Well, it’s about time I got it out of the way. The hardest, perhaps most important part about making a good game can’t be put off forever. Why don’t we have a chat about tutorials?
…Actually, I don’t want to. Can I not? Please?
The importance of tutorials cannot be understated. Without one, players will have no idea how to play a game. At the same time, you have to be careful to not be too heavy-handed or you’re bound to piss people off. Tutorials are necessary, but nobody likes tutorials. For quite a long time, I’ve been a bit lost on how to make a tutorial for The Turtle Who Had Wings, since I can’t simply lock off mechanics or anything with how synergistic and time-based every mechanic in the game can be. I can’t be as subtle as something like Mario, but I know I don’t want to be as annoying as Nintendo Land.
One has to write a tutorial to trust players who know what they’re doing while guiding players who don’t. Forced, unskippable tutorials are nothing but annoyances. So I tried looking through my game collection for any games that don’t force their tutorials but are also effective at telling the player how to play. There are quite a few. That said, as previously stated, I can’t do something subtle and slowly introduce the mechanics like this:
So, then, I have to look at other games with deep mechanics that the player must know all at once for inspiration. Perhaps a fighting game would work, since they teach you mechanics as if you’re in some manner of classroom.
But I’m not too fond of this, as my experience has taught me that these are too long-winded and, in some cases, may actually be too difficult for players to complete. Getting the player pissed off during the tutorial isn’t exactly what one should seek to do when making a game. Though there are games that make such a style work without pissing the player off or taking a long time, these work due to the simplicity of such games.
As much as I’d like to think so, The Turtle Who Had Wings is not that simple of a game, however. Well, I guess it is at the base, but the added mechanics are such that attempting that would end up as long as what I’m trying to prevent. It’s kinda like how I made the decision to have fairly short story sequences to respect the player’s time – I want things to be effective but not overstay their welcome.
Perhaps, then, I should go for the methods used by most of the more niche JRPGs as of late?
There are actually a few things here that make it appear to be a good idea. They’re very easy to just skip past if you don’t care to read them, allow people to quickly see how things work and allow them to apply the concepts themselves, and just generally feels less like hand-holding and more like “Here’s how things work. Apply the ideas, if you want. Or not. If you want to fail miserably by ignoring us, that’s okay too.” In games that use this sort of system, they’ll usually show this right before having you use the system for the first time, but they won’t hand-hold you through the system after simply showing you that it’s a thing.
Depending on how it’s handled, it can be a quick and effective way to show information the player needs without breaking the flow of the game, but I’m thinking of an implementation more along the lines of simply showing an “instructions” option on the main menu and having players check there to see these little slides showing how the game is played. Seeing as interrupting the player in an action game is a terrible idea, simply implementing it like JRPGs do would be a no-no, especially with how many concepts need to be covered.
But I suppose I’ve rambled enough. It’s time I simply got to writing the tutorial.
Maybe I’ll show the results for feedback some other time.