So I’m back from attempting to write the tutorial, and I ended up hitting a snag. Which I’d rather not discuss. Ragequit! Ragequit!
Ugh. In any case, I attempted to write the tutorial out in text form and it came out to about seven pages. Here’s a snippet of it to help you understand how it ended up so long:
The dashing mechanic is vitally important for survival. By pressing [dash button], in exchange for a little stamina, your character will barrel forward at a high speed. However, if there are enemies in the direction you’re dashing, your dash will extend past them.
When dashing, characters take 90% less damage and knockback from attacks is ignored. In fact, dashing will cancel you out of any knockback you’re currently experiencing, and will also get you out of Wernom’s capture, damaging it by half its current health, see Rotolatep and Wernom for more information.
You can dash in mid-air or on the ground. Dashing in mid-air resets your downward momentum and changes your movement direction.
Dashing also allows you to go through solid objects that are not walls or other large obstacles, such as your partner character or enemies that have surrounded you.
Note that Shi cannot dash in her heavy armor, but instead summons shields to protect herself. This will still allow her to escape from Wernom. See Character-Specific: Shi for further information.
Yeah, and there are 20 total sub-sections – that’s just one of them. I promptly got some help writing a tl;dr for the entire tutorial, which ended up like this:
- Kill things. Get to the end. That’s all you need to do.
- Try to jump in mid-air to fly. Ruyo summons a platform instead.
- Press [drop button] to go straight to the ground when in the air.
- Dashing protects you from stuff. Try it even when you think you can’t! Shi summons shields instead.
- How you aim depends on the control scheme, but many attacks need you to aim before using them!
- Use skills to bash your enemies’ faces in. Unlock more by upgrading your characters.
- Switch characters when the interface tells you it’s safe to, or when there are no enemies nearby. Doing this will keep your Sync high.
- Keep your health, stamina and Sync high or you’ll pay for it at higher difficulties!
- Power-ups give you temporary buffs, so they’re good to pick up.
- Your characters don’t die when they are killed – they respawn instead. But medical bills are expensive, and you don’t have insurance!
- You can make the game harder for yourself, if you want, I guess. (You masochist.)
- Get a high score by being speedy about your destruction. Just get it over with, no need to drag it out.
- Unlike everyone else, Ruyo can move in mid-air without flying or dashing.
- Shi can capture some enemies and shoot them at other enemies. [alternate button] changes which of her two capture slots are in use.
You see, the issue here is that the lengthy version just about matches the amount shown in an entire JRPG, but those games space it out, which I can’t do for an action game without annoying the players. They have to read it ahead of time, like an instruction manual.
So I have to find a way to introduce things to the players without boring them too much. Following JRPG style in this particular case is effective, but boring. I have to find a way to explain it in less boring fashion. Based on ideas from people, I have two ideas I could use in conjunction with the tl;dr.
I could nick yet another idea from Kid Icarus: Uprising. They had a 13-minute comedic tutorial video to watch that explains the rules of the game.
Some of my mechanics actually lend themselves well to this:
[5/21/2014 12:24:02 AM] No Limit: I find it amusing melee attacks can stop enemy projectile attacks. XD
[5/21/2014 12:24:08 AM] No Limit: “I JUST PUNCHED A FIREBALL.”
[5/21/2014 12:24:16 AM] Burnpsy: 😛
That said doing this has a few major problems. Syncing the voice track to a video is a tedious process (most casting agencies will do that for you, but there’s an additional cost), not to mention the increased amount of voicing needed here raising the cost of that part of the game’s development. Additionally, it would be difficult to write the part about the controls given that they will be configurable.
Another concern is that people may not like sitting through the length of a TV show’s episode to get a full explanation on how to play the game they just got, while having no input the entire time.
I could make a tutorial level. But not a normal tutorial level.
I’ll explain myself: The reason why I can’t ease the player into the mechanics was, as I said before, that many of the mechanics are very synergistic. But team musician Atman Seijo pointed out the obvious:
[5/24/2014 7:19:51 PM] Burnpsy: Honestly, I said only necessary information in the shortest form possible while still making threm sentences. Still ended up ~6 pages. >___>;
[5/24/2014 7:20:19 PM] Atman Seijo: ouch
[5/24/2014 7:20:23 PM] Atman Seijo: well uh
[5/24/2014 7:20:32 PM] Atman Seijo: maybe split up the tutorial a bit u kno
[5/24/2014 7:20:38 PM] Atman Seijo: like
[5/24/2014 7:21:32 PM] Atman Seijo: a lot of the game mechanics dont becomes pertinent until you meet spark right?
[5/24/2014 7:21:42 PM] Burnpsy: But you meet Spark before level 1.
[5/24/2014 7:21:44 PM] Atman Seijo: oh
[5/24/2014 7:21:47 PM] Atman Seijo: welp nevermind
While I dismissed it at the time, part of this stuck with me. A notable chunk of the mechanics of the game – the more time-based ones – all rely on the existence of the AI partner character. If I did some manner of introduction with the characters separated, and had them meet each other in between, I would be able to introduce everything except the Sync mechanics.
Additionally, it could be nice for the narrative, with more focus being placed on these characters’ lives before the story, more than a brief side mention of how the characters met, etc. But, that said, writing it would be difficult due to the potential spoiler bomb if I spend too long on certain characters, who would spoil the endgame plot twist. Shi and Paisonya, in particular, are in a very precarious position story-wise and have several important mechanics specific to them.
That isn’t the only issue, either. Much like with the idea of comedic tutorial videos, I would need to write and add more voiceovers, costing me more money (albeit less so). There’s also the matter of the game running with just one player character. Right now, the code has been explicitly designed to only work with two characters since, of course, you always have access to two so there was no point in having that ability.
Then there’s the potential slippery slope of the design there. Only the tutorial would allow the player to control just one character, which could annoy people somewhat unless I then allow people to control just one character in the actual levels. Which would be very difficult due to enemy density, so people would rage unless I write the tutorial to acknowledge how hard things are without a partner.
Not to mention that, given how far back the characters meet, I’d have to have extra character models for all 6 playable characters as kids that wouldn’t be used elsewhere, which costs quite a bit of money.
And yet this would probably make the most logical sense.
Quite the predicament, in any event.
Those are my current thoughts and concerns regarding the tutorial for The Turtle Who Had Wings after attempting to write it. I’d appreciate feedback this time as to which idea to go with. I’ll continue working on the game while thinking it over.