So I got some feedback from my playtest build. Several bits of feedback where simple bug fixes or graphical mistakes that were easily fixed. But there was one big bit of feedback I didn’t expect: people didn’t know what to do with the game.
Now I had kind of seen this coming. Several times I started making a tutorial level, only to abandon it as the design left the tutorial behind. I figured if I needed it I would get back to it when I was sure of the rest of the design. Well… turns out I need something.
So a simple plan formed: basically make a slideshow explaining the mechanics of the game. Each game mode would have its own collection of images to describe how that mode functioned, and the player could advance through them at their own pace whenever they want. No forced tutorial or “Now you do the thing” hand holding. Know what your doing? Get straight to the puzzles. Want to figure it out yourself? Go for it. Need a hand figuring out the new mechanics? I got you covered. Completely lost? Simple explanation just a click/tap away.
When I was first making my tutorials I was doing “all the things”. Slowly introducing concepts and elements so as to not overwhelm. Showing patterns in the puzzle without going “Here: see this!” But in all that I forgot one of the first design principles I was ever taught: K.I.S.S. Keep It Simple Stupid. And that is what the new design is: simple and too the point.