I did an interview recently at Boing Boing Gadgets on tutorials. Here’s an excerpt:
So what’s the best real world example of tutorial you’ve ever come across?
I’ve seen lots of good tutorials, but I’m finding it hard to think of great ones. Making a great tutorial may be the hardest part of the developments process; it’s certainly the part I find the hardest. I would like to mention one interesting thing that Prince of Persia: Sands of Time did which served as a tutorial even though it didn’t feel like one. Between levels, you would see a black-and-white dream sequence which showed some of the moves you needed to make to pass the upcoming area. The visuals were not specific enough that it spoiled the puzzles, but they did introduce you to the advanced moves you would need so that you were better prepared for a new challenge. I had never done a wall run before, but when I saw one during the dream sequence, I immediately became aware that there was a new skill I should master in order to pass the next level. The game still took the time to teach me the literal button presses needed to do a wall run, but the dream sequence did a great job of making me want to learn this new move because I saw the context for it. Finding a way to show off cool features to encourage learning is a great idea—Google seems to be doing this as well with their product video demos for Street View and whatnot.