Tutorials Tagged Articles RSS Feed | GameSkinny.com Tutorials RSS Feed on GameSkinny.com https://www.gameskinny.com/ en Launch Media Network Should Video Games Be Criticised for Not Holding the Player's Hand? https://www.gameskinny.com/d5u42/should-video-games-be-criticised-for-not-holding-the-players-hand https://www.gameskinny.com/d5u42/should-video-games-be-criticised-for-not-holding-the-players-hand Mon, 03 Apr 2017 08:00:01 -0400 Damien Smith

Over the past decade, gamers have become ever more dependent on video games telling them how they are played and what to do. For those few occasional games that don't, it often leads to heavy criticism and an equally as heavy deduction in review scores. But should those video games that don't hold a player's hand but really criticised for it?

To get the answer to that question we must take a look at the way video games used to be, how they are now and the society of then compared to the modern that we live in.

How it used to be

Due to the limitations of hardware memory limits back in the early 90s, having fully detailed step by step tutorials in games was not possible. Instead, controls, backstory and details on how the mechanics of a game worked were found in its manual that came with it.

This resulting in the games themselves never holding the player's hand, forcing them to either read the manual or figure things out for themselves. More often than not the player would press on and figure the answer on their own, to stop playing the game and read a manual is boring after all.

Ishar: Legend of the Fortress, Ishar

While it resulted in the player possibly struggling to come to grips with the game at first, without on-screen tutorials, it didn't slow down the gameplay in any shape or form. It also means that if the player already had a fair idea how the game worked, they didn't have to go through tedious mandatory tutorials.

It was a time where the internet was in its most primitive stage, a time the answer to any question wasn't just a click away. If you were perhaps stuck in a game, you couldn't just look up the solution. You either had to figure it out or have a friend help you if they knew the answer.

What exactly is my point you are probably wondering? Allow me to reply to that with a question of my own, were games criticised for not having on-screen tutorials and instructions then? The answer to that is no and that is the point I am attempting to make with this segment of this article.

Little Big Adventure, LBA

Society and how people acted were very different back then. If they came across an obstacle, they overcame it generally using their own intellect or methods of problem-solving. Today, however, things are quite the opposite.

The way it is today

Video games today are quite the opposite to what they used to be. Practically every single game you play, has on-screen instructions being shoved in your face left, right and centre. It doesn't matter if you are a veteran of the genre or not, the game will still give instructions and quite frankly, it really pisses me off.

I don't mind receiving instructions on a game that has a never before seen mechanic or gameplay. But for those that offer a similar experience to dozens of other games, there should at least be a bloody option to turn off the tutorials. Most of the time there isn't.

Minecraft, creativerse

Now, you might be thinking I am being a petty by saying all this but I have a reason for it. In the society that we live in, we have become so accustomed to getting every answer we need with a simple click be it through a computer or mobile phone, that we don't even think for ourselves anymore.

When was the last time you came across an obstacle you couldn't figure out and didn't immediately look up the answer on the internet? I beg it has been a damn long time and I am just as guilty of this myself. The point I am making is, that when a game doesn't explain everything to the last detail, people get very upset about it.

This is because every answer we seek is at our fingertips at all times. Some games are designed to be vague and purposely don't tell you every little thing you need to understand them. But is that reason to hate it?

Alien Shooter

Don't hate a game because it doesn't tell you everything

My bitterness and reason for this topic come from the general response to the video game Knock Knock and others similar to it. The general players and professional critics alike mostly hated the game for the reason that it doesn't hold your hand.

But that is the point of the game and its character. You are playing as and receiving advice from a character who is near insane. Imagine having a discussion with such an individual. Do you think their words would be crystal clear in showing what they are attempting to explain? Of course not.

And that is exactly what the developer did and they got heavily criticised for it. Am I just a frustrated fan who's beloved game got a heavy beating and decided to have a rant about it? No. I am not. What I am doing is pointing out the principle of the matter and that is something shouldn't be hated because it doesn't give you the answers in a crystal clear manner.

f.e.a.r, fear, 2

We have become so used to having all the answers to our questions in an instant that as soon as something appears that doesn't give us the answers we want, we tear it apart. If it isn't understood or you don't agree with it, destroy it. It is the way of modern society, yet not a good philosophy to live on.

Some of the most intriguing things and instigation of discussion come from the those that we cannot explain. So why can't video games that don't explain everything be treated with the same respect?

My answer to the original question of should video games be criticised for not holding the player's hand, is simply no, they shouldn't. Some games are simply designed that way for a reason. Sometimes it is to fit in with the world the game is set in others it is just to have a game the way it used to be.

Either way, a game should never be criticised simply because it doesn't hold your hand. After all, as adults we haven't gotten to where we are, having our hand held our entire lives. So why should we act any differently, when it comes to video games?

The Constants and Variables of Everyday Gaming https://www.gameskinny.com/8ieq3/the-constants-and-variables-of-everyday-gaming https://www.gameskinny.com/8ieq3/the-constants-and-variables-of-everyday-gaming Mon, 04 Aug 2014 13:55:06 -0400 Simon Costelloe

As long time gamers, we are accustomed to certain clichés in gaming that have existed in the gaming world since the dawn of time – or at least since the release of Pong in 1972. These clichés have pretty much always existed and will surely live on for years to come given that if they were to disappear, we as gamers would feel scared and we would inevitably revolt and demand the return of explosive barrels.

It is easier to understand what I am trying to say if you imagine that all games are made in the BioShock universe…I’m sure that clears things up. As we discovered in the beautiful BioShock Infinite, there are constants and there are variables.

Games are no different and if you look hard enough you will find their lighthouse.

Some examples of these “constants” are:

1. Explosive Barrels

Ah yes, the explosive barrel. I mentioned this little guy already probably because he is the most well-known and overused cliché of them all. These unstable containers are home to liquids so volatile that they will seemingly explode once hit with a single bullet or in some cases after a good smack with your knife after hitting the melee button. I am so confident that this would never happen in real life that I almost dared anyone who reads this to go out and find a barrel or an oil tank and smack it around a bit with a pipe before I was advised not to by my lawyer.

I recently went back to play Far Cry 3 in preparation for the next installment in the series and I am nearly convinced that there are more explosive containers on Rook Island than local inhabitants.

This constant is also one of the most likely to never go away as the explosions that result after committing barrel genocide help create a very cinematic experience and also allows the game to flex it’s graphical muscles.

2. Tutorials

Oh tutorials how I hate you with every fiber of my being. “Hold right stick up to look up and right stick down to look down” and “Press the A button to jump” always sour the first 5 to 30 minutes of a game for me. I have been playing games for so many years now that if I jumped into a game I never heard of I would most likely require only 5 to 10 seconds of figuring out the controls with some exceptions in the case of a funky game mechanic such as time reversal in Singularity.

Of course I am looking at this from a very personal perspective and there are kids (and some adults) out there who are playing a game for the first time and have never fired a virtual gun or jumped over a knee high wall. Some games do it better and allow you to turn off tutorials before you begin the game while some games like Portal 2 and Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon do it right with the tutorial in the latter being activated as a prank on your player with some instructions asking you to “Press A in order to demonstrate your ability to read”. However this may be troublesome for people who can’t actually read and are stuck at the start forever.


3. Stupid AI

Humans have yet to discover how to create a fully functioning Artificial Intelligence, which is either a good thing if it turns out like the Johnny Depp computer in Transcendence and tries to destroy all of humanity or a bad thing if we could somehow create EDI from the Mass Effect series.

As a result we are left with enemies and companions alike who will stand in your way and refuse to move such as Fawkes in Fallout 3 or the guards in Thief 4 that will walk from one side of the street to the other for hours on end simply to stare at a wall. These simple enemies obviously exist because real life guards and bandits would not forget how your player character just shot them in the face with an arrow but instead they would hunt you down mercilessly and therefore make any kind of stealth game impossible to beat.

4. Escort Missions

By this I do not mean you get to play as an escort dating rich men for big money but instead you get to lead a confused and non-combat trained companion to safety.

This obviously ties in with my previous entry but I felt these were annoying enough to deserve their own category.

Whether it be allies who disappear and glitch into a wall or small children that for some reason are vulnerable to gunfire, escort missions either need a major overhaul or they should be avoided completely.

Notable examples of escort missions done well however include Elizabeth from BioShock Infinite who is a capable ally you come to rely upon when playing on harder difficulties due to her tear opening abilities and also Ellie from the Last of Us who is a character that you will bond with and never feel like she is a burden preventing Joel from surviving.

5. Gimmicky Weapons

There are so many games out there that require the player to master a wide array of weaponry but how many times can we fire an M14 in a game and not have it feel like the last 2 games we just played?

Developers of games containing firearms must ask themselves this question a lot and that is why some shooters try to stand out from the crowd and so we get the Gravity Gun from Half Life.

Many people love this gun and I must admit finding some form of pleasure when I cut a zombie in two after firing a saw-blade at him.

Wolfenstein: The New Order has to be one of my favourite games this year but I hated when the game was trying desperately to have me use its “Laserkraftwerk” contraption. It wasn’t until the weapon was fully upgraded that I felt it was actually useful in combat but that didn’t stop the game automatically equipping it on me every time I died and respawned.

Games that do it right are the Fallout games that throw in so many gimmicky weapons such as the “Rock-It Launcher” and the “Nuka Grenade” but have them be entirely optional and fun alternatives to an assault rifle.

6. Shiny Activatables

If ever you needed evidence that game developers think we are stupid…here it is. I can’t think of anything more patronizing in games than having a glowing red button lighting up half the screen or in the case of L.A. Noire having clues not only shine a little bit but walking over them causes your controller to vibrate and a cute little chime plays over your speakers.

There are pros and cons to this category with many gamers feeling that games have gotten too easy and some gamers believing they just don’t have the time anymore to spend hours looking for a meaningless collectible or a button under a desk.

These are just some of the things I’ve noticed in my many years of gaming, have I missed any?

TableTopTutorials Kickstarter Campaign Set To Make Learning a Game Fun! https://www.gameskinny.com/71j2g/tabletoptutorials-kickstarter-campaign-set-to-make-learning-a-game-fun https://www.gameskinny.com/71j2g/tabletoptutorials-kickstarter-campaign-set-to-make-learning-a-game-fun Sat, 10 Aug 2013 17:49:33 -0400 nicholas.w.fuller

TableTopTutorials.com is under construction. We need your help to make our vision a reality!

When our quest is complete and our kickstarter campaign is successful, we will be bringing you not only a beautiful website with easy to find, user-submitted content, but we’ll also create our own tutorial content for some of our favorite games.

Our goal with the website is to make it easy to find and learn a new game to play. You’ll be able to search the games on the site and find ones that have good reviews from other players. When you see one you’re interested in, you can watch a video tutorial on how to get your first game started. If you have any problem during your first game, you’ll likely find the answer in that games FAQ. We will make it easy to get going with any game, even if you’re completely unfamiliar with it.

If you’re a veteran gamer and you’d like to share your knowledge, you can submit content to the site. Whether you’d like to share your own video tutorial, or you just want to give your favorite game 5 stars, you can contribute to TableTopTutorials.

The other part goal with our Kickstarter campaign is to be able to produce some of this content ourselves. We’ve created some videos already, including a demo page for the game Cards Against Humanity, but we’d love to get some better equipment and spend some extra time making content for at Least 3 more of our favorite games: Pandemic, Munchkin, and Settlers of Catan.

This will be a lot of work, but with your help, we can make it happen!

5 Tips for Creating a Better In-Game Tutorial https://www.gameskinny.com/vwfpz/5-tips-for-creating-a-better-in-game-tutorial https://www.gameskinny.com/vwfpz/5-tips-for-creating-a-better-in-game-tutorial Fri, 14 Jun 2013 10:51:32 -0400 ben.sipe

Editor's Note: We're really excited to have Ben here from NativeX, sharing his experiences and expertise in the gaming industry!

For app developers, getting people to your app/game is your first and largest problem. After you obtain, purchase or organically get them to install you immediately hit your second largest problem. How do you hook them and keep them coming back? With all the screens fighting for our attention today, mobile developers have about 30 seconds to get the players’ attention. This is why tutorial design is so critical and often isn’t given the attention that it deserves.

Event track every step in the tutorial. 

It’s important to know what first time players are doing. If you can understand what they’re doing then it’ll be easier to know what they’re thinking or feeling. This is why it’s critical to create events and track each one separately to help you understand if there’s a flaw with the information you’re providing, an action that’s too complicated or frustrating, etc. These steps will help you create a tutorial funnel. Anywhere there is a big drop off, there is also a problem.

There are 2 obvious problems here. 

  1. There is a significant drop off early on which could mean a number of things such as; players didn’t like the context/theme/artwork of the game, perhaps the icon/description/screenshots were misleading or perhaps players just didn’t know how to get to the next section. If you’re walking players step by step through the tutorial (also known as gating) then the last scenario is unlikely.
  2. There’s another drop towards the end. It could be related to a technical issue, a login screen (e.g. Facebook) or player confusion with the UI or information presented.

Sometimes it’s difficult to determine the reason but you can always get an outsiders perspective to help you thinking outside of your own code. Just remember if you’re trying to fix a particular problem don’t implement too many changes, or it’ll be hard to understand which fix is solving the issue (or making it worse).

Alert players who haven’t completed the tutorial.

Local notifications are a great way to call players back to your app if they allow them. Local notifications can also be a great tool to remind players to come back to your game to finish a tutorial if they didn’t complete it. We all hope that players could make it through a 30 second to couple minute tutorial, but life happens. Perhaps they installed your game earlier and are just getting around to playing it while waiting in line somewhere.

You want to be able to remind those players that they haven’t fully experienced your game. Just remember not to be pushy or obnoxious with your alerts. There’s probably no reason to call them back more than once per day. 

Show players how to make an IAP or spend premium currency. 

If your game has a dual currency system (soft/hard or secondary/premium) then it’s great to show them how to use the premium or hard currency. You want players to understand the value of the premium currency and content so they’ll want it more. This is something good tutorials do. Great tutorials take it a step further and show players how to complete an in app purchase (IAP) in order to get that premium currency. They don’t make players’ spend real money in the tutorial. Instead they say something like “this one is on us.” This does two things; 

  1. It’s instilling the perception that you’re being generous to players. Generosity creates a positive emotion with players, and you want those types of emotions or feelings associated with your game.
  2. It shows players the IAP screen. We all want our players to spend premium currency, but we want them to buy it even more. Explaining how to do something with players can work for a small percentage, but showing players how to do something is much more effective.  

Give incentive them to stay and finish. 

Many developers think their game is different or unique from others and we all hope our games become industry standards. However, the honest truth is most games incorporate mechanics that have been used in other games. If a player knows how, or thinks that they know how, to play your game then why force them to complete a tutorial if they don’t want to? I know we all want players to understand our games, but you may also drive off a percentage of players as well. This also helps instill the feeling of generosity like mentioned earlier and gives players a little “walking around money” to get started in your game.

This actually happened to me recently. I was playing a city building simulation game and I completely understood how to play the game, but I was forced to complete a long and tedious tutorial. I became annoyed, quit, uninstalled and never came back. If I knew there was an option to skip the tutorial I would’ve, and if it prompted me to stay and complete the tutorial for premium currency/content then that would’ve changed my mood altogether. I always complete tutorials if I know there is a premium reward at the end. 

Shorten the tutorial or break it into smaller pieces. 

You don’t have much time to show players how to play your game before they lose interest or feel overwhelmed. I know you’ve just spent a decent portion of your life dedicated to the story or world you were creating but not all players are interested in character development or storylines. It’s best to just show players how to play your game, and if you game has depth allow players to explore that depth on their own. The ones who are interested in that level of involvement will find it. Trust me. 

Another way to shorten tutorials is to break them into smaller pieces. Show player how to do the bare minimum and get them into the action. Then when another area of the game is unlocked, or the player reaches a particular level, call in another short tutorial. Do this for all new mechanics or areas of your game when they appear versus in one sitting. It’ll get players into our game more quickly, and they’ll generally retain smaller chunks of information. 


If you’d like to talk about this or any other ideas you can find me here at my blog, the NativeX blog or on Twitter.

War Thunder- Single Player Missions! https://www.gameskinny.com/vqwtr/war-thunder-single-player-missions https://www.gameskinny.com/vqwtr/war-thunder-single-player-missions Mon, 06 May 2013 18:08:41 -0400 Captain Rob

Ahoy everyone! Ever wonder what it would be like to fly on a top secret mission back in world war II? Being outgunned, outmatched, and even out of your mind taking on the allied or axis forces? Well now you can, in War Thunder’s single player and co-op missions. Fly solo or co-op with some buddies or total strangers! Create custom battles to challenge you and your friends by going up against all odds or devastating the enemy! You can even start a grand campaign and keep track of what areas you were successful in and which areas you were defeated all leading up to whether you win or lose the campaign!

What Do I Get For Doing These?

Well first off, you get experience in more ways than one. You get experience in flight formation, which really can be tough to do since everyone has their own style of flying. You get experience from completing the mission, which is basically a way to get that last bit of experience needed for that new plane! However once you have completed that mission on said difficulty you can no longer receive that experience.

What Types Of Missions Are There?

Not all missions will be attacking or defending missions, however there are missions like that. Some missions just have you following simple way points to help with your maneuverability, those are the missions which are really easy and can be done on the hardest difficulty. There are other missions where you have to evade and lose enemy planes, then land near a specific point and then take off and go to another way point. There are a wide variety of missions to choose from but you have to gain levels to unlock more missions by playing competitively. 

Updates for Guns of Icarus Online https://www.gameskinny.com/bun3z/updates-for-guns-of-icarus-online https://www.gameskinny.com/bun3z/updates-for-guns-of-icarus-online Wed, 01 May 2013 07:42:34 -0400 Wokendreamer

I have only recently gotten into Guns of Icarus Online, but the experience has been a positive one.  Ironically, if I had waited a couple of weeks to try it out I might have had an easier time acclimating.  The latest patch to update the game from Muse Games includes a few very specific new things to be excited about.

For new players, the update includes tutorials for each class.  While each class (pilot, gunner, engineer) is fairly self-descriptive based on their names, understanding the intricacies of how they actually work is a bit more complicated.  As an Engineer, which repair tools are better for what?  As a gunner, which ammunition should I take for certain weapons or situations?  For such a simple game the intricacies have a surprisingly large effect, the new tutorials are appreciated.

The update also brings a new map, a 2-ship-per-side king of the hill battlefield called the Labyrinth.  As shown in the video at the top, it is quite the moody place, and the prospect of needing to engage in tight maneuvers to capture objectives while battling enemy airships is an exciting one.

There are also, of course, new outfits.  If Team Fortress 2's success taught anyone anything, it is we can never have too many hats.  Be sure you download the update if you don't have Guns of Icarus Online through Steam, I'll see you on deck.

Angry Birds Star Wars B-1 Walkthrough - One Bird 3 Stars https://www.gameskinny.com/7oiem/angry-birds-star-wars-b1-walkthrough-one-bird-3-stars https://www.gameskinny.com/7oiem/angry-birds-star-wars-b1-walkthrough-one-bird-3-stars Thu, 04 Apr 2013 16:36:54 -0400 Steamboat

This is a One Bird 3 Star Solution for Angry Birds Star Wars B-1. These are the Boba Fett missions. See more of these videos via my summary post listing all of my One Bird 3 Star Solutions.