What would make a battle tutorial more interesting?

Tsukihime

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Here's a battle tutorial that introduces players to the default RPG Maker battle system!




But if I were playing this, I wouldn't be too excited.


Maybe because I'm already too familiar with the default system so I'd pretty much react the way Chimg does.


What kind of things would make the on-boarding experience more interesting?
 

Galv

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I think the best way to teach a player about mechanics in a game shouldn't take the player out of your world. What I mean by that is your characters mentioning "Use the attack button" in game is removing the player from your fantasy world for a moment and there might be some more creative ways to do it. (I'm not saying I know all the best ways to do it, though - I think it's very hard to teach players in an effective and immersive way)

An example I can think of is Final Fantasy 7 and how they tried to teach the player how to use the Materia system. They keep it in the game world with one of the characters (Barret) getting frustrated about not knowing how to use Materia. Then the main character (Cloud) decides if he is bothered to explain it to Barret or not.

As for teaching the player general game mechanics, I really don't like complicated "Click here to do this, then here to do that, then click over here" tutorials as they also take the player out of the game world... but some systems are really complex so a good way to teach the player without doing that is definitely a challenge.

I like to try and unlock/introduce game mechanics to the player piece by piece so they are not overwhelmed by any long-winded complex explanations as well as try to teach the player through visual cues anywhere possible.

A good tutorial I think is hard to accomplish and takes a lot more work to do but it's something I hope to achieve one day :D
 

Solis

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Create a theme for each character to make each character different. If one character cast lots of spells, make sure everything goes into support those spells. Maybe add buffs that boost fire damage, or ice damage. Don't give all characters the same set of skills; also, make each group should have a weakness then the other members would have to overcome their teammates' hindrance to the group in order to win. 

Attack, cast spell, attack = boring. Themes = amazing. 
 

Tsukihime

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I think the best way to teach a player about mechanics in a game shouldn't take the player out of your world. What I mean by that is your characters mentioning "Use the attack button" in game is removing the player from your fantasy world for a moment and there might be some more creative ways to do it. (I'm not saying I know all the best ways to do it, though - I think it's very hard to teach players in an effective and immersive way)


An example I can think of is Final Fantasy 7 and how they tried to teach the player how to use the Materia system. They keep it in the game world with one of the characters (Barret) getting frustrated about not knowing how to use Materia. Then the main character (Cloud) decides if he is bothered to explain it to Barret or not.


As for teaching the player general game mechanics, I really don't like complicated "Click here to do this, then here to do that, then click over here" tutorials as they also take the player out of the game world... but some systems are really complex so a good way to teach the player without doing that is definitely a challenge.


I like to try and unlock/introduce game mechanics to the player piece by piece so they are not overwhelmed by any long-winded complex explanations as well as try to teach the player through visual cues anywhere possible.


A good tutorial I think is hard to accomplish and takes a lot more work to do but it's something I hope to achieve one day :D
So instead of explicitly explaining how things work as the video has done, it may be enough to simply provide a limited set of options for the player to choose from, and let them experiment or figure out the optimal ways to proceed.


For example you start the battle and you only have the attack command, and...that's pretty much all you can do.


But maybe later on you have a situation where you suddenly unlock the guard command, and you're thrown into a situation where you need to guard, but if you don't guard, you die. You might get revived and told that you need to guard AFTER you mess up, but it would feel like it's part of the game.
 
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Wavelength

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I've reworked my timeblazer tutorial a few times since its IGMC release, and although I still feel like it might be a bit of a low point in the interest curve, testers have said it's an improvement; here are some of the things I feel made it more interesting:

  • Framing: The tutorial now takes place right as you're being attacked by a threatening monster (a powerful faerie freezes time and offers to show you how to fight simply because a fair fight would be 'more entertaining' to watch, reminding you the whole time that hey, the worst that could happen if you don't pick it up would be a horrible and extremely painful death).  I think this lends a bit of a sense of urgency to it all - the player knows what's at stake and will want to learn as much as they can.
  • Character: The characters talk like they do in your video, but as much as possible, they talk about themselves and each other rather than just about the battle mechanics.  This led to an interesting dilemma - the more chatter, the more interesting it became, but the longer and more drawn-out it became, too.  I'm still thinking around ways to try to get the best of both worlds.
  • Room to Experiment: At a few points during the tutorial, you're asked to destroy a few training dummies, by any means you've learned up to that point.  You're not told how you have to do it.  As the tutorial progresses, you'll have about half a dozen different skills to work with, so this is designed to give the player a little room to play around and learn how things work, at their own pace, without any sense of danger.  They can kind of answer themselves any questions that they have which I haven't thought of, by trying out the assortment of skills.
  • Reaction: If you're slow at destroying the training dummies, if you used 'Guard' when asked to try out an attack, etc., the instructor will notice it - and she'll let you move on, but she'll say her piece first.
  • Exit Points: The tutorial is rather long (5 to 7 minutes for a new player), so there is a battle command available at any point to end the tutorial immediately and move on to the real battle.
 
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HeathRiley

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I think a good idea is if the specific tutorial battle is tied to the story or conversation between players. A good example is when you newbie character gets in their first battle, if there is another chapter or more veteran character on the field they could offer advice.

"We've stumbled into several enemies and we have to rescue such and such. Use your 'attack' to dispose of them. That's how you'll get rid of a lot of fodder and let's you store your resources for skills. "

"That's a big enemy you might wanna try some 'skills' out on him. They can do larger damage or additional effects. Be sure to see if you can target different parts of him or surroundings. Thinking outside the box can be greatly beneficial."

A little personality can make the player more readily willing to care or not.

Wavelength made some great technical points.
 
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A lot of players don't like when they feel like the game is "holding their hands". Giving an option to skip the tutorial is always welcome, which is doubly useful for anyone playing the game again.

I like when the game keeps things clean and clear in a tutorial. Things like "how to Attack" and "how to Guard" are sort of pointless as the player will do it by themselves.

If the character does something peculiar or unique it's always worth make something so players will notice that, not necessarily a tutorial, a situation calling for it like putting an enemy that can only be killed by magic after a Mage joins your party for instance, or enemies that can poison your allies after a Healer is in. That'll teach the player how useful your new character is without any words.
 

hadecynn

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I think first and foremost it depends on your target audience. Whereas we (I assume most people here, if not all, are RPG veterans) would find tutorial sections for really simple stuff like "Attack" and "Guard" boring and redundant, if you were designing your RPG to reach out to a new gaming audience, then they might really appreciate something very straight-forward.

Having said that, my philosophy on tutorial design is that the tutorial should come up at around the same time the mechanic that the tutorial teaches first crosses the player's mind. By taking the tutorial in your video as an example, one way I can see it done is:

- New player starts game

1. Runs into first enemy encounter

2. Shows how "Fight" > "Attack" works and establish this as the foundation of every battle. Say nothing about "Guard" or "Items", and hide those options.

3. Design this intro area such that players run into a few more enemies, all without tutorials, so that they can use them to familiarize themselves with what you just taught them. At the same time, design these encounters such that the players loses some health (through the use of scripted/finite battle events instead of random encounters, at this point players wouldn't know the difference anyway).

4. After these few battles, the player will probably start wonder about their health, and this is when your "Heal using Items" part can come in with another scripted event that might be placed in a narrow corridor or something. After demonstrating the healing effect, you can now mention "use Guard to mitigate incoming damage" at the end.

The difference this makes is that, if you unload all the information up-front, players might not necessarily grasp the importance of what you are teaching them, and hence they might get impatient with the hand-holding. However, if you carefully design the introduction gameplay, you will be able to predict (or even force) at what time players might start asking questions like "how do I heal?" "how do I get more powerful?" "how do I...?" when they play your game, and that's where you should slip the tutorial in.
 

TheGamedawg

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First of all, I would give the player the choice to see the tutorial at all.  However I would split up the tutorial into 2 sections that the player can skip individually.  The first would be to explain the generic rules of an RPG.  Stuff like what the attack or defend command do.  The second tutorial would go in depth for the more unique mechanics of your game.  This way, people who are familiar with RPGs can skip the first set of stuff, then learn about the less obvious bits later.

I'm also planning to encourage the player to go into the help menu of the game after they encounter something they've never seen before.  There, it would explain things such as what the more strange status ailments of the game do, or what the more technical stats of the game augment.

And if there are things in the game that are very similar name-wise to things from usual RPGs, don't be afraid to tell them.  For example, Magic Attack in my games go by the name of "Faith."  The tooltip for Faith says "Basically think your Magical Attack."
 

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