"Crusader Kings II has had a broken tutorial for a year and no one gave a shit."

In the words of Paradox Interactive CEO Fredrik Wester.

It turned out that most of the people on Steam learning to play Crusader Kings II were getting the basics from a YouTube series put up by a user named Arumba. Arumba’s not alone, either; in total, Wester said he knows of four fans whose main source of income is playing Paradox Games for others to watch.

“That is the real million dollar question… How do you invite people to create value for you? That’s something you should go back to your studios and ask yourself,” Wester said. “How do we get these 4 million Paradox customers to start creating value for our company for free? Or we could even pay them, because they create so much value.”

Here’s the thing though, I give a shit about broken tutorials. More importantly, I care about obtuse or incomplete tutorials. One of my main pet peeves is a tutorial that doesn’t really teach you how to play a game. For example, Fallout 4, has this superfluous building gameplay that gets literally a couple of lines of NPC dialogue and a few terse text prompts. After that, the player is left to fend for themselves. It’s not such a big deal there because you can just ignore that aspect of the game, but it’s annoying as Hell that the feature got such a lackadaisical intro to the player.

Am I just getting phased out by the new normal? People seem to love games that require going to outside wikis and Let’s Plays for basic information.

And also, just as annoying, the games that go “Okay, now press w to move forward. Good! Now hold down shift to run! Very good! Next we will address the complex topic of jumping. Sometimes you may wish to hurdle an obstacle. If this happens, press the space bar while moving. It can take a while to learn this trick, but it’s very useful.”

In the beginning, there were arcade games, and it was good. They were simple to play, and required no instruction beyond watching people flounder about before you put in your quarter.

Then came the Age of Manuals, when computer games got more complex and developers created detailed instructions. Many gamers, coming from pen and paper RPGs and board games, loved these manuals, which over time became more and more minutia-laden and elaborate. And it was good…

…until it wasn’t. As games got more popular, and transcended the niche territory of wargamers, role-players, and nerds, to enter the mainstream, more and more people wanted less and less overhead to their games. They didn’t want to pore over a dense manual to figure out how to do stuff; they just wanted to do stuff. Thus was born the Age of the Tutorial, or “learn as you go.” At its best, this meant games that walked you through what you needed to actually play the game well, without seeming to do so. The play of the game became indistinguishable from the learning, in the best of cases.

But most games aren’t that successful at that. So, there are no more manuals, but creating good, seamless tutorials is not easy, so all too often you get the worst of both worlds: no manual, no instruction worthy of the name. Developers rationalize it just like Paradox has done, by pointing to how fans fill in the gap on the Internet. It’s lazy and sort of dismissive of the importance of teaching people how to play your game, which in turn sort of devalues the game itself. I’m sure some folks love to roam around the web looking for info but I’m with ya, I’d like my games to be a bit more self-contained in that respect.

I don’t know, but leaving a broken tutorial annoys me a great deal, and I say that as a long-time fan of Paradox. It’s no worse than Bethesda counting on modders to fix their terrible interfaces (and Fallout 4 is the worst offender on that area).

The whole thing sounds to me like “people will do that work for us (for free!), so why bother” which I personally feel to be very troubling to say the least.

Serves you right for not buying the all-new Vault Dweller’s Survival Guide, only $40 in a handsome hardcover collector’s edition or $25 in soft cover.

The only new thing is the availability of alternate information sources.

I learned CKII from Arumba’s six-something-hour ‘how to’ series. And yeah, they should probably pay him for doing it, too.

I also gave a shit about the broken tutorial, and found it weird that they never really fixed it and that so many people seemed accepting of it.

I think that broken tutorial is why I still have never connected with CKII, while I love EU4.

I absolutely love Crusader Kings 2. When it works it’s amazing and I’m lucky that crazy intricacies of things like succession law and the feudal structures are something I can really dig. I know I’m an outlier there and I’m with you on the fact that we should be taking the developers to task more. If the tutorial was broken they should remove it. It really was never there in the first place right? Or actually fix the thing. We are far too forgiving of bugs and the attitude of don’t worry it’ll get patched is also disconcerting to me as well. I understand these are complex systems but please, tighten up guys.

No you’re not alone.

Tom Mc

Hell, after bombing out of the crappy tutorial (maybe this was pre-breaking, but it definitely had almost nothing to do with either the finished game or the included manual), I was pretty annoyed to, turned to Arumba, started following along w/ his series, then asked myself why I was trying to learn a game by dual-screening it with a Youtube tutorial like it was car repair and closed the whole thing down -.-

I made a little “tutorial” video for AoW3 not longer after it came out, it’s by far my most viewed video and I got a lot of praise from people in the comments for it. A good tutorial is pretty tough, but I think I would like to see more companies paying people that can longer, well-made tutorials and then not only include those tutorial videos in-game but also release them as the game is gearing up for launch so folks can learn how to play something like that before it drops.

Sort of? Streamers and video content creators (who don’t always overlap, but often do) are doing a better job than the companies are in many cases; even when the tutorials aren’t broken. That’s partly because it’s harder to sit down and teach someone a game when you’ve been on the inside of the thing for a long time. It’s partly because UI design is not always keeping up (this one may be rarer than it used to be, but the spectacularly bad UI designs are such large problems. Why, yes, I am talking about Fallout fucking 4 here). Good tutorials is hard. This doesn’t absolve devs who skip/under deliver when they are needed, mind you. But they are hard.

For a game like a Paradox game I used to need tutorials still. But I am now in a place where I might seek a video guide out instead. There’s upside and downside to both sorts of content, and they’re not always paced the way I want them to be (ok, usually not). But I can get a lot out of these sorts of things.

I can understand people’s being concerned about the CEO’s reaction, because it sounds very calculated and a little too cold. When it should be “we find this to be an amazing community resource and we need to find ways to tap into it to either learn to do a better job or get it to people who don’t stick with or even buy our games. We love that our community does things like this.” Paradox should probably consider courting community content creators to start doing tutorials in late beta (and work closely with them to keep information up to date). I suspect that communities will increasingly be the main outlet for this sort of thing in the future, but we’ll see.

For a lot of games that are somewhat (to very) intimidating, especially strategy or rogue-like stuff, I actually enjoy watching someone only somewhat versed in the game playing and learning as he or she goes along, too. Something about it is more approachable, like if this guy (or girl) is having a hard time figuring something out, maybe it’s okay that I couldn’t figure it out either.

There is also something to be said for watching a video where someone is showing you how (and WHY) to do something instead of an interactive experience where you click on a flashing button or where an arrow points to, without any real context because you haven’t played the game yet.

Yeah, I’d put myself squarely in the camp of wanting a hands-on tutorial, even one that is as rudimentary as Paradox strategy tutorials usually are. At least I’ll get a feel for the interface and whatnot.

But there’s also definitely an advantage I recognize to let’s plays and youtube tutorials. I commute by train every day. I can sit on that train for 20-30 minutes each way (and at the stop, too, while I wait) watching Arumba’s tutorials and learn about the game when I can’t actually play it. And I’d rather spend my time watching someone carefully point out how to play than reading a manual, usually.

As an aside, I will point out that not all Let’s Plays are created equal. I realize that not all of them are meant to be tutorials, but it feels like a few that try to be fail pretty badly…and even those who are trying to show strategic ideas don’t always end up being particularly helpful. Arumba is pretty singular in that regard.

Finally…spill it Lufkin. Where’s your AOW tutorial, and will it be applicable for play of the base game through the hobbit expansion?

Yea, I like tutorials and manuals. I’m not a fan of watching videos to learn how to play a game. I occasionally watch a video to get an impression of a game. Let me learn at my pace and look into more details when I’m ready to. This stance by Paradox (and other companies) is pretty annoying.

Oh, LOL, sure. https://youtu.be/fUtFlb3d5lM

I think it’s probably fairly safe to assume most of what I talk about in there is still relevant. Most of the base mechanics to the game aren’t different, though I don’t of course mention stuff that came much later in the expansions, so at worst you’d run into concepts that were more fleshed out than when I recorded. Also, they would (with those expansions) really do a lot with patches to change up the way races feel/play, make alignment and the like more applicable, and morale is much more important than it was at launch, too. Stuff like that may be a bit different.

Cool, thanks.

I got to a point in the campaign that I knew what I needed to do, but couldn’t figure out how to do it, and have since forgotten everything I thought I knew anyway about how to play.

I think CK2 needed the external videos even back when the tutorial was working! ;)

These tutorials are usually just perfunctory interface overviews, with very little that teaches you how to play the game. Personally I prefer a good written strategy guide, like the one that came with EUIV.

But I would still appreciate working tutorials as they’re a useful quick refresher after a hiatus. I guess there could be problems with the way they’re implemented, and the various expansions adding/moving different interface bits around with no guarantee which ones any given user will have installed.

I wouldn’t have been able to relate even a few weeks ago, but that Caves of Qud video you linked gave me the confidence to jump into a game I might have bounced right off otherwise. I’ll need to find a similar one for ADOM at some point…

I work on simpler games for bigger audiences and the amount of effort and work that it takes to make an informative tutorial really is overwhelming. You have to constantly find fresh eyes to test it and rework it over and over again. It feels like a ridiculous amount of work for a simple game so I imagine the work would be exponentially more time consuming for bigger more complex games. On the one hand, I’ve still never learned to appreciate Crusader Kings (despite loving EU4). On the other hand, I’m glad tutorial videos are making these perhaps otherwise inaccessible games more accessible so they have a good enough financial reason to be made commercially. I hope it doesn’t become the norm, but I’ll deal with it for games made by small groups (like Dwarf Fortress or Caves of Qud) or games that seem justifiably complex enough where a tutorial may be too hard to be worth the effort.

As much as everyone loves in-game tutorials you have to imagine developers are watching the huge onslaught of YouTubers making tutorial videos, narrated lets plays, mechanic breakdowns, and other content at no cost to the developer. That may start influencing how much work is put into tutorials and manuals.

Or we could even pay them, because they create so much value.

Wester’s statement is already true for some communities. Bohemia Interactive worked with a very prolific player and a big name in the ARMA community Dyslexi from ShacTactical to create a series of tutorial videos for them and even the official Arma III Tactical Guide (print/eBook sold through BI’s site).

Everyone should expect to see more of this across different genres for good or ill. You have a large gaming community willingly producing content for games at no cost to the developers and publishers. The latter pair are certainly going to leverage it and the more generous ones will pay the content creators.


As much shit as I give BI, I have to give them credit here. They have an extensive and comprehensive tutorial in the game. Everything from how to move in the game to piloting. They also included scenarios to demonstrate some basic principles, moving to more advanced combined arms stuff down the line. Then there’s a campaign prologue tutorial. (The only shame is that they added most of this stuff well past the initial release.)

The videos with Dslyecxi are really cool, but I’d say that 99% of Arma players will never actually play the same game that Dslyecxi is demonstrating. They’re great marketing, but doing the stuff he’s talking about only really applies in team co-op or team vs team multiplayer with a dedicated group of Arma milsim fans. Trying to do that kind of real-world movement and squad tactics with AI partners will just get you killed more often than not.