Gravity Ace

Tutorial play through and level design


Hey there everybody and welcome back to another Gravity Ace devlog.

This is a bonus one I guess. Did one on Monday and wanted to talk you through some of the changes that I made to the tutorial based on the feedback I’ve gotten.

So one thing I did was… one thing I noticed was that people were playing it like a platformer. You know they would try to go right, try to go as fast as they could, they would try to bounce off of things, jump, you know, all the platformer stuff, so, to break people of that idea I made the first intro here go left.

Another thing I noticed here that I did was I put these background rocks overlapping the ship so that immediately people realize that those are in the background and they can’t hurt you.

So in a second you’ll see I’ll fly left and start the level.

Another thing you might notice is that fuel consumption is turned on. In the previous tutorial you had infinite fuel, you never even saw the fuel gauge unless you were refueling. But I needed to teach refueling mechanics so instead I made the ship consume fuel in the tutorial and then scattered lots of fuel opportunities around the level so that the fear of people running out of fuel wouldn’t… you know, it’s mitigated somewhat. I was worried that people would run out of fuel during the tutorial but just adding more fuel was kind of the solution for that.

Another thing I did with the dialog here is that I repeat it a lot. This is the first mention of fuel but there are two more fuel stations and little canisters you can pick up. So the player’s getting… you’re repeating this information to them. And if they skip one or two of the prompts they’ll still get it by the time they’re done with the tutorial.

I also made this first fuel station very difficult to destroy. It has a lot of hit points. The next one has fewer hit points and the last one has the normal amount of hit points.

So this is, again, talking about repetition, the second time I’ve shown people how to shoot. The first one was the Captain a minute ago telling you to blow up the fuel depot and here’s the Lieutenant telling you to take some practice shots on the asteroids.

No explanation for the coins. I think that’s pretty self-evident. Nobody had any problem understanding what to do with those. Again, going back to what people are used to.

So that dialog was where I mentioned the fuel pods. And LO and BEHOLD there they are.

This dialog is just much more concise. I cut out a lot. It didn’t need a lot of exposition around shooting a button.

And then a little reward when you get through successfully. And then this is a new mechanic for the – well, new to the tutorial. Before I didn’t have any people to rescue in the tutorial but now I do. So you’re learning every mechanic in the game all in this one tutorial.

Not sure that’s the right approach. I mean I can definitely see the case being made for teaching as you go and the very first level that I’ve made sort of does that but it’s so short – I mean, you can finish it in 30 seconds – that it may not matter because you can get through so quickly. More play testing is required, obviously.

So the main skills that I’m trying to teach are flying and fuel conservation. If you can master those two things then you can play the game very well.

Again, repetition. Another mention about momentum, conserving your fuel.

Another thing I did with all these tutorial dialogs is that I pause the game on a lot of them. One comment I got was that sometimes there’s too much to pay attention to and so they would miss some dialog. So in the tutorial at least – and probably for most important dialog throughout the game – I’m going to pause the game during those moments. But some dialog like little throwaway lines when you rescue an astronaut, you know, there’s no point in pausing those because it doesn’t matter if they miss it or not.

And then straight out to the exit.

And the glorious S rank.

So I hope that was helpful. I hope that was interesting. That’s a little look at my design process here. My thoughts going into it and the problems I was trying to solve. Let me know if you have any questions about anything.

Thanks for watching. See you next time!

Published February 20, 2020

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