...wherein the game is defined by the way I intend it to hit the player between the eyes...
That first half hour
Now, this is written in a slightly more formal language - but nowhere near as formal as the specification will be. This can be as informal as writing down the insane rantings of the designer ("and then it'll and it'll let you and and and...") or could be very formalised.
This (like everything) is being written in a single sitting, as it comes to me. Let's see how the game turns out?
The installation finishes, and...
The user gets to the game type selection menu. Chooses 'new single player game'
Whizzy sound effects, some kind of nice intro fills the screen, giving some background detail, showing off the pretty graphics, giving you some clue as to the type of game. Since this is their first time playing, they actually watch the whole five minutes. Cynical gamers hit 'escape' to skip it immediately.
Plunge them straight into the action. Defaulting to the over the shoulder view, the player watches as armed gunmen burst from the doors ahead. They spasm at the controls, causing their avatar to humourously jump into the air then belly flop. (If this wasn't their first time playing, then they might get a lot further into the tutorial)
The armed goon fire, and freeze. The whole scene dissolves into the ground - it was all a hologram. The instructor walks over to your paintball splatterred body, laughs, helps you up, taunts ("Third rule - Don't get shot") - and then explains the key combo to do a high kick. (If they had tried some other move, then the instructor would explain that)
Now we restart the tutorial, back a few steps. The instructor tells you how to bust open the door, and then you high kick the first guard. The second misses with his burst, and you have free action to try whatever you like. You high kick again, and fly further down the coridoor, and get shot in the back. Fade out as before.
Instructor laughs, tells you that if you want to run away from an aremd guard, then you'll need to put something between you and it. She suggests either jumping off the wall around the corner, cannoning off the first guard to take out the second one, or at worst, just punch the first guy out. (HUD displays the actions for each of these)
Scenario restarts, you blow out the door, leap for the first guard again, intend to turn and punch the second one, but activate that sequence too early, causing you to twist about in midair and clothseline him before you've finished kicking the first one. The instructor (offscreen) applauds, and the HUD registers big points for a combo.
You proceed along the tutorial, practicing the skills you have so far (movement, basic hitting things, flying kicks, any random specials you come up with)
As you go along, the instructor offers hints on moves you could use. The resets happen less often, and only reset you back a short distance.
After a particularly good move (you luck out on the pad) the instructor says "Are you sure you need this refresher? You look like you know what you are doing" and from that point on the HUD gives an option to quit the tutorial.
The full first lap takes fifteen minutes, after which the instructor gives you some advice ("Work on those high kicks, you can combine those with anything") and offers to reset the training so that you can "Go through all that again, but this time harder" You decline, and the simulation ends - lose control while your avatar walks out.
Fade to black, fade in on a messy room - the control centre for the game. The computer on the desk starts beeping in a parody of the 'you have mail' noise. Not really knowing what any of the stuff in the room is for, you're lost deep in 'stuff' - reading a hint book, then browsing the 'save game' menu. Eventually you click the computer, and get told to 'port to the mission start point.
You vanish megaman style, and appear in a coridoor much like the training room.
Your HUD clicks into place, the instructors voice pipes up "Well, looky who I get lumped with as duty controller. Remember, this isn't a sim any-more, and I can't guarantee our intel is accurate"
And you go through it all, much the same as the simulation. If you had clicked away early on in the sim, then the instructor would be much more vocal than they are in this run though. They encourage you on good moves, warn you of enemies and so on. The enemies are even slower and less accurate than in the sim, but seeing as you haven't played before, they still hit you a fair bit.
This means that by about halfway through the scenario you'll be in trouble - and the HUD should represent that. Lots of sparking out, the voice becoming faint, the whole thing wobbling.
The instructor sighs, and says "If you don't want to evac, then now is the time to call in reinforcments" You hit the appropriate option on the HUD (which lights up) and watch as a couple of other agents dressed much the same 'port in, and trash the place.
The camera starts to follow them for a while - and your half an hour is up, please insert full spec to continue.
Things to spot
Oooh, you teleported. I wasn't expecting that, but why the heck not. Ditching realism opens up a whole wealth of new special moves, just take a look at 'mortal combat' to see the opportunities teleporting gives in combos. no reason we can't have energy bolts and stuff too.
Enemies have guns - you don't. I like that, I think although you probably WILL get a gun at some points, the game should discourage you from using it.
No breifing, straight into the action. That I like too.
I think it's important to have a debreif, and not just for the stats - you can put politics in there too, and politics are a good thing.
There are a whole wealth of things not addressed here - exactly what the HUD is for a start, what happens OUTSIDE of the tutorial when you get killed, how the game picks the missions and so on.
Get yourself back to Catnews - or fish your way through the earlier parts of this series:
- Story telling
- Game design
- Initial Concept