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I am making a game that only has a single level. It is a survival game. If there were multiple levels, I can have the player learn new skills gradually. For example, level one requires jumping, level 2 requires climbing, level 3 requires both.

As a single open-world level which is intended to be replayed multiple times, I am having trouble finding any linearity in which I can teach the player how to play the game a little bit at a time. I am tossing them to the wolves.

Is there a common strategy to force the player to learn all the necessary skills to succeed? Currently I have 4 directions which the player can travel from the starting point. Each of which teaches them something. But my fear is that they will learn a single way and then have no reason to learn the other three skills, as each skill is equally beneficial.

How can I force the player to learn all four gameplay skills when only one is required to succeed at the game? Keep in mind, because of mechanics of this particular game and there only being one level, they must have the ability to learn all 4 skills from the beginning.

I hope this is not too foolish of a question, but I am stumped on how to make the players learn all four skills without front loading a tutorial.

Reason for only one level is time and scope. Just can't make more. Gotta get this one right.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Matter of minutes til this question is put on hold for being nonspecific. :-) Maybe you could require certain trinkets from each of the four directions either at the end or during, to progress. Like part way through PATH1 is a gate that's only unlocked with a key or action part way through PATH2. (i.e. make the world still "open" but, "with conditions".) I'm remembering that Braid had some bits you had to revisit to finish. Or just have four different rewards (treats, congrats, whatever) at the ends, and if player only wants one of them, is their choice. \$\endgroup\$ – david van brink Feb 14 '15 at 19:15
  • \$\begingroup\$ @davidvanbrink that is genius! Exactly what I couldn't think of! Thank you for the idea before my question gets closed. I was really struggling to keep this question within the guidelines of the site. I am definitely going to take your advice. Thanks!!!! \$\endgroup\$ – Evorlor Feb 14 '15 at 19:17
  • \$\begingroup\$ What exactly are these skills? If they are just controls like press a to jump it is incredibly insulting to force your players into a tutorial. You can easily cover controls in a pause menu or make a tutorial option that starts you in an area that is closed off once completed. \$\endgroup\$ – rom016 Dec 6 '15 at 0:40
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As @davidvanbrink said in a comment, gating is a common way of doing this: either put the starting position in an large enclosed area that requires all the skills to escape and contains basic tutorials on each, or have certain portions of the game be blocked by barriers that require one of the skills and make sure that every critical path contains one of each kind of gate.

Another approach is the rock-paper-scissors trick. Have challenges that require or are immune to one or more of the skills in question. Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time had enemies that required certain skills to defeat, forcing you to learn those skills.

Finally, you can try the redundant solution approach popularized by Deus Ex, where you show multiple paths to an objective, each more easily traversed with a different skill. That way they can complete the game with a single approach but can clearly see that they've "missed" a path that they can return to in a repeat play with a different strategy.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Great solutions! Thanks! I feel like I'm the player in my game now...3 ways I can do it, all equally as good, and I'll just learn one and stick to it :-p \$\endgroup\$ – Evorlor Feb 15 '15 at 4:30
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Evorlor If you're feeling ambitious, don't be afraid to mix and match! A gated tutorial section followed by an RPS world with redundant gated solutions sounds fun to me! \$\endgroup\$ – Gregory Avery-Weir Feb 15 '15 at 5:41
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Achievements. After learning one skill from set, display progress information like "Skill learned: 1 / 4" (eg. "Lighting fire: 1/4 skills learned"). This way player will know there are 3 other skills to learn.

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