This is a question of design. How do you make a map start off in an interesting way, and get the player engaged immediately?
Context: I have most of an adventure map complete, but I feel that the start of the game is lacking. More specifically, the game needs to start off easy, with a bit of tutorialization (my target audience is a friend of mine who doesn't play much minecraft) but in my playtesting, this just felt tedious and uninteresting to me. The drive to keep playing didn't take hold.
My map has a quest line, and very light story/lore elements to it. I've been considering putting story more front and center, especially at the beginning, in order to create intrigue and get the player's interest. In your experience, does this work? Or is there a simpler way to introduce the player to your map without boring them?
Admittedly I haven't made that many maps but in general the beginning of any story tends to be roughly the same. Most stories fall nicely into the hero's journey, which I find a good structure to create an engaging story. Obviously it's not the only way to go about it, and it has received a lot of criticism, but anyhow, the first few steps deal with how to begin the story.
First the hero is presented an opportunity, a threat or a problem that will require them to interrupt their normal life. Sometimes this step is explicit, a mysterious outsider or an attack on something the hero holds dear. Or it can come from an internal struggle in the hero, a simple desire for a more exciting life is enough.
Next there is a refusal or hesitation to step outside of their comfort zone and embark on the journey, which is broken in the third step by a mentor figure that provides the tools and inspiration to the hero to start the journey. This could even be the hero themselves if you wanted but at the very least it has to be a different facet of their personality. Think of King Arthur pulling Excalibur from the stone or more thinly Link being given a sword by an old man in a cave before he sets out into the woods.
It's worth reading up on to plan out a good story but feel free to add flourishes and the like to keep it from feeling stiff. In your case, I'd try to keep the tutorial as short as possible or integrate it into gameplay if you can. Maybe start with some sort of event to get the player right into the map and then introduce your mechanics as smoothly as possible. Skyrim for example doesn't have the greatest opening but it does a nice job of introducing the major antagonist immediately by having a dragon burn Helgen and then introducing the player to the major mechanics; combat, looting, lockpicking, and more while they try to escape.
If your map is really light on story, feel free to ignore all that and focus on enticing the player through your mechanics alone, it really comes down to your specific map.
Hopefully my rambling gives you something to think about at least, and the best thing I can recommend is to take some time to analyze what makes maps and stories in general that you like good and take inspiration from them.
Thanks for the ramble. I think it would be difficult to inject enough story into the start of my map for the player to feel like a character with a backstory, but it might be possible...
If you have any ideas as to how to entice a minecraft noob into progressing through mechanicas, I'm all ears. A veteran player already knows the drill: get wood, craft items, gather resources, etc. But I want the map to coax clueless noobs in the right direction as well. This is what's giving me trouble. "Go here" "Do that" is just really boring to me, and I imagine to most players as well. I could make it explicitly about immediate survival, that might be tricky though due to time pressure not mixing well with new players. Usually that sort of thing just leaves them confused.
"Go there, do that" can be really boring, some of the better tutorials I've seen give the player a goal and just kinda let them figure it out on their own. Mark brown on youtube has a lot of really good videos about game design and the like. This one's about how mario's level design introduces new mechanics and lets the player explore a bit. That's worth taking a look at I think, clearly the mechanics won't be constantly changing but leading players in that way could be more interesting.
Or targeting complete noobs you could use the achievements already in the game as a goal path for the players to follow. Show them that wood is necessary for crafting something and show them a tree, I think most people would catch on.
The recipe book really helps in this regard I think since you could tell the player what they should focus on crafting and the recipe book will tell them what they need to collect. Directing the player to those materials could use journals or something and mention things like "haven't found any diamonds yet, will need to dig deeper." building up the knowledge as they go.
My map has a quest book, so there's no difficulty in communicating with the player. The problem is that I don't really want to tell them that they need wood, and the tree is over there, and good job. Eventually the quest book will require them to complete a series of dungeons, and once the map gets to that point I think it all works much better because each dungeon is more like a Mario level in the video, where there is already an implicit goal to reach the end of the level and the unique mechanics of the level provide natural obstacles that the player can freely experiment with and learn about on their own. It's just that first introduction that feels boring to me. It's not like Mario where I can have the camera pan over to the tree and then over the rest of the level to show the player what they need to do.
You could consider not really telling them anything, maybe lock their first goal behind something like obsidian so that they will need a diamond pick to get through. Make the wall obvious and give some hint that they will need a powerful pickaxe and let them figure out how to get there on their own. The basics of the game are mostly self evident.
Or you could put the very basics in something like an instruction manual, make sure it's only a few pages so it doesn't take much time and then introduce the story. As long as it's short it wouldn't be too bad, a bit boring but bearable.