At least as far back as the first Final Fantasy on the NES, developers have reckoned that players might actually not read the manual for all the controls and general know-how of playing the game. As games grew more complicated, it also appeared that some actions were simply really hard to get across with just words, at least without a 12-page essay on the single function. By the seventh generation of gaming and the rise of digital distribution, few games even came with manuals at all, meaning that the game itself is the only place to learn how to play it.
Thusly, in-game tutorials have been in games with increasing regularity, to the point where it's more likely that games have at least one sort of tutorial than none at all.
The basic formula is thus: A game mechanic or element is brought to the players attention, and the player is informed about it, possibly with a demonstration of some sort.
Of course, it's not always that simple. Tutorials themselves have Tropes of their own, each adding another layer of complexity and making game manuals even more redundant here.
They come in many flavors:
- Antepiece: A more subtle version, where an easier version of an obstacle precedes the real thing.
- Auto-Pilot Tutorial: The tutorial that you can look at, but not touch.
- Forced Tutorial: No matter what you do, you have to do this tutorial. Not so fun when it's something you already know from previous games or you're starting a New Game+.
- He Knows About Timed Hits: Some tutorials try to at least keep some semblance of being in-universe and not break the fourth wall. Games under this particular trope don't really try in that department.
- Justified Tutorial: Tutorials that are part of the setting. The instructor says shoot, text in the HUD says to press R1 to fire. As close to canon as a tutorial can get.
- Signpost Tutorial: Tutorials that appear on signs and scenery.
- Training Boss: Tutorials may end with a bang... caused by you, as now you've got the chance to test your new skills in a Boss Battle.
- Training Dummy: The standard punching bag for combat tutorials. Hey, someone needs to get hit.
- Tutorial Failure: The tutorial fails to teach you vital things about the gameplay.
- You Shouldn't Know This Already: Doing actions, before a tutorial tells you about them, will have no result.