DESIGN YOUR OWN OPEN-WORLD GAME

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Hello community. The casualness of this topic might fit this forum better. Working on a game project that will take several years to complete. I had a random thought to steal some ideas from you all.

What features and/or contents would your dream open world game have? Preferably nothing too absurd (eg: literally anything that can be done in real life can be done in the game) and more like things that we can imagine being implemented in modern games (eg: lots of optional boss battles, pets that are as customizable as the creatures from the game spore).
Marrend
Guardian Ghost of the Description Thread
17371
I suspect Myriad Cypher counts as an open-world game. Not that players can go absolutely anywhere at the offset, but, they have a decent selection of planets to visit, and trade with.


I've been toying with the idea of characters that have no limits for stats. I'm not just talking about ATK, DEF, MAT, MDF, and so on. I'm also talking about levels having no cap either. I'm not sure what that means for enemies, though. Or the issue of how to display ridiculously big stats on the various status screens.
I dont think theres anything left to be done with the open world genre, Breath of the Wild was the last game to innovate on the genre literaly all it did was make traversal interesting.
AtiyaTheSeeker
In all fairness, bird shrapnel isn't as deadly as wood shrapnel
2770
Hey, here are my open-world design ideas! Step one?

DON'T.

But in all seriousness, it's been something I've considered many times before. I'm just not in a skillful enough spot to do it. My reasons for an open world revolve around a Zelda clone MMO back when that I'm nostalgic for, called GraalOnline. Unfortunately it's a ghost of its former self and I don't know how much is blind nostalgia from my preteens, but that's not here nor there.

I do recall the creator of Casia doing a method I'd like to emulate. Basically they allow you to go anywhere soon after the game starts, but things get progressively more difficult the farther from the central hub you travel. It's similar to that in even the original Dragon Quest, where crossing bridges on the overworld usually meant that you'd encounter more and more dangerous beasties.

On top of that, the original Legend of Zelda appears truly open-world at first, but secretly guides the player's hand to make sure they're not in over their heads with no true idea of where to go next. The channel "Game Maker's Toolkit" covered these design choices pretty closely, and is pretty entertaining to watch; the video can be found here if interested.

Overall, assuming my skills and dedication ever get that far, I'd probably do a combination of those above concepts for my own open world experience. On top of an open world, I'd also include a class-changing system to boot.
Cap_H
DIGITAL IDENTITY CRISIS
6318
Is it an RPG Maker open world game? I suppose so.
I really enjoyed early versions of the above-mentioned Myriad Cypher. It was a simple, half free roam economics game. That was a great hook. Later versions with implemented battles never quite worked out.
I guess I would keep the game compact, if I were you. Maybe fine tune the difficulty and make it a roguelike. If there are some generic battles, they should be as quick as possible. You're likely to run in lot of these encounters just traveling around. Battles or some kind of fuel or both make movement management crucial. Maybe set the game in a hostile environment. One or several safe locations surrounded by hostile wasteland would be a great motivator for investing in better equipment. And with this equipment you would be able to explore further and find new things. Other features I would appreciate in such a game would some light crafting, an ability to own and enhance a habitat, spicy side-quests, persistent world building, working economy.
Story-wise, I would keep it simple and fragmented.
author=visitorsfromdreams
I dont think theres anything left to be done with the open world genre, Breath of the Wild was the last game to innovate on the genre literaly all it did was make traversal interesting.


That's a pretty hasty conclusion. A game does one small thing recently and it innovates a now dead end genre? How do you know it's the last??? If anything I'd say companies like Ubisoft haven't moved the needle enough despite being a lot there, but it's weird to say "oh there's nothing left to examine here". As arbitrary as the open world genre is in the first place, I'm pretty sure you can do a lot with a game that has a wide possibility space in its environments.

The problem is I typically have no idea what people mean by open world just on its own, it's more of a tag than an all encompassing game type. Even the original topic post suggests to dream up a game without production constraints rather than any specific criteria. Then people start mentioning MMOs which are apt but not even what I was initially thinking of. Someone could even chime in with Minecraft and just be as valid as any other ambitious "do anything" game.

I hesitate to call Outer Wilds open world (open solar system?) but it just came out recently and blows the lid off a lot of things some would think were over and done with at this point. The biggest balance the game addresses above all else is wanting to create a sense of wandering around and getting lost, but also still having a feeling of purpose. The game's "quests" come about very organically in that you discover "rumors" that get added to your quest log. Only it doesn't really tell you what to do, it just tells you which events are connected and how they might relate to solving mysteries sorta like an investigation board where tracking events are non-linear.

Outer Wilds also does this thing where its core gameplay loop applies to most of its world. In that a blank asteroid/planetoid can still provides a lot of interesting scenarios without relying on specific set-pieces. Sure there's mysterious alien obelisks and puzzles, but it feels like the designers can effortlessly use the orbital gravity rules to actually make use of the environments rather than making the environments big for bigs sake. Landing a ship on a planet is a huge task in the game, and depending on how you crash your ship, the failure states actually leads to more stuff to do rather than create frustration. I also haven't talked about the Majora's Mask gimmick it utilized for a different purpose than MM did, but it does a lot with that as well.

So if I were making an open world game I'd probably think on how massive terrain can be exploited by the player, or multiplied by the game mechanics. In that environments don't have to be super detailed to be interesting, and the game becomes more enjoyable the bigger it is somehow. Which is an interesting design problem to solve as I don't think it's really been explored yet. Most open world games typically rely on some sort of repetitive (yet reliable) task giving system for the level designers to quickly come up with stuff the player has to do, but there's usually a cost in how copy pasty the game world feels. It's really a challenge to address the brute force solution of "hire a bunch of people to make as much content as possible." Which does have its limits. But yeah idk that's the realm of thinking I have when "open world" crosses my mind. I'm not too interested in making such a thing though, even if you posed the unlimited constraint question at me.
author=Darken
author=visitorsfromdreams
I dont think theres anything left to be done with the open world genre, Breath of the Wild was the last game to innovate on the genre literaly all it did was make traversal interesting.
That's a pretty hasty conclusion. A game does one small thing recently and it innovates a now dead end genre? How do you know it's the last??? If anything I'd say companies like Ubisoft haven't moved the needle enough despite being a lot there, but it's weird to say "oh there's nothing left to examine here". As arbitrary as the open world genre is in the first place, I'm pretty sure you can do a lot with a game that has a wide possibility space in its environments.

Well I mean the genres been "mainstream" since Oblivion (you could argue GTA 3 but it wasnt being replicated as a common practice until last gen) and nobody has done anything interesting with it in that time. I mean I can point at things that have suffered due to the genre, mainly level design and any sense of pacing. Im sure someday someone will do something interesting with it but when the only recent addition to the genre is making getting from point A to point B slightly less dull... yeah I dunno.

I think theres a good argument that the genre has never been used for anything meaningful other than world building in the likes Elder Scrolls/Fallout/Witcher 3 which are all RPGS funny enough, and dont get me wrong, I think world building is an excellent reason to use an open world.

But...

The big studios arent iterating on the genre at all as you mention, and its not in their best interest to since now they fill them with grinding and encourage people to buy shortcuts. Whats the genre really used for? Its kind of just padding, it adds travel time to every games equation, most of the time you still get to a place and do a linear mission.

Every genre under the sun has atleast one open world game (adventure games, racing games, fps, third person shooters, vehicle based combat, rpgs) in it now so I dont know whats left?

Outer Wilds is technically a puzzle game and its smart about its open world design in that it keeps it very small and compact (relatively speaking). But in that context is it so much an open world as it is a puzzle box? I guess it could be both in which case the idea of puzzle box open worlds would be something interesting to see expanded on in the future.

In the end and open world is just an environment for a game to take place in and thats it generally speaking. It allows a player to control the pace of a game for the most part instead of the game designers (or it did until companies started monetizing road blocks).

I am interested to see what From Software are going to with the genre now they have said they are working on something since they are kind of the kings of level design at the moment, but in interviews it sounds like the open world is just a big hub between a bunch of disconnect typical From Software levels so its really more of a big open glorified level select...
visitorsfromdreams
The big studios arent iterating on the genre at all as you mention, and its not in their best interest to since now they fill them with grinding and encourage people to buy shortcuts. Whats the genre really used for? Its kind of just padding, it adds travel time to every games equation, most of the time you still get to a place and do a linear mission.


Yeah but I don't think design thought experiments are limited to what AAA studios are doing specifically. If you're going to examine a concept or a genre its better to use existing examples as a springboard than like the basis of which it pivots from. Though I could see arguments for "jrpgs are dead" or whatever I just don't see something so recent running out of steam when it could still probably surprise even the most vocal of critics. But just thinking about the genre inherently and fundamentally there is a ton of potential beyond just "well these are the weaknesses of these examps... uh this is the only thing that its capable of sorry"

I could argue the recent and very relevant battle royale trend makes use of the open world, and even though it's a glorified "death match in open world" there's a design language that has developed over the years to make that possible. In that big open spaces are useful for emergent things to happen. Tarren Mill in WoW for instance has a huge potential that has not since been taken advantage of or replicated. There's a weird social space that develops due to the pvp/pve being combined due to the continuousness of it all (battlegrounds and arenas being isolating compared to this). I think Battle Royales almost tap into the dynamic of that a little.

The DayZ mod that spawned PubG and other imitators rely on unknown player behavior to converge in open spaces. I feel like Day Z was oddly left behind in favor of more specific goal oriented gameplay, but it's worth returning to since I remember a huge enthusiasm for the weird role playing that came about from watching streams of it. Of course it got skipped over in favor of a mod based on the mod DayZ Battle Royale. But I wouldn't be surprised designers went back to dredge something from that sort of space once again that becomes the dominant thing. I dunno.
It's too broad a term to say or know more, really.
As for wanting random thoughts, I've always enjoyed good worlds and I like being part of the action rather than just being THE ONE AND ONLY HEROES TO SAVE THE WORLD. If I had a nicely built fantasy world where I could recruit allies and pets and just putz around a while while having lore-related or towns-happening stuff happen, that'd be cool. I mean, MMO's are literally COOL STUFF collectors boxes, with pets being mandatory coolins, your character needing fancy hairstyles, and different areas being awesome until you hit the repeat endgame button (or the MMO does that from day 1). I always liked that part about them, even if the gameplay loops are well.. uh.. suboptimal.
But then open world isn't the best for that as it'd be too big with too many places nobody cares about, unless you handcraft them all and it's not really helpful. Unless they are like all different, and different species, but even then.. open world.. eh.

*shrugs*
The big AAA open world games rely on a satisfying if repetitive gameplay loop and paste it over everything they touch. If you have that, you are ready to go. What all you can do and add depends on what you are making, really. Spores n stuff even did the whole evolution thing, kinda.. open? Also, of course they will argue jrpgs are dead and solo games are dead when they can't monetize them well. (and then you have SURPRISE HITS like Bravely Default because clearly nobody wanted those kinda games).

If you want to make it about something else entirely.. I mean, sure. It'd be helpful to have an idea first though. I never thought about it myself tbh, because I'd take a focused space that changes and I can revisit about a needlessly large world any day. I'd go more the Spore route cause I love weird creatures and monsters, and having them be, yknow, normal creatures rather than EVIL ATTACK MONSTERS.. that's the dream.
Concept: You are a bounty hunter, and your targets run and hide in the wilds in a semi-random fashion. You have to literally track them down by clues they leave behind. Maybe the longer you take to locate a target, the harder they are to fight. They've been able to craft better equipment or establish a defensive base. Also, maybe some of the targets drop special equipment that increases your ability to traverse the world, Metroidvania-style.

I've often thought this could make an interesting PvP playstyle in Starbound, although the game would have to be tweaked significantly to make it feasible. Nobody would want to play it if the materials-gathering and crafting took as long as it does in standard gameplay.
Fomar0153
Makerscore is a structural weakness.
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The closest I came to making an open world game was The Golden Fish but I ended up running out of time so it's not open world. My original plan was to have about 20 small islands all with something to do, small towns with side quests, mini dungeons etc. The main storyline was that you had to find three specific treasures, I was thinking of a mode which would have randomised the treasure locations but clearly it was far too big in scope for a contest game.

Monster scaling was something I considered but there's nothing worse than getting relatively weaker as you level. My solution was to cut half the world off from you, until you upgraded your ship which required gold which you got from doing everything. I still think about going back and working on it again but so far I haven't.
kory_toombs
I won the RMN 2019 Stanley Cup Playoff Pool. Now I will never stop bragging about it.
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Is open world a game where you can enter the inner earth and explore its lava mazes and demonic spawn depths.
Seiromem
I would have more makerscore If I did things.
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To me an open-world game isn't about there being a huge (padded) world to explore, it's about being relatively non-linear: you go where you want to because you want to, not because anything is telling you it needs to be done. Obviously, without direction people are more than likely to get bored, but setting general or even vague goals could be all that's needed to fix that. Like with BotW, you're told in the beginning "Defeat Ganon", that "Going to Kakariko Village will help you do so.", and you're also shown that shrines give you power, and that finding more of them will help you defeat Ganon. From there, you decide the actions you take 1: Search for shrines, 2: Pursue Ganon 3: Seek help in Kakariko, and doing any one of those three will eventually lead to you doing the other things.

One game I'd love to see get an open-world type treatment is a Pokemon game. You're given a Pokemon of your choice (and from a much wider selection than just 3 "Starter" Pokemon) and told about two things you can do.
1: Record all Pokemon in the Pokedex, 2: Train your Pokemon to defeat Gyms and Win the Pokemon League
Both of which lead you to pursue each goal interchangeably, or focus on one or the other. Find Pokemon to battle gyms with, train your Pokemon to go to more dangerous areas where the wild Pokemon's levels are higher to find newer Pokemon, use those newer Pokemon to fight the other gyms, and so on.
The gyms aren't in any set order, with difficulty scaling with the number of badges you have, you explore the routes to find dungeons where you can get rare Pokemon and rare items, and perhaps even fight mini-boss "Totem Pokemon" type battles if you decide not to do Gyms so you are still challenged while searching for Pokemon. Along your journey, you might encounter events with Pokemon thieves, rampaging wild Pokemon, or other storyline/quests, but they're not mandatory- you don't need to do it to get an HM to be able to pass through this checkpoint to do baddie fight #2 to get Key Item X to get past this checkpoint, etc. etc.
One example of this is the Crystal Clear Rom-Hack, where no HMs are needed and you can do each gym in any order. The world itself just needs to be built around this concept with many more dungeons and such.
I actually remember having a dream where I could jump very high above the rooftops and glide with the wind. I imagine an open 3d world could be cool to explore, if the mechanics for it are fun too. Other movement options that could work, are stuff like jetpacks, mounts, or crabling hooks. Anything really that can make the player go fast and get to some high places, and maybe even solve light puzzles.

As far as environments go, I've always liked old castles and ruins, human made monuments that are half taken over by the nature. Rain World is an excellent example of something like this. Having a world in ruins could work well with some giant monsters too, something like in the shadow of the colossus. Open world does need some goals to go for after all, and I also really enjoyed the pacing in that game. Maybe those monsters are even the reason for why the world has been destroyed, and the type of damage each area has gotten could correspond to the powers that those monsters have. One could have powerful telekinesis, while other one could spread fire wherever it goes, or hordes of smaller minions.

As far as story goes, I don't have much ideas I could consider original. The main thing with a game like that would be more in the interesting and memorable environments though and gameplay, so maybe that is not as important.
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