Designer: Why Split Screen Has Been "Left 4 Dead'

10/18/2008 at 11:49 PM

A feature we are quite fond of has been missing from many games over the past few years: split screen mode.  Just last month, we posted a news item lamenting the apparent demise of couch co-op via split screen.  It seems others have noticed this trend as well, including the MTV multiplayer blog.  Thankfully, not all titles have abandoned split screen, including the highly anticipated co-op lovefest, Left 4 Dead.  In a recent inetrview with Left 4 Dead's lead designer, Michael Booth, split screen was discussed. 

“Split-screen was a pretty huge investment,” said Booth to MTV Multiplayer at a San Francisco event to unveil the zombie mode of the game last night. “It’s hard. That’s the thing.”

 

The reason most studios have abandoned, Booth pointed out, are easy to identify. You’re tasking the hardware with displaying the content on-screen twice. It’s hard enough for most games to worry about just one screen.

Secondly, it creates all sorts of network complications.

It's too bad that just because implementing split screen is difficult, many developers just don't even try.  I can think of several titles recently released that featured co-op, but not split screen, and each of them would have been far better if it had been included.  (Too Human, I'm looking at you!)  Hopefully other companies will follow Valve's example and split screen will become a gaming staple once again.