Refining the tutorial was probably one of the hardest part of the "later development". Everything was in place, but how to teach the player how to play the game was still a struggle.
The first time somebody tried my game, he was 15 minutes on level 1 and he couldnt even solved it. So this was a major issue. The game evolved from a "this is a full level, here are the controls, good luck", to "this is a much limited level, lets try the first feature first and will see how we go".
The things that helped me:
1. Limiting number of limbs.
On the original first level, you controlled all 4 limbs + head of the character. That was brutal for a first timer. Understanding how physic works on the character is not easy. So I changed that to only 1 limb, and the character starts tied up to a chair. You have to limit the degrees of freedom that you offer the players.
2. Explaining the movie, the poses, and how do they work.
Although the concept of a timeline is easy to understand now that everybody browses youtube, keyframes and poses needed to be explained. I tried explaining the bare minimum because I don't want to overwhelm the player on the first level.
Explaining that a pose is what make the difference in the movie.
3. Slowing down the player
Although it may seem weird, sometimes you have to slow down the player so they dont hurt themselves. At first, just standing on some point in the timeline and moving the character would create a pose. Very fast, very simple. Except that it lead to players creating poses everywhere, anywhere. Not realising where they are standing, and not giving importance to the appropiate time.
I had to slow them down, asking them to create the pose manually.
This simple creation with a button made the player pay attention where the pose was, and at what time was the movement happening.
4. Teaching by doing, not just showing.
This is quite straight forward, but players learn a lot more by doing the actions than just reading about them. In this case I showed an animated example of what the player was suppose to do, and waited for the player to do it themselves.
5. Gameplay before story.
I'm pretty sure some writers may hate me, but I was willing to destroy the story if that meant a smooth gameplay/learning curve. One of my biggest fights with players was gravity. It was not easy to teach someone to move and jump, beacause... well... most people don't realise "how" they walk, they just walk. And when they have to pass that expertise to a dummy character, they struggle becuase in their mind is just automatic. It's like tryin to teach a kid to tie their shoes. You just do it, and you would have to analise step by step just to make it work.
Original first level. Gravity can be a bitch.
In my case, the fact that gravity was such a hussle to overcome, I couldn't add it in the first levels where players were just getting the grip of the game. So I moved my story to space, and then to the moon, were gravity is lower. After several level then the player lands on earth and the gravity challenge appears. Does it make 100% sense as a story now? No. I tried to fit the changes in to the story, but the realism of the story is a little stretched out now. I'm not gonna win any writing prize for it. But I haven't received any of the complaints and struggles I use to see from new players.
After refining the tutorial several times, I haven't received a single complain about no understanding the game. Some people still don't like it, that acceptable, but at least now everyone gets to evaluate the game other than "too confusing".
I hope my mistakes help you out a bit in your tutorial. Cheers.
If you want to know more about the game: Posable Heroes on Steam