So, at tournaments and otherwise, I’ve tried to help people out who are having trouble with more recent machines due to their occasional rules complexity and this got me thinking about how to prevent the player from feeling like they didn’t know how they scored so well, albeit without making this communication obnoxious for established players.
While Godzilla has gotten positive reception from a lot of people I’ve talked with I also know people who dislike the game because they feel overwhelmed by it, how there are so many possible things to go for compared to the older games that they prefer. These complaints usually lessened a bit when I told them about the positioning of the monster monitor inserts, which aren’t quite directly above the flippers like you’d expect, and are very important to figuring out just how the game works.
I’ve also seen this complaint with Stern Star Wars, specifically in regards to the shot X, how its increased, and how its changed between shots. The rule is discussed on the game’s instruction card, but excluding a “shoot targets to increase shot multiplier” descriptor above the center standup targets, the rule is kinda well-hidden and takes quite a bit of time to learn - and even the descriptor doesn’t fully describe it. Like with the above game people have started to enjoy the game quite a bit more when I pointed out how exactly that rule works and I know some people who disliked the game initially, who have grown to really like it.
Stranger Things I feel does a very good job at telling the player what lights what and how, both through information on the display and vocal callouts that play the first time they shoot for a random DEMODOG target or the Demogorgon targets during a game. Of course the Upside Down isn’t given any proper explanation but it’s well-associated with the show and the unexpected nature works with the theme. Of all the recent games I’ve discussed it’s this one that I see people tend to have the least questions about.
So yeah, I’d love to hear your thoughts on what constitutes good rules communication, because I get the impression that this is a very picky subject for the pinball community especially with the rise of HUO games. I always liked how Airborne made choosing whether or not you want good rules communication into a rule and something like that as an option could be a neat idea, or the “novice mode” Stern experimented with in Game of Thrones to simplify gameplay. What matters, at the end of the day, is implementing this in a way that isn’t annoying and is as helpful as possible.
[quote=“CaptainBZarre, post:1, topic:7822, full:true”]
Stranger Things I feel does a very good job at telling the player what lights what and how, both through information on the display and vocal callouts that play the first time they shoot for a random DEMODOG target or the Demogorgon targets during a game. Of course the Upside Down isn’t given any proper explanation but it’s well-associated with the show and the unexpected nature works with the theme.[/quote]
You can’t rely on someone being familiar with the show/theme. I played Legends of Wrestlemania in league play with next to zero knowledge about current pro wrestling. I was barely familiar with the change from WWF to WWE after the World Wildlife Fund sued. I know very little about Stranger Things the TV show, only that it is set in the 80s and heavy with references to 80s nostalgia to the point where Domino’s brought back their 80s logo that actually said Domino’s Pizza as a tie-in.
Honestly, if games are going to assume I have watched the show or movie, this is another reason to prefer non-licensed themes.
(edit: no clue why the quote is not showing up properly.)
By the time a tournament comes around it is pretty much too late to educate players on game rules. It is unfortunate for a walk-up newbie that just wants to show up and go for it, then gets crushed and never comes back again. From the perspective of mid-tier and higher players, the attraction to pinball is the advanced rule set and they enjoy the time spent on the learning process.
A couple of suggestions for your frustrated players is to refer them to web-sites with rules and videos, along with the reminder that they don’t need to learn how to master it, but key in on modes and multiballs.
A diverse machine line up would also help. Jacks Open or even Medieval Madness are fairly easy to understand and to make some progress compared to a modern machine. That’s easier said then done for the TD, I understand.
And this is what I’m saying - as a slightly above mid-tier player I enjoy spending the time to look into rules documents and figure out the best ways to score big, this is something I appreciate about a lot of newer games but understand that I’m in a very niche audience and that the casual crowd likely won’t be as willing to put the time into it. Stern does seem to be improving with communicating this info, during the attract mode there are screens that explain certain basic gameplay rules and Insider has a basic rules section for every game on the service - this was something Data East tried for a bit and I’m glad that Stern sees value in it again.
My thoughts exactly on telling people that memorizing everything isn’t as important as knowing the basics, and using that basic knowledge to excel at the game. I’ll fully admit, the reason why I make these rules documents is for that niche advanced player group, which is why I’ve been trying to include a basic overview at the start of these documents. I’ve been thinking about getting into the pinball tutorial business and would love to make videos for both general and more advanced audiences.
I really don’t think this is a problem. Why should anyone have to cater to newbies? For casual play, certainly, but for a tournament, newbies should understand and basically expect to be decimated. The competitive pinball scene is always growing as is, no need to dumb it down.