In my opinion, tutorials are most fun if there is put somethought behind the design of the tutorial. I would like to point out some suggestions which are (in my opinion) good to make the tutorial more helpful and more interesting
1. A little Story
The first thing is to put a little story behind the tutorial. For example, that you come from the kingdom and you have the mission to expand the kingdom by creating a small town in a far away region. There is not much known about the land and therefore you have to expect everything. To help you with your mission, an architect and a tactician from the kingdom were send along, to point out important aspects (these are your tutorial helpers). I would suggest to make one of the npcs a woman and the other a man. Makes them easier to memorize and recognize. The architect will give you hints on how to place and how to build things, while the tactician tells you were to place stuff to shorten walk ways for your hearthlings and to be prepared for upcoming battles. At some point in the tutorial, goblins will start to attack your town, because they want the land you have settled on. Your tactician will tell you about promoting hearthlings to footmen and when the first goblin appears, you get taught the basics about combat. The story could go on here, but maybe this would be enough already for a tutorial.
2. Give the player enough time
When the tutorial wants you to do something, there are 2 options to give him enough time.
The first option is an event-triggered system. As soon as you finished something from the tutorial, the next event gets triggered. Lets take the first goblin attack for example. When the tactician NPC asks from you to produce a sword and then next to promote a hearthling to a footman, the game will wait with the first attack until the hearthling picked up the sword. After that, the goblin attacks.
The second option is a time-triggered system. It would pause the game time when the tutorials wants you to do something. So for example a goblin will attack at the start of day 2 and the game wants you to produce a sword and promite a hearthling, the game time will pause until that is done.
I personally prefer the first option, because it’s more intuitive (it’s unrealistic that the gametime pauses, since this will never happen in a normal game) and I guess it would produce less bugs then the second option. A time-triggered system would probably also increase the total time of the tutorial, which should be avoided by all means.
3. Basic Tips and advanced Tips
I think one of the biggest problems with tutorials is, that they are either to short and dont explain enough, or they are to long and tend to bore the player before he has started his first game. Especially in case of Stonehearth, the tutorial should be planned really good, since everything will need alot of time naturally, because (for example) you will have to gather materials and build a house, which takes quite long itself.
So my idea is, that the tutorial will teach you always the basics (how to gather thing, what is a storage, how to place a storage, how to build something etc.) but the tutorial will give you optional quests/tips where the player can decide if he wants to learn more about those things.
An example: The game asks you to produce a sword and promote someone to a footman. Since the tutorial will probably not show you how to make a cleric, the player can now decide to open another info box that provides you with additional information about archers, knights and clerics (how to get them and their role in combat). This information is totally optional and must not be read by the player in order to continue. But he can do so if he wants to learn more about the specific topics during the tutorial.
4. Presentation of Tips
It’s very important that the tutorial is not just plain text. There are many players who hate reading big walls of text. It’s way better to show how things are done with pictures. Make small animated pictures that clearly show what the player has to click and how he can use that tool or place the object in question (for example: how to place a storage). This way, many players will skip certain text passages and just look at the pictures, because they are self-explanatory. Others, who prefer reading, can do so. And it would also be good to show what the player has to do on the top left screen, like small side missions. This way, the player can intuitively keep track of what he is supposed to do without opening a tutorial message over and over again.
5. Length of Tutorial
With the suggestion “Basic and Advanced Tips” and “Presentation of Tips” the time needed to finish the tutorial should be reduced alot. Still, the tutorial shouldnt take longer then 2 hours at max. It would be better if it’s much less. There are 2 ways to approach this problem.
First, you just make the tutorial as short as possible. The problem with this approach is, that the tutorial can’t teach all the basics in an hour in a game like Stonehearth.
Second option is, that you split the tutorial in some parts (example: Basics, Building Stuff, Combat). When the player starts with Basics, the game will teach you the different tools, how to use them and maybe finishes with placing a storage. The tutorial will end here. Then the player can choose the next tutorial Building Stuff and you will start with some hearthlings and a filled storage. So you can directly start with building things. And after that, the player can choose the Combat tutorial and starts with a small town and some promoted footmen. There could even be some knights/archers/clerics to teach everything about combat.
The second option would save alot of time. The player can skip certain tutorials completely (for example: Basics), he doesnt have to play hours to actually promote hearthlings to archers/knights/clerics, since the different tutorials would start with certain things (ressources, promoted hearthlings etc.) and he can easily take a rest inbetween the tutorials sessions.