The Eye of Judgment
Problem: No comprehensive instructions.
As a collectible card game, The Eye of Judgment has a great deal of intricacy to its controls. Cards have special features and keywords, and certain effects only happen during certain phases of the turn.
This intricacy makes it unbelievable that the game lacks a comprehensive guide to the rules! The main game features tutorial videos that explain the basics of gameplay, but they’re agonizingly slow. What new player is going to grab their new game, rip it open, then spend an hour quietly watching tutorial videos? Furthermore, the videos don’t effectively cover the keywords of the cards. What is Dodge? Perfect Dodge? Magic Protection? Invocation?
Some time during the release of set 2 or 3, the game added an ‘Ability Explanation’ that covered many of the keywords in the game. This, too, is flawed. It can’t be accessed from the main menu – you can only open it while in the middle of a match. Furthermore, it only covers a handful of keywords, without even mentioning others. How does Resurrection work? What is the effect of Intercepting an opponent?
The game’s manual is helpful, but outdated. It covers the set 1 rules, but now that set 2 and 3 have been released, it has fallen behind.
Three sources. Three partial explanations of the rules. But no one location that just tells you how to play.
Solution: Write a complete in-game manual, and have it accessible at any time.
Civilization: Revolution is a good example to follow here. Any time during the game, you can press Triangle (PS3) to bring up the Civilopedia, database that explains how every in-game feature works, and cross-references it with the other features that it affects. For a game like EoJ, there should be a dedicated card for the game and button on the controller in order to instantly bring up all the rules of the game, or allow you to select an individual card and learn exactly how it works. Optimally, this encyclopedia would also be available on the game’s website as a PDF, allowing players to print a hard copy of the rules to go with their cards.
Overall, the design lesson to be learned is to understand the information a player is going to need, and make sure they have access to it. Text is easy and cheap, and it’s better to give the player more information than they want, rather than fail to give them the information they need.