Starting Area Design (part 2)

In Part 1 of this series we covered the opening cutscenes up through the end of the opening quest tutorial, covering some of the design decisions and establishing story elements that the developers implemented to help the player feel connected with the game. To recap, they:

  • Established multiple story points: your vision/dream, who you’ll be fighting (both implicitly in the cutscene and explicitly in dialogue), recent historical events (the Calamity), and the Warriors of Light;
  • Introduced core game controls through relevant play mechanics (move and interact with the world, get and complete quests);
  • Set the user up for success by giving explicit guidance through the tutorial period, and rewarding the player for going where they ask you to.

Let’s dive in to the next part: the first few quests the player experiences. Continue reading “Starting Area Design (part 2)”

Starting Area Design (part 1)

I firmly believe that a game is as good as its starting areas. This is most users’ first experience with your game, and where they’re going to get a sense of what they can expect as far as play mechanics and game design for the rest of the game. A good starting area:

  • Introduces core game mechanics, teaching the user how to interact with the game world;
  • Establishes the basics of the game’s story and setting;
  • Sets the player up for success.

The starting areas for Final Fantasy XIV manage to pull this off quite well. Let’s take a moment to walk through Ul’dah, one of the primary cities in the game, and the starting area for three of the game’s classes. Continue reading “Starting Area Design (part 1)”