Visual Vistas

By Keith Connolly on November 01, 2010

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There's literrally millions of things to consider when writing or even just designing a video game. From concept to actual programming there's many things to keep in mind. However, there's only one thing I want to talk about right now and that's vistas. No, not the Microsoft operating system but something else, something engrossing.

A vista is something designed to steal the players view. There's a few reasons as to why we (game designers) may want to add a vista or similar device. But before we get into that what is a vista?
 

What is a vista?


A vista as stated above is a visual device or concept that steals the players view or attention for some amount of time. Vistas can be used as story plots or to enforce them, they can also be used simply to show the player something pretty. A really good example of a vista is in one of my favorite games Half-Life 2. In HL2 near the end the citadel, a huge standing structure of alien origin sits in the middle of City 17. This item itself might be considered a vista but it really isn't, in my opinion, the vistas are the points in there game where you are standing on the edge of a building and an enemy or some other device draws your attention to a part in the builds where you can see just how huge the citadel is. In that case the vista was used to reaffirm to the player that they are indeed heading to the citadel and they are indeed trying something crazy.
 

To Vista or not to vista...


Much like bullet time in an action flick, sometimes it's just too much or serves no purpose. Sometimes, you don't need a vista but when should you and when should you not? Firstly, does it serve a purpose? Even if that purpose is "damn, that's pretty." If it does you need to ask, does this mess with the flow of the game? Is your pace messed up significantly? Vistas are powerful and almost all modern games have them from Halo to Starcraft 2, they all have vistas to some degree. I can't tell you when to use them in your game as each project is unique but I offer my advice. Just remember, too many vistas can be pretty or neat but may not add any fun or value to the game. Conversely, not enough can lead to a stale and uneventful progression, level, or game.

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Keith Connolly
Queen Creek, Arizona 85142
P: (480) 231-9285