I remember early on when the Playstation 4 (and Xbox One) were announced, one of the greatest changes I assumed it would bring were massively decreased loading times between areas of games. And it happened for sure, especially early on before developers fully understood how to maximize the systems’ graphical capabilities. But, slowly, we slumped back into loading times, and eventually it only felt marginally better than the previous generation. As a case study:
While playing Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate, (a game that I generally enjoyed), my awareness of loading times hit a sort of pinnacle. AC games have always had hefty loading, and have tried to diffuse it with the interesting (but eventually stale) idea of being able to run around in an empty world during the loading screen.
I did a quick timer (on my PS4 Pro), it takes at least 30 seconds each time the game needs to load. The game needs to load if you fail a mission (which the game must assume will happen, based on the way some of the missions are designed). If I fail a mission 2 to 5 times on average, that’s 1-3 minutes spent loading, across the 20 minute long mission.
The player also needs to load any time they fast travel across the map, which happens increasingly more as you play the game more and unlock more of the map.
So, not including the time it takes to load the game initially, a single play through of the 20 hour game might contain over 100 instances of the loading screen. That’s about 1 hour of loading total, or about 5% of the game experience.
I’m not saying this is a deal breaker, but it does make me appreciate newer games that have optimized this, and only load when you start the game or die. The Last of Us: Remastered is a great example of a game that does it exceedingly well. I’m hoping developers continue to discover ways to front load this experience to be almost entirely done when and only when the game is first opened. It’s an amazing way to keep the player immersed in the world of the game.
[ Today I Was Playing: Steamworld Dig 2 ]
September 16, 2017