Suggestions to Improve Navigation and Tutorial

Started by ponyspeak, 2022 Apr 27, 22:30:32

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I'd like to start out saying I love this game, it features wonderful character customization and animations, and being in Equestria is fun and exciting, with lots of things to do and beautifully translated locations and creatures from FIM. I'm willing to put up with a lot to continue playing it, but I really want to see it improve, because trying to engage with it has been frustrating at times.  >.< 

To start off, I'll talk about some of the writing and textual elements of the game. Not to knock the story or character dialog, I'm not huge on reading long blocks of text in videogames but I accept that that is a part of a lot of MMOs and this is the style this game is conveying. What could be improved is how information is presented and accessed in that writing.

The questlog regularly shows only a short summary of information, and provides very little direction. Oftentimes if you miss the wrong frame of dialog from an NPC or were skimming instead of paying attention, that quest becomes extremely tedious as you have to follow your minimap or attempt to navigate on your own. NPCs should reiterate directions when asked, or be quoted in the questlog to avoid this. I also suggest emphasized text in the quest dialog of important objects, people, and locations, and unifying the terms used to describe things (specifically I saw "school", "school for gifted unicorns", and "university" used to refer to the same place in the magic questline, and I wasn't sure if these were different places or not.)

signage and UI

Aside from lack of specificity, navigating when I did have some direction was often a chore. Big dense towns filled with unhelpful NPCs and small low-contrast written signs took a long time to get through or search in. A lot of times I would be following the wrong quest marker on the minimap and lose 10-15 minutes of travel. The quest markers do not appear on the full map and are not labeled or otherwise differentiated.

The rest of the full map is also unlabeled, lacking any location names, non-skill land features or landmarks (such as exits, shops, and train stations especially), or showing any characters. I understand if that last one is a bit ambitious, especially for PCs or roaming NPCs, but the town locations are really just inferred based on my loose memory of the show, and it took me way too long to realize that Cloudopolis entrances were marked with dotted lines. In my opinion, the map is the most important menu in an MMO, and it needs to serve the game well in all facets of play.
My suggestions to start are to add an icon for the train station and Cloudopolis warps, add major location names, and put quest markers on the full map. From there, shops and stationary NPCs if you can manage it. (I'd like to find out where all the accessories shops are  ;) )


There are a significant number of bugs and sequence breaking issues regarding tutorial quests and skill specialization that add unneeded confusion. I ran into issues every time I tried specializing for the talent mark quests. When I tried pets the pet button never worked and I never got to see my turtle, when I tried magic the first time my abilities reset when I aged up, when I tried mining my quest marker never appeared and I lost which NPC I was supposed to talk to. Additional foal friend quests feel like a waste because once the ageup is triggered they all just become junk markers taking up valuable space on your minimap and not all of them can be fixed by the train station wizard.

I'm not exactly sure what issues can/should be fixed or take priority, but as a new player I cannot really see what the game WANTS me to do in the first place. The dialog trees in the werepony and specialization questlines feel messy and every fork seems to have a "cancel out" option.
Finishing the werepony quest seems to be the track the game wants everypony to do, as specialized abilities often take a couple levels higher to cast and questing is the easiest way to level (plus this questline is prompted by the tutorial teacher). There is no warning before aging up, and you don't have to turn in the specialization quest at your starting town before doing so. This means you have to do a lot more back and forth to turn in foal quests at your starting town before finishing your specialization and aging up.

My suggestion is to make specialization a little harder to just stumble on. Maybe hiding the specialization options behind a dialog branch when talking to your teacher, or at least having a pop-up or notification at the end of the questline asking if you've turned in all your foal quests and if you'd like to continue on.

Honestly a lot of solutions to this depend on how the devs want to treat foal gameplay. If they want players to start exploring the world as a foal and get familiar with a lot of the mechanics and locations before committing to a playstyle, they need to have more direction for that; adding more quests in the early game that require you to engage with things like traveling the world, leveling through combat, and utilizing skills and crafting. I don't even know if this game wants me to try out multiple skills before deciding on one, because the main quests surrounding it are all just specialization and you have to take initiative in learning the rest, asking around to find NPCs with relevant information.

Most MMOs with similar skill tree structures will start you off in a location (like a school or town square) where there are many NPCs each with a job and/or aesthetic denoting their specialization in one branch of the skill tree and each will give a description of their craft and some starter quests to help you along before allowing you to return later to permanently specialize in that branch. Others might have a tutorial that guides you through selecting things on a skilltree menu, or waiting until you are a certain combat level to commit to a specialization.

This NPC-lead approach is sort of the case in this game except most of these NPCs are scattered around the world, and specialization is lead by the tutorial NPC way too early in the game. In my first playthrough I chose the pet branch halfway through the werepony quest and in an effort to cancel out ended up not knowing anything about how pets work while still being stuck in the questline to specialize in it. I understand that a lot of my issues in this game probably stem from user error and skipping dialog, but I also think there's room to make the game more intuitive and accessible, especially given the child-friendly subject matter. 0:)

I will more than likely have more suggestions as I continue playing and run into any design problems or bugs, but I just thought I would compile these problems I had getting started. This game is a monumental project done entirely through passion and I cannot commend the devs enough for getting this off the ground and working as well as it does so far! I hope if any are reading they found this critique helpful instead of harsh, I didn't write this to be discouraging.  <3  X3

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