10 Things I Hate In Video Games
I love video games. Check that, I love all kinds of gaming. Tabletop games, video games, outdoor sports, I even enjoy rolling dice at the craps table in Vegas. However, today I want to talk about Video Games. I have been playing video games since the old Odyssey 2000 that let us play three different versions of PONG. We’ve come a long way from the days when video game art was comprised mostly of large blocky figures. However, with every amazing technological advancement, also comes ideas that need to be shown the door. So today, I’m going to look at Ten Things I Hate in Video Games. If you are a game designer, listen up.
10 Things I Hate In Video Games
1. Unskippable Logo Intros
This one has become less of a problem on consoles thanks to the PS4s standby mode. However, when starting up a game, I don’t want to have to watch animations of 5 different company logos. I get it, your animated logo was neat and you like the free publicity. But we don’t care. Really…we don’t. I just want to get into playing the game as quickly as possible. If you must put all these logos it, let me skip right past them with the push of a button. If you are using these logos to hid a loading screen, I’d almost rather see a progress bar on a loading screen then these time wasters.
2. Unskippable Cut Scenes
While we are ranting on unskippable things, lets talk about cinematics. I love a good cutscene. I remember playing Ninja Gaiden on my NES back in my youth and the castle scene (you know which one I’m talking about) was one of the coolest parts of the game. That being said, give me the chance to skip them. Especially if they are right before a boss battle. As cool as they may be, if I die, having to watch your cutscene repeatedly is going to just annoy the hell out of me. The first time its awesome, the second viewing can be OK. After that I just get angry. I get that sometimes they are used to hide loading screens, but at least let me skip them once the game is loaded.
3. Games Where You Can’t Pause
And to go along with cut scenes, let me pause them. I live in the real world. While I’d love to be able to game for 4 straight hours without a single interruption, the chances of that happening are pretty slim. Life gets in the way. Kids cry, the doorbell and phone will ring, or the wife sometimes wants to tell me something. I don’t want to have to make a choice between keeping myself immersed in your story and what may come up in the real world.
I understand not being able to pause a multiplayer game. No one expects to be able to pause a Call of Duty death match. But in single player games, AWLAYS give me a chance to pause the game, no matter what is happening on the screen.
4. No Manual Save
While we are talking about life getting in the way, I have to complain about not being able to save my game when I want. As an adult, my gaming free time can be somewhat limited. Sometimes I have 30 minutes to get in a quick game of whatever before I have to go back to being a grown up. With that in mind, I like to be able to quickly save a game and come back to my spot later. I don’t need arbitrary check points (unless they are quite generous), or limited save times to “enhance” my enjoyment of the game. I remember playing a game of Dead Rising, and realized I had to be somewhere in 10 minutes. Unfortunately, to save a game, I had to run back to a bathroom (in the game). Hurrying to that save spot, I ended up dying to a random enemy I didn’t see and lost about 20 minutes of progression. Pissed off, I traded away the game shortly after. That’s not fun…or even necessary. Games like the original Resident Evils (typewriter ribbons), Tomb Raider (save crystals), or pretty much anything made by Capcom are avoided by me like the plague. Limiting my ability to save a game to make it harder seems like lazy game design.
5. Losing Progression
And with the limited ability to save comes losing progression. I hate wasting time. To go along with not being able to save is losing your in game progression. If I die and lose 30 minutes of my playing time, you are forcing me to redo things I’ve already done. Basically I just wasted the past half hour.
Recently, this crappy mechanic also reared its ugly head in Tom Clancy’s The Division. The game has an area called “The Dark Zone”. In that area, players could go “rogue” and attack other players. If you kill them, they will drop some items they have recently acquired. Normally I would just avoid an area like that, but that is were the best equipment in the game is, and also most of the end game content. I only played in the Dark Zone a bit, but after loosing a rare gun I had finally looted from a boss in the Dark Zone, only to lose it by an ambush from another player, I decided I was done with The Division. It took forever to take down that boss and find that weapon…and it was all for nothing. No thanks.
6. Grinding and the RNG
For the most part, I enjoy playing video games. I like exciting missions, new enemies, and unique experiences. Yet I have zero interest in “Grinding” or playing the same mission over and over again to acquire some random item. Some people enjoy it, I get that. But it has never appealed to me. I played World of Warcraft back in the day, and I remember one of their inane quests that sent me out to fetch 10 murlocs ears. I noticed after killing 25 murlocs, I still only had 6 ears. Were the other 19 murlocs deaf? Why didn’t they have ears.
World of Warcraft is far from the only one guilty of this. Many games use grinding to arbitrarily increase their playing time. This kind of “busy work” just isn’t very much fun. From random quest drops to item drops in those “loot piñata” games, gamers are at the mercy of the RNG (random number generator). Typically, I move on from a game rather than spending hour after hour doing the same thing over and over again in hopes of getting that weapon with slightly better stats. And I’m not alone in that. If players enjoyed this grind so much, they wouldn’t be always trying to find loopholes or exploits (See the destiny Loot Cave or The Division Bullet King).
7. Underwater Levels
I have yet to meet an underwater mission I enjoyed. OK, maybe Silent Service. Short of a submarine game, most underwater missions just plain suck. The physics rarely translate well to video game controllers. From the death filled Super Mario Bros. levels, to modern day games like The Witcher 3, controlling your avatar underwater is always a clunky affair. Maybe someday a game will do it right, but for now, resists the urge.
8. Long Load Times
I’m sure game development is hard. Games are getting more and more complex as gamers demand a more polished product. That being said, no one likes looking at a loading screen in the middle of a game. Every game has them, but please try and keep them to a minimum. I’ve played some games where I feel like I’m looking at a loading screen every 5 minutes and others, where the load screens themselves feel about 5 minutes long. Every loading screen breaks up the immersion in the game. We want to play your games, no stare at a progress bar. The best games will find a way to work the loading into the background of the actual gameplay.
9. Pay to Play Mechanics
Let me buy your game. Seriously. Charge me a fair price and I will pay it. What I don’t want is to be nickel and dimed for your game. The most egregious of these games are obviously the “free to play” games. Those games are rarely free. Think I’m wrong? There were 2 mobile games advertised during the 2016 Super Bowl. Clash of Clans and Game of War. Both of those are “free to play” games. You don’t advertise during the Super Bowl unless your game makes a LOT of money.
So decide a fair price for your game and charge it. Don’t lock up content behind pay walls and artificial timers in the hopes of fleecing week-willed gamers from parting with their money.
10. Escort Missions
There is a special place in hell for designers who give us escort missions. As great as these quest sound, rarely, if ever, are they fun. Usually the person/thing you are escorting acts in a way that is best defined as…illogical. Many times I’ve seen your escortee run out of cover into the middle of a firefight and die. Or they will run on ahead while you are still dispatching the latest bad guy to attack your group. And that’s the frustrating part. You have no control over the thing you are trying to protect. You can’t just tell the AI to stay down and let you clear the room. Nope, they have to “help” by putting themselves in harms way, many times causing you to fail the mission, forcing you to replay it. Please, for the love of God, stop forcing escort missions on us.