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  Tutorial Levels  (Read 2545 times)
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Offline kevglass

« JGO Spiffy Duke »

Medals: 319
Projects: 25
Exp: 22 years

Coder, Trainee Pixel Artist, Game Reviewer

« Posted 2005-05-20 13:11:03 »

I'm working away on Space Hulk Campaigns at the moment and I've started thinking about manuals and tutorial levels.

How do people handle tutorial levels? To me the tutorial seems to be completely seperate from the normal run of the game engine.

I might for instance give the tutee 3 marines and set them up in a level where I can predict whats going to happen, a room, with a door and a corridor. Put a blip in the corridor to explain combat. I can then put up narrative boxes to decribe the steps in finding and destroying the aliens. However, what if the user decides to go off at a tangent, ignoring the actions the tutorial asks them to take?

I've seen games handle this loads of times but I've never really worked out how commerical games impose this almost enforced scripting engine over the their original game engine?

Anyone got any ideas/experience?


Offline Mojomonkey

Senior Devvie

ooh ooh eee eeee

« Reply #1 - Posted 2005-05-20 13:56:43 »

I played a RTS not too long ago (Warhammer 40k? not sure). Anyways, it had some of the best tutorial levels I'd seen. First of all, the were well integrated into the story-line of the overall game. The had single, easy goals. The levels were laid out in such a way as your units were basically funneled to the goal and it had periodic reminders of what you should be doing if you got off track (in the form of a commander yelling at you).

I'm by no means an expert, but I did enjoy that experience and it was memorable.

My opinions:
-Don't make the tutorials feel like something that *should* be done before starting the game, make it part of the game.
-Make the levels easy and small (so you can finish it in a short time if you want).
-Allow some exploration, but design the level such that all paths lead to the same point.
-Reminders now and then what you should be doing: "Build the BARRACKS, MAGGOT!"

Don't send a man to do a monkey's work.
Offline darkprophet

Senior Devvie

Go Go Gadget Arms

« Reply #2 - Posted 2005-05-21 08:05:03 »

i think war craft 3 did the same thing you are describing mojo...

simple targets, and interlinked with the story...

Friends don't let friends make MMORPGs.

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Offline digitprop

Junior Devvie

« Reply #3 - Posted 2005-05-23 12:58:18 »

The difficult part is that tutorials depend strongly on game states. If the game is in a different state than expected by the tutorial script (due to the player doing something unexpected), the tutorial may break.

My impression is that commercial games solve this by putting a lot of effort into checks on the game state and into level design where the player has not too many options to go off at a tangent.

This is not feasible for low-budget / small games. I can see two options:

- Have a completely scripted tutorial, where the user triggers certain events, but cannot influence what happens. That is, the tutorial works similar to a slide show. Not very thrilling, but should work reasonably well - the main point of a tutorial, after all, is to get a visual/haptic idea of what to do to play the game.

- Leave all freedom to the player, but check for game state before continuing the tutorial. Whenever the game state is not as expected, either a) set it to whatever is required and issue a warning to the player ('you have slain the damsel in distress, not the dragon - allow me to correct this'); or b) ask the player to establish the required game state (this can be tricky, as the player may not know how to do it, or the game may not allow it)

M. Fischer .
Offline kevglass

« JGO Spiffy Duke »

Medals: 319
Projects: 25
Exp: 22 years

Coder, Trainee Pixel Artist, Game Reviewer

« Reply #4 - Posted 2005-05-23 13:16:29 »

Thanks for the feedback/ideas guys. I hadn't realised how much work my level editor was going to be or I'd be using this advice right now Smiley

Hopefully in the next couple of weeks I'll be able to let you know whats worked.


Offline Orangy Tang

JGO Kernel

Medals: 57
Projects: 11

Monkey for a head

« Reply #5 - Posted 2005-05-23 13:50:04 »

One thing I like (which kinda fits in with the game-as-tutorial) is where the game gives you an explaination whenever you get/try something new. This is dead easy with something like Mario or Zelda - you get a little cut scene when you collect a new item. For RTSs and RPGs you can pop up a dialog box with something like "You've clicked the build button, heres how you build new structures...".

For the completely inept you can let them keep this help permenantly on, for a default you just show it the first time.

Rigid 'tutorial' where you can't do anything but follow the script (to the extent of disallowing any other commands except the correct one) are boring and don't help the player.

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