I want to preface this by saying that every game should teach its player how to play it's game. You never know if they're new to the genre, new to gaming, or are playing other games and can get control set ups messed up.
However, I feel like more and more games are getting lazier in how to present this information to the user. More games today are using long and bogged down introduction sessions to the point where I think they are genuinely doubting the ability of the human brain to make connections with what's going on.
These games tend to put you in stages that in no way represent the rest of the game, are generally drab and without any real excitement, and never stop reminding you that pushing forward moves your character forward. Even online games require you to play against meaningless bots before even getting the option to play against other people. Really?
For some good examples, I want to take two games that accomplish teaching the player its mechanics in very different ways. Insert Minecraft and God of War 3.
Minecraft drops you in the middle of this randomized world with no context and tells you to just begin. You have no idea where to begin, what to do, where to go, etc. However, by limiting the actions you can do, as well as limiting the variety of objects to interact with, the player can begin to experiment and slowly learn the game play loop all on their own. While it doesn't give you all the content at once, it shows you that you can interact with anything, that you can break objects by hitting them, and that you can eventually create things with what you've found. Throughout the rest of the game it throws more complex materials and mechanics at you, but the core mechanics that you learn follows you from the beginning to whatever end goal you decide yourself.
It doesn't overwhelm the user with too many options, but yet it doesn't insult the player by placing them in a "tutorial world" before then loading them into the real world. It lets them learn through actively playing the game, and introduces its secrets at the players lesure. When the player decides they're comfortable and wants to find more, they do so on their own accord.
God of War 3 does it in a much more linear fashion, but much more effective than most other cinematic/action based games. The moment you enter the game, you're confronted by Poseidon and his henchmen and you're going from dramatic set piece to dramatic set piece. While the game itself gives you pop ups on what the controls are, you are very much in the core of the game itself. The level you are in is very much important to the story, the actions you're doing is a fair representation of the gameplay that you're going to be seeing moving forward, and the progression is very fluid for the user.
There isn't a disconnect between game, player character, and the player themselves. It places you into the game right away and allows you to learn by… playing the game. It does give you prompts as mentioned earlier, but you can easily ignore it and have fun immediately as soon as you start the game without having a "filler" start to the game.
Do you think that long, more intrusive, and non relevant content is necessary for players to get into the game, or is it a case of developers and game designers not being able to come up with a better introduction and a more seemless way to educate the user on the game itself? Do multiplayer games have to force people to play against bots (Smite & LoL), and single player games forcing you to suffer through game stopping pop ups and stages? (lets say Xenoblade 2)
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