Adding Intuition to Lunar Panda

Written by Adrian Killens on .

In all its iterations Lunar Panda seems to have suffered one particular problem in that if you've never played that other game that's a bit like Lunar Panda (you know the one) then chances are you won't know what you're doing straight away. I saw this quite a bit at various expos. Players of Lunar Panda were often divided into two camps, people that knew how to play it straight away or spent a bit of time working it out and those that had no idea about Mr Panda's objectives. I saw plenty of people picking up a controller, blast him into space, look confused and walk off. Occasionally I'd intervene and explain how the game's played at which point a new player would quite happily spend some time working there way through a few levels.

So! What's to be done? The answer 'hopefully' is four things.

Firstly. we've now added a tutorial to the menu, for those diligent enough to peruse that option. This is a still scene with just enough information to explain the aim of the game but not so much that we bore the player.

Secondly. Upon starting a level for the first time, the view scrolls from Mr Panda to the landing pads and back to Mr Panda again. Some players didn't realised that there were landing pads below some level starting positions. It's also a great way of giving the player a quick overview of the level and a chance to devise a potential strategy.

Thirdly. An overlay is displayed briefly the first time you play one of the levels on the first planet, with some animated fingers showing you how to rotate and thrust.

And last but not least. The first time you ever play one of the levels on the first planet you'll see some animated text telling you to "Land here...but gently" linked to a landing pad.

Lunar Panda

It sounds like a lot but their all quite minimal changes that are displayed to the user just enough to get the information across without being patronising or taking focus away from the game. Next step will be to put this new and hopefully more intuitive version into test with some people that have never played the game before to see how they do. Fingers crossed.