Yet the latter is exactly what you are arguing for. As soon as the non-tutorial tutorial missions are finished there will be a jump in difficulty. Same as there was between the FS2 tutorials and the real thing. In the tutorials it was pretty obvious that the enemy drones couldn't kill you and were just there for target practice. Once the first mission started there was a jump because now it was serious. The enemy were a lot faster, smarter and could actually kill you. The difference was that the player was ready for the jump because they had the "Out of training, it's the real thing now" mindset. With your system the player never knows when he is in training and when it's real so the jump in difficulty is much more obvious.
But the whole point is that you're never "in training" and every fight is real with actual enemies who are out to kill you from the very first enemy wing to the very last.
They may differ in skill, equipment, and general difficulty, but they're all
out to kill you dead. The very first enemies you fight would be real enemies flying real ships armed with real weapons that can really kill you.
Alright. Let's examine that claim. You've already stated the minimum number of things a player needs to learn to fly. So what happens when you play the campaign with the tutorials turned off? Well you won't get any pop ups but there's nothing to go in that particular time frame. Either you completely change the story or you make the player sit through the instructor telling him how to fly even though he already knows.
Now let's get to the combat, in the training mission you couldn't make the player face wing after wing of fighters as that would be cruel. Sure you can have more fighters turn up on hard but now you've got the issue of balancing a mission which has two very different ways to play it. In the end you end up making in effect two missions in one mission file. And if you're going to do that you might as well have just made two different missions and had the first one as a tutorial. That way both newbies and experienced players could enjoy the proper mission which otherwise only people who play on medium or hard get to see.
But the thing is that many newbie gamers don't want
a training mission. They want action, real action, now
. They're also the ones who will the game will have to be sold to. But they can't completely be left to sink or swim either. So you try to string along the various tutorial sequences and squeeze in as much action in them as you possibly can.
And yes, that sort of "two missions in one file thing" has been done in many games. Harder difficulty settings wouldn't just have harder
enemies, they'd have more enemies
, enemies would be added to places that previously didn't have them, and the entire gameplay strategy for the level would become more complex and demanding as you go from Easy to Hard. For instance, let's take Doom again. E1M1 is essentially an entirely different map on Hard than on Medium, and if you do what you do to pass the map on Medium on Hard you will die because powerful new enemies (Former Sergeants, not seen on Medium until two levels later) have suddenly been added to a formerly trivial level. The architecture is the same but your opposition and the way the level is played are completely different. On Medium and below it's a gentle cakewalk level, on Ultra-Violence it's well, ultra-violent.
Great idea. Ever thought what happens if a newbie pilot dies from your "Real Danger"?
Trust me, I have.
Uh, they die and start the mission over? And if a game, any game, makes you die more than a couple of times when first playing the first level on the default difficulty level, the first level is too hard. And yes, there's a difference between being easy enough to pass in one or two tries and impossible to lose.
What happens if the player does screw up? You've basically forced them to sit through the entire tutorial mission again. That's ****ing awful mission design.
So what happens if they just need a little more help than usual when it comes to combat? Well after the 3rd time having to listen to the instructor telling them how to fly the ship they're going to quit and never be heard from again. The FS2 tutorials allowed the player the opportunity to learn to dogfight in an atmosphere where they weren't at any serious risk. So it didn't matter if it took them 10 seconds or 10 minutes to kill a drone. They'd eventually do it and learn from it.
Unless you're willing to nerf the enemy fighters to the point where they aren't a real danger you are going to have players failing your non-tutorial tutorial missions. And you're going to make them extremely frustrated when they have to play again from the start.
If it takes them 10 minutes to down a drone, then they'll fail the first mission anyway (probably several times) because they won't be able to stop the Hercs. Either way you lose, the original FS2 way just makes you take a 10-minute sterile detour where nothing of importance happens before you lose. Besides, you could just hit a button to banish the popup screen if you've seen it before. FS2 has no "Instructor Shut Up button". It's not like these kids aren't used to pressing X all the time anyway (God of War III: Quick-Time Boogaloo: Press X to Not Die).
So you include a skirmish mode for the ADHD sufferers then. They can get blown up as much as they like and then realise they need to do the tutorials to actually get anywhere.
If you toss them into a sterile training environment with nothing exciting to do, the ADHD kids will quit. If you throw them into the shark pool without any help, they'll also quit. So therefore you split the difference--a mission with at least the illusion of mortal combat (and illusion can be a powerful thing, especially with modern game engines), that also teaches the fundamentals of game play. After the first mission, you can greatly reduce the number of tutorial boxes to a couple each mission (and eventually none), and turn up the difficulty. So Mission 1 is very easy but can be failed if you display stunning incompetence, Mission 2 is just a little bit less easy, mission 3 is starting to get more challenging, etc.
Trust me, I've tried to get quite a few people into FreeSpace 2, and most of them told me the training missions were too long and had nothing in them. Not some, most. It was depressing.