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Feedback on ETCS tutorials


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Dzień dobry. That's about 50% of the Polish I know. So, good day everyone.

I bought the game two days ago and played through both ETCS tutorials yesterday. I thought I'd give some feedback on them.

First thing I'd like to address is that the two tutorials are almost identical. I was surprised when the Level 2 tutorial differed so slightly from the Level 1 tutorial. Roughly 90% of it was repeating what I had done before while having my hand held. What I mean by this is that I was constantly interrupted by a scripted sequence and an explanation of something that I already knew. 

The scenario itself takes some time to finish because of all the speed restrictions and stop signals. Therefore it was frustrating to go through what was virtually the same scenario without fully understanding if and when the actual Level 2 things would be addressed.

Consider the following: In the Level 2 tutorial, have the player independently apply their knowledge of ETCS and Level 1 before moving on to explaining Level 2. Instead of explaining things twice, only use hints to refresh the memory. Maybe even make it into an option, like a "Help" button that gives the player a nudge into the right direction.
This would let the player test their knowledge while also significantly reducing the time needed to complete the tutorial. Considering the amount of time this would cut from the Level 2 tutorial, you could maybe even combine Levels 1 and 2 into a single tutorial.

Iterating from this, there could be an independent tutorial with the sole purpose of explaining the DMI user interface. You could then again ask the player to apply their knowledge (again with hints if needed) so that in the next tutorial they could independently set up the system before they begin driving. 

On my several first tries of the Level 1 tutorial, I messed up with the braking and got a scenario failure. This is bad for a tutorial: it's supposed to be a learning environment and thus more forgiving than the real thing.
It was very frustrating to have to go through all the scripted content again, and I think I once even broke the scripting by being too far ahead of the narrator. Is it possible to have the scenario not reset when you make a mistake leading to emergency braking? Instead just gently set the player back a bit.

Then, something I know I can read about online but could be gamified: a brief technical summary of how the system works. For example, the tutorial narration mentions a balise. But what if the player doesn't know what a balise is? Because everything is so well modeled in the game, you could make a scenario that has the player walk around the train and the test track (with camera skip transitions if needed), inspecting the ETCS-related devices, while a narration is provided to summarize what they are and why they are needed. This would be both informative and give the player understanding of their actions in relation to the system.

However, something like this requires careful balancing. It shouldn't feel like a lecture but it should still provide enough information.

Anyway, keep up the good work! I've been an on-off train simmer since the original MSTS and SimRail is already my new favorite. Unlike TSW, it feels like quality over quantity.

Now I'm off to drive some Pendolinos in the beautiful Polish summer, trying with other foreigners to desperately pronounce all the names. I hope to see a Finnish route in SimRail one day so that you can return the favor. 😉

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