Jumping Into the Action

I just realized how often a game drags me through a long and boring tutorial before getting into the action.  After renting so many Gamefly games lately and playing through at least their first hour I've determined that I hate introductions and tutorials in most games.  Developers, you need to get better at showing the player why we should love your game within the first few minutes.

This is something that AAA developers can learn from flash and indie games.  You only have a few minutes to grab my attention.  After that I'm not going to play your game if I'm bored.  Don't waste time setting up an epic story.  Don't save interesting gameplay until later.  Don't limit me to an extremely linear tutorial.  Give me the game and let me test out the fun in it.

In flash games I'm immediately thrown into the action.  I can figure out if I like a game within seconds.  With many console games I have to sit through the opening credits, opening video showing the setting and characters, and learn how to walk (hint: it's the left analog stick), learn how to crouch (omg, click the left stick, really?), learn how to run, learn how to shoot, etc for the first portion of the game.  I've booted up games and spent 15 minutes before ever getting a taste of what the gameplay is really like.

Old school games understood this.  Look at the original Donkey Kong.  Start the game and immediately you're dodging barrels, climbing, picking up hammers, and trying to save the princess.  Literally within seconds you know all the essentials of the game.  Why have games drifted so far from this?

Instant gameplay.  No lengthy cutscenes to be found.

It seems so obvious that video games should allow the player to discover the world through playing rather than by watching cutscenes.  I didn't buy a movie, I bought a video game.  I don't want to watch passively, I want to play.  I want to take an active part in the world that's been created and by putting so many obstacles between me and the fun developers are basically saying "Don't play my game." So, I guess I won't.


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