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Tutorials in Platform Fighters: How We Can Improve

Discussion in 'News' started by thethirdkoopa, Sep 24, 2017.

Thirdkoopa, Sep 24, 2017 at 3:30 PM
  1. thethirdkoopa

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    Smash Hero

    • Premium
    • Writing Staff
    Sep 25, 2007
    Somewhere on skype while working on something

    Tutorials are something that every game developer struggles with: We want our players to be able to understand as much as possible about our games, but we want to do it intuitively.

    Many developers have to think about feature creep every day. With today’s tools making development easier, including the implementation of new features, we lose a sense of teaching the player both individually with characters and overall game mechanics

    Today I want to talk about a bit of the history of Smash as a whole, a few larger games, and three games on the Indie game circuit (Skullgirls, Rivals of Aether, and Tooth & Tail) in relation to tutorials in platform fighters.


    We all remember Board the Platforms from Smash 64, correct? We all liked this mode - More importantly, though, the stages for Board the Platforms and Target Test were character-specific. These modes helped us learn each of the characters at their most basic level inside out. Using each character's unique abilities to see what other characters most likely would not be able to do, thus gaining some basic proficiency with a character. They were a fun way of teaching us how to play the game without writing “Tutorial” on it.


    Melee changed things up by removing board the platforms. It kept the character specific Target Tests, and it added a few stadium modes. While the other modes were great for experimenting with characters, it lost some of that specific character individuality.

    Brawl mixed things up by removing any sort of character individuality from stadium. Smash 4 proceeded to dive into the concept even further, by making Target Tests, the only one that remained since Smash 64, into a “Target Blast!” which played very differently. This lost any sort of pushing individual characters to their boundaries.

    Now to look at some other games.

    Rivals of Aether


    Rivals of Aether includes more character specific tutorials unlocked after beating the other main tutorials. It also features Abyss mode, which is unlocked after completing the main story mode with the main six characters. This mode draws some inspiration from Smash games, and while not character-specific, it still serves as a good way to teach players more about the game.


    While not a platform fighter, Skullgirls does a very good job at addressing each character separately. The presentation and explanations puts it on the shelf even compared to other fighting games. The campaign mode for each character being more individualized helps the player as a whole, too.

    Tooth and Tail


    While not a fighter at all, Tooth & Tail impressed me because it spent the first hour in it’s campaign teaching me the game’s mechanics, while not making it boring. It made extra objectives for me in these levels, and it ramped up the difficulty significantly but in a subtle fashion.

    While these games, and other smaller games, such as Divekick, Pyre and, Shovel Knight are doing tutorials for their games really well, we have to consider how Smash now has a roster of 58 characters. Making even the slightest piece of individualized content for each of these characters costs a lot of money and time.

    What we can think about for the future of platform fighters , whether big or small, is how can we make our tutorials more intuitive, or? Or even as intuitive as Smash 64, with or without character-specific elements?. Let us know what you think in the comments below!
Director of Content
Thirdkoopa is a Super Smash Bros. fan who currently resides in Washington State. He's also Game Producer, Collector, Composer, Writer, and plenty of other things. He works on seeing the best way to get the most content for the users and writers but as of late, he only comes out once every full moon due to being way too busy or being a werewolf. In his spare time away from working, he runs 1/2 of a nerdy band called Demo Disease, composes, and writes. If you want to talk with him more, check out his Twitter
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Discussion in 'News' started by thethirdkoopa, Sep 24, 2017.

    1. Shadowkku
      First off, a good tutorial must teach the player the controls, however leave certain strategies and ideas for the player to figure out themselves. The tutorial shouldn't be too long, but if it is, be sure to include a "skip tutorial" option. Allow there to be a short test for the player, to help them put their skills to use. Once the tutorial is completed, it should be able to be revisited, and possibly even teach an extra feature every new visit.
      Thelolcat likes this.
    2. pikadrewuniverse
      Balance between teaching and fun should be considered as well. Rivals of Aether and Skullsgirls have awesome tutorials that teach everything a player needs to know, but out of context. While Melee doesn't teach the techniques but gives the person a good feel of the character while being fun and giving freedom. I want the freedom of Melee but the information of Rivals and Skullgirls.
    3. Dr. Bread
      Dr. Bread
      teaching is a complicated practice, and it makes sense why developers would have issues trying to make a virtual coach when it can be difficult to even by a live human coach.

      It can be hard to know how much the player actually knows, plus most fighting games are too complicated to reasonably find strategies for using game theory, so if you wanted to give them strategic instruction, you'd have to do so only using strategies developed in-house, and in-house testers are mostly low-level players, and(conceptually) most people want to become a high level player, not become a low-level player who beats other low level players.

      There's other subjectivity issues too, if you frontload all the information a player needs to internalize to play effectively at high level(assuming you even have that info to give), they will inevitably be overwhelmed and probably leave, meanwhile if you give that information out slowly in easy-to-digest pieces, you run the risk of them not fully realizing the scope of possibity space available to them, causing them to leave the tutorial and run around with bad habits and incomplete gameplans, hitting a ceiling, and eventually quitting the game.

      there's really a lot to talk about here, its like melee where not only is it hard to find the right answer, but once you get there you realize there really isn't any one right answer.
      Phoenix502 likes this.
    4. Scribe

      The best example I've seen of a game actually trying to teach strategy is Guilty Gear Xrd, which teaches general concepts with an example scenario. So, for instance, to teach anti-air, the game has you try to hit Faust with Ky's DP before he can throw an air projectile. It also divides its tutorial up into three sections - A basic tutorial, character tutorials, and a set of challenges that each tie into various game concepts.

      And tbh I kinda like that approach as a set of three goals for the three levels of understanding you want your players to gain from playing the game - the game's core mechanics, each character's kit and what general intended purpose each move serves, and some basic fundamental concepts.

      That said, I'm not a huge fan of the typical "here's a task to complete - you can't move forward until you complete it" method, at least not for more advanced tutorials. I'd rather see games try to test these skills in a way that's less obvious - like the Break the Targets and Board the Platforms minigames do.
    5. Red Ryu
      Red Ryu
      I prefer tutorials that offer a wide range of selections but do not strong arm people into something unless it seems likely it is needed before the more advanced stuff.

      Smash could use some newer stuff in future installments, just going things like combo tutorials seems unlikely given the director. I would hope for something in the future, but only time will tell.
    6. BagrB0y
      Fun, density, and practical application are all important.
      A tutorial should never be something players are eager to skip out on potentially valuable information because its boring or because of the sheer amount of information at any given moment in time.

      A tutorial should first start off with the basics (controls, movement, etc.) before going into a brief explanation on attacks and percents. A simple explanation of how getting a character to a high % and then ending it with a powerful attack would be sufficient, and could then cover shielding.

      Advanced tutorials could cover things like grabs, DI, any added movement options, basics of combos, sweetspots vs. sourspots, etc.

      Having some in-game reward for completing basic and advanced tutorials could also give players incentive to do them at some point.

      Also worth having some skip option at the beginning for players who already know the basics to demonstrate so in an obstacle course or something.
      Phoenix502 likes this.
    7. NINTENDO Galaxy
      NINTENDO Galaxy
      Guilty Gear also has a indepth FAQ section in the tutorial regarding characters and common mind games in fighting games.

      As for this article, I would of liked if videos of the tutorials for guilty gear, rivals of aether, tooth and nail, and skullgirls were included when you mentioned them. That way it can help players keep up with the articles and know what you are talking about when you quickly sum up the tutorials for their games. I understood what you were saying regarding skullgirls but for rivals of aether and tooth and nail, all I had to go off of was the picture and the small text in the rivals picture.
    8. Phoenix502
      one alternative I could probably see with tutorials, is developing challenges that play toward the strength playstyles. for instance, one Target Test could be more easily cleared with a character with ranged attacks, while others have to get creative, then another could play to the strength of someone who can either jump very high, or use wall jumps.

      Smash 64's minigames and Melee's Target Test were good examples of it being tailor made for a fighter, for instance, Young Link's couldn't be beat unless you realized he could wall jump... hypothetically speaking, though, regular Link could also beat it, with some creative thinking on the opening wall jump section.

      on a semi-related topic, and this is bit of a rant...

      one thing that I feel aught to have been brought up in Melee's section, though, was Single-Button Melee. as you know, it was a unique modifier that disabled all other controls except the movement stick and the standard attacks, which limited you to jabs, tilts, Smashes, and Tap Jump. if you wanted to win a match like this (assuming you would actually PLAY IT), you needed to DI upwards to be able to recover with just your double jump, and your moveset became very limited...

      I feel with Smash 4, a lot of players place heavy emphasis on special attacks [and shoulder button related actions (grabs, dodges, and yes, Shield)] in their strategies, especially For Glory amateurs. while this can be justified with zoners and how it is kind of integral to their gameplan, this doesn't excuse those who fight up close or with a sword. It's almost like it doesn't even occur to them that tilts even exist, and chances are, any Smashes they abuse is with the C-stick. I'd be willing to bet a fair amount of money that if you got some random player to play a match with some kind of modifier that emulates this game mode, they will immediately wonder what's wrong with their controls since they can't shield, dodge/roll, or use specials. in other words, I believe a majority of Smash 4's playerbase would be royally screwed if they suddenly found themselves in a derivative of Single-Button Melee.

      they have almost no defensive options, and their recovery is almost nonexistent [(unless you play folks like Puff, Pit, or Yoshi)], and the specials that a lot of amateur players practically depend on are disabled... skilled players will know the rest of the moveset and make do with what they have left, but if anyone else wants to keep up.......well, i think you guys get the picture here.

      [TL;DR rant: Smash 4's players figured out Smash attacks and specials first for offense, and found themselves getting by with that alone once the figured out dodging... melee had a special game mode that could be designed to punish people who didn't figure out the rest, and i think that would have been cool to use as a restriction or challenge.]
      Last edited: Sep 25, 2017
      BagrB0y likes this.
    9. SuperDoom1
      A good tutorial isn't just some text on the screen or a video of information; a good tutorial puts you straight in the middle of the game and tells you to figure everything out yourself, while secretly teaching you everything you need to know through doing.

      So say you boot up a copy of Super Smash Bros. Brawl, watch the awesome intro, and then you're booted to a level in the Subspace Emissary before a single menu. You see two things: a trophy to your left and a locked door to your right, on a platform you have to jump to. The trophy acts as a key to the door. You grab the trophy and then enter the door.
      The next room has some blocks you have to break. You break them and find another door on another platform. This time, it's above a bottomless pit and too high for Mario's regular jump. You double-jump to the door, having failed through singles a few times, and you now know you die by falling off the edge of the screen.
      The next room has a locked door in the center, this time needing four trophies to enter. To the right, some blocks that are burnable, but can't be broken through punching. On the other side is a trophy. To the left, there are rotation blocks from Super Mario World that you need to use the cape to get past. On the other side of those blocks is a trophy. Above is a platform barely too high for a double jump containing the last two trophies. One trophy requires you to push some blocks out off the way with FLUDD. The other has you grabbing fragments of it (that you can't pick up with the attack button) and you rebuild the trophy by using the shield button with all four fragments in hand. You get the trophies and enter the door.
      The final room has you fighting another Mario with ominous music in the background. You defeat the other Mario and the game boots you to the menu. You've learned everything you need to know without a single sign or speech bubble.

      Of course, that's not what happens. The tutorial comes after waiting on the title screen long enough and is both text on the screen and a video of information. It's not a lesser game because of that, but it does suck that Nintendo only tried this type of tutorial once, in Super Metroid.
      Last edited: Sep 26, 2017
      NINTENDO Galaxy likes this.
    10. NINTENDO Galaxy
      NINTENDO Galaxy
      I like games with interactive tutorials.
    11. Phoenix502
      Rivals of Aether is actually a pretty close example of what you're describing, except it does tell you what to do and expects you to actually do it to move on...

      I do like this idea of practical learning... I remember reading somewhere that some Smash Bros fanfictions bring about the concept of the series being a sort of tournament of its own. this kind of tutorial could easily be presented as preliminaries, requiring you to grasp the basics before it sends you into the game.

      perhaps as an option, there could be challenges in the single player that teach the more advanced stuff, like DI, teching, and basic combos.
      Last edited: Sep 27, 2017
      BagrB0y likes this.
    12. NINTENDO Galaxy
      NINTENDO Galaxy
      I wish, but too bad the advanced stuff is not openly talked about by the developers in advertisments or in-game.
    13. Phoenix502
      not in advertisements, no... but SDI actually did get a blink-and-you'll-miss-it mention on one of Smash 4's hints. although the game calls it "hitstun shuffling"... [which, granted, isn't OPENLY mentioning... but hey, it's a start, right?]

      who knows what else is hidden in there, nobody's ever bothered to dig very far into the game and get all the messages... nevermind crack the code on customs... which is a profound shame, but a topic (and rant of mine) for another time
      Last edited: Sep 28, 2017
    14. NINTENDO Galaxy
      NINTENDO Galaxy
      All the messages may be on the smash wiki tips page, since I found the list to be very long.


      The see also tab at the bottom of the page has the link for Smash 3ds. I have not finished the wii u one yet.
    15. Silvia
      Excellent guide.
    16. Mr_towel_Man
      I think it would be very cool if devs had a basic tutorial and it could ask you if you wanted to go more in depth. Something like if lets say you were learning how to wavedash from a tutorial and then if you were struggling the game would ask you if you wanted to stay and practice more. And if you were doing good it could ask you if you wanted how to ledgedash or others. I guess thats kinda how tutorials work nowadays but I think it could be improved
    17. Kaze Arashi
      Kaze Arashi
      This is why I live for platform fighters. I actually wanted to make my own but struggling to make it unique
    18. LunchmanJ
      What are all the COMPETITIVE (heavy emphasis on COMPETITIVE) platform fighters besides Smash?
      Last edited: Oct 17, 2017
    19. NINTENDO Galaxy
      NINTENDO Galaxy
      I know of rivals of aether and brawlhalla.
      LunchmanJ likes this.

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