Instructions in a Flash Game

Written By MrSun at 1:26 pm - Saturday, July 26th, 2008
Categories: Flash

When you, as a flash developer, make a game, it is important that you inform your user how to play it. Usually if your game is simple enough, the user doesn’t need to read the instructions, but with more complicated games, they are required. There is one problem with making instructions, however. If you have made a flash game in the past, you should know that users DON’T LOOK AT THE INSTRUCTIONS! Those people usually sometimes get to dislike your game, simply because they don’t know how to play it well. None of it is your fault. But, you can try to prevent this with some of the following techniques.

  1. Show the Instructions in the Preloader and Menu
    This is a possible solution for a game that is simple but perhaps needs some more explanation. Putting the instructions in the preloader/menu will increase your chanchesof getting the user to read them. However, even then sometimes the user will skip the instructions. This is something you are going to have to deal with.
  2. Incorporate Aspects of the Gameplay into the Menu System
    This is a creative solution that is most commonly used in platform games like this. This will allow the user to get the basic control scheme down, so less explaining will be needed later. Of course, if you do this, you shouldn’t forget about instructions altogether. As I said, you can only teach your users the basic control scheme, not your entire game.
  3. Show the Instructions Right Before the Game Starts
    This is yet another practical way to force your users to see your instructions therefore making your game more playable. Users will almost always have to read your instructions if you follow this method. But, you have to be careful with this, because you can easily overwhelm your user with too many instructions all at the beginning. It’s likely that they’ll be turned off if you make them digest too much information in the beginning. Give them the most important instructions.
  4. Make the First Level a Tutorial Level
    This method forces the user to learn how to play your game, therefore making it the one of the more effective ways to instruct your user. However, it also is one of the more time consuming for both you and the user. Depending on the complexity of your game, it could take a while for you to make the tutorial level, and also for the user to play through the level. Do not make this boring.
  5. Teach the User as they Play
    This is another effective way to get your user to read the instructions. As you introduce new features in your game, give your user some information about this feature. This is most useful in larger-scale games, because it lets the user learn a complicated game in digestable bits. When making these types of instructions, you should make sure that the user can actually see them without having to look too hard. But, don’t make them so obtrusive as to disrupt the gameplay.

Other Instructional Tips

  • ALWAYS make instructions, no matter how simple your game is. There are a lot of um… less mentally able people in this world
  • Make the instructions visible, but not obtrusive or required. When people play your game more than once, they don’t want to see the instructions every time they play. If possible, program it so the instructions are only mandatory to first-time players
  • Know that no matter what you do, some people will always find a way not to read your instructions. It’s something that you cannot stop, but you can lessen
  • Make your instructions as interactive as possible, not all text based. This way, it’ll be easier for the user to understand the game