Favorite approaches for game openings?

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I know "burning village" and "waking up late to a ceremony" are the most overdone openers in official and amateur jrpgs, but which ones are your most favorite/memorable approaches to one? Asking because I'm trying to brain-storm themes for my own project.

Personally, mine are the kinds that go full throttle at the start with you playing as a totally different party at the end of their journey (Lufia & the Fortress of Doom). This offered an exciting way to show exposition instead of just saying it with text and also gave you a taste of of what to look forward to. So it grabbed my attention right away whereas in many other titles I didn't feel as invested spending the first 2 hours doing small chores and talking to NPCs.
 

S.Court

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Final Fantasy VI has one of my favorite game intros: Exposes just the enough information of the game's world and story, showing us enough information about what is happening, but it's quick enough to make the player doesn't lose interest in the game (Plus, the great intro scene for SNES, but that's just a plus)

It works because it attract player's atention, but lets him/her to have control of the player's actions quickly, which is something I think it's crucial
 

TheoAllen

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One that tell you a spoiler on the game without you realizing it's a spoiler. Which actually makes you curious what's happening instead. The example would be the opening of Prototype 1, where Alex Mercer is already fully upgraded with lot of stuffs, and showcasing it in intro while telling you a basic control of the game. Then, the actual story would set in a time back few days before the incident. It builds up and is going to the direction on the intro, which makes you gonna say "Ohh... so this is it" (Although, to be honest I much prefer Prototype 2 than the first one as the whole gameplay).
 

Caitlin

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My favorite approach is generally to start at the very beginning, the point that the main character begins their journey and it doesn't always mean that a village burned. My current game begins when her village is attacked and her clan scattered. A lot of people do die, because of this attack, but there quite of people who don't. She isn't a teenager or an adult, but rather a small child. I give away no information about why this is happening, as a child, she or her brother wouldn't have been given that information anyway. The true game begins when she is much older and so, there is another reason that she realizes that she must go on this journey. I haven't written that part, yet, though. lol
 

LaFlibuste

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Whatever you do, drop long scenes and expositions and jump in the action as quickly as possibly. Let the action demonstrate the backstory and setting, let the player play & discover it rather than just boringly read about it.
 

Tai_MT

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I tend to prefer openings like Bioshock 1, Final Fantasy VI, and Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars.

These are games that tell you a bit about the world from the opening moments, let you control the very guided and extremely linear "tutorial", go off rails a little bit, and feel like you've accomplished something very early on in the game. They each also give you a Mystery to solve. I like that. It's a hook.

My current game doesn't really do that, instead it's used to establish the setting and the main characters, as well as the main events that are the backdrop. 8 of my 9 characters are introduced, time passes along, you're given snippets of what is going on as well as small peeks into their personalities, some terrible war stuff happens, and then the game begins and leaves you wondering just what that intro was about. Because, while it's relevant, it isn't the "main game" per se.

I've got another game that begins "in media res". That is... in the middle of the action. Your ship makes landfall on a beach during a storm. It's infested with slimes. Slimes are weird creatures they've never seen before. One boat (with our main character aboard as captain) orders his crew to dispatch the slimes and thus the game begins, showing you many of the early mechanics.

Each contains "a mystery" for the player. I like that. A little hook. If the mystery isn't interesting enough, the player will know in the first 5 or 10 minutes whether or not they really want to play my game.

Heck, that's how I buy games myself. I want to solve the mystery. "What is going on?" Probably why I loved Final Fantasy X so much as a game. So much lore to immerse myself in, so much to unravel. I loved Halo for the same reason.

Give me your setting, give me a mystery to unravel, turn me loose. As long as your mystery continues to remain interesting and continues to build lore, I'm along for the ride. But, if I solve your mystery in the first few hours of the game... I probably won't finish your game.
 

NPX

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Whatever you do, drop long scenes and expositions and jump in the action as quickly as possibly. Let the action demonstrate the backstory and setting, let the player play & discover it rather than just boringly read about it.

Seconded. Even if your game's mythology is deep, you will find that the majority of it can be conveyed in bite-size pieces over the course of the entire game -- it doesn't need front-loading onto the intro.
 

TheGamedawg

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One of my favorite video game intros was from Golden Sun. It had that "destroy the starting village" cliche, but it handled it in a very fresh kind of way.

A couple months ago I actually made a big video deconstructing this very intro.
 

Celianna

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The opening of the game should introduce us to your world and the characters, even if it's just a little hint of it. Then there should be a little teaser of the conflict of the story (that's why burning villages are popular, it immediately introduces the conflict).

My game opens up on a trailer though, hah.
 

Rhaeami

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For the games I make, I follow the common advice of getting into the action ASAP, and since I tend to have fairly esoteric battle systems it's often a unique challenge to figure out how to introduce that without a huge info dump, both mechanically and plot-wise.

When playing games though, I'm one of those rare types who prefers lengthy, lore-heavy intros that very slowly introduce combat and whatnot after you've gotten some context for it. Dragon Age: Origins is a good example. :kaopride:
 

Tai_MT

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For the games I make, I follow the common advice of getting into the action ASAP, and since I tend to have fairly esoteric battle systems it's often a unique challenge to figure out how to introduce that without a huge info dump, both mechanically and plot-wise.

You don't have to introduce every aspect of your combat system all at once. I find that as a player, it's often better to introduce mechanics "piece-meal". You can teach each new state when you need to worry about players running across it, each new "element" or mechanic as you need to introduce it. A battle system that introduces every single aspect of its mechanics all at once can be as bad as a game that introduces the entire story as an info-dump. That should help with "introducing a fairly esoteric battle system". Do it piece-meal. You can use Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars to help you with that. You can do "Timed Hits" the minute you start the game, but the game teaches them to you later if you want to know. It introduces all its combat mechanics like this. As well as all its movement mechanics.
 

Rhaeami

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You don't have to introduce every aspect of your combat system all at once. I find that as a player, it's often better to introduce mechanics "piece-meal". You can teach each new state when you need to worry about players running across it, each new "element" or mechanic as you need to introduce it. A battle system that introduces every single aspect of its mechanics all at once can be as bad as a game that introduces the entire story as an info-dump. That should help with "introducing a fairly esoteric battle system". Do it piece-meal. You can use Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars to help you with that. You can do "Timed Hits" the minute you start the game, but the game teaches them to you later if you want to know. It introduces all its combat mechanics like this. As well as all its movement mechanics.

You're pretty much describing exactly what I try to do, but I still count that as a challenging branch of game design. Figuring out how to present your tutorials, how to make things seem simpler than they actually are, and predicting what parts of your UI the player will scratch their head over if you don't explain them promptly... that all takes quite a bit of work. I stand by my initial statement wholeheartedly. :kaoswt:

There are also some systems that simply do not work without all their parts in place. I don't think that this makes them bad systems, but it does mean that you need to find a way to pace how you present the information. Collectible card games are a good example; even if you only teach the player the basics, they can clearly see that you're skipping over a lot of finer details in the process, and won't tolerate that for very long. Such an example is how you need to understand turn phases, mana costs, summoning sickness, and possibly special card effects just to get through a single turn of Magic: The Gathering.

In my current project, I had to work special cases into every step of the battle process in order to make it behave slightly differently for the initial tutorials, because otherwise the player's first encounter would begin with five different things they did not yet understand. :kaoback:
 
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Milennin

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I like games that give the player control over their character as fast as possible. When playing a game, I don't necessarily mind a cutscene with dialogue and stuff happening, but if it drags on for longer than a minute or 2, I'll start sighing to myself and lose interest, especially if it includes the dreaded text scroll opening.
 

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My fav intro:

1)DOOM 2016 : Starting the game where I(DoomSlayer) donno where I am and what happen to the location. I’m curious about the place but sometimes when Samuel Hayden tried to convince me, the DoomSlayer ignore what is Samuel gonna say. After training the game mechanics and how-to-play, now the game starts with the title.

Hmmm....maybe that’s it. Now, my concentration of game intro where two siblings fight each other for reasons.

@TheoAllen Oh, Activision.
@Caitlin I’m curious about your story!
@TheGamedawg That’s your video?! Subbed!
@Milennin Yup! That’s kinda me.
 

Switz

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I always prefer the learn as you go style. Start the story off with just 1/100th of the main plot, but something interesting to grab the players attention that they are in a treat for a long road ahead.

One of my favorite openings is FFVI with Terra being used as a Magitek warrior and they are bum rushing a village to get some mysterious esper that no one seems to know about or why even blood is being shed for them...you are just following orders.

With this style of an opening you did three things:

1) Player gets to see some good animations and scenery early on
2) You learn that "espers" are somehow important
3) But most importantly, it shows some higher force is pulling the strings that you know is there, but have no clue who or what it is
 

gstv87

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speaking purely from the generic narrative point of view, every story follows the Hero's Journey trope (look it up)
and the Hero's Journey begins with "the known world".
take The Lord Of The Rings for instance (both the movie and the book), excluding the introduction that tells you about the past of Middle Earth, the first bit of story you get involves Frodo and his world.
that is "the known world".... Frodo, in the Shire, surrounded by Hobbits, doing Hobbit stuff, in Hobbit town.
then, the call to action (he receives the ring), and the start of the journey (he literally packs his bags, and leaves)

if you want to consider "burning village" and "waking up late to a ceremony" tropes of video game intros, then they are also very much within the "known world" trope:
if you say "burning village", then where are you? obviously in a village, but where? in a realm on disarray most likely... raids and pillaging seem to be common... armies are always moving and changing the landscape.... go ask a kid modern middle East if that's not "the known world" for them.
"late to a ceremony", same deal: teenager in junior high... always late for everything, everything is evaluated, everything is important, everyone has an eye on them (from their perspective).

in short:
how do you start a game?
from the protagonist's point of view.
 

Mirroraculous

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I like to think as mentioned before that being thrown in is quite an interesting way to go about it. One of my favorite openings is Marvel: Ultimate Alliance, which takes advantage of already established superheroes by throwing you into a scene where you have to save the Helicarrier from crashing and an opening cutscene that features some rather lively action that is ridiculously over the top. You really feel dived in and when you start the dungeon crawling experience MUA is, you really feel dived into the whole thing. However, an interesting one came from my first playthrough of Dragon Age: Origins (I chose a Mage), and one I think is worth discussing.

So in Dragon Age: Origins, young Mages are secluded into the Circle of Magi, basically the Dragon Age equivalent of Hogwarts. You learn to use your magic there and then you are put into the ultimate test, the Harrowing. In the Mage storyline, you start the game immediately thrown into the Harrowing, and so not only are you learning of the lore of the Mages, but you immediately are immersed into their world. I could go on about the rest of the beginning time, but that opening into the Harrowing really points out the main thing that correlates with both this game and M:UA.

Really take advantage of what your game is about.

If you have some sort of giant lore surrounding your game, make your player become directly involved in it. If your game revolves around some sort of unrealistic heroism, bring them right into it. If your game is revolve around unknowns, throw them right into the unknown. That's really the best way to go about it as a whole.
 
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Ryisunique

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I can't believe I just remembered about this one.

There was a game released in 2000 called Dark Cloud. The first part was a ritual awakening an old evil, then what seemed to be the destruction of the village. Then you got into the gameplay and was led along the tutorial. It may be just stuck in my head because I never beat it and restarted a couple of times.

I'm a fan of the forbidden place one, warnings from a letter, and background events to present.
 

sleepy_sealion

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Nier is pretty good - You have no idea what's happening but your super interested due to some really simple/great atmosphere with the haunting soundtrack chanting while you get to play around with all the spells you'd unlock later which is cool because you have some familiarity when you do unlock them later on.

They pretty much perfectly set up the atmosphere and gameplay right off the bat so you know what your going to get from the first few minutes alone.
 

XIIIthHarbinger

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I think the ideal intro to a game depends greatly upon what the story of that game is going to be.

For example,

The first Mass Effect does a brilliant job of introducing us to the world, all of the conversations that provide our player with information seem natural given the circumstances, it allows us opportunities to establish our character's personality, & provides us with an understanding of who our character is in relation to those around the.

Skyrim is another good example, your character's lack of understanding about events, lack of gear, lack connections to the area you are in, all make sense due to their situation. Namely accidently walking into an ambush between two warring factions, & then being taken prisoner. All without having to resort to the amnesia cliche. Then Alduin comes in wrecks shops. So within five minutes we've established the political conflicts, the supernatural conflicts, & where our character fits within them.
 

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