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What If We All Could See the Bigger Picture

Camera issues are some of the most wide spread problems facing 3D games. However, even 2D classic games like the Sonic series can be plagued with camera issues. Between the game speed, player mechanics, and the screen size, sometimes the player is never adequately informed about upcoming level/enemy elements.

As I thought about how Sonic Beyond could address this issue, I began to wonder about how restricting developing games for a specific screen size can be. Between the standard 4:3 ratio TV screen, widescreen TVs, high rez computer monitors, handheld screens, and the Nintendo DS's dual screens each display type comes with advantages and disadvantages.

Though it's been a while since I've been to the arcade, thinking about screen size limitations made me reflect on all the different custom cabinets the arcade games had. Silent Scope featured a mini screen inside the scope of a sniper rifle. Brave Firefighters had a large screen so two players could aim their hoses with ease. The virtual fighting game surrounded the player with wall like screens to try and bring a higher level of immersion. The indoors roller coaster had a screen inside the car unit. Most games in the arcade had some combination of a custom screen, controller, sound system, and seat.

After reflecting on the arcade games, I wondered how I would design custom screens for console and/or handheld games if I were completely free from being practical or profitable. After thinking for a bit, I've come to the conclusion that I'm all about seeing the bigger picture. Literally.

What if...


or even...

Games like PixelJunkEden, World of Goo, and Mario Strikers Charged would benefit if more could be displayed at once. Perhaps the games could be displayed on a "mural touch screen," if such a thing exists. Instead of playing with a controller, perhaps you could flick the Grimp with your finger, or drag around Goo balls via touch. In Mario Strikers Charged, items, opponents, and teammates would never be hidden off the sides of the screen. With the whole field visible, everything would be out in the open.

What if in Super Mural Metroid, you started at the top of the mural and slowly worked your way down exploring each cell one room at a time. Instead of featuring a scrolling camera, the entire game world/world map would be fixed in perspective like playing fixed camera mode in Super Smash Brothers. Players would have to follow along as Samus moves all over the wall. With this setup, there's no need for a map.

For the mural version of a 2D Sonic game, because the player would be able to see so much more, the amount of level memorization would be nearly eliminated.

I'd like to play Super Mario Galaxy projected on inside of an observatory dome.

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Reader Comments (6)

Hi there,

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See ya!


February 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMixedMediaMike

This is where practicality and art are at odds. I think it's a really cool idea to have a wider view of things. I especially like the idea of Super Metroid or another exploration game being played this way. The game could begin with the entire map hidden, and just one tiny room being visible. It'd really lend a feeling that there was an enormous world to explore.

All we have to do is convince people that the Wii Planetarium-and-Cherry-Picker accessory is worth buying.

February 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterGregory

Could you mimic this mural idea with a projector? It wouldn't be a touch screen, but I don't think platformers would benefit from that.

I agree about the awesome screens in the arcade. Even shooters usually have a vertical screen.

After mentioning your article to one of my friends, he wondered if it was possible to play a game without scrolling. At the time I replied that its difficult to focus on platforming and action if the screen is too large. Instead, most games compromise by giving you up close action with a map in the corner.

February 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterBryan Rosander


I recognized some counterstrike characters.

@ Gregory

Perhaps the arcades can buy a sort of Mural Screen arcade board/console that can download adapted games to it. Perhaps this Mural Screen technology needs to be created first. Hmmm.

@ Bryan Rosander

You can mimic a mural screen with a good projector. I got the chance to play with some neat eye toy like software once. It used the camera to take the image of your silhouette and projected it onto a screen. On the screen, falling marbles/water drops/and other objects flowed around your silhouette like it was solid. It was very neat.

To see the fine detail of some Mural games, I'd imagine that you would need a special chair that can adjust its height and move around easily. Maybe the screen should be on the floor like those interactive displays at the mall.


February 10, 2009 | Registered CommenterRichard Terrell (KirbyKid)

Special chair? Why not just walk around?

February 11, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterBryan Rosander


If the screen is as tall as a wall and you're playing Super Metroid No Scroll, when you start at the beginning of the game/top of the map, you'll be playing on part of the screen that's all the way up near the ceiling. To get a better view of the relevant game area, you might have to get on a ladder. Instead of a ladder, I thought a special chair would be best.

There's actually a light gun game at my local arcade that has a vertical screen stretching across 2 stories. When targets are up high, these special mechanical chair lifts automatically move the players up and down. This is basically what I had in mind.

February 11, 2009 | Registered CommenterRichard Terrell (KirbyKid)

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