The New Player Experience – Hooks, Tutorials, Rewards – Extra Credits


So many great games never get noticed because they’re great 10… maybe 20 hours in and with literally hundreds
of games coming out every day We can’t afford that In the first 10 minutes games have
to grab the player teach them
how to play and get them wanting
to come back This first experience is vital
to your game success yet It’s a part of game design that’s often
not given the time it deserves so today we’re going to talk about
the components of a well-designed new player experience. A good new player experience consists of three pieces the hook the tutorial and the reward the hook is just that the part that grabs the player the part that makes the player now, even if they know nothing else that this is Cool that this is something they want to experience more of now. We’ve talked a lot
about building hooks in other episodes You can check
those out right here So in this episode we’re going to talk about the different types of hooks. The most common types are mechanical hooks narrative hooks and visual hooks Mechanical hooks are things like
the first Dracula fight in Symphony of the Night as soon as the player jumps
into the game They immediately get
to do something exciting big and epic Something that feels just like how they’d hope the game would feel from looking at the box art, Here the player is hooked by something They do. Something that shows them that the mechanics of the game can give them the moments They crave just make sure your player lives through your mechanical hook unless of course your Dark Souls Then there’s the narrative hook, this can be as simple as: “Are you a bad enough dude to to rescue the president?” To something as mysterious and complex as the opening of Xenogears It just has to give the player enough Context to what’s happening on the screen that they’re invested and won’t feel adrift when we drop them into the tutorial Lastly we have the visual hook ever have a moment early in a game where your breath is taken away by what you’re seeing That is the visual hook. It can be an incredible monster a beautiful Vista or even a character design that just captivates you No matter what hook you’re delivering on the point of your hook is to get the player Excited enough about your game to get through the tutorial. We’ve also talked about tutorials a lot elsewhere You can see them right here So we’re just going to go over the high level goals of your tutorial First your tutorial needs to ensure that by the end of it your player knows everything they’re going to need for the first few hours of play and I do mean everything something that may be Intuitive to you may not be intuitive to everyone and you don’t want your players quitting just because they learn differently than you do Second just because you need to teach them everything They need to start the game doesn’t mean you need to teach them everything in the game right away Remember you can split up your tutorial and teach the players about things they’ll need an hour into your game when they encounter them in fact I’m gonna go out on a limb here and say that you should and Furthermore just because you need to teach the player everything doesn’t mean that you have to be explicit about everything Context-sensitive tutorials are your friend if the player is just running into a wall for five seconds You can pop up a prompt that tells them what the jump button is Most players will never see it, but for those that need it it’s there Your tutorial should also be engaging Just because it’s the tutorial doesn’t mean that it has to be dull a great example of this is the old Call of Duty 4 Tutorial it’s an exciting training run full of action and time pressure But also a totally safe replica of the first level that by the time the player completes it lets the designers know that the player Is ready to start the game Another more recent example of an incredibly engaging tutorial comes from insomniac games Spider-man right off the bat the game seamlessly transitions you from a cutscene The hook into actively controlling Spidey swinging around New York and even though you’re learning how to play the game The web slinging is exciting as is the way they introduced you to combat gadgets and get you right into throwing the kingpin It’s the tutorial but it’s also just the spider-man experience Remember just because something is the tutorial doesn’t mean it shouldn’t deliver on everything. You bought the game for Then there’s the reward The tutorial no matter how engaging you make it will be the dip in your interest curve that naturally follows the hook and that’s okay That’s exactly how it should be but it also means you should reward the player for getting through the tutorial to not only make them feel good about what they’ve done but be excited about what’s to come a Well-constructed reward here comes in two pieces. The first part is the immediate reward this can be things like having the player level up for the first time giving them a new weapon to play with or handing them an extra life In fact, it could just be a bunch of explosions and bonus points depending on the nature of your game Then there’s my personal favorite the long-term reward this is the thing that reinforces in the player that they want to keep playing and it can be things like a narrative hook or the introduction of a mystery they’ll want to get to the bottom of or Like that moment and fallout 4 when you get out of the vault for the first time see that incredible view of the wasteland before You and say to yourself Yes, this is where I want to be now the specifics of your long-term reward will vary from game to game quite a bit But if you can round out your new player experience with a reward that promises something down the road that the player wants to Experience explore or know, they’ll stick around long enough to and hard air quotes here get to the good part So as you’re crafting the beginning of your game, just remember hook Tutorial reward and the next time you put down a game shortly after picking it up ask yourself Was it missing any of those pieces? If so, what was it? How could the experience be saved? feel free to tell us in the comments what the best new player experiences you’ve well Experienced dark and until next week. I think you know where to find me Hey, I can see my house from here

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