How to Build a Game #86 Tutorials

Learning games is hard. Reading a lot of text, trying to teach other people who learn in different ways. Someone needs to read the rules before they get to play the game. All of that and no one has played your game. As a designer, I worry about this space in the game because it is not fair to the game. The game could be great, but it could have a learning curve (nothing wrong with that btw) There are a lot of games that look like they are a bull, but their turn by turn actions are quite simple. How do we get players from through this part of the fall in love with the game process?

Something Aidan and I have been thinking about is adding tutorials to the front of our games. We are not entirely sure the best way to go about including a tutorial. One way we are thinking about is to include mini games inside the box that teach just the main mechanic. Yes, it would add to the cost, but it is the kind of think that could be given to a friend who might want to sample the game before they make a full purchase. Another way, and I think this is already done, is to include guided play in your rule book.

Honestly, thats all I have so far. I really wanted to this post to be a place where we can share our ideas about what to do with tutorials, and videos do not count. The kinds of players that watch play through videos are the kind people people that research the game and read about it before they get it. What I am talking about, and most interested in, are the casual players who have a friend or family member in the hobby who rave about your game and now want to pick it up based on the raving and recommendation. These are the people that will grow the hobby and we as designers have to make sure they are not turned away from the hobby before they even get play the game for the first time, regardless of a game depth or complexity.

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If you have made it this far, would you like to go a little farther? We have a regular Google hangout with other designers. We talk about the games we are working on and share helpful tips and ideas on how to make designing our game easier. We meetup every other Saturday. Either comment here or tweet me or email me and I will add you to the list and send you a link to the Google hangout.

2 thoughts on “How to Build a Game #86 Tutorials

  1. I think adding mini games before the game is a very interesting idea for a board game, I’ve seen this done and I think it also really helps for player to pitch the game to their friends to buy – because it will be a lot easier to learn, rather that reading a super long rules book like in the Game of thrones board game for example. Although some game with pretty simple rules should not probably think about it.
    Also sometimes I saw that for the first time you play – the rules would recommend special setups or to ignore certain parts of the game – like characters in Tokaido – which I think is great.

    • Yeah, I didn’t think about the long rule book aspect of it. If you can give players a short game and use that to get them to want to read a rule book can change the player motivation for learning the full game.

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