Real-Time Pause Menus

What do you think about games having menus that freeze the in-game action? Should more stuff happen in real time? I vastly preferred how TLoU handled the backpack feature, than MGS3. gilgamesh

I’m kind of ambivalent on it. I’m fine with a lot of games freezing time for menus. In most cases, I don’t think it seriously matters.

Cases where I’m not fine tend to be games like Skyrim, where you can pop into a menu and heal yourself with an infinity of healing items. If you could do that in Demon’s Souls or Dark Souls, that would be horrible.

Basically, when you have a menu that pauses time, you’re effectively making any action that takes place inside the menu instantaneous. This is why all the games with weapon wheels slow time while you’re looking at the weapon wheel. Because they want switching to be instantaneous in game time.

If healing is instantaneous, it’s not risky. If you can carry an infinite number of healing items and healing is instantaneous, then you have infinite health. Megaman has subtanks or etanks you can use to heal in menus, and that’s fine.

If healing is limited, then instantaneous healing means you effectively just have a slightly bigger health bar. If you can carry unlimited healing items, then you have an unlimited health bar, which sucks.

Menus not pausing means that whatever’s in your menu, you better have set up before combat comes, or take a risk setting it up when combat’s happening. Witcher, they don’t want you brewing potions mid-combat, they want you with that stuff set up ahead of time (menus in witcher do pause, but you can’t brew potions I believe). In Dark Souls, similar deal, you gotta put on the right equipment ahead of time or pay the price in the moment.

I think it ends up being more about tone than substance most of the time. You can choose to have them real-time to make switching things in combat riskier if you feel that’s important to the tone of your game, but I can’t think of any specific game dynamics that rely on the player not being able to instantly do whatever in the pause menu.

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