I'm Gonna Miss Bloodborne's Loading Screens

Really, this is a story about Stockholm Syndrome.

It's a story about Hidetaka Miyazaki's reputation. It's a story about a reputation so powerful that even clear, technical flaws are somehow transformed into deliberate strokes of genius.

Yesterday Bloodborne was patched. The purpose of the patch was multi-fold, but the main benefit: the reduction of Bloodborne's notorious loading times.

The loading times: as great as the game is, it remains Bloodborne's most common complaint. In a game where you will most likely die frequently, it takes a significant period of time to go from death to respawn. It also takes a significant time to travel back to The Hunter's Dream, where players level-up their character, upgrade their gear, etc. The best description I heard of Bloodborne's loading screens: they are "go and do something else" long. Make a cup of tea, go to the bathroom, do some exercise.

In other words: the loading times between deaths in Bloodborne. Not great.

They're really not great.

Or are they? At some point there was chatter on the internet. People were defending the indefensible. "The loading screens aren't that bad" "they give you a well-earned breather between deaths". That kind of thing. Tim Rogers wrote a great article about Bloodborne, openly wondered if the loading times were a design choice. I couldn't tell if he was joking or not. The truth is I started nodding along in agreement.

What the hell is wrong with me?

The loading screens. To begin with I didn't notice. Then I noticed. Then I became frustrated. Then I learned to endure them. Then I became indifferent. Then, at some point, for some goddamn unknown reason that makes no sense to reasonable human beings I began convincing myself that this purely technical failure was an actual good thing that enhanced the Bloodborne experience. I had subscribed to what I'm going to call 'punctuation theory'. That the loading screens allowed you a moment to relax, a moment to 'think about what you just did', to consider the reasons for your death and come back stronger.

Then I started thinking in terms of the game's design. The loading screens make fast travel difficult, which forces you to explore the world, allowing you to drink in the game's environment. Which in turn helps you to unlock shortcuts, which allows you to better appreciate the dense, honeycombed structure of Yharnham's intricate level design.

Right guys?

Guys?

Of course the rational part of my brain is telling me that's all utter horseshit. Of course. The loading screens are and have always been a technical problem — an optimisation issue. But I'm there, I'm at that point in my love of Bloodborne. I'm crossing that weird line where I've lost all ability to be objective about it. I've created this dense matrix of rationalisations in the tissues of my brain goo, and it's gonna take a good long while to make sense of that mess.

A strange part of my lizard brain is going to miss Bloodborne's loading screens.

As of today Bloodborne's loading screens have been replaced with screens of item lore — giving players something to read while they wait. Common sense tells you that's a good thing, Dark Souls did it, that means it must be good, right?

But.

But.

Am I alone in saying this? I'm going to miss that white on black logo. The starkness of it. Bloodborne. You are playing Bloodborne. This game is called fucking Bloodborne and here it stands as uncompromising as Stonehenge. A man-made mountain that will not shift, bend or cater to your petty human desires. The inflexibility of it. The gall of it. The fact that it was a blatantly technical mistake yet somehow still forced me, an otherwise sane person, to love it regardless. To justify it. No other game could gave gotten away with it. Bloodborne. Bloodborne. Bloodborne. A reminder: you are playing Bloodborne. This is Bloodborne.

The dissonance — yes I'm using the word correctly — the cognitive dissonance I'm currently working through. It's a spectacular testament to the power Hidetaka Miyazaki wields over us all. He holds us captive in the prism of his faultless reputation.

Everything Miyazaki does he does for a reason and if we don't understand that is our own human failing. You defeated.

He is wearing the Emperor's New Clothes and I'm braying like a Hyena in rapturous applause.

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Comments

    Really wish we had the ability to embed images in comments...

    http://edge.alluremedia.com.au/m/k/2015/04/bloodborne.png

    I have to say I'm not much of a fan of the design of the new loading screen... there was something about that black screen with white text that just felt right

    the new ones just don't look right :\

      I don't really mind either way, but if I had a choice, I'd probably pick the original screen.
      If you'd asked me last week, though, I probably would have said the opposite.

      So far, though, I'm okay with everything Bloodborne does. \o/

      I feel a bit the same. The implementation just seem rather... clumsy?

      But I feel we'll get used to it. I think it's a better move in the long run, as long as there's no spoilers in the items they show.

        exactly... to me it feels like the discussion went something like...

        "They don't like the black screen and they're complaining about the load times."

        "Just give them something to read while they wait."

        "Ok, but we'll just pull straight from the existing item descriptions and who cares what it looks like!"

    Did I play the same game as everyone else? Bloodborne was pretty good but it's not worth obsessing over....

      We're not obsessed, we just revere it and its creator-deity like they deserve...

      :-)

      You played a different game. It's a masterpiece.

      Much like Dark Souls, the game is great, but the fanbois who can't stop going on and on about it... less great.

    I've always said that the loading screens were just a touch too long, but I did enjoy the break and chance to recover from the frustrating and/or embarrassing death that just occurred. The fast travel load times were a touch long but nothing annoying.

    I don't find the item descriptions to be a good substitute. If anything, I'd have appreciated lore quotes or something similar.

      But, item descriptions are lore quotes, basically...

    That the loading screens allowed you a moment to relax, a moment to ‘think about what you just did’, to consider the reasons for your death and come back stronger.

    That's exactly how I felt with the loading screen. I, lIke Mark, miss the old loading screen.

    Dammit Mark, five Bloodborne loading screen pics. Five. Was hoping to see one showing the new item lore screens :p

    Last edited 24/04/15 2:33 pm

    I still miss YOU DEFEATED

    Beat reason I can give is that there's a certain kind of charm to little things that remind us that something fantastic doesn't have to be perfect.

    Initially, I was with you; it's cool, classy and gets it in your HEAD.

    Buuuut then somebody pointed out the "d" and the "b" look like a dick and now I can't unsee it. It became the dick loading screen.
    *insert "what does this say about me" joke*

      guuuuurrreeeaaaatttt,,,, thanks for that. I was about to say i liked the "Bloodborne" loading screen too. Then i read your comment and huuuurrrrrrrgghgngnggnngnn, MY EYES!

      Look like a dick? What are you tal... Something.can.not.be.unseen....

      Well, you just made me giggle like an idiot. Well done.

    Mark, good article. That was my first gut reaction to the new loading screens too. There was something fitting about them, stark and foreboding like the game. Hopefully we can all adjust to the new look.

    I will definitely miss the old loading screen. Not the loading time, oh no, just the white logo on black background. Why? As a person who studied typography I absolutely love the Bloodborne logo design and enjoyed looking at it.

    I don't recommend taking up smoking to anyone, but for those inclined those load times are ideally long opportunities.

    A lot of me thinks that this was a design decision. Dying is all the more punishing with long load times. Technically it could very well be issues with optimisation, although I didn't see a major difference in load times for a main level and hunters dream and I would expect one to be more expensive than the other.

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