out the rules, right?! I don't think there's anything wrong with teaching players the basics instead of providing them with the "joy" of figuring out Newton's laws of motion by themselves. There's enough challenge left in making efficient design, getting those in orbit without accidents, rendez-vous and coupling, and so on.

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46 minutes ago, wpetula said:

Absolutely agree. I was only concerned because the devs described a scenario where the tutorial just pops up before a major milestone (getting into orbit). If the tutorials appear without the user asking them to (which I hope won't happen), the solution can be spoiled.

If the tutorials teach a concept instead of "giving the man a fish", then I have no complaints. I doubt the devs would just throw people the answers.

I don't think the tutorial would just pop up like a youtube ad. More like a friendly question mark in the corner and a little text "hey, there's a useful tutorial about your next step, you want to check it out?"

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3 hours ago, The Aziz said:

I don't think the tutorial would just pop up like a youtube ad. More like a friendly question mark in the corner and a little text "hey, there's a useful tutorial about your next step, you want to check it out?"

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Posted (edited)

KSP is well known for it's steep learning curve.  The fact that most of us seem to have needed to ask Scott Manley to show us how to do things shows that the current  in game tutorials are simply not adequate.

And not just for the the 'rocket science' things.  The instructions as to how the game systems and features work are very poor too.  To the point where I am reluctant to reccommend KSP to people who would probably love it because the game does very little to show you how to even play it, never mind how to reach orbit or go interplanetary.

The KSP2 tutorials look like they are going to remove that barrier for both new players and 'converters' like me, who will still need to learn the nee UI and game mechanics.

Edited by pandaman
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Nope, the magic of KSP isn't in the lack of explanation.

The game isn't about bruteforcing your way through rocket science, the game is about doing successful missions. And while yes, the game has a "quirky Kerbal way" feeling deliberately attached to it to make failure feel more fun but that doesn't mean that the game shouldn't have you equipped for success. 

I liked that when they talked about "if your thing is exploding things it's ok" they didn't show some frustrated new player at its tenth attempt at not exploding due to the lack of tutorials but footage from Matt Lowne, someone competent in the game that also loves to make quirky and explodey things.

 

At the end of the day the magic of KSP isn't the first time you do something, everybody can follow a Scott Manley 10 minutes tutorial and do their first rendezvous, the real "AH HA!" moment is when you takeoff  in the wrong direction, with just about enough delta V and without waiting for the proper alignment of the orbit and you manage to dock anyway without much thought and then realize you've mastered it.

There's no spoiling in someone telling you how a rendezvous is supposed to work.   

 

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11 hours ago, wpetula said:

KSP 1 is an extremely difficult game, especially for people who aren't familiar with orbits and space travel. The developers stated that they are making KSP 2 more accessible by adding tutorials, better interfaces, and other quality of life improvements.  Reaching a broader audience and improving the feel of the game for everyone is great, but I am worried that it's going to ruin the best part about KSP. KSP 1 is immensely satisfying when you finally understand how a concept works after playing with it for some time. If the tutorials in KSP 2 are too abundant or reveal the answer to a problem before the player has had time to tinker with it, the "AH HA!" moment is lost. 

I think the quality of life improvements are amazing; I just hope the developers don't accidentally strip KSP of its magic.

I too get worried when I hear developers talk about "appealing to a broader audience" or "simplifying game mechanics to make them more approachable". Talk like this to me typically means less nuance to be applied in games and ultimately leads to more simplistic and less rewarding gameplay overall. I can't say I'm too worried for that happening to kerbal though. I don't see much of a way to rigidly base the game on realistic physics and make the gameplay more simplistic in an ungratifying manner. Sure, some of us who came to kerbal with a background in physics or a knack for it were able to figure out a bit about orbital mechanics with little guidance but I don't think I would be much less satisfied just because somewhat hand holdy tutorials are introduced. Can many people here say that their joy with KSP was reduced after watching Scott Manley or one of the other KSP youtubers showing them how some aspects of this are done? I'd argue not many can, but much more can say the game became much more enjoyable after those experiences. 

I doubt orbital mechanics will ever get that much easier and the only way I see the game getting oversimplified is if a full autopilot AI were introduced to the game to the extent that players don't even have to plan the mission and instead from the get go have a "press button, watch rocket" experience beyond mechjeb. I don't think the devs would dream of doing that cause I don't think anyone would enjoy it. 

So long as new iterations of KSP focus on expanding the choices of parts we can use and mechanics we can interact with we should be in for a better time than before.

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Posted (edited)

Yeah I mean I think the idea that a game can be dumbed down too much is real, but seeing these tutorials doesn't cause me to worry about that. KSP is amazing but there are some tricky concepts to wrap your mind around at first and I love the simple graphical way they're approaching tutorials. There are some core tasks that take some time learn: gravity turns, maneuvers, transfers, docking, landing without an atmosphere, etc. that took a long time for me to really master. I love that they're creating little vignettes to help players into that and bring in new fans of of the game. The thing is though once you've built up those core skills you're off to the races and can do almost anything. Once you've gotten through this initial learning phase and start contemplating colony building I do hope they keep a least a little sophistication, that the mechanics of balancing resources are simple to understand and employ but still challenging to perfect. You don't want that learning curve to be too steep, but you also never want it to hit zero. You should feel like you're learning new things and being challenged  right through the progression and beyond.

Edited by Pthigrivi
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It appears to be getting managed properly. I'm not too concerned with them dumbing it down or making it too easy. It looks like they are managing teaching the basics without being intimidating, but not hand-holding the player either.

I give props to those who have the patience to preplan an entire SSTO round-trip base-building venture with surface docking port alignment etc from the VAB, but: "ain't nobody got time fo dat." For everyone else, there's on-site construction now! Simpler? Yes, but in a good way!

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The developers have said on multiple occasions the accessibility is coming from better onboarding and actual tutorials. They've been very upfront with their desire to keep KSP2 grounded in the unforgiving mathematics of physics with all the challenges that imposes.

Can it all be lies? Yep, but until an actual game releases I'm honestly convinced that they aren't trying to pull a bait and switch with this specifically.

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Posted (edited)

I expect the game to be even harder than the first. What I mean by that is I think it will keep most of the gameplay of the first one, plus some new stuff to manage related to colonization, logistics, interplanetary trips.

Showing people how stuff works isn't dumbing down, it's common sense. Especially on such a niche game.

I'd go as far as saying that some "hand holding" might be beneficial to new players. Something simple like suggesting what type of part to use based on the context, or a notification to tell them to use their scientific instruments. Advanced players may ignore/deactivate it, but it could be useful to newbies that would otherwise feel overwhelmed by the wall of new concepts they need to understand.

Now I'm hoping the new celestials bodies will pose new interesting challenges (orbiting Rask and Rusk, for example).

 

Edited by Truebadour
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I think it was the development diary on tutorials where it was mentioned they could get someone to their first Mun landing a lot faster if they just told them what rocket to build, when to make your burns, etc., but that they didn’t take that route cause it wasn’t teaching players the skills they really needed.

Instead, they focus on trying to eat you to a point where you fail in a way that exposes some new facet of the game to you, and learn from that failure. I think that’s quite admirable, and definitely the right direction to go in. 

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  • 2 weeks later...
Posted (edited)

As long as the game mechanic of KSP1 (orbital mechanic, newtonian physics, free build) is still in KSP2, I don't mind. Just because the game is about rockets and spaceflight does not mean that's the only challenge. What considered 'challenging' is very different between each person. Some consider building the most complicated and largest rocket a challenge, other just trying to reach destination with smallest amount of fuel, other just want to watch things go boom. I myself has been playing KSP since it's early days and has tried many different playstyles, and based from my experience, I find building cool stuff and fixing any aerodynamic/ technical issues from it challenging

Though yeah, for people that's really unfamiliar with orbital mechanics and other physics-related stuff, an additional difficulty that's specifically caters for non-nerd is beneficial for the game. Maybe tweak some of the minor stuff (such as reaction wheel has no EC cost, infinite EVA RCS jetpack, unbreakable solar panel, some minor stuff that has little impact towards teaching the orbital mechanic for the newbies) so they can acclimatize to the game before trying the normal difficulty (AKA the REAL KSP experience) where such little things now must be taken into consideration

Edited by ARS
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2 minutes ago, PlutoISaPlanet said:

No, just means less of a unnecessary headache.

Agreed, for me I don't wanna fly a rocket, but I still wanna learn what sort of transfers/maneuvers are required and similar.  Before I went to Mun for the first time I'd never heard of a Hohmann transfer.

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7 minutes ago, Meecrob said:

Who remembers when games actually had manuals that told you how to play?

Or pocket calculators coming with a 300 page ring bound manual?

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7 hours ago, Meecrob said:

Who remembers when games actually had manuals that told you how to play?

One word: Zachtronics

Shenzen I/0 comes with 50 pages of documentation you have to print to play.

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By far the biggest 'barrier' to KSP1 is the lack of instructions.  The 'Rocket Science' bit is not that hard really, but there is minimal 'guidance' which makes it much harder to grasp than it actually is or needs to be.

But my main 'gripe' is that the game does so much, and has so many cool and useful mechanics and features, but for a total newcomer, there is very little to indicate that they are even there, never mind showing how they work or how to actually use them.

Giving 'instructions' does not reduce complexity, it actually enables more.  A lack of 'instructions' simply introduces artificial complexity and confusion.   Given the right information players can actually do stuff with the complex features rather than avoid them, or not even discover them at all, because they are unable to work out what they do and how to use them.

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11 hours ago, Meecrob said:

Who remembers when games actually had manuals that told you how to play?

OiMVMUs.png
 

In seriousness one of my favorite things was when games like Marathon and Starcraft came with level building software. I think I spent more time making content for my friends than actually playing. 

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On 5/15/2021 at 10:20 AM, The Aziz said:

One of the reasons many people never go further than the Mun. Because interplanetary journeys are a mysterious concept the game fails to explain.

I think that it's probably more the lack of tools to do it, specifically, the lack of MechJeb, launch windows, needed dV and an alarm clock (otherwise collectively known as Mission Control).

Yes, you can manually play with the maneuver node until your projected path intercepts the target planet but that can have you finding out that you don't have enough dV because you launched at the wrong time and only doing one mission at a time as doing more only results in failed missions due to excessive use of time lapse.

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