1. #1
    UbiPhobos's Avatar Community Manager
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    Trials Garage Update #4: Difficulty

    Greetings Riders,

    Many of you in these forums already have a pretty good handle on Trials gameplay and mechanics. Most of you have probably completed all the in-game tracks. I’m sure more than a few of you have platinum medals on the extreme tracks. Some of you are probably so good at Trials by now that you are seeking out custom creations that up the ante on the difficulty spectrum. For those of us who’ve been playing Trials for a long time it can be easy to forget how hard this game is for new players but for millions of Trials players the struggle is very real. Another thing many of us who are longtime Trials players forget is that we don’t represent the average Trials player in fact we are very far from it. To see where we truly fall on the scale of Trials players let’s look at a few stats.

    Less than half of all Fusion players (41.6%) have completed all of the medium events in the base game which demonstrates pretty clearly that the average Trials player already struggles some on Medium tracks. Moving on to Hard tracks the drop off is even more pronounced. Around 15% of Trials Fusion players have completed all the hard events. Finally there’s extreme, the tracks those in the ninja community scoff at as too easy. Only 2.4% of players have completed the extreme tracks through Inferno 4. This means that if you’ve completed all extreme tracks, it doesn’t matter with what time or how many faults, you are well within the top 3% of Trials players globally. If you are leaderboard chasing on these tracks and improving times it’s pretty safe to say you are a Trials One Percenter.



    *Note: These stats were taken before our Games with Gold promotion on Xbox One

    We started with these stats for two reasons. First is to highlight how far removed many of us are from the average Trials player. Second is to show how important improving the learning curve is to the future of Trials. If 85% of players are dropping off before completing the main game at least part of the problem could be that they are not getting the knowledge they need to improve.

    When we talk about improving the difficulty curve we are not talking about making the game easier. We know that the hard and extreme tracks are the real meat of the game for core players and an important part of the experience. What we want to do is give players the resources they need to overcome the challenge that is Trials. With that in mind let’s take a look back at how this concept has developed over the past few Trials games.

    We don’t have to go back far before we get to a Trials game without in-game help. Trials HD didn’t have tutorials, tracks simply got harder and harder as you progressed through the game. If a player in Trials HD started to struggle they either had to seek out help outside of the game or simply stick with it and practice, practice, practice.



    In Trials Evolution we made our first attempt to ease the difficulty curve for new players by introducing license tests. These tests were essentially tracks that introduced new obstacles types that would appear in the next set of tracks. These tests included pop-ups with basic instructions on how to complete the maneuvers required. The obstacles themselves were fairly easy versions of what would be coming in the next tier of tracks and as a result it was possible to complete these tests without actually picking up the new skills needed



    Next was Trials Fusion. Fusion kept a license test structure similar to Trials Evolution but these new tests, called "Training Programs", introduced narration to help describe the obstacles and skills needed to pass them. While this did help, it was still possible to complete these tests without learning the skills they were intended to teach. The perception of these levels was that they were just a gate, something that was required to pass to unlock new levels. As a result, players tended to go through them as quickly as possible and never return.



    That brings us back to the present and the question at hand is “how can we improve this further?” In discussing the last two games we’ve already identified two weaknesses with the license tests. First one would be that the tests are a bit too easy so they can be passed without learning the skills. Second would be the lack of repetition. Players have no incentive to return to license tests to improve.

    There is also a pretty big challenge that we touch upon in our latest Trials Garage Radio Podcast. It’s impossible to create a one size fits all solution. Some players really want that extra help and instruction while others prefer to figure things out themselves. This adds a whole new layer to the discussion where we want to give players more in depth instruction but we don’t want to make it too overbearing for players who don’t want it. Hear about that and a lot more as we speak with Professor FatShady of the University of Trials in this month’s Trials Garage Radio Podcast.



    Now that we’ve discussed what we’ve done so far and some of the challenges we face, let’s take a look at a few ideas we’ve discussed to improve.
    One idea is making tutorials more like skill games including scoring and leaderboards. Instead of a simple pass or fail, players could be scored based on their performance and compete with friends on leaderboards. This would give players a better idea of how well they’ve done and provide more incentive to return to these tutorials and improve these core skills.

    Another idea is more focused tutorials that can be spread out to the appropriate points in the career mode. These could be something like the training tracks you sometimes see on Track Central. Instead of a “hard” tutorial that tries to cover all hard skills, there could be separate tutorials for skills like bunny hop, steep hill climbs, transitions, etc. These could be distributed throughout the career progression so that, for example, the bunny hop tutorial comes before the first track where you will need the bunny hop to proceed. Of course something like this would need to be balanced so that there aren’t too many tutorials.

    The instructions given through dialogue in Fusion were a step in the right direction but were not as effective as intended. Another advantage to breaking tutorials down to individual skills is that they can start with an optional demonstration of the skill. Again let’s look at the bunny hop as an example, instead of just hearing a short description of what a bunny hop is and how to do it, the player could also see a bunny hop being performed with on screen button inputs similar to what you’d see in a replay.

    Finally we think that unlocking new bikes and new difficulties at the same time can make the increase in difficulty too great. This is most noticeable with the agile bike (Pit Viper/Phoenix) and hard difficulty. For players who are still learning the game, the agile bike is hard enough to handle without adding more difficult tracks into the mix at the same time. It could be that unlocking bikes a bit earlier in the progression could help players get a feel for these bikes on easier tracks before they are given tracks where they need some skills on the bike to succeed.

    These are a few ideas we’ve had related to easing the difficulty curve for new players. We look forward to hearing your thoughts. We have a pretty short survey this month, we would really appreciate if you could take a few minutes to fill that out. We’ll be back next month when we’ll be talking about Trials history and potential on PC. Until then, we’ll see you on the leaderboards.

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  2. #2
    You can make the "training experience" as complicated as you want if you think that is best for novice riders, and you might be right. Just make sure it's optional.

    The "training facility" in the next game should be "in addition to" the core game, dont force experienced riders to go through that thing.
    And yes, give us "all" the bikes at the start, at least up to the viper-clone.

    If 85% of players are dropping off before completing the main game
    and you think you can "fix" this by introducing complicated license tests, (which is not a bad idea at all if you can skip it, move on to the core game, experience that you suck and then go back to this training facility ),
    then you really need to make it fun and rewarding. Talk to your creative team about that.

    Make ninja an official difficulty
    and split up the training into:

    Beginner
    Intermediate
    Expert
    Ninja

    You dont need more levels than this in the core game either imho.

    ---

    Quote:
    We’ll be back next month when we’ll be talking about Trials history and potential on PC....

    That sounds like a huge yawn
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  3. #3
    You can make the "training experience" as complicated as you want if you think that is best for novice riders, and you might be right. Just make sure it's optional.

    The "training facility" in the next game should be "in addition to" the core game, dont force experienced riders to go through that thing.
    I agree with this. Something I'm reminded of is the Batman games - there's combat training that you can access from the main menu that's not connected to the main game, and you can get rewarded/achievements for doing certain things in it, but it's not necessary at all. And from what I've gathered from playing trials over the last few years is that it's a very hard game to both teach and learn. Tutorials can maybe point you in the right direction, but in the end you just have to grind hard and slowly figure it out. If it's fun, people will want to do it on their own and keep at it. If it's tedious, people will be annoyed and play something else. Trials is a unique game... do you think it's possible to design it in a way that will force more gamers to be better riders? I don't know.
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  4. #4
    onesimpleclik's Avatar Member
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    I have wanted to move onto learning more difficult techniques to allow me to complete Ninja tracks, but haven't been able to find good enough tutorials that explain the techniques properly. I would welcome some in depth tutorials, that include visual how-to's on button/stick movements etc. This could also be done for other skills necessary to play Trials in general.
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  5. #5
    I hate tutorials in game as they tend to stop and take control and make you do something until you pass their test and only then can you continue. When I see them I make this noise "Urgh"

    My suggestion would be in level hints. An overlay of a animated rider maybe in the top left of the screen performing the jump or needed skill to complete the jump.
    This should also have an option to turn it off.

    The animated hint should show what controls are used in the correct sequence etc as it performs the skill needed. But only appear if the rider fails a couple of times.
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  6. #6
    License tests/tutorials were pretty good in evo / fusion. There should definitely be one for each difficulty. But instead of the player unlocking levels linearly - begginer > easy > medium > hard > extreme. The difficulties could all be open from the start (except maybe extreme), with the gate to entry being beating the tutorial. This will even out completion stats a bit.
    As for extra help for the player; a practice mode could be added, where they can skip through and practice individual checkpoints on tracks (Yous could add the tutorial treatment to evey single checkpoint). But only to checkpoints they've already reached, so it keeps that sense of progression.
    The best difficulty curve is the one chosen by the player.

    Other stuff:
    - Something as simple as a graphic showing how far they progressed through a level when timing/faulting/quiting out can motivate people to give it another go, see something like cuphead for example.
    - If you have the traditional unlock progress like in past games, then I agree - shorter focused tutorials scattered throughout where relevant, will be much more effective than a long cover all bases one at the start.
    - Make sure to make it clear that it's ok to let go of RT, new players always try to just brute force inclines and harder stuff.
    - I can't remember if it's the case, but if the different difficulties/sections are unlocked by number of medals, change it. MASSIVE demoitivator if people have beat all levels but haven't got enough medals to progress. & I'm thinking this could be one of the main reasons for the drop-off.
    - Tournaments should be in the core game.
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  7. #7
    Braders77UK's Avatar Member
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    Hey Guys & Gals

    First off, I'd just like to say it's a great write-up and awesome podcast with Shogun & Fat Shady.

    In response to other comments made about the tutorial system, I can understand why more experienced riders would have wanted to skip them, however, I disagree. I feel making the tutorials mandatory was the correct way to go, purely so that newcomers to the game could not skip them and miss information that may have helped them to progress. After all, we only have to do them once, right?

    Thanks,
    Braders
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  8. #8
    Originally Posted by Braders77UK Go to original post
    I feel making the tutorials mandatory was the correct way to go, purely so that newcomers to the game could not skip them and miss information that may have helped them to progress.
    I think you are partly right but, In my opinion...No,
    we are talking about a totalt redesign of the tutorial/training facility into something that are much much deeper (unless i have missed the point)
    so manditory is not the way to go.

    Think of speed runners (the majority of the players) who use almost all their time in easy medium and hard tracks, grinding away to shave of half a second... Many, if not most of them, are simply not interested in extreme tracks and above.
    You cant force them into an elaborated extreme license test, then you will loose players for sure.
    The ability to roam freely and jump around at-will in this training program just make more sence.


    Originally Posted by onesimpleclik Go to original post
    I would welcome some in depth tutorials, that include visual how-to's on button/stick movements etc. This could also be done for other skills necessary to play Trials in general.
    Yes! Absolutely agree.

    Originally Posted by iwound00 Go to original post
    An overlay of a animated rider maybe in the top left of the screen performing the jump or needed skill to complete the jump.
    This should also have an option to turn it off.

    The animated hint should show what controls are used in the correct sequence etc as it performs the skill needed. But only appear if the rider fails a couple of times.
    Yes! I really like this idea, but instead of top left on screen i think that a ghost-rider on the track that you could mimic through obstacles would be very helpful. (switch on/off)


    Originally Posted by scottie1230 Go to original post
    As for extra help for the player; a practice mode could be added, where they can skip through and practice individual checkpoints on tracks (Yous could add the tutorial treatment to evey single checkpoint). But only to checkpoints they've already reached, so it keeps that sense of progression.
    The best difficulty curve is the one chosen by the player.
    Yes! Super idea, implement what onesimpleclick and wound said about "include visual how-to's on button/stick movements" and "an overlay of a animated rider" / ghost rider in the track,... then this should work very well.

    Originally Posted by scottie1230 Go to original post
    - Make sure to make it clear that it's ok to let go of RT, new players always try to just brute force inclines and harder stuff.
    Yes! It took me forever to realize this, also the same goes for the stick, gentle gentle is the way to go. Very important lesson indeed scottie. This will lift A LOT of players from struggling with extreme tracks.. over to ninja's.

    Also....

    Originally Posted by UbiPhobos Go to original post
    We’ll be back next month when we’ll be talking about Trials history and potential on PC.
    Again...with all respect...
    Thats even worse than the Garage topic: "customization"...
    Which clearly didnt generate much interest, it should have been merged with the previous thread as it wasnt strong enough to stand alone.

    We can talk about the history and pc... Im sure there are some people who would like that, but really, you can merge that tedious stuff with something a little more exciting.
    Like the theme and storyline of the next game for instance... Whatever really just to keep this garage somewhat engaging.

    Im sure lots of little things can elevate Trials if they got a closer look and an overhauling but we dont need discuss every single aspect of Trials one month at a time.
    Then its better to make One gigantic superboring topic about 10 different things and be done with it

    I will say tho, i really appreciate the communication now and this "update#4:difficulty" is well worth discussing, great that you did that.
    Best of luck, i really want the next Trials to be successful.
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  9. #9
    xzamplez's Avatar Senior Member
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    There are simply players that want shallow, walkthrough-like experiences with little challenge. The crazy tracks and funny crashes will grab them, but once they realize that it’s going to take effort to continue; they lose interest. For most of these people, nothing you do will change that fact.

    One thing I always tell newer players: Watch the replays. Providing a replay of these challenges that pauses/slows down at key moments, explaining the physics/logic, and stick movement is a great way to teach players how to play the game.

    Another thing I tell them is to watch replays within their skill level. You should, at the very least explain in the training how to access replays, use the controls during the replay, and why it’s beneficial to their learning experience.
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  10. #10
    Rudemod 69's Avatar Senior Member
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    Originally Posted by xzamplez Go to original post
    There are simply players that want shallow, walkthrough-like experiences with little challenge. The crazy tracks and funny crashes will grab them, but once they realize that it’s going to take effort to continue; they lose interest. For most of these people, nothing you do will change that fact.
    +1

    Apologies, Shifty.

    Tutorials, or a practice mode (I like that idea) can be useful for new players, but have them separate from the main career mode, allowing experienced players to advance without the distractions.

    Basically I would say, try and improve, learn the game. Practice, perseverence, practice. Some games aren't mean't to be mastered in 5 minutes.
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