The making of the Blood Rage Dized Tutorial

The making of the Blood Rage Tutorial has been a big step for Dized: we’ve already proven the concept for smaller games such as Kingdomino, but one question kept coming up: what about more complex games?

While Blood Rage is still not The Campaign for North Africa, it scores a “Complexity Rating” of 2.89/5 on Boardgame Geek, which is a good average representing a lot of games our audience will want to play with Dized. The collaboration with CMON made Blood Rage an obvious choice to figure out how the development side of things could scale for more complex games. Here’s what we learned along the way.

Breaking down the rules

From a game design standpoint, the primary challenge we had to overcome was figuring out how to break down the Blood Rage rules so that they could be introduced bit by bit.

Rules-wise, Blood Rage features a series of actions that could theoretically happen during the first round, but cannot be performed until something else takes place. For example, your warriors cannot “pillage” or “march” until they are placed on the board.

As troops can enter the board only through the “invade” or “upgrade” action, these are the two actions we need to teach first. Similarly, we’re not explaining special units like Monsters and Ships until the third Round, when all the basic units have been introduced: this keeps the learning curve easy to follow, and doesn’t overwhelm new players with too much information.

What we’re trying to do is to get a game group to play the game from the moment they open the box; for this reason, it’s crucial that we figure out a logical priority in what we teach immediately and what we leave out for a later time during the game.

The focus is on the game

With Dized, we want to keep the focus on the game that is being played, not the app. This certainly comes with its own set of challenges: how can we minimize, for example, the number of clicks needed to proceed in the Tutorial? The first thing to do is to get rid of all the things that would “look good” but ultimately slow down the experience. For example, at some point, we considered a “call to battle” where the Tutorial would call players by name and invite them to try out the combat. A neat idea, but it increased the number of interactions needed between players and app, and was ultimately considered unnecessary.

Another solution we are using in Blood Rage is to present the extended version of a rule only the first time it comes into play. From the second time onwards, we assume a player knows “what to do” unless he or she specifically asks to watch the walkthrough again. Tips can be accessed pressing a separate icon in the upper right corner of the screen.

We have other ideas on how to make this process even smoother, and we’ll experiment with them after we receive feedback on the measures implemented for Blood Rage.

Should we animate this?

Internally, one of the leading concerns has been to decide what’s the right amount of animations we need to include in a Tutorial to make the explanation 1) clear 2) scalable and 3) good looking. We are progressively moving into animation templates: pre-animated objects (for example, being dealt from the top of a deck) fitting most games out there. These objects can be reused when needed, and hence save a lot of time going forward.

Welcome to the tech side

Our central learning in the months since the Indiegogo campaign is that working on both the backend (the tools we need to automate some tasks and scale the Dized content) and the content itself is inefficient.

The result of these parallel processes is that aspects of the Kingdomino Tutorial weren’t implemented through tools, but “hard-coded,” hence hard to replicate for other Tutorials.

The experience was undoubtedly useful to understand what these tools are supposed to automate: we developed our scripting system, enabling designers to build the logic and animations of Tutorials without having a coder at their side. This solution adds flexibility to the process and will serve all the publishers that do not have a technical team at their disposal well.

Closing thoughts

When it comes to interactive Tutorials for board games, we do not have a map to follow: what we’re trying to do is uncharted territory. While progress is sometimes slower than we’d like, every mistake is a lesson that helps us realize what these tools need to be to scale fast.

We’re excited to show you how cool Blood Rage is turning out to be, and can’t wait to hear how your games with it went. Stay tuned for more info on the release date!

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This app makes playing board games easy and fun. Early Access version already available for iOS and Android. http://dized.com

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