I need to design a tutorial for a simple web game.

I don't know what would be better:

  • a video?
  • an overlay with info about game elements?

Moreover... I was thinking to use it on the splash screen of the game. User have to go through it the first time they play the game. Afterwards it will be hidden but users must be able to watch it again.

Do you think this could be a good solution? Any ideas about the user flow?

2 Answers 2


If I'm sitting down to play a game, one thing I don't want to do is read instructions. Console games don't even come with printed manuals anymore, and users are going to expect a much bigger time investment than with a web game probably.

What I do want to do is: play the game. I would recommend against a video for new users - you're asking them to make a time commitment before they know if they are going to like the game or not. An overlay is better, but it's still something that people have to pay attention to. It's real easy to just glance at some text, click away, and then be confused about how the game works.

The best tutorials are the ones that are integrated into the gameplay in some way. Some way to slowly explain the mechanics to players as they are playing an introductory level. The goal should be to make players go through the tutorial without them ever knowing it's actually a tutorial.

Ghost Trick (iOS) is a reasonable example of walking the player through the first level of the game, although one that's way too long (disclaimer: I wrote the linked article).

Quento (also iOS) is a game where you swipe to solve math problems. It introduces the player to the game's mechanic right on the title screen, making the player swipe "quento" to start the game. It's a great way to start a game.


Depending on the type and complexity of the game, you might be better served observing someone use your game for the first time and taking note of what confuses and frustrates them. Then, concentrate on making those interface elements or tasks more obvious through succinct labeling, hover tips, visual contrast, and movement. Then, test again.

Making a tutorial or video isn't necessarily a bad move, though, I'm just cautioning you against going there as a first resort. In doing so, you may miss some valuable low-hanging fruit that could improve your game's user experience.

Rather than a splash screen, some of the more effective tutorials I've seen are overlaid on the game itself. A guided tour with tooltips pointing out specific gameplay or interface elements helps the user see the context of the instruction, making it more likely to be remembered.

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