I submit a hypothetical: say the "Xehanort Saga" has ended, and the Kingdom Hearts series begins totally anew; starting from scratch, if you will. The platform for this game has yet to be determined. Let's also say you've been put on the team as a director, writer, artist, level designer, or whatever you wish to build the new Kingdom Hearts game from the ground up. How would you take an already established concept like this series and start it again? What would you carry along into the new series or leave behind? What I'd like to do is start a series of discussions about what Kingdom Hearts Insider members would do if they had a chance to collaborate as if they were a development team making an entirely new "Kingdom Hearts" title. There are people here of many different talents that can write, draw, or just plain conceptualize things for a good videogame. We're interested in what you'd do!
What I'm going to do is break down the discussion into seven major points with a recap discussion at the end, with about a week or so in between which will give you guys some time to let your ideas stew and share them here. At the end of each week we need to come to a consensus for what we'd like to do for the game in each topic. However if there is still sharp disagreement, that's fine as well. We'll simply state why there was a division in opinons and state why. I think it's interesting in analyzing things like this! What I will do is give you a series of prompts to consider for each theme. During the discussion I will be asking you all questions about what you have come up with to further prod your ideas by giving you more hypotheticals and so on and hopefully that may trigger some deeper discussion about the mechanics of the game.
This week's theme is:
Story, Narrative, and Themes Design
Characters and Character Design
Art Direction and Interface Design
World and Level Design
Gameplay and Battle System Design
Character Growth Development and Encounter Design
Tertiary Gameplay Design (Mini-Games)
Analyzing the Total Experience
So here's the deal, we know everyone has ideas they'd like to pitch at different levels. You can take your time and write an entire essay if you wish, but if you feel like leaving a paragraph or two of your own ideas or sentiments, by all means! Also, those of you that are inclined towards art may feel free to drop concept sketches off when we get into the topics that require it. If you feel like starting now go ahead, but I'd just wait until the weeks where we discuss those topics so that we don't derail the current week's topic that much.
But how should you answer the prompts? Well, what I suggest is first by directly answering the prompt itself and then expanding into your own ideas. I will write a short example:
Q: What themes do you feel this new Kingdom Hearts game should explore that we haven't seen in the series before? (ex: good triumps over evil, the bonds of friendship)
A: I feel like a new Kingdom Hearts title should further explore the feeling of longing for a home they cannot return to. (And here I begin to elaborate.) I would expand this idea by writing a story where the character has been separated from his/hers/its hometown/place of birth/etc and thrust reluctantly into new responsibility. I would illustrate this by having the character unable to return to his home world because it is destroyed or he/she/it was banished or so on. I would use dialogue and emotions such as loneliness, displacement, and xenophobia to show that the characters are like fish out of water away from their worlds. I would counterbalance this story and evolve it over the course of the narrative by having the main character or cast understand that they have come into great responsibility and that there are worlds beyond their own that are relying on them. I would show this by having the character(s) form bonds with other they do not know through certain events over the course of the game.
So yeah, kinda like that. The prompts in the next week will maybe be less text-heavy and will allow you to submit your own sketches or artwork. You don't have to answer all the prompts in a week to contribute. What matters is that we get some ideas bouncing around. Also, if an idea for a prompt strikes me over the course of the week I will update the OP so that you guys can respond to it. I'm also open to suggestions for prompts you guys would like to see responded to and explored.
Well, let's take a crack at it!
Story, Narrative, and Themes Design:
+ What kind of a story do you want to tell? Do you prefer games that are cliche but written well at the expense of depth or games that are more convoluted and require more reading between the lines at the expense of confusion? If you want both, please elaborate.
+ What themes do you feel this new Kingdom Hearts game should explore that we haven't seen in the series before? (ex: good triumps over evil, the bonds of friendship)
+ How can the concepts established in the original Kingdom Hearts series work with your ideas? If not, why?
+ How balanced is the game's narrative? The Kingdom Hearts series traditionally has had it's narrative gravitated towards the bookends, but would you opt for a more balanced way of story-telling or do you think it is effective as is? Also, tell us how you would create a balanced (or imbalanced) narrative by expanding on how the story evolves over the course of the game.
+ At what point does the main theme of the game become apparent? Is your theme something that is present without, or does it surface over the course of the story? Good versus evil is a good example of the former and a love story is a good example of the latter.
+ How do you think people will generally respond to the themes you've created for your story? Do you want to make people laugh or cry? Do you want them to be intrigued or entertained?
+ How would you handle contrasting events and themes? If your story is about the bonds of friendship, how would you illustrate the feeling of seperation and how prevalent should it be?
+ Do you set up your story for a sequel(s)? How do you establish things in your original game's story that carry into the next story and help bridge them effectively?
+ Do you want to tell a story from one character's perspective or several? If it's one character, how would you let the player get into the character's head? Is the player character someone who is very reliable that the player can replace with their own persona or does the character have a defined personality that we eventually come to understand?
Looking forward to discussing these responses!