Sunday, August 22, 2010

The Grand Opening

When it comes to the introductory sequence of events in a video game, there are actually far less restrictions than people might think.  Yet, 99% games begin essentially the exact same way - logo/company screen, title screen with menu - and then you usually start the game.

Those are some sizable claws bubbs.
And it makes sense why most games use this same sequence.  It works.  It's simple.  It's gets players to the action quickly and exactly how they are used to getting there.  But I wouldn't be happy with myself if I didn't at least consider a path less-traveled.   Why can't the game begin before the title screen?  What else could be done to help the player immerse themselves in the game content before they hit "start?"

In Opac's Journey we didn't have a traditional title screen menu.  Players were able to control Opac right after our company logo faded out and the title screen was essentially a playable introduction to the game where you could enter doors that lead to typical menu selections.  It's not the first time this has been done, but it's still quite rare - and we didn't hear anything beside positive feedback.   

Yes that sweet glowy bird can be found in the game too.
But in the context of XBLIG, there's of course risk in delivering an unexpected intro sequence.   Demo time is limited to 8 minutes, so too much content up front can frustrate a player just trying to get to the meat of the game.   Also, my personal feeling is that a good number of gamers on the channel aren't looking for depth or innovation, just something that packs as much fun (and sometimes farts) into the first 60 seconds of gameplay.   Anything that diverts from expectations might also divert a sale.  So things like this, while classically awesome, might now go less appreciated.

That said, we're putting some serious effort into a compelling introductory sequence for Legend of Kilflame, and we might step a little outside of the norms.   Don't worry, you can still press "A" to skip everything. ;)


  1. It is true what you say about this intro stuff. I love the idea of going right in and telling a story, but for Xblig it might just be too much. Though if done even close to right it is a mark of quality and care by the developer.

    I look forward to what you bring next :)

    Da Voodochief

  2. Yeah, you are definitely right about people on the indie channel not looking for depth. Unfortunately, most of the people browsing it happen to be the "core" Xbox audience (read: Halo addicts). I saw a trailer for Clover on and it was just getting blasted in the comments. I can certainly see why your average shooter fan wouldn't care for it, but it's a very well done old school type game with something to say. I think I'm getting off point here, but I guess I just hope there are enough people to appreciate what you are putting together here.

  3. You'll have to consider how that works with loading/saving. At some point, you'll have to give players the option to load their game, and if they have to start a new game and cancel it first then it might not come across well.

    But I could definitely see possibilities for the menu actually being a game level, where you have to navigate a room to reach different menu items.

    Interested to see what you come up with.

  4. 1. i love the idea of the pass less traveled for introductions. opac's journey's intro worked well, for sure, but more in the direct immersion direction is good.

    2. i kinda want to say, don't worry about xbig stupid games/players. i think you can do a trail game different than just 8 min right? can't you do a chapter or something? i just don't think you should sacrifice your vision AT ALL for potential idiots. they won't care about your game anyway (for better or worse) so best just to focus on a great overall experience and let the rest fall as they may.

    unless you're making a farting game, in which case just cut to the farts.

  5. Man - watching that Zelda intro after such a long time again brings back old memories.

    Taking a different approach to the introduction is a welcome change and worked quite well for OJ. Looking forward to what you come up with.

    That screen looks awesome, I really like the style and professional polish. And we will have to save the world - not a different path here ay? ;-)

  6. :) Thanks peeps. Without saying too much, the world might not need saving. This world can sort of save itself. But it comes at a price.