Gaming, Technology, Uncategorized, Video Games

Tutorials: Sometimes, They Should Just Be Mandatory

I’ve mentioned it before; I don’t really read the instructions of games. Luckily, just about every game offers a tutorial of some sort, so reading the instruction manual is somewhat unnecessary if you’re just looking to get the basics. Some tutorials are more in depth  than others, some are longer, some are shorter, some are optional, some are mandatory, and these differences are usually a good thing. Most shooter games probably don’t need to thoroughly explain how to aim and shoot, whereas strategy games probably need to have a slightly more in depth tutorial than the FPS. Furthermore, this tutorial should be in the foreground of a game rather than the background, or better yet, the game could ask you upon first play whether or not you’ve played a similar title before. Despite all the rave reviews, this is a problem I’m encountering in the 3DS title Fire Emblem Awakening: the tutorials are there, but they are kind of hidden, and I spent more time confused than I probably should have.

Let me also say that there is not a legitimate instruction manual; it’s a little 4 page insert that doesn’t really tell you much of anything, so you can’t fault me for not reading the manual this time. When I booted up Fire Emblem, (FE) it asked a couple questions that I thought I knew the answers too. Casual mode or Classic mode. In Casual, the units will respawn, but in Classic they are gone forever. That’s all the explanation that’s given. I assumed that in Classic mode, if your units die in a fight, they’re gone… until the match is over, then you can “revive” them and use them again, like Pokemon. I assumed that in Casual mode, you could revive them within the same battle. I was wrong; they literally mean that your units are gone forever in Classic mode. Without knowing this, I ended up sacrificing some of my units in battle as I tend to do in strategy games so that I could move in a stronger soldier, only to find out that my weakling wouldn’t be returning to fight in the next mission because he was literalyl dead forever. Next thing I know, I’m stuck at a mission with only 3 fighters when I have to fend off almost 2 dozen enemies, which, on my difficulty level, was impossible. If FE had offered a better explanation, I wouldn’t have sunk nearly 4 hours into the game before realizing I basically broke it and made it unbeatable.

Furthermore, the game allowed me to basically kill my main character before the adventure began. At the character select screen, I had the ability to choose a strength and a weakness. I chose an HP strength and a weakness for magic; I never use magic in games that include it, so I assumed that a weakness in casting spells would be alright with me… then I start the game to find that my main form of attack is casting spells. Why on earth would FE allow me to choose a weakness in the thing that my character is supposed to be good at? Honestly, to this point, I still don’t know whether my magic weakness causes me to cast weaker spells, take more damage from enemy spells, or both; this wasn’t explained before I was tossed into battle.

Worse, I learned the hard way that weapons have durabilities, and once you wear them out, they’re gone. Again, this wasn’t explained in FE, and I used all my powerful weapons immediately just to find that I was then stuck using lowly bronze weapons rather than my powerful silver and iron ones.

Yes, there are tutorials on all these points I mentioned, but they are very inconspicuous. You can access tutorials through a tab in your pause menu, but when a new tutorial is unlocked, the notification is very small. Sometimes, the tutorial pops up on your screen, but it does so on the bottom screen. The problem is that all the action takes place on the top screen and you almost never need to look at the bottom screen. Since the tutorial is on the bottom screen, I personally don’t realize it’s there, and I start to move my units, involuntarily exiting the tutorial in the process. Then, it’s sent to my tutorial section of my pause menu before I even realize I had a new one to read and watch. Just like that, I missed important information that should have been made extremely obvious to me upon discovery.

As I mentioned before, strategy games require good tutorials; there is a lot to learn about the way a strategy game works, from strengths and weaknesses, weapon durability, unit speed, critical hit ratios, hit rates, support tactics, and other points. Many of these differ from game to game, and it requires a certain amount of relearning every time you play a new one. Knowing this, wouldn’t it have been smart to have FE play tutorials in the foreground, or at least give the player the option to allow it? I know that experienced players would be irritated highly if useless tutorials popped up constantly, but I wish that, for the sake of newbies like me, there were an option to allow them. A simple: “would you like to be shown new tutorials automatically when they are unlocked?” or “are you new to Fire Emblem? You might want to watch these tutorials,” would have been nice. Instead, I’m thrown into the madness and I’m expected to know how their tutorial system works, which I obviously don’t because I’m used to automatically being shown a new tutorial without it accidentally being sent away to the background.https://i0.wp.com/s.mcstatic.com/thumb/9822050/25681353/4/flash_player/0/1/robins_thunderous_attack_fire_emblem_awakening_gameplay.jpg

With all that being said, I’ve restarted the game. I’m playing on the easiest difficulty, and I’m on Casual mode rather than Classic. So far, the animation is great, the storyline is easy to follow and is enjoyable, the comic dialogue is decent, the cutscenes are like watching mini animes, the strategy aspect is great, and the 3D effects are gorgeous. Now that I know what I’m doing, I’m really enjoying this adventure, and I can see why it was reviewed so well, from nearly every aspect. I’m just disappointed that it took me a lot of learning the hard way and a game restart to figure out what the heck I’m supposed to do in order to properly enjoy this title.

How about you? Have you ever been thrown into a game without a proper tutorial? Comment below with your story, and hit the like button or follow if you can relate to this one. If you’d like, hit the “Links” tab for Let’s Play channels. Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you next time!

Adios
Matt

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23 thoughts on “Tutorials: Sometimes, They Should Just Be Mandatory”

  1. “Have you ever been thrown into a game without a proper tutorial? ”
    Yes I have. It was called Dark Souls xD
    Dark Souls does not give you a tutorial. You can pick up important things if you talk to NPCs enough, but mostly it’s trial and error….and error and error and error.
    Seriously, 300 hours into the game makes me feel pretty good at it, but nowhere near Master level lol. That being said, that’s probably why it is my favorite game ever ^_^

    1. Hahaha, I should’ve known you would say that! Dark Souls is a bit different though; it’s SUPPOSED to be brutal and unforgiving. I don’t think that’s what FE was aiming for lol. I still can’t believe you’ve put so long into that game though; you’re crazy, my friend.

  2. “Let me also say that there is not a legitimate instruction manual; it’s a little 4 page insert that doesn’t really tell you much of anything, so you can’t fault me for not reading the manual this time…If FE had offered a better explanation, I wouldn’t have sunk nearly 4 hours into the game before realizing I basically broke it and made it unbeatable.”

    As soon as you admit that you are part of the ‘I don’t need a manual’ group that helped to cause suits to look at saving money -check that, I mean making MORE money- by not including manuals I’ll stop poking you about it and I’ll let you get away with the ‘there was nothing to read this time’ bit. Until then…well, you’re kinda fucked. XD

    “…but when a new tutorial is unlocked…”

    I don’t like the notion of unlocking parts of a tutorial or tutorial information. A large part of this is likely that I am the kind of person that doesn’t like to touch something until I know how it works, but perhaps the more relevant part of this is I believe that if tutorial information is going to be given it should be in the manual, woven into the actual gameplay or both.

    The only way unlocking tutorial information makes sense is that it doesn’t overburden the player with more information than they need to know at the time, preventing them from attempting to assimilate everything at once. I can respect that angle, however I don’t recall playing a game where I unlocked a tutorial to find information that would actually be helpful -it’s been information that I’ve just learned. And because it’s information that I’ve just learned through play I wonder why, then, an extensive tutorial archive cannot be immediately accessed because, quite obviously a this point, I’m not being ‘tutored’ but learning the fuck as I go.

    Right?

    1. Yeah, I usually don’t read the manuals unless I need to, like in this game. I mean, most FPS games are simple enough; I don’t need directions. Games like this kind of need a manual, so imagine my ire when there wasn’t one. Oops XD

      I think unlocking parts of a tutorial can be helpful if done correctly and on time. Like you said, many times the tutorial is unlocked AFTER you figure it out on your own anyhow. I don’t like to be bombarded with info, so I like tutorials to be spaced out a bit, but not so far that they are useless. the FE tutorials are somewhat like this; I’m learning as I go, which makes me feel independent at times when I do something right… at other times, I feel like an idiot because I can’t figure it out.

      Not cool.

  3. I usually just learn as I play. I don’t like tutorials but I do think they should be every game. There should also be an option to skip tutorials in every game for people like me who just wants to jump in and play. I also think it’s dumb that when you beat a game and start a new score you have to do the tutorial over again.

    1. There is the question, then, of games that have an integrated tutorial section, where skipping part of this is skipping the story. I can appreciate people wanting to just ‘jump in and do it’ but it seems to me to limit designs, viz. without a manual people can get needlessly confused (refer to one of my earlier comments about people eschewing manuals but following wikis step-by-step) and therefore break down the integrity of the game experience or push designers to ultimately create throw-away content that wastes time and money.

      1. I have no need of a tutorials. I’m a fast learner and really good at every game I decide to play. Tutorials just slow me down. Games like the Witcher 2’s tutorial was integrated into the story so it really didn’t feel like a tutorial.

    2. “I usually just learn as I play. I don’t like tutorials but I do think they should be every game. There should also be an option to skip tutorials in every game for people like me who just wants to jump in and play. I also think it’s dumb that when you beat a game and start a new score you have to do the tutorial over again.”

      Agreed, agreed, and agreed. I usually learn as I go, but I haven’t been able to do that with strategy games since I don’t play them often (only played about 3 or 4 in my life). I like to jump into games, but I also like to have a tutorial there when needed. As for restarting a game… why would you even need a tutorial for a game you just beat? Seriously, that’s so dumb haha.

      1. I agree. Every strategy game that I play has pretty good tutorials. What strategy game are you talking about? I know Civilization V has a good tutorial. Xcom, Rome II, Shogun II. Some times you have to activate the tutorial yourself. Most strategy games from my experience don’t have good tutorials because most of the core fanbase has been around since the beginning and they already know what to do.

      2. Aside from Fire Emblem, I’ve played Halo Wars (very different) a PSP Metal Gear strategy game that was pretty similar to FE, and Advance Wars which is EXTREMELY similar. I haven’t played either of the last two in a few years, however, so I can’t really draw off those experiences, nor can I remember whether or not their tutorials were any good.

  4. 3DS games don’t come with manuals because the devs can make an electronic version. It’s at the start screen, select the icon, but don’t open it, and there’s one icon that looks like a book at the bottom of the screen, tap that and it’ll bring up the instruction manual.

    1. I never knew that! Of course, there’s the Fire Emblem manual I never had, right on the game cartridge. Thanks! Even still, I find it a lot harder to read a manual on the system rather than on print; it’s a lot easier to find what I need in print, you know?

      1. Yeah, I also prefer print, but these companies can probably save printing 30 pages of an instruction and health and safety booklet to improve the game slightly. Also, it saves paper. Finally, it’s designed for gaming on the go, if you’re on a train, and need to look up something in the manual, it’s on the card, not at home.

      2. True on all accounts, but of course, I have to counter. If you’re not printing a manual, can we get a discount on the game? 😛 I mean, digital games on Xbox or PSN still sell for $60 here… while the physical copy with a disc, case, and (usually) a manual is also $60, which is why I don’t buy digital; what’s my incentive when I pay full price to get less?

        Sure, it’s just a manual, but I like to have it anyhow… And if I don’t get it, I somewhat feel cheated because I paid the same price as I would a game with a manual.

        On the other hand, I wonder how much it costs to print, and how much a company saves annually by not having manuals printed… hmm..

      3. They also have to put a game on the disc, so you’d probably only get one or two dollars discount, if anything, the digital titles should be cheaper.

        As for how much they save for not printing, it would depend on how much detail is in their manual. Is it just black and white? Colour, with a lot of varied colours and art on every page? Backdrops? Stroy detail? Did they have to hire another group to do the manual? How many physical copies of the game are there? If it’s GOTY, does it have a different manual? Depending on these factors, it could be not much to a lot of money. They might even be a quater or halfway to another game if their instruction manuals are detailed.

      4. all are very good points; you’d definitely have to take quality into account. Most manuals are pretty big and high quality, so they’re probably pretty expensive… or so we think; yet we can buy a newspaper for 50 cents or a buck, yet the company still makes a profit despite the large amount of ink and paper that went into it.

      5. Newspapers have ads though, which probably gives them more of a profit than that 50 cents. Also, they know a lot of people are going to buy it, so they can sell it for 50 cents and tsill make a profit, even if there were fewer ads.

  5. My copy of Final Fantasy Tactics didn’t come with a manual way back in the day. I played one mission, died horribly. Put the disc back into the cover and returned it to the store 🙂

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