Editorial: How Big Is Too Big?
I'm all for progression in the game industry. I always have been. I'm more interested in artistic than technical progression, but I always appreciate forward strides.
However, in looking at the sheer size of some next-generation projects, I'm starting to wonder: How big is too big? At one point do people who don't want an MMO environment start going- "You know, I just don't have time for this."
Look at a game like The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. That is going to be massive. Apparently, 35 times the size of its predecessor and even much bigger than The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. It certainly sounds amazing; just walking around could feel totally epic. I expect some of the most impressive immersion ever. But in all practicality, who has the time to really appreciate every facet of that production? As far as I can tell, it would be limited to people who are still in school. Anyone living in the adult world (and actually living an adult life), would have difficulty tackling such a gargantuan undertaking. It's just too huge.
I even worry about something like Grand Theft Auto V. Sure, I love me some GTA and again, a big environment could (and should) be intoxicating. But at what point does it become less immersive and borderline overwhelming? When do we finally sit back, throw our hands up and go, "all right, too effing big." This isn't about a lack of patience, either; I'm probably more willing to avoid fast travel options in such games, just because I want to fully experience the game. This is more about feeling like you can't make a dent even after playing for three hours.
Remember, it's not just the size of the world; it's what there is to do in it. In the next generation, developers will be able to deliver more activities and quests than ever before. Everything will be more realistic and dynamic. In short, there will be a lot more to do. And for me, even Skyrim was simply too expansive. So, if you're going above and beyond that, as fantastic as the experience could be, I'm afraid designers are leaving me (and potentially many others) out. What do you think?
8/2/2013 Ben Dutka