The good bits
- Two Dots gets new players quickly into gameplay. Upon selecting the first level on the level map, Two Dots guides the new player with a simple playthrough. This playthrough introduces her to the basic mechanics of the game: Using touch to connect two or more dots of the same color and excluding diagonal connections. From here she is dropped into Level 1 with clear objectives established regarding how many connections she needs to make within a certain number of allowed tries.
- Additional mechanics used in the game are not taught until the player moves into higher number levels. This gradual engagement avoids front loading too much information in the first playthrough. For example, when the new player reaches Level 3–after having practiced her “Basics” a few times–she is taught how to make square connections in a second playthrough. She is not restricted from figuring out these skills on her own earlier than they are introduced in the playthrough.
- All tutorials can be reaccessed via the game’s menu. In fact, a new player can explore ahead by participating in playthroughs for things she hasn’t yet come across.
- Loading screens shown when loading new levels also provide education as a form of inline cues. For example, one loading screen educates that a player’s lives are refreshed every 20 minutes.
- Instead of forcing Facebook Connect up front, Two Dots provides a free sample and holds off on prompting the player to connect until it may add value–such as after losing a life, or when celebrating a win.
- While “Freemium” models like Two Dots are often looked down upon, this game more intelligently handles prompts to upgrade at lightweight moments, like when a player might need more lives.
To be improved:
- After first launching the app, the new player is first placed in the world map view instead of in the first level’s playthrough. Because the world map view is also represented as a series of dots, it might not be immediately clear to the new player that she isn’t in a level, and that she needs to tap on the first dot to begin. Two Dots should either make it clearer that this is the world map or just place the new player immediately into the first playthrough and level, exiting her to the world map upon completion.
- The playthrough tutorials cannot be skipped, even if the user explicitly revisited from the game menu. If the new player had already learned a technique (for example, squares) on her own and then was met with the playthrough for that technique later on, she also would not be able to skip it. Two Dots should make these tutorials escapable.