Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Early game progression x backstory

Disclaimer: If you really want to learn in-depth, insightful thoughts on gameplay progression, you should read Lopez' article on Gamasutra, instead. Myself, I´m just reporting a (not so meaningful) case in which the game's backstory is changed due to early gameplay issues.

If you´ve seen the screenshot I´ve submitted weeks ago, you probably know the game I´m working on is about maintaining flowers. The initial plan (and backstory) was to give the player a completely empty terrain, so he could start his garden from scratch. That, I thought, would emphasize the player´s freedom.

However, given the game´s pace on early tests, we´re thinking of starting the game with a single specimen already planted. Reasons for that include (a) giving something the player can care about right from the beginning, not being subject to (b) a long period of time without any flowers around.

As result, the storyline would have to change from something like "start a garden from scratch and create the flora of..." to something like "save the last flower and recreate the flora of...". Personally, I think players would be more captivated by the second line.

Any thoughts?


Chris said...

I agree with all your points here.

The final garden will include at least one flower, so giving the player a flower to start takes little away from them.

Starting with a flower allows you to start by teaching how to care for the flowers (which I'm guessing is the easy part), before digging into the details.

Plus, 'save the last flower' is a much stronger motivator than 'do what you like' - even though many players would often rather do what they like. In terms of hooking them into play, a stated goal is usually an advantage.

Best wishes!

Chico Queiroz said...

Yes, that´s what I thought: it would give the player some motivation to play the tutorial level right away... It´s good to know you agree!

Thanks for posting.

Kevin said...

Hi Chico!

I think it's a good idea indeed. Maybe you could enrich it further by adding multiple scenarios.

The one you have now is good for a tutorial. Maybe you could have one where you start with nothing in a desert environment, which would be a harder scenario. You could also have a couple of full bloomed garden being attacked by different threats, say, a locust attack (it's all up to your gameplay).

I'm thinking Simcity here, in which you can start with nothing but in which you can also load a pre-set scenario with different problems to solve (crime, pollution, traffic, etc..).

Good work!

Chico Queiroz said...

Hello Kevin,

Thanks for the ideas. However, the multiple scenario one will have to wait a second version :). No time or plans to implement it right now.

Incidentally - surprise! - there are no threats in the game (dehydration aside). I start to wonder if that was a good call...

Thanks a lot for the help!

Copyright, Chico Queiroz