Comprehensive Feedback – New user experience.

( Edit for formatting incoming. )

So essentially, this post is going to provide my personal feedback on the new user experience of my father, then myself. He's 60 years old and has about 300 hours on Ark.

I've got an ASS in Game Design Motion Graphics. Former Age of Conan player. 681 hours of Ark: Survival Evolved, 529 hours in 7 days to die, 40 hours on the forest, and I've also worked on the game Crowfall. I consider these credentials as a way of saying "Please pay attention to me" because I am taking the time to attempt making this comprehensive and thoughtful to help the product. In the future, I'll be posting similar feedback on different areas of the game in a similar manner.

 


New player experience – (Teaching a 60yo player with prior ark experience how to play.)

So of course, I got my father involved with the game because that is one of the ways we stay in touch and spend time together. Immediately, though, I will say that I am not a helicopter teacher. I let him play until he gets frustrated and quits, then help him.

Points of frustration:

  • He died of thirst because he reached water, but did not know how to drink it.

  • He thought maybe he needed to refill his water skin to drink, but didn't know how to do that. He could not figure it out. (This caused first quit, after dying of thirst three times. As a new player, he had the sense to seek water… just not the sense to think to use his E key on the water.)

  • Starting outside the map made the map useless to a new player. It gave him the immediate impression that the map was even less useful than Ark's standard map.

  • He did have his attention drawn to his level up interface, and the learn recipe interface. The trouble was that he couldn't make sense of the fact that learning a recipe from the left side of the interface, gave you access to all the recipes on the right side of the interface. Because of ark, he is not used to learning recipes as a "Package." Perhaps a tutorial to craft your first set of cloths? (This caused his second quit. He felt paralyzed that he would spend his points wrong and fuck up his character. Due to feeling like he might wreck the game for himself, he decided he'd rather wait and ask me for advice.)

  • He did not connect the fact that he learned to build a blacksmithing station. He learned the smelter(forge?) recipe and built it. What he did not understand as mentioned above, was that he had actually learned a blacksmith station too. So he never thought to look for that crafting table in his known recipes. Then he spent 5-10 minutes searching through the recipes to find a crafting table. He was further mislead because the top level for other crafting stations (tanner) were options, making him assume a black smithing table would be the top level recipe as well.

  • He could not figure out how to make bricks, or iron. Method of crafting previously, such as picking up plant fiber, then making twine, then making shirt, does not follow through into how refining stations function. Feels and operates like two different styles of crafting, not consistent.

 


 

My experience:

  • Everything made good sense, and the product just falls short of the "Need a wiki" mark. If Conan Exiles can just go a little bit further so that the craft system does not require memorization or consulting a manual, it'll be perfect. (Having to look up steelfire, steel, gruel recipes not fun for most players.)

  • Combat's visuals felt great, but there is a stark difference between the satisfaction of killing humans versus killing animals. Latter should be polished up to level of former.

  • Inconsistent reaction to blocking.

  • Dodge is not rewarding except for fighting shalebacks.

  • Durability on shields is awful.

  • Weapons seem to funnel players to 2 handed spears, tridents. Skill ceiling on all weapons is too low. Of course, having a skill floor is also good. (like Overwatch offers, as a good example.)

  • Map could be better. ( Player made notes on map please?)

 


Suggestions:

 

  • When you learn recipes, a ticker or toast should run across the screen pointing out each recipe you acquired. This way when a new player buys weaving, they cannot escape learning that they have learned to make more than a shirt. (which is the icon of weaving.)

  • Change refining nodes so that they offer a recipe list and utilize it the same way that crafting tables work. This removes the need to dive into a wiki to learn the recipe for steelfire or how to make iron and brick.

  • Make dodge refund stamina if you actually dodge an attack. If not, maybe if you click attack during dodging, your character will automatically jump back in to where it was and made a quick strike? This gives dodge a real point because it would allow the player to actually juke-and-punish.

  • Weapons do not feel diverse, and no skill ceiling / skill floor to support casual AND hardcore players. See below suggestions.

  • Spears are simple, should not rely on combos and smarts for max damage. Keep this as the go to "Casual" weapon as it is currently.They could probably use a longer hit volume.

  • Greatly increase shield health. It feels garbage even at steel and iron levels. Ark also sucked at making fun shields.

  • Swords+Shields should be higher skill ceiling, lower potential damage but more utility. Currently, they just feel lower damage with no reward. Stagger for blocking "light" strikes? Shield bash ability to cripple like a hyena does?

  • Additional shield suggestion, should act as a body guard when engaged. Will enable players to act like linebackers for their mages and archers by physically impeding other melee warriors. Also enables the protection of siege equipment. Roman box turtle tactics? Awesome!

  • Maces should be shield destroyers, do greatly increased damage against shield durability. Should do increased damage vs skeletal enemies.

  • Mauls should also have greatly increased shield damage, should also have greatly increased structure/siege equipment damage. Maybe increased damage against rocky enemies, skeletons, and bugs? Should also offer "Bodyguard" style physical barrier to other players attempting to walk past while holding right click down.

  • Killing animals is not as satisfying as killing human NPCs because they don't get chopped up. I would suggest rhino horn can chip off? Spiders on death should maybe leap backwards with their legs bundled in before physics take over? Chop off leg, tail or snout of crocodile? Rocknose armor shattering, exposing bloody muscle underneath?

Thank you for your time and attention, developers. Live the dream, keep amazing us like you have been, and I'll be happy to leave a positive review on steam. I think you might just topple Ark with this product.

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