Sliding Scale of Content Density vs. Width
aka: Sliding Scale Of Content Density Versus Width
Content in video games, whether it's new gameplay or plot, can be presented to the player in various ways. Sometimes, the developers keep a taut pace with the content, keeping large areas, optional items and sidequests to a minimum to maintain that pace; these games are content intensive and have "Denser" content. Other times, developers space out the content so that the main portion of the game is experienced much slower and amidst a myriad of extra options; these games are content extensive and have "Wider" content. Each approach has potential boons and drawbacks. Games with Density can easily maintain the player's attention and provide a meaty experience within a relatively short playtime, but the types of experiences can be fairly limited and not very cerebral. Games with Width offer a broad palette of experiences over a frequently long playtime and a potential for greater World Building (in games that actually have plot), but can also leave players bored by the pacing (and Fake Longevity in some cases) or overwhelmed by the sheer amount of content. Genres that tend to be Denser include Action, racing games, Casual Video Games, Platform Games, and Rail Shooters. Genres that tend to be Wider include Adventure, Action Adventure, Role Playing Games (especially most Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games), Strategy Games, and Wide Open Sandboxes. Gaming in general saw a shift to Width with the Video Game 3D Leap during the 5th console generation. Tangentially related to the Sliding Scale of Linearity vs. Openness, as Linearity typically correlates with Density, while Openness typically correlates with Width. Fake Longevity is sometimes present in games on the Width end of the scale. The Super Trope of Sliding Scale of Video Game World Size and Scale.
Instances where the Scale was consciously considered when producing a game:
- Shigeru Miyamoto and Eiji Aonuma feel that Zelda got a bit too Wide with The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess. This is why they made sure that The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword was Denser.
- Shigeru Miyamoto had largely sat back and let the Paper Mario staff do its own thing, but for Paper Mario: Sticker Star, Miyamoto became heavily involved. The result was a much, much denser game than any previous Paper Mario title.
- Rocksteady has stated they were focused on making Gotham Dense rather than Wide in Batman: Arkham Knight, as they feel that Detail is more important than Scale. Interestingly, they still have to give the world some width as Batman can now drive in his Batmobile and the streets were too narrow for that in Batman: Arkham City.