Tutorials works better in video

Recently I've bought Super Mario Galaxy 2 (incredible game!) and I was surprised to see that the game was sold with an "How to play" DVD. It explains all the basics the new player need to know and some advanced technics.
This DVD reminds me a thought I had about the fact that watching a tutorial can be better than playing it. Why? I'll try to explain.
Responsive image SMG2 for dummies: the DVD Menu

Six month ago I played Batman Arkham Asylum, a great game with a clever level design. Anyway, I had some difficulties near the end of the game with the melee fights. It was enough hard for me that I had to watch a walkthough video on Youtube to see how I can pass through. And I realised that I didn't really understand how to defeat the guys with the knife (you need to stun them first, then jump over them to be able to kick them). In fact I remembered having played the tutorial with that guy but, I suppose that I have defeated them by doing the right thing by chance. Perhaps the tutorial was not clear enough but I don't think so. It's very hard to do a great tutorial and must harder to detect if the player has fully understand it.
In that case, the walkthrough video from Youtube was a great help.

When I worked on City Life I remembered the Lead Game Designer (that was the producer too) saying that he was really impressed by the tutorial video of Burnout 3. The first time you play the game you watch a short video (it can't be skipped) explaining every rules of the game. It's short, dynamic and cool. I think it works better than an ingame tutorial especially for a game as speed as Burnout where it's hard to indicate to the player how to play during a race.
So in City Life we have done some short tutorial videos for every game features. The other big advantage is in termes of production, it was easier to do than an ingame tutorial. Finally I think that it was almost the main reason ;)

On Red Steel 2 we used videos during the tutorials but not exactly for the same reason. On the Wii, during the tutorials, you need to show how the movement must be done and how the wiimote must be hold in hand. But it's something that is very hard to do with icons. Only Nintendo seems to do it pretty well on their titles. And in all the wii games I worked on it's the thing we had difficulties with (on RRRTV we used the rabbid to show the movement and that was a big fail because of the rabbid morphology not very near to the human one). Finally, it was working well on RS2 with a video of a girl doing all the movements, better than if we have done it in any other way.

Responsive image RS2 tutorials with the "cute girl in white"

So you understand that I love tutorials in video. But I'm not that obsess, and here's my thought about what could looks like the ultimate ingame tutorial:

  • Step 1: explain how to play to the player with ingame text & voice.
  • Step 2: give the player the choice to do it by himself or to watch a video first about how to play.
  • Step 3: if the player has achieve the tuto without seeing the video, give him the possibility to watch it before resuming the game.

Responsive image Tutorial with video in Super Mario Galaxy 2

Also, what could be interesting would be to add an ingame menu with all the tutorial videos. The player could consult them at anytime if he has forgotten something (which happen very often to me when I stay two weeks without playing).

With that kind of tutorials I wish I could understand how to play the duel fights in Red Dead Redemption ;)

Responsive image
Super Mario Galaxy2 box with the tutorial DVD (the yellow disc)

Leave a comment