Halcyon Dev Blog #9

Original Post: My Old Blog

Should your game have a tutorial or not?

Even if you only play video games, you’ve been exposed to a large data set of games that either do or do not have a form of a tutorial. A question you have to ask yourself is whether or not that tutorial is even necessary for the player base for that game, as well as if the execution of the tutorial was informative enough to get across all main mechanics and methods of the game.

In my opinion, a game only needs to have a tutorial if the mechanics are:

-Not conveyed through gameplay properly. In this case, the game is failing to be intuitive enough as it is. It should bring up to the developers whether or not they should iterate on the systems themselves rather than trying to hold the player’s hand through the gameplay.

-Not simple enough for a player to pick up and play without any prior knowledge of the game. This is trivial to whether or not this is a necessary component to have of your game. For games that are literally jumping and shooting, maybe this isn’t a necessary thing to have in your game. However, for games like RISK, you might have to consider running the player through some scenarios, because we all know that no one can just pick up RISK and play it without being told how to.

-Are, to the developer, supposed to be played a specific way and style. This case is very absurd. A player will decide to play the game however they want to within the restrictions of the mechanics themselves. This is unavoidable.

A tutorial should be simple and clear enough for the player to pick up everything they need to play the game in its simplest form. Through playing the game itself, the player will evolve and adapt their play style to overcome the challenges presented to them. A tutorial shouldn’t be an option for the player to access on their downtime, like a separate menu icon from playing the game. The tutorial should be melted into the game itself, like how Super Meat Boy has signs placed into the environment with button icons and subtle pictures indicating what a player will be doing upon button presses.

A tutorial that is text heavy will wear the player down with words. No one likes reading paragraphs, unless you like DnD campaigns, but not every game is DnD, and not every gamer likes DnD. How you teach the player your gameplay is determined by how your game flows and your target market. A game marketed towards kids will need to have a smaller learning curve than a game marketed towards an adult audience, as well as playing around with the idea of content.

In the end, there is no true right way of creating a tutorial, there is only the best way you seem fit, and if it conveys your game to the player well through testing, then you are doing it right.

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