Much like the first chapter of a book or the first fifteen minutes of a movie, the opening hook of a game quickly confirms whether a player will continue playing or find something else to do. This hook can come in many forms: showing a non-interactive opening movie, thrusting the player directly into gameplay, or even playing an interactive narrative opening that also hides a gameplay tutorial.
In this month's topic, Game Design Aspect of the Month wants to explore the ins and outs of creating a strong opening hook for games. Here are some potential topics to explore:
- What elements make a good opening hook for a game? How does interactivity change the opening hook in media, or does it?
- How do we best introduce the player to both the gameplay and the narrative? How do we handle games that are heavy on narrative? Light on narrative?
- How do we balance the need to teach the player how to play our game while still creating engrossing gameplay right from the start?
- What are the fundamental flaws and issues that many games still have with the initial user experience today? What can we do to remedy these flaws and issues?
- What games have gotten it right, and how did they do it? Can those lessons be applied to all games or just specific types of games?
Doug Hill is a freelance game designer and writer who has worked on a variety of published video games over the past ten years. His current focus is on developing intellectual property for use in both interactive and non-interactive media.