Monday, May 07, 2007


It is commonly known that one of the major problems with volunteer game projects is lack of man power, which usually means that a few aspects that you come to expect in commercial titles tend to be neglected in Free games.

One such aspect is tutorials. Many Free games are clones inspired by older commercial games, and as such assume familiararity with those games. This makes them incredibly difficult for a new player to get into without having to ask lots of seemingly obvious questions and that turns people off.


I saw FreeLords 0.3.8 had a Windows binary so I thought I'd check it out. I know, I know, there's a manual [which incidently took about 7 clicks to get to from the frontpage - scandalous web design!] but reading that isn't fun. Playing is fun. Tutorials are teaching-whilst-playing. No tutorial, unsure of what to do, my interest quickly waned and I was back surfing brain sewage the Internet.

Another example - FreeCol. Just what the hell are hammers? I can't assign them, they're not a resource, and I was unable to build anything. The game looks great but if I can't play it I'm not having fun, so I quit and move on.

The message? No, I'm not griping about the games, the message is a constructive one; tutorials mean much higher player retention rates. People, generally, play games for fun. That means if they are not having fun from the outset, interest is quickly lost and there are many other games to play. Don't expect too much too soon from your players if you want to keep their interest in the game. Tutorials are probably one of the better investments of your limited resources and I believe should be part of any open source game development process.

I love monitoring forums like Vega Strike's. Why? Because every now and again somebody posts a model like this. Georgeous. I've seen that guy, Oblivion, start as somebody producing very amateur images and through motivation and desire become somebody who produces jaw dropping models and renders. He also contributes to the Angels Fall First project.

After an extended outage the forums are back up. They should be more reliable from now onwards.


Anonymous said...

Forums still don't work

Anonymous said...

Battle for Wesnoth is a positive example, but then again, it's more of a genre piece than specifically modelled after a game folks have seen before.

A recommendation for people that write 80's-esque arcade games that should -not- have tutorials; write an "attract mode" (or demo mode).

Charlie said...

chunter, I think that's the best comment yet left on Free Gamer, good stuff.

Yes, BfW is a great example which draws you nicely into the gameplay with a tutorial although BfW can be quite dauntingly hard in the early levels before you get the tactics right.

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