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Teaching Players How to Play Your Game

Hogrocket creative director Pete Collier offers his thoughts on a crucial design area

Each week we feature the best content from #AltDevBlogADay, a blog site on which developers write daily about things that they find interesting. This week it's the turn of Hogrocket creative director Pete Collier, who's looking at the subject of how best to ease players into your game.

Teaching the player how to play your game is incredibly important. Under no circumstances should this area of game design be overlooked because getting it wrong means players may never see all the hard work you've put into the rest of the game.

So the following is a list of what I've learnt about how to get it right...mostly from getting it wrong myself...but hey...that's the best way right! So without further ado here it is:

Don't teach too much too soon: No one likes to feel overwhelmed, even less so when they are playing your game to have fun. People have saturation points, throw too much at them and the information overflow will go unheard. Keep things bite-sized.

"People have saturation points, throw too much at them and the information overflow will go unheard. Keep things bite-sized."

Don't be remorseless: Once you have taught something new allow time for the information to set in. Remorselessly moving on from one tutorial to another will makes players feel uncomfortable and not able to cope. Learning something new is a challenge and mentally taxing, so allow players time to feel good about doing it.

Reinforce: Demonstrate to the player the benefits of what you've taught. People are fairly efficient at marginalising seemingly redundant information. Reinforcing the benefits of a new piece of knowledge or skill will raise its relevance making it much more likely to be retained.

Nothing is worse than teaching something when the lesson has already been learnt: So for quick learners or inquisitive players who've already figured out what you're about to teach them, allow them to opt out or at the very least shut you up.

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