Games can be wonderfully immersive creations, but every now and again there’s a flaw in the design or just a quirk of programming that sours the experience. This week, we take a look at the top five things that gamers frown upon.
5Really low-resolution textures
It’s not shitty graphics that’s the problem. The problem is when you have a beautifully textured, wonderfully detailed model with exquisite animations and perfect curves, and they’re just standing next to this blocky, boxy piece of crap with pixels the size of dinner plates.
It’s understandable that certain models, such as the protagonist, will take higher priority, but it’s incredibly distracting when the difference in quality is so distinct. It happens in just about every game these days — and I’ll be damned if it doesn’t ruin the immersion just a tiny, tiny bit.
4Being forced to walk
This annoys me almost more than anything else in games. Why? Because it artificially pads scenes that should only take a minute or two. There’s nothing that pisses legions of gamers off more than being forced to wait while their character dawdles, step after step, through some urban location or some other scene, just so the developers can burn away an extra few minutes of your life.
It’s the worst in RPGs. I’d venture that out of a good 30 to 40 hour experience, at least one or two of those hours are being wasted by the amount of time you have to stop and walk going through doorways and particular locations. It might look a bit strange thematically to have Commander Sheperd, for instance, charging through the Citadel, but god damn if it doesn’t save me a bit of time.
There are plenty of technical ways to get around invisible walls. They used to be an accepted fact of life more than two decades ago. Gamers were still kind of OK with them one decade ago. Now? There’s no excuse. Programmers and designers should know plenty of clever ways to cover invisible walls up – a rock formation that suddenly closes the path, or some kind of damage to the terrain that makes it impassable.
Not covering it up simply says that the developers didn’t a) have the time to implement a better solution or b) they didn’t care. I’m a forgiving guy, so I’ll assume the former is usually the reason, but it still makes that particular segment of gameplay look lazy and rushed, and in 2013, it’s not on.
2Arbitrary limits on dialogue
If I’m able to skip some dialogue, I should be able to skip all the dialogue. This is particularly true when your game has subtitles. If I’m in an in-game pre-rendered cut scene, and you’ve let me skip through the first five paragraphs, is there any real good reason to force me to sit through the sixth?
This is something that plagues RPGs more than other games, although it’s particularly potent in games where the writing is exceptionally turd. Sometimes gamers just don’t care about what your characters have to say, and it’s not their fault. So if you’re going to give them a button to waive the chatter away, be honest about it and let them skip the experience entirely. If they miss something – it’s their fault. But don’t make them sit through white noise.
Maybe it’s because we’re mostly Australian here at Dusty Cartridge, but is there anything more grating than not being able to play a game when we want to play it? Blizzard is the biggest offender here, regularly taking down their servers during peak gaming hours down under. But since World of Warcraft began ruining the middle of the week, a bunch of other companies have deployed the “Let’s Bugger Up Australians” maintenance schedule.
One day there’ll be a breakthrough in technology, probably designed by Carmac, that allows for patches to roll-out without requiring a hard restart. Kind of like how you can install programs on Windows without having to flick the switch. That’d be a nice day. I don’t know what kind of benefits you’d get from that, but God knows plenty of gamers would appreciate not having variety forced upon them on Tuesday and Wednesday nights just because of a patch.