I have to admit - we both love and hate tutorials!
The love part is that a new player of course needs to learn the game somehow.
A typical tutorial forces you to go through a cast-in-stone sequence of events where the designer holds your hand tap-by-tap. On top of that while you're going through this artificial narrative, you're supposed to remember every single detail and be able to fully use them later when the full complexity of the game hits you.
In Spymaster, we have set ourselves the ambitious goal to replace the traditional tutorial with something more flexible and fun. We'll drop you directly into a simplified version of Spymaster, give you a couple of agents and your first operational goal. Then it's up to you to figure out how to start going after that goal. Think of it as a dynamic sandbox where you will instantly recognize some things and just intuitively reach for them, and hopefully we have made them behave as you would expect. You know, the use of a shovel in a sandbox is pretty obvious. If you need to move Charlie to Paris we fully expect you to try clicking or drag & dropping his character on the map. Do we really need a tutorial step for learning basic movement?
Now in a strategy game some concepts will not be self-evident. For instance, your agents in occupied Europe can instantly rest and recuperate from heavy Gestapo-inflicted stress by returning to your London HQ. Here at the office we like to use the technical term "cup of tea in London." :D Now there's no way for you to just intuitively know this effect, so we need to let you know. The right time to tell you is when _you_ need it. When Lucy becomes badly stressed and unable to operate, we'll let you know that now would a good time to take a ride on that matte-black Lysander and get back to jolly old London for a warm beverage.
We're super excited about this whole concept, let's see how it turns out! Would love to hear in the comments what are some of your best and worst tutorial experiences.
Disclaimer: Game development is an iterative process where things tend to change many times over before the game ships. That's a fancy way of saying that we can't promise any exact features discussed in this blog.