Masahiro Sakurai is at it again! His “Creating Games” series has brought many insights to players, and hopefully developers, that showcase how vast and varied the process of making a video game can be. Of course, he’s touched on “obvious topics” during his run, but he’s also talked about ones you’d like to take for granted in your game design journey. A great example happened today when he spoke of using the screen the game is played on to your advantage. By that, he means how game developers try and put as much as they can on the screen for viewers to see, even if that’s not a great idea.
As Sakurai accurately notes, the issue isn’t always about what a gamer sees but how big their TV screen is. He notes how many driving gamers try to go for a “realistic feel,” at times, even going for a 1st-person viewpoint so you can see things within the car as you drive. The problem is that our eyes have a more comprehensive range than the TV screen, so the “immersion” is lost. The only way around that is through VR, which also has problems due to how our eyes work and hardware limitations. But Sakurai makes it known that you should try VR titles, if possible, to see how unique they are.
Sakurai also talked about how games like FPS titles will try and pack in an environment with scope and detail, but then the enemies will seem very small by comparison. He did mention that every game is different in how the scale is meant to work, but he went for an opposite approach when he made games like Kid Icarus: Uprising.
The real goal of the video is to impart how you are meant to optimize the screen space you have so that you can convey the information the player needs and not overwhelm them in a way that harms their gaming experience. Or clog up the screen so much that they can’t always tell what they’re doing or what’s around them.
When you think about it, this was a lesson that Masahiro Sakurai and others had to learn with the Nintendo Switch because they had to deal with its games being played on both a TV screen and on the handheld.
So if you decide to try making the game of your dreams, remember to use the screen you put the game on to the best of your abilities.