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tomt
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Introducing new people to the game II
« on: July 19, 2004, 07:52:01 pm »

I've put together a zip file of helpful documentation to give to new players who have never played The Ur-Quan Masters before.  It includes:

An animated GIF of the opening sequence,
A few hints (planets not mentioned in dialogue, etc.),
The story background and information on races from the original manual,
A JPG version of the constellation map,
A list of planets with good mineral and biological resources,
And an edited and expanded version of the manual currently distributed with the game, again with some personal advice included.

The only other place I've posted about this is my livejournal, but not many people read my livejournal so I figured I should let folks here know.  The file can be downloaded from http://members.shaw.ca/evasiveb/uqm-help.zip , but this is not a permanent URL and at some point I will remove it.

I'm sure there'll be disagreements about content, but hey, feel free to make your own changes and distribute!  Grin
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meep-eep
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Re: Introducing new people to the game II
« Reply #1 on: July 19, 2004, 08:36:03 pm »

I think you're telling too much if this is intended for new players.
Apart from spoiling the game, too much information can have the effect that the information that is actually important to new players will be missed.

As for the information from the original manual, there is a reason why we don't include this with the game; Accolade/Infogrames/Atari owns the rights to it.

As for the manual.txt file, what exactly did you change? It may be useful if we were to incorporate some of those changes in the manual.txt distributed with UQM.

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Re: Introducing new people to the game II
« Reply #2 on: July 20, 2004, 12:25:56 am »

As far as new players are concerned, i would substitute your own spoiler info with the Universal Hint System file available from the PONAF boards. (It's very good.)
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Re: Introducing new people to the game II
« Reply #3 on: July 20, 2004, 11:04:10 am »

Eek!  I definitely wasn't intending to create trouble by including excerpts from the original manual, or to give an impression of officialness.  Neither is it my intention to create a spoiler UHS file - in fact, my goal is (with few exceptions) to provide no spoilers at all.  I think new players should be able to complete the game without having to go to the Internet for spoilers, but in its current state, this is difficult to avoid.

I'd like to give new players the minimum amount of information they need to get through the game.  But yes, overloading them with too much extraneous information is as much of a danger and a turn-off.  On the opposite side of the coin, the slow pace at the beginning of the game is a bit of a turn-off for younger people who are used to much faster games, and it's a matter of finding a suitable, if subjective, middle ground.

The main problem is that all of us are so used to the game, it's hard to come at it from an outsider's perspective: what non-intuitive things are there?  When I first played the game, I had no information, zip, nada, and I was unable to finish it until I found a hints file that spoiled far too much.  So a lot of what I'm about to say is based on remembering what made me frustrated.

Here are the non-intuitive things I think need to be mentioned in the documentation:

(1) Slightly more backstory.  The current manual has a decent substitute for the missing opening graphics, but it fails to discuss the history of the Androsynth and that Vela is next to Zeeman - it took me forever to find.

(2) Put the backstory and keyboard controls at the top of the manual, and the command line options nearer the end.  Start the file with a table of contents.

(3) Include a map of the constellations.  I understand now that you wouldn't be allowed to distribute a scan of the original Accolade map, but this is easily gotten around by doing screen grabs of the game's starmap and labelling it.

(4) Explain the planetary scan icons when playing with the 3D0 menus.

(5) Mention the different firing patterns produced, depending on where weapons are placed on your starship.

(6) Explain the differences between Cyborg, Cyborg+ and ++.  Mention the feature that you can't use the emergency warp escape if the cyborg is turned on.  People who suck at hand-eye coordination (like me) play exclusively using the cyborg.

Certain narrative elements that are missing should be documented:

(7) The Melnorme's metachron conversation, as this mentions an important upper-bound for the game.

(Cool Where the Ilwrath's homeworld is.  I don't believe this gets mentioned even during the DOS game, and it can be difficult to stumble across since it's not even within their sphere of influence on the map.

(9) Where Syra is, since I think(?) this was left out of the 3D0 version.  I could wrong about 9, 10 and 11 here.

(10) Where the Mycon's homeworld is, same reason.

(11) The name of the constellation the Supox are in, same reason.


Now comes a list of things that I find only semi-intuitive.  This is that awkard middle ground I was referring to earlier.  Some people figure these things out faster than others - of course I'm biased here (read: stupid when I first played the game). (grin)

(1) Slightly more backstory to explain how the aliens made contact with Earth, what they said about the Ur-Quan, and basic information about the different races.  Basically, the conversation with the Space Station Captain is full of moments when new players go "Wha?  He's talking to me as if I already know about something."  This isn't critical to fix but (to me) it feels a bit strange.

(2) Make "--cscan pc" and "--menu pc" the default.  It's a much more intuitive GUI.

(3) Slightly more detail about planetary exploration: fuel use, capturing life forms, what the red and blue lander bars mean.

(4) On the starship outfitting screen, explain about battery modules and where it says "Combat Energy".

(5) Mention about the "Roster" and "Device" modes: that you can trade people between ships, and that some devices can be activated while in space.

(6) Extra hints for finding where the VUX beast and Syreen vault are located.  The game's internal hints are somewhat lacking.

And finally, I'm still proud of my list of mineral and biological resources - it speeds things up for impatient players while still providing the opportunity to explore and get the story going at a reasonable pace!

Overall i'd like to apologize for my griping, but I'm really happy with everything that's been done by the team.  I'm so glad the game has been ported!  I just want to maximize the enjoyment for new players.
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Re: Introducing new people to the game II
« Reply #4 on: July 20, 2004, 06:18:07 pm »

Regarding # 1 - Perhaps this would help you?

http://www.classicgaming.com/starcontrol/sc2/sc2_hist.shtml
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tomt
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Re: Introducing new people to the game II
« Reply #5 on: July 20, 2004, 07:38:59 pm »

Nope - that's a copy of the material from the original manual.  As meep-eep stated, the UQM team doesn't have the rights to distribute that.
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Re: Introducing new people to the game II
« Reply #6 on: July 20, 2004, 07:53:25 pm »

Then dumb it down into direct explanation, such as found on a blurb on a book (thats such a stupid word).
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Re: Introducing new people to the game II
« Reply #7 on: July 20, 2004, 08:39:07 pm »

Yes, that's one of the points I was trying to make.  Re-write the text, re-do the map, thus avoiding the rights problems.  It's just that the text in the current Manual.txt file that's distributed with UQM 0.3 should be slightly expanded to at least say that Vela is next to Zeeman, and who the Androsynth are.
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Sander Scamper
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Re: Introducing new people to the game II
« Reply #8 on: July 21, 2004, 02:17:13 am »

Go for it, sounds like a terrific idea.
I myself have been trying to get a whole bunch of friends to play this awesome game =p
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UQM/SC2 = World Peace.
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Re: Introducing new people to the game II
« Reply #9 on: July 21, 2004, 04:41:18 am »

Quote
(8) Where the Ilwrath's homeworld is.  I don't believe this gets mentioned even during the DOS game, and it can be difficult to stumble across since it's not even within their sphere of influence on the map.

If you meet the Ilwrath in space, they'll tell you where it is (the third time you ask for info).

Quote
(9) Where Syra is, since I think(?) this was left out of the 3D0 version.  I could wrong about 9, 10 and 11 here.

Was this in the PC version? Btw, there are three planets where you could get an eggshell fragment from, any of which serves as proof to the Syreen.

Quote
(11) The name of the constellation the Supox are in, same reason.

There are only a few worlds in the Supox sphere of influence, with only a few worlds. Searching them all shouldn't take long if you know the basic direction so you can meet a Supox in Hyperspace and get to know their sphere of influence. I agree it's kind of limited, but I haven't seen any questions here from people who could not find it.

Quote
(2) Make "--cscan pc" and "--menu pc" the default.  It's a much more intuitive GUI.

I agree.

Quote
And finally, I'm still proud of my list of mineral and biological resources - it speeds things up for impatient players while still providing the opportunity to explore and get the story going at a reasonable pace!

As a sidenote, do you know the SC2 hints book ("role plaing resource guide"; can be downloaded from PNF too) has similar lists like this?

« Last Edit: July 21, 2004, 04:45:59 am by meep-eep » Logged

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Re: Introducing new people to the game II
« Reply #10 on: July 21, 2004, 07:24:57 am »

Quote
I think you're telling too much if this is intended for new players.
Apart from spoiling the game, too much information can have the effect that the information that is actually important to new players will be missed.

As for the information from the original manual, there is a reason why we don't include this with the game; Accolade/Infogrames/Atari owns the rights to it.


Do they own the rights to the general story as told in the manual?  I would have thought this would be considered the I.P.  of TFB.  Maybe the history & races descriptions can be re-phrased sufficiently to avoid copyright restriction?  

If nothing can be salvaged from the manual, perhaps some fan of UQM who is a editor by trade could use images from UQM (including fonts?) to make a snazzy pdf with the material from the UQM manual?
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Re: Introducing new people to the game II
« Reply #11 on: August 05, 2004, 08:59:19 am »

That you so much!  I have been trying to find the StarControl 2 map for ages since I lost mine.

Smiley

Im so happy.  Thank you!

Smiley
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Re: Introducing new people to the game II
« Reply #12 on: August 05, 2004, 04:17:29 pm »

Quote
(1) Slightly more backstory.  The current manual has a decent substitute for the missing opening graphics, but it fails to discuss the history of the Androsynth and that Vela is next to Zeeman - it took me forever to find.


Yes, more of the story about Burton and Farnsworth and the rest would be nice. And while they're at it, it'd be nice to fix the Vela I/Vela II discrepancy.

Quote
(2) Put the backstory and keyboard controls at the top of the manual, and the command line options nearer the end.  Start the file with a table of contents.

(3) Include a map of the constellations.  I understand now that you wouldn't be allowed to distribute a scan of the original Accolade map, but this is easily gotten around by doing screen grabs of the game's starmap and labelling it.


All sounds good. A constellation map shouldn't be exhaustive (as the original wasn't), but it should have all the general locations of the constellations labeled so someone looking for "Alpha Pavonis" has an idea of where to go (somewhere in the general vicinity of the word "Pavonis").

Quote
(4) Explain the planetary scan icons when playing with the 3D0 menus.


Hmm. I thought the existing manual did have info on how to interpret the scan icons (like how color represents mineral quality).

Quote
(5) Mention the different firing patterns produced, depending on where weapons are placed on your starship.


Now, this isn't necessary. Hayes explains this to you quite clearly when you talk to him, and I don't think we should be discouraging first-time players from talking to Hayes; it's neither realistic for this to be in the docs (you shouldn't have any knowledge of how the Starbase crew are able to rig up weapons systems for the ship before they actually do it) nor is it good for gameplay; players should be spending the beginning of the game getting used to the conversation tree system by shooting the breeze with Hayes, and it's a lot more atmospheric than getting it cut-and-dried on paper.

Quote
(6) Explain the differences between Cyborg, Cyborg+ and ++.  Mention the feature that you can't use the emergency warp escape if the cyborg is turned on.  People who suck at hand-eye coordination (like me) play exclusively using the cyborg.


Agreed; docs on the cyborg are lacking in the current manual. Not sure if it mentions it or not, but it should be made pretty clear that standard Cyborg is too stupid to use secondary weapons, meaning it's too stupid to use period. (Unless you're playing Melee against the computer and want a cakewalk.)

Quote
Certain narrative elements that are missing should be documented:

(7) The Melnorme's metachron conversation, as this mentions an important upper-bound for the game.


Would be nice, as it's a beautiful piece of flavor that makes the Melnorme that much cooler, but it's not *necessary*. It shouldn't take long to establish that the Zoq-Fot-Pik are meant to be your forward scouts for the Doctrinal Conflict, and they feed you all the information you need on your rapidly approaching time limit. (They give you a general estimate and refine it as time goes on, which is a better means of progression than the Melnorme giving you a definite end date.)

Quote
( Where the Ilwrath's homeworld is.  I don't believe this gets mentioned even during the DOS game, and it can be difficult to stumble across since it's not even within their sphere of influence on the map.


It is, actually; converse with the Ilwrath long enough and facetiously enough and you'll stumble on it. Perhaps it's not entirely fair or logical that the location isn't a bit more obviously given, but hey, this way the game encourages you to pick more fights with the Ilwrath, and we all know the game is more interesting the more excuses for combat you have. (And it's not like looking for the Ilwrath's homeworld by chatting up the Ilwrath is exactly counterintuitive.)

Quote
(9) Where Syra is, since I think(?) this was left out of the 3D0 version.  I could wrong about 9, 10 and 11 here.


Yes, it was. It'd be nice to have it in, but not necessary. After all, there are multiple places to find Deep Child shells, and the idea that a world blasted as long ago as Syra should be the first place to look for recent traces of the Deep Children doesn't necessarily make the most in-game sense anyway -- I'd prefer to think that none of the current Shattered Worlds is Syra, and Syra has long since been used up and abandoned as some Magma World somewhere.

Quote
(10) Where the Mycon's homeworld is, same reason.


See, the main effect of taking out the clues about Syra and the Mycon homeworld is that it forces you to explore Mycon space. And the game really doesn't have enough just-explore sequences; the game may be simpler if you spend the whole time as a galactic errand boy, jumping from named destination to named destination, but I think the game benefits from having parts where you have to blindly search through hostile space for a target. You know it's in the Brahe constellation, anyway, which isn't a huge place to search, and the combat isn't a game-killing challenge. Souping up your ship or your fleet to the point where it can blow up those ponderous Podships with ease is half the fun, after all.

Quote
(11) The name of the constellation the Supox are in, same reason.


Okay, searching for the Supox constellation with no information except "They're near the Utwig" is quite a bit more annoying than looking for the Mycon homeworld. Then again, makes perfect sense for the depressive Utwig to not bother to tell you. And if you're efficient with your time the time spent looking around Utwig space for the Utwig's neighbors won't be that long, especially since all you have to do is catch them in space without ever finding their homeworld. Of course, new players often aren't efficient with their time and will come upon the Utwig and Supox too late... but hey, that's all part of the challenge.
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Re: Introducing new people to the game II
« Reply #13 on: August 05, 2004, 09:04:09 pm »

I agree with a lot thats said, but as a youngin (14) I never played the PC version. So i missed out on all the Metachron bits! I was rather disappointed, as i actually heard mention of it and constantly searched for it =p
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Re: Introducing new people to the game II
« Reply #14 on: August 05, 2004, 11:45:35 pm »

If you want you can check out what it said at PNF.
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