Havenwood’s unique feeling centers around tragic loss. Kierra is summoned back to her childhood home only to find that her family has been killed, her childhood home is in ruins, and the magic of Havenwood has been almost completely depleted.
The theme is “courage in the face of despair”. Where her mother’s courage wavered, Kierra must continue forward.
To support the theme of needing courage, I’m going the experience has to be difficult, hopeless, and something you’re unlikely to do. As Kierra suffers, the player should suffer, but continue on anyway. They should routinely suffer annoying resets, controller malfunctions, screen blackouts, and anything I can to make them feel like they have no way of winning this game but must continue to press on anyway!
Wait, no. That’s not the experience I want. Okay, instead of focusing on Kierra’ fear and despair, I’m going to focus on her quest to restore her home. The game should have features that focus on replenishment, restoration, and the building of things that last. As they do well, they should see the world get more populated (perhaps with plants and forest critters?).
So my player’s “advancement” will also center around restoring the land, and some side quests may center around this.
My character is a self-reliant woodsman. (Woodswoman?) She’s an athletic hunter with magical powers from her druidic ancestry. So right off the bat, I’d say the magic system must be the focus. Also, if she’s going to “restore the land” as a game feature, then certain abilities to interact with the environment and environmental interactables are going to be important. Maybe she plants seeds, I don’t know. Maybe she gets benefits when next to restored areas? If so, then deciding on tactical use of terrain may be important. It could be as simple as “Kierra gets combat benefits while standing on green areas.” If so, then I should focus on what obstacles may keep her off (or knock her off) desired terrain.
She should be athletic rather than tough, so she should run fast, jump high, do acrobatic flips, etc. This might not work so well with the terrain idea.
Maybe have some alternate movement modes like stealth or dash? Specialty arrows would be cool. She’s an archer, so why not give her some magic arrows?
Okay, those are my key areas: terrain interactables, trick arrows, mobility. Pretty much in that order. These are more important than magic or combat options.
"The most tragic RPG you’ve ever…" No, that doesn’t sound right.
How about… “Welcome home.”
"Home is where the heart is?"
I might need help here.