I do purely loathe tutorials though. There's no way round it, I just can't stand 'em. I appreciate that even though everyone in global chat is banging on about how every one of the dozens of MMOs they already played was way better than this current POS they just made the cardinal error of downloading, still every MMO must have at least one person playing who just started today and who never played an MMO before. I appreciate that though most MMOs look and play exactly like most other MMOs they are are all in fact utterly different and hardly like each other at all when you really think about it. Let alone when you don't think about it and let's face it, who really thinks when they play an MMO?
Moreover, I recognize that MMOs are ferociously over-complicated compared to almost any other form of popular entertainment. If you intend to make sense of the tottering stack of stats and skills, functions and commands in even the supposedly dumbedest-down (dumbed-downest?) MMO, the potential learning curve is a sheer cliff face looming over you. And up at the top of the cliff the hardcore seagulls circle, taking aim right at your eye.
|Have Flares, Will Travel|
Wait, let me clarify. It's no excuse for the existence of tutorial zones. Separate instances where all the new players can ride around the play-park on their tricycles with the stabilizers down, caroming off the softened, rounded corners of the scenery, batting at the de-clawed, de-fanged herbivores in the petting zoo with their spongebats, while Captain Nanny of the Toytown Guard trails along behind reading out the rules from The Big Book of How To Play.
We're all endlessly arguing about sandboxes versus theme-parks here in MMO Blogland. It's always been something of a false dichotomy or at least a more granulated scale than the bipolar argument would have it and my position has always been that the sandbox is largely in your head and that just because your park has a theme doesn't mean you have hum along. Well, none of that applies to to tutorial zones.
Tutorial zones are the MMO boot camps where your individuality gets beaten out of you. Oh, its a nice, polite, gentle beating. No name-calling, no shouting, no having your bed turned upside down in the middle of the night, but that individuality has just got to go. You're not leaving the tutorial until you learn to be just like everybody else.
|I remember when it was all buildings around here|
And really no-one is going to drown because they couldn't figure out some gameplay mechanic in an MMO. Alright, if they fall off the raft from Halas to Everfrost and don't know about pushing the mouse forward while holding down the left mouse button and W on the keyboard simultaneously then yes someone might drown. Bad example. But it would only be a virtual drowning, and a barbarian to boot so, hey, no harm done, right?
|It was a long trip Ma, but we made it! Me and Rocky outside Sanctum!|
Hints, mouseover tips, introductory quests, helpful NPCs or companions, all fine. Adds to the gaiety of nations. Just put them in the same virtual space, virtual time-frame and if you possibly can manage it the same centre of population where everyone who started two hours before you has already arrived. Not in an exploding spaceship, not in a pocket dimension, not 20 years in the future or the past, not in an underground prison or on an island you'll never see again.
|Is this Pay-and-Display or On Exit?|
Just let us start as we mean to go on. And what brought all this on out of the blue, you may well be asking. I downloaded Star Trek Online and played through the tutorial yesterday, that's what. And it's not even a bad tutorial!