Episode 24: Beginner’s Mind

Kids concentrate on mastering a karate lesson

Every new game comes with a learning curve: a new set of systems and mechanics that players must understand to get the most out of their play. Naturally then, the question of how to craft compelling tutorials and on-boarding experiences is an ever-present challenge in game design. On Episode 24 of Vertical Slice, we’re setting out to understand what separates the best tutorials—those rare first-hour experiences that pull players deeply into a game’s systems and challenges—from their less inspired counterparts. Let’s see what we can learn!

Show Notes

  • Chris is loving the challenge and pacing of Steam’s latest multiplayer hit: PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds.
  • Derek is excited about Gwent, CD Project Red’s new Witcher-based collectible card game, now in open beta on PC, PS4, and Xbox One.
  • George Fan’s seminal GDC talk, How I Got My Mom to Play Through Plants vs Zombies, is a superb starting point for learning how to design effective new player experiences.
  • Axis & Allies is a great example of how board games can use compelling physical design to draw players into the learning process.
  • Dwarf Fortress is perhaps the ultimate example of ignoring player instruction altogether. Sometimes there’s something to be said for letting players figure it out the hard way!

Image credit: Örlygur Hnefill

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