Tutorial Torture

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Tutorial Torture

Sometimes tutorials are bad. Sometimes tutorials are obnoxious. Sometimes, you just weren't paying attention.

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Regarding real life- or gameworld context: Then there is Kojima, who makes himself an entire thing about having a special relationship with the fourth wall... :9

In Metal Gear Rising game never tells you that you dodge or dodge parry with square+cross. Granted, it's all wonky as hell but the sheer fact that it's just not there...

Clippy with a gun fettish, hahaha!

The only recent example I can think of regarding having trouble in a game because of not knowing the controls was Luigi's Mansion 2. I didn't realize you could press B while vacuuming to do a hop/dodge until I did it by accident trying to run while using the vacuum. I don't remember the game ever explaining that one, but it's a good thing I found it when I did because I was at a part where I kept dying and having to replay a mission due to getting attacked while vacuuming up another ghost and I was one more death and replay away from getting seriously pissed off. :p

Speaking of annoying hint in Bioshock Infinite...

I spent most of the game not using Plasmids because on Normal it just wasn't worth bothering. So I spent a large chunk of the game with "Press [BUTTON] to use plasmids!" at the bottom of my screen. Thanks game, you're really helping.

Why would you want to activate bullet time without leaping first? :P
I would also like to add: Please don't make controls overlap! I actually died once because the game prompted me to ask Elizebeth for ammo while I was pressing that button to do something else.

I do remember one of the big changes from Half Life to Half Life 2 being ditching the stand-alone tutorials- good, in a "game flow" kind of way, but the three assault course levels were fun in their own way- especially the Opposing Force one with the drill sergeant- and the moment where you were shot in the chest.

Resident Evil 4: I didn't realize there was a run button until I hit it by accident. Also, I couldn't find the reload button in the first tense situation when I needed it. It made that first fight in the village before the bell rings REALLY stressful.

--Morology!

The original Neverwinter Nights had the absolute worst tutorial imaginable. So you get the game your all excited and are immediately put in a MASSIVELY hour long tutorial that breaks any sense of immersion you possibly could have. You are bombarded with npc's who only exist to spout a wall of text like "press enter to pause game." and it goes on and on and on with npc's that are not really npc's but more like signposts full of text.

I never did play that game ...

For all purposes, open world devs need to take these exact rules in to account with objectives, etc. Yahtzee makes an extremely big point in his Far Cry 3 review: it's a great game, but I want to spend 4 hours goofing around the island. Because I'm not directly following 'game logic' I have one popup telling me the objective that remains on screen permanently, another telling me I should skin the deer 200 meters over there, yet another saying I have an extra weapon, another saying I should probably hide from those guys, and that doesn't include the achievements/levels/inventory ticker that stays onscreen way too long. Including the fact that I have a big ass rocket launcher taking up the right half of the screen, only ~25% of the screen is even visible.

All game engines these days have a "in/out of combat" toggle, have tutorials appear and disappear based on that. Give me only weapon tips on screen in combat so I know 'how to combat' and all the leveling/exploration stuff when screen clutter will not impact my survivability.

Zeckt:
The original Neverwinter Nights had the absolute worst tutorial imaginable. So you get the game your all excited and are immediately put in a MASSIVELY hour long tutorial that breaks any sense of immersion you possibly could have. You are bombarded with npc's who only exist to spout a wall of text like "press enter to pause game." and it goes on and on and on with npc's that are not really npc's but more like signposts full of text.

I never did play that game ...

Yeah, Neverwinter Nights was pretty atrocious at that. Took me hours to actually 'get into' the game.

In general: I'm often playing several different games at a time, so I enjoy a bit of repetition in my tutorials. My experience with playing a game I haven't played in a bit often includes a variation of: "Hang on, which button was crouch again...? No, wait! That's throwing a grenade! AAAAH!" *splat*

...Yeah, some of Bioshock Infinite's "tutorials" started coming across as,

Game: "Oh, please, we spent so many months on this feature, won't you at least occasionally use it?"

Me: "No, I'm doing just dandy, thanks; don't really feel a need to ready a less-enhanced Vigor and blow a bunch of salt on mooks who are going down just fine under the machine gun."

Game: "Well, you just suck. Fine. Here's another four weapons you'll never use."

Me: "Passive-aggressive, much?"

Part of my fatigue with GTA IV, especially on my second attempted play-through, was on broader but similar lines. "Oh, you created a working transit rail system? That's nice. And- oh, you can take pictures with your cell phone? And keep appointments on it? And there's a whole dart throwing mini-game? And an e-mail system?...

...And you're going to expect me to keep using all of this...? ...@$%#."

I'm glad for the presence of tutorials. But I think I'm also glad for games that have easy means to skip tutorial-related features, and games that are elegant and streamlined enough that 90% of what you need to know can be comprehended by studying the "configure controls" screen.

I'm playing Batman: Arkham City right now, and I will say that I think they've largely done a good job in helping the player out without getting excessively obtrusive.

I seems like most of these problems can be solved by pausing the game and checking the control scheme. I'd rather not have a game constantly trying to figure out if I need help with the buttons.

Most of my struggles with controls are things forgotten once I returned to a game later. Like many gamers, the new hotness is a tough draw to ignore. So I'll often hop into a new game prior to completing my current one, only to return later and keep fiddling with buttons. Can't tell you how many times I'd go from Borderlands to Halo then chuck a grenade while trying to zoom in my sniper rifle.

Some good points there.

Also they shouldn't contain spoilers unless the player specifically asks for it. I hate it when a game tells me how to defeat a boss just because I died a few times. It's related to distinguishing between mechanics and information related to the setting.

Here's a novel idea. Maybe some of those clever programmers could invent a system where the player can look up the information when needed. ;-)

Fallout:NV and Skyrim had a nice system with small 'cards' describing major gameplay features. Mass Effect had an in-game codex and Civilization had - well Civilopedia. Some people may prefer to have popup-messages telling them how to jump, but I think it should be one of several options.

You forgot one thing, have a check-box to says "Turn off this tutorial bullshit!".
Or maybe a second menu in the options screen that has all this tutorial information handily accessible instead of spamming this shit during gameplay?

And whatever happened to manuals? At least DS games still come with those, usually not very good ones, but anything is better then nothing.

I am the worst for. This. I start a console game and then don't get back to it for monts. I never finished AC2 or Arkham Asylum because it was so annoying and comber some to relearn the controls once I was deep in the game. I don't need a more elaborate series of prompts. I need a short control review tutorial or review that I can pull up at any time. Not the normal static control map picture. Something that lets me quickly play through the moves while not in combat, but that isn't in any way tied to cutscenes or the story progression or the games save status.

Sands of Time.

I played through the entire game until I got to (as far as I remember) the only point in the game where you have access to a save point but not a drinking fountain. Inevitably, the next obstacle required you to take a tiny amount of falling damage and I had a similarly tiny amount of health left, with no way to replenish it. So I started again from scratch and found two powerful new moves I'd missed the first time round because the tutorial text appeared at the bottom of the screen mid-fight while I WAS BUSY FIGHTING DUDES. JEEZ.

Mass Effect - 2 years later going for another playthrough

-press 'r' for grenades-

*Me seeing the overheating gun symbol

"I gotta get behind cover and reload" (this was more instinct that conscious thought though)

self death from grenade

"Oh yeah..."

You guys do know you can turn off the pop up hints in Bioshock Infinite right?

But yeah, it does seem very odd when a game gives you an obvious hint about basic stuff even when you're pretty far into the game.

Sonic Generations told me via a loading screen that rings serve as health RIGHT BEFORE the final boss.

It's not too big a deal to me, but it can be kind of annoying yes.

Some related information from Left 4 Dead's commentary:

[Jeep Barnett] Through playtesting we found that Left 4 Dead's unique cooperation mechanics were tricky even for seasoned gamers to grasp immediately. Failing because of rules that are not clear is never fun. Therefore, we designed the game instructor system to educate players as quickly as possible. Because first time players can potentially join an in-progress game at any point, it was critical that the game instructor dynamically interpret game events. It keeps a running list of the lessons that can be taught in the current context and displays the ones that are most important. It also tracks how many times the player has successfully demonstrated that they've learned the lesson. Once the player has proven competence at any specific lesson, the hint is never shown again.

The most annoying thing for me these days is games that don't auto-detect whether you're using a controller, so the button shown by the hint is irrelevant to what you're trying to do.

Just Cause 2 and Spec Ops: The Line only show hints assuming that I'm playing with the controller, whereas Blur and Psychonauts only show hints assuming that I'm playing mouse + keyboard. I was able to mod Psychonauts to show Xbox controls, but for the others I just have to memorize both sets of controls, so I can remember what keyboard button is mapped to the same function as the Xbox button shown on-screen.

Also 'tiers' of tutorials/hints.

For example (for a FPS) - on easy mode things would come up more regularly, also be different (r to reload) etc

Compared to 'hard' - where it would come up once or twice at the start and never come again (r to reload), because this is a common standard in FPS games. But things that are unique to the game (some kind of special attack) could be referenced more commonly.

Of course, a player could also disable the hints. Depending on their play style.

While reading this article I thought of a simple question: What about virtual manuals?

The appeal of a tutorial, to me, is the tutorial is meant to give the player experience with the game mechanics while holding their hands. See the tutorial sections in "Dungeons of Dredmor" as an example. Yet if the tutorials here are meant to tell the player what button to press or what to use to get past a door, why not just let them select help from a virtual manual?

The only flaw I can think of is the player(s) might not read the manual for the game. But isn't this the same as skipping and/or ignoring tutorials? Maybe a reason why tutorials are so annoying these days is because some players ignored reading the manuals?

Voltano:
Maybe a reason why tutorials are so annoying these days is because some players ignored reading the manuals?

No, the reason tutorials are annoying (and always have been) is because:

They are forced upon you when you start a new campaign/story/game as a sort of pre-mission or first mission/level.
These pre or first levels are usually insulting your intelligence and patience, are long winded, and do not instruct you in an organic manner.
Tutorials never tell you what you want/need to know and are never just quick about it.
They are never just fun to do. (Disgea on the DS is an exception in case you wanted to know how a tutorial can be done right in many aspects.)

On another note.

Manuals are mostly worthless anyway (I should know, I actually read the damn things), the only worthwhile manual I've ever read that I can still recall is the one from "Master of Magic", that one did this weird thing where it actually explained all the mechanics of the game and how stuff actually worked and how combat was actually calculated, it was exactly what you needed and wanted and when you read the damn thing you actually understood the game and basically knew how to play it.

It truly saddens me that I can go into a toyshop, pick out any board or card game of the shelve and it will have a manual that actually works while this is pretty much impossible to do with video games. Is it truly that difficult to explain how your game works?

marurder:
Also 'tiers' of tutorials/hints.

For example (for a FPS) - on easy mode things would come up more regularly, also be different (r to reload) etc

Compared to 'hard' - where it would come up once or twice at the start and never come again (r to reload), because this is a common standard in FPS games. But things that are unique to the game (some kind of special attack) could be referenced more commonly.

Of course, a player could also disable the hints. Depending on their play style.

This is something that has bugged me for a while. If I'm playing a shooter on "hard", or "insane", then I'd think the game would be justified assuming that I know how to reload, crouch, and (if applicable) aim down sights.

Also, if you're going to have a tutorial level, then for the love of god: don't let it be mandatory every time you start a new playthrough.

In Red Dead Redemption I died about a million and a half times because I had skipped over instructions on how to duel, but my honor and pigheadedness refused to allow me to just walk away from the jeering idiots challenging me in every town. The game doesn't include any kind of instruction screen for that particular mini-game, so I actually looked it up online.

Ninja Gaiden 3/Razor's Edge is pretty bad with this. For starters, the moment you stop moving, the game assumes you have no idea what the fuck you're doing. Then you constantly get bombarded with messages detailing: how to attack, how to slide, how to climb walls, how to cast ninpo, how to swing on poles, how to wall run, how to brush your teeth, how to make a sandwich, how to masturbate (not "the most effective way to", outright how to do so)... and this continues well into the final moments of the game!

Fortunately, that's the one area of the game that's merciful and you can turn the sumbitches off, though doing so leaves you completely blind when those infamous QTEs show themselves...

I'm disappointed that this thread title isn't actually what i hoped this thread would be about. Could have been such a promising thread.

I encounter problems with controls when I go back to play a game to try to have earn more trophies or achievements. Usually after I play a game through, with some exceptions, I like to take a break from it. I don't want to have a nonstop Dead Space horror marathon, or nothing but RPG Fallout overload. However, at the time that I have beat the game I had been very good at playing that particular game. I was very adept to quick reaction and aim in Dead Space, or combat timing in Arkham City, but when I leave a little of that deteriorates - especially if I go and play a game with a completely different control scheme. What makes it worse is that if I am going back to try to get more trophies most of those trophies are harder to earn ones, such as playing the game on the hardest difficulty, or beating extra challenges, so being a deteriorated expert is not something you want to do. Still, I think some games do provide a good job of having tutorial reminders available for selection so I could actually see what I was supposed to be doing, or prompt buttons often enough to remind you what something does.

The only time I was hurting from not knowing the controls was X-Men Legends for Gamecube, because I did not know how to use the vile that replenished my mutant powers until halfway through the game (the game only explained how it worked for health, and I didn't have the instruction book with the game copy I had). That was a bit annoying since I had to wait to use most mutant powers that had strength behind them. Other than that, I never had a real big issue with tutorial lack or pop ups. I think the Far Cry 3 prompts were a bit excessive, but you can disable them from the pause menu.

Those tutorial messages are a pet peeve of mine. The reason being, I'm a slow, meticulous kind of player. This means that (a) I take care to get a handle on the various controls BEFORE I need them and (b) games keep assuming I must be stuck because I actually took a minute to explore the room for goodies. And I don't want my hand held, thankyou; modern games are easy enough already. When I played Shadow of the Colossus I had to keep turning away from the clues at the bottom of the screen during boss fights so that I wouldn't be told what to do, and it was the only thing about that game I didn't like.

As for combat related tutorials, enemy and player DPS would be great markers for what hints to give out. If a player is taking enormous amounts of damage, giving them defensive tips about sprint and crouch are a good idea. Meanwhile, if the player is only outputting half the damage they should be, maybe it's time to tell them how to switch from the pistol to the assault rifle.

Oh, assassins creed 2.
'
"To do this, press <foot> and <hand>"

well what the fuck button is foot, exactl...

"Oh no, you've been discovered! Press <face>!!"

Face, I still don't know where foot is an....

"To take a bite out of the giant big as you hurl it at a guard, press <hand>, <face>, [bacon]"

Fuck this. '

If you're going to have tutorials, make them smart enough to show me the ACTUAL keybindings, or you're just being a dick.

Valderis:

Voltano:
Maybe a reason why tutorials are so annoying these days is because some players ignored reading the manuals?

No, the reason tutorials are annoying (and always have been) is because:

They are forced upon you when you start a new campaign/story/game as a sort of pre-mission or first mission/level.
These pre or first levels are usually insulting your intelligence and patience, are long winded, and do not instruct you in an organic manner.
Tutorials never tell you what you want/need to know and are never just quick about it.
They are never just fun to do. (Disgea on the DS is an exception in case you wanted to know how a tutorial can be done right in many aspects.)

That seems to back up my point: Tutorials are always given once at the start of the campaign, they force you through them so you can get an understanding of the game, and they don't care what kind of knowledge you had from previous games by treating you as a baby who plays a video game for the first time.

In contrast, look at board games, card games, or paper & Pencil RPGs: There is no way to get a tutorial in these things as they break the flow of the game. Yet all players are expected to understand the rules before the game starts so it flows right. "Candy Land" is simple for kids to play, but the adults still needs to know the rules. "Magic: The Gathering" has a rule-system that is simple to explain in a manual, yet provides a great deal of depth from what the cards dictate. And in "Dungeons & Dragons" you are *literally* buying a thick, heavy manual describing how the game is played -- and are expected to read it to comprehend how the game is played.

Another example would be software that isn't gaming related. Netbeans IDE is used by Java programmers; Microsoft Word 2007 is good for writing documents; and yWorks is good for building UML (Unified Modeling Language) documents for graphs. Do any of these programs force users, after they are installed, in a mandatory tutorial? Each of them provides a virtual manual the user can refer to if they get stuck, or go onto forums these days to ask for help.

ThrashJazzAssassin:
Sands of Time.

I played through the entire game until I got to (as far as I remember) the only point in the game where you have access to a save point but not a drinking fountain. Inevitably, the next obstacle required you to take a tiny amount of falling damage and I had a similarly tiny amount of health left, with no way to replenish it. So I started again from scratch and found two powerful new moves I'd missed the first time round because the tutorial text appeared at the bottom of the screen mid-fight while I WAS BUSY FIGHTING DUDES. JEEZ.

I actually disabled the tooltips because I was getting sick of them always popping up, and ended up missing the one explaining how to do the instantly-kill-everything move.

A great example of doing it wrong comes up in Enemy Territory: Quake Wars, which I decided to have another play with just recently - don't take control of the player and force them to do something when they're right in the middling of doing something else. Having a voiceover pop up and tell you what your new mission objective is and how to complete it is great. Having said voiceover take control and turn you around to face in the direction of your objective when you're in the middle of a big fight, on the other hand, really isn't. Especially since there's usually plenty of stuff in the way anyway and you just end up staring at a wall.

mrverbal:
If you're going to have tutorials, make them smart enough to show me the ACTUAL keybindings, or you're just being a dick.

Not only that, but try and make sure that the key bindings you're showing actually make the slightest bit of sense. I've had a couple of games helpfully tell me "press (X) to not die" or something along those lines. I don't own a console or any controller, I've never had anything with an (X) button attached to my PC, I have the controls set to use keyboard and mouse, and I'm quite clearly using them to play the game. If you've gone to the trouble of allowing different input options, surely it can't be that difficult to figure out which one is actually being used.

Shamus Young:
I played all the way through Max Payne without realizing I could activate bullet time without needing to leap first.

But where's the fun in that?

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