There are many different tactics that video games use to introduce players to the game’s basic functions. Some are closely integrated into the story, others are clearly outside the “normal” experience of the game. Mass Effect 2’s tutorial is yelled to Commander Shepard over the intercom system as a high-pressure situation unfolds immediately upon opening the game – it’s very integrated into the gameplay. Final Fantasy XIII’s battle tutorial does take place during a real battle, but it breaks the normal flow of battle and there is a lot of reading involved (not to mention a big flashing “TUTORIAL” in the upper left corner). Ghost Trick for iOS has an even slower and more text-heavy tutorial that is actually quite irritating for a mobile title.
Forza Horizon for the XBox 360 is an open-world racing game, and it may have the best tutorial that I’ve ever seen in a game. In fact, if you’re not paying attention, you might not even notice it’s a tutorial – and that’s a great compliment. Read on and I’ll break it down to show you the magic of a non-tutorial tutorial.
I’m finally getting around to playing The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. I know, where have I been, right? Nearly all of my friends across the gaming spectrum have taken their vacation into Tamriel and are back again, so I’m a little late to the party. But for a game that’s won so many Game of the Year honors, it’s better late than never.
I’ve just gotten a handful of hours into Skyrim on the XBox 360 so far, and I’m already noticing a few questionable usability decisions. I mean, it’s definitely sexy, but the game has a whole mod (SkyUI) dedicated to fixing its menu system – that’s not a great sign. I’ve got four little complaints already, so without further ado…
Finally, after years of discussions and dreams, Microsoft is starting to deliver on this Windows 8 and Surface-based dreamworld of dual screen viewing. The recently-released XBox SmartGlass application (iTunes link) makes your “entertainment more amazing” according to Microsoft. Like every new amazing technology, there are a lot of promises out there – from a better experience controlling your XBox to using your tablet as a map or playbook in-game.
Being the owner of both an XBox 360 and an iPad, I had a few minutes to try it out this afternoon, and I thought I’d report back with some quick thoughts on the usability of the whole experience. In a nutshell, so far I’ve found it a lot like you’re probably imagining – a really cool technology that isn’t quite fully baked yet. Read on to find out more.
In comparison with the original, Borderlands 2 hasn’t changed all that much. Gameplay-wise it’s more of the same, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. There are definitely a few tweaks in the game’s framework – obviously new classes and skills, 87 bazillion guns, at least one new currency, and a lot more shininess in the UI.
And speaking of the UI – there was one relatively minor change that caught my attention. The Fast Travel Network screen shows players where the missions are that they need to complete right where they need to see it. I really appreciate tiny changes that make big improvements from game to game, and this definitely falls into that category. It’s not a new concept for sure, and it’s even been featured on That Game’s UX before from another game, but it’s still worth celebrating. Read on to find out more!
In last week’s article, I talked about how the crazy amount of loot and the lack of a good, simple method to compare items can make an otherwise great Borderlands 2 a sluggish inventory-management fest. After a little bit more playtime, I’ve come up with a few more usability related thoughts on this game including:
Various methods of picking up loot
How much I love the world map in Borderlands 2
Scroll bars are your friend
The skill tree is more focused, but probably less useful
Some unnecessarily sexy visual effects in the menu screen