During seamless co-op play of any digital game, everything should be designed in a way that encourages the cooperation and doesn’t block or interrupt play for either one of the players. Menus in particular are a point of contention; who controls them, when, how, and what is the other player doing while its being controlled?
When one person presses the pause button during a co-op game, gameplay shouldn’t be interrupted for the other player. Instead, design the menu, and the game system as a whole, to accommodate. First, menu’s should be designed to take up only half the screen. If the game isn’t split screen, it should temporarily switch to a split screen style while the person is in their menu. Depending on the style of game, maybe the paused person’s character goes into an “auto follow” so it keeps up with the other person. Otherwise, solve it in another way that fits the game design better.
The main point is that the gameplay never be intentionally interrupted for any of the players playing simultaneously.
March 1, 2015