I've played 2 games recently which fail on the most fundamental level. Is this a new trend, or was I just unlucky?
The two games in question are Dragon's Dogma and Assassin's Creed III.
I have played a lot of games over the years and I understand that bugs and glitches can always get through. Game developers aren't robots, they aren't perfect, they are human and I can understand a few glitches here and there. Some things in games are a little ill considered and a little bit frustrating, but the level on which these recent games have erred, is hard to fathom.
The flaws in these games are not on the level of glitches, or mistakes, or simple sloppiness, These are failures on the very fundamental level. For example, when a feature is made available to the player, the payer actually needs to be informed of said feature. Both Dragon's Dogma and Assassins Creed II are guilty of this. In DD, the player is presented with a choice of 3 class at the beginning of the game. later on after the player has chosen their class and is happy with it, the player is offered the choice to 'change class'. Nowhere throughout the game does it tell the player that the game has actually made new and different classes available. The player has already chosen their class, there is a high chance they are happy with it and would never check in this menu. They will never discover these new classes. Assassin's Creed II does the same thing with the ability to 'exit the animus'. At the beginning of the game, the menu option to exit is inoperable. When it becomes operable, I actually have no clue, because it does not tell you. I merely discovered it by accident when I pressed it by mistake. These kind of things are just bad design at the very basic level. These two games have myriad of other problems. I could list a few. DD has a day and night system. The player can sleep in the inn, but cannot sleep in the house that they own. The player must actually wait for daylight if they want to see the daytime. It is not acceptable for a player to actually have to wait for 20 minutes for the game to become ready. In Assassin's Creed, there are random quests that appear on your screen. for example a courier quest. The main problem is the quest is given no introduction and no explanation. The same is true of the 'almanac' quests. I walked my character down a street. out of the blue, I noticed a message appear on the screen "the almanac page has gone and you can't catch it". I'm paraphrasing of course, the basic point is, I was apparently put into a sort of mini quest and had absolutely no idea.
I'm not sure, if the presentation of the plot should be included in this, but I wish to point out the poor presentation of the story in AC3. At the beginning of not one, but two missions, my character was shown in a location and stating that they must complete a certain task. in both of these missions, I found myself wondering why exactly he was there and why he was doing this and who the people were that he was talking about. Sometimes it can be understandable that some things are mentioned in the dialogue and the player may miss them. This can be considered to be the players fault but in that case, the player can reset the game to review what they missed, or they can check in the menu to see a log of conversations or a mission summary. In AC3 the game auto-saves so the player cannot backtrack. The menu has no dialogue record and no mission summary. So if the player missed the dialogue, they are left wondering what exactly is going on.
I could go on about the issues in these games. I find it strange that in the space of a few weeks, I have come across the same sort of situations. Is it just me, is this an isolated situation? these two games were made with different developers so it's not a developer issue. Perhaps this is an issue with the current approach of developer vs consumer? I wonder if there are other games that have similar issues that I have not played? Of course there are a lot of issues in the Publisher vs Consumer arena lately and is probably heavily effected by the economy. Publishers want the products to be feature heavy and content rich and so possibly push the developers to concentrate on putting in more stuff, at the expense of the fundamental principles of sound design.To accentuate this, I want to point out that there are a lot of games from small publishers and independent developers that are free of this kind of issue and mostly free from bugs.