Designing Content

Often I’m brainstorming about the high level content of Flare — especially the basic story that will tie the game together. I recognize that Flare isn’t going to be heavily story driven. It’s an Action RPG after all, without even the conveniences of e.g. dialog choices. Spinning a valid story first then plugging in dungeon romp gameplay isn’t as easy as I first thought.

I’m starting to think about the content in a different way. We’ve created a lot of core assets and features to make a game, and it would be really great if we could give all of those assets and features a time to shine. This feels like a bottom-up approach to content design — look at the small pieces available and think of ways to combine and showcase them. This way of thinking is probably common for puzzle games where it’s good to exhaust the unique ways each element can be used. But can this approach be used to make an Action RPG?

  • Tile Sets — for each tile set, consider unique-feeling thematic areas that can be created from the base tiles. Focus on creating distinct shapes per map and vary the mix of tiles used in each. It’s important to add landmarks so maps are memorable. Interesting maps will give us strong ideas about world flow and enemy placement.
  • Enemies — for each base enemy type, consider all of the common fantasy variations of that creature. Also consider how powers and stats can combine to create unique enemies that serve a specific battle role. Interesting enemies could have entire maps, quests, and items created around them.
  • Items — for each item, consider how it should be acquired. Bought from a regular vendor or some remote craftsman? Reward for killing some fiend, exploring a side area, or completing a quest? Great items may give us ideas on new quests or bosses.
  • Stats — for each bonus stat, consider a place for it to shine (and to be weak). Prominent example: make sure we have extensive areas where elemental resistance is all but required to survive.

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