長篇實例探討:如何製作好玩的沉浸式遊戲引導教程

長篇實例探討:如何製作好玩的沉浸式遊戲引導教程

原文作者:Zein Okko  譯者:Megan Shieh

導語

多年來,電子遊戲在圖像、影視攝影技術、敘事、技術等方面不斷髮展。市面上有許多的書籍、博客和視頻,細節化地教授人們電子遊戲的製作過程。其中許多是關於技術方面的知識——如何使用引擎、如何建模、如何裝扮一個角色;也有另外一些教材會告訴你優秀的關卡設計應該是什麼樣子的。

然而,遊戲開發過程中的一個非常重要的部分經常被開發者和玩家們忽略:入門教程。要想盡情享受遊戲體驗,玩家首先得學會遊戲的玩法。什麼是好的教程?你要怎麼在不讓玩家感到厭煩的情況下,教授他們遊戲玩法?有哪些出色的實踐案例?在本文中,我會分析幾個不同的遊戲教程,並開發一個針對‘優秀入門教程製作’的工具集。但首先,我們得退一步問:

什麼是入門教程?

根據維基百科的介紹:

‘教程’是一種傳遞知識的方法,可以作爲學習過程中的一部分。與書籍或講座相比,教程的互動性較強,更有針對性。通常通過實際案例來教授知識,提供特定的信息來完成某項任務。

簡而言之就是以互動的方式傳遞知識。對我們而言,“知識”就是“如何玩遊戲”,最終這些知識又反被利用到遊戲當中。媒介教授用戶如何使用媒介——遊戲教導用戶如何玩遊戲。

PC Mag百科全書將‘教程’定義爲:

一本教學書籍或一個教學程序,帶領用戶透過一系列規定好順序的步驟來熟悉一款產品。

PC Mag的說法似乎出奇地具體,因爲市面上有許多不同種類的遊戲和教程,難道它們全都得使用一步一腳印的方式來教授知識?我們有沒有可能在不採用‘步步引導’的情況下,教會玩家怎麼玩遊戲?

Persona 4(from findfreegraphics)

Persona 4(from findfreegraphics)

上述定義似乎僅僅側重於教程中的學習和被動部分,卻忽視了知識應用的方面。玩家必須要了解哪些知識才能開始玩遊戲?爲了能夠在遊戲的世界中自由奔走,他們需要了解遊戲的控制、規則和機制。但這還不夠。

入門教程不僅應該刷新玩家對(遊戲)世界的理解,同時還得確保玩家能夠合理地應用他們學習到的知識。只有學過或看到過類似的情況,他們才能在遊戲中解決類似的難題。‘教程’還可以更好地定義爲:一種交互式場景,幫助玩家取得理解遊戲世界所需要的知識和心態,並教導他們如何將這些知識應用到遊戲中的不同情況。

2. 一個好的教程

什麼是好的教程?有哪些注意事項?

市面上根本就沒有關於這個議題的書籍,更不用說科學方法了。與遊戲開發中的許多元素一樣,獲得這些知識的唯一方法就是參考經驗豐富的開發者和設計師的做法。

遊戲設計學院(School of Game Design)的第一個建議是:儘量少用文本。國際遊戲開發者協會(IGDA)的創始人Ernest Adams表示:“要求玩家閱讀大量文本的教程不是好教程”。《植物大戰殭屍》的開發者George Fan建議“任何時候,屏幕上最多都應該只有8個單詞”。獨立開發者Darran Jamieson將這個想法簡化爲:“不要用文本將玩家淹沒。”

玩家一次只能處理一定數量的信息。如果有太多需要記住的東西,例如:Diablo III的控制手柄上有15個不同的按鈕,功能也各有不同。一旦遊戲開始,玩家就會忘記大部分按鈕的功能。教學指南應該根據關聯程度,被合理地分配成幾個部分;而不是試圖一次性將所有的信息灌輸進玩家的腦子裏。

就像遊戲設計學院所說的那樣,不要 “在前期就把所有的內容都展示出來”。通常情況下,事先或者沒頭沒尾地展現出來的信息,玩家基本上是不可能會記得住的。如果遊戲告訴玩家“按下Y鍵可以讓你的角色屏住呼吸”,那麼這是一個關於Y鍵的事實,但並沒有告訴玩家前因後果,又或是“屏住呼吸”的意義。屏住呼吸是幹什麼的?對我有什麼幫助?在潛水或使用狙擊步槍時,我是否需要這樣做?(瞄準和射擊時屏住呼吸,可以提高準確性)

衆所周知,視覺化和趣味性在學習方面成效顯著。正如Dave Gray在《Gamestorming》一書中所說:

“我們的世界變化很快。隨着信息革命的發展,視覺素養將會成爲在商業和生活上取得成功的必要條件——讀寫視覺信息的能力;通過視覺來學習知識的能力;思考和解決視覺領域問題的能力。”

讀寫視覺信息以及處理視覺領域問題的能力,恰好就是遊戲教程能夠教授給玩家的知識。許多教程都只關注“讀”的部分,往往忽略了“寫”的重要性。同樣的問題在其他教育領域也可以找到。在《What Video Games Have to Teach Us》一書中,James Paul Gee以那些學習了“牛頓運動定律”的學生爲例解釋了這一問題。這些學生理解牛頓定律,但卻不知道如何應用它。

而這恰恰就體現出了“沉浸式教程”的重要性。爲了確保玩家對遊戲世界有一個完整的理解,開發者需要將操作指南嵌入到遊戲中,保持相關性,並且告訴玩家他們所作的每個動作都是爲了什麼。就像電影《盜夢空間》裏的一個情節:

作者:試着不要去想大象。

(Saito 點頭)

作者:你在想什麼呢?

Saito: 大象

作者:好吧。但這不是你自己的想法,因爲這個想法是我給你的。

玩家應該感覺這些玩法是他們自己學會的,而不是遊戲教會他們的。下面讓我們來看看一些優秀的例子。

3.例子

有些開發者巧妙地將新手教程與遊戲的流程和故事交織到了一起,因此有時人們不會把它看作是操作指南。衆所周知,玩家們通常都會想要跳過教程部分,因爲大部分遊戲的教程都沒有融入有趣的元素。那麼,有哪些遊戲成功地創建了既有趣又有效的沉浸式教程?

3.1 《傳送門 2》

《傳送門 2》的入門教程極具娛樂性,並被許多人認爲是史上最有趣的遊戲教程之一。在摧毀了邪惡的人工智能計算機 GLaDOS並通過傳送門逃脫之後,主人公在一次爆炸中失去了意識,醒來以後,發現自己又再次被光圈科技俘虜了。(遊戲邦注:光圈科技Aperture Science是遊戲中的一個科學研究組織)。玩家一開始被囚禁在一個由機器人管理的研究機構中,在教程結束之前他們不能離開監獄。儘管其他的遊戲也會透過將玩家抓進“陷阱”的方式來迫使他們學習基本玩法,但在《傳送門2》中,這個“陷阱”與整個故事是緊密相連的。
遊戲開始的時候,一個系統廣播的聲音喚醒了主角Chell,並解釋道:

“早上好。您已休眠50天。根據州和聯邦法規,在光圈科技擴展休閒中心的所有測試候選人必須定期喚醒,進行強制的身體和精神健康運動。”

開發者將入門教程僞裝成一個“強制性的身體和精神健康運動”,然後把它變成了一個有趣的惡搞。一般的敘事遊戲教程中,總是會有一位教授玩法的教練或者導師(有時候玩家的角色就是導師)。在《傳送門2》中,首先是系統廣播,TA要求玩家先向上看,然後向下看,以完成測試中的體操部分。

通過移動鼠標來環顧四周,這種操作方式極爲普遍,就像跳躍一樣,幾乎不需要任何指導。每款遊戲中都有非常多的東西需要解釋,但在許多情況下,移動的方式是大同小異的,因此對它的解釋也沒有像對其他機制一樣透徹。

一般情況下,大家都知道基本動作的操作方式。而《傳送門2》恰巧就利用了這一點,通過指示玩家做一些沒有用的東西,把基本動作的學習變成了一個惡搞(Chell的體操訓練對玩家而言沒有任何價值)。下一步是藝術欣賞,玩家必須走到一幅畫前並盯着它看,從而學會使用ASDW鍵來實現移動——許多其他的遊戲也同樣是用ASDW來實現移動的。

做完這些鍛鍊之後,主角Chell就去睡覺了。然後她又被第二位導師機器人Wheatley吵醒,它聲稱該設施即將爆炸,並試圖將你疏散出去。機器人緊接着解釋道,Chell可能有嚴重的腦損傷,並問她是否理解它說的話。然後遊戲告訴你“按下空格鍵回答問題”,但它其實是用來跳躍的按鍵。因此,Chell沒有回答“是”,而是跳了起來,機器人對此做出了反應:

“額…你在那裏跳什麼。我問了你一個問題,然後你竟然跳了起來。算了…說‘蘋果’,‘蘋~~~~~~果’。”

不用說也知道,下一個“答案”也是跳躍。很明顯,所謂的跳躍機制是因爲Chell在這個機構裏呆了太久,出現了認知惡化的情況。

另外一件經常發生在劇情式教程中的事情是介紹故事的第一個情節點。在故事寫作中,有兩個主要的情節點。第一個情節點介紹了主人公的目標,有時是反派或敵對勢力,第二個情節點則是顯示主角是否達到了目標。主要人物所習慣的日常生活(在這個例子中是在蹲監獄的Chell)通常會被第一個情節點所打斷,然後第一個情節點就會變成主角的“生活常態”(遊戲邦注:各種廝殺,躲避外星人之類的。)。

《傳送門2》裏的第一個情節點是:機器人試圖將你疏散出去,但不幸失敗了。各種各樣的障礙物都撞了過來,幾乎摧毀了Chell的整個房間。機器人告知了玩家的下一個目標,然後它自己就撞牆上了:

“記住:你在找一支能打孔的槍,不是彈孔!是…好吧,你會想明白的。”

考慮到某些玩家很可能已經玩過原作,因此他們應該知道機器人指的是著名的傳送槍。即便他們不知道機器人在說什麼,在第一人稱射擊遊戲中,獲取槍支也是一種非常普遍的機制——又一個許多遊戲都有的共同機制。

然後玩家必須想辦法解開一些非常基本的謎題,這些謎題是從原作借鑑過來的。玩過原作的玩家可以立即破解謎題,而新玩家也可以通過簡單的嘗試來破解這些謎題。在讓玩家拿到傳送槍之前,開發者先是通過這些謎題介紹了遊戲的主要機制和工具,包括傳送門、紅色的按鈕和箱子。雖然嘗試失敗可能會令人有些沮喪,但是因爲能做的事情很少,所以玩法的學習顯得很簡單,而且玩家也會從中獲得一些自我成就感。

接下來,玩家會拿到擺放在某處的傳送槍。通常情況下,傳送槍可以用來創建藍色和橙色的傳送門,這兩個傳送門是相通的的。但在教程模式中,遊戲已經提前將橙色的傳送門建好了,因此無論玩家把藍色的傳送門開在哪裏,最終都能回到他們需要去到的位置(橙色傳送門的位置)。這樣的話玩家就知道傳送槍是如何運作的,也不用擔心兩個顏色弄混了怎麼辦。就像之前提到的:不要一下子給玩家太多技能。

開發者設法確保當玩家撿起槍的時候,一定會清楚地看到橙色的傳送門。使用傳送槍的時候,玩家可以創建藍色的傳送門,而且還能看穿它。走進藍色傳送門的時候,他們會發現自己回到了橙色傳送門的位置,從而瞭解到橙色和藍色傳送門之間的物理和邏輯關係:
“兩個傳送門是相通,我能利用它們的物理關係去到我一般去不到的地方。”

接下來的教程會一直限制玩家只能創建藍色的傳送門,直到他們完全理解如何在遊戲世界中“讀寫”爲止。他們首先了解到,藍色的入口一旦創建,就會連接到橙色。現在他們知道藍色的傳送門不可能無處不在(遊戲邦注:玩家無法在電梯裏放置傳送門)。之後,玩家被迫將知識應用到箱子上。他們已經學會了如何放置和通過傳送門,現在必須將它應用到實踐上——將一個離得很遠的箱子移動到紅色按鈕上。這時他們瞭解到,傳送槍不只對人起作用,對其他的物體也會產生作用,而且你還可以配合物體移動的速度來開槍。在解決了一系列的謎題之後,開發者可以安全地假設玩家已經理解了傳送門的機制,並最終給予玩家創建兩種傳送門(橙色和藍色)的權力。

我們從《傳送門2》的新手教程中學到了什麼?

(1)創造一個存在教學意義的故事情景。

(2)放置一位導師來教導玩家怎麼玩遊戲。

(3)將故事中的第一個情節點納入新手教程裏。

(4)減少玩家能做的動作,不要一下子給他們太多選項,然後再逐一添加機制。

(5)教程中的某些部分可以設置“跳過”或“快進”的選項,爲有經驗的玩家提供一些便利。

3.2 《輻射3》

《輻射3》設置在一個從原子戰爭中倖存下來的世界。倖存者們把自己鎖在地下的一個避難所裏,他們將其稱爲“Vaults”。他們在那裏過着正常的生活,小朋友們去學校上學、懷孕的準媽媽生孩子、上班族朝九晚五地工作,等等。玩家創建了一個角色,TA離開了安全的避難所,前去尋找失蹤的父親。

本作的新手教程巧妙地將人物創建、故事敘述與第一個情節點交織在了一起。遊戲開始的時候,玩家扮演的就是剛剛出生的主角。父親走了進來,反問你是男孩還是女孩,然後由玩家選擇主角的性別。之後,父親告訴母親(凱瑟琳)主角的性別,從而介紹了母親的存在。接着父親要給孩子起名字,然後玩家就在遊戲界面中輸入自己想要的名字。

之後,主角的父親使用了所謂的“基因推測儀”,意圖看看他的孩子將來會是什麼樣子。該裝置的外形設計與《輻射》世界中的復古未來主義風格相匹配,同時嵌入了角色創建的機制。玩家可以在這臺設備上打造主角的外貌,最終顯示在屏幕上的外貌就是孩子未來的樣子。這一步驟完全可以令人信服,而且也非常符合遊戲中的故事,同時也不會打破玩家的沉浸感。

然後母親死了,嬰兒被擡出了房間。快進到一年後,主角現在是一個蹣跚學步的孩子,他看着父親,父親說“到爸爸這裏來”。這也是一個基本動作的教程,玩家們可以像一個蹣跚學步的孩子一樣,學會如何走動。然後玩家會看到一本叫做《你很特別》的書,這是一本兒童讀物,也是分發角色屬性點的一本書。這些屬性的界面和描述都是兒童讀物的風格。例如,“強度”屬性被描述爲:

“S代表着強壯,這意味着我的力量!我能背更多的玩具還能揮舞東西一整天。”

開發者假設玩家已經從原作或其他類似的遊戲中獲取了一些與RPG相關的知識,並決定將這些人設定爲新手教程的目標受衆。這些玩家會立即知道,他們應該適當地提高自己的某些價值觀(屬性點);同時仍然確保界面和內容符合遊戲的世界的設定(兒童讀物風格)。分發完屬性點以後,父親再次出現,要求你跟着他去找你的好朋友Amata玩,從而簡要地介紹了另一個角色Amata。

場景切換到主角的十歲生日。某位NPC將Pit-Boy 3000作爲禮物送給了主角,這個禮物在後期將會起到很重要的作用,因爲它是玩家的用戶界面,包含庫存、統計等機制。這一場景還引入了社交互動元素。不同的NPC與主角交談,玩家可以選擇自己的反應,同時也充當了背景信息和角色介紹的基奠。玩家瞭解到了誰是避難所所長,誰是愛欺負人的惡霸,還有主角最好的朋友Amata。和往常一樣,在生日派對上,客人們會把生日禮物遞給孩子,這就教會玩家如何接收物品並在Pit-Boy的存貨中查找。與一位老太太交談時,玩家會得到一個甜筒。
不久之後,惡霸Butch就要求你把甜筒給他。取決於玩家的回答,玩家要麼把甜筒給他,要麼惡霸就會找你打架。通過這種方式,玩家瞭解到擁有物品會在遊戲中引起麻煩,而且玩家給出的答案也會影響到場景的結果,這一切都是在一個合適的故事場景中進行的。在那次事件之後,主角的父親帶你下樓並給了你一支BB槍,然後在那裏教會玩家如何瞄準和射擊目標(其中包括一直超級大的飛蟑螂。)

接下來的場景是主人公十六歲的時候,TA必須參加所謂的G.O.A.T.測試。這個測試將會決定玩家在避難所裏的職責,這些選擇題決定了玩家一開始的技能。不過,玩家也可以在最後調整自己的選擇。這個部分結束以後,故事的第一個情節點就出現了。Amata叫醒了玩家,並告訴TA,TA的父親已經離開了金庫,避難所所長正準備要過來殺了玩家。玩家現在必須利用自己的技能來逃離避難所。一旦他們逃離了避難所,遊戲就真正地開始了,玩家必須設法找到TA的父親(但是如果你不願意找父親的話,也沒關係,你可以根據自己的喜好在遊戲的世界裏晃悠)。

我們從《輻射3》的新手教程中學到了什麼?

(1)創造一個具有教學意義的故事場景,嘗試將你所看到或聽到的東西融入到遊戲世界的邏輯中。

(2)讓一位或多位導師教授遊戲玩法。

(3)將第一個情節點納入新手教程,並且用它來說明遊戲的背景故事。

(4)減少玩家能做的動作,不要一下子給他們太多選項,然後再逐一添加機制。

(5)讓玩家在安全的環境中犯錯誤。

3.3 《文明6》

部分遊戲類型相對較爲複雜,比如戰略遊戲就是這樣。開發者有超級多的信息需要傳達給玩家,以至於有時候可能會把他們搞得暈頭轉向。《文明6》和它的土地拓展機制就是一個很好的例子,該作是一款4X回合制戰略遊戲,遊戲中包含了許多元素,需要投入很多的時間來學習。

玩家首先選擇一個文明,然後以一個開拓者和勇士的身份開始遊戲。他們可以選擇一個位置來建立一個城市,然後從那裏開始,逐漸開拓一個帝國。他們必須管理這座城市,決定建造什麼建築、研究什麼項目、訓練哪些單位、開採什麼樣的石材,等等。最終,他們會遇到鄰國的領袖,這時就需要利用外交手段來獲取利益或盟友。

玩家需要在遊戲世界中與其他國家爭奪各種勝利排名,統治勝利——需要奪取彼此文明的首都,文化勝利——需要對其他所有文明都有一定的旅遊影響,科技勝利——需要發射火箭到月球,宗教勝利——需要對你的宗教信仰產生一定的影響。

每個文明都有自己特有的優勢——獨特的建築或單位。阿拉伯的領袖Saladin有更便宜的教堂,並提供額外的信仰值、科技值和文化值。另一方面,法國的Catherine De Medici則提供更多的外交知名度,並且可以多招募一個間諜。該作的新手教程沒有試圖以某種故事來隱藏或掩蓋自己‘入門教程’的身份,但它也不必這樣做。屏幕上有很多界面、數字和圖標,它們都需要明確的操作指示才能理解。

遊戲中有兩種學習玩法的方式:要麼通過單獨的教程場景,要麼直接開始一個遊戲。新手教程中的回合會手把手地爲玩家介紹遊戲中的各個機制。玩家將由一個顧問的角色引導,她會大聲地跟玩家說話,從而減少了玩家必須閱讀的文本數量。顧問會明確地告訴你下一步該做什麼,比如“點擊這個按鈕創建城市”或“點擊這裏訓練勇士”。這些明確的指示在這類複雜的遊戲中可以說是必要的。

但是因爲這些信息是從顧問的口中說出來的,所以你會感覺她就在你的身邊,幫助你管理你的人民。在創建了第一個城市,訓練了第一個單位以後,顧問會說:

“我們中的一些聰明人很善於解開世界的奧祕。我們只需要引導他們。”

從遊戲機制的角度來看,這句話基本上就是叫你“選個項目來研究”,但是它的表達方式卻和遊戲的世界觀相符。玩家只有通過所有必要的步驟才能完成新手教程。重要的是,玩家不一定非得通過新手教程纔可以開始遊戲。它是自願的,專爲那些從未玩過《文明》系列遊戲或其他4X遊戲的玩家準備的。

另一種學習遊戲的方法就是直接開始遊戲。對於這種情況,開發者也早就做好了準備。在第一回合剛開始的時候,遊戲會問玩家:你是《文明6》的新手,還是從沒玩過《文明》系列遊戲?根據玩家的回答,會彈出一些提示信息,上述教程中的同一位顧問會簡短地描述一個玩法。

大部分信息裏都會有一個“瞭解詳情”的按鈕,給與玩家瞭解更多信息的機會。點擊這個按鈕,他們就會來到所謂的“文明百科全書”,這是一本遊戲中的百科全書,它不僅包含遊戲機制的信息,而且還包含了歷史和文化知識。

這種學習玩法的方式,大概是玩家最常見的選擇,讓他們以自己的速度學習遊戲。我們必須給予玩家瞭解更多信息的選項,並且明確地讓他們知道在哪裏可以“瞭解詳情”。

我們從《文明6》的入門教程中學到了什麼?

(1)創造一個具有教學意義的故事場景,嘗試將你所看到或聽到的東西融入到遊戲世界的邏輯中。

(2)讓一位或多位導師來教授遊戲玩法。

(3)如果是有劇情的遊戲,將第一個情節點納入新手教程,並且將它作爲遊戲的背景故事說明。

(4)減少玩家能做的動作,不要一下子給它們太多選項,然後再逐一添加機制。

(5)讓玩家先在安全的環境中犯錯,然後再按照他們自己的節奏學習。

(6)儘量少使用文本,儘可能多地使用配音。

(7)決定哪些部分需要解釋,哪些部分玩家可以自己弄清楚。

(8)針對有遊戲經驗和沒有遊戲經驗的玩家,提供不同的教學方法, 將指示和教程設置爲可以跳過的。

(9)只有在相關的時候纔給出提示

4. 教程指南

綜合上述內容,我們現在可以創建一個關於“如何製作沉浸式新手教程”的工具集。遊戲開發者在製作新手教程的時候,可以考慮將上述列表中的點加入到自己的遊戲中。當然,這些點並不適用於所有類型的遊戲,但能用上的點越多,新手教程的體驗就會越好。下面讓我們來回顧一下上文列出的各個觀點,並闡明它們的含義,列出開發者可以問自己的一些問題。

(1)創造一個具有教學意義的故事場景,嘗試將你所看到或聽到的東西融入到遊戲世界的邏輯中。

當一個遊戲正在開發中時,我們可以假設開發者知道遊戲世界中的所有事情,那裏的日常生活是怎樣的,遊戲中會出現哪些角色,等等。開發教程場景的時候,你必須完全地理解遊戲角色所居住的世界,還有角色在什麼情況下學習纔不會顯得彆扭。也許主角是一位想要重返工作崗位的退役特工,因此需要更新TA的技能,就像在《細胞分裂》裏一樣。也許TA的腦海中偶爾會出現以前訓練的場景。也許TA正在做一些完全不相關的事情,爲後期的劇情做鋪墊,比如洗澡或者穿衣服,就像《暴雨》的片頭那樣。

誰在學習,TA爲什麼要學習?主角是這個領域的新手嗎?TA在哪裏?通過什麼媒介來學習?一個人、一本書、全息影像,還是電腦?

(2)讓一位或多位導師來教授遊戲玩法。

與許多電影和書籍一樣,導師在電子遊戲中扮演着重要的角色。TA可以是一個人,也可以是一個情況,但TA必須是值得玩家信任的。導師的作用是在遊戲的開頭傳達積極的紐帶,說服主角跟隨TA的命運,並幫助TA爲未來的旅程做好準備。導師不一定非得是個角色,TA可以是一個計算機程序、一個夢、或者一盤錄像帶,只要能夠符合遊戲中的世界就可以。決定用誰或什麼東西來做導師是一個很重要的決定。在玩家開始控制主角之前,主角也可以是自己的導師,教導別人,就像《戰神》的宣傳視頻中所顯示的那樣。你必須要理解:玩家必須學習,但這並不代表主角也非得學習。

你的遊戲中一共有幾個導師?是誰在教授知識?爲什麼是TA?導師在遊戲世界和故事中的角色是什麼?玩家完成學習後,導師會何去何從?導師對故事很重要嗎?

(3)如果是帶劇情的遊戲,將第一個情節點納入新手教程,並且用它來說明主角的背景故事。

遊戲的開頭是最重要的部分,因爲它決定了玩家的去留。因此遊戲的開頭/介紹必須是有趣的,令人興奮的,而且還得是新手玩家能夠接受的難度。入門教程不一定非得是枯燥無味的,我們可以把故事的開頭融入其中,讓它令人難忘。入門教程不僅可以用來介紹遊戲的主要機制,還可以用來介紹角色和劇情線。弄清楚哪些人是主要角色,故事的終極目標是什麼。第一個情節點對故事很重要,而且在大多數情況下是貫穿主角生活的關鍵事件。

你的故事裏的第一個情節點是什麼,能放在教程裏嗎?第一個情節點中,有沒有一些緊要關頭是需要玩家應用所學技能的?你能在入門教程中介紹故事裏的幾個主要角色嗎?

(4)減少玩家能做的動作,不要一下子給他們太多選項,然後再逐一添加/介紹機制。

並不是所有的機制都非得在遊戲的開頭就傾巢而出,或者對它們全部進行詳細的介紹。如果可以的話,減少玩家的技能,然後再慢慢地疊加上去,讓玩家有時間學習和練習每個技能。創造出一個玩家不能/不需要在一開始的時候就用上全部技能的場景。比如在《死亡空間2》中,主角Isaac Clarke必須逃脫邪惡外星人的追殺,雖然這個場景可能沒有那麼恐怖,但是它允許玩家在學習其他技能之前,只專注於四處走動。

遊戲開場的時候,有哪些技能和機制是必須出現的?哪些技能和機制可以在後期再慢慢添加進來?爲什麼主角的技能在一開始會受到限制,有什麼背景故事?

(5)先讓玩家在安全的環境中犯錯,然後再按照他們自己的節奏/速度學習。

有些遊戲會讓玩家在一個特定的教程回合中學習機制,這顯然是一個安全的環境,玩家知道他們可以不受懲罰地犯錯誤。要想創造這樣的環境有很多種方法,可以是對戰其他角色的訓練任務,也可以是一個夢境,等等。比如在《摩多暗影》中,主角先是和兒子在自家的船上進行比劃,說是鍛鍊兒子的劍法,實際上是在教授玩家怎麼用劍。有些遊戲不是直接地教導玩家潛行和暗殺的技能。“主角躡手躡腳地向妻子走來,想給她一個驚喜。”雖然動作和按鈕是一模一樣的,但結果卻不存在任何風險,並幫助玩家爲以後的實際偷襲和暗殺部分做準備。

玩家如何能在不受懲罰的情況下學習玩法?遊戲中有沒有額外的時間和地點可以讓玩家無憂無慮地學習各種機制?玩家們知不知道在後期的遊玩中,這些行爲是會產生後果的?

(6)儘量少使用文本,儘可能多地使用配音。

文本是一種大多數玩家都不喜歡的東西。閱讀量太大可能會把玩家嚇跑或讓他們感到厭煩,因此文本的使用應該縮減到最低限度。然而有時候文本的使用是不可避免的。如果可以的話,儘量把文本簡化成一小段一小段的,並且加上配音。如果有人在大聲朗讀這段文字的話,玩家閱讀起來也更容易些。當然,如果是一個文本量很大的遊戲,比如《黑客網絡》,那麼規則就會有點不同。

我一定得用文本嗎?如果是的話,有辦法縮減文本量嗎?我能不能把這些文本分爲多個部分,然後再逐一地展示給玩家?我能給多少本文配音?玩家可以跳過文本,或重看之前出現的文本嗎?

egg inc(from pocketgamer.biz)

egg inc(from pocketgamer.biz)

(7)決定哪些部分需要解釋,哪些部分玩家可以自己弄清楚。

趣味性是電子遊戲的一個重要組成部分。玩家們喜歡鼓搗遊戲給他們的東西,但他們也喜歡自己去探索發掘。無需解釋遊戲中的每一個部分,玩家可以自己發現很多東西,尤其是當他們學過類似機制的時候——如果他們已經學過如何用手槍射擊,那麼他們也會知道如何使用獵槍。再比如說,如果遊戲的目標受衆是跳跑類的忠實玩家,那麼開發者通常不需要向玩家解釋如何跳躍,你只需要告訴他們按哪個鍵就可以了。

遊戲中的哪些玩法是衆所周知的?哪些玩法較爲獨特?哪些部分需要解釋?玩家可以自行理解哪些部分?

(8)針對有經驗和沒有經驗的玩家,提供不同的教學方法,將指示和教程設置爲可以跳過的。

每位玩家的理解方式、遊玩方式、遊戲知識和技能組合都是獨一無二的。一款遊戲可能會有高級玩家和休閒玩家,或者都是中核玩家。玩家的類型越廣泛,入門教程就得越靈活。開發者必須明確地知道自己的玩家是誰,不只是爲了廣告和銷量,也是爲了入門教程和學習曲線。
入門教程是否具有交互性和響應性?取決於玩家的類型,入門教程是否有不同的版本?如果玩家已經知道該怎麼做的話,他們可以很容易地跳過指示或者快速地完成一個教程回合嗎?如果玩家已經知道這個遊戲怎麼玩了,他們可以跳過整個教程嗎?

(9)只有在相關的時候纔給出指示

遊戲還沒正式開始,開發者就扔出一大堆信息給玩家,這種做法顯然是會影響到遊戲趣味的,尤其是當80%的信息都和當下的情形無關的時候。正如之前提到的,沒有必要在一開始就詳細地解釋每個技能或每個按鍵的作用。如果暫時用不到的話,就先別解釋。開發者不需要將遊戲中的所有機制都壓縮到入門教程裏,你可以根據遊戲的需要對教程的內容進行調節。如果某個技能是在玩了30個小時以後纔會用到,那麼就等到那個時候再教玩家怎麼用這個技能。

一開始的時候,我需要給出多少指示?有多少指示可以延期給出?遊戲指南可以分開嗎?指南中顯示的知識可以立馬應用到遊戲中嗎?

5.總結

沒有哪個教程是適合所有遊戲的。在教學方面,每個遊戲類型和每款遊戲都會面臨不同的難題。本文的內容更像是一個清單,看看它們是否能夠應用到你的遊戲當中。在考慮的時候,開發者需要問自己:遊戲是什麼類型的?採用的玩法是否衆所周知?有多少類似的熱門遊戲?遊戲機制有多複雜?與跑跳類或步行模擬類遊戲相比,4X戰略遊戲需要教授玩家更多的東西。有的時候,文本是完全沒有必要的,就像《地獄邊境Limbo》;而其他時候,它們則是無法避免的,就像《Eve Online》。開發人員必須根據遊戲的自身情況決定哪些點是可以用得到的。

新手教程不應該被視爲一個獨立的個體或是遊戲的前言。玩家和開發者們通常一想到入門教程就頭疼,但是其實玩家們是可以享受入門教程的,而且它可以爲開發者們提供很多機會:將入門教程與角色創建以及故事敘述相結合,豐富遊戲的開篇內容;在教授基本玩法的同時,創建一個壯觀的介紹場景;在一開始的時候就給玩家提供取得成就的滿足感。從根本上說,玩家永遠都不會停止學習。每一次跳躍都是在鍛鍊,每一次戰鬥都是在提升戰術,每一次失敗都是在學會調整。

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1. Introduction

Video Games keep evolving in terms of graphics, cinematography, storytelling, technology and more. There are many books, blogs or video channels that teach you the art of making games in detailed step-by-step tutorials. Many of them are on the technical side, how to use an engine, how to model and rig a character, and there are also some that teach you how a good level design looks like (e.g. The Game Maker’s Toolkit).

But there is a very important part of game development that often gets neglected, by both the players and the developers: the tutorial. In order to enjoy a game, the player has to be taught how to play it. But what is considered a good tutorial? How do you teach mechanics without boring the player? What are best practices? In the course of this paper, we will analyze different game tutorials and develop a toolset for how a good tutorial can be created. But first, we have to go a step back and ask:

What is a tutorial?

According to Wikipedia it is

(…) a method of transferring knowledge and may be used as a part of a learning process. More interactive and specific than a book or a lecture, a tutorial seeks to teach by example and supply the information to complete a certain task.

In short: transferring knowledge in an interactive way. The “knowledge” in our case would be “how to play the game”, which is supposed to be transferred to the game itself. The medium teaches the user how to use the medium.

The PC Mag Encyclopedia defines a tutorial as

(…) an instructional book or program that takes the user through a prescribed
sequence of steps in order to learn a product.

According to PC Mag, a tutorial is supposed to take a user through a sequence of steps to learn the product (in this case: game). This seems oddly specific since there are so many types of games and tutorials. Do they all require a step-by-step tutorial to be played? Are there maybe other ways to teach how to play a game, without using a step-by-step instruction?

The definitions seem to only focus on the learning and passive part of tutorials and neglect the aspect of applying knowledge. What does a player need to know in order to play a game? They need to know the controls, rules, and mechanics to move around in the game world. But that is not enough.

To know how to move around and use the Portal Gun in the game Portal does not help you solve the puzzles. The players also have to understand how velocity, gravity, and location in the game world is different from the real world since you can create portals. The last thing a tutorial should make sure is that the players are not only able to rethink their understanding of the (game) world but also how to apply their knowledge. Otherwise, they will not be able to solve similar situations in the game, but only those they have learned and seen before. A better definition of game tutorials could be:

A tutorial is an interactive scenario that equips the player with the knowledge and mindset to understand the game world and how to apply those to different situations in the game.

2. A Good Tutorial

What constitutes a good tutorial? Are there do’s and don’ts? There are no books about the topic, let alone scientifically approaches. As many elements in game development, this topic is approached by looking at experienced developers and designers.

The School of Game Design starts off with suggesting using less text. Ernest Adams, founder of the International Game Developers Association, also states that making the player read a lot is a bad tutorial. The creator of Plants vs. Zombies, George Fan, goes even further and suggests that “there should be a maximum of eight words on the screen at any given moment.” Indie Developer Darran Jamieson reduces it to a simple statement:

“Don’t overwhelm the player.”

Players can only process a certain amount information at a time. If there is too much to remember, like for example the function fifteen different buttons on a controller, as seen in the gamepad instructions for Diablo III. They will forget most of it once the game starts. Instructions should be spread out in reasonable chunks and at times they are relevant.

This also means not to “front-load your tutorial”, as the School of Game Design says. Showing information beforehand and out of context will not stick in most cases. If the key mapping screen tells the player that the Y-button makes your player character hold their breath, it gives you the facts of the button, but not the context or meaning. What does holding the breath do? How does it help me? Is it something I need when diving or for using a sniper rifle (holding the breath while aiming and shooting increases accuracy)?

Visualisation and fun are known to be effective for learning and video games have taught other fields many things about learning, buzzword: gamification.

As Dave Gray writes:

Our world is changing fast […]. Visual literacy – the ability to both read and write visual information; the ability to learn visually; to think and solve problems in the visual domain – will, as the information revolution evolves, become a requirement for success in business and in life.

The ability to read and write visual information and solve problems in the visual domains are exactly what in-game tutorials have to teach the player. Many tutorials focus only on the “read” part, neglecting the “write”. This problem can also be found in other educational domains. James Paul Gee uses the example of students who have learned Newton’s laws of motion, they understand it but cannot apply it (James Paul Gee. What Video Games Have to Teach Us About Learning and Literacy. St. Martin’S Press, 2008, p. 22):

So these students have entered the semiotic domain of physics as passive content but not as something in terms of which they can actually see and operate on their world in new ways. These students cannot produce meanings in physics or understand them in producerlike ways. They have not learned to experience the world in a new way.

This is why immersive tutorials are important. In order to ensure a complete understanding of the game world, the instructions need to be embedded in the game, have relevancy and make the players understand why they are doing something. Or as it is said in the movie Inception:

ARTHUR: Okay, here’s planting an idea: I say to you, “Don’t think about
elephants.”

(Saito nods)

What are you thinking about?

SAITO: Elephants.

ARTHUR: Right. But it’s not your idea because you know I gave it to you.

The players should have the feeling they have understood a game mechanic themselves and not that the game told them how to use it. Let us take a look at games that are known for having an excellent tutorial.

3. Examples

There are games that manage to intertwine the tutorial with the flow and narrative of the game, sometimes barely recognizable as instructions. Tutorials are infamous for something the player wants to skip because a lot of them do not incorporate the factor of fun into it, like the rest of the game. Let us look at examples, who managed to create an immersive, fun and efficient tutorial.

3.1 Portal 2

Valve’s sequel to the successful Portal manages to introduce the players to the game in a highly entertaining way and is considered by many as one of the most enjoyable game tutorials. After destroying the evil A.I. GlaDOS and escaping in Portal, the main character loses consciousness from an explosion and finds herself recaptured by Aperture Science. In Portal 2, the player starts off imprisoned in a research facility, administrated by robots. They can’t leave their prison room until the introduction has ended. It is common in many games to “trap” the players in a tutorial level to make them learn basic mechanics, in Portal 2 they align it with the story.

The game starts with an announcement, waking up the main character, Chell, and explains:

Good morning. you have been in suspension for -FIFTY- days. In compliance
with state and federal regulations, all testing candidates in the Aperture Science
Extended Relaxation Center must be revived periodically for a mandatory
physical and mental wellness exercise.

The tutorial to this game is disguised as a physical and mental wellness exercise in the humorous style of the game. A narrative tutorial always has an instructor, or mentor who teaches the players the mechanics (sometimes the player character is the mentor). In Portal 2 it is the announcer at first, who asks the player to look first up, then down, in order to fulfill the gymnastics part of the test.

Looking around with the mouse is so commonly used in many game genres that it hardly requires any instruction, same as jumping. There are many specific things in semiotic domains in games that need explaining but moving around is in many cases shared across the domains, which is why they have not to be explained as thoroughly as other mechanics.

The game makes use of the fact that basic movement is commonly known and makes fun of it by changing the instructions to learn them to something completely irrelevant to the player (Chell’s gymnastic workout has no value for them). The next step is admiring art. In order to do so, the player has to walk over to a painting and stare at it. It teaches them to use the ASDW-keys to move around. Again, a common mechanic across semiotic domains in games.

After this, the player has to go to bed. They are woken up again by a robot who claims the facility is going to explode and is trying to evacuate you. The robot follows up by explaining that Chell might have serious brain damage and asks her if she understands. The game then claims using the space-key will answer the question, although it is the button for jumping. So instead of answering with “yes”, Chell jumps and the robot reacts to that:

“Okay. What you’re doing there is jumping. You just… you just jumped. But nevermind. Say ‘Apple’, ‘Aaaapple’.”

Goes without saying that the next “answer” is a jump as well. As before, the commonly known jump mechanic is introduced as a result of Chell gone mad over the years in this facility.

Another thing frequently happening in a narrative tutorial is introducing the first plot point of the story. In story writing, there are two major plot points. The first one introduces the goal of the main character and sometimes the villain or antagonistic force and the second plot point reveals if the main character reaches their goal or not. Before plot point one is considered the “daily life”, the regular life that the main character is used to (in this case Chell in prison). This daily life is usually interrupted by the plot point one.

In Portal 2 the plot point is that the robot tries to evacuate you and fails miserably. the cell crashes against all sorts of obstacles, almost destroying the entire container Chell is in. Shortly before crashing into a wall, the robot tells the player the next goal they have to achieve:

(…) Remember: you’re looking for a gun that makes holes. Not bullet holes,
but— well, you’ll figure it out. (…)

Considering the player has most likely played the original Portal, they should know the robot is talking about the famous Portal gun. And even if they do not know what the robot is talking about, acquiring a gun is a very common mechanic in a first-person shooter game. So the game is again, borrowing from another semiotic domain.

The players then have to go through some very basic puzzles, that are partially known from the first Portal game. Experienced players can solve them instantly, while new players can figure out the mechanics by simple trial and error. The puzzles introduce the main mechanics and tools of the game before giving the player the portal gun, including portals, buttons, and cubes. While trial and error can be frustrating sometimes, due to the limited numbers of possibilities, learning is easy and feels self-accomplished. Next, the player will stumble over the portal gun. Usually, the gun can be used to create two portals, a blue one and an orange one, that are linked. In this case, the orange portal is already created. This way, no matter where they are placing the blue portal, they will be able to walk through it and come out where they need to be to continue. This way the players can figure out how the gun behaves, without having to worry about the possibilities of placing two portals. As we have learned before: don’t overwhelm the player.

The orange portal is placed in a way that is clearly visible when picking up the gun. When the player uses the gun (for example because they know how to use a gun from ego-shooter games), they create the blue portal and can see through it. When they cross the portal they will find themselves at the spot they saw when picking up the gun and learn the physics and logic of the two portals:

the two portals connect and I can walk through it, to reach places I normally can’t

The following number of puzzles keep restricting the player to only place the blue portal until they fully understand how to read and write in the game world. They have learned that the blue portal connects to the orange, as soon as it is placed. Now they learn that the blue portal cannot be placed everywhere. After that, the player is forced to apply the knowledge to a cube. They have learned how to place and walk through portals and now have to transfer it, so they can move a cube from a distant platform and onto a button. They learn that the portals work for other objects two and also that velocity can be used, too. After solving a series of puzzles, it can be safely assumed the player has understood the mechanics of the portals and is eventually given the possibility to place both portals.

What do we learn from the Portal tutorial?

Create a narrative scenario in which teaching makes sense in the game world

Have a mentor character teaching the game

Incorporate the first plot point into the tutorial

Reduce the possibilities of action to not overwhelm the player, and add mechanics one at a time

Make it possible to skip or rush through parts of the tutorials, if player is experienced

4.2 Fallout 3

Fallout 3 is the first 3-dimensional installment of the popular dystopian RPG series. Fallout takes place in a world that has survived an atomic war. Societies have locked themselves up underground in so-called “Vaults”. They lived their normal lives down there, having schools, giving birth to children, going to work and everything else considered part of society. The player creates a character who leaves the safety of the vault to go look for their missing father.

In the game, the tutorial is skillfully intertwined with the character creation, exposition, and the first plot point. The player starts at the very birth of the main character. The father enters, rhetorically asking if you are a boy or a girl. The player then chooses the gender of the main character, followed by the father telling the player’s mother, Catherine, and introducing her. The father then names the child, while the player is the person who actually gives the main character their name.

The father then uses a so-called gene projector, to see how his child will look like in the future. This device fits well into the retro-futuristic world of Fallout and embeds the character creation into the game world. The players can choose the appearance of the main character, resulting in the gene projector showing the future look of the child. It’s believable and fits the narrative very well, without breaking immersion.

The mother then dies and the baby is carried out of the room, fast forwarding to a year later. The main character is a little toddler now, looking at the father, who is asking the child to “come to Daddy”. It is a familiar scenario, that also serves as a basic movement tutorial. The players can figure out how to move around, just as a toddler would do. The player is then asked to look at the SPECIAL book, a little children’s book that also serves as distributing the character’s attribute points. The interface and description of the attributes are all in the style of the children’s book. The attribute “Strength” for example is described as:

S is for strength, and that means I am strong! I can carry more toys and swing
stuff all day long!

The game assumes the player has knowledge about RPGs from the previous Fallout games or other, similar games and decides to target that audience with the tutorial. Those players will instantly know that they are supposed to improve the values as they see fit, while still making sure the interface and content fit to the game world. After finishing distributing the points, the father reappears and asks you to follow him to see if your friend Amata wants to play, briefly introducing another character.

Another fast forward to the main character’s tenth birthday. An NPC is giving the main character the PitBoy device as a gift, which later is important because it is the user interface and contains mechanics like inventory, stats and more. This scene also introduces social interactions. Different NPCs talk to the main character and the player can choose their response, also serving as a pool for background information and character introduction. The player learns about the Overseer, who is in charge of the Vault, the bullies, or the protagonist’s best friend Amata. As usual for a birthday party, the guests hand the birthday kid presents, which teaches the player how to receive items and look them up in the inventory. When talking to an old lady, the player receives a sweet-roll.

Shortly after the Butch, the bully demands that item from you. Depending on the player’s answer, they either lose the sweet-roll or end up in a fistfight. This way the player learns that the possession of items can cause events in the game and also that the answers can influence the outcome of a scene, all within a fitting, narrative scenario. Following that incident, the protagonist’s father leads you downstairs to give them a BB-gun and teaches the player how to aim and shoot targets and a giant cockroach. Another flash-forward follows to the time the protagonist is sixteen years old and has to take the so-called G.O.A.T. test. In the world, this test determines which duty the inhabitant of the vault will be assigned to, for the player, these multiple-choice questions determine the skills the player starts with. However, they can adjust the selection at the end if they want to. After this last tutorial part, the first plot point follows. Amata wakes up the player and tells them their father has left the vault and that the Overseer is trying to kill the player. They now have to put their skills to use and escape the vault. Once they’re out the actual game starts and the players have to find their father (or not, if they chose to and just roam around the world).

What do we learn from the Fallout 3 tutorial?

Create a narrative scenario in which teaching makes sense in the game world, try to incorporate anything you see or hear into the logic of the game world

Have one or more mentors teaching the game

Incorporate the first plot point into the tutorial and use it as an exposition

Reduce the possibilities of action to not overwhelm the player, and add mechanics one at a time

Let the player make mistakes in a safe environment first

3.3 Civilization VI

Some game genres are on average more complex like others, like strategy games for example. There is so much information to convey that it can overwhelm the player. Civilization VI and its expansions are one of those games, a 4X turn-based strategy game with many elements that takes many hours to learn.

The player picks a civilization of their choice and starts the game with a settler and a warrior unit. They can pick a spot to found a city and from there, erect their empire. They have to manage the city, decide what to build, research, which units to train, which tiles to harvest and more. Eventually, they will stumble over neighbor civilizations, which requires the use of diplomacy to get profit or allies.

There are different victories to strive for, the domination victory, which requires to capture the capital city of each other civilization, the culture victory, which requires to have a certain tourism impact on all other civilizations, the science victory, which requires to send a rocket to the moon and the religious victory, which requires to have a certain influence on your religion.

Each civilization has its own bonus, a unique building, and unit. Saladin, the leader of Arabia, has cheaper worship buildings and provides additional faith, science, and culture. Catherine de Medici of France, on the other hand, gains one additional level of diplomatic visibility and can recruit an extra spy. The tutorial in this game does not try to hide or cover itself in some sort of narrative but it also does not have to. There is a lot of interface on-screen, many numbers and icons, which requires clear instructions to understand. There are two ways of learning how to play Civilization VI: either go through the separate tutorial scenario or start a game. The tutorial level is a step-to-step guide through the basic mechanics of the game. The player is guided by an advisor character, whose words are spoken aloud, reducing the amount of text the player has to read. In between those advisor messages, there are clear instructions what to do next, like “click this button to found a city” or “click here to train warriors”. These clear instructions may be needed in a complex game like this. However, the messages of the advisor are written “in-character”, so it gives the feeling that it is actually a person at your side, the leader’s side, to help you govern your people. After founding the first city and training the first unit, the advisor would say:

There are those among us with minds adept at unlocking the world’s secrets. We need only guide them.

This sentence basically just says “pick something to research” in terms of game mechanics, but it is written fitting to the world. This tutorial, which can also be described as a tunnel-tutorial, can only be finished by going through all the necessary steps. Important to note is, that this tutorial is not required to do in order to play the game. It is voluntary, for people who have never played any Civilization game, or even any 4X game at all.

The other way to learn the game is to just dive in. For that case, the game is prepared as well. At the very start of the first game, it asks the player if they are new to just Civilization VI or the entire franchise. Depending on their answer, a number of hint messages pop up, spoken by the same advisor as the above-mentioned tutorial, briefly describing a mechanic. There is a “tell me more”-button on most messages, giving the player the opportunity to read up on something, they want to know more about. Clicking the button will bring them to the so-called Civilopedia, an in-game encyclopedia that contains not only information about game mechanics but also historical and cultural knowledge.

This way of learning the game, which is assumably the most common choice of players, lets them learn the game at their own pace. It is important to show the players where to get more information if they need to learn more.

What do we learn from the Civilization VI tutorial?

Create a narrative scenario in which teaching makes sense in the game world, try to incorporate anything you see or hear into the logic of the game world

Have one or more mentors teaching the game

If the game tells a story, incorporate the first plot point into the tutorial and use it as an exposition

Reduce the possibilities of action to not overwhelm the player, and add mechanics one at a time

Let the player make mistakes in a safe environment first and learn at their own pace

Use as little text as possible and dub as much of it as possible

Determine which parts have to be explained and which the player can figure out by themselves

Have different ways of teaching the game, depending on who is playing it, make instructions and tutorials skippable

Give instructions only when they are relevant

4. The Tutorial Guide

Concluding from what we have learned before, we can now create a toolset for how to create immersive tutorials. This list serves as points that a game developer should consider to incorporate into their game. Not all the points have to or can be applied to a game project, depending on the genre or type of the game, but the more of them are applied to a game tutorial, the better the experience will be. Let us go through the developed points and clarify what they mean and which questions can be asked to determine how to improve the tutorial.

1. Create a narrative scenario in which teaching makes sense in the game world, try to incorporate anything you see or hear into the logic of the game world

When a game is in development, one can assume the developers know what the game world is all about, which characters inhabit them, how daily life looks in there and so on. When coming up with a tutorial scenario it is important to fully understand the world the characters are living in and where it would make sense that someone is learning.

Maybe the main character is a retired agent, who comes back to action and needs to refresh his/her skills, like in Splinter Cell. Maybe they have a flashback, remembering their training.

Maybe they are trying to do something completely irrelevant, like showering or dressing, which prepares the player for later scenes, like in Heavy Rain. Who is learning and why do they have to learn? Is the main character new to what he or she is doing? Where are they? What medium do they use to learn, is it a person, books, holograms, a computer, etc.?

2. Have one or more mentors teaching the game

As in many movies and books, the mentor takes an important role in video games. It is a person or an instance, that can be trusted, which conveys a positive bond at the beginning of a story. The mentor convinces the hero to follow their destiny and prepare them for their journey. Gandalf teaches Frodo, Morpheus teaches Neo and Doc Brown teaches Marty McFly.

In games the mentor does not have to be a character, it can be a computer program, a dream or a videotape, whichever fits the game world. It is only important to decide what or who is teaching the player the game. The main character can be a mentor themselves, teaching someone else, before the player takes control of the main character, as seen in the teaser video for the upcoming God of War game. It is important to understand that only because the player has to learn, does not mean the main character has to be the one learning as well. Is there one or more mentors? Who is teaching and why? What is the mentor’s role in the world and story? What happens to the mentor when the player has finished learning? Is the mentor important to the story?

3. If the game tells a story, incorporate the first plot point into the tutorial and use it as an exposition

The beginning of the game is the most important part, it decides if the players keep playing or quit it and never play again. The introduction has to be interesting, thrilling and also simple enough to be accessible to new players. A tutorial does not have to be dry, incorporate the beginning of the story into it, make it memorable. The tutorial can be used to not only introduce the main mechanics of the game but also characters and plot lines. Make clear who the important characters are and what the goal of the story will be. The first plot point is important to the story and most of the time a crucial event that cuts into the life of the hero. This is very interesting, let this happen during the tutorial.

What is the first plot point of your story and can it be placed into the tutorial? Can there be some sort of tutorial showdown in which the players have to put their skills to use? Can the important characters be introduced in the tutorial?

4. Reduce the possibilities of action to not overwhelm the player, and add mechanics one at a time

Not every single mechanic of the game has to be available at the beginning, nor explained at that time. If possible strip down the abilities of the player character and add them slowly, to give the players time to learn and practice with them. Try to come up with a scenario of why the player character does not or can not use all their abilities at the beginning. In Dead Space 2 for example, the protagonist, Isaac Clarke, has to run away from evil aliens in a straitjacket, which is not highly effective to set up a horror scenario but also lets the player focus only on moving around before learning other behaviors. Which abilities and mechanics are needed at the beginning of the game? Which abilities and mechanics can be added later? Why could the main character’s skills be limited at the beginning, what narrative reason can be there?

5. Let the player make mistakes in a safe environment first and learn at their own pace

Some games let the player learn during a specific tutorial level, something that is clearly a safe environment, in which the player knows they can make mistakes without being punished. There are many ways of creating such environment. It could be a training mission with dummies or a dream, like the Sylvari beginning in Guild Wars 2. The safe environment can also be achieved by teaching mechanics in a similar scenario, like in Shadow of Mordor. The game teaches the player the mechanics of sneaking and assassinating, but without doing it. Instead, the main character sneaks up to his wife to surprise her. While the movements and buttons are the same, the outcome is without risk and prepares the players for the later, actual sneak and assassination parts. How can the player learn the mechanics without being punished? Is there a time and space in the game where the tutorial could take place, free of too many consequences? Is it clear for the player that these actions will have consequences later?

6. Use as little text as possible and dub as much of it as possible

Text is something, most players don’t like. Use too much and they are scared off or bored. The use of text should be reduced to a minimum. The famous phrase “show, don’t tell” should be a mantra for game development. Sometimes, text is unavoidable. It should be used in small bites then and dubbed, if possible. It is much easier to follow a text if someone is reading it aloud. If the game is a text-heavy game, to begin with, like Hacknet, then the rules differ a bit, obviously. Do I need text and if yes, can I reduce it? Can I divide the text into smaller chunks and show them one at a time? How much of the text can I dub? Can the text be skippable and revisited later?

7. Determine which parts have to be explained and which the player can figure out by themselves

An important part of video games is the playfulness. Players like to play around with what they are given and to find out things by themselves. Not each and every part of a game has to be explained, there are many things that the players can find out by themselves, especially if they have learned something that is similar before. If they have learned how to shoot and reload a pistol, they will know how to do so with a shotgun, too. Also, if a developer targets core Jump’n Run players with your game, then they usually do not have to explain to them how to jump, they just have to show them which button they have to use (or maybe not even that). Which mechanics of the game are commonly known and which ones are unique? Which parts are crucial to continuing and needs understanding? Which parts can be understood by themselves or are optional?

8. Have different ways of teaching the game, depending on who is playing it, make instructions and tutorials skippable

Every player is unique in the way they understand and play a game and the knowledge and skill set they bring. A game may be played by hardcore and casual players alike or maybe only mid-core players. The broader the audience is the more flexible the tutorial has to be. Not only for sales and advertising purposes it is important to exactly know who your game is playing, but also for the tutorial and learning curve. Can the tutorial be interactive and responsive? Can the tutorial have different versions, depending on the players choice? Can the player easily skip instructions or finish a tutorial level quickly, if they already know what to do? Can the entire tutorial be skipped if the player already knows the game?

9. Give instructions only when they are relevant

Nothing is less inviting to a game than a huge amount of information before the actual game starts, especially if 80% of the information is not even relevant in the beginning of the game. There is no need to explain every mechanic at the beginning or show the mapping of every key if they do not have to be used immediately to reinforce the knowledge. The tutorial of a game has not to be compressed to one moment of the game, it can be as stretched as needed. If the player learns the last mechanic after thirty hours of gameplay, let the tutorial be at that time. How many instructions do I need at the beginning? How many instructions can I postpone? Can instructions be separated? Can the knowledge obtained from the instructions be put to use immediately after?

5. Conclusion

There is no ultimate guide for tutorials that apply to each and every game. Every genre and every game has different challenges to overcome while teaching the players. The points mentioned in this thesis are more of a checklist to see if they can be applied to the game in question. There always have to be individual questions asked. What genre is the game? Are the mechanics commonly known? How many similar and well-known games are there? How complex are the mechanics? A 4X strategy game or an MMORPG has a lot more to teach than games like a Jump and Run game or a walking simulator. Sometimes text is completely unnecessary, as in Limbo, and other times they are unavoidable, as in Eve Online. Developers have to determine which of the points can be applied. A tutorial should not be considered a foreign body or a preamble. It’s not a necessary evil, cursed by players and developers. It is an opportunity to create an enriching beginning of a game, combine it with character creation or exposition. It is an opportunity to create a spectacular intro scene while still teaching basic mechanics, to give a satisfactory sense of accomplishment right at the start of a journey. Ideally learning in a game never stops, with every jump the player gets better, with every battle they improve their tactics and with every failure they learn to adjust.  (Source:gamasutra.com