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[Freeciv-Dev] Re: Documentation, Usability and Development

[Freeciv-Dev] Re: Documentation, Usability and Development

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To: Justin Moore <justin@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Cc: Freeciv Developers <freeciv-dev@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Subject: [Freeciv-Dev] Re: Documentation, Usability and Development
From: Daniel L Speyer <dspeyer@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Thu, 29 Nov 2001 14:26:58 -0500 (EST)

>    Actually I think we should target it just below what we think our
> actual audience will be.  At the very least someone who's never seen
> Freeciv (or even Civ) before should be able to *start* a game.  We may not
> need to follow all of the little "have a screenshot every 3 steps" rules,
> but we need to always remember that we're going to take things for granted
> that a new user won't.

I recently introduced Freeciv at a computer camp where I worked.  I had
the experience of watching near and total newbies learn the game.  Some
experiences and thought:

We *need* a better server interface:
        I wrote a TCL/TK thing with bits of C that was adequate, but it
        still confused people.  Sticking server controls into the client
        would IMO be a good idea, but we definately need to do something.

The units/terrains aren't recognizable:
        It takes a while to get to recognize settlers, coal, tundra, etc.
        Probably this just needs better artwork.

The scrollbars were confusing:
        Nobody uses them (almost) and they don't work in isometric anyway,
        why don't we cut them out (at least in isometric)?

Battle computations:
        I was constantly advising "warriors won't kill a legion", "get
        your settlers onto the river and the horsemen won't be able to
        kill them" etc.  It might be helpful to have some sort of 
        battle-calculator which you could ask this unit attacks this unit
        on this square, and it would give the chance of victory.  Even as
        an experienced player, I'd find this helpful, but it's really
        important for people who haven't memorized the units yet.

Strategic advice:
        It would probably be helpful to write a simple set of advisors
        to say what techs/production focuses/government etc. would be
        best so that you can start playing decently without learning
        strategy the hard way.

Apart from the scrollbars, these are all pretty big projects, but I think
they would heavily benefit new players.

--Daniel Speyer
"May the /src be with you, always"

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