Evolution of SMITE Tutorial

The map design process at HiRez is pretty fluid and iterative, especially with Smite’s development. We’ve seen a lot of art and gameplay updates across the board, from UI to […]

The map design process at HiRez is pretty fluid and iterative, especially with Smite’s development.

We’ve seen a lot of art and gameplay updates across the board, from UI to characters to the maps themselves. The game has morphed and evolved into the product played today, which means the tutorial requirements change as well.

Evolution of the Tutorial

Way back in the beginning of Smite’s development, we’d planned a tutorial that was suited towards Conquest, our most MOBA-esq game mode in SMITE. However, as Arena (TDM/Ticket), Domination (KotH-esq), Assault (ARAM) and other gametypes were added, we decided to have a more generic tutorial that would focus on teaching the basics of movement and attacking. After all, SMITE plays a lot like a third-person shooter, and our players are an interesting mix of TPS/FPS and MOBA gamers. We wanted something that would help teach that. Thus, we started out with this Pawprint styled map.

Even that changed a lot. For a time, we kept the pawprint design, and the flow of the tutorial evolved slowly from there:

  • Ra in the pawprint map, using old “Broccoli Trees” and a Greek art set
  • Buff camps are altered, and Ra must fight a new jungle camp (previously was a health camp)
  • Ra in the pawprint map, using new speed trees along with the updated Greek art set
  • Ra in the pawprint map, using the Medieval Europe joust art set
  • Neith replaces Ra in the Medieval-themed pawprint map
  • Neith moves to a tutorial set in the single-lane Joust map
Stained-glass1

art by HiRezEna

 

Fitting the Tutorial in the Joust map

The new tutorial did away with the paw-print map, and instead was fitted into the existing sublevels of the Joust Map.

We did this for several reasons.  First, Joust contains many aspects of its larger sister mode, Conquest. It features towers, laning, phoenixes, bases, titans… Most basic elements of Conquest are present in the Joust map without Conquest’s intimidating travel times and high-tier jungle camps. Joust also offers small jungle camps on each side of the central lane, allowing us to include that in the basic tutorial. Second, moving the tutorial into an existing map would help with download sizes and let player become familiar with a setting they’d see in co-op and pvp matches.

In many ways, the gating and pacing of the tutorial is structured in the same way as before:

  • Introduction– The new tutorial opens with a fly through of the map, explaining the game and its objectives to the player.
  • Movement– Players are directed to two consecutive movement goals, introducing them to WASD movement and a mouse-controlled camera view
  • Attacking– Using bots of varying ability, players are introduced to both their basic attack, leveling, and a special ability.
  • Recalling– This is introduced earlier in the tutorial, mostly so that the player can return to use the Item Store.
  • Item Store– Teaching players how to use the Item Store was one of the steps that received the most treatment between the new stylings of tutorial. A lot more was done to provide instructional voice over, UI highlights, and restrictions on what items the player could purchase. This time, players were guided through buying an item with passive benefits, a consumable, and an active item/ability before continuing.
  • Jungle– Unlike the previous iteration of the map, this version instructs players to venture into the jungle and acquire a buff. SMITE differs from other MOBAs in the sense that a player navigate over a buff that a jungle camp drops in order to acquire it; buffs are not automatically granted to the player who last-hits the camp. Challenging the jungle camp also let us instruct players to actually use their active and consumable items.
  • Towers– Once the player has used their consumable item (in this tutorial it’s a health potion), the player is alerted to the folly of attacking enemy towers without support. The player is then called to rally and defend a friendly tower against attacking enemy minions. Once this wave of enemy minions is cleared, the player is encouraged to follow friendly minions down the lane and attack the enemy’s tower in retaliation. An effect on the ground glows bright orange when the player is in danger of being targeted by the tower, in an effort to teach map awareness.
  • Enemy AI– Destroying the enemy tower cues the arrival of the enemy Ymir, who will challenge the player using his own basic attack and special abilities.
  • Phoenix– Defeating Ymir opens up the enemy Phoenix to attack, and the player will continue to be aided by friendly minions. Once more, an orange glow effect on the ground will warn if the player is in danger of being targeted by the Phoenix.
  • Titan– With the support of minions, the player is finally encouraged to siege the enemy base and destroy the Titan.

 

The kismet set up for these events was necessarily complex to ensure that players could not trigger a tutorial section out of order. Because of this, a lot of work went into making sure each learning segment built in Kismet was carefully labelled and organized to describe events, outcomes, and allow for bug tracking and testing. This was also necessary to help for later integration of the console variations.

Tutorial Kismet setup

super intimidating, yet colorful and organized, Kismet setup

Furthermore, this tutorial was aided by additional new user experience guides:

  • Subtitles for all V.O. were added in, which allowed for translation to other languages.
  • In-world signs were placed to direct players to jungle camps. These directional guides were added to all maps, but are able to be toggled off in a player’s settings.
  • More and better UI highlights and instructional text were made to emphasize what the player needed to do in the tutorial.
  • More thought was put into making sure the player completed specific parts of the tutorial to hear important information, rather than be able to blaze through and skip over features.

These were the first steps into developing a new user experience for all game modes, and are constantly being tweaked for new mechanics, clarity, and optimization.

 

Personal Contribution:
tutorial pre-planning/adaption, wrote VO for the script, wrote English subtitles for script, implementation of tutorial events into existing Joust map, Kismet scripting, bug fixes, working with UI artists and programmers to develop appropriate restrictive functions and new Kismet nodes needed