Friday, February 24, 2012

Designer Notebook: SSX Demo (Xbox360)

So, on the eve of the release of the new SSX game, I had jumped into the demo just to see how much change it has received since my previous plays (at PAXEast, there were definitely control-iffyness), but one of the most striking things was the tutorials:

Most tutorials often throws too many things at the player, resulting in a frustrating experience that defeats the purpose of a tutorial. SSX could have easily thrown the demo at the player by letting them go at it on a gentle hill with large, highlighted ramps, but it still leaves the possibility of players getting confused/frustrated in learning both controls on the ground and learning tricks in the air.

So it's interesting to note that the tutorial removes the entire snowboarding aspect when teaching players how to control tricks. This, in my mind, does a few things:

  • It removes any possible issues that players can't master both steering the character on the hills AND doing tricks at the same time.
  • It emphasize clearly to anyone new to the series that it is all about the tricks, in fact, it pretty much says that snowboarding/racing itself is secondary.
  • It sets up the expectation of what the player should be expecting: you just jumped out of a helicopter, falling infinitely, doing random tricks as someone calls them out. It's clearly not bounded to reality.
  • It addresses the issue of visual feedback: people knew they were doing tricks, but never really made a mental connection to what's happening on screen. By isolating a tutorial about user input to a visual output, players can clearly see what they're doing in game.

So yeah. Bravo, EA. This was one well done tutorial.


  1. Placing the basic tutorial on a hill would also infer a time/space limit for them to accomplish their lesson - which gives players stress when learning the basics of the tricks.

    They do provide hill/slope tutorials after to teach the player speed and timing though.

    So, yeah ... really well done, and not just for the part mentioned in your post.

  2. "They do provide hill/slope tutorials after to teach the player speed and timing though." - Was that in the demo? I don't remember it.