Title Screens: More Than a First Impression

Discuss game development design and post your game ideas

Post » Fri Jan 17, 2014 5:27 pm

My job entails a LOT of driving, so I have plenty of time to brainstorm on my game. In trying to create the emotion and atmosphere I hope to convey during the gameplay, I started thinking about the title screen. It's too early in development for me to worry about that much, but it occurred to me that it would be, in my mind, very engaging to have an "interactive" title screen. More than just some (animated) images and a few options - "start", "options", etc - but rather the player can make things happen even before he starts playing.

In the Nintendo DS game, "Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story", before you've even pressed "START", the bottom screen shows a reflection of Peach's Castle as...Bowser's Castle???...in the pool of water. The water is rippling a little. And when the player taps anywhere in the pool, the water reacts by creating more ripples. It's really simple and that's about all you can do. Yet, to me it's that interactivity even before you've actually started the game that makes it all the more fun, and I believe it can help set the mood very well.

My game is a stealth game that I hope to embed with some subtle light-hearted whimsy as my robot main character seeks "more input" after escaping his creators shortly after his AI unexpectedly becomes self-aware (think of a mixture of the "Short Circuit" and "Wall-e" movies). On the title screen, I picture a side view of my robot in a platform view (the game will be top-down) and he'll automatically wander back and forth in the restricted area, with little animations interrupting things to show a tiny bit of his character. BUT! How much fun might it be to include some hidden functions when the player presses a key and find that they can control the robot to a limited degree? What might that reveal about the game? Will there be a tiny Easter Egg before the game begins? Will there be clues to the robot's otherwise minuscule character (he is just a robot, after all...or IS he)? And if you can do that little thing on the TITLE SCREEN, what ELSE can you do before the game begins?

Those are my thoughts. What do you all think and what might you put in your game if you employed this feature?
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Post » Fri Jan 17, 2014 5:33 pm

There are some good games with "playable" loading Screens. I like the ones of FIFA!:-D
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Post » Fri Jan 17, 2014 5:39 pm

@Beaverlicious - I haven't played any of the FIFA games... What can you do on those title screens?
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Post » Fri Jan 17, 2014 5:44 pm

I remember one of the basketball games you could actually shoot around by yourself while waiting for the game to load. Might have been one of the street games.

Mario 64 you could grab his face with the hand and stretch it around, haha.
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Post » Fri Jan 17, 2014 5:47 pm

@ArcadEd - Maaaan, that sounds so familiar about the basketball game...was it on the NES or later consoles?
And I LOVED the Mario 64 deal! LOL SO creative! So pointless, but it was FUN!

Do you plan on adding anything along these lines to your games? Any ideas what you MIGHT do?
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Post » Fri Jan 17, 2014 5:47 pm

These are no title screens, just loading-minigames.
You can do Penaltys, dribbling etc. Like in real football Training:)
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Post » Fri Jan 17, 2014 5:49 pm

No it was a later game, on the 360.

I don't really plan on it, at least not in my mobile games.
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Post » Fri Jan 17, 2014 5:53 pm

@Beaverlicious - OH! Okay, gotcha. They don't seem to have it now, but YouTube has/had a feature that, while the video is loading with that rotating circle graphic, if you clicked IN the video window and touched one of the arrow keys, you could play a game of "Snake"...where you chase down the dot to grow longer.

@ArcadEd - Gotcha. If you ever do add a title screen interaction, I look forward to what you come up with. :) You'd certainly come up with some CREATIVE stuff, I've no doubt!
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Post » Fri Jan 17, 2014 6:20 pm

It can be cool,

But personally I was wondering about two questions in response to the prospect of being able to play before the game is traditionally started:

1- Will the title screen still fulfill its role to the fullest?
I personally love the small animated character sequences that change a certain number of time, for example in Mario Kart SNES. I like the "mise en scene" theatrical part of showing some character interaction, that you actually watch, instead of interacting on it, maybe you can do something on that part and make it interactive?

2- Is the game deep enough for the title screen interactivity part? I mean, if a game offers something like that right from the title screen, then I expect an important depth, or at least that's how I feel about it. The best thing I think is to just try and see where it takes you, then test it with some people and see what they say? : )
KFII2014-01-17 19:30:46
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Post » Fri Jan 17, 2014 6:25 pm

@KFII - Good points, sir!
1. I'll definitely aim for that kind of "theatrical" presentation...something that beckons the player to take a closer look. And the SNES Mario Kart is a perfect illustration! The interactivity idea will be very simple for the purposes of my game.

2. It's not a DEEP game, at least not on the surface. And I don't plan to give too much away right at the TITLE screen. That would just be silly. LOL But you're right - I'll definitely test it on players.
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