How to teach players how to play your Flash game

Ok, you made your game, it’s awesome, and you enjoyed a lot playing it.

Now you have to face a problem: you are the only one who knows all game mechanics. And it’s quite obvious that a player can’t enjoy your game like you did, if he doesn’t know how to play it.

A successful game designer has to manage this problem and try to solve it. You can do it with a manual, with some tutorial levels or with in-game hints. But above all you have to do it with gameplay

There are some interesting thoughts in Casual Game Design blog:

Civilization is quite a complex game, but it’s still not hard to pick it up and play, even if you only fully understand its inner workings much later

That’s right… I played Civilization on Amiga in early 90’s and I did not read any manual, but I enjoyed the game from the first minute and I was able to manage all its mechanics after a week of hard core playing. And we are talking about Civilization, not a “use arrow keys to move, space to jump” Flash game. This is the power of game design.

On the other hand, the casual browser player does not want to spend more than one minute to understand your game, and if you don’t tell you to use arrow keys to move and space to jump, he will quit your game.

So you must introduce the rules before the player hit “play”.

Just because your game has complex rules, doesn’t mean you need to dump all of them on the player at once. As long as the player can have fun in the first few minutes of play, it doesn’t matter one bit whether she already knows all the rules or not. You can always introduce the more intricate rules later on, or let the player find them out for himself, as Civilization 1 does.

This is the key. If you have two (or more) different types of enemy, or block, or bullet, or whatever, don’t introduce them all at once: you will frustrate the player and he will quit the game. And don’t force the player to read 20 screens to know about features you will introduce only from level 50.

If your game is quite simple, just introduce new features with a box between a level and another.
Should it have hard-to-find-out-on-your-own information, provide an help page but don’t make your game unplayable if the player does not read it. The player should play and easily win (and enjoy) the first levels, and when things get harder, at some point the player, intrigued by the game, will browse the help page.

Don’t provide your game with boring, senseless tutorial levels forcing the player to read tons of text and press an almost invisible “next” button to go through all information.

A Flash game must be immediate.

Outside Flash world, I want to bring you GTA Vice City: you can enjoy it from the first minute, you can steal cars, kill pedestrians, and ride through Miami yelling “born to be wild”. Then, and only then, you can start playing seriously, learning how to control motorbikes, how to paint your car, where to perform the best jumps, how to restore your starmina by night…

What do you think about? (I mean about the post, not about Vercetti restoring his stamina…)

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214 GAME PROTOTYPES EXPLAINED WITH SOURCE CODE
// 1+2=3
// 100 rounds
// 10000000
// 2 Cars
// 2048
// A Blocky Christmas
// A Jumping Block
// A Life of Logic
// Angry Birds
// Angry Birds Space
// Artillery
// Astro-PANIC!
// Avoider
// Back to Square One
// Ball Game
// Ball vs Ball
// Ball: Revamped
// Balloon Invasion
// BallPusher
// Ballz
// Bar Balance
// Bejeweled
// Biggification
// Block it
// Blockage
// Bloons
// Boids
// Bombuzal
// Boom Dots
// Bouncing Ball
// Bouncing Ball 2
// Bouncy Light
// BoxHead
// Breakout
// Bricks
// Bubble Chaos
// Bubbles 2
// Card Game
// Castle Ramble
// Chronotron
// Circle Chain
// Circle Path
// Circle Race
// Circular endless runner
// Cirplosion
// CLOCKS - The Game
// Color Hit
// Color Jump
// ColorFill
// Columns
// Concentration
// Crossy Road
// Crush the Castle
// Cube Jump
// CubesOut
// Dash N Blast
// Dashy Panda
// Deflection
// Diamond Digger Saga
// Don't touch the spikes
// Dots
// Down The Mountain
// Drag and Match
// Draw Game
// Drop Wizard
// DROP'd
// Dudeski
// Dungeon Raid
// Educational Game
// Elasticity
// Endless Runner
// Erase Box
// Eskiv
// Farm Heroes Saga
// Filler
// Flappy Bird
// Fling
// Flipping Legend
// Floaty Light
// Fuse Ballz
// GearTaker
// Gem Sweeper
// Globe
// Goat Rider
// Gold Miner
// Grindstone
// GuessNext
// Helicopter
// Hero Emblems
// Hero Slide
// Hexagonal Tiles
// HookPod
// Hop Hop Hop Underwater
// Horizontal Endless Runner
// Hundreds
// Hungry Hero
// Hurry it's Christmas
// InkTd
// Iromeku
// Jet Set Willy
// Jigsaw Game
// Knife Hit
// Knightfall
// Legends of Runeterra
// Lep's World
// Line Rider
// Lumines
// Magick
// MagOrMin
// Mass Attack
// Math Game
// Maze
// Meeblings
// Memdot
// Metro Siberia Underground
// Mike Dangers
// Mikey Hooks
// Nano War
// Nodes
// o:anquan
// One Button Game
// One Tap RPG
// Ononmin
// Pacco
// Perfect Square!
// Perfectionism
// Phyballs
// Pixel Purge
// PixelField
// Planet Revenge
// Plants Vs Zombies
// Platform
// Platform game
// Plus+Plus
// Pocket Snap
// Poker
// Pool
// Pop the Lock
// Pop to Save
// Poux
// Pudi
// Pumpkin Story
// Puppet Bird
// Pyramids of Ra
// qomp
// Quick Switch
// Racing
// Radical
// Rebuild Chile
// Renju
// Rise Above
// Risky Road
// Roguelike
// Roly Poly
// Run Around
// Rush Hour
// SameGame
// SamePhysics
// Save the Totem
// Security
// Serious Scramblers
// Shrink it
// Sling
// Slingy
// Snowflakes
// Sokoban
// Space Checkers
// Space is Key
// Spellfall
// Spinny Gun
// Splitter
// Spring Ninja
// Sproing
// Stabilize!
// Stack
// Stick Hero
// String Avoider
// Stringy
// Sudoku
// Super Mario Bros
// Surfingers
// Survival Horror
// Talesworth Adventure
// Tetris
// The Impossible Line
// The Moops - Combos of Joy
// The Next Arrow
// Threes
// Tic Tac Toe
// Timberman
// Tiny Wings
// Tipsy Tower
// Toony
// Totem Destroyer
// Tower Defense
// Trick Shot
// Tunnelball
// Turn
// Turnellio
// TwinSpin
// vvvvvv
// Warp Shift
// Way of an Idea
// Whack a Creep
// Wheel of Fortune
// Where's my Water
// Wish Upon a Star
// Word Game
// Wordle
// Worms
// Yanga
// Yeah Bunny
// Zhed
// zNumbers