Video Game Tutorials and the Ways They Can Be Done Well

February 5, 2019
Video Game Tutorials and the Ways They Can Be Done Well

Every time you start a new game you have to go through some kind of tutorial in order to understand mechanics. You can’t really start playing if you don’t know the rules. Usually, that experience can be annoying for most of the players but sometimes they are done so well they are actually entertaining.

There is no question about how useful they are when you are an inexperienced gamer, but when you have been playing games for years you are well aware of basic movements. When the game makes you do something simple like press space to jump, and you can’t proceed unless you’ve done that, it can get quite pestering.

First, I would like to explore some examples that are not necessarily good and gradually get to better ones, along the way I will mention some games that had perfect examples of how tutorials are done.


No tutorial

Image source: Doom Wiki

There are many ways tutorials can be implemented. The worst case scenario can be no tutorial at all, so you are left to trial and error until you’ve learned the basics. That doesn’t happen as often with newer games, but there will always be someone who is more into retro games and will come across an example just like that.

It’s also worth mentioning that games like Doom that are just straight first-person shooters don’t even need tutorials. Fallout is another example of a game without any tutorial but when it was released the games could still only be bought as a physical package that came with paper manuals.


Loading Screen

Image source: Mario Party - Super Mario Wiki

One of the least effective ones, except the case with no tutorial, is when the controls are shown through the loading screen. Although it doesn’t invade your gameplay, you will quickly forget what you’ve seen. Having to constantly pause the game and look through the control screen to look for certain commands can be really hustling and it ruins the game pace.

This type of tutorial can work perfectly for some games, take any Mario Party game for an example. All the minigames are simple enough so you don’t really have to remember more than a couple commands, but other than that it doesn’t work well in more complicated games.


Tutorial level

Image source: Deus Ex Square Enix Store

Another type of tutorial that doesn’t invade your gameplay is a special level made specifically for an introduction. Before you start the game you have the option to get familiar with mechanics first and then start the actual game.

Such an example would be Deus Ex before you start the game a small window pops up recommending you to go through training mission first. After that, you are free to enjoy the game without any disruptions.


Introduction through storyline


Now, this is a much better way to introduce a player to the game. You start your game and whenever you need to perform a new action, it will be explained through the context of the game. This allows you to stay in character without distractions.

You can see how this is perfectly done in Half-Life 2 when you first get the gravity gun, it’s mid-game and the tutorial slides unnoticeably when you get to use the gun to play fetch with the robot dog.

Another perfect example is in The Witcher 3 when you have the training session with Ciri. You are challenged by her for a race and you get to run and climb and you get to see everything from the tutorial on the way without it spoiling the game. You also have the option to refuse to race and skip the tutorial so it’s perfect either way.


Comic approach

This is completely unconventional but I just wanted to mention Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon. You start the game like any other with the tutorial at the beginning of the game, but what’s different about it is that they made a parody out of it.

When you hear that you are starting “military navigation for idiots” it’s impossible not to burst in laughter. Then a window pops up with a message “press enter to demonstrate your ability to read”. You get the message “to look around, look around” and only then you get to “move in many exciting directions”. All of that is followed by your character swearing in the background for having to go through such torture that is tutorial.

Ok, now that I have calmed myself a little bit from cry laughing, it’s time for the conclusion. Tutorials are mainly hated by the veteran gamers even though they can sometimes be useful. The safest bet is to implement the tutorial inside the game through the storyline or make it funny so it’s more bearable. To read more, read more on GameBuz, PC, Console, and mobile games news site.