I think providing objectives and incentives would go a long way towards helping players to understand what they are supposed to do and develop the right habits. Imagine if there was a checklist on the side of the screen in-game and each time you complete one of the tasks you get some kind of reward (mass/units/energy/etc). Some things such as:
- Secure the highlighted mexes, rewards 300 mass (generally would be the 50% on your side but can be tailored for the map)
- Reclaim the highlighted area, rewards 200 mass
- Scout the enemy base, rewards 100 mass, repeatable every 3 minutes
- Do not stall power for two consecutive minutes, rewards 100 mass, repeatable every 5 minutes
- Do not overflow mass for two consecutive minutes, rewards 100 mass, repeatable every 5 minutes
Generic things that are indisputably the right way to play and explicitly encourage correct concepts and routine. This would prevent the game from being so complicated and overwhelming that players cannot process it. I will restrain myself from talking about executive dysfunction, operationalizing, incentives, and other big-brain things.
This seems like something that could easily be accomplished with a sim mod or a map script. It should be far easier to accomplish than making full-blown tutorial missions or a campaign. I actually think an RTS game should have this concept built into it all the time, not only because it seems like an incredibly powerful tool for teaching players, but it also could add a lot of interesting gameplay dynamics for skilled players as well. Imagine having different, less generic tasks at higher rating levels, or allowing players to choose between different tasks and perks.