Tutorials in games are very difficult to get just right. You want to be able to teach the player without them getting confused, overwhelmed, or impatient. All the while making sure they completely understand everything so they don’t feel confused later on when certain game mechanics appear.
Everyone has their own preference for tutorials though. For example, in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild the game doesn’t do much tutorial hand holding at all. You are basically shown as a player that you’re completely free to figure out everything on your own. For some people this is the most amazing first time tutorial flow. For others it could be very confusing and frustrating as they need more guidance.
One thing that we both feel is that tutorials that hold your hand and force you to go through this long tutorial flow are especially painful…You know exactly what games we’re talking about…
We have quite a number of things to teach the player (though we’re sure if players skipped all the tutorial screens they would be able to figure out everything on their own). We have all the different tools to teach the player (3 different ovens, dispensers, frosting tools, and topping tools) as well as how to complete a customers cake order, and last but not least how to make money and what the point of it is.
We could have had a giant “how to use” screen with EVERYTHING on it, but that would take up the players entire vision as well as be incredibly overwhelming.. We could have pop ups that appear every time the player hits a point that we haven’t taught them yet.. But that sounds annoying and could interrupt the flow of gameplay..
We also need to take into consideration, what if the player is playing with friends and they’re taking turns in between rounds? How would that player know how to play and use the current tools if they haven’t been taught anything previous?
We came up with a solution that we think does a good job of covering all of the questions above. The order board slides towards the player (for readability sake) and displays diagrams and descriptions according to the following parameters.
- We must figure out which tools / equipment the player is using and only show that specific tools instructions. (For example, if you’re using a level 2 upgraded dispenser, only that tutorial info will appear for that tool)
- If the player hasn’t unlocked a frosting or topping tool yet, tell them what those tools are.
- At the beginning of the game, the player won’t have a frosting or topping tool, so explain how to complete a cake order, as well as explain what money is and can be used for.
The order board shows them all this information after 1 of 2 things.
- The player has selected their save file and is going into game, the order board will then appear with the tutorial information before starting gameplay.
- The player has completed a day of baking, the player has chosen which items they would like to upgrade (perhaps a new tool which would need some “how to use” information). Then before the next day begins, the order board will have all the appropriate tutorial text on it.
One of the most important things to note here is that Continue button at the bottom. This button is here as soon as the tutorial screen pops up. That means that if you’ve already seen how to use all the tools then you don’t have to wait, you can just grab the continue button and get into game right away.