[mainline] Reorder campaign dialog

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[mainline] Reorder campaign dialog

Postby beetlenaut » May 22nd, 2017, 3:24 am

My proposal is to change the order of the campaign dialog to:
TSG
AOI
AToTB
HttT

Here's why. We have a campaign that (on easy) is made specifically to be the first campaign you play, but it's fourth on the list. A campaign made partly to teach you tactics is third. However, HttT is probably the first one a lot of people start with because it's the first one on the list. The problem is that HttT is by no means the easiest campaign. We probably lose a fair number of potential long-term players when they reach The Siege of Elensefar and give up in disgust rather than backtracking to start with more resources. A couple other scenarios also tend to generate "Help me!" threads on this forum. There is also the fact that the first two scenarios are not really typical BfW, and that it's the longest campaign we have (if you count playable scenarios).

Any reason not to do this?
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Re: [mainline] Reorder campaign dialog

Postby gnombat » May 22nd, 2017, 3:55 am

I think it was like that in 1.4 but then it was changed back to HttT:

https://forums.wesnoth.org/viewtopic.php?f=38&t=21179
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Re: [mainline] Reorder campaign dialog

Postby Inky » May 22nd, 2017, 5:37 am

The proposal makes sense, but I found HttT to be a lot more fun than the other 3 campaigns (more interesting maps, more unit variety, better story).

Regardless of where it is on the list, wouldn't making HttT easier be a good idea? For a novice campaign that's supposed to teach you about gameplay I think it's better to err on the side of being too easy rather than too hard, and based on numerous forum posts some of the scenarios are clearly too difficult for a new player. I think the benefits (less frustrated players) of making HttT easier would definitely outweigh the potential negatives (less tactical challenge, but there are plenty of other campaigns for that).

(Speaking of campaign difficulties, shouldn't Secrets of the Ancients be expert level? I wonder how many complaints we're going to get about certain scenarios in that campaign :P :whistle:)
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Re: [mainline] Reorder campaign dialog

Postby shadowm » May 22nd, 2017, 6:28 am

I feel AToTB, AOI, TSG, HttT is a better possible order. AToTB is short and extremely easy, AOI is slightly longer and presents some challenges that gives the player a general idea of how to deal with unusual situations (namely unfavorable terrains and limited income), TSG is a more standard campaign with some punishing scenarios (the branching point around the last quarter of the campaign comes to mind), and then there’s HttT which is all over the place.
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Re: [mainline] Reorder campaign dialog

Postby Sudipta » May 22nd, 2017, 7:33 am

I agree with shadowm's order and reasoning. HttT being top of the list can lead to potential player loss. Since many people would play according to the order in which they are presented, having a super long campaign at the top is a bad move. Better to have the shortest and easiest campaign on top and HttT on 4th place. Besides, whenever i play any new game, i always select the normal difficulty, and the way i know it, so do most people around the world. So having a easy difficulty isn't really gonna help keep new players since they will probably start at normal difficulty, get frustrated and give up wesnoth if they get stuck at siege of Elensefar or any similar tough scenario. Better to make them learn more about wesnoth and feel good about themselves by completing some simple campaigns before playing the flagship campaign.

Btw, i know this is unrelated but i gotta ask. How goes the transition to Steam? I haven't heard anything about it in a while
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Re: [mainline] Reorder campaign dialog

Postby zookeeper » May 22nd, 2017, 8:25 am

The only reason I've always been hesitant to put those other campaigns before HttT is because I feel that aside from difficulty, they just don't make an equally good first impression story-wise. I'm not saying I'm convinced that a reordering shouldn't happen, just that if the point is to give a good first impression so new players will actually stick with the game, then difficulty is not the only consideration. Different players enjoy different aspects of the game, and just like the best-written campaign might not be the best first pick for a player who is only looking for tactical challenges and doesn't care about story, the easiest campaign might not be the best pick for a player who primarily wants there to be a compelling story.

TSG is otherwise fine, but I think it really requires a rewrite of the two problem scenarios (Vengeance and Return to Kerlath), and there are some unusual mechanics in there that might seriously confuse first-time players. It tries to be a newbie-friendly campaign, and it is in the early scenarios, but I'm not sure if it really is once you get past the halfway point.

AOI is fine gameplay-wise, but the story and dialogue are extremely simple. If it was the first campaign people played and thought it representative of the rest of the campaigns, I can see that resulting in player loss too for that reason.

AToTB is probably my favourite of the bunch, although it's only 4 scenarios.
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Re: [mainline] Reorder campaign dialog

Postby skeptical_troll » May 22nd, 2017, 11:40 am

A few considerations
1) what would be the point of AToTB and AOI if they are not played before HttT? As other people mentioned here, story-wise they are really simple and,compare to HttT, do not tell much new about the Wesnoth world (it would be different if they were, for example, small campaigns with saurians/drakes or other neglected races). Game-play wise, there aren't significant challenges if you have successfully finished HttT. IMO, this isn't true for TSG, which is short but has interesting elements both in the story and in the gameplay.

2) at least in my case, the first time I give a try to a game I first focus on getting a handle on the mechanic, especially for a strategy game. It might be different for RPGs, adventure games (obviously) etc.. but I think most of the people who try out a strategy game gives their priority to the game play. Once they get their head around it and find it interesting (and Wesnoth's certainly is) they start caring about the story.

3) This is my very personal opinion, but I'm quite convinced that the strength and uniqueness of BfW are in the mechanic and in the variety which is achieved with few simple rules, rather than in the stories of the campaigns (which doesn't mean that some of them aren't good). If people like the game play I don't think they'll abandon the game without trying at least the first long campaign.

So, all considered, my suggestion would be to put at least AToTB and AOI before HttT, but to make it really clear that they are introductory, like even in the title: 'Introduction to Wesnoth/1: a Tale of Two Brothers' and saying in the description 'here you wil llearn how to blablabla...' or something similar. Alternatively, they could be moved to the tutorial section in some way, but that would require much more work, I guess, and would feel a bit like downgrading them.
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Re: [mainline] Reorder campaign dialog

Postby UnwiseOwl » May 22nd, 2017, 1:05 pm

My preferred order is AOI, AToTB, TSG, HttT.
The reason that I place AOI first is that the resistances are simple. The campaigns that fight the undead, even if they do a good job explaining it like AToTB do, are a bit weird simply because of the weirdness of undead resistances to loyalist attacks. I feel this is a higher-level concept that one should have to deal with when learning the game.
I agree that AOI is perhaps a little bit generic, but when a player is new to the game, they're learning the mechanics, not worrying as much about story. I think I simpler story is fine for this and am not too worried about losing players over it.
The advantage of HttT is the strength of the story opening, particularly in terms of artwork, but I don't think either that or the continuity with the tutorial are grabbing people enough that it needs to stay as the first cab off the rank.
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Re: [mainline] Reorder campaign dialog

Postby WhiteWolf » May 22nd, 2017, 8:12 pm

I'm quite sure, somewhere around 1.4 it all began with AToTB, and I was wondering why Httt got promoted to the first place, so I'm glad it's being reconsidered.
My preferred order would be the one shadown proposed, AToTB,AOI,TSG,Httt for similar reasons. AToTB is short, easy, and expands what the tutorial is meant for, though in my opinion, that campaign should be improved with lots of tutorial hints, like in TSG. For example: don't recruit spearmen against skeletons, silly. I for one would have appreciated exact directions instead of Arne's cloudy hints when I was getting started.
AOI and TSG are fine beginner campaigns, but still should come before Httt which can get tough even on the easiest difficulty if a map is finished in a messed-up way, due the campaign's length.

As for the reasons like story, I'm quite sure the nowadays-player can quite tell if he's playing something meant as a tutorial, and something meant as the real story. If the newcomer feels he's ready for action, he can scroll down to Httt :) (Or maybe label the first three campaigns in their description as introductions/tutorials?)

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Re: [mainline] Reorder campaign dialog

Postby pauxlo » May 23rd, 2017, 9:09 pm

Weren't the campaigns at some point ordered by "point in the history of Wesnoth"? Or did I just imagine that?

(I'm not advocating to do that, though.)
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Re: [mainline] Reorder campaign dialog

Postby UnwiseOwl » May 23rd, 2017, 10:41 pm

pauxlo wrote:Weren't the campaigns at some point ordered by "point in the history of Wesnoth"? Or did I just imagine that?

(I'm not advocating to do that, though.)


Sounds like the sort of thing that Turin would have advocated for, back in the day. That's how we still do in Orbivm.
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Re: [mainline] Reorder campaign dialog

Postby beetlenaut » May 25th, 2017, 8:25 pm

I suppose I wasn't putting enough importance on the story. HttT is a lot better in that regard, and it does allow you to recruit a wide variety of units. If we just fixed the two biggest problems it has, I would be happy seeing it left where it is. Problem One: The first two scenarios don't require you to recruit or have any contact with the enemy, but do require you to watch loooong AI battles that don't matter. Problem Two: A couple scenarios are way too hard for a beginning player; mostly SoE. I would even be willing to take this on myself (starting where Turuk left off maybe), but I'm not sure there is any point. I don't feel like there is anyone left who can make final decisions on suggestions (except maybe zookeeper), so almost every thread just ends up in endless debate without anything actually happening, which is why I proposed something that would take about 30 seconds to do.
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Re: [mainline] Reorder campaign dialog

Postby zookeeper » May 25th, 2017, 9:40 pm

For what it's worth, I did try SoE on the easiest difficulty with no recalls nor carryover gold, and I suppose it could be made a bit easier still. For starters I'll limit the orcs to 1 Warrior and Crossbowman (as opposed to 2) but I'm not yet entirely sure what to do otherwise. I'd not like to drop the orcish leader much below 100 gold, but tweaking the AI aggression/caution could maybe make it easier to deal with.
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Re: [mainline] Reorder campaign dialog

Postby beetlenaut » May 26th, 2017, 12:31 am

zookeeper wrote:For starters I'll limit the orcs to 1 Warrior and Crossbowman (as opposed to 2) but I'm not yet entirely sure what to do otherwise.
How about making the orc leader level 2 and increasing the number of loyal thieves that are level 2 as well? It would be helpful to give the orc a half-sized castle too, to slow down his recruiting so the bad guys don't all arrive at once. Another, more radical idea, is to put a little lake north of Konrad's keep so that merfolk could use it to reach the water a turn earlier, so that they arrive before the orcs. A beginning player might not have many level-2 units at this point, but one of them is likely to be a merman. You could also automatically recall the most powerful merman instead (along with the current counselor).
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Re: [mainline] Reorder campaign dialog

Postby mattsc » May 26th, 2017, 2:07 am

zookeeper wrote: ... tweaking the AI aggression/caution could maybe make it easier to deal with.

If you have ideas what could be done with the AI (other than just changing the aspects) and would like help with that, let me know. I usually try to make the AI harder to deal with rather than easier, but whatever makes it more fun sounds good to me.
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