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Tutorial Design Questions
Aaron Bolyard
Member #7,537
July 2006
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So I'm trying to make an improved tutorial (I call it a pretutorial for now). There's a sudden drop-off of players after the ~7 minute mark, right around the point they go through a bunch of dialogue. This dialogue comes within 2-3 minutes so as far as I can tell it's a bummer to go through so early in the game.

So after the opening cinematic, the player enters a dream. They start in a forest with a bunch of rats. Some UI hints guide the player on how to kill the rats, use equipment, etc. Pretty straightforward and right to the action.

After the forest is a haunted mansion. Upon entering the mansion, a zombi butler greets them:

Zombi Butler said:

Thanks goodness for an adventurer like you, <name>! I've been haunted for years.

My charges passed on many moons ago to disease. If only I could speak with the dead, I'd ask those poor souls why they haven't moved on.

If I can be of any help to you, then please ask me anything. All the resources I can give you, like the tools in the shed, are yours to take.

So three pages of short dialog.

The butler will follow the player around and give a small (non-interrupting) hint whenever they enter a room with a purpose.

There's going to be a few main rooms: the bedrooms with the ghost children, a library, a courtyard, a basement, a kitchen, and a toolshed.

The player will learn how to make a ghostspeak amulet from a book that stands out in the library. Like one page of instructions. There's a pattern here: trying to minimize dialogue.

The basement will have the ore necessary, plus a few aggressive rats. The toolshed will have a furnace and anvil necessary to smelt and smith the ores, plus all the tools the player needs (hammer, hatchet, pick-axe, knife, tinderbox, and fishing rod).

The courtyard will have a pond with a goldfish and some trees.

One of the ghosts will be hungry (thus needing a cooked goldfish) and the other wants to play like a warrior (thus needing something like a wooden sword). Using the tools and resources scattered around the mansion, the player will be able to get everything.

After giving the last kid what they want, the butler will give the player a key to leave through the rear door. Then they will wake up on Isabelle Island (the current tutorial).

I'm going to streamline some dialog after they wake up. When starting the quest, there will be an option that says "Cut to the chase, watcha want?" resulting in 1-2 pages dialog. Advisor Grimm (second person you talk to) will have his dialog streamlined as well, with the more verbose stuff hidden behind a "tell me more" option.

Then the rest of the tutorial will be as normal.

What do you think? Do you think having a shorter, quicker tutorial before the first area help keep players longer? Does this tutorial sound interesting? Any suggestions?

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ItsyRealm, a quirky 2D/3D RPG where you fight, skill, and explore in a medieval world with horrors unimaginable.

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