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25 tips to build Tutorials on Board Game Arena

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25 tips to build Tutorials on Board Game Arena

  1. 1. 25 tips to build Tutorials on Board Game Arena
  2. 2. #1 – Choose a game you master 2 We know that you just discovered this wonderful game and really want to contribute to its popularity by writing a tutorial… but this is not convenient. If you have taught the game to friends with success, if possible several times, then you are probably ready. :) You need to master a game to explain it well
  3. 3. #2 – Write the tutorial scenario first 3 Explaining rules in the right order is the most important part to making a good tutorial. Before starting any further step, you should write the overall scenario of your tutorial. Beginning of a Carcassonne scenario: _ Opponent plays the first tile with a matching road. _ Explains that road (and cities/fields) must match _ Player’s turn: tell the player to place a tile with a city _ Explain that a meeple may be placed + tell player to place meeple in the city _ Opponent plays another tile, making the city bigger. Explain that opponent cannot play a meeple in the same city. Which rules should be explained first? Which rules must be explained later?
  4. 4. #3 – Explain rules in the right order 4 1) Game theme 2) Goal of the game 3) Overview / general principles (game starts moving here) 4) Generic stuff 5) More specific stuff (if/when needed) 6) (optional) quick strategy tip Your tutorial scenario must follow this order
  5. 5. #4 – Start with the Game Theme 5 What is the game about? What are the players environment and roles? Are they space merchants looking for treasures? Cowboys in the Far-west? Before jumping into the rules, use 1 step to describe to the player what the game is about. The theme of a game frequently helps to clarify the rules, so this step is not a waste of time. If the game is an abstract game, well, you can just say this. :) Don’t hesitate to add some life to your description. Example: « Welcome to Carcassonne and its famous fortifications! Your task is to develop the area around Carcassonne by building roads, fields, abbeys and cities » Game theme matters!
  6. 6. #5 – Goal of the game 6 Yes, this game has very cool mechanisms which are maybe the most visible and obvious part of the game. However, explaining any rules, even the most obvious one, is forcing the player to remember every detail without any understanding of how it will help them to win the game. On the contrary, explaining the goal of the game first will help players to understand how each mechanism can help them meet the game goal. Tip: if the goal is just to “be the player with the most points”, it is totally okay to just say this, to describe what the points represent (according to game theme), and how they look (ex: icon), if appropriate. Tip: if the game is cooperative or a team game, this is the right moment to mention it. :) Explaining the goal at the beginning will answer most « why » questions
  7. 7. #6 – Give an overview 7 This short overview must be… short. This will give the players a very basic understanding of the game, helping them to piece all the rules together. Example for Carcassonne: You and the other players are going to place tiles to create a landscape with roads, cities, abbeys and fields. All of these 4 elements will generate points during the game or at the end of the game. Example for 7 Wonders: You are going to choose and add one card to your tableau on each turn, simultaneously with your opponents. Cards are from 7 different colors which represent 7 different ways to earn victory points. Give a short overview of the game principles
  8. 8. #7 – Jump into the game 8 A tutorial must show the rules, not just explain them. After the tutorial intro (game theme, …), jump into the game immediately to show how the game elements function. Explaning a lot of rules without any visible moves forces the player to remember everything without any visual clues, which is way more difficult. Avoid too many tutorial steps with no visible move
  9. 9. #8 – Do not explain something until necessary 9 As a tutorial writer, your main goal is to allow the player to go further in the game with the fewest tutorial steps possible / shortest explanation. Reading an explanation is boring, while playing moves and seeing the game progressing is fun. Thus, if something is not absolutely crucial to understand what is happening on the screen, explain it later. Things to do: _ explain things that are the most visible/obvious and that will raise questions if not explained. _ explicitely delay explanation if needed. Exemple: “We’ll see later why this is interesting for you to choose this card.“ Maybe the most important guideline
  10. 10. #9 – Go from General to Specific 10 Specific powers, exceptions, particular cases, as well as unobvious rules must be explained after the other rules, and sometimes not explained at all. If a rules include a specific power that is played early in your tutorial scenario, it is perfectly fine to tell the player that this card did a special effect that will be explained later, and continue with the basic rules of the game. Do you really need to explain the specific effect of the 30 cards of the game, considering that they have a tooltip that explains everything? Instead, give 1-2 examples and tell the player that they can read the tooltips when needed. If some particular case is really rare, do you really need to explain it? If this situation happens, BGA will take care of the rules and the player will understand at this time what the rule is. Do not bother players with details they do not need now
  11. 11. #10 – Do not explain what does not need to be 11 In the physical rules, there are a lot of rules that the players do not need to know because BGA is taking care of them, like the game setup. Most of the time you can just let the player discover them by playing. Example of rules that probably do not need to be explained: _ “if there are no more cards, take the discard pile, shuffle it and set a new deck” (it can be learned from the game log when it happens) _ “At the beginning of the game, the player with the fewer cards starts” (it can be read from the game log when game starts) _ “Fill the empty spaces by new cards in the deck” (it is already obvious and done automatically by BGA) … or anything that BGA is taking care of
  12. 12. #11 – Focus on rules, not on strategy 12 While playing the tutorial, players are focused on learning the rules, and this is a difficult task. Thus, mixing strategy tips and rules is not a good idea. However, it may be a good idea in some situations: ● When explaining a rule that will allow a player to make a disadvantageous choice (ex: "starvation" in Stone Age), it is useful to suggest that the player try to avoid this. ● You can mention short and efficient things like "This is usually a good choice" or "This is a very strong move," as it will not distract from the rules explanation. ● At the very end of the tutorial, you may give a quick general strategy tip (“how to win”), but no more than 1 tutorial step with few lines. Quick advice are okay, but a tutorial is not a strategy guide
  13. 13. #12 – You do not need to go to the End 13 Once you have explained everything needed for a first game, do not annoy the players by forcing them to play the tutorial game until the end. In most cases, playing few turns is enough to learn the game.
  14. 14. #13 – Create an appropriate Game Replay 14 BGA’s tutorials are based on Game Replays, ie real games that have been played on the platform before. Except in rare cases, it is unlinkely that an existing game exactly matches the scenario you wrote for your tutorial. Thus, you will have to play a BGA game that matches your tutorial scenario. Tips: _ choose the exact same game options a beginner would for a first game (ex: probably no expansions, beginner rule if any, ...) _ use Training Mode, so you do not worry about the clock _ you will probably have to make several attempts before reaching the result you expect, especially if there are random elements (first player, card drawing, dice rolling, …). _ you do not have to play the game until the end if your scenario does not plan to do it. Using several BGA accounts (or friends), play the game that matched exactly your tutorial scenario
  15. 15. #14 – Add tutorial comments 15 1) At the top of the Replay interface, select “Advanced replay features”. 2) Use “add a comment” to add a comment at the current move of the Replay. 3) Tip: “Go to next visible move” button allows you to break down a complete move into individual smaller changes, when you need to explain things one by one. How to add tutorial comments from a replay
  16. 16. #15 – Place your comment in the right spot 16 1) You can use the 4 arrows at the top right to drag n drop the comment and attach it to any element of the interface. 2) You can choose “Display this comment centered over the link item”. For example, you can use this to display the comment on the right side of the interface while you are explaining something located on the left side. 3) Tip: you can drag’n drop the comment to the red zone at the very top of the page. In this case, the comment will be displayed centered on the page, not linked to any element. You have 3 options for your tutorial comment position
  17. 17. #16 – Make the player DO his/her move 17 When it is current player’s turn, you must add a tutorial step which explains which move the player must do (ie: next move in the game replay). The tutorial step must be configured with “The player must take the next game action via the game interface to continue” option. This way, the player will be forced to DO the move, and will learn how the game works by doing. You must never allow a current player’s move to be played automatically: this creates confusion as the player does not understand what is under their control and what is not. If you just need to move on and have already explained everything, just give simple and quick instructions like “move the token here” or “click here”, so your player feels like they are playing. Players learn by DOING, not by reading
  18. 18. #17 – Use bold, italic, color... 18 Using this markup, you can make your text way more readable and understandable: don’t hesitate to use it! Using icon, you can display all the markup you can use :)
  19. 19. #18 – Add useful icons to the interface 19 When a tutorial comment is in “Edition state”, you can click on any element of the game interface to put an icon on it. From the menu on the right, you can select various icons, arrows, mouse cursors… and use them to explain the current rules. This is particularly useful when you want to tell the player which action they must do (ex: “click here”). Tip: you can also add your own image to the game interface when needed, using this button: You can add various icons, borders and arrows to explain the rules
  20. 20. #19 – Add images to your comments 20 Sometimes, you need to show one or several game situations at a specific moment, and you cannot because the game replay does not provide it at this time. A good way to deal with this is to add an image to your tutorial comment, like in the example on the right. This is a good idea to use if: ● You want to explain a move that is impossible to do in the game. ● You want to show scoring and your tutorial does not go until the end of the game. ● You want to explain several distinct cases that cannot appear at the same time in the game interface. A very good way to show a situation that is not visible in the game interface
  21. 21. #20 – Write in English 21 Your tutorial must be initially written in English. When a tutorial has been promoted to official tutorial for a game, it is available for translation in all languages. The tutorial will be translated afterwards
  22. 22. #21 – Shorter = better 22 That “shorter is better” is true for everything in your tutorial: number of steps, text length, … Every unecessary step you can avoid, every rule you do not need to explain, will increase the percentage of players who will reach the end of the tutorial and finally play the game. Tip: it is better to have more steps with less text than a few steps with a lot of text. Players want to play, not to learn
  23. 23. #22 – Encourage the players 23 “Good move!”, “Congratulations!”, … These encouragements will motivate the players and will help them to understand what just happened. It will make your tutorial enjoyable. :)
  24. 24. #23 – Make your tutorial official 24 Only 2 groups of people can make your tutorial official: ● The developers of the game ● BGA administrators To evaluate your tutorial, they will review it, look at the player’s ratings, and the tutorial statistics (ex: % of players who actually played the game after the tutorial). Thus, before publishing your tutorial (as “public”), you should share it privately with friends so they can review it and give their feedback and rating. One tutorial is selected for each game and is featured
  25. 25. #24 – Do not change your tutorial once it becomes official 25 Once your tutorial is official, it is translated by the community in more than 35 different languages. Every subsequent change to the text will erase the translations and will force the community to re-translate the text. Tips: ● Do not change the existing text unless necessary. ● If you need to fix the English spelling, do not change the tutorial: change the English=>English translation from “Community / Translations / <game name>”: this way the translations will be kept. ● It is okay to add additional text (no effect to existing translations). ● To avoid changes, review, test, and get feedback for your tutorial before it becomes official. .. or it is going to make translators crazy.
  26. 26. #25 – How are tutorials evaluated? 26 - Ratings: 5 star rating at the end of the tutorial - % of players who played the tutorial until the end - % of players who played the tutorial and played the game afterwards (excluding players who had played the game prior to watching the tutorial.) - tutorial average duration - number of sessions Before making a tutorial official, developers & admin are looking at the following statistics:

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