A well-done interactive newbie tutorial would do FAR, FAR more for  
the game than changing basic features that make the game slightly  
easier at the expense of removing key elements of skill AND strategy.  
Many people forget that what seems like simple skill in fact leads  
into strategic play.

On Mar 31, 2007, at 9:55 AM, Rado S wrote:

> The problem is not backward compatibility with old clients,
> but backward compatibility with old school player types!
> They don't _want_ that feeling to change they are used to, and
> which requires some skill to master that info, which they as
> cluebies already have while newbies don't have yet, so they can
> feel better while newbies have to go through the same learning
> curve of "oh so important" skill, of which they claim it
> unbalances the game. D'oh.

No. I don't feel "better" than newbies because I can cripple a ship  
properly rather than kill it. I do feel more accomplished, but when I  
was learning the skill I *enoyed* learning it. And I enjoy teaching  
skills like crippling ships to new players, and can tell that they  
enjoy learning such skills. And this particular SKILL is also a  
STRATEGY. It's strategically important to sometimes be able to fake  
out other players by pretending you are less crippled or have much  
more fuel than you actually have. And it's strategically important to  
hide how much damage your base has from the other team. So it does  
imbalance the game. I've brought this skill up in particular because  
showing enemy damage has been tossed around; an idea that I  
absolutely abhor.

So why dumb down the game? It's a skill that's learned over time, and  
is rewarding to learn. I would think that the type of people to play  
an arcane game like Netrek would enjoy learning such skills. There  
are plenty of harder ones to learn. Learning how to dogfight well is  
far harder. Learning to be in the right place at the right time  
(without some flashy graphics pointing you in the general direction)  
is just as hard. Should we have all picks called ++ automatically so  
that the game doesn't require SC bombers to learn how to call picks?  
Should we light up a cloaker for a quarter-second when hit by torps  
to make a plock easier? That'll make it easier to learn how to plock  
cloakers with torps!

There is much skill-assistance that I am not against. Things like det  
circles, which give you a general idea of how dets work, but still  
require skill to become more than average at. This is an example of  
flattening the learning curve, yet leaving it as a challenge to new  
players to master. Phaser max-distance circles if someone wants to  
add them? Fine by me. We already report phaser damage when you hit a  
ship. Why not change the phaser color based on how far away the enemy  
was, and thus how much damage you inflicted? That wouldn't be so bad,  
and it illustrates the point that phasers do more damage closer in

These things I list about are skill-assistance. They do not remove  
learned higher-level skill, nor important strategy, from the game.  
They simply help a new player learn faster without significantly  
changing game play.

> It's a question of preference:
> a) retain requirement of past times skill as indicator of superiority
> vs.
> b) accelerated playing quality.
> I go for b).
> Does it really matter _why_ some player does the right thing as
> long as he does the right thing?
> He can learn afterwards why it is right if he doesn't get it on
> his own from the start.

I go for both. It is quite possible to accelerate playing quality  
while having tried-and-tested methods of gameplay be the ultimate  
goal that newbies strive for. The key is to help them part of the  
way, such that they know what they're trying to learn, rather than  
being thrust into a confusing game with no real goals.

All of this aside, I don't even see the point of discussing what  
trivial features can be changed for the worse, when that is not the  
problem. The problem is not that a newbie doesn't know how far to det  
at. The problem is not that a newbie doesn't know how damaged an  
enemy ship is. And the problem is not that a newbie needs big  
blinking ships to see which enemies carry armies.

The problem is that the game is very complex, and simple things like  
figuring out how to send messages are far more daunting than they  
should be. Why don't we concentrate efforts on that instead of trying  
to fix what's really not broken by removing elements of strategy and