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  • Ingredients For The Perfect Video Game Tutorial

    - Carlos Valenzuela
  • Let me ask you a question: At which point in the design did you think about the tutorial?

    Almost all of my past tutorials are failures. Often lefted for the end of the development, with very few days until launch there was always one person in the team who suddenly said 'Wouldn't we have to do a tutorial?' We were too busy with the real development to think about that stuff. I know my game like the palm of my hand. It isn't that hard to learn, we don't need a tutorial that much! I ofthen said to myself. So yeah, lots of crappy tutorials were made.

    We once made a sliding game where the player had to go through doors. These doors blocked the avatar's vision as you passed through them and the real challenges and prizes were behind. We let the player advance freely through a desert but literally, the entire game was behind those doors. We made a tutorial restricting the players movement (mistake #1) with good few of pauses and text (mistakes #2 and #3). Can you imagine how many people tried to slide through the doors later on?

    The Tutorial is the Most Important part of your Game

    Picture the first experience of a player with your game like a hungry customer who wants to eat in a great restaurant he has heard of:

    'Hi, I would want to try the menu, please'

    'Great, here is the first course'

    'But, this is a plate full of dirt and pebbles!'

    'Yeah we know, but trust me, the rest of it is delicious'

    'I don't care, I don't want it!'

    'But sir, I'm afraid this is unskippable'

    Think of the tutorials as this, the introduction of your beloved game, the great entrance and first contact of your amazing interactive experience. You have made lots of efforts tweaking that huge final boss but lots of efforts have to be made to reach it through the game. On average, 75% of mobile users who download a game once never open it again. Have they seen that final boss? No. They have seen the tutorial, and nothing else.

    Six Flavours to make your Tutorial Amazing.

    Flavour #1: People don't like to be teached.

    People want to play! They come from work, college or school after a long day of working and paying attention to a blackboard, they don't want to keep paying attention to anything else! Don't teach, but let them learn. People know the Azeroth's map better than their own town. They can sing you the entire Baratheon house with all their bastards, every Leage of Legends champion with all their lore, skill names, damage rates and even the particle colour. Make use of things like the Tangencial Learningmake them enjoy what they are submerged to.

    Flavour #2: Keep the Flow going.

    Mihály Csíkszentmihályi is a very smart person with a very smart theory. He describes the 'flow' as a mental state where a person is absolutely concentrated, unaware of the surroundings and using every mental process on what they are doing. Like watching a movie we really like, we can spend two hours and don't even notice it. And yeah, reaching a flowing tutorial is what we aim for. Basically, we have to increase the challenge as the player gets skilled.

    Put across a challenge. Let the player deal with it. Put another once he has reached the ability to overcome it. Flow between the overwhelm of a new challenge, the light struggle to complete it and the excitement of overcome.

    The flow theory comes with some intrinsic and useful elements. The components of a 'flowing experience' are: Clear objectives, limited attention field, instant feedback and gratification. We can learn a lot from this ones.


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