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On-screen messages should provide a form of help, as "hints". For example, in "Quake", when approaching a door without the necessary key, the message "You need the (specific) key" appears.

Games are unlike most other programs, in that the user is intended to make mistakes. Messages should be straightforward and helpful, or confusing and unhelpful, depending on the situation. But, aiding the user too much will shorten the life-span of the game.

If appropriate, more detailed help should be available, as with the "Utilities Advisor" in "Sim City 3000". Click here to enlarge
Click to enlarge

Online help will need to cater for users of widely varying experience and knowledge. Help should be presented to the user in varying stages of complexity, otherwise novices will be lost. More advanced help options should be initially masked from novices. Constantly giving users the feeling that they have a very incomplete picture will quickly disillusion beginners.

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