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Think You Are A Game Designer? Learn From These Mistakes

by Connor Addis on 10/31/17 10:36:00 am

The following blog post, unless otherwise noted, was written by a member of Gamasutraís community.
The thoughts and opinions expressed are those of the writer and not Gamasutra or its parent company.

 

Are you ready to make mistakes? If not, you don’t know anything about game design. As an avid player and a game developer, I know a good deal about the mistakes designers love to make.

So if you are a designer, listen up. If I could scream this loud enough for every designer to hear, I would get thumbs up from thousands of players in the world. Don’t repeat these blunders and your game will get killer reviews.

NPCs Don’t Talk Enough

NPCs are there to help a player may his or her way through a game. It’s this character’s only goal. And he is not doing it too well by keeping silent. Once NPC delivers a line, make sure he is ready to repeat it again.

Most gamers don’t immediately use the information they get from these characters to complete a quest. Some go off to do other business. Upon the return to the NPC, a player should have a chance to hear the information again instead of discussing his relationship with his mother. 

Fast Disappearing Text

Are you a fast reader? Great job! I’m not. I need time to read what a character has to say. Maybe I got distracted by a cat jumping on my lap or loud music outside my window. Give me an opportunity to read what I need!

If you think fast readers will be annoyed with slow text, give them an opportunity to click on it and proceed further.

Unskippable Videos

Nowadays, the video quality is truly grand. Some games offer videos so amazing, you want to watch them over and over again. Especially, if you are at a gaming conference where the computers are hooked up to LED video walls.

However, 99% of players are sitting at home on their favorite couches and want to get on with it! I personally have less than an hour a day to play. I don’t want to spend 10 or even 5 minutes watching your wonderful video. Let me skip it, please.

The same goes for long cutscene conversations. Allow me not to listen to that guy telling his love story, especially if it doesn’t have anything to do with my quest.

Typos

Oh, here is the one I truly hate. Typos, spelling, and grammar mistakes. How long does it take to read the text twice or have someone else check it out?

One of my player buddies turns the game off as soon as he sees something like that. He believes that a typo means that more serious bugs and glitches are ahead. And you know what? He is right.

Take some extra time to check for the problems that require seconds to fix and improve the credibility of your game.

Information Gaps

You know what assuming makes out of you and me, right? Then why do you assume that I know some information about the game, which you never gave me? Make sure you hand me sufficient clues and information to proceed. Otherwise, it will take me ages to guess what to do and I will stop playing.

Another problem is some concepts that a player doesn’t have any idea about and needs to ask Google or Wiki. Hopping between the screens to find the information a game should provide is inconvenient, to say the least.

Failing to Walk a Fine Line

Is your game too simple or too complicated? Walking the fine line between the two is a gift not all game designers have. Nowadays, everyone is trying hard to make a game terribly complex. If you want to go all out and create a game for real brain buffs, don’t forget about the newbies.

Create the game to cater to all levels. This way you’ll get more followers and avoid being classified as frustrating and annoying.

Not Releasing Control

Many game designers give an illusion of releasing control of the story to the player. If your promise to give me control of the game, do it. Otherwise, I’ll eventually find out that no matter what I do, the story plays on in a complete the same manner. I’ll hate you for lying.

No Save Points After A Cutscene

We all love videos and beautiful cutscenes are so grand we want to watch them over and over again. Not. If I watch a cutscene once, I don’t want to go back to it. Allow me to save the game after the cutscene is over. Otherwise, I’ll be bored to death and leave the game alone.

Useless Stuff

Do you like picking up useless stuff when looking for some armor, keys or something equally important? If the designer didn’t bother to label things as junk, we have to go around carrying a number of absolutely useless items. This is especially frustrating if there is a limit to how much a character can carry.

If you are a game designer, hear my outcry. It can help you on your way to creating a perfect game that the target audience will love.


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