不出所料，游戏媒体中满是关于《Pokémon Go》的评论，有趣的是同时还伴随着许多有关如何玩这款游戏的指导内容与文章。为什么这款高预算手机游戏需要来自BBC，WIRED，TrustedReviews，The Guardian，VOX，Polygon，Redditors，Youtubers等媒体所创造的游戏指南的支持？本文将着重描写Niantic在设计一款容易学习与理解的游戏时所忽略的一些UIX设计原则，而这也有可能会影响到《Pokémon Go》的玩家体验。
如果你对这一截图很陌生的话，别担心，不是只有你这样。这一提示只出现在玩家第一次捕抓Pokémon的时候，并且是在玩家未碰触屏幕的时候。让我们将其与其它三款受欢迎的“轻拍”游戏作比较，这些游戏都在第一个关卡中使用动画去演示手势；显然如果《Pokémon Go》像这样使用了动画，它便能够让玩家更自信地与Poké Balls进行互动并让他们能够专注于把握轻拍感而不是忙着对抗那些让人误解的反馈以及所缺少的特定指示。
因为玩家误解了游戏而引起的错误是更难解决的，在这方面《Pokémon Go》总是不能有效提供给玩家帮助。游戏有时候会基于逻辑去判断玩家是否有效使用了某一功能或者是否探索了某一界面，他们帮助玩家去纠正某些问题并作出解释。例如在《Pokémon Go》，虽然游戏告知玩家“鸡蛋孵育箱不能用于此”，他们还是轻敲了鸡蛋孵育箱。虽然这没错，但游戏却错失了纠正玩家的误解的机会—-那它可以用在哪里？如果玩家反复访问PokéStops但却未去收集道具，并且未出现任何去纠正他们这一行为的内容，玩家不仅会因此受挫，他们关于游戏中的盈利压力的想法也会受到影响。
基于一个倍受欢迎的品牌的一大优势便是，粉丝们事先已经了解了该品牌的特定元素。就像玩过《Pokémon》的玩家们便都清楚红色和白色Poké Ball的目的和作用，但往往熟悉了就会觉得平常了，所以那些全新游戏玩家会更容易记住这些内容。而《Pokémon Go》似乎就是太过依赖于玩家对于训练员的目标，Pokédexes的目的，Poké Balls和Pokémon Gyms的用户，以及进化与对抗Pokémon的能力的了解。
游戏应该努力创造一致性，而《Pokémon Go》中最明显的不一致便是“Pokémon Eggs”和“Lucky Eggs”的使用。为什么要基于不同机制在不同环境下使用两次鸡蛋孵育箱呢？Pokémon Eggs需要玩家使用鸡蛋孵育箱（游戏邦注：通过应用内部购买获取），但是lucky eggs不需要这样的孵育箱，并可以直接提供给玩家经验值奖励。而这一理念会再一次阻碍玩家快速且有效地学习游戏玩法。
从易理解性的角度来看，Pokémon Gyms和对抗或许是《Pokémon Go》最薄弱的地方。其中的罪魁祸首便是缺少基于环境的教程内容；虽然玩家可以在Pokémon对抗中找到该做什么的信息，但却是在设置旁的“窍门”位置，而不是在他们最初的Gym对抗之前或期间，甚至也不是在Gym中。并且这里所谓的“窍门”只描述了滑动进行闪避的互动，而没有轻敲去攻击或轻敲并按住而发动特殊攻击等描述。关于《Pokémon Go》为何会忽略这些基本内容我们是百思不得其解。
让人遗憾的是《Pokémon Go》在发行的过程中遭遇了严重的技术障碍，那些因为服务器的暂停和各种漏洞所引出的古怪行为都将进一步表现在玩家的反馈中。不管是Poké Balls停止移动，脚步指标失灵还是Pokémon未曾出现都会导致玩家误解这种种的漏洞行为。
似乎直觉性对于《Pokémon Go》的成功并未作出真正的贡献—-而包含AR和定位的使用以及之前提到的品牌化和适时的发行时间都是推动这款游戏成功的重要元素。有人可能会好奇，如果说《Pokémon Go》的设计是故意显得模糊，那么或许游戏可以进一步去推动社区的发展；就像《我的世界》便受利于在线群组去填补玩家的信息缺口，你要记住当《我的世界》最初发行时它其实还处于alpha测试阶段。
关于《Pokémon Go》糟糕的教程和学习性的真正影响将通过游戏早前的用户留存数据，玩家离开游戏的规模或者长期用户粘性的缺失表现出来。通常情况下易用性和易理解性问题都是一些较一般的问题，玩家并不会对此作出太大抱怨，相反地它们只会觉得游戏“并不适合自己”—-而这可能便是《Pokémon Go》所犯的最大错误：不能有效地将所有新玩家带到这款吸引了许多年轻玩家注意的游戏中。
How Pokémon Go Fails to Capture Learnability
by Sebastian Long
The gaming press is unsurprisingly alight with comment on Pokémon Go, but interestingly also with huge numbers of guides and articles on how to actually play the game. Why does this big-budget mobile game need propping-up from how-to guides by the BBC, WIRED, TrustedReviews, The Guardian, VOX, Polygon, Redditors, Youtubers, and many more? This article highlights a number of points where Niantic have broken or ignored many UX design principles for designing a game that is easy to learn and understand, that ultimately could be affecting Pokémon Go’s player experience.
Not every game can rely on novel interactions, a household name and a well-timed release to propel a game to “unprecedented” levels of engagement. Luckily for those games then, Pokémon Go leaves some opportunities on the table for UX refinement, sepcifically in terms of learning the game.
Here are 7 lessons from Pokémon Go’s learnability failures and successes:
1. Communicate Interactivity Using Affordance
‘Affordance’ describes the apparent interactivity of something. For example, a button ‘affords’ pressing because it visually appears pressable. The best UIs have meaningful affordance to help communicate their existence and purpose. Elements that slide might obviously ‘peek out’; things that spin might gently turn; things that can be tapped are given the appearance of depth. Take a look at the UI for a PokéStop below. How are players meant to predict or recognise that a swiping/spinning interaction is possible, let alone that it would yield something beneficial? Even if the confusion is only momentary, players’ confidence will take a knock.
Affordance works in the opposite direction too: If something isn’t interactive, it shouldn’t look or behave like it is, yet Pokémon Go is guilty of this as well. Tapping on the map around the player character shows a blue circle under the finger and gives audio feedback, but nothing about the map is interactive. What’s worse, tapping on the target Pokémon during a Pokémon capture (a seemingly-valid interaction) brings up a number of UI elements around the Pokémon for a split second, which appear like positive feedback. This reinforces an invalid interaction, hindering players from learning the flicking gesture. I wonder how many players had the joy and excitement of their first Pokémon capture undermined by this behaviour: repeatedly tapping on their first Pokémon, completely in vain.
2. Demonstrate Gestures Using Animation
Affordance can communicate the presence of an interactive object, but often isn’t enough to communicate the nuance of specific gesture or interaction – just because something looks interactive might not communicate the type of gesture, the direction, speed or the intent of that interaction. Our experience of playtesting has repeatedly demonstrated that using animation – specifically animation of hands and fingers – is the best way to communicate a gesture, yet Pokémon Go uses only static imagery – and players may not see any prompting at all.
If the screenshot here looks unfamiliar, you’re not alone. This prompt only comes up in the player’s very first Pokémon capture, and then only if the player doesn’t touch the screen for some time. Compare this to three other popular ‘flicking’ games below, all of which use animation to demonstrate gestures in the first level; it is clear that Pokémon could have benefitted from animation like this to get the player interacting confidently with the Poké Balls, allowing them to focus on learning the ‘feel’ of flicking nearer-and-farther instead of fighting the misleading feedback and lack of specific instructions.
3. Meaningfully Correct Player Error
Players can make mistakes, especially while still learning about the game. Players who accidentally tap something (‘input error’) are fairly easy to accommodate, typically by adding an ‘are you sure?’ right before that action is finalised, and Pokémon Go generally handles this pretty well.
Errors caused by players misunderstanding the game are harder to design around, and it is here that Pokémon Go often fails to aid players. Games can sometimes logically determine if players aren’t using features correctly, or are exploring the interface, and they can provide assistance to correct and explain. For example, players that tap on an Egg Incubator item in Pokémon Go are informed that “This item can’t be used here”. This is factually correct, but misses an opportunity to correct the misunderstanding demonstrated by the player – where can it be used? If players repeatedly visit PokéStops but don’t spin to collect items, nothing happens to correct this, which is not only frustrating, but may also impact players’ perception of the monetisation pressure in Pokémon Go, given that Poké Balls otherwise cost real money.
There are some examples of good practice in avoiding player error here, including consideration for level-up rewards. If the items awarded during level-up go over the limit of the players’ item bag (currently a 350 item limit), they’re not discarded, but the bag just over-fills, keeping all the level-up rewards. Players aren’t assisted in dealing with a full bag, and their attention isn’t drawn to the bag screen, but at least the level-up rewards aren’t discarded.
4. Strive for Familiarity and Consistency in Metaphors
Players should be able to recognise the purpose of an item rather than have to remember it, and using metaphors and familiar real-life objects is a valuable means to achieve learnability and intuitiveness. If players can make valid guesses about the purpose of items because of their appearance, then that is one less thing to tutorialise.
One of the advantages of working within a much-loved brand is in fans bringing prior knowledge on brand-specific elements. The exact purpose and workings of the red and white Poké Ball will be familiar to entire generations, for example, but familiarity breeds contempt, and players new to the franchise can’t be forgotten. Pokémon Go perhaps relies too much on players bringing existing, valid knowledge to the game about the objective of a Trainer, the purpose of Pokédexes, Poké Balls and Pokémon Gyms, and the ability to evolve and battle Pokémon.
Games should also strive for consistency, and perhaps the most blatant of the inconsistencies in Pokémon Go is the use of ‘Pokémon Eggs’ and ‘Lucky Eggs’. Why use the egg metaphor twice in two completely differing contexts, with completely differing mechanics? Pokémon Eggs have to be hatched to give Pokémon using the ‘egg incubators’ (purchasable as IAP), but the ‘lucky eggs’ need no such incubation, and can be used immediately to give an XP bonus. This muddling of ideas again adds barriers to players learning the game quickly and reliably.
5. Tutorials Should be Context-Specific
Pokémon Gyms and battling is perhaps the poorest part of Pokémon Go from an understandability perspective. Chief culprit of this is the lack of contextualised tutorial content; players can find information about what to do in a Pokémon Battle, but only in the ‘tips’ area next to the settings, not before or during their first Gym battle, or even in the Gym itself. Even then, the ‘tips’ only describe the swipe-to-dodge interaction, not tap to attack, nor tap-and-hold to special attack. Quite why Pokémon Go omits any hint of these absolute fundamentals is baffling.
The effectiveness of tutorial content is significantly reduced by giving information outside of the context in which that information is needed. Players are generally more capable of ascribing meaning to instructions relevant to their immediate situation, rather than ones they haven’t encountered yet, and are therefore more likely to implement and remember these instructions.
One nice implementation of contextual tutorialisation is the short preview of the Pokémon’s attack animation immediately before each capture – which is important to be able to recognise, as this animation signifies a period of invulnerability. Players get a little visual reminder of the attack animation immediately before they need to look out for it.
Players’ memories are fallible, so avoid the front-loading of information, and ensure you present tutorial information in context.
6. Ensure the Clarity of Feedback Matches The Intended Challenge
There are a number of interfaces and mechanics in Pokémon Go that rely on trial-and-error learning, including the effective use of the incense and lures, bag item limits, and Pokémon capturing. This isn’t a bad thing, and certainly the game has capitalised on certain player types’ willingness to experiment and deconstruct the game’s cryptic design in order to understand it better.
The issue with trial-and-error learning is in its intersection with randomness. The ‘shrinking circle’ element that appears when capturing a Pokémon is not at all clear; is a larger circle better or worse than a small one? There is no inherent ‘good’ or ‘bad’ state in the size of a circle. Players could experimentally determine this – and maybe that is a fun thing to experiment with for a certain type of player – but as the successful capture of the Pokémon has other random variables, ultimately I don’t know if I succeeded because of the circle size, or some other factor.
Players will likely have difficulty learning some game mechanics because of the lack of specificity and observable patterns in the feedback – I wonder if this meets the the developer’s’ intent? How much of the challenge in Pokémon Go should come from working out the rules or from the interaction itself?
7. Technical Completeness
It is a shame that Pokémon Go has hit significant technical barriers throughout launch, as the odd behaviour presented by these server time-outs and bugs only serves to further convolute the feedback presented to the player. Poké Balls that stop moving, misbehaving footstep indicators, Pokémon that never appear – each presents another barrier to understanding the game as players misinterpret bug behaviour for legitimate feedback.
Can It Be Accidental?
It seems likely that intuitiveness has not contributed to Pokémon Go’s success – clearly there are many other factors at play, including the use of AR and geolocation, as well as the aforementioned branding and release timing. One has to wonder if Pokémon Go’s design is deliberately obscure, perhaps to encourage development of a community, and exactly the media furore that has resulted; Minecraft certainly benefitted from the online groups that sprung up to plug players’ knowledge gaps, not forgetting that Minecraft was at alpha stages during initial launch.
The true effects of Pokémon Go’s poor tutorialisation and learnability can only be revealed by the early retention figures, and scale of abandonment or lack of longer-term engagement of non-fans. All-too-often usability and understandability issues are manifested as general, non-specific complaints from players, perhaps feeling that the game is ‘not for them’ – which is perhaps the biggest crime of Pokémon Go’s flawed onboarding: failing to comprehensively introduce a whole new fanbase to the game that defined the youth of so many.
Perhaps a little more player-centric design and playtesting might have helped Niantic catch ‘em all.（source：Gamasutra）