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Beige

Tutorials and Suspension of Disbelief

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I find that, often, including the tutorial as part of the game''s levels can be jarring and detract from the game as a whole. A heavy story-content game, that is. What''s the best solution there? A game that integrates the tutorial into the context, like Halo? A game that integrates the tutorial into the context, but makes it a seperate thing, like Deus Ex? A game that has a completely seperate, out of character tutorial, like FF Tactics? Or a game which integrates the tutorial into the game, but puts it out of context - a.k.a. Press X to jump over this obstacle!

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I had the idea to incorpate the tutorial and character creation into one. The idea was for an rpg, that started out with the character going through basic trainging. You would go through a number of mini games, that would explain how to play the game and also determine your initial stats.

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quote:
Original post by Beige
A game that integrates the tutorial into the context, like Halo?



I haven''t played Halo. Is this like FF8 (not too bad) or FF7 (bad)? FF8 made it flow with the rest of the game. FF7 didn''t make it flow, even though it was in the game world. In either case, it was jarring to have characters in the game talk about the user interface. (If it was a humorous game that made jokes about the player, it might not have been so bad)

quote:

A game that integrates the tutorial into the context, but makes it a seperate thing, like Deus Ex?

A game that has a completely seperate, out of character tutorial, like FF Tactics?



I like both of these equally because they keep the tutorial seperate from the game, so I''m not taken out of the game world while playing the game.

The Deus Ex method is better because it can help set the tone for the game.

The FF Tactics method is better because it can be referenced in game.

quote:

Or a game which integrates the tutorial into the game, but puts it out of context - a.k.a. Press X to jump over this obstacle!


I wouldn''t mind this, if it had some sort of "begginer mode" toggle so I could turn it off once I know what''s happening. (e.g. on a second run through the game)

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What about a flash back sequence? It has worked well in past RPG''s. The character simply flashes back to his trining. Wither it be at a military institution, or mabey with his dad who was a soldier or man at arms. They flash back could not only fill in back story for the main character but also provide a way for gamers to try out the controls of the game.

my .02

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Personally, I get intensely irritated when, on my tenth time through the game, I have to spend half an hour being told to pay attention to what the action icon says (maybe a little game specific to Zelda: Ocarina of Time there - where that particular piece of advice comes up three times before the end of the first dungeon, though you can avoid one of them)

On the other hand, I tend to prefer tutorials that are in character.

I guess I go for Deus Ex style then. Though a tutorial system like Kingdom Hearts where the initial area can be pretty much skipped straight through without having to learn to fight etc, but completing the tutorial tasks provides minor in-game bonuses is good.

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I think every designer has their own ideas about what kind of tutorial to put in their game. It naturally comes out as an expression of the composition.

Freespace treated you like you were a pilot in outer space with an instructor in another ship.
Quake 2 tutored you during the game (CROUCH to duck under this - almost like the programmers are talking to you)
Mechwarrior 2 also had a teacher in another mech. Mercenaries, too.
No One Lives Forever put you in a lab with a scientist showing you how to use all the gadgets.

In my own game idea, you were to be riding in your own scout buggy with your commander nearby in his own as well. He would demonstrate the maneverability of the scout by having you jump over bumps and stear yourself in the air, and fire at targets with your grenade launcher and auto-tracking gun. Then he would lead you on a routine patrol where you can watch other vehicles performing their duties. Once you get out into the field, you encounter an enemy scout and as you progress farther to see where it came from, the commander's scout gets blown up by a jet and you have to speed back into your zone so that your missile towers can take it out.

The tutorial would serve as both instruction and demonstrate the kinds of things you can do in the game, but it should be optional. The mission would be neat for a first time player, but boring for a vet.


[edited by - Waverider on July 28, 2003 11:17:33 AM]

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I think the way Lufia 2 does it is kinda cute. There''s a little tutorial dungeon where a guy tells you where to go & what to do, and various people in the beginning areas who tell you other aspects of the game. Frequently this is in the form of "Press the A button to do blahblah", but then they go "Hey, what''s an A button anyway?" It kinda fits the atmosphere of the game, and you can skip most of it anyway because they ask you whether you wanna know about it or not.

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There is no "best" method. It actually depends on what the tutorial is meant to teach the player. There are a few kinds of things to know about a game.

1- Hardware-related. This is about using the keyboard, or mouse, to perform a simple action. Of course, the player has to learn them one way or another. A few solutions:
- Explain them thoroughly in the controls menu.
- Use the "standard" controls : arrows to move, aim at people with mouse, click for action.

2- Advanced controls. This is about advanced features, like double jumping, crouch-jumping, sliding, dodging, etc... These are usually combinations of controls. Another few solutions:
- Explain them thoroughly in the controls menu too.
- Explain them in-game using the gaming lingo : jump, and crouch at the top of your jump.

3- User interface. This interface is an even more advanced incarnation of the controls. The biggest problem about it is that the User interface is *not* part of the game world.
- Include user interface information and tutorials in the game interface itself, and not in the game.
- Make the user interface (or part of it) a true part of the game world (as a HUD, for instance, that the player character actually sees).

4- Behavior of game objects. These being part of the game world, there is usually no disbelief problem when eplaining these. Except when everyone in the game world, except for the character, seems to know how that object acts. It leads to the "You''ve been a member of SOLDIER for years. Let me explain to you how SOLDIER works" problem. Good ideas:
- Remember that some people in the game get taught those things through books and leaflets. Let the player read such a book or leaflet.
- Make these part of the user interface.

That''s all I could think about.

ToohrVyk

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my system is set up, first and foremost, as a point and click operation, where the player has a limited number of choices and a limited number of actions to perform. these actions will be taught in the form of a separate tutorial, accessable from the main menu screen. the actions taught in this tutorial will be the same for all characters, and so it is not necessary for a player to create a character beforehand.

then, once the player has created the character and enters the game, he or she may continue to learn more actions and behaviors as the game progresses. if the player wishes to become an archer, then he may recieve training to do so from an able source, such as a teacher at an archery range. think of it as a student attending a school. some of these schools will teach basic skills and can be compared to high, or secondary schools; some of these schools will teach more complex actions and can be compared to universities. same thing if the player wants to be a knight, mage, cleric, medic, etc... anything really. this way the player''s development progresses by his own accord and is not forced on him in any way. if the player wants to perform a certain task, it is not absolutely necessary for him to learn it at a school or from any other source, really, but if he does not then he cannot use that skill until his character is at the right level. new skills can be learned before that level is achieved but they will often be weak and sometimes ineffective. by learning these skills from an NPC (referred to as an AII in this game [artificial intelligence inhabitant]) the player''s level in this regard will increase much faster than doing it on one''s own. in this way the player can learn to do anything that is possible within the confines of the game world, from archery to archetechture.

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It all depends on what kind of game etc. what''s the most propriate way of doing it. I personally would prefer to have the tutorial in the game context, using the theme of the game (e.g. "jump over that box", not "Press A to jump"), possibly with the key-binding displayed within paranthesis or something so you wouldn''t have to exit and look up the keys every step in the tutorial.

The tutorial should also be completely voluntary so you wouldn''t have to do it unless you wanted to...I kinda liked the way it was done in Baldurs Gate. There you could walk around doing mini-quests in the beginning of the game, learning how to play, or begin the adventure straight away if you didn''t feel for doing the tutorial.

-Luctus

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