The ‘death of loading screens’ thanks to the lightning-fast, SSD-powered storage solutions built into Sony’s PlayStation 5 and Microsoft’s Xbox Series X, is one of the most discussed points as we approach the launch windows of the aforementioned next-gen consoles.
Developers and gamers alike have been eager to point out how freeing it will be to have much shorter, if not non-existent, loading screens to separate players from the actual gameplay. That’s certainly the case, of course, but while speaking with Ryan Shah of indie studio Kitatus and Friends, the developer also pointed out at least one caveat. Some games have heavily relied on lengthy loading screens to convey important information about the game systems and world lore, and now that approach will have to be completely rethought.
Definitely, without a doubt, and that just comes down to the fact that not even just open world games, but I believe any game could really benefit from it, in the sense that we’ve had to do smoke and mirrors for loading since pretty much the start of the industry, as soon as we moved away from those cartridges. And even during the cartridges era, we’ve always had to do things like narrow corridors to hide loading chunks or loading blocks, or even put mini-games during the loading screens.
Doors in Resident Evil games are a perfect example, you know, now if you include them, they’re just an aesthetic choice rather than something that’s important to mask loading. But it also does come with caveats. Where in things like in Fallout 4 and even the Soulsborne games a lot of important hints towards the story and stuff that’s hold during the loading screens, and tips on how to play because they’re very much in the design of ‘Here’s the game, just go and play’. However, if you start any loading, here’s some background, here’s some lore or here’s a tip for how to not suck. Whereas now they won’t have that blanket. They’re gonna have to think of another way of presenting that information in, which is interesting and not something people are really thinking about at the moment.
This might seem like a trivial matter at first glance, but it’s actually fairly important particularly for some types of games, such as big RPGs, where there are lots of features and systems that need to be presented to the player. Back in the day, there used to be massive manuals coming with the physical boxes, but in this digital age, that’s not an option anymore as well. With loading screens essentially gone, developers will have no choice but to reinforce tutorials and gameplay segments where they teach players everything they need to know.
Check back soon for our full interview with Ryan Shah, where we discussed the studio’s upcoming game Nth^0: Infinity Reborn, estimated to be released in February 2021 for PC, PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X.