on Mar 16, 2017
The brute-force approach to tutorials is to jam them all at the very front of the game. Some text boxes will tell you what buttons to push. Once you successfully complete the action you’re given another, then another, until you’ve got all the mechanics down. Then the story is allowed to proceed.
This is bad for a lot of reasons. It’s actually a bad way to teach the player about the game, because you’ve got too many concepts delivered back-to-back. Sometimes you’ll be taught how to do something an hour before the story calls for it. If you take a break from the game, then you’ll likely forget the skill by the time it comes up again. Game designers sometimes guard against this by adding more reminder prompts later on, which makes the game feel patronizing and handhold-y. Worst of all, these brute-force tutorials are torture on repeated play-throughs, since you already know how to do the stuff and there’s nothing else to hold your interest.
Arkham City is a perfect example of how tutorials should be done. It’s a masterwork of teaching through doing, without breaking the flow of the story or patronizing the player. The Arkham series is actually a blend of three entirely different but overlapping gameplay modes. There’s brawling, stealth, and explorationExploration is a big mishmash of navigating + platforming + puzzle-solving + finding secrets and collectibles.. Each mode has numerous concepts the player needs to understand. Batman is famous for his tool belt, and the game is not shy about loading that thing up with a lot of different ways of solving problems. This means the player needs to learn a lot of different controls. The fact that players can glide through these lessons without getting bored is a testament to just how good developer Rocksteady is at their job.