Text scrolling effects that hurt the eyes

Discussion in 'Game Mechanics Design' started by ceres, Oct 10, 2013.


Should the left side move when text is scrolling?

  1. No it makes it very annoying to focus on the text and begin reading.

    5 vote(s)
  2. Yes, it feels very natural moving my eyes to follow the first letter as it moves

    0 vote(s)
  1. ceres

    ceres Warper Member

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    So a friend of mine has this bright idea that we should ignore all rpg conventions and practices refined in decades of the genre/media's history.

    How do you ask?

    By ignoring basic reading habits.

    As you all might know, instinctively or intentionally. All rpgs and visual novels have the default text scroll animation where everything is left aligned and the scrolling effect (letters appearing letter by letter) is moving rightwards.

    This means the reader focuses on the first letter on the left and its really easy to focus on it because it is stationary. And by the time you get to the right side, the text has already "rendered", ready for you to read. This effect is essentially a technique used to pace the game.

    Another popular technique is the centered fade in, used usually in movie trailers as well as various rpgs to demonstrate a grand narrator overseeing the whole event of the game's story.

    We all know this to be all true and tested practices in rpgs. And I'm sure you tell off many newbies from trying to be fancy for no good reason.

    Well my colleague is arguing that he can read the text just fine in this following format.

    Centered and double sided scrolling, as text expands outwards from both the left and the right.

    Just imagine this sentence appearing as THIS as the first letter and expanded to end with this word.

    Or the end letters appearing first and then being expanded outswards as letters fill in inbetween them. Can you read that text thats moving?

    This is pretty common sense to me to be very jarring. Now I ask you to vote whether it is also jarring. I would also like clarification on the reason why text scrolling has pretty much remained unchanged in the last 40ish decades of video game development.

    I want some clarification from you fellow gamers and creators that the reason why this has always been the case is precisely the reason I said it was.

    That being people read left to right. And people focus better on letters that don't move!

    frankly I'm pretty insulted I even have to ask clarification on something so common sense. Be on the look out for more threads like this.
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 10, 2013
  2. Shaz

    Shaz Veteran Veteran

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    No. The purpose of the left-to-right scrolling is for a visual effect only, but the player can start reading straight away.

    If you start the text in the center and spread out, the player has to wait for the entire line to be rendered before they can begin reading the line. If the next line does not begin until the first line is rendered, that's a potential delay after they've read the first line before they can start reading the second one. Worse, they may GUESS at what the text is going to be, and either not read it correctly at all (potentially missing vital clues), or realize they've guessed incorrectly and have to re-read the line, which does not make for a smooth reading experience.

    In either case, their reading has been interrupted, and thus their gameplay experience / immersion has been interrupted.

    Visual effects are all well and good, as long as they don't interfere with the player's gaming experience. If your friend's idea had merit, it would have been implemented long before now. There's a reason why it hasn't been. Display of text follows the natural reading pattern we have all been taught. Going with something that attempts to retrain you, away from something you've been doing outside of playing games for your entire life, is, as you say, jarring.

    If he really wants to do it, let him do it. He'll realize after spending the time, and getting feedback from others, that it probably doesn't work as well as he imagines it.

    The specific question about text moving as you read it is a different matter though - take for instance the bulletins you see scrolling across the tv to highlight news items. That appears from the right, moves left and disappears off the screen. So the text IS moving to the left, and it's readable. But that specific format/application is not really included in the examples you gave, and is probably not what he's talking about.
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 10, 2013
  3. muramasa

    muramasa Abomination of life, or life itself. Veteran

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    In the West part of the worldmap (all the Americas, Europe, etc), people read from left to right. That's why text appears from left to right. So, why is it common sense? Because you read a sentence from the start. If a sentence starts on the left, left has to appear first. If leftmost is absent, you will be losing a part of the sentence, UNTIL the start appears.

    If the first I see on this sentence is THIS, I will wait since I'll be discovering more letters to the left.

    An exception would be Chinese and Japanese, which are read from top to bottom (but they are pretty accustomed to western's left-to-right, and I think that nowadays it's even a standard). And Arabic, which is written from right to left.

    If you make a text appear, let's say, from the center, it needs to be faster (so that players don't get annoyed waiting to read, reading is unpopular enough! :'C -lazy people why u no read!-), and have a longer time AFTER appearing. Because people will be unable to read until all text is shown.

    Tell your friend to read backwards,

    Orochii Zouveleki
    Shaz likes this.

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