Every game developer – and indeed gamer – knows a great tutorial is a key part of a game. They are essential to showing players the basics and expand the scope of a game by making it more accessible. The problem is that it can be tough to create a tutorial that pleases everyone. Here are six tips for designing a game tutorial.
1. Less Text
Too much text is terrible for a tutorial. It slows down the pace, destroys immersion, and players will skip text even though they need the tutorial. Tutorials should be as interactive as the rest of the game. Players should go through the actions they are learning. This creates better experiences and ensures they really understand what they are supposed to be learning.
2. Don’t Front-Load Tutorials
Game developers feel a need to deliver all the information a player might need as soon as the game starts. This is a terrible idea, but it’s a surprisingly common mistake. Front-loading your tutorial and bombarding players with everything leads to information overload. It also leaves them disengaged. They don’t care about playing the game. They get bored of all the information, most of which will be forgotten when they actually need it. Don’t be afraid to spread small tutorials across a game and play tutorials for different menus and aspects of the game when they are unlocked.
3. It Should Be Fun
People always learn better when they’re having fun. Tutorials need to be interesting and exciting. They should engage players just as much as the rest of the game. It can be difficult, but it is so important it is worth doing properly. People are as quick to judge games as they are any other kind of entertainment. A game starting with a tutorial is no reason it can’t start out fun. Remember the elements of the game that make it fun, and use those in the tutorial. If the game is fun, the tutorial can be fun too. Even online casino games have fun tutorials, so there’s nothing stopping you from having a fun, engaging, and entertaining tutorial.
4. Reinforce Learning Through Play
This idea ties into that of spreading the tutorial across the game and making it fun. Reinforce what is taught in the tutorial by highlighting those elements in actual gameplay. You should help players to understand how they can use what they have just learned during actual gameplay. If you make the tutorial feel like gameplay or – better – make it actual gameplay, then this is something that shouldn't be a problem.
5. Listen to Players
The tutorial is one of the most important parts of a game to play test. It’s easy to feel that what you’ve made is obvious or intuitive even though it’s incomprehensible. Let other people play the tutorial and offer their feedback. Be mindful of the demographic for your game. What you consider second nature may not be second nature to someone else. Create a tutorial that everyone can use and enjoy. What is simple to you may not be so simple to players.
6. Players Should Always Have Access to What is Conveyed in Tutorials
Everyone has stopped playing a game for a while, picked it back up, and found they have no idea what they’re doing anymore. Even worse, they can’t get help because the tutorial is locked off now. The information conveyed in a tutorial should always be accessible to players, even if all you do is add a help menu that outlines the tutorials. This goes a long way to keeping players engaged and ensuring they know how to play, and enjoy, your game.
Making a good tutorial level doesn't have to be difficult or cost a lot of money. It takes some discipline is all. Be mindful of what you are teaching the player as you put the game together. Every game creates unique worlds and situations. It is up to designers to explain these concepts to players.