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The staff of gets together to bring you some behind the scenes insights on stories, the industry and the site itself.

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Contributors: BillMurphy,MikeB,garrett,SBFord,Grakulen,

Community Spotlight: Tutorials

Posted by MikeB Sunday January 27 2013 at 2:33PM
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In this week's Community Spotlight we focus on the thread, "Who's idea was it to have tutorials for mmorpgs?!?" by bcbully.

Please get rid of tutorials.

I think they do more harm than good for first impressions. After trying a new beta still under NDA, I just had to stop and say "man this sucks." Now I wasn't talking about the game it's self, because that felt good, real good, but the tutorial made me exit game.

Give me a clear concise help center/guide/maual then let me figure it out. Stop this bad tutorial nonsense.


Read on for some highlights from the discussion!

VirgoThree offers a comprehensive take on the topic:

Tutorials are fine, and to be honest should be there the more complex your game is. Most of us on this site have progressed with this genre through the early days. So all of the incremental advancements and features throughout the years come natural to us.

However, throw a total newbie to MMO's or even a newbie to gaming in with out a tutorial and the out come is likely a brief period of frustration.

Think of it this way. A lot of console gamers grew up with NES games. All you had was a d-pad, A, B, select, and start buttons. That's it! Games were very straight forward and intuitive (at least good ones) so you didn't really need a tutorial. If you had questions, you could look at the manual.

These same console gamers have adapted and grew up with the console industry. When the SNES came out, we now had X,Y,L,R buttons added to the controller. This was an incremental change, and we adapted.

Now comes N64. We have an Analog stick, Z button, and acouple others! Again we adapted with it, because it was an incremental change.

Now fast forward to the current gen, and we have Dual Analogs, d-pad, Four face buttons, 4 Shoulder buttons (2 on each side), and the dual analogs are buttons too! Again we adapted because this was still incremental. However, throw a new gamer into a modern console game, and they will need time to figure out what the hell is going on. Some will learn quickly, others will take more time and that is where tutorials come into play.

With all that said, i think the idea of forced tutorials need to go the way of the dodo. The market obviously has many seasoned gamers, but at the same time new gamers as well. The older gamers should not be forced to relearn how to aim for the 1000th time, or that a quest is a thing you do to get loot and exp. So in short I say keep tutorials, but do not force them upon us.

Biskop doesn't mind optional pop up tutorials, but hates being forced into full blown tutorials:

Optional pop-up tutorials are fine, at least if the game is complex and non-intuitive at first (like EVE and AoW, two games with a vast quality difference between their respective tutorials btw).

Personally I hate tutorials and prefer figuring things out on my own (one of the things I liked about MO was that it just dropped you into the world and let you find your own way), but I know that I'm in the minority here and that tutorials help bring new people in.

Zzad believes strongly in the use of tutorials:

I believe Tutorials are very well needed for A LOT of players.

they serve as introduction to the game and...

they usually give you some kind of reward for doing them anyway!

Usually u can skip them after the first run....or even b4

Some MMORPGS really need a Tutorial....

I disagree srry OP.

Personally, I don't mind the optional tutorial, but I think developers have been going around the implementation of tutorials in MMOs all wrong. For those of who are veterans of MMOs, we are likely to skip any tutorials offered (or be annoyed by the unskippable ones and not learn anything new in the process). Newbies, on the other hand, obviously benefit from the tutorial, if they are bothering to pay attention.

I think developers should perhaps spend the time creating a sort of 'intelligent tutorial' that only provides you with help based on how you're playing the game. Load into the world for the first time and find yourself standing around doing nothing for 30s because you don't realize WASD are your movement keys? Present the information to the player. If the player seems to know all the MMO basics and starts moving around and opening up key UI panels quickly, the game could detect he's got a basic familiarity with MMOs and only present tips on systems that may be specific to the game.

Is this a worthwhile investment of development time? Perhaps, perhaps not. I feel the first hour or so of the MMO experience can often make or break it for a new or even veteran player. This means putting the time into creating a starting experience that is less annoying for the vet and intuitively informative to the newbie at the same time may be worth the additional effort.

What do you think? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below!

bliss14 writes: Make it optional.  "Do you want to skip the tutorial?"  click yes, get put on the map where the tutorial would end with all the items - if any - that the tutorial would have given you.  There, just saved humanity. Sun Jan 27 2013 3:06PM Report
MaxJac writes:

bliss, Your suggestion assumes that the game has not tried to do anything new. If it has, then players who skip will shoot themselves in the foot.

I agree with Mike, I really like it when tutorials are integrated into the experience. It has to be intelligent like he suggests though. I hate it when a game gives me the tips as I move around for anything and everything when I am only interested in what may be new to me.

Sun Jan 27 2013 7:28PM Report
sunshadow21 writes: Perhaps have a tiered system of tutorials. Start with the basics, this how you move, this is how you access the character sheet, etc. Make that skippable. Than move onto a tutorial that has more game specific topics, with each topic being skippable. The biggest problem with many tutorials now is that they tend to be all or nothing when most people really need one or two to the things the entire tutorial covers. Sun Jan 27 2013 10:43PM Report
Freezzo writes: I think the tutorial as in Aion is great. You get a bar on the right side of your screen on about everything and when you click it you see a short video with textual instructions on how to do something. Only the fact they stay there is quite annoying. Mon Jan 28 2013 5:13AM Report
Motroucet writes:

I'm gonna' go with the unpopular notion and agree with Zzad. Forced tutorials (whether the actual tutorial is good or bad is immaterial) are beneficial to ALL players; yeah sure 'Vets' can just 'pick up and play' (so to speak) but the fact is every single game we play is different. No doubt there are very strong similarities in gameplay and mechanics for titles in the same genre but it doesn't discount the fact that it is still a different game; and as such, has differing aspects. 

We are now at a time where almost every developer (in MMOs) wants to deviate from the standard and offer something unique - so of course the result is a different game which undoubtedly has qualities that separate it from any other game.

Now my point is if people skip tutorials or worse - if there aren't any, then 'veterans' will likely miss aspects of the game which aren't found in other titles; whilst complete newcomers will be left wondering: "What the farquart do I do?" Also, I am aware that vets - due to their years of experience - can surely figure out differing elements; by just examining the scenario and the screen, or even going on the 'net; but why make life harder - if you bothered to do the tutorial (which a good one will cover everything essential) then it would've covered all the bases.

So I'll end by asking you folks this: Why complain about a brief tutorial - that barely lasts a single hour - when you're probably gonna' play the game for hundreds more? What is one hour out of countless hundreds?

P.S. I've equipped +7 Flame Shield, so fire away! :)

Mon Jan 28 2013 8:51AM Report
BadSpock writes:

My problem is that many if not most MMOs give you a LOT more than an hour or so worth of tutorial time.

It's more like days/weeks of grinding and "learning" and slowly picking up skills and abilities and adding complexity to the equation with stuff like talents, gear bonuses, augmentations/enhancements etc.

The games only really get more "fun" when you have lots of points and powers and gear etc. to play with and really flesh out a character.

But it takes days/weeks of grinding to get to that point. Why?

I'd love to see a game where you got 75-80% of your character potential maximum "advancement" and/or complexity in the first 10-20 hours of play time.

Then the last 25-20% would take weeks/months.

If I were to use GW2 as an example, the trip from level say 1-65 would take less than a day's playtime but then 65-80 would take weeks/months.

I'm just sick of this whole 50 levels - 49 of which are or feel like a tutorial thing.

In this day and age, I'd make a very hefty bet that the vast majority of people trying a new MMO game have played another MMO before.

Mon Jan 28 2013 10:49AM Report writes:
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