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Noob Question - Why is the manual so bad?

 
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Noob Question - Why is the manual so bad? - 8/5/2013 7:35:17 AM   
Dangun

 

Posts: 73
Joined: 7/8/2013
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I don't think this is a rant... And I understand the game is complicated, but why isn't the manual written from a users perspective?

As an example...

Certainly a candidate for the most important rule in the game: "In order to receive supply... the combat unit must be within both five hexes and twenty MPs of the applicable headquarters unit. In order for a headquarters unit to provide supply to its attached combat and support units, it in turn must be within both 25 hexes and 100 MPs of a railhead."

What page of the manual do you think the rule appears on? Page 1? Page 23? In the first half of the manual? No, no, and no. The rule appears on page 198.

It doesn't even appear until page 7 of the supply section!? Before getting to this most important of rules, you have to wade through the uninteresting and unimportant "vehicle shortage modifier" and the automation of "emergency vehicle reallocation." How can it be more important to tell us about an automated process over which the player has NO INPUT OR IMPACT than describe the most fundamental of supply mechanisms??

The whole manual is written like this! It is as though the authors are more interested in cataloging every intricacy that they have included in the software - or in other words, telling us how clever they are, rather than telling the player how to play the game.

Another example - the section on Air Mission rules, opens up with a list of factors affecting plane mileage - cruise speed, morale, HQ location. WHO CARES? The single most important thing to tell a new player is that certain types of air missions can be automated, but some cannot be, and what do I gain and lose by fiddling with this manually?

OK, I lied, this is a rant.

Cheers
Post #: 1
RE: Noob Question - Why is the manual so bad? - 8/5/2013 2:03:07 PM   
STEF78


Posts: 787
Joined: 2/19/2012
From: Versailles, France
Status: online
And imagine if you're not a native engish speaker!

More seriously the game is complex, but it also gives a lot of helps.

For your example about supply:
- clicking on an HQ, you will immediatly see in red, units out of range.
- you also have the soft factor (toggle?) on the right upper corner that gives you a visual indication of the supply level of your units

< Message edited by STEF78 -- 8/5/2013 2:04:06 PM >

(in reply to Dangun)
Post #: 2
RE: Noob Question - Why is the manual so bad? - 8/5/2013 2:37:45 PM   
rrbill

 

Posts: 577
Joined: 10/5/2009
Status: offline
Best way to learn the game is to get started and play a few times until comfortable. Play manual can always be examined as needed.

Your opening post gives some interesting examples, but you ask a profound question, "why?"

Answer might be, "stuff happens!"
Again, writers cost more than coders.

(in reply to STEF78)
Post #: 3
RE: Noob Question - Why is the manual so bad? - 8/5/2013 9:07:40 PM   
Zorch

 

Posts: 651
Joined: 3/7/2010
Status: offline

quote:

ORIGINAL: Dangun

I don't think this is a rant... And I understand the game is complicated, but why isn't the manual written from a users perspective?

As an example...

Certainly a candidate for the most important rule in the game: "In order to receive supply... the combat unit must be within both five hexes and twenty MPs of the applicable headquarters unit. In order for a headquarters unit to provide supply to its attached combat and support units, it in turn must be within both 25 hexes and 100 MPs of a railhead."

What page of the manual do you think the rule appears on? Page 1? Page 23? In the first half of the manual? No, no, and no. The rule appears on page 198.

It doesn't even appear until page 7 of the supply section!? Before getting to this most important of rules, you have to wade through the uninteresting and unimportant "vehicle shortage modifier" and the automation of "emergency vehicle reallocation." How can it be more important to tell us about an automated process over which the player has NO INPUT OR IMPACT than describe the most fundamental of supply mechanisms??

The whole manual is written like this! It is as though the authors are more interested in cataloging every intricacy that they have included in the software - or in other words, telling us how clever they are, rather than telling the player how to play the game.

Another example - the section on Air Mission rules, opens up with a list of factors affecting plane mileage - cruise speed, morale, HQ location. WHO CARES? The single most important thing to tell a new player is that certain types of air missions can be automated, but some cannot be, and what do I gain and lose by fiddling with this manually?

OK, I lied, this is a rant.

Cheers


The root cause of your frustration (IMHO) is that players expect documentation to serve 2 purposes - a learning guide, and a reference manual. And it's damn near impossible for a technical writer to do both at the same time.

(in reply to Dangun)
Post #: 4
RE: Noob Question - Why is the manual so bad? - 8/5/2013 10:33:30 PM   
fbs

 

Posts: 1047
Joined: 12/25/2008
Status: offline
Well, the manual for the Tutorial has that rule in a simplified fashion on page 30.


ps: fbs loves manual. da bigger da better. Size B is good. Size C is better. Size DD is excellent. And yeah, I'm still talking about manual.

< Message edited by fbs -- 8/5/2013 10:36:33 PM >

(in reply to Zorch)
Post #: 5
RE: Noob Question - Why is the manual so bad? - 8/6/2013 12:59:30 AM   
katukov


Posts: 278
Joined: 6/14/2013
From: Spain
Status: offline
I agree with Dangun - out of those 300 pages, most of them describe the game mechanics that is uniportant to the player or happenes automatically and is beyond the player control. There manual is simply badly edited and the really important inforations are hidded underneath the tons of stuff that can be simply ignored by the newcomers. I bet a lot of potential players avoid the game because of the 300 pages but in fact the gameplay is not so difficult.

(in reply to fbs)
Post #: 6
RE: Noob Question - Why is the manual so bad? - 8/6/2013 7:35:29 AM   
Dangun

 

Posts: 73
Joined: 7/8/2013
Status: offline

quote:

ORIGINAL: Zorch
The root cause of your frustration (IMHO) is that players expect documentation to serve 2 purposes - a learning guide, and a reference manual. And it's damn near impossible for a technical writer to do both at the same time.


The manual definitely tries to achieve the two goals.

But I would have thought from a marketing (financial) perspective, you want to get the customer playing.

There are core mechanisms without which the game is unplayable - supply, terrain, movement, combat etc. There are then optional mechanisms which a player doesn't need to know immediately but can improve play and are necessary to be "competitive" against human opponents - e.g. HQBUs, unit assignment, fortifications etc. Only after that, should the manual indulge in describing the black box mechanisms.

Cheers

(in reply to Zorch)
Post #: 7
RE: Noob Question - Why is the manual so bad? - 8/6/2013 8:50:17 AM   
jamesm

 

Posts: 765
Joined: 8/28/2000
From: Cairns, Australia
Status: offline
The manual is best regarded as reference material that you can check on various rules as you encounter them. That i said I fully read the manual before I started my first game (forgot most of it by the end).

(in reply to Dangun)
Post #: 8
RE: Noob Question - Why is the manual so bad? - 8/6/2013 1:41:38 PM   
demjansk

 

Posts: 536
Joined: 2/20/2008
Status: offline
Good comment on the manual, I think the best way in the future for all games is video presentations on how to play the games. I actually liked the method of the Silent Hunter 3 simulation conducted. Each tutorial had a video of the tutorial on how to play, very helpful. I have the manual for this game as well and I need a magnifying glass to read it, that's why I go to the online manual but for the most part, I read the forums. I still don't know the game like I should. Another idea would be to have certain times of the day for maybe an hour or so to answer questions by live chat, this might be helpful.

(in reply to jamesm)
Post #: 9
RE: Noob Question - Why is the manual so bad? - 8/6/2013 2:55:16 PM   
loki100


Posts: 835
Joined: 10/20/2012
Status: offline
there is some logic to the Paradox model. A rulebook that tries to set out how key mechanics work and a player guide. Matrix are far better at the first - not least they update the blessed thing as they release patches which is concept that has escaped Paradox.

But the second is useful, less about mechanics and more to orientate a new player. So for the airwar, not the detail but roughly if you want to achieve 'X' (say use the VVS to interdict German resupply efforts) then use the options this way. If you want to maximise the turn one bombing of the Soviet airbases do it a different way.

This sort of stuff is scattered around the forum etc but something of that ilk would help to draw it together. The art is to keep the advice broadly generic so it is less dependent on patch changes (which I realise is easier to say than do).

With detailed manuals I tend to read them at the start. Then as I play dip in and dip out of key sections. Once I'm used to the game, go back to it and you'll spot things you didn't really understand/appreciate.

(in reply to demjansk)
Post #: 10
RE: Noob Question - Why is the manual so bad? - 8/7/2013 7:02:55 AM   
johntoml56

 

Posts: 291
Joined: 12/3/2007
From: Carnegie, Australia
Status: offline
I don't think the manual is bad; in fact it the most comprehensive I have seen, if somewhat repetitive.

However, I agree the manual does describe in detail how the game works as opposed to how to play the game, but then again thats what the forums are for.

Authors are to be commended in keeping it up to date.

(in reply to loki100)
Post #: 11
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