There’s a very chicken-and-egg scenario when it comes to computer software: are applications demanding more resources because systems are getting more powerful, or are systems getting more powerful because applications are demanding more resources? Whichever end you approach the situation from, it’s a well-known fact that we are demanding more from the computers which surround us. With the European Union’s recent passage of the GDPR legislation which prevents collecting data on website users and other forms of tracking, one researcher found that average webpage download size shrank 90% once all of the tracking information and scripts were removed.
Recently I picked up the game Deus Ex: Mankind Divided during a Steam sale, and so far it’s an enjoyable ride. A bit heavy-handed on the morality of modern society, but I can forgive a video game for not being the most subtle medium. One thing that has prevented me from playing the game more however is the insanely-long load times. Once the game is up and running, everything’s fine, but getting to that point can be a genuine slog.
The below video is a prime example. This is a recording of me starting the game today, wading through the unskippable company logos, and then waiting for my save to actually load. Give it a click and see what I mean – video games are supposed to be a form of entertainment, of gratification, not a testament for our ability to wait patiently for reward.
Released in August of 2016, Mankind Divided is not a brand-new, benchmark-your-system game. With an Nvidia 1070 Ti video card and an absurd amount of RAM and processor cycles, on top of the game being installed on an SSD, I would fully expect this game to load as quickly as most anything else on my system.
Of course other games and applications have loading screens; there’s a lot that goes into modern programming, and I don’t fault them for that. When the loading screen doesn’t seem to be doing anything, such as just presenting corporate logos, that is when I start to get frustrated. If I could skip the logos with a keypress and then it took the full minute from me hitting my save game to entering play, I wouldn’t mind and this post wouldn’t exist. It particularly grates on me that every time I start the game I have to sit through the same one-minute company logo display, with my system sitting wholly unused in the background.
Companies and the teams who make games have full right to be proud of their labors, and they well-should be; many games that come out now are more complicated, complex, and interactive than anything even imagined 25 years ago. That said, I absolutely despise the fact that my entertainment experience is basically put on hold every time I start the game, just to watch some floaty logos.
I may sound like an old man yelling at a cloud, or alternatively like a spoiled millennial that wants everything immediately, but realistically I would hope that by now in the industry studios would have listened to their fanbases, to their developers, and to others who have told them that making players wait unnecessarily is a terrible design choice.