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How to write game instructions?

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4 hours ago, mattstyles said:

If you absolutely have to provide detailed game instructions, particularly to beginners, you're doing something wrong...

These days I've come around to that point of view - zero upfront time investment from a player should be the default expectation for a mass market game ...

... because modern games should basically play themselves, and the player influences the game to make it play better.  Ideally such influence should be highly intuitive and avoid any need for text or instructional ui.

That said ... quality text still has utility as a secondary or completionist device.  Explaining a game in 8 short bullet points or less is always possible, forces the creator to emphasise the essential core, provides SEO or submission content, and defines a framework for more detailed content to follow (e.g. introducing the game's nouns for future strategy guides or YT narration).  Will everyone read it, absolutely not.  Additionally text is pretty cool (and cheap) for providing background narrative, dialogue and exposition if the game style suits it (like those early 90s Nintendo manuals) - and I still believe players' time investment is a valuable precursor to playing more specialist titles.


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Thanks all!

The golden rule on webgames' rules seems to be able to play without instructions, I agree :)

13 hours ago, b10b said:

quality text still has utility as a secondary or completionist device

That said, you may still may want to write:

As you can see, I'm purely a game hobbyist and will never ever try to make a hit game, so maybe I can stretch the golden rule a little... This video has some tips.

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6 hours ago, GameQuack.com said:

rule on webgames' rules seems to be able to play without instructions

Not just webgames, any games!

Not just games, any applications!

The easier you make it for people to just get going, the less friction they have, and the more likely they are to get to the 'am I having fun?'. Games like Dwarf Fortress take a lot of effort to get going, they lose a lot of players before they get to the 'am I having fun?' question.

Affordance theory (presented initially by Gibson) is the theory that objects 'project' their usage, the normal example is a door handle, the shape of the handle implies gripping and turning, you can argue whether this is learned or innate but you can not argue that almost every one on the planet knows how to use a door handle without thinking about it. 

The holy grail is to get your game/UI/app so intuitive that users just naturally fall into a 'pit of success' and are able to perform the actions they need to to meet their goals, i.e. win the game.

I'd argue that advanced users might want more information, but, ideally that information should be in-game. The opposite view to this was popularised by Minecraft where players were encouraged to discover mechanics together, usually outside-of-the-game (at least initially) via the internet (youtube, forums, etc etc). Minecraft is a bit of an outlier for many practises though, but, its an interesting game mechanic to explore, of course, you need to player base in the first instance to be able to explore it.

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