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OpenArena Contributions => Development => Topic started by: bogon12 on August 16, 2009, 08:38:24 PM

Title: Suggestions for Better Newbie Experience
Post by: bogon12 on August 16, 2009, 08:38:24 PM
I think it is important to OA for newbies (like, brand spankin' new newbies) to have a good experience with the game to not only replace players that retire but also to build the popularity and support for the game. Also, it's no fun to totally dominate, so I would think that new players progressing in skill would be something that experienced players like also.

So it seems to me that lots of newbies (again, brand spankin' new newbies - I'm talking folks who can't really aim, who don't know that simply jumping is faster than running, etc) are going to have a pretty bad experience with Open Arena when they come to multiplayer because there are going to be lots of people doing many things they never dreamed of (strafe jumping, rocket jump, etc, etc), and doing these things on maps they've never seen before, etc, etc.

So maybe this thread could be a place for two things:

1) newbies who happen by the forums (or players who can still remember what it is like to be a newbie) can relate some of the things that might have turned them off a bit...
2) ideas to improve the newbie experience...

Title: Re: Suggestions for Better Newbie Experience
Post by: bogon12 on August 16, 2009, 08:57:23 PM
So here are my ideas:

Probably the easiest one:
Make some of the many servers specifically for 'newbies'. I've seen servers for low ping players, I've seen lots of empty servers - why not just change the name of a few of these servers so that they say 'newbies only'? Obviously these servers would suck for newbies if jerks showed up for easy frags and an ego trip, so maybe somewhere clearly explain (for the newbies) how to call a vote to kick someone and a low threshold for actually kicking players - majority vote or something. Maybe even advanced players could police this on occasion, kicking advanced players who should be on the map.

Something harder to implement:
but a little less sucky than kicking people would be auto-handicapping on newbie servers - if the person in the lead is winning by, say, double the score of the next person, then the hadicaps of all the players automatically adjusts to try and even out the game play a bit...

Maybe another way of doing this:
would be to have bots that never left the game but that only attacked players that were in the lead by too much (again, someone who score was twice the median score or something...)

A not so hard one:
What if we put the VQ3 map into the standard single player map pack (probably modified with a 'sign' on the 'wall' that explained what the level was for and why there are no bots in it)? This would help at least make folks aware of the existence of skills like strafe jumping, etc. Maybe it would be the last level...

A little harder, perhaps:
I've seen elsewhere suggestions to put all the CVARS (if I'm using that right) into some kind of menu (especially with some description of what they do) that can be reached from the normal startup menu, and I think this would be a great idea also.

Not really sure how to do this one:
It would be pretty cool if the newbie servers (or even the single player maps) had a skill theme that they focused on- circle jump, rail gun skills, paying attention to the sounds of battle to get an edge, etc, to naturally help newbies along the path to competency. You couldn't do well on the level until you got good at a specific skill...

PS- how does handicap work - does turning it on make it easier for the person using a handicap or harder for them? In what way?

Title: Re: Suggestions for Better Newbie Experience
Post by: Udi on August 17, 2009, 01:38:55 AM
Though OA sticks to the Q3 gameplay, there will be more complete newbies coming, because time passes and more people will coming who have not played Q3 (Q3 will be 10 year old this year :D ). So thanks for the topic, we should focus on that too.

Open Arena Extended ( has a GUI for all the call votes possible, so kicking a player won't be hard for new players in the next version of OA. To display all the c_vars in the menu is a hard task, especially with the old menu system, so don't expect that to happen. Most of the pro players downgrade the visual quality of the game which can be done in the menus (anything beyond those options is surely not an aim of new players), only the field of view would be a reasonable addon to the game settings.

Handicap reduces the handicaped player's health and weapon damage. With no handicap your health is 125 and with time it is reducing to 100. With 80 handicap it starts on 105 and goes down to 80. Auto-handicapping people was mentioned in other topics, no results on that.

By the VQ3 map, you probably refer to the Defrag map you saw on the VQ3 server. We can't include a map into OA unless it's licence is GPLv2. Beside that reimplementing all the stuff Defrag has is not a task of OA. Defrag _is_ the mod for practicing advanced movement. However a small tutorial map should came handy, but it would be hard to show the tricks on that. Maybe adding a new tier and showing the movements in recorded RoQ files. But we can't do as good job as the Genesis - the beginning of ( video.

And also there's a lot of info on DO NOT LINK[/b]) h t t p s : / / openarena . wikia . com/wiki/Manual]the wiki (http://([b), and in the Tutorial: The Basics topic ( And besides those page a lot of info is scattered all over the boards. These infos should be put together into one resource, translated it into languages and put next to the game. I can start working on that, HTML would be a good format and translation can go through .po files (the GNU way :) ).

Title: Re: Suggestions for Better Newbie Experience
Post by: Cacatoes on August 17, 2009, 05:10:35 AM
I agree with the idea of making newbies experience less harsh ;)

I have to add, identifying a server as a newbie one might not help, and making police on it isn't the right way either IMO.
With time players come to know the servers, and so we know where to find good/average/beginner players.
If instantgib servers are often full of 20 people on it there are reasons for that : easy to frag, only one weapon to master, it's so crowdy you shoot people randomly rather than targetting some people in particular.

I think most players don't like to come on the website, nor on the forum, nor on the wiki ... and they may not take the time either to view the manual if there was one. When you get a game you want to play, it's only later that you may have the will to read informations about it (I played OA a bit before coming on this forum, when I started playing I wasn't aware of strafe jumping so someone told me about it ingame). Some time ago, someone on this forum intended to make a manual for OA, gathering documentation from here and there, I think this is a good idea. On the french OA wiki we tried to focus a bit more on documentation for newbies (like: you get the game, then you have a quick introduction of the game, then quickly you have some hints on how not to get owned too much by better players), but documentation comes confusing pretty quick and it's hard to organize ;)

I was thinking too of some tutorial map, which would stick to the essential things, which are for me : setting up OA correctly (graphics, network), and know about tricks (without necessarily being able to perform them : strafe jumping, and rocket jumping), probably telling about console, cvars, and votes could help (but next UI will help with votes so maybe not) then a simple note to tell there are further things to learn about ...

Title: Re: Suggestions for Better Newbie Experience
Post by: chaoticsoldier on August 17, 2009, 07:04:26 AM
...Some time ago, someone on this forum intended to make a manual for OA, gathering documentation from here and there, I think this is a good idea...

Are you referring to this thread ( I put this on hold because OA is still changing significantly. Some things I wrote and images I created have been (or will be) made obsolete. I didn't want to keep redoing stuff. However, the basic tutorial information and several other things can be written and not need to be altered.

If anyone else wants to continue with the manual for now, I'll post up what I have so far. I intend to work on it further but I'm working on the bot chat lines at the moment.

A basic manual would really help newbies who want to know more about the game. Reading the manual is the logical thing to do when things are unclear.

Title: Re: Suggestions for Better Newbie Experience
Post by: RMF on August 17, 2009, 11:14:37 AM
how does handicap work - does turning it on make it easier for the person using a handicap or harder for them? In what way?
Try it :)

circle jump, rail gun skills
defrag, instantgib

put all the CVARS (if I'm using that right) into some kind of menu
(or something like that)

hmm I don't think many servers will do that - there still needs to be some competition so when everyone is about the same it's no fun for the more skilled players. No matter how good they play, they will get a higher handicap. I think a newbie server is good enough without it, skilled players know to stay out there, and little better players will motivate the real newbies to improve their skills.

The best you can do I think is finding some way to tell the newbies what there exists, so things like strafe or rjump. I wouldn't ever look on youtube for tricks for openarena if noone told me such things existed. I didn't even knew how to chat so I couldn't ask how somebody did something too.
A tutorial level with spoken instructions would be good I think.

Title: Re: Suggestions for Better Newbie Experience
Post by: bogon12 on August 17, 2009, 08:18:05 PM
Thanks for the thoughtful replies. It is true that the biggest part is making people aware.

I was thinking - at the beginning of the game, when the Open Arena logo does it's zooming thing - is that video? I kind of think not, but if so, what if we just appended to that a how-to video like Genesis or something, and maybe at the end of the credits (or the beginning maybe) had some url's of where to go for more detail... (I'm guessing whoever made the Genesis video would be happy to have it included, on whatever license - it's immortality, right!?!)

I think there is another important aspect, though, which is stepping people through at least some of the learning curve. Any game I've ever paid for has had levels to step you through the learning curve of the various skills in the game. I thought including the defrag map (right, not the VQ3 'map') as a single player level would be one way to do that. You say it is a mod? Is a mod a non-original map? Sorry for my ignorance, I thought ever made defrag would be honored to include it with the OA install?

Again, never having contributed anything to OA (except my giblets) I don't want this to sound like I'm complaining or anything. Easy for me to 'order up' some special maps out of thin air (expecially since I don't even really have a sugestion what they would look like...).

Another way to keep the newbie experience on their level as they go multiplayer would be newbie servers. On this topic, I think one thing you can't expect from a newbie is to know which servers have what skill levels based on experience. It is kind of opposite to the definition of newbie - if they had experience, they wouldn't be newbies. (Plus, my own experience is that some servers have players, and some do not, and the skill levels are simply beside the point - if you don't want to play bots, head over to Nemisis, ROFL, or Castuo 90% of the time... could be I'm just ignorant. You know, now that I think of it, I'm talking CTF not DM, so I may not know what I'm talking about....).

Anyway, if we did have a newbie server, it would be as reliable as rain that you'd get guys over there raining hell down on the helpless for an ego trip every now and then - I thought auto handicap (or something) would be a nice feature there so that if someone is just pulling away, doubling the second place guy, they can still win, but not dominate, if the handicap automatically creeps up. If people that good don't like that, head on over to a 'big boy' server, right?

Thanks again for the consideration, I just think it is to the benefit of all to have the player base grow, and that means that new blood get's pulled in rather than having to 'swim upstream'.

Title: Re: Suggestions for Better Newbie Experience
Post by: sago007 on August 18, 2009, 09:58:42 AM
I often consider new players while designing ideas.

Getting people to keep playing starts with a good single player campaign. The base DM games are ok for now but should hopefully be replaced at some time.

Negative scores are bad. They cannot be entirely avoided without allowing exploits but they should be minimized. A lot of sports have in recent years changed to running scores (like badminton) or removed negative points (like 5-pin pool) this has changed scores from looking like '15-0' and '100-4' to look like '21-4' and '400-150'. While the best players wins as often as always the score just looks less depressing from the looser's point of view.

Marked objectives in team games. If the player's status is defense in CTF then a large sign should appear over the teams flag that says 'defend'. If the player is offensive and playing OVERLOAD should see a 'destroy' over the enemy obelisk. The signs should be visible through walls. This will help players understand new maps and gametypes and give an understandable objective rather than running blindly around.

Skill matching. This would be voluntarily. A player could calculate his own skill starting from 1.0 and increasing/decreasing as he kills/is killed. The skill should be reported to the server that then adds the median to the server list to make it possible to find servers.

Catch up... or how I imagine a fair handicap system could work. Optionally server administrators should be able to enable catchup. This will reduce damage by 5% for every point above 5 that the player is behind down to 50% damage. A player with 45 kills would deal 100% damage to all players with 40 or more kills but only 60% damage to a player with a score of 32. The current system awards players who go after the worst players, the catch up system would make cheap kills more expensive. From the leading players point of view it will just look like the bottom players have collected a little armor.

Maps. For a newbie maps should have: No traps, lots of weapons and not too much armor or megahealth. oasago2 is an example of a map I designed with newbies in mind: Limited armor, lots of weapon, lots of kills, flag quickly reachable even without strafe jumping. hydronex classic is an example of a map nearly unplayable by newbies because it requires massive strafe jumping.

Keep it simple. Do not expect new players to learn more than one technique at a time. Do not even mention strafe jumping until the players has FULLY mastered all weapens, all gametypes AND can navigate all maps blindfolded.