With their first update of 2017, PolyKnight Games has taken a major step forward with the development cycle for InnerSpace. Wanting to create a polished tutorial for their flying exploration game, they ended up crafting a whole new world. The whole purpose of this area is to introduce players to the possibilities that await them in InnerSpace.
“One of the biggest challenges we’ve experienced while designing the tutorial is related to one of the most challenging elements of designing the game: providing direction in a player-driven open-world.”
PolyKnight wanted the tutorial to be as “hands off” as possible. However, they still needed to give the player information necessary to move forward. To accomplish this, the tutorial introduces important interactions to the player, one at a time. Once players learn what is possible they get to try it out. In this way, the tutorial portion of the game would feel as organic as the rest of the player’s experience.
Play It Your Way
Rather than a linear approach, forcing the player through obstacles to demonstrate mechanics, gamers are free to explore the area and discover for themselves what they can actually do. “Overall, our main takeaway (among many) from this process was this: a successful tutorial for InnerSpace won’t teach you what the game or the designers (i.e.- “us”) want you do to, but instead, simply present what’s possible.”
For a game all about discovery and exploration this seems like the perfect player introduction. Giving players the freedom to traverse worlds at their own pace in their own style is a key ingredient to creating immersive experiences. The game’s overall goals are straightforward (find relics and demigods, analyze and encounter them). Learning all the possible ways you can interact with the world is what adds a sense of wonder.
PolyKnight have posted some videos where they play through the current version of the new tutorial world. This offers a more in-depth analysis of the steps they used to help the player discover their abilities through gameplay. This gives players the framework they need to make their adventures with InnerSpace more personal and exciting.