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Shade.

Tutorial Level Do's and Don'ts

8 posts in this topic

Hello, my question is how to teach the player how to understand and navigate through the controls of the game in the guise of a normal level. What would be an ideal set of rooms, and what would be in those rooms to get the player comfortable with the later more advanced stages? 

 

My reason for asking this, is my brothers and I recently released a game (can be found in the indie-game forum section: http://www.gamedev.net/topic/649361-spheroid/#entry5104428), and was met with a lot of players saying that the game was too hard, or too confusing, or was not very well explained. So, I'd really like to change that, and we have decided that before any missions, the first "mission" should be specifically designed to get the player familiar with the game. 

 

Things I want the player to be familiar with:

-Controls for character-

-Reading Radar-

-identifying-

-unlocking doors-

-collecting all items in the area-

 

This might make a lot more sense if you try the game. But even just in theory, the main thing is getting the player accustomed to the controls. I got the basic idea of having a single simple enemy in the room. But should I just have a text message (from a character) tell you "fire with left click"? Or should I just let them figure it out?

 

Thank you for your time, 

 

-Shade-

 

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1. Just make sure the tutorial is skippable :)

 

2. The tutorial isnt really a tutorial if you dont give the player the information, so you should just give them a hint in some corner of the screen for what to do and how to do it. Unless you were intending it to simply be a peaceful level so you dont get thrown into the action and have to figure out how everything works while all the moving objects are trying to kill you.

If its more of like a beginning level, you could make the hint appear if the player doesnt seem to be able to figure it out on their own. This could be active for the whole game (with the time until hint increased as the player starts to seem to know how to play)

Trivial controls might be excluded from the tutorial depending on target audience, although you should still include them somewhere (in the control mapping if you have one or a help page)

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Don't think of it as a "tutorial level".
Rather, you should review your learning curve.
Early levels should introduce few concepts and let you master them, and the game should evolve from there.


I agree with that. The player should learn how to play, by playing. I would recommend watching this video from Sequelitis, he explain how the first level of megaman X teach the player all he have to know about how to play. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8FpigqfcvlM

A
nd, as Orymus said, try to have a good learning curve.

For exemple : 

Level 1 : A simple room with a door and an arrow pointing at the door. The player will learn how to control the character.
Level 2 : Same as earlier, but the door is locked, and there is a key in the room. The player will learn that some keys unlock the door. Don't forget to match the door with the key to make it easier for the player to associate the two.
Level 3 : Same as earlier, but the player can;t directly see the key, but he has a radar. The player learn that the radar can help find key,
Etc...

The goal is to introduce new simple mechanics, then add some variation to these same mechanics and finally arrive to the final form of your mechanics.

Don't take the player for a fool, but don't take the player as a genius gamer, either. :)
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I too find tutorials annoying to deal with. I find that I continually ask myself if the real game is going to start soon. And I can't quite bring myself to skip them because I wonder if I'm going to miss something important whether it's info about the game or an item or something that I could use later on.

 

I think it's important to provide the player with a fairly safe area right off the bat where he can experiment with the all the controls, weapons, and options that are available. The things that you do there are pretty much consequence free (you're not likely to die, you're not likely to kill someone that you shouldn't, or loose an important item that you'll regret later on).

 

If doors or key aren't obvious in their appearance or function, then you probably need a tutorial or a message of some kind. But needing a key for a door that is locked (you do actually tell the player the door is locked, right?) is pretty obvious (in my opinion) and the idea of needing a red key for the red door is also pretty standard. A tutorial for that seems like overkill to me. However, if the act of unlocking a door were to involve some sort of additional mini-game then a tutorial would make sense.

 

But taking a wild guess, it might be the "collecting all the items" part of your game that might be the least intuitive. Without playing your game (I can only look at screenshots just now), it sounds like a sort of mission to me and it could be as simple as the player isn't aware of what the mission parameters are.

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Another "must absolutely do" in order to test that your game is teaching correctly the player : make a non-gamer test your game.

I made my father test a Fps I made.I put him in front of the game, and watch him play without saying anything. Apart from being funny watching him struggling with the most basic concept of an Fps it shown me a lot of details that I didn't see because I already know some basics about games. But, if even a person who never play manage to play your game, then your game is teaching correctly :)

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Id also pay attention to pacing.Specifically how you distribute your safe zones.
I remember a thread about this here. Feel free to link to it anyone.
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That was all very useful advice from all of you. I'll definitely keep it in mind.

 

Thank you so much everyone for the insight!

 

-Shade-

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Another "must absolutely do" in order to test that your game is teaching correctly the player : make a non-gamer test your game.

 

Note that this is only true for casual games.

More often than not, your results will be compromised if the target audience is largely different from your test users...

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