Daily Archives: September 29, 2008

Tips About Tips

I generally like the tips that you get coming into a game.  There are often things about a game that I learn from the tips.

For example, in World of Warcraft, I learned that I could eat and drink at the same time.

I assumed that you had to do one or the other, but you can do both.  Of course, the tool tip doesn’t warn you that the animation looks goofy,

Shotgun that loaf!

Shotgun that loaf!

but there is always a downside to everything.

Other games have picked up the tips thing.  EVE Online and EverQuest II have added tips to their loading screens over the last year.

The harsh realities of EVE

The harsh realities of EVE

Proof that Woodworkers are useful!

Proof that Woodworkers are useful!

Other games have had them all along, like Lord of the Rings Online and Toontown Online!

LOTRO tips don't wrap

LOTRO tips do not wrap

Toontown Economy... a stronger base than our own?

A jellybean economy... a stronger base than our own?

Warhammer Online came out with tips on loading screens on day one.  I assume they are going to expand them over time, as right now there seems to be about eight tips, most of which I would describe as more philosophical rather than helpful, like:

Being a practical person, I might consider a tip about how to open up your friends list (the “o” key), since it link to the UI above the chat window does not note the key, unlike other buttons.  Or maybe something about how to toggle off the UI for a screen shot (right-shift-z), or even something about the two different types of screen shots.  I would go there before I went philosophical.

Still, there are a couple of concrete ones like:

That is actual hard data.  Perhaps not as universally applicable as the eat/drink thing from WoW, but good for the explorer type.

However one of the current Warhammer Online tips represents my least favorite tip:  The tip extolling tips.  Every game seems to think they need a tip like this, and it is usually part of the first batch of tips in the game.

Why does every game feel they need this tip, or one very much like it?

What drives the strange belief that people who do not read the tips already will be move by, or even see, this sort of message?

The recursive tip asking you to read the tips seems to me to be an indicator they there are not enough tips in the system.  I imagine a conversation along the lines of:

content guy 1: Hey, we only have five tips.  We need to come up with more.
content guy 2: Hrmm… how about a tip about how useful the tips are.
content guy 1: Cool!  Now we have six tips….

The problem is that even after the list of tips gets fleshed out and represents a wealth of knowledge, that one tip remains.

Why does that tip remain?  Has anybody ever felt informed by a tip telling you that you should read the tips?