Teaching the player to Play

25 Feb

I’m trying to think of the best games for teaching a player control schemes.

Pick up and play casual games are not what I have in mind.

Bioshock threw player right in and it worked.

What other games have done this? 

Are there any sports games or is it only casual flash games and FPS’s where the controls haven’t really changed in 20 years? 

Basically who has the best interactive tutorials?


5 Responses to “Teaching the player to Play”

  1. nickhalme February 26, 2008 at 11:45 am #

    Complex as they can be, RTS controls haven’t changed in a long time — when they do, they do so gradually and together.

    Say what you will about it, but Assassin’s Creed did a hell of a job:

    ‘Press A and move forward, now try these 100 different things to interact with and go’

    Then there’s Mass Effect, where they didn’t tell you shit, but people still got it — although I’m sure there is still someone out there who doesn’t know how to throw the grenades or use the inventory system.

  2. carlos March 1, 2008 at 8:50 am #

    I am gonna say that Fifa games controls scheme haven’t changed THAT much over the years..

    Still, I can’t think of a game that hasn’t changed at all.


  3. Dan March 7, 2008 at 8:31 am #

    I just stumbled across this blog; fortuitous, as I’m considering leaping into the VFS’ Game Design Program… Anyway, the game that leapt to mind when you asked about teaching control schemes was Portal; it teaches a mechanic more than a control scheme, but it does it very well. A game like Supreme Commander (or any RTS, to some degree) will hold your hand through every detail of the controls, but these tutorials are very explicitly tutorials, which may not be what you’re going for. A couple of suggestions, at any rate.

  4. nickhalme March 12, 2008 at 9:54 am #

    Hey Dan — good points there. The more complex the controls the more you’re going to have to hold the player’s hand because they’re probably quite unintuitive.

    That isn’t necessarily a bad thing, unless you’re aiming for a wider audience. I don’t care what anyone says — learning curves aren’t bad. But of course having a very low learning curve like Portal helps the game reach a wider audience.

    Portal does a great job because everything makes sense and there aren’t many things to teach, ‘ Ok so I walk around, great. Now I can shoot a portal? Awesome. Now I can shooter another portal by right clicking? Got it.’

  5. Charles Robert Simmons II March 12, 2008 at 11:15 pm #

    The funny thing about games nowadays is that it emulates previous games in their Genre. Unless a game is totally new games that follow a certain suit really don’t have the need to teach the player the controls again. using sports as an example, the first football game I played was NFL quarterback club on the SNES and then I went to Game Day 97′ I seem to recall either the controls were the same, or I could choose controls that were the same.

    Fighting games as another example because they started in the arcade, when you saw that six button layout for most japanese 2D fighters, you knew what you were getting into. Street Fighter, Fatal Fury, Samurai Showdown all use the same control scheme, which when you learn one, you’ve learned them all.

    In all a way to teach a player to play without having to do much is “stick to the status quo”

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