So you’ve decided to plunge yourself into the, have assembled a team of mighty warriors to tackle all the big issues, and are ready to create the next best game in the industry… trumping WoW, Guild Wars… (you get the point). You’ve chopped up all your brainstorming and assembled some really keen concepts for a storyline, and you’re ready to go. But amongst all the programming, character concepts, dungeons, and quests, what are the most important aspects of your game that will determine whether someone enjoys themself? Read on, and allow me to share with you what I think.
When we do decide to take that plunge into the development of a new game, there are five things you should consider very carefully and pay a great deal of attention to. There are probably more of these that will hinder or help you along your way, and your ordering may be different than mine, but these are what I always hold to be the most important. Over the next week, we will reveal each aspect, culminating with the complete article at the end of the week. For today we’ll begin at the top, with the number 5.
Number 5: Storyline
When crafting your game, there is no better inspiration for features and activities, quests, and dungeons than your very own highly developed and custom-tailored storyline. Some may balk at this statement, claiming that storyline is easily overshadowed and unnecessary when you have intense graphics that make your fingers tingle or when you have combat so intense that you’re literally ducking out of the way from behind your monitor. While these things definitely contribute to an awesome to a lot of excitement
(in fact, they’re on the list too!), they cannot make up for the lack of a storyline. One thing many players crave, whether consciously or not, is a strong storyline that leads them into caring about the game – it entices you – and makes you feel as though your wildest dreams may, in fact, be possible in this environment. The storyline can be simple and to the point, while being so flawlessly done that it serves as the crux of the entire game (EVE Online: We’re flying through space, blowing people out of the sky…) and at the same time being so rich and deep with lore (the complexities in lore and story surrounding EVE is so great that it entangles even the most basic ships and inventory items) that it compels players to write their own histories.
Not only does the storyline help players become engaged with all that you’ve slaved over and worked for, but it helps you, the developer, along the way. If you’ve been smart, and from the beginning, dreamed up an intoxicatingly deep history of your game setting, it will constantly serve you throughout development. It will provide clues into what features want to be a part of the game, what doesn’t need to be included, and what does or doesn’t fit.
An architecture professor of mine once said, when referring to the site analysis portion of architecture, that we could find out a great deal about what we should be building on the building site by simply visiting the location and “envisioning the invisible building that wants to be built.” This is true in architecture, and it is especially true in game development and dreaming up your storyline/game setting.
The storyline may be important, but is it more important than a snazzy game setting so vibrant that you are tempted to stay indefinitely? Well, maybe – just as long as your 3d representation isn’t bogged down by hundreds of thousands of nasty polygons or quads. Why in the world is Artwork important, anyway?
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