Unintended Genius: Limitations That Made Good Design



  • Often in games there are sometimes unintended and intended game play features that are produced because of the lack of technology at the time. Sometimes this lead to more creativeness on the designers part, and sometimes it was completely unintended but worked out to be a memorable or successful part of a game. I know there are plenty of these out there, so i thought it would make for an interesting discussion.

    What are some of your favorite outcomes or features of older games that you liked and now miss that were only present because of limited technology?

    my example isn't a game play or story one, but its something i miss in a strange way.

    I miss getting to the end of a disk after a tense scene. I parallel it to how a closing act works in a play. Curtain down, lights out and it give you that time for reflection. I remember in FF7 when it asked me to change the disk. It was followed by a surreal moment of reflection over the events that just took place. It took me away from the game for a moment to stop and think and take it all in. I appreciated that. It also lead to the anticipation of what would follow. Funny thing is, maybe we will see this again with FF7 Remake being episodic lol. Unfortunately I wont be able to put in the next disk right away...

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  • The fog in Silent Hill springs to mind, meant to hide the poor draw distance on the PS1, but it added so much to the game.



  • Load limitations and level design. Every Zelda game and just about every other cool level wouldn't have exited without load limitations. Now that just about everything is or can be open world, designers will have to learn how to create interesting limitations for players to mix the endless grassy fields and shaded forests up.



  • Games used to have more creative, otherworldly art styles thanks to graphical limitations. But lately, most games can be filed under one of three styles. Gritty, cinematic AAA, retro-esque indie, and Nintendo.



  • Fixed camera angles baby! It may be a point of contention with some, but even playing through the Resident Evil remake shows just how effective they can be. Throw in some pre-rendered backgrounds and you have a thing of beauty. Actually, I'd say a lot of what makes Resident Evil so memorable (besides the spooky, scary zombies) is how creative the team was working with limitations.