Sunday, 27 January 2008


Dearie me, such a range of tutorials. Over the last few months we've just been investigating the time, cost and benefits of each type of tutorial. Here is a brief outline.

First the dreaded online PDF tutorial. The problem is its out of date and tends to just confuse first time users. You can however print it out and flip through it as you're reading it.

We also have the big red arrow tutorial (This started out as a demo graphic, I think this has become it's official name - take that dilbert):thats what you get for letting an engineer design your graphics
We're having trouble with this because it really clashes with the oru very short (agile) development cycle. It relies upon the interface being the same as it was last time so the system knows which buttons you should be clicking. However we (I) have a habit of ripping the interface up twice daily, meaning that the tutorials have to be re-done with every release. This may be the way go when we have a bigger team and a longer lead time on updates. It also forces us to keep the tutorials up to date as they are marked as show-stopping bugs if the tutorials don't play through.

On top of this we have the static click-through text tutorial.

This is fine and dandy, but it belongs on paper in "Moviestorm, the missing manual". Again this gets out of date fast, but at least it doesn't break & stop us pushing an update. It is also a little less patronizing than the BRA tutorial.

As if that weren't enough, we still have users arriving having bought copies of Machinima For Dummies, complete with a very old version of Moviestorm on the cover disk. If they use that version, they're fine to work through the chapters in Machinima For Dummies that relate to Moviestorm. If they upgrade to the latest version, though, it's all changed and they get very confused.

In the future we have plans for an online tutorial video/flash thingy, which the most excellent johnnie is investigating. Since this seems to be what our competitors are doing, it has been favored by many people as the way to go.

And now I've just played with the most excellent Sketchup - they use a hints and tips window on startup and an "instructor" window I hadn't seen before. Whichever tool you're currently using the instructor window plays a video and gives hints on how it works.

I really like this - you just play with the application, and you're given tips depending on what you're working on. While not really for n00bs, it'd be a great tool for showing intermediate or advanced techniques with Moviestorm tools. The only downside I can see is that it'd be really cramped to use on a small/1024x768 screen.

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