Created By: Prfnoff on December 24, 2012 Last Edited By: Prfnoff on June 19, 2016

Signpost Tutorial

Signpost Tutorial

Name Space:
Main
Page Type:
Trope
Where a video game offers in-game instructions on how to play through some feature of the game world. The instructions may be advertised on some part of the background, or the player can stop to read them in a manner similar to Story Breadcrumbs.

This serves to make tutorial levels self-guided and less obtrusive than having NPCs interrupt the gameplay and try to explain the controls while maintaining character.

Examples:

Action-Adventure
  • The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time contains a number of literal signposts in a maze near the cave that leads to the Kokiri Sword. These cover basic jumping and attack maneuvers. You can ignore them if you want to (and most people do, as unlike some tutorials the game doesn't pull the "you are not allowed to do any maneuver that you didn't learn in-game" trick) and still be able to do everything.

Miscellaneous Games
  • The Glider PRO "Demo House" does this with instructions printed over the background graphic.

Platform Games
  • Braid uses free-standing signs that depict a button and the action that your character will perform.
  • The Jumper games give instructions to the player in form of unobstructing text. Jumper Two, however, puts them away in blocks that Ogmo has to bump from below to read.
  • Kirby's Epic Yarn has the tutorial level laden with signposts that demonstrate what certain buttons do in specific scenarios like when he transforms into a tank or a saucer.
  • Kirbys Return To Dreamland has large signposts in the background of the first few levels that demonstrate controls and actions with pictures. If the player follows directions, the sign shows a checkmark and the game plays a chime.
  • The Lost Vikings uses squares with question marks that show an instructional text box when pressed. They are scattered throughout the first few levels before introducing every new ability. The very first such block activates automatically to explain how to read the other blocks.
  • In Marvin's Marvellous Adventure for the Amiga, the ground is strewn with Speech Bubbles saying "HELP." Hints from the Professor pop up when you walk over these.
  • Purple's stage 1-1 features billboards that visually show how to move around.
  • Putty has the Gym, a simple beginning level with signs showing where the Stretch, Bounce, Jab, Absorb and Inflate moves can best be used.
  • Super Mario World occasionally has message blocks that Mario can bump into that give playing hints, captioned "-Point of Advice-" (or "Tourist Tips" in the Advance remake).
  • Tiny Toon Adventures Buster Busts Loose has wall signs in the first level pointing out where to "DASH!!" and "JUMP!!"
  • Wario Land: Shake It! uses signs in the background of the tutorial level to show the controls.
  • In Yoshi's Island, literal signposts appear whenever a new gameplay mechanic is introduced that you can read for hints on what to do and how to do it. Some even have illustrations.
  • You Have to Burn the Rope has the game's only instructions written on the wall in the background.

Puzzle Games
  • In World of Goo, the signposts scattered around the stages will tell you how the new type of goo works if you encounter one, as well as give hints on how to clear the stage. It's also where most of the story is contained.

Racing Games
  • Need for Speed Underground 2 has a series of info coronas laid around the Airport and City Center (the only two sections of town accessible at the start of the game). Driving through these gives you some information on the game and a small amount of cash.

Role-Playing Games
  • The tutorial in Dark Souls is given through messages on the ground.
  • In Holy Umbrella, signposts in the Side View levels say which way the player should go, which techniques to use here or how the player needs to use them.
  • Present in any Pokémon main series game: Signposts may contain in-universe information (location names, etc.), or they may contain "Trainer Tips!" which provide tutorial-like information to the player.

Simulation Games
  • Black & White has literal signposts littered throughout the lands and clustered around your temple that remind you of how to do basic deeds, though there are actual advisors who explain the principles as well.

Community Feedback Replies: 26
  • December 24, 2012
    KTera
    • The tutorial in Dark Souls is given through messages on the ground.
  • December 24, 2012
    MrRuano
    • Kirbys Epic Yarn has the tutorial level laden with signposts that demonstrate what certain buttons do in specific scenarios like when he transforms into a tank or a saucer.
  • December 24, 2012
    Diask
    • The Jumper games give instructions to the player in form of unobstructing text. Jumper Two, however, puts them away in blocks that Ogmo has to bump from below to read (a la Super Mario World).
    • Purple's stage 1-1 features billboards that visually show how to move around.
  • December 25, 2012
    Stratadrake
    One of the differences between this and He Knows About Timed Hits is that the player is free to read or ignore the tutorial signs at their discretion.

    For titles, what about swapping the words around and having Tutorial Signpost? How does that sound?
  • December 26, 2012
    Korodzik
    • The Lost Vikings uses squares with question marks that show an instructional text box when pressed. They are scattered throughout the first few levels before introducing every new ability. The very first such block activates automatically to explain how to read the other blocks.
    • Braid uses these, free-standing signs that depict a button and the action that your character will perform.
  • December 26, 2012
    Stratadrake
    Present in any Pokemon main series game: Signposts may contain in-universe information (location names, etc.), or they may contain "Trainer Tips!" which provide tutorial-like information to the player.
  • March 31, 2013
    Prfnoff
    YKTTW Bump. There are a lot of good examples already.
  • April 1, 2013
    Stratadrake
    I still think it should be Tutorial Signpost. Definition's good but could use expanding, examples need adding.
  • April 1, 2013
    willthiswork
    Yoshis Island: Literal signposts appear whenever a new gameplay mechanic is introduced that you can read for hints on what to do and how to do it, some even with illustrations.
  • April 1, 2013
    TrueShadow1
    • In World Of Goo the signposts scattered around the stages will tell you how the new type of goo works if you encounter one, as well as give hints on how to clear the stage. It's also where most of the story is contained.
  • April 1, 2013
    UltramarineAlizarin
    Kirbys Return To Dreamland has large signposts in the background of the first few levels that demonstrate controls and actions with pictures. If the player follows directions, the sign shows a checkmark and the game plays a chime.
  • April 1, 2013
    MetaFour
  • December 3, 2014
    Generality
    • Black And White has literal signposts littered throughout the lands and clustered around your temple that remind you of how to do basic deeds, though there are actual advisors who explain the principles as well.
  • December 4, 2014
    henke37
    Are you sure that Yoshi's Island had literal sign posts? I recall there being blocks to hit instead.
  • December 4, 2014
    NemuruMaeNi
    ^ There are two games by that name. SNES rendition had "talking"-blocks indeed.

    Although I don't think either of the two would count for this. It's the same as talking to NPC or reading an item in inventory.

    I think it's more about things like Donkey Kong Country 2 Diddys Kong Quest. The second in the series, game had a new mechanic (one member of the duo can pick the other if it's there, and throw it to get somewhere, or to hit some monster or to reach a pick up. The thing is, they put a number of bananas pick ups (functionally something like coins from classic Mario platformers) ''in a shape of letter 'A'" very early in the first level. You can miss it if you don't have enough abstract cognitive abilities, I think. But pressing the "A"-button (a SNES joypad has it, and it was used for dismounting off rides and for switching characters in ''DKC1'') will make player realize that the monkey heroes can (now) do more than just jumps and cartwheels.

    Stray bananas at the edge of the screen that turn out to lead to hidden stuff, including bonus stages, count too. The player is taught to be on a look out for such secrets as the game goes on and not a single word is needed. Same for special abilities of animal rides (again, introduced in ''DKC2''). There can be made-up of bananas "A" for charge attacks, or arrows to point out a wall that warrants investigating (break through a wall is also a way to hide bonus stages). But in-universe, it's just bananas, monkeys like bananas.
  • December 4, 2014
    Prfnoff
    @NemuruMaeNi: What you're thinking of doesn't look like the same trope at all, but a different trope that we already have.
  • December 4, 2014
    NateTheGreat
    The Legend Of Zelda Ocarina Of Time contains a number of literal signposts in a maze near the cave that leads to the Kokiri Sword. These cover basic jumping and attack maneuvers. You can ignore them if you want to (and most people do, as unlike some tutorials the game doesn't pull the "you are not allowed to do any maneuver that you didn't learn in-game" trick) and still be able to do everything.
  • December 4, 2014
    NemuruMaeNi
    ^^ Then I don't see the difference between the game interrupted by an NPC voiced monologue and a game interrupted by screen of text (unvoiced monologue) and/or pictures. The difference is pointed at by second paragraph of current description.
  • December 7, 2015
    henke37
    • Wario Land Shake It: Uses signs in the background of the tutorial level to show the controls.
  • December 8, 2015
    BKelly95
    Racing Games
    • Need For Speed Underground 2 has a series of info coronas laid around the Airport and City Center (the only two sections of town accessible at the start of the game). Driving through these gives you some information on the game and a small amount of cash.
  • December 8, 2015
    DragonQuestZ
    • The Dark Souls I tutorial uses glowing sigils that give hints when written.
      • Dark Souls II instead uses tablets with messages chiseled into them. This sets them apart from the messages players leave.
    • The Demons Souls tutorial uses glowing sigils that give hints when written.

  • March 4, 2016
    MegaMarioMan
    • In Super Mario Galaxy, there are a series of boards that you don't actually read; they talk to Mario when he tries to read them. There are 4 unique Boards: Gil Board, Bill Board, Phil Board, and Jill Board.
    • In the HD remake of Spelunky, there are some signs in the background of the tutorial that have a picture of a stick figure performing an action (i.e. jumping, climbing ledges, holding things, running) and a button, to tell you what you have to do to perform that action. Of course, the buttons change depending on what platform you're playing the game on.
  • March 4, 2016
    Prfnoff
    Adding as a reply because my OP can't be edited for some technical reason:

    Platform Games
    • In Marvin's Marvellous Adventure for the Amiga, the ground is strewn with Speech Bubbles saying "HELP." Hints from the Professor pop up when you walk over these.
  • March 4, 2016
    Diask
    • Dubloon's introductory dungeon features floating question marks that display instructions on the screen when Russel stands on them.
  • March 4, 2016
    longWriter
    @Prfnoff: I think that some, but not all, of what Nemuru Mae Ni was talking about was Follow The Money; the letters spelled out with bananas weren't, but things like the roll-and-jump-marker bananas did fit that trope.

    Another example would be Mutant Mudds; which buttons do what were marked on signs in the background of the first level.
  • March 9, 2016
    Prfnoff
    Platform Game
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=for0wro2rd3vji4y0w5dpt8n