S02 – Progress Report 6 – Tutorials and Instructions

Research different ways games present tutorials to the player. How do different games teach the player how to play them? How can you ensure the player of the game you are currently making knows how to play it?

In games, introducing the world and its mechanics will always be a challenge. It goes to show that games has many different means of teaching the player the basics, whether it is through text or through direct interaction through the player’s basic controls, or it could be pushed more subtly through the atmosphere, the narrative or how the game introduced its mechanics one point at a time.

Games that requires a lot of text to display what the instructions are are a commodity amongst many games, it shows you what you need to do and follows basic instructions to more complex instructions on how abilities, techniques and interactions alike work in-game. This has its ups and downs, mainly that it can help you learn on how you can control the character, but it doesn’t feel natural and it requires you reading the text/image to understand the mechanics, which in a way, doesn’t really provide the player with greater understanding just by interacting with it directly.

On the other hand, games that subtly point you to direct the basic instructions without text and just through basic visual aid will help the player understand the basics and learn as the levels go through. This feels more natural in term progression, but in some cases it can also be very vague in how it tries its interpretation. The best way you can see this type of tutorial made is through a level-based game. One example would be Where’s My Water or similar iterations there of that type of game. It introduced mechanics at a gradual pace without it being too overwhelming.

Other types of games can also direct you to use a combination of these, using narrative and interaction in order to guide the player with the basics of the game, though this can break the immersion if not implemented properly.

In a way, there are many ways to introduce the player to a variety of ways and creating something like that is a challenge. The best approach into making levels is to basically introduce the world with the basic mechanics and tries to subtly point the player in the right direction without it being confusing or bored, something that’s still a challenge to developers to make something like a first impression boil itself well.

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