How should you program the "beginning/intro" and the tutorial of RPG Maker games?

A_Higher_Plane

Veteran
Veteran
Joined
Oct 3, 2015
Messages
317
Reaction score
44
First Language
Russian
Primarily Uses
RMMV
So here are some things for it:

  • You need to explain the basic controls like movement and how to open a treasure chest
  • You need to explain the basic battle controls
  • Your first level should be simple and where you practically cannot lose.
  • Your "battle mechanics" should be explained.
What are the best ways to do these? I thought that have somewhere on a stone slab explain these things, have a battle tutorial, have something else or some combination of these things.
 

Trihan

Speedy Scripter
Veteran
Joined
Apr 12, 2012
Messages
3,713
Reaction score
2,830
First Language
English
Primarily Uses
RMMZ
The most important thing for me: make the tutorials *optional*. Sure, there are people who have never touched an RPG in their lives and will appreciate having their hand held through every control and the explanation thereof, but at the same time you're going to have players who are die-hard RPG veterans who will likely be a bit insulted if you force them to sit through a screen about how they can move using the arrow keys. :p
 

ScorchedGround

Blizzards most disappointed fan (More than ever)
Veteran
Joined
Apr 12, 2020
Messages
576
Reaction score
793
First Language
German
Primarily Uses
RMMV
This is slightly off topic, but I have to adress something beforehand:
I personally dislike all tutorials that explain the most basic of mechanics.

These include, but are not limited to:
- Explaining how to move
- Explaining how to interact with objects
- Basic battle mechanics like "When your HP drops to 0, you die" or "you can defend to receive less damage"
- How the menu works (only applies to basic sub-menus like items, saving, exiting etc.)

If you are going to do tutorials, do them only on topics that are unique to your game:
Example: If your battles deviates from your classic RPG battle-flow, then you can adress these differences in your tutorial.

Now, as to how to execute these tutorials, here are some of my thoughts:
- Make them optional, some people may play your game multiple times and don't want to waste their time with an tutorial
- Some people want to explore things by themselves and figure things out on their own
- Give players the option to toggle tutorials on and off mid-game
- I personally am fine with doing it mostly by text only, but keep it brief and only put out the most important things
-> Pictures can also be a huge help to visualize things
-> Don't dump a lot of tutorials onto the player at once, instead do them only when the mechanic in question becomes relevant
 
Last edited:

ATT_Turan

Forewarner of the Black Wind
Veteran
Joined
Jul 2, 2014
Messages
1,307
Reaction score
703
First Language
English
Primarily Uses
RMMV
I personally dislike all tutorials that explain the most basic of mechanics.
This seems to be a poor viewpoint to me. If you're an experienced gamer of, say, the FPS genre, and you pick up your first RPG Maker game, it would not necessarily be an intuitive thing to try to move with the arrow keys.

If you are a person trying your first video game ever (and everyone in the world who plays any video games had to have a first game), the same applies. And it might not occur to you that there's a menu. Nor that you'd press Escape for it, as that's no longer a standard escape key for general computer usage.

Now, you don't need to do a full-fledged tutorial lesson on these things (like take a minute of someone's life to say "Practice moving with the arrow keys!"), and maybe that's all you meant. But I think it's important to distinguish, regardless of terminology, it is important these things be stated in a clear fashion. In my game, I have a single screen at the very beginning saying you can use arrow keys and Enter, or click with the mouse.

P.S. It is very difficult to read your headings in random light font colors :stickytongue: You could use bold or italic, or choose colors that would display on both light and dark backgrounds.
 

ScorchedGround

Blizzards most disappointed fan (More than ever)
Veteran
Joined
Apr 12, 2020
Messages
576
Reaction score
793
First Language
German
Primarily Uses
RMMV
@ATT_Turan

Well when I made that statement, I did not mean RPG games in general.
I was aiming more at RPG Maker games specifically.

Since all RPG Maker games run on the same engine, often times their mechanics, controls and menu schemes are similar.
So if you have played one RPG Maker games, you have practically played them all, atleast to a degree.
(Obviously there are many exceptions that moved quite far away from the base engine, in which case there should be a tutorial explaining the more intricate stuff)

The main point I want to make is that very rarely will a RPG maker game of all things be the first RPG experience for a person.

So with that said, I feel like you don't need to explain rudimentary controls and mechanics. Even if you never played an RPG before, I think you can figure out that you move with the arrow keys or the gamepad and that characters faint if their Health Points drop to 0.

Edit: I edited my previous post to make it more readable.
 

ATT_Turan

Forewarner of the Black Wind
Veteran
Joined
Jul 2, 2014
Messages
1,307
Reaction score
703
First Language
English
Primarily Uses
RMMV
The main point I want to make is that very rarely will a RPG maker game of all things be the first RPG experience for a person.
I understand what you're saying, but it is considered a bad idea in game design (and program design generally) to make presumptions about your users. As I said before, everyone who has played an RPG Maker game must have played one first.

If that's yours, and you don't bother giving them a simple introductory screen with the controls, what may happen? They want a refund, so you don't get any money from them...perhaps they leave you a bad review, affecting other sales or increasing the odds that others will slam you. Worst case, it inspires them to eschew all RPG Maker games or all retro graphics games or all indie graphics games or...whatever ridiculous scenario.

Is all of that really worth you not having to type out one or two extra message boxes?

That's why every professionally-published game you play does have those same tutorial bits for the same controls that are used across every game in the genre - because this might be a person's first experience, and they want the experience to be good and to keep the customer.
 

Solovei

Has approximate knowledge of many things
Veteran
Joined
Apr 28, 2021
Messages
37
Reaction score
47
First Language
English
Primarily Uses
RMMV
There was actually a GMTK video on this very topic posted yesterday!
It mostly focuses on games that have a lot of interconnected mechanics like 4x or turn-based strategy, but a lot of the advice can be applicable to any game, especially the idea of staging tutorials when they're relevant and letting the player actually do things rather than simply showing them what to do.

Personally, I kind of enjoy clever ways to disguise tutorials as not-a-tutorial. Maybe your character passed out/was injured and someone is asking them if they can stand and walk on their own. Maybe the tutorial is a flashback to when they were learning how to use a sword as a kid, and the character's father/mentor gets some backstory. Obviously, if there is story wrapped up in the tutorial it might be more difficult to make it skippable, but that'll depend on your game.

I do want to add onto what @ATT_Turan said above, and this is mentioned in the video also:

DO NOT ASSUME THE USER HAS PLAYED ANY OTHER GAMES, EVER.

I have an online friend who has just recently started playing video games. It's been very interesting watching her progress and explaining things like, "moving and looking are two different joysticks" or "you can come back to areas to pick things up if you miss them the first time". Those might seem like basic assumptions to people who know the language of games, but if you've primarily stuck to things like movies and books for entertainment, you won't know that.

At the bare minimum, explain which buttons are Yes/No and directional arrows (especially if you change them from the default)
 

Milennin

"With a bang and a boom!"
Veteran
Joined
Feb 7, 2013
Messages
2,884
Reaction score
2,052
First Language
English
Primarily Uses
RMMV
DO NOT ASSUME THE USER HAS PLAYED ANY OTHER GAMES, EVER.
When it comes to RPG Maker games, I feel it's highly unlikely anybody with literally zero experience in gaming (or even playing RPG's) would play one as their first game, or first in the genre. It's pretty safe to assume people completely new to games will get into them through the most mainstream methods, such as consoles or mobile. Not by going on some small internet forum that they'd have to specifically search for to get to and then digging through threads to find something that looks like something they'd want to play as their first ever game.

I do assume everyone playing my game is familiar with 2D RPG's and/or RPG Maker games. I'll include a .txt in my download with controls, but I'm not explaining them ingame. If there's a special key that isn't part of the default controls, I will point that out in a text box when it becomes available for use ingame.

From all the feedback I've gotten and playthroughs I've watched of the few different games I've made, I've never had anybody get stuck on the controls. Now, for battle mechanics, that's another story. I always liked the idea of letting players figure things out for themselves (such as in the case in RTP), or be fairly subtle with telling them how stuff works, but I found out that neither of those work out very well.
I'm definitely going to be creating a much more in-your-face tutorial for my next project, where I'm going to be handholding the player through every basic step, because I'm done believing in that they'll figure things out on their own (and inb4 all the people who claim tutorials should be optional; yes, it is going to be made optional if you choose the setting to skip them at the start of the game, but you'll regret checking that setting on your first playthrough because I have lost all faith in players managing to get stuff done without handholding, and I don't believe you're enough of a snowflake to trust you can get away with skipping it. And also, I don't assume anybody will replay my game to ever make use of that "skip tutorial" setting anyway, so it'll be solely for myself to use, which is fine).

Actually, one of the funniest things I remember from a recorded playthrough was a player asking themselves what the status icon above the enemy sprite meant. All the while, they had the "Manual" command literally in front of them in the combat menu, and yet they never even bothered to open it. Or when players just completely skim skill descriptions, not bothering to read what stuff does whatsoever. It's things like these that convince me that players do need handholding in a game that doesn't function exactly like the default RPG Maker systems.
And while I'm blaming the players for doing dumb things in my own games, I too made plenty of derps while playing other RPG Maker games that don't explain everything either. It's just easy to miss stuff that isn't pointed out by bright, flashing arrows when you're new and there's some custom systems. As annoying as a tutorial that holds your hand is, it's the safest way to get all players on board and to help them understand how to play the game.

And I'm still not convinced skippable tutorials are nearly as important for RPG Maker games as people like to claim they are. First of all, your tutorial shouldn't take so long that they're a chore to sit through in the first place. And secondly, you're not convincing me you're downloading random RPG Maker games and actually replaying them after your first playthrough.
 

Solovei

Has approximate knowledge of many things
Veteran
Joined
Apr 28, 2021
Messages
37
Reaction score
47
First Language
English
Primarily Uses
RMMV
When it comes to RPG Maker games, I feel it's highly unlikely anybody with literally zero experience in gaming (or even playing RPG's) would play one as their first game, or first in the genre. It's pretty safe to assume people completely new to games will get into them through the most mainstream methods, such as consoles or mobile. Not by going on some small internet forum that they'd have to specifically search for to get to and then digging through threads to find something that looks like something they'd want to play as their first ever game.
I'm admittedly pretty new to this community so it's possibly I'm totally off-base here, but from my experience with the friend that's getting into games for the first time, a regular person would not be able to point out an RPG Maker game vs a non-RPG maker game? Like... Maybe people who are really into gamedev and are familiar with the engine can spot the quirks of the engine sometimes, but I don't think the average consumer knows or cares what engine or program a game was made in?

For instance, To The Moon is a very popular (and I would argue fairly well-known) game -- but most people who I've heard talk about it only mention the story and how it impacted them emotionally, not that it was made in RMXP. If you know a friend of yours who doesn't normally play games would like it, you might share it with them, and explain that you use the arrows to move around etc.
 

Milennin

"With a bang and a boom!"
Veteran
Joined
Feb 7, 2013
Messages
2,884
Reaction score
2,052
First Language
English
Primarily Uses
RMMV
I'm admittedly pretty new to this community so it's possibly I'm totally off-base here, but from my experience with the friend that's getting into games for the first time, a regular person would not be able to point out an RPG Maker game vs a non-RPG maker game? Like... Maybe people who are really into gamedev and are familiar with the engine can spot the quirks of the engine sometimes, but I don't think the average consumer knows or cares what engine or program a game was made in?

For instance, To The Moon is a very popular (and I would argue fairly well-known) game -- but most people who I've heard talk about it only mention the story and how it impacted them emotionally, not that it was made in RMXP. If you know a friend of yours who doesn't normally play games would like it, you might share it with them, and explain that you use the arrows to move around etc.
No, but I mean that finding an RPG Maker game to play as your very first videogame experience is unlikely because it requires more searching around. There are very few RPG Maker games that are easily accessible to people not into the RPG Maker community and that aren't complete shovelware either. And well, the other reason I'm not talking about popular commercial RPG Maker games is because those are way beyond your average RPG Maker game found on this forum (which are the games I'm talking about, since we're on this forum after all).

Somebody who hasn't played games before and is looking to get into videogames would most likely be getting a console + some mainstream title or some cheap mobile game because they're easy to find and very accessible. The only completely inexperienced people playing an RPG Maker game might be the developer's parents/friends or something, in which case they'd just get the controls explained to them in person, lol.
 

Restart

Veteran
Veteran
Joined
Mar 15, 2019
Messages
832
Reaction score
671
First Language
English
Primarily Uses
RMMV
The important thing is not to tutorialize things the player already knows.

So make sure your tutorial can detect (for instance) if the player has already pressed keyboard buttons to move, and doesn't tell them about that if they already know that.

If you want the player to know how to open treasure chests, don't tell them how to open chests unless they try to leave a room without grabbing the prominently-placed treasure first.

Stuff like that.
 

auradev

Veteran
Veteran
Joined
Feb 11, 2021
Messages
35
Reaction score
14
First Language
German
Primarily Uses
RMMZ
There really isn't a universal should as it strongly depends on your game and your target audience.
A parody game dealing with RPGM game cliches targeted for long-term RPGMaker players probably doesn't need a movement tutorial.
Some games don't even need any tutorials because they introduce mechanics incrementally one by one and the player can just learn them by doing.
 

Seacliff

RPG Maker Mastermind
Veteran
Joined
Nov 8, 2012
Messages
3,009
Reaction score
1,164
First Language
Yes
Primarily Uses
RM2k
Having a pop-up for the basic controls is harmless, but I don't recall ever reading anything longer than a few sentences in a video game tutorial unless it was broken up and fed to me like an infant. I admit it.

I think it's absolutely possible to have even a decently complicated game not overbear a player with text tutorials through a smart introductory phase of a game. Not necessary a tutorial level, but at the same phase of the game where the story is focusing on introducing it's world and characters.

I was recently started Dragon Quest 8 and really like how it handled introducing it's mechanics, even if it's pretty simple it's a good framework other games could take. You reach level 3, you get your first spell. You reached level 4, you get your first skill points for the skill tree. Died? Small image pop-up telling you to buy herbs at a shop before going into dungeons. I find it pretty intuitive and more effective than the dozens of paragraphs in the dozens of text pop-ups in Xenoblade 2, which I found could still be beaten by cycling through the same 12 skills anyways.
 

Latest Threads

Latest Posts

Latest Profile Posts

how does everybody even finish anything

i have like 5 projects in the backburner and it's just so sad that i probably won't get to finish all or maybe even any of them
Did you know that 90% of people in the world use the number in their sentence as they see fit?
It's been a long time since I was here but I have a lot of updates... btw I am teaching again about game programming and game design in some schools here in Brazil hahahaha It's good to see kids and teens learning this kind of thing!
welp, I literally can't continue working on ALEX now that my MZ trial is up (unless I somehow place in the jam which I don't remotely deserve to for my unfinished crap) so I am back on my bullshit

Forum statistics

Threads
113,891
Messages
1,078,233
Members
147,982
Latest member
GoyaGames
Top