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Andruil

Tutorials

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This is something I've been hating for a while and trying to come up with a better idea of how to do it. Here's the problem. I start up a new game and start the tutorial. First off I'm trapped and unable to do anything (hellgate london). Why? Why must I sit there and wait for the dang npc to tell me how to press the A key to strafe left or the D key to strafe right? Why is it that the game can't adapt to my level of understanding? I can see value in explaining every feature upon request. I just think most games take that too far for those who don't need it. What I think we ought to do is have the game keep track of what the user is doing. So if the user has pressed asdw and moved around then why bother spending 30 seconds explaining how to move? If I've already attacked or am attacking why spend 30 seconds explaining how to attack? So what I'm proposing is a scaleable tutorial. So if you've already moved instead of explaining how to move it'll just say "Good I see you know how to move." and continues on. The same thing could be applied anywhere. Has anyone seen anything like this done before? Do you have any ideas on how to improve tutorials for all levels of gamers? That includes newbies, casual and avid players.

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Quote:
Original post by Andruil
Has anyone seen anything like this done before?
Yes, it's not actually all that uncommon to see this implemented to certain degrees in modern games.

One thing to note is that a method should be provided for the player to access information again if they missed it accidentally ("wait, how did I just shoot?") or simply wish to see it again.

Mass Effect for example provides players with a couple of different levels of help the game can provide during gameplay, and also allows an options to mark all tutorial content in the game as "unseen" again so that tutorials will be provided once again.

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One game stands out in my mind as 'pretty decent' when it comes to handling the Tutorial Level. In it, the tutorial subject matter is presented to you by a veteran at the task you're engaged. For each iteration of the tutorial, the player is prompted to say whether he/she knows how to perform the action in question (e.g. cast a spell, move around, perform combat, etc). It's still necessary to go through the Tutorial Level, because it's tightly integrated into your character's initial development. This game is Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines.

Another game which I didn't care for the Tutorial Level required your character, at a young age, to jump through a number of hoops to even get to the point at which he could fast-forward to the main part of the game. There *was* a fast-forward option, but it took some time, effort, and menial tasking to even get to it. This game is Fable: The Lost Chapters.

I personally don't think that game plot should be integrated with the Tutorial Level. Instead, there should be a "Play the Tutorial Level" option in the main menu or whatever, and let the player choose in which part of the tutorial he wishes to engage. This is particular to a sandbox game, where the player may just want to jump right in at the beginning of the game and start, er, sandboxing, but must slay rabbits, collect keys, and basically relearn the controls in order to play.

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Quote:
Original post by DarkHorizon
One game stands out in my mind as 'pretty decent' when it comes to handling the Tutorial Level. In it, the tutorial subject matter is presented to you by a veteran at the task you're engaged. For each iteration of the tutorial, the player is prompted to say whether he/she knows how to perform the action in question (e.g. cast a spell, move around, perform combat, etc). It's still necessary to go through the Tutorial Level, because it's tightly integrated into your character's initial development. This game is Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines.

Another game which I didn't care for the Tutorial Level required your character, at a young age, to jump through a number of hoops to even get to the point at which he could fast-forward to the main part of the game. There *was* a fast-forward option, but it took some time, effort, and menial tasking to even get to it. This game is Fable: The Lost Chapters.

I personally don't think that game plot should be integrated with the Tutorial Level. Instead, there should be a "Play the Tutorial Level" option in the main menu or whatever, and let the player choose in which part of the tutorial he wishes to engage. This is particular to a sandbox game, where the player may just want to jump right in at the beginning of the game and start, er, sandboxing, but must slay rabbits, collect keys, and basically relearn the controls in order to play.



That sums up what I hate about most tutorials. I already play games and know most of the basics and yet more often than not I have to play stupid tutorials in order to get through to the action. Even games like Halo (original) would be nice if they had a way to skip the tutorial.

Quote:
Original post by jbadams
One thing to note is that a method should be provided for the player to access information again if they missed it accidentally ("wait, how did I just shoot?") or simply wish to see it again.


I was thinking about that and I have to agree. Allowing the player to revisit a tutorial provides a way to relearn forgotten material which enhances value.


So what I'm thinking would make up a good tutorial is the following.

1. Allow the player to reload and redo any tutorial (by section, not the full thing by default).

2. Keep tutorials separate from game plot. This allows the player to skip the tutorial at no consequence.

3. Observant Tutorials. The tutorial will check to see if you have figured out how to move, jump, shoot, etc and skip those relevant sections. One addition to this could be a brief summary of what would have been covered.

4. Advanced tutorials. As new concepts are added to the game unlock new tutorials. These tutorials would not be required to play through but they would be available for some extra bit of practice.

5. Simple in game tutorials. These would be like what you see in an mmo where a simple text box pops up explaining some feature or concept.



Am I missing anything? Any suggestions or tweaks?

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Personally I think both Half-Life and Half-Life 2 have great examples of doing tutorials. In Half-Life, the Training Course was completely optional and it is blatantly telling you how the game operates. In Half-Life 2, the Combine soldiers are ordering you around, telling you to pick stuff and throw it away otherwise they'll hit you with their pain sticks and you can't do anything about it because you're totally defenseless. You're being trained and taking part in the story at the same time because you're learning what the Combine is really like before you face them in combat.

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Heart of Darkness did a pretty amazing job in this area.
For example, in one area, I kept falling and dying and suddenly, a help popped up telling me "press A in order to try to grab the wall and survive". Further into the game, I was stuck, because I did not know how to use a certain ability and after a bit of fooling around, another help popped up showing me how to use this help.

I think if you combine this with the correct thresholds (that is, a low threshold for basic actions, a longer for more complicated things), this is one of the best ways of doing things.

If you do not want to have this extra effort of implementation, I think it is absolutely necessary to be able to skip the tutorial without consequences. For pretty much every game in the last year, I just could look at the control screen and know pretty much whats going on, but after that, I had to spend like 10 minutes in some babystep tutorial, bleh...
Generalizing this a bit, I think a good structure would be some tutorial that consists of a central place from where you can go to small tutorial levels that tell you how something works. That way, you can have a tutorial that tells the player how to walk, one that is a jumping tutorial and so one. That way, everyone can skip as much as he likes.

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