Simplicity.

Michaël Samyn, June 29, 2012

The smaller the number of features in a videogame, the greater the chance that one of them will stand out. Painstakingly refined sounds of footsteps will be completely lost in a game world filled with activities. But if the world is silent and peaceful, suddenly we are able to enjoy, and enjoy deeply, a simple thing like the sound of footsteps.

As mentioned in a previous post, I believe it is wise to select one or two elements to be refined, while the rest of game can remain rather stylized.

A very detailed game world will be washed out in the experience. The trees will become a forest in the mind of the player and there will be no deep aesthetic enjoyment. It’s still possible to have a detailed world, as long as sufficient space is created for the important element to be enjoyed. Almost like isolating a painting on an otherwise blank wall to allow for maximum enjoyment.

The one special element needs to be rendered with sufficient detail. Most videogames contain a lot of elements but not a single one has sufficient detail. If you start focusing, every element in even some of the highest budget games is rigid in some way, and unsatisfying aesthetically. Resources are basically spread too thin to achieve deep beauty, heavily prioritizing quantity over quality.

I believe it’s better to choose a single element as the focus of the game, to give this element all the love and attention it needs to become as beautiful as possible. To increase economic feasibility as well as aesthetic effect, the fidelity of the other elements can be reduced. As well as their number. Remove the noise.

This stylization does not really apply to the composition of the screen. Videogames are not (abstract) paintings. They are worlds with objects in them. Proportion is important. Composition less so. Because the playing mind focuses on objects in a space, not on a picture.

Stories too need to be simple in a similar manner. There should be no plot, no twists, no structure. The focus is on being. There’s no need for detail in the narrative. Just a clear focus.

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