New design for game introduction – check

You have heard me mention the new game introduction (which will replace the current manager license challenge) a couple of times now, both here and on the forums. Yesterday that design work came to an end – yes, the design is ready and the spec is written. Hopefully we can start working on it right after new year, because I’m like I small child on Christmas (a very fitting simile these days, eh?): Eagerly waiting for my gift. And it’s like I just can’t wait.

My enthusiasm about this project is not just because I think it’s much needed and will have good impact on new users, actually it’s rather because I think this will make the first month in Hattrick so much more fun and interesting. Becuase this game intro does not just aim on offering a better tutorial, it’s just not about educating new users the basics of the game. That’s important, but what is perhaps more important is to make the game a whole lot more fun and interesting the first month. That’s the key issue, and in turn that will also make it a lot more interesting to learn the basics.

I want new managers who just got their team a strong feeling of starting with their two empty hands, that you build your team from scratch. I want the manager to instantly feel that this is his team, and make the team more personal and dear. Also, when sharing my ideas with the rest of the game council Klas said that when you start up a football manager game – the first move can take hours if the game catches you. Not because it’s difficult, but because it’s so interesting and fun. I very much agree with this, it’s very fine moment and we should make the most of it.

Another thing which I think  is lacking for new managers (in particular) is a good story. How does a manager’s journey in Hattrick begin, and what happened just before his arrival? And what challenges lies in front of him? I’m a real fan of the role playing part of Hattrick, when managers really role play their team and give it life.  Knowing your origin will help all new users I think, but also encourage to give their team more life.

To be a little bit more detailed, the story starts with the someone from the board welcoming the user to the club and telling him about what the board expects from the manager. This character (board member) is one of two persons that will lead the manager through his first few weeks in the game. The other character responsible for this is the trainer, but the manager will not just get one – he will choose his trainer between a defensive, offensive or neutral (all just as good, and better than today). The appointed trainer will then lead the user through his next step – to pick his squad. Yes, he will get to choose! Twice! Because first he will only be able to pick around 15 (out of 20 or so), and then after the first match get to pick a few more guys.

The new manager will also not have access to all stuff right away. First of, he will only be responsible for training and matches. As he proceeds the game will open gradually for him, and the board will allow the manager to handle staff, transfers, arena and youth in steps. One can say it work like levels, just not very hard to reach at all – but a little bit depending on how active the manager is.

There are some more things happening in this as well, like how the fan club is founded etc, but I think you get the idea. The thought is also so knit this together with a help section on relevant pages, where these two mentioned characters will offer basic help. Even for current managers, but it’s something you can turn off if you don’t want them. This will simply be the best change ever!

Somewhat related to this there’s also been quite some talk about newbie guides and manuals lately, at least on the Global forum. I have to say I really love the initiative from the community around those issues, it’s really a joy to see. But at the same time, we should not be carried away here. And also think about what kind of guide/manual we want to offer.

First, you have to be prepared that even if we offer a newbie guide not everyone will read it. I mean, how many of us read the instruction manual for our new TV or other electronical device? We humans often put our hopes on learning by doing, and if that fails we try the very same thing once again. 🙂
That said, this doesn’t mean it’s bad idea to offer such a guide, quite the opposite – it’s a great idea. And especially one the community has made in my opinion – and there will for sure be users who will find it very useful and handy. There are humans who do things as one should do after all.

Secondly and for me perhaps even more important; let it be a guide and not an exact how-to. It should guide the user to the most useful/important things in the beginning, but not take any decision for him. This is a manager game after all, you have to leave the decision-making to the user. And I think, as a manager you want to make the decisions yourself, that’s perhaps the biggest reason for why you start to play a strategy/manager game at all. So lets not in our eagerness to help and  make things easy in the end steal the fun from the new manager.

In my world, a good guide should provide the necessary info and explain the basics in order for the reader/manager to make his own decision. It might mean that the newbie manager may take decisions that are not 100% optimal according to you, but at least it’s his decision – and that makes any game a lot more interesting in my opinion. And when all comes around – that’s what this game is about. Make decisions and try to be a little smarter than the next guy.

With these words I will now take a break for Christmas and New Year. See you after the holidays again, and I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a happy new year!