Creating a Short yet Effective Tutorial

Ragpuppy87

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The title of this thread says it all.

What do you include in a Tutorial? How do you keep it brief, while making it effective at the same time?
Basic controls are easy enough, but what about the menu screen? There is a lot on a RPG Menu screen. Sub Menus, equipment, how to equip, what all those numbers mean next to your character. etc.

Then there is the battle tutorial. HP MP TP(I don't even know what TP stands for "Technical Points?")
Battle mechanics, move type effectiveness, ATB bar. Status conditions...

There is a lot to cover. How can I explain it all, without bombarding the player with too much?

Currently I plan on dividing them into different topics... But where do I go from there? And is that even the best way?
 

Milennin

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I always assume people who play my game are familiar with the basics. I can't imagine a complete noob to old school RPG's would choose a random RPG Maker game as like their first game to play in the genre. I do have a small "tutorial" where an event forces you to equip your starter weapon before proceeding, and an optional combat tutorial that goes over some basics.
 

Kes

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Break the info down into manageable sections. The player does not need to know everything at once.

Make as much of it as possible optional. I use scrolls (animated so the player notices them) for a lot of basic stuff, like controls, stat explanations, what states do to you, things like that. When the player interacts with them they are asked if they want to read them now. They don't have to. They are put in the Key items of the inventory so that the player can refer to them whenever they want, or totally ignore them if they prefer.
 

ScorchedGround

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I don't do any tutorials on "basic" stuff for similar reasons as @Milennin described.

I focus only on mechanics that are unique to my game (compared to the "vanilla" rtp).
And these mechanics are explained when they are first encountered.

There is also an option to opt in and out of tutorials.
So if you're feeling spicy you can just go through the game without reading a single pesky tutorial message.
 

Redeye

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I always recommend to use Images for tutorials instead of generic text boxes. One reason being that Pictures are faster to skip. They're also nicer to look at and convey information better. You can also design them however you want without many limitations, even adding in reference pictures if something requires a visual explanation.

You can also maybe create an Instruction Manual item/menu command that allows you to view the image tutorials again. That, or download that one Game Manual plugin.
 

Ragpuppy87

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You can also maybe create an Instruction Manual item
I had just thought of this myself 2 minutes before you posted this.
I think it would work well within my game as the player is already forced to interact with a book at the very beginning. "Why not make the book a key item?"
 

ave36

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I have two tutorials. One is short, fun and interactive, and consists of the first three heroes going through a couple of easy battles and exchange banter that hints you how to do things. As in "Ouch, Mira, this Blobra just hurt me!" - "Don't worry Oscar, I'll cast Elixi on you right now!" - "Mira knows Elixi, a healing spell. Find it under White Magic and cast it on Oscar to heal him".

The other tutorial is very comprehensive but optional. It's a "Newcomers' Room" with two Mogways explaining stuff in detail. If you absolutely want to know what a Herbal Decoct does or what's the difference between Reglaci and Mortglaci, you come in and ask the Mogways. If you don't, you just ignore them.
 

Cythera

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I personally use a variety of 'tutorials' to explain things.
  1. Right at the start of the game, I briefly state the controls because...controls. The first thing I do at the start of any game is press alllll the buttons to find the controls.
  2. Interactive tutorial battles. Whenever I add a party member, I add an unescapable tutorial battle shortly after that highlights some of that character's combat uses.
  3. I use Yanfly's Quest Journal to make an 'Archives' system. It's 100% optional; you can get through just fine without reading the Archives. If you want to optimize your team build, or learn about the world (cough, trivia mini-game, cough) then you can gather books to expand your Archives, and read through them at any point from the menu.
  4. Add things in gradually. I made a couple systems used to customize characters that I'm really excited about. However, I introduce them one at a time, and when I imagine players will need them. A short remark from a character, maybe a free item or two, then an expansion in the Archives regarding that system. Throwing ten different systems at a player at once, with half of them not even being usable yet, confuses people. It's a big turn-off, and I know I've dropped a few games that have done this. You can easily make your players feel overwhelmed, or make them feel stupid for not understanding. Not a great start! So, introduce new systems one at a time and allow time between them for players to get the hang of one system.
I don't believe there is a 'best' way to do a tutorial, really. Everyone is different. Some players will skip through interactive stuff, thinking they can come back. Some players will skip through text tutorials, because they hate reading tutorials. You cannot predict what players will do.
Keep tutorials brief, to the point, and prevent throwing several things at the player at once.
 

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