Re: Tutorial. A few things.
1) There can be a tutorial AND advisors. One doesn't exclude the other, they haven't the same goal and won't be used at the same time:
- advisors are in-game features (whetever they will be. Cool ideas on this thread )
- tutorial is a stand alone scenario. Usually, in many games, you find it in the main menu and so should it in Elemental: just place a button "Tutorial" between "New game" and "Load game" and that's it! There's really no 'turning-off' a tutorial.
2) No need to search very far for inspiration: just took the same map we're testing in Beta 1Z1, block the options, explain features with pop-ups and order the player to DO predetermined actions.
- explain features: no strategy here, a quick explaining of 2,3 sentences for each general concept and, THE MOST IMPORTANT, an explaining of what is each icon, each menu and what it means, all that with exemples to do (homework if you like)
- to DO predetermined actions: a video won't do, a tutorial must take the player by the hand ans say "Now, left-click on the Sovereign to select it, then right-click on that goodie 2 tiles north to move it to it!". How to move, how to found a city, make it grow, how to design units, how to regroup them, how to play tactical battles, how to recruit heroes and how to do diplomacy. The very basic stuff, nothing fancy, only which menu to open, which icon to click on.
Now I know some would find it simple, even simplistic. It's not.
First, when some say that "for someone accustomed to 4x games, it's pretty intuitive ", I'd say: maybe. But there are things that won't play like other 4x games (global resources i.e., or why minerals grow up each turn and food doesn't). It's not fun to have to click on everything to determine how it works or to read a 100-page manual. And that school of thought totally forgets THE NEW 4X PLAYERS! Yeah, there are people who won't have played games for decades like we did or who didn't play the beta from the beginning and read those forums everyday. We don't want those buying their first 4X game to be disgusted right away by complexity; their friends will already have told them it's complicated, don't add to it the lack of a decent tutorial that even FPS have. If you need one, it's here!
Second, I'd say it's more a philosophy thing. Nowadays, people think they're smart. But there's nothing like the real thing. It's called "Learning by doing" and it's how it's done at work; you don't cut corners by reading a manual. What's better at work: having someone tell you "It's easy, just do this and that" or having someone quickly showing you how to do it and watching you do it? A game is no different. In the Army where I taught, we used to say "You hear and you forget. You see and you understand. You do and you learn". That's why a tutorial is better than a video: no need to stop it to try then come back... You've done it once yourself, and now you know!
I remember the day I bought Europa Universalis 1. First thing, I played the tutorial. It took me like 1h30, with the manual to browse to better understand. After that, I was ready and launch my first campaign with England: much fun! Mind you, I still play EU2, today I'm in campaign with Sweden (I know, I should beta-test 1Z1 instead ). But my point is, for those who know EU, would you imagine being given the 100-page manual and be told "Now play!". Now way! At contrario, there was no tutorial for Dominions II and I pulled my hair with the demo, trying to understand how everything worked, why wouldn't those units fit into that slot, WTH!, WTF! and so on...
In short, in the sentence "Easy to play, hard to master", the "easy to play" is determined by the tutorial. It teaches you how to play easily and quickly; it's no replacing the manual but only showing the basic mechanisms. Mastering....well, that'll be left to everyone and a lot of ass kicked by the computer.
That was "The Case for a Tutorial" if it still needed one.