I’ve only recently read EmShort’s essay on, erm, various things. Many interesting things in fact, but what immediately came to my mind is -

Would it be helpful to have a “standard” tutorial available as source code for various programming languages to include into one’s games? Like, a “tutorial” command that starts a room with, say, an NPC and an object or two where the most basic playing commands are explained to the player.

  • While I personally think that not each and every game would be chosen by someone completely new to IF to start playing, a tutorial would be useful in case it actually is chosen.
  • Writing a tutorial takes time; could be saved if there’s a “template” available.
  • Time would not be wasted on writing “bad” tutorials.
  • The source code could actually teach new authors some basic game mechanics.
  • One standard tutorial source code might be regarded inappropriate for the actual game, which couldn’t be completely avoided, but there could be several tutorials for standard settings like fantasy, scifi, today’s world.

Just a thought, might have been discussed and discarded earlier, just wanted to mention it.

Well, if there were (for an example) an I7 extension that did that, I’m sure some folks would use it. The same would go for other languages, I imagine.

I’ve been pondering doing a standardized tutorial for my own games, but I’ve been thinking in terms of a separate (standalone) game-file, rather than an in-game thing.

There are quite a few games that bill themselves or are pointed to by others as good introductions to the medium, but it’s not always that easy for a new player to find them. I really like the idea of tiny, optional in-game tutorials, since a total novice could just type “HELP” (or some minimum of useless, flailing inputs) and get some very direct and hands-on assistance.

You’re wrong about the standard settings, though. There’s no need for “fantasy, scifi, today’s world,” but there should be tailored tutorials for “locked in room,” “goofy detective,” and “zombies.”

Yes, this has been a recurring idea, and there have been a couple of attempts. I think this thread has the latest discussion.

I took part of a tutorial/beginner game project myself last year that’s currently on hold, but I’m very much in favor of game-specific tutorials. For one, it’s very hard if not impossible to come up with a tutorial that would be suitable as is to most games because games typically use only a small subset of common IF features. The tutorial would have to be highly customizable and customization should be very easy. Even then any game-specific features would have to be added manually. Also, it’s been said that it’s unreasonable to ask someone to play this other game before they can play the game they actually want to play.

It’s a much better introduction for the new player if their first contact is primarily a good game and only secondarily a learning tool, so I’d just make sure that the most newbie-friendly games are the ones that are most promoted outside the community.

Plus, many good games add a feature or two, or depend on a less-used standard one …

These are the reasons I’d personally have no use for a generic tutorial. The one I’m thinking of making would accompany a specific set of related WIPs, each set in the same setting and presuming a lot of the same things, marketed to that setting’s existing fanbase rather than IF devotees … so it would be feasible (I still haven’t decided if it would be desirable) to make a small tutorial-game that would entertainingly (I hope) teach the basics to that audience.

A comercial precedent:


MIndshadow, edited by Activision in 1984, included a tutorial as a separate load from the main game (8 bit computers wouldn’t have enough memory to make it in-game).

Other than the historical interest, I personally wouldn’t like a bunch of games with the same tutorial or even not identical tutorials but noticeably based on the same template. If authors feel the need to educate or initiate their audience, let them be creative in their own way!

I think the best tutorial is the one you don’t even know you’re playing…

Which makes standardization difficult.