I recently read “The 30-Second Hook” on Gamasutra. It’s a very good article about the experience of the developers of Blowfish Meets Meteor. The author talks about the experience dealing with the problem of making your game appealing to players trying your game. You have to hook players quickly or, in many cases, you lose them. He writes, “people played only the rather simplistic, tutorial-based first level and put it down because they assumed this was a reflection of the entire game.”
It seems that this might apply to my Double Star Android game. Twenty levels of play are provided in the game, with mysteries, challenges, and rewards along the way. However, it all starts with a training level. If training takes too long, players might never get to the more interesting parts of the game. So that got me thinking that maybe I have to throw players in the deep end. Wait until they flounder and then offer them further assistance. The latest release does just that.
Short / Long Training in Double Star
The latest beta version of Double Star (version 0.980) has a new setting where the player selects either short or long training. Short is the default setting. Players receive minimal training, which includes only the basics of issuing commands and checking ship status. That gets players into battle sooner, but it also means that players are responsible for learning most of the game on their own. To help with that, an extensive list of tutorials is available on the Help screen.
Long training is much more complete. For long training, players learn how to play as they progress through five ranks, from Weapons Officer to Captain. By the time they reach Captain, players know about all of the equipment and have had several longer training missions to practice.
Training is the first of three phases of game play in Double Star: (1) training at the academy; (2) saving our planet from the alien invasion; (3) searching the galaxy for the alien home world. Throughout the game, you receive suggestions and hints from Star Fleet and your crew, as shown in the figure above.
I hope that a few readers will try the game and let me know what you think about the new training level.