So, I just gave an interview on tutorials, during which I had hoped to give a concrete example of a game which handled its tutorial poorly. Unfortunately, my memory failed me as most game tutorials eventually seem to blur together. Naturally, just today I saw a perfect example of how not to write one. The game is called Bloxorz, and it is a quite good puzzle game that feels a bit like a turn-based version of Marble Madness, if that makes any sense.
At any rate, when the game begins, the player is moved through 9 screens that give instructions on how to play. The problem is that this information is simply too much for the player to digest before he or she has even a tangible sense of how the game works. Simply put, gameplay cannot be described with just words. Did you understand my Marble Madness analogy in the paragraph above? Probably not. However, as soon as you actually play the first level, the basic gameplay becomes quite clear.
Thus, advanced features, like switches and teleports, are meaningless to the player until he or she actually understands the core game. The tutorial could be twice as effective if each of the instructions screens was simply placed before the level in which the new feature first appears. The designer is essentially forcing the player to read the entire manual cover to cover and then hoping that everything gets remembered. Information should be handed out to the player only when needed.
Give the game a try, it’s fun! Just not the best tutorial experience…