The first 15 minutes of a game are critical: to establish the scenario, to teach the player how the core mechanics work, and to persuade them to keep playing the game.
Despite this, WolfQuest has always taken a rather relaxed attitude towards those first 15 minutes. The game just drops you into the role of a two-year-old dispersal wolf and, with a few tips, expects you to figure everything out. I’m sure that we’ve lost quite a few potential players because of this. Why is the game tutorial so minimal? The answer is the same as for so many things about the original game: time and budget constraints.
But now with WolfQuest 3, we really need to design the first 15 minutes to be more engaging and much more effective at orienting the player and helping them learn how to play the game.
- The game maps are ten times larger — so it takes a lot longer just to wander around and find anything.
- The elk herds are more difficult to find, since their territory isn’t marked on the map, and players will only have floating scents to track them down.
- Similarly, stranger wolves (and potential mates) will similarly be harder to find (and more interesting and challenging to engage with, but more about that later.)
We’ve been playing commercial games and thinking about how to design these first 15 minutes, but we’d like to put this design challenge out to our community as well. How would YOU design it? From what you’ve seen of WolfQuest 3 so far — bigger maps, floating scents, more naturalistic (and thus less predictable) elk and other animal movements — how would you set up the initial interactions and challenges of the game to capture player’s interest and help them learn the game mechanics?
Remember that the game will begin in basically the same way: You’re a dispersal wolf looking to live on your own and find a mate. We are going to create a prologue about your earlier life (born into a pack, growing up, learning some basics) so we do not want this tutorial to focus on pups. (That wouldn’t be particularly useful to teach you how to hunt elk nor find a mate, but we do understand that you all want to play as pups and hope to add that at some point.) The challenge for long time players is to take a step back and imagine playing the game for the first time.
Describe your ideas in the comments or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org!
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