Eschaton

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I've been playing Mass Effect 2 a few times (because it's just so damn fun).  When playing through the tutorial level, I got a little impatient with the hand-holding.  Particularly at the point in which Miranda and Jacob force you to put them into cover while "you take point" (when in fact, they're all bad positions that are ignored in the subsequent boss fight) just to trigger an event flag and move forward.  It was blatant tutorial hand-holding by the first level.  Granted, their telling you what to do does serve a purpose in the story, but I'm ranting about the gameplay.  Gameplay is just as important to the narrative as the dialogue...

I am aware that a tutorial level is very important for new players to learn the ropes, what about veterans who are replaying?  

I'm Commander freakin' Shepard!  I've saved the galaxy twice (after beating ME2).  Sure, it's not from the perspective of the narrative, but... I don't need to be micromanaged by the narrative on the first level simply because it's the first level.  Especially on a game that wants players to do a NG+.

I had a thought:  We could learn from this.  We should design our tutorial segments such that on subsequent playthroughs, the hand-holding ceases.  Any events that tell the player how to play the game, or only let the player forward if you perform certain actions meant to teach teach the player how to play simply do not trigger anymore.  On a subsequent playthrough, the level plays like any other level.

The game gives the player the respect due to competence and achievement of having beaten it already.

This was less of a discussion, and more of a rant, but...

Thoughts?
 

whitesphere

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I think you're right.  If someone is continuing from a New Game Plus, it is reasonable to skip all tutorials and tutorial requirements.  

I especially like games where New Game Plus grants you access to areas or plot twists which weren't in the original run.

But I don't think you mean New Game Plus like Chrono Trigger --- multiple playthroughs of the same game.  I think you mean "What if I am importing character data from a savefile from a previous version of the game?"

In that case, I think it is crucial to keep tutorials if they are tutorials for brand-new skills, or anything which has changed since the previous game.  But I agree, if a game mechanic hasn't changed between game iterations, there's no need to have players who "continue the story" from the previous version to re-do what they already know.
 

Harmill

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I'm experimenting moving away from dialogue/cutscene tutorials in general. You know, going the Mega Man X approach instead, where you simply expose the player to situations where they will LEARN the game just by figuring out how to interact with the upcoming obstacles. The tricky part is how to encourage the player to do something without dialogue, without making it too punishing if they don't catch on straight away. You can't make it too lenient or else they won't learn what they are supposed to do either. That's a tricky balance to meet in an RPG.

The more complex your systems, though, the less you viable this avenue is, but still, I'm not a fan of unskippable tutorials either.
 

Alexander Amnell

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   I think tutorials should essentially be skippable from the onset, truly unique and incomprehensible mechanics are so rare these days that 99% of the time if I'm familier with the type of game I'm playing then there is nothing in it that I couldn't find out faster through experementation and old fashioned curiosity than a forced tutorial could ever teach me. Dark souls does it right as an example, basically a starter area that if you so choose you can run right past and riddled with signposts that tell you what the different button inputs do and leaves you to experement and learn how to use them effectively all on your own.
 

Eschaton

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But I don't think you mean New Game Plus like Chrono Trigger --- multiple playthroughs of the same game.  I think you mean "What if I am importing character data from a savefile from a previous version of the game?"
Semantics.  This rant is about playing the same game more than once, not playing sequels or different versions of the same game.

A veteran player of Mass Effect wouldn't necessarily understand the complexities (or lack thereof in comparison) of Mass Effect 2 if he has never played the latter, in which case tutorials would be necessary.  But if he has played the latter many, many times, he shouldn't have to be bothered with a tutorial.

Also, I like Harmill's style.  If only words can explain to a new player how to play your game, maybe it's complexity should be reconsidered.  Storytellers have a rule:  Show don't tell.  Designers have a similar rule:  play, don't show or tell.
 
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Zoltor

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And people wonder why kids these days are as dumb as a door knob. Seriously, games these days basically play them selves. Tutorials need to be few, and far between, there should be no tutorial for the basics at all(because if you're too dumb to figure the basics out, you're too dumb to be spending your time playing games lol), and what few tutorials there are, should be skippable period.

As for other forms of handholding, they should be removed altogether period.
 

Wavelength

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I really like this idea.  The amount of "hand-holding" in a game's early levels might very from a simple "do you want to watch the tutorial on X" option (even on the first playthrough) to an entirely implicit and carefully-constructed set of obstacles that lets the player figure out the very basics on their own, but I love the idea of dropping all of that guidance whenever the level is played in a New Game +.

What a cool feeling it would be to start over on a game you love and see your very first moments in the game in a whole new light.
 

Curia Chasea

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Depends on the game actually. 

If the game requires a lengthy tutorial - you will need to use a few tricks to hide the fact you are tutoring the player, while making sure they learn the skill. Portal used this effectively by simply making the tutorial into puzzles. You were already in the "how do I do this...." mental state. 

Some games simply have screens telling you how to perform something. Bayonetta had mini-tutorials for each move when you first play. Afterwards whenever playing - they were just switched off and would not appear. 

Other games do a very excellent "Do you want to play the tutorial mission?" that is accessible from the menu, contains no story spoilers and all the information you need about playing the game. Useful when you have hard to describe tricks, but the amount of information is short enough for you to contain it all in one tight space.

However.

If you want to see the most DREADFUL tutorial in the existence of mankind.... I suggest you try Exit 2. The Demo is enough since it has the tutorial in it for free. Sweet Mother of all that is covered in chocolate... I could not make it through. Most frustrating moment in my gaming history, and I did manage to play through X-Blades to its finish. 

I suggest Exit 2 tutorial as the best "How NOT to do it" tutorial. 
 

Lars Ulrika

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Reminds me of that tutorial level in DCUO.....having to do again at EACH new character. Fortunate the gameplay itself is not that boring there but still UGH. 

Well, this said, I can't agree with Zoltor more. 

I mean duh, do you imagine Doom starting like this? "Here is an imp! Press strafe to dodge the fireball" and then you're stuck until you succeed and you have this at EVERY DAMN NEW GAME. 

Actually my rpg's first dungeon is on the "Megaman X" model : it has obstacles and loot you'll find often, it pushes you to look for stuff and explore even has some secret stuff, easy fights and that's it then you're on your own, I assume players are not braindead and can understand game mechanics and find a mission objective without a damn spider glitchy diddly sense tinggly doodly *Ned Flanders get out of my body!*.
 

Tai_MT

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Yeah...  The tutorial crap in Mass Effect 2 is pretty bad.  Mass Effect 3's tutorial is pretty infuriating as well.  Want to know the good part?

The Mass Effect 1 tutorial is pretty awesome as well as useful.  First time through the game, it is very doubtful you'll be able to score all the "extra loot" or even "extra scenes" because you need to know that you need specific stats or loadouts right away to even find them.  You can see that they are options, and the game tells you how to access them...  But, on your first playthrough, you aren't likely to see them.  I know I certainly couldn't!  All I managed to score was a grenade mod on my first run as a Soldier.

Okay, so why is that important?

You see, when you run a New Game +, you now have the levels needed to access the other stuff you didn't have access to.  I got a pistol I couldn't use by that point, sure, but the extra dialogue and options that resulted in me getting the pistol were neat.  I also unlocked a room with a guy who seemed to be somehow channeling the future and knew what the plot of all three games was.  The doctor says "he's just off his meds and a bit rattled".  Still... it made the whole experience instantly interesting again.  I was picking up lore and story in the tutorial that I didn't pick up the first time because of my Level 1 stats and Soldier choice as character.

To be honest, that's one of the best ways I've seen to do a tutorial.  Not "let me skip this!" or "stop holding my hand!".  The best way is "the game tells you how to do stuff, lets you do whatever you want, cuts you off access from some of the tutorial content until you run a New Game +".  If you get new stuff on a New Game Plus, suddenly that tutorial doesn't seem so silly or stupid.  Suddenly, it's brand new again.  That's what I liked.
 

OM3GA-Z3RO

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Mostly a game should always give players the option to play a tutorial if they so please or maybe some point of the game they should have a special place where you talk to people and they are like: "Yo brohiem! You wanna learn the ropes in being the best warrior ever?"

Learn tutorial?

Yes <-

No

I also cringe when I replay a game especially if that game has a New Game + and end up going through a tutorial, it feels like I am wasting my time more than learning something.

So either give players the option to:

Skip tutorials or

Turn off hints or

give players the option to learn the ropes soon in the game

May be missing something but I think I got my point across.
 

Eschaton

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I've noticed something else about tutorials:

The more complex your gameplay is, the higher the likelihood that you can only use words rather than gameplay to instruct the player.  It's like there's some kind of "complexity event horizon" in which a game crosses the event horizon by achieving a certain measure of complexity, and only paragraphs of words can adequately instruct the player on how to play the game.  Final Fantasy X with its Sphere Grid comes to mind.  There is absolutely no intuitive way of getting the player past its learning curve without explaining it with text.  Combat and its learning curve were on point, though.

Moral of the story is:  complexity does not equal depth.  Keep it simple enough to where just playing the game can teach the player how to play the game.  A game doesn't need shards or spirits or cards or souls on whatever weird GUI you plan to use.  Keep it simple.
 

Tai_MT

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You can get passed the "complexity event horizon" if you simply do your tutorials right.  As in, only bring up relevant information to start with.  The sphere grid could've been easily explained by "when you level up, you can move the sphere.  If you collected orbs from defeated monsters, you can buy slots."  Done.  Maybe show which slots need which orbs...  Or tell you which you need when you place the cursor over them.  They'd only need to bring up the key spheres once, and only once you finally reached one of the locks and had the key sphere in your inventory.  Or, maybe, don't even run the tutorial after that.  The orb descriptions really tell you all you need to know about their use.

Could have just been "Anything your circle is next to can be activated.  Every level up can take you 1 space forward to a place you haven't been or up to three spaces backwards through places you've already been.  Activate the nodes with orbs you find from fighting battles or in chests.  For more information on what the orbs do, read the item descriptions".  Done.
 

bgillisp

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What I've been trying is have one of the party members mention something new (for example, how to learn skills in my game), then ask do you want me to explain more, with options being Yes/I can figure it out. Lets you decide whether to listen to the explanation or just bypass it.
 

Eschaton

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You still used text, MaiTai.  Is it possible to teach (not explain to) a new player how to use the Sphere Grid without text?
 
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Onomotopoeia

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What I've been trying is have one of the party members mention something new (for example, how to learn skills in my game), then ask do you want me to explain more, with options being Yes/I can figure it out. Lets you decide whether to listen to the explanation or just bypass it.
I like that approach.
 

Tai_MT

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You could do it with voice if you wanted.  Though, if you can't be bothered to read two sentences, you probably shouldn't be playing games in the first place.  You're probably much better served by sitting outside in the mud and banging two rocks together for entertainment :D
 

bgillisp

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Though, if you can't be bothered to read two sentences, you probably shouldn't be playing games in the first place.  You're probably much better served by sitting outside in the mud and banging two rocks together for entertainment :D
I don't know why, but that just made me break up laughing with the visual image that came to mind. Thanks for the Friday night entertainment!
 

Tai_MT

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Well.... my day was a bit rough... and I usually get irritated when someone basically implies everything has to be done without text (because reading sucks!).  I just figured I'd make myself a joke and take a jab at Esch.  It doesn't really hurt to explain something with text, it really doesn't.  It's when that text starts to drag on too long that a player gets frustrated.

Honestly, I think the Sphere Grid system could've been handled with just a few sentences and then let the player move on and figure the rest out by themselves.  We didn't need as much text as they gave us, it could've been trimmed down, lol.  But, it wouldn't hurt to have a pop up box give you a couple sentences and then let you work it out yourself.
 

Eschaton

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You could do it with voice if you wanted.
So, it can't be explained with just gameplay?  It has to be explained with words?

My point is, the Sphere Grid (and other RPG systems) is so complex that the player can't intuitively figure it out.  Or, they could, but with a learning curve.  It has to be explained with words.  Gameplay has to come to a halt so that the game can explain it to the player (and in this particular instance, this explanation cannot be skipped on subsequent playthroughs). 

FFX's Sphere Grid is an example of a gameplay feature that has crossed of the "complexity event horizon."  FFXIII's Crystarium system may be seen as "dumbed down," but I disagree:  it's a step in the right direction because it is a lot more intuitive with a shallower learning curve compared to the Sphere Grid.  You don't have to stop and explain it, the player can figure it out readily.

Again, the rest of FFX's gameplay is intuitive and uses the story in order to teach the player the combat systems.  Sure, they have to use words, but it's part of the story and it is done well.  They didn't even have to use words; they only used words in order to make sure that there was a connection between battle and story.  I don't find its combat tutorials on Besaid to be intrusive at all (except for the forced actions.)  4/5 in my book.

Designing is like politics:  if you're explaining, you're losing.
 
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