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Improved Help Menu Layout (With Detailed Suggestion)


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As the game gets more feature-rich and polished over time, I can't help but feel that the help guide menu is easily the most "Unfinished" part of the game's systems right now, and it really hurts the new player experience. With the next major update being focused on polish, now is the best time to fix it.

I have a suggestion to improve the help guide interface, which I think would make the very necessary "learning" part of the game more streamlined and intuitive. I believe the biggest roadblock for new players is the absolute overload of options and information available right from the outset, and the help guides being a disorganized list of essays does not help guide the player through the learning process, to the point that as it is, YouTube guides and forum searches are practically gameplay features.

My suggestion is to make the guide section less of a list of articles and more of a traditional "menu".

There should be a scrolling list of categories, presented nicely as rectangular buttons with the title and some art, which list the "pillars" of the game's mechanics, such as "Getting Started", "Food Preparation", "Metallurgy", Animal Husbandry". "Adventure and Combat", and, so-on, with a "Misc." tab for anything that doesn't fit or modded guides that aren't classified.

Clicking one of these category buttons should open another nested menu page when clicked, which shows a list of more specific guides. Clicking the "Metallurgy" category for instance would then present options for "Surface Ores", "Smelting", "Casting", Smithing", "Bloomeries", "Ironworking", and so-on. The "Getting Started" tab would cover things like knapping, foraging, storage, building, etc., you get the idea.

This would be a system that modders could also hook into, setting suitable category IDs for their help guides, so for example a food expansion mod would classify its help guides as "Food Preparation" so they show up with the other food guides, and they should be able to set the priority of their guides so they show up in an appropriate spot on the list relative to their place in the game's progression. Anything left unclassified would default to the misc. tab, and anything without a priority should show up at the end. Modders should also be able to add their own categories as well if they add features which don't fit into any of the existing ones, and they are willing to create a properly formatted category button to include in the list as part of their mod. 

I think it would also be useful to allow for images to be included in help guide pages, as well as actual crafting grid recipes shown directly in the body of the page. As it is, so many guides reference crafting recipes by describing them with text, which is clunky and sometimes confusing.


I think this system would serve a number of key functions:

  • It makes the menu feel more like a proper menu and less like a random list of wiki articles.
  • Opportunity for more visual flair via buttons instead of text (icons next to the titles, button borders, anything really. They would ideally be graphical buttons rather than just formatted text). 
  • The rectangular, stacked nature of these buttons in a scrolling list means more can always be added via mods or in future updates (as opposed to a more static menu of buttons).
  • It provides a means of de-cluttering the menu (especially once you add mods and all their guides).
  • It makes the menu more streamlined and readable. You can skim just for the category you want, and then look for your topic. No more reading a whole page about an entire mechanic just to find out how the one aspect of it you're looking for works. Checking out the features should look interesting and be enjoyable. 
  • The lists of topics within these categories can be ordered by intended order of progression, making the relevant information clearer to new players. 
  • Plenty more, I'm sure you get the picture!


Tl;dr: Smaller chunks of specific info which are carefully organized are far more approachable. This is especially true when the menu itself is visually appealing with art and graphics. The current system feels a bit "We have a million features and need to tell the players how to play the game somehow, so this will work for now..." if you catch my drift.


I should add that this isn't a jab or anything. It is amazing that the game has such an overwhelming amount of content and mechanics (which is why I love the game), but it has progressed so much that it has outgrown the rudimentary teaching system and needs more thought put into it.

The game will inevitably become steadily less approachable as more content and systems are added unless this system is refined now to encompass the existing mechanics and allow for expansion without losing clarity. 

If the devs are interested in this, I'd be happy to throw together a simple mockup to illustrate it further if it isn't clear here. 


Let me know what you folks think!


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