I decided to to watch George Fan’s “How I Got My Mom to Play Through Plants vs. Zombies,” wherein he describes the his design team’s process in creating and adding tutorials for the game Plants vs. Zombies, and general principles when creating tutorials for players. The biggest takeaway that I got from this talk is that the designer’s goal is to make the tutorial as painless as possible for the players, because bad tutorials can draw players away from the game. Some of the ways in which this can be done are by minimizing the amount of text that a tutorial has, integrating the tutorial into the gameplay itself to a point where nobody knows that they are actually playing the tutorial, and by spacing out the different things that you want to teach the player so that they do not get overwhelmed and/or forget. These different design choices aim to make the game much more accessible to a much wider audience, and they make the game fun. And these different design choices and arguments in favor of them really do resonate with me; I personally find it hard to play through games with long tutorial sections that contain a good amount of text. My goal as the player is to hit the ground running and play the game as fast as possible, and anything that obstructs me from doing that is something that will deeply bother me. If the thing that obstructs me from enjoying the game is the game itself, it makes me hate the game and actively makes me not want to play it.
This talk reminds me of a video that I watched a very long time ago, where Shigeru Miyamoto talked about the level design in Super Mario Bros. All of the principles that were detailed in the talk were present in the very first level of Mario, because the level is designed to elicit different reactions from the player, letting the player find out what the different buttons do and when they should press the buttons. They figure out on their own that if they jump on goombas, they kill them, that they can hit the blocks for powerups, etc. It’s so minimal and it’s a tutorial philosophy that I enjoy. I firmly hold the position that the tutorial’s goal is to quickly ramp up the player to play the game with as little interference as possible, so this talk felt very validating.