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[Column] General: Tutorials

SBFordSBFord Associate Editor - News ManagerThe Land of AZPosts: 16,633MMORPG.COM Staff Uncommon

Most games these days don't have a long time to make a "first impression" on a player. Tutorials, while perhaps never revisited, are important to draw in potential customers. In his latest column, Matt Miller takes a look at the tutorial from all sides. Read on!

Fortunately, there are people who do not ignore the tutorial, and those are the marketing guys who view a tutorial as their best chance to make a lasting impression. With City of Heroes Freedom, we worked very closely with the marketing team to make sure that the tutorial not only was educating the player, but also showing off the features of the game that we could, prove to a potential life-long customer that this game was worth their time. As a free-to-play game, the tutorial is also a demo, and a useful one at that. For CoH we measured metrics of “at what point did players simply stop playing the tutorial?” This is known as dropoff.

Read more Matt Miller on Tutorials.

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Associate Editor: MMORPG.com
Follow me on Twitter: @MMORPGMom

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Comments

  • BillMurphyBillMurphy Managing Editor Berea, OHPosts: 2,369MMORPG.COM Staff Uncommon
    That Gandalf made me spew coffee.  ;)
  • bnxbanditbnxbandit quezon cityPosts: 23Member
    Very nice topic there and I enjoyed it.
  • rochristrochrist Harvard, MAPosts: 106Member Common
    Frankly, I suspect you were better off without any prospective player who couldn't figure out how to 'jump the chasm'. I mean....really?
  • FrinkiacVIIFrinkiacVII Scranton, PAPosts: 45Member

    You should've put a shark in the chasm. :)

    /em holdtorch

    "Well sure, the FrinkiacVII looks impressive - DON'T TOUCH IT - but I predict that within 100 years computers will be TWICE as powerful, ten THOUSAND times larger, and so expensive that only the five richest kings of Europe will own them." -Prof. Frink

  • IcewhiteIcewhite Elmhurst, ILPosts: 6,403Member

    We used to call them "tutorials".

    Now we call them "open betas".

    I would put the tutorials on the list of things CoX did right, if that has an relevance now that it's gone.

    Self-pity imprisons us in the walls of our own self-absorption. The whole world shrinks down to the size of our problem, and the more we dwell on it, the smaller we are and the larger the problem seems to grow.

  • Nefarion84Nefarion84 Prescott Valley, AZPosts: 17Member
    one of my favorite tutorials was DCUO, taught you the game while making you feel pretty epic in the meantime
  • SenadinaSenadina San Diego, CAPosts: 896Member Uncommon
    I view tutorials as a necessary annoyance. As a veteran MMO player I know what WASD are for etc... but I fear if I skip the tutorial I will miss some small difference in this particular MMO that will leave me not knowing how to craft for example.  Maybe developers should offer a basic tutorial for new MMO players and an advanced tutorial that only offers the ways that their MMO differs. That I would dig. Maybe they have, but at the moment I can't think of ANY MMO tutorials to cite as examples so...yeah.

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  • maplestonemaplestone Ottawa, ONPosts: 3,099Member

    My favorite tutorial of any game I've played in the last couple of years was early Minecraft. 

    Floundering around cluelessly is an essential setup to making learning things feel rewarding.  Don't micromanage my education, just make sure that as I experiment, I have a good chance of stumbling into verbs.

     

  • OzmodanOzmodan Hilliard, OHPosts: 7,191Member Uncommon

    Kind of depends on the complexity of the game.  If you don't use the tutorial in Eve for your first character, you either spent a lot of hours online reading up on the game or you are a fool.  While some of these browser games it is completely unnecessary.

  • ApocalypseSunriseApocalypseSunrise Paducah, KYPosts: 80Member

    I think some of the best tutorials are actually part of the game as a whole. In this I'm referring to the story of the game. The one tutorial I will never forget is the beginning of Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic. The first two worlds (if you count the escape from the Endar Spire as a world) are the tutorial. The third world, Dantooine, could technically be considered the third and final part of the tutorial, if you like. As you progress through the game conversations will continue to take you back to the first few worlds as they have some relevance to the characters and the unfolding story.

    The original 'City of Heroes' tutorial was decent but once it was done you never, or almost never, heard anything else about the Outbreak zone. There was no future version of that zone that you could visit to see how your efforts changed it. What happened to all the contaminated thugs that were supposed to have been cured thanks to your efforts? What about the residents of the area or the businesses that operated there? After you leave the zone it was "almost" like it wasn't even there at all. I consider it a lost opportunity for world exploration and expansion.

    The updated tutorial was definitely an improvement. The situation seemed more dire, some characters seen in the zone were encountered later on and the events in the zone were referenced to fairly often as you progressed through the game. I believe this is how it should be in a story driven game. If you're not going to include the tutorial as part of the world then it should be as basic as possible and skipable at any point during player training.

    Yes, I've read a poem. Try not to faint.

  • maplestonemaplestone Ottawa, ONPosts: 3,099Member
    Originally posted by Ozmodan

    Kind of depends on the complexity of the game.  If you don't use the tutorial in Eve for your first character, you either spent a lot of hours online reading up on the game or you are a fool.  While some of these browser games it is completely unnecessary.

    I'm pretty sure most players do hours of reading whether or not they use the tutorial :)

    Eve's problem (in my humble opinion) is not the learning curve, it's the UI, a sort of rats nest of everything possible that is not organized in a way that lets you stumble onto the basic concepts by accident.  

     

     
  • DamianoVDamianoV Apple Valley, MNPosts: 12Member

    Tutorials have gotten significantly better over the past few years in my opinion.  I can remember a few games way back when where the tutorial included a full key map pop-up, for example... complete overkill.  Teach the minimum necessary to begin play, give the player a taste of the challenges they will face, and then put additional information right at their fingertips whenever they want/need it.

    I can't think of a recent game I've played where I didn't make it through the official tutorial.  There are plenty I have quit before making it out of the newbie area, though.  If my first reaction is "I've played this game before", especially with a new release, they've lost me.  Definitely hit me up front with how your hit point bar is different than the dozens of others I've dealt with in the past... or whatever your distinctive game play element is.

     

    Blogging semi-regularly at http://damianov.wordpress.com

  • GrakulenGrakulen Staff Writer St. Charles, MOPosts: 460MMORPG.COM Staff Uncommon

    I like the EQ1 tutorial. You can jump in and out of it through the first 10 levels. A lot of old contextual systems that can be complicated but the tutorial was able to teach my 8 year old son how to play.

     

     

    ... and no he isn't some kind of MMO savant.... or maybe he is O.o

     
  • TorvalTorval Oregon CountryPosts: 7,221Member Uncommon

    Great article.  It is interesting hearing about the tutorial experience from your perspective with the marketing aspect.

    I never played CoH.  I liked the Lineage, Age of Conan, Guild Wars pre-searing, and the old EQ2 tutorials.  Of all those Tortage in AoC was one of the most memorable and immersive of any game I've played.  If the whole game felt that way I probably never would have left.

  • tweetstweets CambridgePosts: 10Member

    I was firstly very impressed by the way NWO did the tutorial, it is basic, but shows character progression well, and it teaches you some of the finer aspects of each class's early skills.

     

    However, I do find it more annoying now than I did.

     

    LotRO has a good tutorial, in that you learn a lot about lore and character manipulation... I also like the fact they have gone back and re-done the starting zones, so even veterans have a different experience now than they did 6 years ago!

  • xeraxxerax LondonPosts: 61Member Uncommon
    Interesting I found Coh very slow to start as you had barely any powers.

    Another thing I see is Epic story on the tutorial meet weak versions of end game stuff, appearances of the Arch villan , or some other major event. I am really not sure this works but I see why it's done. I prefer a few simple tasks in a sleepy corner of the world
  • ScotScot UKPosts: 5,769Member Uncommon
    You need a tutorial these days, all MMO's play the same.
  • OzmodanOzmodan Hilliard, OHPosts: 7,191Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by maplestone
    Originally posted by Ozmodan

    Kind of depends on the complexity of the game.  If you don't use the tutorial in Eve for your first character, you either spent a lot of hours online reading up on the game or you are a fool.  While some of these browser games it is completely unnecessary.

    I'm pretty sure most players do hours of reading whether or not they use the tutorial :)

    Eve's problem (in my humble opinion) is not the learning curve, it's the UI, a sort of rats nest of everything possible that is not organized in a way that lets you stumble onto the basic concepts by accident.  

     

     

    Eve probably the worst UI of any major MMO.  Those cascading menus are so 90ish, but I hear the next expansion is addressing some of those issues.

    I also agree that EQ1 has a very nice tutorial, someone put some thought into it.

  • BattlerockBattlerock Youngstown, OHPosts: 1,393Member
    I think leveling is good enough of a tutorial. That should be the whole point of leveling and tutorials then can be embedded into gameplay. So you perform the tutorial without even realizing it. With that said, leveling to cap should not take more than 20 hours of gameplay. We have so many mmo's out now that reaching level cap unless you only play one is a hassle/grind.
  • KeilaniKeilani AntwerpPosts: 17Member

    I think that the devs of The Settlers Online resolved it in a nice way. They implemented a tutorial in the first 16 levels and you can't skip it.

    Other from that I wouldn't mind having to play a tutorial (although I do skip a lot of tutorial tips in mmos) if it really helped me out. Especially when after the tutorial you already get a headstart in a mmorpg, which means you have the primary stuff done. The tutorial quests in most mmos is a nice thing too. You learn the mechanics in game (like crafting/ farming) while doing quests plus you get resources from those quests. Gives you a little headstart which makes further gameplat easier.

  • JaedorJaedor Denver, COPosts: 1,140Member Uncommon

    I like the LOTRO tutorials because they only pop up when you encounter something for the first time and default to "never show me this again". And I remember sending in a bug report because of the nearly-complete absence of tutorials in TSW, where they were really necessary.

  • residentxresidentx Columbia, MDPosts: 88Member
    Originally posted by Nefarion84
    one of my favorite tutorials was DCUO, taught you the game while making you feel pretty epic in the meantime

    Are you serious about DCUO?

    Tutorials are only useful if your game is mature. I played Deux Ex: Human Revolution and the UI was so different I had to go do the tutorial. It wasn't an MMO but the point is that you need to know and get certain things to get off to a good start.

    In regards to COH, I played the first tutorial in Praetoria and hated it. I only did tutorials for new alts with others to kill the pain.  

    I did like the revised one for heroes but the tutorial will tell me how complex the game is. If the tutorial is deep the game is probably decent.

  • jbombardjbombard SapporoPosts: 531Member Uncommon

    When a game is first released and there isn't much information online yet, a tutorial can be useful.  Frankly though, I think the job of the tutorial is not simply to teach you how to play but also to set the tone for the game.   Most games the story can be pretty sparse in the mid levels, so it is important to pull people in and get them invested in the story right away, but people aren't going to want to listen to a long ass cutscene.  So the tutorial is a good time to get the story rolling in between some relatively simple tutorial quests. 

     

    Honestly though if the game does a good job of pulling the player in, and the controls are relatively intuitive you don't really need a tutorial.  As most games you don't start off with super hard mobs and 30 abilities there is usually plenty of time to learn while you play.

     

    If you are talking about a B2P or sub game however, I won't buy the game if it doesn't have some form of limited trial available, which generally amounts to a tutorial and maybe a little bit after.

     

  • ET3DET3D Posts: 229Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by Nefarion84
    one of my favorite tutorials was DCUO, taught you the game while making you feel pretty epic in the meantime

    You're right. That's one of the few tutorials where I actually felt like my character was heroic, both in the sense of doing things beyond what most can do and doing things which are important.

    The main problem with this kind of tutorial is that once you get into the game proper you lose that feeling. Still, it's better than the early days of CoH where I always felt like a glorified cop instead of a superhero.

    Another tutorial I liked was the modern Everquest 2 one in New Halas. It took me to level 20 while teaching me about various aspects and engulfing me in a story which was sometimes memorable. It wasn't perfect, but I feel that it does stand out. Again, once I passed level 20 I got thrown into a world where people want me to kill stuff because they're too lazy or afraid to do it, and the difficulty of finding a real story to play made it less fun. (At least in CoH the story aspect did pick up as you went up the levels.)

  • AtmaDarkwolfAtmaDarkwolf Edmonton, ABPosts: 353Member

    The best tutorials, are not 'forced' before u play. The best ones are the once(or twice) little popups during gameplay telling you how to do something, or what you can do. IE you start into game and the game points out how to grab that first quest, how to accept it, etc. Simple stuff that MOST can get normally anyways, and this way the player can go on with it(IE don't need help) and if they DO need help, they can follow the onscreen promts.

     

    This way not only does it 'teach on the fly' but it won't get 'in the way' of a more experienced player.

     

    I know that many game tutorials just annoy me because they are trying to teach me shit I know, and i gotta wade though 10-15 min of a shitty tutorial treating me like a drooling retard, before I find that ONE tiny bit on how to do some weird, complicated, yet vital, part of the gameplay.

     

    Also many times, tutorials are just plain boring.. or they 'halt' gameplay to make you do some pointless 'thing' which likely, during the game itself, you will never do again, all to skip something which the dev's assumed would be 'common knowlage' yet just is not, unless your already a vet of the game.

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