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February 28, 2020
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Signs You Have a Bad Console Port

by Josh Bycer on 09/15/11 10:36:00 pm   Expert Blogs   Featured Blogs

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

 

Cross platform game production between consoles and computers have grown considerably in the last decade. With game development split between two different platforms, the following are some of the bigger slip-ups designers forget for the PC version.

As consoles have become significantly more powerful over the last decade, more and more developers are capitalizing on this by releasing games on both the console and PC. Unfortunately, this has led to many games being released on the PC, significantly worse for wear compared to the console. Many gamers see this as the developers creating the game with the console in mind primarily, leaving the PC in the dust. This problem leaves PC gamers annoyed at developers over issues that any self respected PC gamer would have caught. The following are some of the taboos that designers have made with multi-platform games.

1. Forgetting the Mouse: When it comes to PC games, the keyboard and mouse is the most recognizable control scheme. One of the biggest tell-tale signs that the game was a port is the mouse not being utilized such as, when a game asks players to use the arrow keys to scroll down a list, as opposed to just clicking and dragging and that raises a major red flag. Basic functionality like drag and drop, double clicking, scrolling the mouse wheel and using the right mouse button should be implemented in the game.

What is even more annoying is when the game sometimes uses the mouse, and sometimes not. In Borderlands for example, the mouse is used on just about every menu screen, except for quest details. To scroll down while looking at quests, players have to use the page up and page down keys. Same issue was in Bulletstorm, where the main menu is mouse compatible, but the in game shop system isn't.

2. Wrong Control Scheme: This issue, I've only seen once as a PC Gamer (although it probably has appeared in other games,) but it was so blatantly wrong that it needs to be made its own category so that developers will never do this again.

When you’re in game menus, control scheme and tutorials only reference console controls and not keyboard and mouse, I saw this in the game: The Last Remnant by Square-Enix. You have no idea how fun it was to decipher control commands when the game tells me to press the right trigger on my keyboard or the A button on my imaginary 360 controller.

3. Forgetting you're on the PC: There are two elements to this category, first are PC preferences. One of the biggest advantages (and disadvantages) for PC games, is the variety of PC configurations available. Some people having the latest and greatest, others have dual monitor setups and so on. As PC gamers, we like to make the most out of our specific hardware and adjust the settings just right and when developers leave out the ability to alter the settings of the game, forcing gamers to adjust a game file, that’s just a major mess up.

Second are hot keys, one the best advantages to having a keyboard, is having all those extra keys available for additional commands. Being able to get around a cumbersome interface by having hot keys is great. When developers just move the console UI over and forget about the keys, it becomes very annoying. Another side of this is not allowing gamers to reconfigure the control scheme to their personal preference.

4. Voice Options: This one annoys me a lot as it seems like something so simple that it would be hard to forget: not having push-to-talk as an option. I prefer to use push-to-talk, as the room where my PC is, is right next to the hallway where my family walks and talks around; I don't need complete strangers to hear what my family is talking about. Some people are going to say that I should just buy a headset, but when every other PC game I like features push-to-talk functionality, it shouldn't be a big deal to implement.

When all these issues are combined, the term "consolized interface" is used. As a designer, you don't want to hear people saying this about your game. The issues mentioned in this article should be as basic as making sure your game has save functionality, yet so many developers either slip up or just ignore these points. The sad part is that I didn't even mention the games when ported, feature technical issues like: slowdown, crashing, or graphical issues that aren't in the console versions.

Developers who continue to exclude PC gamers like this will find their PC sales diminishing , the part that really pisses me off, is when I see a $10 or $20 game, get all these points right, while a $50 game completely flubs it. To me, this shows a lack of quality by the designer and if it's that much trouble to release a PC version of the game that has these points, then just don't release it, as you'll be doing more harm than good to your fan base by putting out an inferior port. Gearbox (the makers of Borderlands) has promised that the PC version of Borderlands 2 will be made for PC gamers; hopefully they get a chance to read this entry.

Josh Bycer


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