The other day, following in my spree of card and board games on mobile, I played a game called Order and Chaos Duels and it reminded me of something that I find annoying in games, one that the board and card genre is especially bad for.
My first action was to pick my hero and of course the different heroes had different statistical nuances. There were also different races. The issue here is that I had absolutely no bloody idea what I was about to be doing in the game. Do the different races matter or is that just an art style? What is a minion and why should I be armouring them Referring to the benefits of classes purely using the game’s lingo before the player has had chance to play the game is pretty sinful.
The issue is quite simple. You are asking the player to make a pretty important decision with no understanding of metrics they are picking from, or how their style of play may be suited.
Of course if you’re able to change freely, that is fine. For example Little Alchemist lets me switch between the classes, which I use to alter my play style depending on whether I’m against strong or weaker opponents. This meant that my initial choice was not important. However I didn’t get the impression that this would be possible in Order & Chaos Duels. In truth given that there seemed to be a story and you were picking your hero, maybe it wouldn’t make sense to switch.
Whilst I appreciate that you can’t be waiting until the player is experienced, it would be much more advantageous if you let the player experience the game first then make their decision. Given that the first few goes are a simplified version with instructions on what to do (I’ll gripe about the tutorial another day), the player doesn’t need to have committed yet and holding off until the player has some concept of the game seems a sound idea.
The other option, which may seem a little radical, is to explain it to the player in a more human and natural manner. Including a vague description such as “The Paper Hero does high damage to enemies with rock shields but is vulnerable against those armed with a blade” gives me an insight and is easier to understand. This can easily be accompanied by the numbers as well, which make sense to an experienced player but to a newbie is +2 a great start or is it a bit crap?
The one issue with that of course is screen space, especially on mobile. No one wants to be squinting. There’s an easy way to include the metrics and be easy to understanding – you have a nice bold description. “Easy Defensive”, “Easy Balanced”, “Hard Attacking” etc. Bit of colour to differentiate and at a quick glance people who’ve no bloody idea what they are doing can make a decision without wading through multiple options.
Final thing – I had 16 heroes to pick from. That’s a lot of choice when you don’t understand the differences. Locking the selection makes it easier for new players to pick, gives you new choices to unlock for repeat play (or if you can change at a later point) plus you could probably have some as IAP.