The Iceberg of Tutorial

The tutorial of a game is always considered as the gate of a game. A beautiful and opened gate is easy to attract players to come in and stay. On the contrast, a shabby and closed gate are easier to be ignored. The function of the tutorial as a gate is to teach players how to play. Generally, there are following ways to teach:

  1. A standalone level/chapter
  2. Behavior-related tips
  3. Randomized tips (always during loading)

In classical PC and console game, the cost of start playing a game is high. So if players enter the game, they will actually play with it for a while. However, the cost of mobile games are relatively low. So when players enter the game, they are still likely to abandon it. With the fast development of digital retailing, such as Steam, even the transition cost of PC game is already lowered. Therefore, another function for the tutorial is persuading players to stay. The followings can be a way to achieve or enhance this:

  1. Already start during tutorial
  2. Show potentials
  3. Give rewards
  4. Make it fun!

In a more deeper level, I believe its existence in my “subconsciousness”. The tutorial forms your mental process structure about this game. Just like the first impression of a person is really important even if it is hard to clarify what is the importance. If you meet the person in a professional situation, you will consider him/her in a professional way and focus on behaviors and competencies. If you meet the person in a casual situation, his/her sense of humor and habitats may be more important. In tutorial of games, think about the following questions:

  1. Do you want players to take the game seriously or casually?
  2. Which part of the game do you expect players to focus?
  3. Do you put passions when making the tutorial? (Players can feel it)

In sum, see the following figure.


The Iceberg of Tutorial
The Iceberg of Tutorial


3 thoughts on “The Iceberg of Tutorial

  1. To me tutorials are way more than merely a gateway into the game because a lot of games I no longer play the tuorial. Sure some games like Total War still force you to play the tutorial but with Civ5 and Beyond Earth there is no ‘tutorial scene’ but a really well thought out advice system (which does get annoying sometimes). I do understand where you are coming from in terms of tutorials for particluar games the act of indirect control via a tutorial level really helps to solidify the basic controls to play the game for the player. Recently I have been following the development of the game Volume and the creator of the game talks about how his ‘system of tutorial’ is to slowly ramp up the complexity of the game by introducing his mechanics one after the other and have areas that while not necessary to go to can be accessed by combining mechanics that were tought previously with new ones. It allows the progression of the game as well as letting the players feel smart for doing extra stuff. I will leave with this which is a really great breakdown of megaman X (shout out to Adam for showing this to me)

  2. Good points from a game designer’s angel. The tutorial is always the opening of game, the first impression to players. It is really necessary to design carefully and take care of the player’s emotion and feeling. I love your question about “the player’s situation”, it is a very good issue to think about it. In my opinion, a good game design is based on taking care of all kinds of player’s situations and feelings. So if you consider that, you are starting from the right issue to a better design.

  3. I also wrote a blog talking about MOBA tutorials. It’s inspiring to read yours. I really like the Iceberg of Tutorial. Generally speaking, teaching naive players how to play is one of the key challenges of game design. In your iceberg, the very first tech step is the hardest one. Because people open a game for fun not for a lesson, it’s hard to attract them to follow the tutorial and maintain their motivation to continue. However, if we manage to teach them first and then gradually “mind control” players, that tutorial will be a great success.

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