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tutorial - dialogue excerpt

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I''ve been trying to find ways to teach the player the mechanics of a game, while avoiding an explicit tutorial. Integrating it into the context of the game. Here''s a recent attempt. *** INTRO MISSION J.R. - EXCERPT The player is following Captain Beckett through the area. He leads, and every time you meet up with him, the game gives you more information about what''s going on. Beckett is waiting next to the corner of a warehouse. J.R. and the squad comes up to the corner, only to have a machine gun nest open up on them. It just barely misses Captain Beckett. REDPATH Captain, might I suggest a screen pass, sir! BECKETT looks over to the side one more time, only to almost get his head taken off again. BECKETT You read my mind, man. The UI opens to show the COMMAND MENU. BECKETT scrolls through the menu and selects OBSCURE POSITION. REDPATH tosses BECKETT a smoke grenade. REDPATH tosses it blindly towards the MG nest. BECKETT Go, go! The squad runs across the exposed terrain. MG fire is sprayed all around. NAKAMURA is hit on the side, but his shield absorbs the blow. He falls into a nearby trench. The rest of the squad moves behind a piece of cover. They look back. NAKAMURA climbs up prone and crawls to them. REDPATH You all right? A huge artillery blast hits not a few feet away. NAKAMURA Not really. BECKETT Yeah, join the club. REDPATH Sir, they''ve zeroed our position! We gotta move! BECKETT The objective, that''s it, right over there. BECKETT points at a building in the distance. Artillery fire continues to fall around them. J.R. is getting visibly frustrated. BECKETT On three. One... Two... (if you run to the objective immediately) J.R. Shit, I''m going. HOGAN What the... BECKETT Thre... dammit! (if you wait) BECKETT Three! *** Note that the dialogue will go by independent of your own actions; you wouldn''t have to button through the text. When J.R. says "Shit, I''m going," he''s saying that as you''re moving him towards the objective.

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Is there a question in this post?

I think it''s an interesting idea --having a tutorial that isn''t blatantly a tutorial-- but there''s one thing you have to remember. Game players hate tutorials (obviously), and the longer you make it, the more they''re gonna hate it. With all this added dialogue and stuff, it''s gonna be significantly longer than a standard "here''s your gun, press ctrl to fire, shoot that target" sort of tutorial.

One thing game writers often don''t think about is the fact that gamers can and do pick up on things long before the tutorial tells them about it. If you can show the player a fairly broad variety of "actions" at one time, then they''ll feel less restricted, and even feel like they can have some amount of fun even in the tutorial.

Also, make sure you prioritize the things you teach the player, and the amount of time you spend teaching the player those things. For example: With Halo, I ABSOLUTELY HATE the beginning tutorial. It spends 5 minutes alone talking about using the joystick to look and move. Everybody already knows that you move the joystick to look and move! Stop wasting my time! And the health/shield thing could''ve been explained in 30 seconds. Nobody really cares, and everybody already knows how it works.

I''m rambling now, but the point is: Keep it short and sweet, only spend as much time explaining things as is needed, and don''t restrict the player from playing around in the tutorial, otherwise it won''t be fun.

-NeoMage

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Hmm, yeah.

I am planning to take the approach, that dialogue is said while the player is moving, and you won''t have to click through dialogue boxes.

There are a lot of benefits to a "living" tutorial, something that could avoid the Halo "let''s stare at lights and push buttons for ten minutes" as you describe it. Letting the game show you what you need to know, when you decide, as you see fit. More work, though.

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That might be less of the story and more of the fundamental game design decision. Maybe to learn the ''w''''a''''s''''d'' keys, the characters will have to learn them through a tutorial level. After that, the decision is really out of their hands. The storywriters learn the context, decide where the tutorial begins, and there it ends. Story is for the real game. The tutorial is pure setting, and hopefully not what the player decides to base his conclusions on when the final game, hopefully with a more compelling story, comes about.

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MaHere''s a thought: Create a guided, but not forced tutorial...

Say you bring up the menu... You highlight what you would use in the tutorial, but the user doesn''t have to select it. This, for the experienced player will allow freedom of movement and a faster advance, and even for the beginner allows them to learn from their mistakes...

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quote:
Original post by SJ_Zero
That might be less of the story and more of the fundamental game design decision. Maybe to learn the ''w''''a''''s''''d'' keys, the characters will have to learn them through a tutorial level. After that, the decision is really out of their hands. The storywriters learn the context, decide where the tutorial begins, and there it ends. Story is for the real game. The tutorial is pure setting, and hopefully not what the player decides to base his conclusions on when the final game, hopefully with a more compelling story, comes about.


Well... that''s what I''m trying to decide.

A lot of players will just skip the tutorial, and then be like "this game sucks" when they don''t know what to do.

If I include the tutorial as a part of the story, it increases the likelyhood that the player will have the skills they need to enjoy the game.

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