Effective Tutorials in Video Games

Aaron Gotzon on The Ontological Geek:

It is the responsibility of videogames to teach us how to play them. Before the game can even really strut its stuff, it has to play the role of teacher, and show us what plastic-thingies do which murdery-kill-ma-bobs.

More than that, the tutorial has to be woven into the game in such a way that it doesn’t manage to detract from the game itself, or distract from that immersive element which is key to most experiences of fiction. In the ‘biz we call it “suspension of disbelief.”

What about your web application? How does it teach users to use it? As with games, there are universal concepts, such as typing, clicking, and related actions that all computer users know to do.

But when it gets down to learning how to use the actual application, how could you teach that person to use the application in a gradual and natural way? For example, what if WordPress had a user only be able to create a title and a post body the first time? Then the second time, the user is told how to add a tag or use a category—and you added little bits each time they used it?

Of course, power users don’t need this, but people who are new to an app and might not have a bunch of computer experience outside of using email or Office might be completely overwhelmed the first time they use your app.

Now to Find Time to Test It

Elgato may have just made me a very happy person with this new beta control panel for the Game Capture HD:

This may pretty much solve most of the problems I had with the device in my original review. I’ll post again if I decide to broadcast tonight on Twitch.

MacGourmet on Sale

For its 7th anniversary, MacGourmet is currently on sale for a great price, and you can get the standard version for $9.99 or the Deluxe version (what I just bought) for $24.99 on the App Store.

That’s about half-off for the Deluxe version. A great deal.

Emails

Some people can never be helped enough, some people are never satisfied, some people don’t realize that I get requests for more promo codes than Apple gives me and that a promo code has never produced enough “exposure” to have been worth the time to generate and send it, and some people don’t realize how little time I have during the day to either meet with them or respond to any emails that justify more than a few words in response.

But occasionally I get the best kind of email, and it makes it all worth it[.]

This short post by the developer of Instapaper has one of the best email screenshots ever. The key is the title of the email, which if I’d seen it, would have been the first email I opened.

It’s also a fantastic example of the kinds of requests that I’m assuming are very common to app developers.

via Marco.org – Emails.

links for 2009-06-17

(Photo credit: Thermometer by flickr user slayer23.)