Rules For Games: Do & Don’t #1

By John Walker on July 2nd, 2010 at 6:21 pm.

OBEY ME!

It’s about time everyone in the games industry did what I tell them.

So starting today, here’s the first of my Do And Don’t guides. Obey them, developers. Live longer.

Do: let me flush the toilets and turn on the taps. Scenery, in any game of any genre, shouldn’t be painted on the walls. And so many games before have put in a nice toilet flushing noise. Since all games do insist in including a toilet, as well they should, then all games should include the splishy sploshy noise of flushing it.

Don’t: tell me that you’re a game any more. You want to capture something of Brechtian estrangement, break down that fourth wall with mallets and wrecking balls, because you think it’s a fresh and original approach. It’s not. It’s been done a lot, and it’s probably a sign that you’re not confident enough in your own creation. If you feel the urge to winkingly acknowledge to the player that they’re playing a game, then you need to go back to work to create a more convincing world.

Do: feel free to let me quick save. I know, I know, you’re very proud of your checkpointing, but as it happens I don’t really want to repeat any fight in the game seventeen times because of your difficulty spike. And sure, you could consider it cheating, letting me blag my way through sections. But I sort of bought your game, and arrogantly feel like I should now be able to enjoy it as I wish. Perhaps that might be to opt out of quick save spamming. But perhaps it will improve the experience if only you’ll let me.

Don’t: show me an unskippable animation when I die. It doesn’t matter how elaborate you make this, the maximum number of times I’ll ever want to watch it is none. And if your load times are horrible, this becomes infinitely more awful. If you’re only ever playing your game with God Mode on to test it, switch it off occasionally to see how the rest of us will suffer when we play. YES! I KNOW! I DIED! SHUT UP AND RELOAD! JUST BLOODY RELOAD! That is how the rest of us suffer when we play.

Do: let me carry more than two guns. Just when did we all decide that we weren’t okay with that element of unrealism in gaming? Sure, it can be set in the retro-future on a spaceship made of time, but god forbid we holster an improbable number of weapons. Especially if you’ll then let me carry hundreds of bits of ammo for all the weapons anywhere. Where am I storing those? In my magic trousers? And if so, why can’t I stick a pistol and a rocket launcher in there too? I want to stick a rocket launcher in my magic trousers!

Don’t: leave diary entries by one person scattered over miles of corridors, buildings and countries. That’s not how a diary works. A diary tends to be all in one place. Most people, when journaling their lives, don’t tend to scribble it out on the nearest scrap of paper and then leave it wherever they wrote it. Because that would be utterly insane.

Do: feel free to hire a writer to work for your team from the start of development. Many really are amazingly talented, and their skill with coding is extraordinary, but this doesn’t always naturally lend itself toward crafting fine narrative. It does, however, mean that we end up with characters called Dirk Bluntly, who say things like, “This is the last time I’m going to take any more of this!” Which we don’t want as much as people apparently believe.

Don’t: do anything to us in a cutscene that we could easily prevent during the game proper. It’s extremely unlikely that the enemy is going to capture Tanker McTankerton by pointing a gun at him menacingly. Because that’s what everyone else did on the way there, and he blew them all up with his grenade launcher. Which he likely would do here as well, if only you’d flipping give us the controls back.

Do: however, let me do anything amazingly cool my character can do in a cutscene. If the best I can do is jump the height of a brick, then that’s what he’s limited to in the scenes too. If he can cartwheel up a wall, fire lasers out of his eyes, and turn into a spider, then I have to be able to do those things too. In the game. In real life would be good too.

Don’t: have flying baddies in your game. Sure, there may be examples of the odd few that have worked. The rest haven’t. It’s so, so unpleasant. Like a lovely walk in the woods ruined by the constant assault of gnats in your face. Fun, people. We want to have fun. Not be constantly irritated. Fun.

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383 Comments »

  1. jabbrwokk says:

    Do: come up with something at least halfways believeable to explain the loads of guns and crap you can carry around, e.g. “Star Trek Voyager Elite Force” showed your characters taking guns out of a portable transporter buffer, which was actually pretty cool. In Deus Ex you’re a mech, so you can carry heavy things but you don’t have too many pockets in your trenchcoat. In “STALKER” you have a limited amount of weight you can carry, so you have to plan your expeditions accordingly. Of course if you want to mod your player to be able to carry 300 kg you can.

    Don’t: pretend random encounters are random if they’re not. XCom: Apocalypse pissed me off when I got to a tower terror mission that was unbeatable for my pea-shooter equipped agents. I reloaded several turns earlier to avoid the mission — only to find it gave me the same mission, same scenario, same unbeatable aliens every time.

    • Wisq says:

      Speaking of Deus Ex, here’s something they actually did wrong, IMO:

      Don’t let me run around at full speed while carrying all my usual crap including Big Weapon X, but then drop my speed to a crawl if I actually try to pull said weapon out and use it.

      If you want to demonstrate my lack of skill in using Big Weapons, by all means, reduce my accuracy, or even have the kickback throw me around some. But don’t just drop my speed because I moved an object from my pocket to my hands / shoulder. You’re only reinforcing the magic (weightless) trousers notion here.

  2. empty_other says:

    Dont: make hitpoints be the only thing increasing when increasing difficulty in your game. I would rather have more baddies than longer lasting baddies. More hitpoints doesnt increase the difficulty, it only makes the fight last longer.

    Do: let us know who killed us, and how.

    Dont: make the baddies have faster reactions than the player. Modern Warfare 2 singleplayer did that, and the only way to advance was for me to look around the corner, take a lot of damage, hide and heal, then turn around the corner, shooting blindly in the direction i saw them previously, hide and heal, and repeat until everyone was dead.

    Dont: put the player up against situations where we have to retry. Give us a warning, even when there is traps.

    Please do: make more games with combat where i can choose a non-combat way (not only non-lethal weapons, but actually non-combat). Gimme another Deus Ex!

    • ffordesoon says:

      Re: that last one:

      YES. Also, make it consistent: DO NOT give me the ability to talk my way out of everything EXCEPT BOSS FIGHTS. Particularly when those boss fights are some of the most miserable experiences in gaming.

      *glares at Alpha Protocol*

    • Criptych says:

      It’s no Deus Ex, but if you haven’t you should try out the excellent (and free!) game Iji. That’s a major premise of the game: you get to decide how to deal with the baddies – kill them yourself, get them to kill each other, or ignore them completely – and parts of the story even change to accommodate. You can even get a particular enemy to “turn traitor” and destroy one of the bosses for you (essential to getting the “zero kills” ending :).

  3. Carrera says:

    God, I hope no developer is dumb enough to listen to this crap. I know you write this shit to get hits on the website but this sort of exploitative journalism makes me sick. You’re as bad as BP and I hope you rot in hell.

    • DrazharLn says:

      Welcome to Britain.

      Here we have sophisticated humour, silly articles and satirical journalists.

      This article, for example, is not what it first appears. Oh no! This is an article crafted with humour to point out some of the flaws in Singularity.

      Now, stop jerking that knee before you put someone’s eye out.

    • Mr_Day says:

      Are you suggesting BP caused an oil slick to get hits on their website? Seems a tad extreme.

    • Riaktion says:

      He sounds like he need some sleep. People get grumpy when they are tired.

  4. thinsoldier says:

    These should be numbered and anchored to make it easier to refer to specific ones when we send our hate-mail to developers.

    The games that inspired each do/don’t should be mentioned so developers can go re-experience what you’re talking about.

    Should also list games that are exceptions.

    Each one should have a forum topic started so the RPS community can further elaborate on it.

    After a time, a massive poll should be created and word of it spread to every gaming community in the world. Then we can give developers some truly useful feedback.

    My do/don’t list:

    DO acknowledge that most homes have multiple gamers but only 1 PC or Console.
    Therefore, you should allow people to keep their save states and settings in separate “accounts”.

    See the early battlefield series, Unreal Tournament 3, and Mass Effect 2.

    I have at least 4 RPGs on my system that I haven’t started playing because my brother got the them first and used up half the save slots. When I do play them I’ll probably use even more save slots because I like to go back and replay the most fun 10 minute long parts games over and over (ie: HL2 Hovercraft boss fight, Crysis alien spaceship, etc).

    But for use to try to play a game at the same time is a clusterfuck because we can’t remember which save belongs to who.

    DO incorporate a toned-down version of Brink’s S.M.A.R.T. system in all future games. I’m so tired of watching thousands of zombies scale 30ft walls, fences, and buildings while my LFD2 characters can barely climb hop onto the roof of a car. I don’t expect Coach to be a gymnast! But I do expect him to climb over a chainlink fence if his life depended on it.

    DON’T let me kill an enemy by shooting him 4 times in his big toe or pinky finger (HL2)

    DO offer optional tutorials to teach us exactly when and how to perform the cool stuff we see in a cutscene. (ie: crysis warhead’s super-speed-jump onto a moving vehicle.)

    DO give me the ability to climb trees if there are lot of trees in your game (crysis)

    DO let me use an X-box controller (or other). ESPECIALLY IF it’s a console port!

    DO let me use a controller and keyboard at the same time.
    I like the analog stick for fighting games but a game like Killer Instinct (snes emulator – yes I own the cartridge) is best with 2 rows of 3 buttons. Having to work with 4 buttons and 2 triggers feels awkward. Analog stick + keyboard keys is great.

    For less strange example: Wings of prey with an xbox controller is hard. So many attributes need to be controlled. If I could assign some of them to the keyboard (left ctrl, space bar, arrow keys, numpad enter) I’d be able to do most of the work on the controller and do the rest with my feet on the keyboard on the ground.
    Possibly a keyboard & trackball on the ground with controller in hand. Don’t judge me.

    DO have 2 sets of menus if your game is a console port. For up close pc on desk players have a pc-centric menu. For people with their PC in their entertainment room or bedroom with wireless controls you should include the console menu since we’re probably sitting on a a couch or bed.

    FLASH GAME DEVELOPERS!
    DO allow me to customize my controls. My 5 and 8 year old neices played dozens of single player pc games for years with WASD(left hand direction) YUIHJK(right hand action) before their mom let them go online unsupervised.

    They hate arrow keys (RIGHT hand DIRECTION) spacebar/ZXC (LEFT hand ACTION) as much as any hard core pc gamer.

    DO offer 2 player split screen play on PC. The average gamer PC destroys the hardware in a xbox yet console ports never retain their splitscreen co-op/multiplayer. (exception: split/second)

    DO give playback controls to cutscenes (pause, play, rewind, fastforward, restart, stop)

    DON’T use windows live for anything other than allowing the player to show up as being online to their friends. In Dirt2 they use a part of the LIVE interface to let you save car balance setups. The length of the filename is severly limited and you can’t use spaces!!! WTF! Sucks. That’s something that should have been a part of the native game interface!

    DO remake quake 3 with higher polygon counts, higher texture resolutions, a better menu, ragdoll physics, same lighting, same color scheme, same characters, same sound effects, double tap dodge, not double jump, and flesh out the back story I read in a text file somewhere.

    500% more people need to write Game Reviews FOR GAME DEVELOPERS.

    • Wisq says:

      I have at least 4 RPGs on my system that I haven’t started playing because my brother got the them first and used up half the save slots.

      Err, I think you’re missing the main problem here…

      Don’t: have limited save slots. We’re PCs, not consoles, and even consoles have massive hard drive space now and don’t need you nannying us to make sure we don’t fill up our memory cards.

  5. Kradziej says:

    DO: Give me some knowledge about a mission I’m getting myself involved in. It’s especially irritating in sandbox games. Travelling half of the world to do some fighting and then being massacred just because I wasn’t prepared FOR THIS PARTICULAR BATTLE is IRRITATING. Throw in some smart NPC that will give me a hint. A simple “you know, there are lots of mages in that cave!” would be really great.
    DON’T: Have subtitles turned off as a default setting. I’m not a native English speaker, so sometimes it happens that I don’t understand what somebody is saying in the very first cutscene. I mean, a couple of letters don’t ruin the experience for you Englishmen, right? But not getting the basic ida of the plot sure is troubling for me. Worst-case scenario: no subtitles at all. Anyone ever played God of War II? I couldn’t understand A THING they were sating in that game because of those stupid modulated voices.

  6. goosetickler says:

    I personally don’t mind the two gun limit. I prefer that than fumbling through 10 different weapons in the heat of combat to try and find the one I am looking for. It also forces me to think tactically about the weapon pickups I find in the environment.

    • Depression says:

      Seems weird that what worked for literally a decade for everyone playing PC shooters now seems too intellectually challenging for the average wannabe.

      I think I still remember 80% of the DOOM weapon layout from (pistol, shotgun, chain gun, rocket launcher, plasma, bfg) by heart.

      Seriously, if the reason for 2 guns is “I’m too stupid to remember more” then I think we should just stop, because humanity is lost right there.

      Call of Duty has been mentioned. What a great example of literally showering the player with crudloads of some of the most awesome and realistic guns and sounds, AND THEN GOING: NO WAI, YOU CAN ONLY HAS 2!
      FFS!!!!

      If I can regenerate head wounds by waiting 5 seconds, then I expect to be allowed to play with all the vastness of guns provided, too.
      I don’t want to be faced with annoyance, scarcity and the emotionally negative impact of too much choice(watch the google tech talks guy on more choice = more misery kthx) in something I PAID FOR TO GIVE ME ENJOYMENT.

      Srsly.

  7. TOWDrac says:

    It seems much of this has to do with something I very much LOATHE: the developers want to tell their story and they want to do it in their way and “SCREW YOU player for trying to do things your way, now get back in line and do things exactly as I imagined it.”

    In old adventure games it used to be because the developers didn’t think of something, and they admitted that (see: “Oops! You did something we weren’t expecting” error), but now it’s ALL ABOUT the developers. They want you to play THEIR masterpiece and they want you to do things THEIR way.

    It’s all so developer-centric when it should be player-centric.

    …and some wonder why people love Deus Ex so much. Yeah, the combat was crap, and the AI sucked, but it had two (arguably simple!) things:
    1. A living world that isn’t just an excuse for the gameplay.
    2. PLAYER-CENTRIC
    That’s it.

    I don’t think many want to make a game anymore…I think they want to make THEIR product that you consume.

    • Risingson says:

      I don’t agree. Adventure games are just about that: knowing what the developer was thinking, and that, exactly that, is what is great about those Infocom or Legend games. It isn’t a design fault, because it is coherent. Or it should be, it should have a context and so on.

  8. Jake says:

    Along with hiring actual writers, I would like to see hiring of actual actors to do voices. So many games are ruined when they have a decent plot, but it’s poorly scripted and terribly acted, like these things don’t matter and as long as the overall concept is in place who cares about the details.

    Level designers should always look at what actual buildings look like and not make mazes of corridors that would make no sense if viewed externally or would just lead to crushing deaths during fire drills. Or have structures that are implausible and couldn’t be constructed or machines that serve no purpose like conveyor belts that channel endless crates into a fire for no conceivable purpose.

    Don’t make it so you go down winding corridors and end up in a dead end room with a lever, and you know you have to pull the lever ‘cos there is no-where else to go, but you have no idea what the lever does and your character surely won’t know so what the hell are you doing just going round pulling levers instead or trying to force a door or something.

    Games designers should not be allowed to decide what is cool without asking some other sensible people first. A lot of games designers seem to love words like cool and awesome but seem to base their definition of it on late 90s WWF wrestling or the fucking X-Games. I am sure there are lots of people who like the Gears of War story and characters in an unironic way, but Gordon Freeman is an icon and Marcus Fenix isn’t.

    Finally, do keep making survival horror games, this genre shouldn’t die out. Action games with gross things in are not horror, horror means scary. These games are just full of gross things rather than scary things. Resident Evil 5 or Dead Space are Action Gross games, not Survival Horror, good as they are there is still room for horror games.

    This ranting is quite therapeutic.

    • Psychopomp says:

      Also, do keep making real stealth games.

      It saddens me when the people who made games like Chaos Theory action their games up because “market research” showed that most people think “stealth is hard.”

  9. neems says:

    My own personal bugbear – well two of them, but related. They’re minor, but they just annoy me so much.

    1) Do not automatically assume that I wish to group games by their publisher / developer on my start menu. In fact, I frequently pay no attention whatsoever to who has published a game. There was a time some years ago when I had a considerable number of Ubisoft games installed, and these were placed under 3 or 4 slightly different variations of their name in the start menu (UBIsoft, UBISOFT, Ubisoft etc). Any time I wanted to play a game that I didn’t use much I had to go trawling to find it.

    2) Do not regard changing the installation folder as ‘advanced’, simply have it as a basic option when installing a game.

  10. Bob says:

    Don’t: show me an unskippable animation when I die. *applause* :p

  11. rob75383 says:

    Don’t: Do not assume that your default keymap is the best. Do not assume that I have a mousewheel (I use a PS/2 touchpad). Do not release a game with a menu option to change the keymap that is disabled in the final release, with no plans to ever fix it. (IE Scarface- helooo Atari)
    Do: Please DO allow me the ability to map ANY function to ANY key or keys(barring the ESC and Tilde keys).

  12. pipman300 says:

    i’m left handed and if the game assumes i’m right handed and won’t let ma make it more left hand comfortable i’ll send the dev an agry letter and maybe a dead animal

  13. David, that'll do says:

    To be quite honest, I’m so astonishin gly drunk I didn’t quite get this. Biut, you know, HURRAH FOR RPS. And in th egame, or something

    I hate, in games, and in real life, when you can’t carry loads of stuff, or rotate what you’re carrying to fit in a grid like in Deus Ex. I’m such a hoadre

    Godm trickiest csaptcha ever

    • Zogtee says:

      Best post ever.

    • Tei says:

      Captchas: clearly not designed with enough usability for drunk people. but we can say the same about cars, and motorsaws. really.

  14. Casimir's Blake says:

    My Cacodemon disagrees with you, sir.

  15. Hillbert says:

    Please, please allow me to pause the game at any time, including cut scenes. I’ve got two young kids and I quite often have to go up and chase monsters/find teddies at a moments notice.

    I don’t like coming back down to find the cut scene has ended, I’ve missed important plot information, and I’m being attacked by enemies in my absence.

  16. Dev Anon says:

    Just so you know, developers are obligated by licenses and contracts to put those annoying intro splash screen logos into your games. Even indie devs like us are forced to do this from time to time, depending on the engines we use. Sorry. Best I can promise is that every game I make will have the option to fast forward past these logos with the press of any key. But honestly? Deal with it.

  17. Ed says:

    DO: Work on Half-Life 2 Episode 3
    DON’T: Work on Left 4 Dead 3

    That is all.

  18. Biggles says:

    Damn, I think I disagree with almost all of these… except the one about bringing in writers right at the start and some of the cutscene complaints.

    Who seriously gives a shit if you can flush the toilets or not?

    Maybe I’m a minimalist, but I’d rather there not be toilets at all than for a coder, sound guy and artist spend a week each making a fully functional set of lavatories and not something more relevant to the story or gameplay…

  19. Thiefsie says:

    Do include colour-blind options for the challenged people out there such as myself. God bfbc2 was a nightmare until they patched this in…

  20. Ben says:

    I like to be able to shoot lights out and generally have an impact on the level. This was done well in F.E.A.R I thought, with flickering lights when shot or knocked by grenades. I seem to vaugely recall a James Bond game where the lights could be shot out, too

    • Wisq says:

      Yeah, I seem to recall light-shooting was in the Splinter Cell series and the Hitman series, though I could be wrong. I know it was in “No One Lives Forever”, which was spy-themed but not a Bond game.

      My favourite NOLF2 moment was when I was in a little cabin in the mountains. They had me go outside and get the generator going, and I suddenly come back to a well-lit cabin. And of course, my first instinct is to go around unscrewing all the lightbulbs, since light is my enemy and darkness my friend. Sure enough, we’re eventually invaded by thugs, but now I can just casually wait in the shadows and easily deal with them all.

  21. Kefren says:

    Great stuff, loads of good ideas in this post and the comments.

    “Don’t: show me an unskippable animation when I die. It doesn’t matter how elaborate you make this, the maximum number of times I’ll ever want to watch it is none.”

    Death animations shouldn’t be UNskippable, but saying you would NEVER want to watch one is probably untrue. Deus Ex, fall back, camera rises from body to sombre music, death animation reinforcing theme – I would never skip such a thing.

    “Do: let me carry more than two guns. Just when did we all decide that we weren’t okay with that element of unrealism in gaming?”

    Unless the game is outright madness like Serious Sam, there should be limits. The Deus Ex / System Shock 2 approach is best – carry ten guns if you want but you won’t be able to carry all the other useful stuff. That caters for everyone. I prefer fewer guns but for them all to be interesting, and to be able to replay the game with different options. One game of SS2 as a scientist with stasis generator and crystal shard; next game with laser pistols and grenade launcher; next game with assault rifle and laser rapier. It makes every game completely different. Of course the game itself has to be great like SS2 to support that.

    A few people have mentioned WASD. The only DO here is that controls should be configurable. I consider myself a serious games, but only use arrows and the blocks of keys around them – that way I can find the correct key by touch without looking. WASD doesn’t even seem to make as much sense as RDFG, which at least has a raised bit on the F. But as long as controls can be reconfigured (the first thing I do in any game in order to learn what controls are available) everyone is happy.

  22. d00d says:

    Where to begin?

    DO: Let me tweak my graphics options as I see fit. A master Low-Mid-High selector makes it impossible to optimize graphics.

    DON’T: Limit the PC version of a game because it’s ported from a console. If the graphics can be made better, make them better. If new controls and actions are possible, put them in. Until PC games can communicate with Consoles for multiplayer, there is no reason to hold back the guy with more buttons and a more flexible system.

    DO: Implement multiplayer servers that allow PC users and console users to play multiplayer together. I don’t want to have to choose which friends of mine I’m more loyal to when buying a game.

    DON’T: Put the player viewpoint in a place other than the character model’s eyes. MW1 and 2 and SWAT 4 were terrible about this. In these games – if I can see over a wall, I could shoot over the wall… but the player looking at me can only see the top of my head.

    DON’T: Put the bullet exit point anywhere else than the barrel tip on the character model.

    DO: Make not only realistic AI, but have a variety of personalities for NPCs. Some should be more fearful of me, some less. Some should make good decisions, some bad.

    DON’T: Make AI unflinching (in realistic games). If I shoot him in the knee, I want his knee blown out and the NPC hobbling. If I shoot his body armor, I want him to panic, hit the ground in shock, scurry away to recover from his near death experience, and proceed from there based on his personality. If you’re trying to make a super realistic game, make that happen to me too (OFP was decent about this)

    DO: Make realistic body armor (for realistic games). One or two shots compromises the armor. That’s it.

    DON’T: Pretend that different weapons of the same ammunition type have drastically different killing capabilities. A 5.56 bullet fired out of a 16″ barrel will have more or less the same kinetic energy as the same bullet fired out a different gun’s 16″ barrel.

    DO: Make enemies respond appropriately to my actions. A loud gunfight in one room should at least make the NPCs within earshot uneasy.

    DO: Let the NPCs make mistakes. The occasional trip and fall over rough terrain is not only realistic but funny. Almost every auto race event will have one severe human error, sometimes resulting in a crash… why not have my fellow racecar drivers accidentally and catastrophically bump into each other from time to time?

    DO: Make vehicle controls reasonable. Just Cause 2 had the least responsive and slowest aircraft I’ve ever flown in a game. I’ve done more exciting things in training aircraft than I could ever do in that game. Ground vehicles are another thing. I don’t know about you guys, but driving cars in Forza3 is a lot easier than driving anything in sandbox genre games.

    DO: Let me connect multiple controllers to a game. If I’m on foot, mouse+keyboard. In a plane, joystick. In a car, steering wheel.

    DON’T: Give me a magic button to do actions. In Splinter Cell Conviction, you press B to take a guy down. Sam Fisher is a martial arts expert, let me fight the damn enemies, even if I have to button mash.

    DON’T: Use quicktime events (EVER)… but especially in routine gameplay. JC2, had them every time you hijack a vehicle. Howabout you let me actually fight my way in?

    DO: Use physics. Objects have momentum, people have momentum. JC2 was awful about this. I could exit a plane at 200 KTAS and be going straight down within a second of my exit. I really wanted to fling myself over walls with the grappling hook, it never happened.

    DO: Use parachutes in sandbox games. BASE jumping and stunting in general adds replay value to those games.

    DO: Make falling and freefall realistic. There are so many cool things you can do in the air, and many fun ways to jump off of shit. Let the character do a headfirst dive into water. Let the motorcycles do backflips. Let the BASE jumper jump off in any way he wants off a building. Let the skydiver track, sitfly, and do all the other things he can in the air.

    DO: Scare me shitless without cutscenes.

    DO: Make a Rainbow Six (original) style game that lets me plan my way through a mission. Let me change it on the fly, give me multiple entrance and exit options.

    DON’T: Make multiplayer games a clusterfuck. CoD’s spawning system is terrible. No front lines, no order to anything. Basically people running around randomly until they find an enemy to shoot.

    DO: Give me an incentive to keep my head low in a firefight, especially in multiplayer. I’m tired of games that try to be realistic which allow people to run and gun across a wide open space.

    DO: Make character models explode into little giblets. :)

  23. doctorfrog says:

    How about: Don’t give me a gun, then make all light bulbs bulletproof.

  24. phlebas says:

    Achievements are point 2, surely?

  25. GigerPunk says:

    Do: Make NPCs pay attention to what’s in their inventory if you’ve decided to allow me to give them things (i.e. use them as a pack-mule)
    Yes, Jericho in Fallout 3, this means YOU.
    In particular, I don’t appreciate you constantly harping on about how “Goddamn cigarettes are gettin’ harder to find” When I’ve loaded you up with more cartons of the bloody things than gets snuck through customs at Dover on a special Sun newspaper “Go to France for only a pound” day. Just don’t say that line. Please?
    And stop going to attack wildlife when I’ve got the wildlife friend perk, you’re only gong to get yourself killed and then I’ll have to lug all the stuff you’re carrying back to town myself. Provided I survive the attack myself, that is.

    And whie I’m thinking of Fallout 3 and idiotic companions…If there’s a bloody great radioactive area that’ll kill anyone who goes there and it’s a choice of you dieing, someone else dieing, everyone dieing, or special radioactive character wanderng in and saving the day so no-one has to die, then surely the latter option is the one anyone in their right mind would choose? Don’t witter on about my ‘destiny’.
    NO-ONE HAS TO DIE TODAY FAWKES YOU BLOODY GREAT GREEN LUMBERING SPACKER! JUST BLOODY GET IN THERE!
    Ahem.
    Bizarrely, what a great game.

  26. MacD says:

    @Walsh:

    I hear you. That really soured Mass Effect 2 for me. ‘Decanting’ that guy as a cutscene? WTF? You have useless fucking trashcompacters in your DLC, but you can’t let ME have a single buttonpress which is actually the ONE single meaningfull press of a button in the entire game?

    And the Witcher did this: a cutscene to a dramatic rooftop chase…why the hell am I not ‘DOING’ that chase myself!?!? It’s a GAME! An INTERACTIVE experience…let ME do that cool shit! We have the technology now!

    PS: every person who does ANYTHING which remotely touches gameplay: read Gamasutra’s series of “Bad designer! No twinky for you!”; the amount of frustration that would have avoided could have powered a large city for YEARS.

  27. GigerPunk says:

    Hell yes. This.
    Certain characters are going to be getting rather smelly by now I’d have thought.
    Stop pi$$ing about with things that aren’t half life 2 episode 3 and concentrate on things that ARE half life 2 episode 3.
    Portal 2 looks very nice, yes. Now put it to one side for a minute and get on with half life 2 episode 3.

  28. V says:

    I love you.

  29. Outcast Orange says:

    Just remember, we had to deal with this:

    http://www.imperial-library.info/bestiaries/morrowind_large_cliffracer-1.jpg

    On the first few hours of game play, they were frightening.
    If you heard the sound of one, you would stop dead,
    turn all around, and feel your blood freeze over.

  30. Sonic Goo says:

    And while you’re hiring those writers mentioned above, DO hire some animators as well. How often do we see beautiful lifelike worlds, only to be abruptly pulled out of the fantasy by characters acting like marionettes?

  31. Kangarootoo says:

    “do anything to us in a cutscene that we could easily prevent during the game proper”

    GTAIV, mission called “go kill some dude over there” (or some such).

    I approach said dude, who is standing on a railway platform. I imagine he might like to run away, or shoot back at me, so I plan to put one between the eyes before he gets the chance to duck behind a conveniently placed crate and shout rude words at me.

    However, as I reach the top of the steps a cutscene begins, in which my character informs said dude how he is in the most serious of trouble, and how his demise at my hand is almost certainly on the cards, because he has been naughty and needs schooling and so on.

    Said dude tells me that contrary to my view, I am not in fact, all that. Upon which he hops onto the train that pulled gently into the station whilst we were killing seconds instead of bad guys by flapping our jaws so effectively.

    A chase scene then follows, with me all the way swearing under my breath about how Nico Bellic is the very worst hitman I have ever seen, and how I wouldn’t be trying to steer this underweighted 4×4 with all the handling of a bouncy castle, if only he would let me do business like a grown up instead of a mouthy showoff.

  32. Grot_Punter says:

    This was something I found very interesting in Metro 2033. Any baddie with a helmet was infuriatingly difficult to headshot, since the helmets ACTUALLY protected their heads! I had to pull off some crazy neck shots or shoot straight through the visors sometimes.

    It was annoying beyond all conceivability, but satisfyingly refreshing.

    • Grot_Punter says:

      Reply fail!

      This was in response to something about consistency in a game tied to art style. Helmets should make a difference! Unprotected heads should pop!

  33. James T says:

    Be very careful with your fucking contextual controls. I’ve been giving Splinter Cell Conviction a go, and I’ve never seen more hamfisted context mismanagement. If a lightswitch is positioned by a window, it’s fifty-fifty whether you’ll trip the switch, silently concealing yourself in darkness, or hurl yourself noisily through the windowpane, alerting all the world to your presence. Is there a pipe running above a door? Budget your time wisely, because the majority of your attempts to open said door will instead be spent leaping to grasp the pipe, over and over again. Just opened a set of double-doors and want to kill the man standing in front of you? Then prepare to die, because your melee kill button will, without exception, ALWAYS cause your character to instead turn around 180 degrees and smash open the unopened side of the double-door with a kick, alerting your foe and giving him ample time to shoot you to death. The direction your character or camera is facing is scarcely relevant, nor is there any priority system which might place, say, killing an opponent above causing an unnecessary ruckus; until you’ve oriented your mouse juuuust over the little context triangle, your guy will do whatever’s fucking dumbest.

    (…And throwing bodies automatically counts as a non-stealth kill even in total solitude, an obvious bug… and your character occasionally doesn’t have his gun drawn, leading him to pat his pockets down, get his bearings, find his weapon, draw his weapon, squint in confusion at the targeted area, and finally fire at the space two metres behind the patrolling sentry whose head you had targeted perfectly a second and a half ago… And occasionally your under-cover character will just fucking MOVE upon pressing ‘fire’, turning a perfect headshot into a shot to a pillar three feet away from your target which helpfully telegraphs your presence. But I’m just in ‘Don’t buy SC5′ territory here, so…)

    Oh, here’s something; don’t be afraid to have a fucking GUI. As someone else was saying, having the GUI fade in when it’s supposedly needed (I know Far Cry 2 did this) is much more of a hassle than just having the stuff up there on the screen all the time. ‘Immersion’ my arse — gaming lasted 30 years without this bullshit fad of burying information, and no-one complained, because it isn’t a problem. Games don’t become more immersive by having less information onscreen, they become more immersive by being fucking good. Ubisoft keep trying to ‘fix’ Splinter Cell by (among other clownish methods) chucking out UI elements, and they just make it worse each time; in Chaos Theory, onscreen meters indicated the background noise level and how lit-up you were, and from there, you knew what you could get away with. And it was a fucking excellent game. I don’t remember exactly how Double Agent’s “red-yellow-green” light-system worked, only that it was worse — as was the game itself — and Conviction has chucked out the noise mechanic entirely and just gone for a “black-and-white-when-you’re-hidden” angle — which means you play almost the whole game in monochrome if you’re any good at it, and the monochrome view actually makes it difficult to spot which other areas of shadow are truly dark enough to travel to next, or whether your prey is actually in a concealed-enough place to cop a headshot (the increased emphasis on combat and regenerating health have also made them sloppy with the level design and, ironically, made true stealth strategies far more laborious and time-consuming than they were in prior SC games, but yes, straying off-topic again there…)

    • Truth says:

      This is 100% the fault of the restrictions of a console gamepad oriented game and illustrates really well just how far the “level of dumb” has gone.

      Contextual action has now become a “Press A once to make a 50 point chain combo against the nearest guard” misdemeanor. In short, 90% of the gameplay is being taken away from you.

      Evasion has become a button-mashing quicktime event, combat an auto-combo, etc pp.

      Consoles must die and gaming has to be wrested from the programming-for-console-target zombies back into the hands of diehard-PC-fans, if the latter should still exist, hidden in some dank caves somewhere(..led by Carmack perhaps?).

    • ffordesoon says:

      I play both console and PC games, but I would consider myself a “console gamer.” And I am here to say: DO NOT BLAME US.

      I hate pretty much everything that’s been mentioned with a passion, and I know plenty of “console gamers” who also do. I DON’T like having less options, I DON’T like needless cutscenes, I DON’T like long and unskippable tutorials, and I SURE AS HELL DON’T like shittily designed contextual “press A to win” systems. I do not enjoy playing a “dumbed down” version of a game, because it is DUMBED DOWN. Now, I like it when systems are streamlined and unjankified, but that’s because elegant design is, for me, better than inelegant design. Contextual button systems are usually inelegant and make the game harder. The only reason it works in Zelda is because no options have ever been taken away from the player or otherwise gimped in between games. Link can do MORE now than he could in previous titles, and that’s entirely due to contextual control. Because Miyamoto (or whoever) designs the game first, and THEN asks what control system would work best FOR THAT PARTICULAR GAME.

      So don’t blame console gamers. Blame console developers and publishers.

  34. seventh says:

    Doors that you can’t destroy or open even though you’re a black-ops mutant lizard ninja demigod with lasers.

    But then can open once you’ve solved some sort of gay little puzzle.

  35. JustBoo says:

    @jeremy: Everything you said and all the “don’ts” in this article are done in the PC version of Assassin’s Creed. Just exiting the game was an exercise in frustration.