Here's a fun design challenge: How do you make a first-person game that tells a cogent story, while still allowing players to explore and make meaningful choices, without common FPS game mechanics like combat or player death?
Campo Santo aims to do just that with Firewatch, and at GDC 2015 developers Nels Anderson and Jake Rodkin spoke at length about how Firewatch is being built with those objectives in mind.
Level design is the primary focus of their talk, but they also cover world structure, goals and gating, "encounter" design and the technical tools used as they explain where the design of a non-combat exploration game mirrors other first-person games -- and where it differs.
It's a design-centric talk (embedded above) worth watching for all developers -- especially those working on first-person experiences -- and now you can do just that for free here on the GDC Vault.
In addition to this presentation, the GDC Vault offers numerous other free videos, audio recordings, and slides from many of the recent Game Developers Conference events, and the service offers even more members-only content for GDC Vault subscribers.
Those who purchased All Access passes to recent events like GDC, GDC Europe, and GDC Next already have full access to GDC Vault, and interested parties can apply for the individual subscription via a GDC Vault subscription page. Group subscriptions are also available: game-related schools and development studios who sign up for GDC Vault Studio Subscriptions can receive access for their entire office or company by contacting staff via the GDC Vault group subscription page. Finally, current subscribers with access issues can contact GDC Vault technical support.
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