Heading into my month of game immersion
, I was a decent part of the way through Dark Souls.
For those who have played Dark Souls, you will understand why (after being shot off buttresses in Anor Londo about three thousand times) I have decided to take a break from the main game and simply engage in Jolly Cooperation for a few days. Co-op is all well and good if you're summoned in a reasonable amount of time. Some areas have amusing distractions, like repeatedly burning the slimes outside the Depths bonfire in an attempt to beat my own best time, or farming green titanite in Blighttown, but even that gets old. What's a girl to do while waiting to be summoned?
Enter Dwarf Fortress.
Dwarf Fortress is a game I've known about for a long time, watched other people play, and been somewhat intrigued by, but had never tried for myself. As part of investigation of worldbuilding and simulation games, my boyfriend had pulled up DF a few days ago, and I started spending my wait time chatting with him about his dwarves. An idea emerged: I could play DF between summons! I drop my summon sign in Dark Souls, put down the controller, pick up my laptop and build that fortress. Perfect.
I quickly noticed an interesting similarity: both games have steep learning curves that have driven off more than a few potential players. Starting out goes something like this:
Your buddy has been raving about this game, and encourages you to check it out. Said buddy tosses in a warning or two that it can be frustrating at times, but assures you it's worth it. You start playing and immediately fail at life. At this point, you might push through, you might abandon the game forever, or you might be like me and abandon it for a day (or longer) before being overcome with a powerful need to figure it out and show that game who's boss.
Both games have extensive fan-made wikis detailing how to survive and strategies for nearly every situation, active and enthusiastic fan communities, and little to no in-game guidance for newbies. This is vastly different from the classic level design of Super Mario Bros
, where a new player quickly learns all the basics for survival without any need for a tutorial.
The necessity to learn how to play without any help from the game itself turns a lot of people off from Dark Souls and Dwarf Fortress. They both have a lot more complexity than the original Super Mario Bros, making that kind of integrated "tutorial" more difficult, but surely it can still be done.
What are your favorite integrated tutorials in recent video games? What are the worst?
How on earth do you build in lessons on playing something like Dwarf Fortress or Dark Souls without patronizing the player?
The absurd difficulty of getting into these games creates a sense of camaraderie among fans, which might be lessened with too much in-game help. Are they fine as they are?
Please discuss, dear readers!