This post is part of our Tips For Creators series where we are asking questions about gameplay, monetization, community and other topics related to making great games on Core.
Amonbeaufils is sharing with us some tips to make an immersive environment that the player wants to explore.
You won the "Best Overall" prize of the City Building Jam, do you know what are the main elements that made your environment better than the others?
The base idea for “Kal’theara”, my winning entry, was to make an epic fantasy city built around a giant statue. That idea in itself allowed me to add more verticality to the city’s design, making it more enjoyable to explore in my opinion. I also worked hard to create a unique architecture that used more assets than the standard fantasy tilesets and made several variations of it to reflect the social level or the role of each part of the city. Overall, you can visit, a garden, a palace and districts, each with unique props and visual style. This helps give the player the impression that he’s in an entire city and not just a part of one. Lastly, an element that probably stood out in my entry was the lore I added surrounding the city, and which I pushed both visually through specific props, and literally by adding readable books that explained the past, present and potential future of Kal’Theara and its people.
What is the most important thing or advice that could help a beginner that wants to make their first game with Core?
Start small. Defining the scope of your game, and keeping to it, is according to me one of the toughest challenges. It’s easy to get caught up in your own ideas and ambitions, and end up planning a project that is too big or too complicated. The best way to avoid that is to start by designing a small basic element of your game, like a basic gameplay mechanic or a prop. Sometimes you will realize something that might have seemed easy in theory actually requires more work, and that will help you define the limits of your project. The first thing I made in Core was a simple stone bridge, then I made a small stone tower, then a bigger one, and so on until I felt comfortable making entire environments.
So far, most of my projects were made for game jams that had predetermined themes, so I had the advantage of not having to decide on that. Beyond that, my ideas usually start with one very vague concept or challenge. For example, for “Kal’theara”, I knew I wanted to make a city with the giant statue of a warrior in it somewhere. For “Blasted Moons”, I asked myself if I could make an exploded planet in Core, like the ones we always see in sci-fi movies or artworks.
I almost always start by designing one or two props to define the general style of the environment I’m going for. I make them as detailed as I can without worrying of where and how I will use them, or even if I will use them at all. It helps me see which shapes, colors and materials can work best for my idea. After that, I always sit down on a table and draw a plan of my environment, so that I know roughly how many areas there will be, how big they are and what will be in them. The final result never perfectly fits the plan but with it I know what the final result I’m aiming for is.
I can’t speak for all the other creators Core has, but in my case, I spend a lot of time working on the storytelling of my environment. When a player walks around in a city, a ruin, or a magical maze I created, I want him to feel like there’s a reason every object he sees is where it is. I want to convey the feeling that the environment has a past and a future, so the player is as immersed as possible in this virtual world. There are plenty of ways to do this, from small unique props that catch the player’s attention to far background props that tell the player there’s more to the world he’s in than what he’s exploring here.
If you’re not sure where or how to start, I encourage you to take part in game jams. Core regularly organizes game jams on its platform via Discord, and it’s a great way to get started. There are jams that last a few days and others that can last weeks, and they almost always have various categories, including sometimes an exclusively art category. They give you a theme and a deadline which forces you to define the scope of your game and prepare accordingly. And most importantly, they are a catalyst for learning how to use the tools in Core. I created my first game, “Frozenlight Maze”, for a jam and it was an immense boost. Regardless of your result for the contest, if you commit to making a game and submitting it, you will make huge progress.
Thank you Amonbeaufils for answering our questions! We can't wait to see your next games.
Find the games of that creator here: @Amonbeaufils's Created Games - Core Games