The Tutorials That Were Needed

The Turtle Who Had Wings Logo (Placeholder 4)

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?

Conception 2 Can't Run

…Dammit. Fine.

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.

Monita Comic

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:

Runner 2 Tutorial
Pictured: BIT.TRIP Presents… Runner2: Future Legend of Rhythm Alien

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.

BBCSEX Tutorial
Pictured: BlazBlue Continuum Shift EXTEND

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.

Deception 4 Tutorial
Pictured: Deception IV: Blood Ties

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?

Atelier Meruru Plus Tutorial
Pictured: Atelier Meruru Plus: The Apprentice of Arland

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.

Conception 2 Tutorial
Pictured: Conception II: Children of the Seven Stars

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.

Deception 4 Ruin Awaits (1)Deception 4 Ruin Awaits (2)

Maybe I’ll show the results for feedback some other time.



One thought on “The Tutorials That Were Needed

  1. Well, given how this post started, I’d like to think that this video is eerily appropriate.

    I can see why you’re having trouble coming up with a solid tutorial. I’m trying to think of some good ones, but I’ve come up short. Granted that’s just because I’ve never put much thought into tutorials (I’m one of those strange and horrible people who actually reads game manuals, after all), but in terms of creating something that’d be worthwhile? That’s a tough question to answer.

    I guess there are two additional ways to go about it. I can’t help but think of Viewtiful Joe’s tutorials, where you get pulled into what’s effectively an alternate dimension to test out some of your moves. It’s out of the way almost as soon as you’re in there, but it’s still an effective teaching tool by way of the demonstrations offered up. But what sticks out to me is that it’s still pretty stylish; it’s a way to teach, but it’s masking the tutorial elements by having the player go WHOA HOLY COW THAT WAS AMAZING WAIT I GET TO DO THAT WHENEVER I WANT THAT’S AWESOME AND OH JEEZ I’M DOING IT RIGHT NOW!

    The alternate way that I thought of would be to do what games like Sonic Heroes do — let the player just run around and get a feel for the controls at first, then leave hint bubbles along the way so they can learn what moves they can do (and how) as they need them…buuuuuuuuuuuuut that strikes me as something like your Bit Trip Runner example, AKA the one thing you CAN’T do…so yeah, that one’s out. Unless you can find a workaround.

    Well, I’m sure you can come up with something eventually. Just keep at it.

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