Tutorial design

 
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MikeRozak



Joined: 27 Nov 2005
Posts: 15
Location: Australia

PostPosted: Tue Aug 22, 2006 2:45 am    Post subject: Tutorial design Reply with quote

Is there a writeup on, or is anyone willing to describe, the non-obvious basics that should be in a MUD tutorial? Specifically, I'm thinking about the well-made tutorials you find in professional MUDs like MUD II, Iron Realms, and Simutronics. These usually involve a NPC leading a new player around by the hand describing movement, inventory, combat, etc.

What I'm interested in is specific feedback in the form of "usability" that has been done, such as "We specifically led players to the inn, because we found that if we didn't, most new players couldn't find it." Basically, non-obvious results; I know that movmement, picking stuff up, equiping weapons, etc. has to be in there. Other non-obvious information might include, "If you tutorial is 30 minutes long then 60% of players leave the game and never come back, but if it's only 10 minutes only 20% of the players leave." Or, for example, I notice that some of the games send a greeter (real person) over to say hello.

PS - I'm even more interested in tutorial tips targeted at completely-new never-played-a-MUD-before players, the sort you attract from casual web sites. The tutorial is for my game, preliminary web site at http://www.mxac.com.au/mif
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KaVir



Joined: 11 May 2005
Posts: 565
Location: Munich

PostPosted: Wed Aug 23, 2006 1:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I must admit I'm not much of a fan of in-game tuturials. A decent tutorial document on the website is definitely nice to have, but within the game itself there are few things that put me off faster than being dragged by the hand through a newbie area.

So my personal opinion would be:

1) Provide a well layed-out tutorial on your website,

2) Make sure there are plenty of detailed help files within the game, and:

3) Provide optional and easily accessable learning locations which players can leave and come back to whenever they like.
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Virago



Joined: 06 Jan 2006
Posts: 12
Location: Just south of Nashville

PostPosted: Wed Aug 23, 2006 5:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It probably depends on the game you're building as to exactly how you should handle a tutorial, if any. If you're using a custom codebase, for example (either homebrew, heavily modified stock, or just a flavor that you don't see very often), it'd probably help to have some sort of "getting to know the game" area, albeit some games might benefit from having it not be part of the gameworld proper (especially if you're going for an immersion-heavy theme). The idea of being able to return to training zones sounds fairly solid to me, as well.

Make it skippable, though. Please. Especially if there's no significant bonus from running through the tutorial.
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MikeRozak



Joined: 27 Nov 2005
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Location: Australia

PostPosted: Wed Aug 23, 2006 9:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Skippable and returnable are a must. A good help system is already incorporated.

I'd rather not have a tutorial, but my gameplay is signficantly different to anything out there. (As is my UI.) Without a tutorial, too many people wouldn't get it, and would wander around the world whinging about the lack of orcs to kill... which is not the point of the game.
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KaVir



Joined: 11 May 2005
Posts: 565
Location: Munich

PostPosted: Thu Aug 24, 2006 7:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
I'd rather not have a tutorial, but my gameplay is signficantly different to anything out there. (As is my UI.)


Mine too, but I found that a sequence of "hints" was enough to cover that. When you first create your character you get told:

IMPORTANT! This mud has a steep learning curve, and to do well you will need learn various player skills. If this is your first character, and you don't want to be torn apart in your first fight, please type 'help newbie'.

<HINT> To learn to fight, type 'target practice grounds' and follow the hints.


The hints are connected to specific commands, so you don't have to do them in any particular order, and you can completely ignore them (or even switch them off) if you prefer. But if you follow the hints they'll take you through the basics of gameplay.

Quote:
Without a tutorial, too many people wouldn't get it, and would wander around the world whinging about the lack of orcs to kill... which is not the point of the game.


A problem I found is that some players will ignore the information - they won't read the tutorial, the hints or the help files. And as long as you're not forcing them to jump through the hoops, you will have to deal with people like that.

The best solution I was able to come up with was to force players to complete certain challenges before they could pass beyond a certain point. Skilled players can skip the training part and go straight to the challenges, but complete newbies need to go through the training first so that they can learn what they're doing.

The interesting part I found is the attitude of the veteran players towards the newbies. Although the veterans will give suggestions and advice (and sometimes even equipment), those asking for major help with the main challenges will usually be told to do it themselves because it's "for your own good". The players recognise that it's not just a useless hoop, but a way of proving that you've got the skills needed to play and survive in the big pond.
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