Let's talk about what happens when you hit that New Game option anyway, though.
Here are my immediate goals with the opening sequence:
- establish player's understanding of mechanical fundamentals well
enough that I don't need to lean on further tutorials, and can trust
they have the baseline competence necessary to navigate the world and
respond to challenges
- establish tone - surreal, otherworldly, dreamlike, but unmistakably
hostile; an initial "crossing over" that establishes that whoever your
character was before is unimportant, that what happens from here is what
matters, and allows the player to inhabit that avatar without really
feeling burdened by preconceptions about what that character is supposed
-provide initial goal of game progression: kill three bosses at extremes
of the world, take their monolith fragments, bring those to the stone
circle; establish that this is probably a bad idea and rely on player curiosity and the drive to make progress to see that happen anyway
I don't exactly have a fully-formed narrative here, but I have some
scattered ideas, and this is what the opening needs to do for those.
Mechanically, I want to start the player off without a single weapon.
Mobility is paramount and that needs to be the first skill you learn.
Once you've got dodging down, you acquire the starting pistol, and you
can start to fight back against things and learn those mechanics.
Navigation is also an important skill to teach here. The world is
sprawling and interconnected, and not every path is visible right away.
So this intro area needs to be complex enough that it requires you to
put some genuine thought into getting around and moving toward your goal.
So here's the basic script: player starts in a safe room, given the
narrative suggestion that they're fleeing... something. Not just
"something"- something that you've earned? A miserable fate that you've
got coming, but somehow you've wound up here instead. Details aren't
really important right now, just tone. This is a room with a gate, and
when you cross the gate you wind up... somewhere else. For now, let's
call this area the Oubliette. Basic concept - it's a
purpose-build tutorial level that mixes the three main regions'
tilesets, switching it up from room to room and giving you a sampling of
the kind of places that exist in the game world. A surreal,
disconnected, nonsense space; something that makes it clear that, whatever happens, you can't go back - this place physically should not exist,
and even if you can cross over one way there's no reason to think that
something so capricious can be treated like a "normal" space, that it's
the same thing whether you're coming or going.
You enter the Oubliette, you're immediately beset by enemies. You're
unarmed and things are still pretty linear right now; you wind up just
making a mad dash "forward," naturally learning to use the dodge roll
because it's the only thing you have to keep yourself alive. This
teaches you - the timing, the spacing, the i-frames, and since you will
take hits, it also encourages you to learn to work with the dodge regen
and use that to stay alive. You cross the length of the Oubliette and
wind up reaching another safe room, which contains a checkpoint thingy
(because you should die when you first start trying to handle combat,
and this teaches you that death isn't that big a deal) and the starter
With the starter pistol, you can leave this room and start fighting the
things that you were fleeing - very basic, easy foes. After making your
way a few rooms back, there's a cave blocked by a destructible barrier,
and the pistol enables you to enter that; this cave is a fairly short
area, but it lets you make your way onto the upper level of the room you
entered the cave from, and from there you can explore "backstage" areas
of the other Oubliette chambers until you make your way to an
unfamiliar room. The foes here should be a bit more complex, but still
very manageable; the goal should be that you impress yourself by not
dying in this fight. It does, however, instill in you an appreciation
for the advantages offered by proper control of space and target
prioritization, and it makes it clear that the best possible move if
you're in a tight spot is "kill literally anything."
After this slightly steeper challenge, there's a very simple puzzle.
This space feels a bit more "definite" from here on out; you enter a
room with a valley that's spanned by a clockwork bridge which is
currently unusable, and you have to turn interconnecting gearwheels to
try and get each of the separate platforms that constitute the thing to
be in the down position at the same time. From here, you go through a
largeish room without any real enemies or puzzle elements or anything -
just an atmospheric space that's supposed to get you relaxed, get your
guard down; the intro's gone on long enough now that you're probably
feeling like it's gotta be about over, and you did a harder fight and
then opened a "door" back there, and this area feels different from the
earlier ones, so there's probably, like, a cutscene or some shit?
End of this room, cross into the next: you're shut in a tight space with
an endgame enemy. It wrecks your shit. You come to, washed ashore on
the beach in the starting village; a set of cutscenes follows that gives
you your first energy-consuming weapon and your first Taboo, then sets
you loose on the world.
Mostly unrelated: Thinking it over, I'm gonna kill the minimap. I'm glad
it's a horrible broken piece of shit, because that's prompted me to ask
why I have a minimap. But in truth I really don't need it,
and I think I can produce a stronger game without it. Navigating the
world is a skill the player needs to develop, and for my part as the
[LITERALLY EVERYTHING] I need to design a world that's navigable;
that's, if complex, comprised of distinct, memorable spaces that
intersect in ways that make intuitive sense - no identikit corridors;
every room is distinct. The minimap would only serve as a crutch to let
me get away with inferior world design, then; it's going.