What’s an open-world RPG(Role Play Games)? An endless virtual world where players are free to explore?
That may be true to some extent. However, when it comes to creating a good fun game, it is not that easy. The endless world would probably mean endless boredom. Since the IT development resource is not limitless right now to any gaming company even to Nintendo, reduplicate element design&development are necessary. The core part of creating an open-world RPG lies in the combination of those reduplicate elements.
Rule one: Making use of rules exiting in the real world. Trying not to create the new game role.
I still remember the skeuomorphic design, which Steve Jobs brought to us with his iPhone, helped people to understand what those icons mean at first. When people have to learn something so new that lots element coming together in their brain, skeuomorphic design can reveal the rule to users much more vivid than flat design. Because not all the people are experienced player but experienced liver in the real world.
For example, when you are in Zelda’s world, the fire rule of the real world does work. You can use it to bake an apple, ignite a branch, make a bonfire, melt the ice, etc. Here is the rule of result equation:
F(action, trigger, extent) = Fire(touch, combustible, lasting for 1 s) = Bonfire
So if the designer defines those elements, like a branch, as combustible stuff, the numbers of rules can be enormous. However, the designers do not need to pay much effort to teach users, because those rules come from the whole wide real world. All they need is to disintegrate those rules of nature.
Thinking it differently does not only mean thinking outside the box but also means observing the world with an open mind and apply findings to practice.
Rule two: Gravity + Triangle = Freedom illusion = Feeling of control
In the open-world RPG, there is not absolute but relative freedom to not let players lose in a big maze. The core point lies in the feeling of control. As designers, they would like to see all the fun stuff that would be discovered by players. The best way is to make things happen in coincidence but not by force.
So the designers of Zelda succeed to combine the “gravity”, the attraction to players as they said in CEDEC 2017, with the “Triangle”, the obstruction like mountain and monster club, to make the play route much more diverse. When standing at the top of the mountain, the leading role who the player control will have spectacular sightseeing with lots of options revealing. Players can pick up the most attractive route to go. However, on the way to the destination, this player will be distracted by some obstacles and find something more fascinating by change. This players probably change his or her mind, since, in the open world, there is full of possibilities. Here we have the heat map to show the contract before and after the changes as follows:
I don’t want to explain how the designer makes use of the Triangle theory to reveal the attraction to players bit by bit. It sounds somehow like “you can find the love around the corner”.
You can find it at 4gamer. Here is the picture where you can find how to make the open-world much more possibilities.
Here is a tip: Use attractions as hints for giving players choices while they can both see and record those options they find. It is much essential for players with the ability to mark the concerns on the map. Such a record function releases the burden of player memory.