Despite the apparent importance of the map size of open-world games Watch_Dogs is focussed more on the density of its recreation of Chicago rather than the scale, according to creative director Jonathon Morin. Speaking to Eurogamer, he argued that there comes a point when a ballooning size serves no greater purpose than simply being space between two arbitrary points on the map, and this is something that the team has sought to avoid in the hotly anticipated action game.
There hasn’t yet been any clear indication of exactly how large the map will be, but Morin promises that it will be “huge”. More important though, is the fact that it will be packed with content:
“We have a big city but one thing a lot of games aren’t exploring is the shared density of it. [In Watch Dogs] you can stand still and profile people for ten minutes – you’re playing without moving, almost. I think that’s even more important to me than just adding size to it. I don’t want size just becoming a space between A and B. We have a huge world but it’s more about the density.”
He goes on to compare it, obliquely, to Grand Theft Auto V, stating that it makes sense for the latter game to have jets and aeroplanes because of its enormous scale, while the same simply wouldn’t fit in Watch_Dogs as the requisite duplication, or triplication, of map size would result in repetition. Creating this kind of gamespace is about getting the balance between scale and density right so that players aren’t put off by either performing the same menial actions time and again, or having too much empty space where nothing is happening at all.
With open-world games seeming to become a core tenet of the next generation, this balance is going to become an ever-more important aspect of a game’s development, and we hope that Watch_Dogs doesn’t overshoot the mark.