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Aspects of Games I could do without (Part 1)

by Corey Moore on 09/19/12 01:05:00 am   Featured Blogs

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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.

 

I love games. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t be writing on this website and would probably be sitting in a cubicle staring at a screen. However, just because I love them doesn’t mean there are elements of some of them that annoy me. These things are primarily consciously design decisions that developers make for one reason or another. Granted, there are some other things that annoy me, such as lag in online games, loading times and 4chan wannabes, but no developer sets out and goes "Gee, I think we should make our load times as long as possible." or "Let's make us a laggy online FPS!" Also, as much as some developers and other companies have tried to curb online dickishness, human nature is something that's a bit harder to fix than a poorly designed game mechanic. So here are some of the things that, if I never saw them in a game ever again, I'd be a very happy man.

Forced Tutorials

It seems that printed game manuals are slowly starting to disappear, with more game companies trying to leave less of a carbon footprint by getting rid of stuff most people don’t read, or otherwise releasing a digital only version. Yet, there is still the problem of handing a game to a player without telling them what to do first (play some old games and you’ll know what I’m talking about).

So, many games have adopted in-game tutorials, which I’ll admit are very helpful for people like me who learn best by doing something. However, if I’m playing through the game again, I don’t want or need to learn how to shoot a gun again. This is especially bad on games that encourage the player to play through again, such as RPGs.

One particularly bad offender that stands out in my mind is DC Universe Online. Once the game became free to play, one of the most popular items was additional character slots. This means that many people liked to roll alts. However, no matter how many times you’ve played through the game, you still need to complete the tutorial mission, which can take awhile. Why do I need to do this? I know how to attack and use movement commands. Just let me play the damn game already.

Other Bad Offenders: The Elder Scrolls V: Skyirm, Final Fantasy XIII.

Excessive Scavenger Hunts

This one I find is a huge staple of open world games, yet other genres of games have included it as well. Basically, you search every nook and cranny of the game world, trying to find all . This is almost always a time consuming activity, even with a guide, and in many cases, the rewards aren’t worth the trouble, unless you are one of the people who must complete 100% of a game.

I’m not sure about you, but personally, I find having to track down a bunch of hidden items to be an incredibly boring game mechanic. Let’s be honest: how many of you would still do it if there was no reward for it? Now there's nothing wrong with using the discovery of hidden items as a game mechanics. In fact, I think it's a nice way to reward an observant player. However, when my task is to find a hundred of these things that do nothing on their own, it feels more like busywork than anything resembling enjoyment.



Suddenly, going bowling with Roman seems more like fun...

Grand Theft Auto IV has a really bad one though. Scattered across Liberty City are 200 flying rats (pigeons, basically). However, just touching them isn’t enough, you have to kill them, either by shooting, blowing them up or running them over. However, each time you shoot one, more often than not, you’ll attract the attention of the cops. At this point, you can either continue pigeon hunting with the increased risk of cops arresting/blasting you to smithereens, or you can evade them somehow, which usually tacks on about 30 seconds between shooting pigeons, depending upon where you are located and whether the cop spawning system in the game is feeling merciful. After you’re done with that, rinse and repeat 199 times. Ohh yeah, you can’t stab them, and there are no silenced weapons in the game.

Other Bad Offenders: Assassin's Creed, Crackdown.

Excessive Padding - Unnecessarily Long Distances Between Objectives

Us gamers always want bang for our buck. True, there are many examples of games and mods for games that don't cost much or anything at all, but for the most part, much of what we play costs some amount of money. One way of measuring this is the amount of hours we've gotten out of the game, whether it was worth the purchase or only good as a rental.

However, just because there is a lot of hours that can be gotten out of a game does not necessarily mean that it brings a lot of bang for your back. There are many ways to add length to a game. Heck, you could probably add 2-3 hours to some games just by lengthening the loading screen times by five seconds each, but then we'd have Sonic the Hedgehog (2006) all over again.

One of these ways is to put a large amount of distance between objectives in the game. This is most common is RPGs and wide-open sandbox games, though it can appear in almost any genre of game. While there's nothing wrong with this in and of itself, more often than not, either you'll be doing nothing but walking/driving or getting into the same repetitive combat situations on the way to your destination.

COUSIN LETS GO BOWLING
This area is the size of Great Britian ingame. Be thankful you have fast travel options...

An example that comes to mind when I think of something like this is the mission "Snail Trail" from Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. In this mission, you are to retrieve a sniper rifle and use it to kill a reporter that has dirt on the corrupt cops you are forced to work for. However, a good half of the mission is spent following a train on a dirt bike through the countryside of San Andreas. There is no one shooting at you, no one following you and the train doesn't do any surprise maneuvers, heck, there's not even any canned dialogue about how much of a bad driver CJ is. It's just several minutes of holding down 1 button. Even after the train arrives, you still have to tail him while he drives in a taxi, though at least this has an element of challenge to it. Finally, he reaches the meeting and you get a chance to take a shot at him. Ohh yeah, if you mess up at any stage, you have to start all over again.

Other Bad Offenders: Most other GTA Games, Red Dead Redemption.

These aren't the only annoying things in games by any means. There are several other factors that blemish otherwise awesome games that cannot possibly be covered in one article. However, I leave you with this question: if there was one thing in video games that you could outlaw from ever appearing, what would it be and why?


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