Die, Tutorial, Die! No, don't get back up, DIE!!

#1 Posted by GERALTITUDE (4221 posts) -

Man. After 10 years of intermittent waiting and just losing over and over again in UFO Defense, I can't describe how pumped I was for this game. I pre-loaded it the night before, got screwed by a stuck at 99% glitch for an hour, and finally got to playing.

Wait, wait, sorry. Wrong game.


Holy balls. What was that, 3 hours long? No. Maybe 2. I lost count. In fact, after wanting to slam my head into the table until it became one with the mahogany I quit the game, started again, and chose no tutorial. Then I felt bad (yeah, WTF?) and went back, finished the stupid thing, and started playing.

Who at Firaxis thought they had to explain every single last element of the game to a baby? Waaaaay too much video in this game, that's the worst part. If you're getting riled up, hold on. I'm deep into XCOM now, and I'm super happy with it mechanically. In fact I like it. But what in the world is with all the videos? Just in case someone from Firaxis is hovering around...

There is a really, really big difference between receiving instructions (tutorial or otherwise) from an NPC as dialogue, and cutting to video dialogue. Huge difference. The former is in-game, the latter is (nearly) the equivalent of a commercial. When a video pops up I feel like my play is interrupted. If you would just zoom in on the Scientist, Engineer, etc and just have them spout the dialogue without killing the UI/resolution I would be way, way happier. And I would trade simpler, lower poly characters for that too! I know this "how they do it" for Civilization, but this isn't that game.

Now all of you who thought the tutorial was mad helpful and provided a "great narrative context" or whatever can chime in. Rant is complete.

#2 Posted by bkbroiler (1659 posts) -

Wow, really? The "tutorial" lasts for like 1.5 missions, and then its just them telling you what to build. If you hate it so much just restart and disable it.

#3 Posted by Pinworm45 (4069 posts) -

It does prevent you from thinking on your own at all, and I agree it should be toned down.

I also agree on the videos. They needed to make them shorter, use shorthand. Instead they talk in long ass sentences. "Research completed" becomes a full on "I have completely my analysis of the devices you recovered, and have made some startling discoveries. But using alien johnson rods inside our capacitors, we can now make improved weaponry".

I get it, shut the fuck up. A minor issue but one that comes up way too much. Maybe just because I'm still a bit early in the game.

#4 Posted by Rolyatkcinmai (2761 posts) -

I love the videos.

#5 Edited by CableCarrier (60 posts) -

I thought the tutorial was great. Also really helpful, and I say that as someone who watched every bit of pre-release video that I could find. I think it kind of has to be as long and extensive as it is because this game has got just so fucking many systems going on. If the tutorial didn't cover everything, or wasn't in depth with as much as it was, it'd be extremely overwhelming to people who are new to strategy games or just XCOM, specifically.

I also don't mind the video and dialogue. They both help make your advisors seem like actual characters, and not just "Talking Head What Talks About Science" (which is how it is in Civilization.) That's something that I feel adds to the atmosphere of the game.

Edit: Specifically, how could you not like the video that plays after you first shoot down a UFO? So great!

#6 Posted by Rayeth (1113 posts) -

If you are playing on PC the videos are horribly low-res. Apparently there are 1080p videos included in that 12 GB that Steam downloaded, but the ones playing on my monitor certainly don't LOOK 1080p. This is MAYBE 720p, but its probably some kind of upscaled 480p. Its so low res that it is shameful.

#7 Posted by Spoonman671 (4986 posts) -

They definitely felt a little too hand-holdey and made me feel like I wasn't setting up my base optimally, but I'm pretty sure there are ways to avoid the tutorial, so maybe do that next time you start a game.

#8 Posted by Brodehouse (10487 posts) -

My favorite part of XCOM is the internet tough guys. By far.

#9 Posted by Ares42 (2977 posts) -

The worst thing about the tutorial is that it points you in a horrible direction. Pushing you towards the alien base way too quickly, messing up your base tetris, not allowing you to start on the better continents etc. Going for alien containment and arc thrower right away is about the stupidest thing you can do.

#10 Posted by bunnymud (765 posts) -

@Brodehouse: Have yet to come across those types on aliens in the game so far

#11 Posted by StarvingGamer (9008 posts) -

So turn off the tutorial?

#12 Posted by KoolAid (1175 posts) -

I agree that the tutorial was really long and it took a long time before I felt like I had control at the base. On the other hand... it's a complicated game, so I did need to know a lot of that stuff.

But as for the cutscenes.... I love 'em. I think that they add a lot of personality to the game and they are fun to watch. If you want to be moving faster and not be interrupted by the cut scenes, then I guess I understand. But I personally love the pace of the game and I would definitely not like it as much if not for the cutscenes.

#13 Posted by Video_Game_King (36566 posts) -

Well, it's a pretty complex game, isn't it? Wouldn't that warrant a long explanation?

#14 Posted by GERALTITUDE (4221 posts) -

#15 Edited by Ares42 (2977 posts) -

@Video_Game_King said:

Well, it's a pretty complex game, isn't it? Wouldn't that warrant a long explanation?

The problem is that it forces choices on you instead of going "you can now pick between x,y,z. They each do this and that", so that it can introduce every aspect right away instead of as they come. It would've been much better if they opened the game from the start and triggered tutorials as you stumbled over new things.

#16 Posted by GERALTITUDE (4221 posts) -

#17 Posted by GERALTITUDE (4221 posts) -

@rebgav: No dog. I started with the tutorial, then tried no tutorial, then felt like I was wasting my time (and maybe missing something) and went back. But yeah, only myself to blame. As to your other point... maybe. Quick Looks etc were largely combat focused whereas the tutorial segments play out 60-40 in the base.

#18 Posted by kerse (2191 posts) -

It does take a pretty long time for the out of battle tutorial stuff to get going. But you can kinda do whatever after a mission or two in battle, which is the meat of the game to me so it didn't really bother me that much.

#19 Posted by Fearbeard (863 posts) -

Having played the original Xcom, yes I wanted more of the systems to open up sooner. For someone completely new to the series, I have no problem with the way they rolled everything out and didn't lump it all together where information would be lost.

This is really not a problem though. Next playthrough I'll disable the tutorial.

#20 Posted by HerbieBug (4228 posts) -

I'm sure they recognized it is excessively hand-holdy for experienced players. They allowed the option to disable it on a new game for a reason. There's no call to complain about a feature that explicitly provides a toggle to disable right in the starting menu.

So calm down.

#21 Posted by Forderz (263 posts) -

@CableCarrier: Yeah, the celebratory cheering of the command staff feels right.

#22 Posted by Tennmuerti (8249 posts) -

The detailed tutorial seems like an absolute necessity for people picking up this type of game for the first time. Especially for today's general audience.

If you are a vet and are annoyed by it, turn it off.

I see no problem with this system.

#23 Edited by Dredlockz (376 posts) -

In this thread: people that don't realize only like 7% of gamers bought this on PC and are "hardcore" and have played the original. The vast majority are mid-core console gamers, who've had no experience at all with turn-based tactics, since they are not common in consoles.

So yeah, deal with it, you're in the minority, and be grateful that the tutorial helped all the casual/midcore gamers, cus they bring in the big bucks, and make more games like this plausible.

#24 Posted by ElCapitan (478 posts) -

@Ares42: My biggest pet peeve was not being able to pick anything but N. America or Europe in the tutorial. Insane requirement...

#25 Posted by GERALTITUDE (4221 posts) -

In this post: people who read forum titles but none of the posts within, thus responding to their own made-up, alternate reality post.

Was Die Tutorial Die too strong? The tutorial is unnecessarily linear and long.

That was my beef (not that it exists). I'm not an XCOM vet or a hardcore PC gamur or whatever. All that said and done, time to start writing-up my list of PC Version Control Complaints...

#26 Edited by Tennmuerti (8249 posts) -


Funny, considering i actually read your entire post and replied to a specific point in it. But way to make assumptions.

You asked people to chime in at the end, they did. Don't ask for responses and other peoples feelings on it, if you don't want to hear them.

The tutorial is both necessarily linear and necessarily long, for people who have never played Xcom games, aren't used to turn based games. If you just give the audience today tooltips, half of them will skip them, ignore them or otherwise miss them. Tutorial itself is just two missions, the only further tutorialized stuff is for the first time the player encounters certain gameplay element/mechanics. Even with tutorials as liner and long as they are there are still people on these boards who managed to not understand or forget certain aspects.

#27 Posted by Ravenlight (8057 posts) -

I started the game without the tutorial and I don't feel like I missed out on anything.

My advice to people just picking the game up would be to disable the tutorial and not worry about it, as long as you're familiar with tactics-style games.

#28 Posted by Rohok (579 posts) -

I feel the same way. I did the tutorial only because I felt bad if I skipped it.

#29 Edited by BisonHero (8311 posts) -


I started the game without the tutorial and I don't feel like I missed out on anything.

My advice to people just picking the game up would be to disable the tutorial and not worry about it, as long as you're familiar with tactics-style games.

Agreed. Even as a complete XCOM noob, the tutorial doesn't let you do anything on your own in the base for about an hour or two longer than it should.

Do they think people are illiterate? Because there are tool tips on fucking everything, plus the XCOM encyclopedia database thing, so there are more than enough resources at your fingertips assuming you have like a fourth grade reading level.

#30 Posted by bkbroiler (1659 posts) -

Just to be perfectly clear, you CAN start the game without the tutorial and build whatever you want from the get-go.

#31 Posted by GERALTITUDE (4221 posts) -

Meh, asshole may be going a bit far. But sure, sorry bro.

I'd say the reason people "managed to not understand or forget certain aspects" is likely because the tutorial is so guided and linear. We learn from doing, not being told. In a game like XCOM the best education will come from (repeated) trial and error.

I did/do want to hear what people think but I don't understand all the "Veterans f off tutorials aren't for you," as if I have to be a vet to not like the tutorial approach.

#32 Posted by TheSouthernDandy (4011 posts) -

The tutorial is fine. You have to remember they need to keep those in mind who have zero experience with XCOM. For a game with this many systems its better they over explain. Plus you can turn it off. Problem solved.

#33 Posted by LassieME (244 posts) -

Start on Impossible and then put it down to whatever difficulty you feel like. Problem solved.

#34 Edited by Tennmuerti (8249 posts) -


Apologies, it was a bit harsh, which is why I edited the post (sadly the notification system only shows the initial reply). But being dismissive towards people got under my skin too much.

It has just been seen a million times in this modern era of video games, of games not explaining a lot of their stuff, and you get a flood of people complaining that it's too obtuse, which is why developers are tutorialising the hell out of everything that needs to appeal to a wider audience.

As far as education from trial and error, Xcom still has that in spades :D

#35 Posted by Freki (133 posts) -

Except having played part of it as part of the Demo I like how it eased you into the game.. and those who don't can just turn it off, so IMO it was done quite well ( the demo should just have been different so it wasn't something you had already tried )

#36 Posted by SilverBulletKY (202 posts) -

@Pinworm45 said:

It does prevent you from thinking on your own at all, and I agree it should be toned down.

I also agree on the videos. They needed to make them shorter, use shorthand. Instead they talk in long ass sentences. "Research completed" becomes a full on "I have completely my analysis of the devices you recovered, and have made some startling discoveries. But using alien johnson rods inside our capacitors, we can now make improved weaponry".

I get it, shut the fuck up. A minor issue but one that comes up way too much. Maybe just because I'm still a bit early in the game.

Or you could just click your mouse and skit the video sequences. One tiny click.

#37 Posted by DeathTrap (337 posts) -

I actually really appreciated the tutorial. I never played the original X-Com, so the tutorial was actually really helpful in telling me how to get things started. It felt like it ended at a pretty good spot, right when I was starting to get impatient to fiddle with all the facilities/research/etc.

#38 Posted by Baal_Sagoth (1370 posts) -

I love the somewhat long-winded presentation and I felt the tutorial was informative and adequate for an optional help that seasoned veterans would clearly disable immediately anyway.

#39 Posted by Ubersmake (771 posts) -

I actually liked the tutorial. My general approach to strategy games is to flail about for five or six hours until I figure out what works for me, and then restart the game. This saved me about...three hours of my life? Was it really handholdy? Oh yeah. Which is why I'm glad that checkbox is there when you start a new game.

#40 Posted by GERALTITUDE (4221 posts) -

Reading and digesting these comments hasn't changed my feelings, but they've been "patched". It's obvious from replies that many players found the toot useful, but I think there were also a lot of players in my position, middle-of-the-road players who wanted some explanation, and got too much. I liked Jeff's analysis on the recent Bombcast, which was about 300% softer than mine: there's a tutorial, it's pretty long. One thing I saw come up on the 2k forums was that there's a benefit to doing the tutorial as you receive items and money you wouldn't otherwise. Food for thought!

#41 Posted by Baal_Sagoth (1370 posts) -

@GERALTITUDE: I can understand where you're coming from. But what would be a reasonable and realistic solution to that problem? Spend ressources on several tutorial tiers for complete newcomers, tactically minded folk and veterans? That would obviously be ideal but it doesn't seem practical. I'd roughly classify myself as a mediocre turn-based-tactics gamer. Very reasonable experience with the field (JA2, Silent Storm, tactical RPGs, on the other hand sub-par UFO/ XCOM knowledge) but not a person that would actually skip a tutorial where available. And all I can say is: I really wasn't annoyed or inconvenienced any more than I usually am by introductory content. I understood that my hand was being held for a decent while so I breezed through that content. Some exposition and narrative was intertwined with that so there was value beyond explaining the game.

And then the actual game started and from now on that's clearly where consecutive playthroughs will start for me but it's totally fine and not that big a deal.

#42 Posted by jozzy (2053 posts) -

The tutorial screwed up my first playthrough because I hit a gamestopper bug, and it was on ironman so I didn't have any previous saves to get around it. So yeah, not a fan of the tutorial.

Are there any interesting story beats after the first 2 tutorial missions that I miss by not doing the tutorial?

#43 Posted by GERALTITUDE (4221 posts) -

  1. toot is divorced from narrative
  2. toot can be turned on/off at will
  3. toot is adaptive rather than linear

The first two I think are self-explanatory. A linear tutorial tells you everything you need to know, when the game thinks you need to know it. An adaptive tutorial tells you in the moment. Here's an example: during the very first mission they teach you how to move. Great! But instead of pointing a golden arrow at a car and literally forcing me to move my guy there, let me move him wherever I want. If I move him to a full cover/half cover/open spot, the game can chime in appropriately (You'll get some decent cover here/Don't stay here long!/NEVER STAY IN THE OPEN FOOL!). If there's only one highlighting, glowing object on the screen I can click, then just click it for me, knowwhatimsayin?

I think most game tutorials tell us what to do before we get a chance to act, not how to rectify our mistakes. I wasn't expecting XCOM to rewrite the book, but I found the tutorial to be 1) too much information at once, 2) too guided. I didn't feel like I was playing, but watching. And if you only have a small time to play, that can be really frustrating.

#44 Posted by Baal_Sagoth (1370 posts) -

@GERALTITUDE: Yeah, I love the more modern approach of Civ 4 & 5 tutorials (as far as I recall). I'm not entirely sure how dependant that excellent style may be on very sandbox-esque games. But sure, that is a good way to teach players, maybe it's even superior to XCOM's attempt. It certainly is better in the sense that you could play an entire fool-proof game while pretending to actually propperly play Civ already. Which is impossible with the XCOM intro.

I whole-heartedly disagree with your first point. To me, a mixture is the ideal solution (Warcraft 3's odd Thrall intro first converted me) but I understand this is controversial. Of course this is coming from someone that does usually check out tutorials without being in dire need of explanations. Part of my interest admittedly is an abstract desire to learn how designers intent to teach players the ways of their game and part of it is a compulsive completionist desire.

The second bit is very important but reasonably well realized in XCOM. Except if you wish to skip mid-game, which would be ideal but then again you can always quickly restart. You couldn't be in deeper than 20-30 minutes before you realize the tutorial is beneath you.

The third bullet point kind of ties into the first. Civ does this better. XCOM is especially linear in it's explanations. Ironic for a game that seems pretty free-form so far (I'm only 5 hours into my game, having captured the 2nd alien type alive). But again, doing adaptive tutorials really well seems madly ressource intensive. I'd rather have that budget be spent on the actual game than on softening my first encounter with it.

Your final observations are spot on as far as I'm concerned. It's just that to me these developments are curiosity items and not moments of actual concern. I'll applaud any real advancement in these sectors but them being underdeveloped doesn't strike me as one of gaming's biggest issues as of now. It's always good to think some of these issues through though!

#45 Posted by DJJoeJoe (1389 posts) -

I played the demo a few times and assumed most/all of the tutorial was in that. Choosing no tutorial in the main game seems to still trigger 'some' things that guide you through the game. You don't need a tutorial for the most part as things are explained anyways as you discover them. When you see a new enemy they talk about it, and give you more info if you do the autopsy stuff or capture one alive etc.

'If' the full tutorial was in fact in the demo, the one I played, then it's hella short... since I played the demo a few times it becomes easier to see how short it is in fact, was really sad at the time cause I wanted more xcom :) Now I have tons of xcom :S I played all day today and now I have to sleep cause I'll die if I don't (that's how my body works).

XCOM can be extremely punishing, front loading the explanations instead of showing you a few times to get you to see it may have been the best option. It's not terrible, it may be grating if you're not in the mood for it. There is a reason you can turn the tutorial on or off, and if given the option I always skip the tutorials in games because I've played a video game before and know how to do the stuff or I'll quickly find out that [button] is [action] soon enough without control taken away from me and a text box in my face etc.


#46 Posted by Phoenix778m (299 posts) -
@DeathTrap agreed
#47 Posted by GERALTITUDE (4221 posts) -

: I think WarCraft, and to some extent, World of WarCraft, are good examples of strong narrative tutorials, definitely won't argue that. I should have been more specific in my point! RTS games usually tie tutorial to narrative because the base RTS game tends to get complex in a linear fashion (ex: you unlock units and buildings as per the story, so the tutorial/gameplay/story element is introduced at the same time). As you mentioned, XCOM is pretty open and random, which is why I don't think it works as well here.

Part of my interest admittedly is an abstract desire to learn how designers intend to teach players the ways of their game and part of it is a compulsive completionist desire.

I like this, and certainly have this feeling from time to time. Cool.

It's true you could quit and restart without a tutorial, but this means no tutorial whatsoever and what I was trying to say is nice about the On/Off tutorial (like Civ) is that we can decide when we need help. For example, maybe 10 hours in I forget something or just feel like I'm sucking big time, it'd be nice to turn the tips back on. The database is something, but it's not interactive.

I agree that adaptive tutorials seem more expensive, but I also get the feeling it's something you need to keep in my mind when designing from the ground up. And of course I think it's worth it! I know what I'm saying in the end is a bit dream scape at the moment (someone's gotta revolutionize tutorials!), but ah well. This sounds grandiose but I believe tutorials are really the wedge that separates people who love games from people who aren't interested. I believe that an awesome tutorial system could help any player play any game. And what a world that would be! Crusader Kings, here I come!


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