(Dtoid likes to skew my images, so if you feel inclined, my original post is here.
I knew immediately I wouldn't like Gears of War
just by reading the game case. It reeked of tired premises, outdated character designs, and stale gameplay. But I consider myself a somewhat open-minded person, so after listening to four years of constant and unwavering praise for the Gears
series, I finally picked both games up from the bargain bin at a local game shop.
I really wanted to like the game. I really did. But instead of becoming engrossed in the game, I ended up making a mental list of things I hated about it while playing. I kept going until I finally (and painfully) reached the game's ending (so no one could read me that bullshit line: hang in there, it gets better)
. When the ending cinematic finally cued I could put down my controller, I breathed a sigh of relief, put the game back in its case, and vowed to encase the piece of shit in heavy concrete before dropping it into the Gulf of Mexico.
left such a bitter taste in my mouth, it made me consider things I hate about all the games I've played. Which inevitably motivated me to write a list of poor game design choices that I really, really hate.
* Using beds or typewriters as designated "save points." If you're going to require a player go to a specific area to save their game, at least be creative enough so that it adds to the atmosphere of the game.
"Thank fucking god. I can finally take a break from killing all these monsters and get started on my memoir."
* Implementing "automatic check point saves" and not using enough checkpoints. A game is more annoying than challenging if you're asked to repeat a twenty-minute sequence because the last 5 seconds is a nearly unavoidable death-trap.
* Putting a checkpoint before an unskippable animated segment. Yes, your final boss's nine-minute entrance was incredibly impressive the first, even second and third time, I watched it. But when he's slaughtered me twenty times, and I've had to endure watching the same sequence an equal number of times, it gets progressively less "awesome".
Creating a completely bug-free game is virtually impossible, and I recognize that. But it's equally important for a game creator to understand why a game should be released as bug-free as possible.
When someone is playing a game, until they come across a game-breaking bug, they'll assume any problem they encounter in the game is based on user-error. Which is a good thing, because when that player finally figures out the solution to the problem, they'll not only feel accomplished, they'll also be impressed with how creative and complex the puzzle's design was.
When that same player does come across a game-breaking bug, instead of devoting all their capacities into solving future problems, they will now doubt the integrity of the game instead of their own ability to solve the puzzle.
* It pisses me off to no end when a game requires the player to think like the developer, when it should always, always be the other way around. Puzzles should have multiple, logical solutions. If it's impossible or illogical to create multiple solutions to a certain problem, then the designer should make the solution obvious (highlighting the object used for the solution, etc.) or make damn sure that the player isn't going to waste thirty minutes trying to interact with random objects around a room until they finally realize that this
piece of copper wiring combined with this
sheet of toilet paper and this
rubber ducky creates a timed explosive that will help you escape the Evil Overlord's death trap.
* Timed events that are poorly executed are also aggravating. If a game is going to require a player dash across an obstacle course, at least show the player where the endpoint actually is or provide a means of navigating to that area. This turns a timed event into a calculated and challenging race against time, as opposed to a panicky clusterfuck of wrong turns and dead ends.
* A map that is too small to read and/or doesn't have a marker to indicate the player's location is a map that's worthless. Why even bother including a map if it doesn't help the player navigate the game world?
* Not having a clear objective that can be easily read or heard at any time is another nuisance. Including a short blurb of easily forgotten dialogue explaining where to go next is not enough, especially when most gamers play games over the course of several days and weeks, not a single lengthy playing session.
The Limited Edition of Shitfest: Return of the Shit ® comes with a magnifying glass if you need help reading the in-game map.
* Creating a game that requires you to work with a team of obnoxiously masculine and highly armed comrades is generally regarded as making a game's atmosphere less frightening. So when a designer decides to include "jump" scenes and creepy music to the aforementioned "team-based game", it makes the playing experience feel less like a horror game, and more like the designers had no idea what the hell atmosphere they were trying to create. Atmospheric elements should complement each other.
* Putting a muddy brown filter over everything makes a game feel more shitty than "gritty."
"Boooooring...Not nearly gritty enough."
"Now we're talkin', but needs more fuckin' brown."
"Hells fuckin' yeah! So fuckin' brown I can't even see! This is real gritty!"
* Unless an AI's character specifically has X-ray vision and a super-gun, they should not be able to see you through concrete walls and shoot curving bullets.
* If a game gives you a team of AI's to help you in combat, it's not all that beneficial to have them do an automatic suicide run into the enemy's base.
* I really doubt even the most unintelligent of people would hold a standing position in clear view while being openly fired upon. So why would you program an AI that does?
* When a friendly AI is obstructing a doorway, I shouldn't have to shoot them or punch their face in to get them out of my way.
* When you require a player to complete a task, make sure the importance of the task is on par with the amount of effort required to complete the task. A game shouldn't spend 4/5ths of it's story sending the playing doing mundane tasks, and only 1/5th actually doing something vital to the main story.
* Pace the difficulty appropriately. If your game is supposed to be as challenging as chewing bubble gum, keep it that way. If a game is supposed to be more difficult, it should have a steeper but consistent level of difficulty. Throwing in "Mega-Douche: The Ultimate Endgame Boss, complete with flamethrower eyes, heat-seeking missiles, and a billion health points" at the end of a nine-hour flower-picking session is probably going to make someone stop playing your game.
Now I already know that this list of "no-no's" is highly subjective. I will always condone developers that implement new and creative ideas in their games instead of adhering to strict rules and formulas. It just seems that so many common problems in games have been repeated for decades, and it makes me wonder how thoroughly some developers think about what they're creating before putting it on a disc. read