Video Game Tutorials
Video game tutorials are a curious thing. They are intended to orientate a new player and give them a quick and succinct overview of a games systems and mechanics. However few do this well and they can slow the player down. Because the MMO genre shares a lot of common features, it is often relatively straightforward to pick up the controls of a new game. Hence players will complain about the tutorial being a bane rather than a boon. Yet in single player games such as the Sniper Elite series, the tutorials are integrated into the first level and provide a good overview to playing the game without out staying its welcome. Furthermore, you can elect to disable this function in later versions of the game and play through the starter level without assistance. Hence tutorials have a tendency to be a somewhat mixed bag, yet they are a very necessary service. Having to continuously tab out of a game or refer to a website on a second monitor can really kill your sense of immersion and diminish your enjoyment of a new game. On a simple consumer level, selling a product that doesn’t come with some semblance of instructions is poor marketing.
Which brings me on to Total War: Warhammer, which I bought recently for the bargain price of £11 from an online key seller. I used to play back in 1999 the real-time tactical wargame, Warhammer: Dark Omen. So Total War: Warhammer struck me as a natural progression to that game. So I installed the game along with the DLC and watched the opening cutscene. However, when I started the campaign, I discovered that there was no separate tutorial or one integrated into the first battle. There is a hints option, as well as a degree of guidance provided by an avatar on your GUI, but it is not in anyway what I would describe as a robust overview that you expect from a genuine tutorial. Given the complexity of a franchise such as Total War and the fact that a licence such Warhammer will naturally attract new players, you’d have thought the developers would ensure that such a facility was in place. I did pause the game and use the text based manual but it again only offered and overview and lacks details of which keys to press to change view, move between units and give specific orders.
My leisure time is a finite commodity. So when I discovered this “omission” I had two choices. I could go online and find a key map that I could print off and then watch a few third-party guides and tutorials on You Tube. The only problem with the latter option is that you have to watch several until you find one that is appropriate. Sadly not everyone is a good communicator and too many videos of this kind are simply not fit for purpose. The second option was to simply close the game and play something else and that is exactly what I chose to do. Because having to do my own research to determine the subtleties of Total War: Warhammer is obviously a subconscious tipping point. A comparable analogy would be when you go into a store to make an ad hoc purchase and you find yourself waiting in a queue. After a time you reach a point where you feel that you’ve waited too long and leave before being served. I’m sure certain gamers will at this point balk at such an attitude, but this is irrelevant. The fact remains that humans are subject to such capricious whims and often act upon them. Something that game developers would be wise to take note of. Therefore, to summarise this post; always include a tutorial in a game if you want people to play it.