Words of Wisdom 02

I just realized I probably need to come up with a different name for this series, because I can’t just shorten Words of Wisdom to WoW. Thanks, Blizzard. Thlizzard.

Anyway, here are some words of wisdom from Mark Brown:

Both Half Life 2 and Portal have some of the best tutorial sections in all of gaming. Half Life 2’s tutorial is mostly invisible, and Portal’s tutorial is very visible but both are fully integrated with the story. GLaDOS does not know she is teaching the player, but her direct instructions are justified in the story because she is teaching a “test subject” who happens to be controlled by the player.

Most Game Creation Systems come with tutorials completely separate from the GCS in terms of story. Some don’t even come with tutorials, but instead a manual or help file. In fact, other than WarioWare DIY, I don’t know of any that attempt to have characters instruct the player. This is probably because until now people who make GCSs always view them purely as tools. Game Blocks is a tool, but it is also going to be a game.

Now we don’t know yet what the “main game” is going to look like exactly. There are a lot of different ideas for the story of the game, with none being obviously “the best” yet. How much fourth wall breaking is there going to be, or can we somehow justify the player making a game entirely within the lore of a fictional world? How much can we justify the lore of the game the player makes within the lore of the story about the player making the game?

Is there going to be a GLaDOS-like character who can give instructions directly, without breaking the fourth wall? Do the characters in the game the player is making know the player is making their game? What does the conclusion of this story look like? What does failure look like? What would the consequences of failure even be? How mad would players be if we trained them how to save levels, and then later at one point a character abruptly quits the editor without letting them save changes they make?

There’s a lot of invention that needs to happen before the commercial release of Game Blocks. But one thing we know we can do and want to do: a tutorial in a game with a story that is the game’s story. If we are able to teach the player things long after the tutorial “ends”, then it’s a successful “invisible” tutorial.

EDIT: I realized after I posted this I remembered that there are a few other notable GCSs that have some kind of integrated tutorial you can play through. ZZT and Adventure Creation Kit in particular have good tutorials. They’re not very “invisible” though.

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