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Burnout A Paradise Interface

A look at how Burnout Paradise attempts to do away with the traditional menu and keep the player immersed in the action!
 This post was originally published on my personal blog about games design Heaven Twiddling.
It is fairly standard for all games to begin with a menu. A series of options allowing the player to set up and chose their game type before beginning. Throughout the game more menus are used to deliver choices and options to the player, they're easy to understand (in general) and fairly straightforward.

Any menus during action and gameplay take the player out of the experience. The more time the player spends away from the game and in these menus the less immersed they will be. Criterion's Burnout Paradise attempts to rectify this by keeping you in the game as much as possible by doing away with the pesky menus.

It does this by turning the world into your menu. Instead of chosing your next race from a list you find them at various traffic lights across the world. Rev the engine and wheel spin in front of them and you are off!

Cars are not simply unlocked and put into your garage they are unleashed into the world for you to find and when you find them its time to race.

I often found that the cars I was looking for would drive past me in the opposite direction, forcing me into a 180 handbrake turn. That chase is so much more enthralling because it started with an exciting maneuver and not a yes response to a pop up menu.

Even when the game does offer you a menu, to connect online, it overlays this on the side of the screen and never once pauses the action. The more dexterous among you will be able to make their selections without stopping a race.

I think keeping the player in the world and focused on driving as much as possible is so important for immersion. Perhaps the Burnout Paradise world is not as rich as some story based games, but immersion is about being lost in the moment. Staying in the car is so important to that feeling, something supported by Jordan Mechner,

"The longer the player plays without a break, the more his sense of the reality of the world is built up. Any time he dies or has to restart from a saved game, the spell is broken."

I really think more games should attempt to lower the amount of breaks and menus that get between the player and playing. What other games do you think best keep you in the moment?

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