Rules For Games: Do & Don’t #2

By John Walker on July 9th, 2010 at 10:30 am.

I’m in charge. This is firmly established (citation needed). So it’s important I continue to decree my rulings. All must obey, for I am as bad as BP and I burn in hell. Fear me.

Don’t: give me a mounted gun that points back at the path along which I just ran, killing everyone by hand. This seems to be the absolute default now. They only serve one purpose: finding out that they didn’t bother to make the scenery destructible. Let me play with a mounted gun! Unless it’s a sequence in which you force me to use a mounted gun, probably on the back of a truck. Stop that.

Do: agree to an industry wide standard on the location of save games. Save games are not a secret. They are not a treasure. They’re something most right-thinking people want to be able to preserve after a game’s uninstalled. They’re something many people need to get at when building a new machine, or simply continuing the game on another machine. They aren’t a DRM risk. We just want to know where our save games are, and we don’t want to have to trawl through seventeen different possible locations in the very bowels of Windows, trying to discern which lunatic name you’ve filed them under. When I install a game you let me choose the install location. Can you guess where I want the save games to go to? Here’s a hint. It’s not in C:\Users\John\AppData\Local\Roaming\Documents\Programs\Features\Gardening\Knitwear\Publisher\Developer\GameName\Sausages\X34265\

Don’t: stop me from sprinting after three seconds. Look, look at me. I’m a fat man. I can sprint for more than three seconds. I can keep going for a good… four seconds. Before collapsing on the ground, red, sweating, pleading for the ambulance to offer me oxygen. But the character in the game? Lean McBuffington? He’s made entirely out of muscles. He’s a man who can sprint. Since it’s apparently possible for us to jog absolutely everywhere, maybe we can run further than from the living room to the downstairs loo. After all, games are supposed to allow us to live our dreams.

Do: let me move during cutscenes. I know, you want to make film, and life gave you videogames. But videogames are amazing! You don’t have to sit passively in front of the screen, having the prescribed script play out at you as you sit nailed into a chair. Let me wander around! Let me jump on the tables, or spin on the spot. Let me see what objects can be picked up, and try to pile them on a key character’s head. Let me run around them in maniac circles. And you know what? Letting me look around but not move – that’s actually worse than taking away my controls entirely.

Don’t: splash on my screen. I AM NOT A SCREEN! I’M A HUMAN! When it rains, this does not leave droplets running down the front of my vision. This is because I have a face, including a nose, chin and forehead. Concealed between these features are my eyes – two orbs that sit within the protective bonage of my skull, accompanied by the cleaning and dust-deflecting skinflaps of my eyelids. Were raindrops, or worse, splatters of blood, to become visible droplets in my vision, they would have to be on my eyes. I would respond to this by running around, screaming in pain and fear, clutching at my face and begging for help. You appear to be under the impression that I am a sentient monitor. Perhaps a screen mounted on top of human shoulders. I’m not one of these. I’m reasonably sure the character in the game isn’t one of these. So just perhaps can we please stop having splashes appear in front of our view? (Oh, and I’m also not a bloody camera lens, so can we also get rid of lens flare too? Kthnx.)

Do: let me kill my friends. Sure, it’s a game over. But let me! I’ve got a gun. They’ve got a head. When the gun refuses to fire at them, well, perhaps you can argue some astonishing technology that recognises non-enemies and forces the safety. (If you could work on inventing this for the US army, that would be awfully helpful.) But when bullets and chairs bounce off them without comment, you’ve somewhat spoilt any notion of fiction you may have tried to establish. Also, if they get to be invincible, how come I don’t? I’m on the same side! So yes, it’s a game over, but let it happen.

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141 Comments »

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  1. spinks says:

    “When it rains, this does not leave droplets running down the front of my vision. ”

    Clearly you don’t wear glasses :)

    • robrob says:

      Space marines have visors and ALL GAMES ARE ABOUT SPACE MARINES

    • Vague-rant says:

      I was just about to mention Republic commando, they. They’re not space marines!

    • Premium User Badge

      AndrewC says:

      This all depends on whether you are trying to pretend the screen doesn’t exist or not. It’s just as valid to ackowledge the frames being used, and such honesty is often helpful for immersion as it makes the player more forgiving, more willing to go along with the illusion.

      Plus, like, it physicalises the world more, coz there’s more interaction, which is nice.

      Plus, like, and re: no lens flare, do you really want the screen to accurately depict how your eye functions? Because our eyes are well funny.

      thus: DO: MORE WOBBLE! MORE DIRT! PERHAPS HAVE THE CAMERAMAN FALL OVER MORE!*

      * This do dependent on whether the new Kane & Lynch is duff or not.

    • mrmud says:

      I was just about to mention this

    • ReV_VAdAUL says:

      Of course if games were to realistically simulate glasses wearing in the rain there would be the obligatory *take off glasses and wipe with sodden cuff, replace glasses, peer through smeary mess which rapidly fills up with more rain splotches, sigh, keep walking*

    • robrob says:

      Does anyone remember Wargasm? I am pretty sure that is where the madness began.

    • Azazel says:

      Best game title ever. Couldn’t ask mum to pick it up from GAME though.

    • CMaster says:

      @AndrewC:
      But that’s exactly why I don’t want Lens Flare in my games. I have eyes, not a camera lens! When I get bright light in my eyes, I don’t get lens flare. I also don’t get depth of field effects in the same way cameras do, particuarly not with such narrow depth of field. So if developers could cease bothering with these effects, that would be great. I do however get that “starburst” effect around streetlights at night. That would be fine to see recreated in an FPS.

    • Premium User Badge

      AndrewC says:

      Well OK, but having the screen-as-eye involves it’s own suspensions of disbelief – like the screen would actually be a three foot wide eye floating along in the gameworld. No gamer would probably want only a small circle in the centre of the screen to be in focus with constant twitches in eye movement to see all the peripheral stuff, for example.

      The point being with either screen-as-camera or screen-as-eye the game is still dealing in abstractions, and still having to excuse or hide that ‘frame’. The game would still be ‘cheating’ like mad to get you to suspend disbelief, so a ‘it’s more realistic to have screen-as-eye’ argument will always fall down.

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      Aninhumer says:

      @AndrewC
      Of course they’re dealing with abstractions, that’s because we as humans are ALREADY dealing with abstractions. The actual picture that comes in from our eyes would be horrible to deal with if the brain wasn’t leveling, filling in detail etc.
      That’s why headbob, depth of field, lens flare and most of the other “realism” visual effects are really dumb, they’re not things that REAL people have to deal with conciously. Reintroducing visual problems that my brain is designed to sort out for me is really stupid and I wish they’d stop doing it.

    • Xercies says:

      Its really easy to figure where this came from. a lot of developers have seen loads of films that use this effect and are using it in there games because it “looks cool” without really seeing why some directors do this(its not an accident because well everything in film is not an accident…uless of course your ed wood).

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      AndrewC says:

      Where this came from is that computers like doing things that are clean and smooth and straight, all of which are never seen in a natural or ‘believable’ world, so all these effects, from head bob to bloom to DOF to sun flares, were designed to disrupt those straight lines. So i’m all for starbursts instead of lensflares, but only because lensflares are now a bit cliche, and thus noticeable and annoying. It has nothing to do with which one is ‘right’.

      I get the feeling that a lot of John’s arguments – like mounted gun segments – are him reacting against cliches rather than objectively bad design. Bloody *everyone’s* doing it, so do something different!

      I don’t want rid of all the wacky camera stuff, I think it would be really backwards to do so, but i’m totally up for *different* wacky camera stuff.

    • Psychopomp says:

      I am disappointed in all of you for not saying “Metroid Prime.”

    • qrter says:

      Yeah, I don’t think saying “I have eyes, I am not a screen!” is very helpful, really. In the end it all comes down to the language of videogames – what do we accept as enhancing to our experience.

      Most games are trying to give you more of a cinematic experience, less of a naturalistic one – the actual videogame experience is probably somewhere in the middle.

      (Personally, I feel it’s a complete waste of time for developers to spend time hiding that we’re playing a game.)

    • Michael says:

      The real reason we have all these funky lens effects is because polygon rendering engines always have their limits. If you just show the scene as rendered, as clearly as possible, it will look a bit rubbish after a while. If you occasionally have mud or blood smeared across the screen, it distracts away from rendering artefacts and enhances immersion. Same with lens flare, HDR, etc.

    • Mad Hamish says:

      Why all the head bob hate? Maybe i’ve got a balance problem but my head moves about when walk, it’s all over the place when I run. What’s the alternative? That floaty glide from Doom? Now that’s immersion breaking.
      Mirror’s Edge for example, I think has the best head bob going and in general was probably the most imersive game I’ve played, in the way it made you feel like you actually occupied that body.

    • ellep says:

      “Of course if games were to realistically simulate glasses wearing in the rain there would be the obligatory *take off glasses and wipe with sodden cuff, replace glasses, peer through smeary mess which rapidly fills up with more rain splotches, sigh, keep walking*”

      I’ll bet you that was in the canceled Heavy Rain DLC.

    • bob_d says:

      @ Mad Hamish:
      In real life, if you’re a healthy, average human being, you have your inner ear sending information to your brain that corresponds with your head movements, so you don’t actually experience your vision bouncing up and down. Head bob in a game is like a simulation of an inner ear disorder; nausea is a likely outcome.

    • suibhne says:

      If the game really allows you to take off and put back on your glasses, the move should go something like this:

    • Mo says:

      @Psychopomp: I was prepared to say Metroid Prime until your post showed up. I shall say it anyway. :)

      Metroid Prime pulled off the water dripping on visor, fogging, etc very well. The key is in the subtlety. And, of course, that Samus does wear a visor, so it makes sense.

      The best effect was definitely the “eyes reflecting on visor”. Every so often, you’d see a faint reflection of yourself on the visor. It reinforced the idea that Samus is a female (you can tell by the eyes), but also, made the game feel more human. It felt like you were a person, not a walking camera.

  2. Centy says:

    I have lens flare on my eye cameras!

  3. Internet Friend says:

    “I AM NOT A SCREEN! I’M A HUMAN! […] This is because I have a face, including a nose, chin and forehead.”

    You seem defensive here. Do you have a terrible secret, John Walker?

    • Gunrun says:

      He Has No Mouth but He’s No Screen

      Also I like raindrops and things, assuming you have a hud. If you’ve ever gone paintballing you’ll know the mask is very good at attracting raindrops, mud, paint splatters and similar.

  4. Insane says:

    Personally I feel the same logic of let me kill my friends should apply to dogs, puppies, small children, innocent bystanders, etc.

    How in racing games people come to have such incredible reflexes that they can dodge a 200 km/h car that’s heading at them FROM BEHIND or kids have this incredible bulletproofness is beyond me.

    Sure there’s a moral issue and blah dee blubb, but imho if you go down that road in the argument the original article makes, i.e. that a bullet is a bullet is a bullet and a head is a head is a head, then it’s something that is regardless of whether it’s a man or a woman or an adult or a child.

    And yes, I am a mentally disturbed sociopath.
    In front of my screen.

    Outside, I actually do (no joke) help old ladies across the street, hold open doors and pet cute animals.

    But let me live out my satanic needs elsewhere where nobody gets hurt, please.
    Thanks!

    Now, someone please go and make a true to the original spirit Carmageddon sequel!
    And while you’re at it, where is Blood 3?

    • Gap Gen says:

      ArmA lets you kill your friends, but eventually they will turn on you and kill you too if you go on a rampage. It seems to work pretty well.

    • Phydaux says:

      It’s the same in Halo.

    • FunkyBadger says:

      Its the most enjoyable part of Halo – also note: Sgt. Apone is indestructible and gets a proper case of battle fever if you ry to shoot him (at least in Halo 3)…

  5. ChaK_ says:

    a walker being fat?

    my world is collapsing. luckily chuck remains

    • Frankie The Patrician[PF] says:

      BUT FOR HOW LONG?!

    • Miked says:

      For for too long! He’s now swimming “at least once a week”.

    • Hidden_7 says:

      For some reason I’ve always pictured John as being a bit weedy. Something about the fact that he likes adventure games and the way his voice sounds (yes, even when he sounds like David Michell, which makes no sense, but there you go).

  6. Risingson says:

    “Friendly Fire” is such a wonderful concept. I remember a friend of mine who loved Drakkhen because there he could kill any NPC.

    • ChaK_ says:

      same reason I’m loving my gothic 3 session right now.

      Killing rebels talking a little harsh is fun. And orcs are tougher anyway

  7. Duoae says:

    I sort of agree with allowing people to shoot their squad mates… however, often in games it’s impossible to tell the difference between friend and foe and you can (and i often do) shoot my compatriots during the action. So the caveat for that sort of thing is that they allow for clear differentiation between friend and foe….. Oh….. and don’t extend it to people you are supposed to be protecting. I can imagine that escort quests would be a nightmare if you could accidentally kill your charge with a stray bullet. :/

    • droid says:

      Actually that is the best idea I have heard about escort missions: instead of waiting for the tediously slow and feeble AI to amble over, you end its suffering and get on with the game. Probably would give the player about 10 – 30 seconds of escorting before mobs start showing up to avoid the escort mission, then the plot armor gets put on when the enemies start showing up (just in case the player actually wanted to succeed.)

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    sonofsanta says:

    The “mounted gun at the end of the alley” is a personal peeve, because a) any bit of game with that in has been designed to be done with it – therefore is ridiculously hard without it b) such guns are clearly massive fun so missing out on it is a double blow.

    I usually end up reloading if I have a recent save just so I can do it the “proper” way and sneak round to the gun.

  9. Navagon says:

    In regard to the first Do: there’s also GFWL to consider. It will kill your backed up save games in any game it’s infecting if you don’t copy substantial parts of its own folders too. Why? Because it’s GFWL and wouldn’t be if it wasn’t awful.

    Agreed on all points again. There are very few exceptions to the rain on the ‘camera’ one. Namely when it is actually meant to be a camera. The same logic goes for blood effects when you’re injured. If you’re not going to see that kind of splatter/veins/blood droplets in life then it’s only detracting from the experience.

  10. iainl says:

    The problem with removing friendly fire in that way is that the “friendlies” are controlled by particularly stupid AI. Who are somewhat prone to standing behind reversing vehicles, wandering into my line of fire, charging in to hand-to-hand the enemy I’ve just grenaded, investigating buildings I’ve covered in explosive charges and so on. I’ve only played an hour of Red Faction: Guerilla so far (thanks for the sale, Steam) but all the above have already happened at least once.

    • Corrupt_Tiki says:

      ArmA actually has some decent AI to it. – not human spec, but it sure as hell kicks the shit out of me everytime I play, except once I won a mission..

      I like CoD’s style of AI, dumb as dog shit, Friendly Fire Off, and Important Friendlies are Invulnerable, so much for ‘showing us the horror of war’ – about as horrific as space invaders

  11. Corrupt_Tiki says:

    I shall elaborate a bit more on this *cutscene* thingymiboby.
    Countless times (when I have replayed ahem) I have squeezed off a round or two of my .356 revolver just before a cutscene, into the baddies ugly face, only to have it bounce off, the baddy somehow, overpower me without so much of a whimper, do something nasty to a friend of mine, while I sit there twiddling my thumbs, and then run away laughing or something stupid. No I’m sorry In game cutscene? Either make it a nice pre-rendered ordeal cinematic thing, or let it be thoroughly interactive – y’know, how a game is s’posed to be.

    –Rant Over, time to get some cake ;P

    • Schadenfreude says:

      There’s a bit in F.E.A.R. where you run it to the bad guy very early on, end of the first or second mission I think. Anyway he pops out from around a corner punches you in the head; fall over, fade to white. When he tried this on me, I managed to pop off a round directly into his face before his blow made contact. It was very annoying; made doubly-irritating by the fact that when I eventually did kill him about twenty office blocks later it was with a single melee attack to the face.

    • Corrupt_Tiki says:

      Oh god, I remember that bit, I played through it twice, and on the second time through, I squeezed off about 5 rounds into his head/torso, and backtracked about 2 meters away (his pole was only .5m long O.o) I can’t remember how you kill him though – funny that.

      The game I was trying to make an example of was HL2:EP2 ( a fav ;P) but that advisor that kills the black dude at the end, c’mon F*ck you maggot thing!

    • empty_other says:

      I managed to kill of the big bad in Max Payne, before she went on the helicopter. Just as she fired a burst down the last stairs to the roof, my reflexes was like a swat member, placing two bullets right in her head, and imagine my surprise when she actually fell over dead, but no cutscene and no game over.

      I had to reload and do the end game again, resisting the urge to kill her, to finish the game. But in my head, the first ending was the real ending.

    • bob_d says:

      Yeah, “Do: let me move during cutscenes” is actually a bad idea. I speak from experience here. I worked on a game where the player had control during what was essentially a cutscene; the problem was the player could end up completely missing a really important plot point without even realizing it, leaving them confused for the rest of the game. Luckily we ended up removing the scripted event entirely, so it wasn’t an issue, but the only other option was to lock down not only the character but the camera as well, or replace the event with a pre-rendered cutscene.
      If you need to put in a cutscene, then you need to make sure the player actually sees it. Allowing them to leave the area, or even look elsewhere, rather prevents that.

    • Jake says:

      Well the characters in the cutscene could stop explaining the plot and start telling you to pay attention, like they might in real life if you started leaping on tables while they were talking to you. I like how in some games now people won’t talk to you if you are waving a gun in their face.

    • suibhne says:

      Another great offender was KotOR, where you could be pretty easily beating the baddie (before Bastila is kidnapped) and then, boom, a cutscene swoops in and forces you to lose despite your overwhelming advantage. That didn’t simply irritate me for a minute or two; it actually invalidated the entire rest of the game, because my direct experience had told me, incontrovertibly, that I would have won right then and there if the game hadn’t forced me to lose just so I’d have to play another few hours. This was especially true because the cutscene assumed you’d been losing the entire time, even if you were kicking the baddie sideways and back.

      KotOR2 was little better in the fight against Nihilus, whom I was beating pretty easily when my companion (Visas?) jumped in with some asinine comment about how we were losing. Uh…yeah. Really, honey, you can move along now – I have this just about wrapped up.

    • bob_d says:

      @Jake:
      That would help for certain types of cutscenes… but not all. It still wouldn’t prevent players from looking away, moving out of view, etc. When you do a cutscene, i.e. when you present important information that can’t be given in any other way (the only justification for a cut-scene as far as I’m concerned), you want to be sure the player actually gets that information. Anything which makes that goal less likely to be achieved is bad.
      Oh sure, you could come up with all sorts of complex mechanics that might allow players to have control while simultaneously making sure they get the information they need out of an interactive cut-scene, but while expend the development resources on it? (Do you want features or cut-scenes where you can run around?) All too often, cut-scenes are necessitated by either the limits of the game engine or a lack of imagination as to how else the information could be conveyed. Better to spend the effort fixing those fundamental problems as far as I’m concerned.

  12. Premium User Badge

    James G says:

    With respect to save-games, the reason they don’t stick themselves in the games directory anymore is due to changes in the guidelines and file access permissions since the shift to Vista. Unless you are running the program in administrator mode, it wont have access to files in the program files directory.

    I actually prefer keeping savegames and config data in my User directory, as this means backing up that one directory is, in theory, sufficient for backing up all my content. Of course, this doesn’t exclude the fact that games vary where they dump files within the user directory. Personally I wish more games would use the dedicated save games directory that has been available since vista. (I also wish they wouldn’t clutter up my ‘My Documents’ folder with countless publisher/developer/game folders. My Documents folder should be for documents, not ini files, mods and savegames.)

    • Ravenger says:

      There’s actually a Saved Games folder in Windows 7. If only more than 3 games used it.

      My pet peeve is with GFWL’s encrypted save system. I can understand tying a save game to a gamertag to stop save game hacking but I’ve been unable to transfer any of my GFWL saved games from XP to Windows 7 due to there being some sort of OS lock-in. Yes I did try copying over files from the GFWL folder too. The only saved games that worked were Fallout 3’s which don’t seem to use the encrypted system.

    • jalf says:

      Wait, 3 games actually use the Saved Games folder?

      I’ve never seen a single game use it. Which games are these?

      And like @James said, storing savegames in your User folder is fine. That’s what Windows should have done all along. Requiring write permissions to the programs folder is a prtty major security issue.

      The problem is that games use 4 different subfolders under your profile dir.

    • ChaK_ says:

      BC2 does, crysis too AFAIR, TQ:IT too

      A lot do, and I like that save game folder

    • Sulkdodds says:

      Darwinia uses the Saved Games folder in your User director. No kidding – when I transferred the install to my new PC recently, it took me ages to find the saves because I assumed they’d be somewhere silly.

      Cluttering up My Documents is for me the most intolerable thing that’s sort-of on this list. It’d be lovely if games all used the Saved Games folder, or, good christ, allowed you to set where they saved and loaded from. But no. Isn’t there a way I can avoid my nice clean (ha!) documents area filling with folders called ‘Bioshock’ and ‘Megabiff’?

    • Alexander Norris says:

      Yeah, games putting their configs/saves in My Documents is extremely annoying, to the point where I’ve had to co-opt the My Videos folder for my documents, because My Documents is filled with bloody game profiles. There’s a Saved Games folder. Use it.

    • mrmud says:

      I really, really, really hate that games have started placing their saves in the users folder.
      I run my OS on an SSD and with save games often taking quite a bit of space I want to be able to tell them to save to a different drive.
      I havent had my games installed to the same drive as my OS for 15 years, I really dont understand why this is so hard.

    • bill says:

      This also works (or would work if used) better for the automated Vista/7 backup, as that doesn’t back up the Program Files directory. I think.

      But using the darn ROAMING folders seems totally random…

    • Tei says:

      I don’t know a gamer OS. But a normal OS sould place the user data in his home folder. Placing his files all around the disk is unsafe. The whole OS sould be locked-down, so to install or even write outside the user area, you need extra privileges (something like sudo). If the user and his programs (like a game) can write anywhere (like “program files”) then theres not point to have users, to begin first, everyone can modified word.exe, or things like that.

    • Aankhen says:

      +1 to this. I much prefer having savegames under “My Documents\My Games\” rather than scattered through a bunch of game directories. That way, I can back everything up or copy it over to a new machine in a single stroke.

      Games that put savegames under their install directories make me sad, as do those which put their savegames under AppData, directly under My Documents or pretty much anywhere else.

    • Alexander Norris says:

      @mrmud

      I run my OS on an SSD and with save games often taking quite a bit of space I want to be able to tell them to save to a different drive.

      You know you can get Windows to move your whole Users directory to another drive, right? My OS is on C:/, my Users directory is on D:/.

    • Colthor says:

      I don’t know that. How do you? Moving My Documents is easy, but I’ve not spotted the one to switch Users yet. Why don’t they just ask you at install time where it should go (or is, if you’re reinstalling)?

      I’d prefer it if games still kept saves in their own directory – I told them to be installed where they are for a reason, or in the “My Games” (what’s with MS’s “My” prefix on everything?) subdirectory of My Documents, as at least they’re all in one place that you can easily set/change/back up.

      The Users (nee “Documents and Settings”) directory is just a godawful mess and sorry excuse for a proper home directory. Scrap it and do it properly, please.

    • Tei says:

      I have my OS in C:, documents in D: and all the anime in :3

      hehehe…

    • Ravenger says:

      Moving your entire Users folder to a different drive is only possible in Windows 7 with a registry hack, and then is really only practicable on a new install with no additional user accounts.

      I was amazed when I found out that there was no way to do it as part of the install procedure. Apparently doing this can prevent you using the ‘anytime upgrade’ feature if you ever want to upgrade your Windows 7 install to one of the premium versions.

      However I have moved the user folder on my machine, and I have three partitions: c: OS, d: games and e: user data which makes it easy to back up the essential stuff.

    • jalf says:

      There are several ways to do it, and it’s possible in Xp, Vista and Win7 at least. (I haven’t checked in 2k or older)

      One very simple way to do it is to copy the Users folder to another disk, delete the current one and replace it with a symbolic link (a junction point in XP)

      Alternatively, it can be done through the registry (in all 3 OS’es), or at install-time (again in all 3 OS’es).

      The symbolic link is nice and easy, and it works at any time. You can also use it to do a more granual division, moving individual subfolders to another partition.

  13. Lambchops says:

    The killing friends one just makes me think once again just how wonderful Outcast is. it leads to a game over, sure. But if you pay attention in the game it actually explains the game over within the game’s world. Killing an Talan with a strong essence (read plot essential character) means that their essence will take its revenge upon you and it’s death for trigger happy Cutter. OK so it’s a hand wavy explanation but to this day it’s the only game i’ve played that even bothers with one.

    • Cunzy1 1 says:

      A friend and I spent hours and hours and hours replaying the opening to sections of co-op Half Life because it proved impossible not to pop off shots at key NPCs.

      This should be standard.

    • Corrupt_Tiki says:

      Actually ArmA 2 Bothered with an explanation too, when I was ‘learning the ropes’ of it, I squeezed a few into my fellow rifleman, who well, as you do when you get a few holes in you, died.

      Then The Game over screen came up saying that what I did, wasn’t an incidence of friendly fire, but actual cold-blooded murder, and I got sent back to the USA, and put on trial.

      It actually made me feel bad about that dead bunch of pixels. Fun in CSS or HL2 but yeah, ArmA it was just ‘woah’

    • Xercies says:

      Unfortunatly that made arma 2 so very very annoying because the AI sometimes would be stupid and everytime you loaded it up it would run straight into a tank and always get blown up meaning that you had to restart the mission..or the game.

    • Premium User Badge

      Lars Westergren says:

      Planescape: Torment also explained that you killed one of the people who were needed to help you regain your memories and end your curse. So while you could keep playing, it would be pointless as the Nameless One was destined to lose more and more of himself until he becomes a mindless piece of meat for eternity.

    • Ravenger says:

      Morrowind warned you when you killed someone vital to the plot, but it was sometimes easy to miss, and there were no further reminders, so you could end up playing through the game but not realise it was uncompletable. Oblivion solved this by making vital characters get knocked out when you ‘killed’ them, only to recover a short while later. They also flagged important NPCs with crown icons when you highlighted them. Not perhaps good for immersion, but at least you couldn’t accidentally break the whole game.

    • Colthor says:

      In most cases killing friends should be possible and not a “game over”. They’re usually annoying, so killing them would get them out of the way, or at least let you use them as ammo power-ups.

  14. Shrewsbury says:

    @James G: You mean, the dedicated save games directory that’s been available since Windows Mistake Edition (ME)?

    • Premium User Badge

      James G says:

      Even longer then. Can’t remember it being present in XP, but possibly that’s just because I never had anything that actually used it.

  15. speedwaystar says:

    Windows 7 (and probably Vista) have a /User/Name/My Games folder for config files and save games (which can be redirected to a folder on another drive if you so desire). Unfortunately, most recent titles fail to use it.

  16. Allandaros says:

    @Lambchops – Morrowind, for instance, flashes a message essentially saying “You broke the story, but you can keep playing if you want to,” or something to that effect, if you kill a plot-critical NPC.

  17. Alexander Norris says:

    Don’t: splash on my screen. I AM NOT A SCREEN! I’M A HUMAN! When it rains, this does not leave droplets running down the front of my vision. This is because I have a face, including a nose, chin and forehead.

    You omitted one crucial thing, John: helmet HUDs. They justify the whole rain-/blood-drops on screen thing, but more importantly, they are awesome which is why absolutely every FPS ever should have a helmet HUD. They are scientifically proven to make games 100% more winsome.

    • Josh W says:

      Winsome, just thought I’d underline that is a word who’s time has come. Is it a natural consequence of people’s desire to create new words/phrases out of “awesome” and “win”, or is it a 16thCentury-ish throwback that means lovely to be around and likely to win you over?

      It’s both, it’s an overload of heartwarm!

  18. bill says:

    Why do they do that with the gun placement (and also placement of other cool items)?

    They go to all the trouble to make and code up a gun emplacement, and then they put it where you can’t use it for anything. Except shooting scenery. Waste of effort…

    and on that point…

  19. bill says:

    …don’t really agree about the shooting friends thing. It’s a waste of the developer’s effort.

    Sure, games are about freedom, but when the devs have to go out of their way to deal with players doing blatently out of character things? Seems like a waste.

    I rather liked the HL2 way of doing it, just lowering the gun. But I hardly found it a chore or a break of suspension of disbelief that I couldn’t shoot or harm alex in HL2. It’d have been more weird if Gordon Freeman had shot her. And it’d have been more annoying if I’d killed her accidentally in a big firefight and then been forced to replay that section.
    The only choices are – (a) restart on kill (annoying), or have the devs spend months of time on making the game winnable if you decide to kill everyone.

    • Corrupt_Tiki says:

      **HL2:EP1/2 SPOILER**

      Well, what about when that Hunter Nails Alex?
      And Gordy just sits there like a Garden Knome

    • Ricc says:

      @Corrupt_Tiki:

      In the situation you speak of, Gordon is encumbered by rocks and later freed by a Vortigaunt, before being able to do anything again. It’s a bit of a departure from the usual cutscene-freedom that the HL2 series provides, but I think it’s justified. Putting that scene behind a barrier of some kind, would have made it less effective, imo.

    • Corrupt_Tiki says:

      And It happens again, as I think I’ve already stated somewhere in these here comments, with the ‘advisor’ or maggot, I actually got several decent shots in with the Revolver and nothing.

      Just aggravates me is all. I bust out these ninja moves and I get no reward? I do like the comment someone posted of actually shooting and killing the baddy before he was supposed to. It would ‘personalize’ the gaming experience so much.

      I killed boss ‘x’ at this point in gametime… etc.

    • D says:

      I love when people put “HL SPOILER” before HL spoilers <3

  20. Man Raised By Puffins says:

    Do: let me move during cutscenes.

    I’m quite fond of the solution to this used in Far Cry 2. You’re free to gad about while your contacts are speechifying but if you prove too unruly the exposition ceases and the mercs stare at you wordlessly, all but saying “have you quite finished?”, until you stop bounding around the hut like a deranged gibbon.

    • Premium User Badge

      AndrewC says:

      Or, like, after every mission you’re just *really* pooped, and so have a nice sit down while the person talks. That would work!

  21. Premium User Badge

    Aninhumer says:

    “Don’t: give me a mounted gun that points back at the path along which I just ran”
    Wouldn’t this be in breach of your “don’t make non interactive scenery” rule in #1?
    Unless you’re just saying don’t give the enemy big mounted guns at all… but where’s the fun in that?

    • ReV_VAdAUL says:

      I think the complaint is that if theres going to be a mounted gun you can use don’t place it so you kill everyone you could use it against before you get there.

    • Eamo says:

      But if you are attacking these guys and their (presumably well defended) emplacements wouldn’t it make sense for their guns to be pointing in the direction you will be coming from?

      Why would you have a big gun on a fortress wall pointing towards the keep?

  22. Rob Lang says:

    DO: Help me find the last 1% of items in a world if you’re telling me a %. If you’re not going to help with the last 1%, don’t give me a percentage. I got to 99%, I clearly want to sodding get to 100%, so a bit of a hand, please.

    DON’T: Insult my intelligence by telling me in the advertising video that it’s the greatest game ever made and show my cut scenes. Show me the bloody game.

    DO: Allow me to rebind keys.

    DON’T: Have vehicles in your game unless you have game controller support. Driving cars with WASD isn’t as much fun.

    DO: Let me put the camera on the front bumper. Wherever you hover the camera behind the car will be wrong.

    • empty_other says:

      DO: Make it possible to play the game with non-microsoft controllers.

      After Games for Windows became “popular”, suddenly no programmer want to make their games compatible with controllers like logitechs… Only microsoft controllers. My Logitech Cordless Rumblepad 2 is now as useful as a brick.

    • Ravenger says:

      Even worse is that Windows 7 has no support for non-USB game controllers. My entire HOTAS CH Products Stick, throttle and rudder pedals set is nigh-on unusable.

    • Sporknight says:

      Addenum:
      DO keep the steering separate from where I’m pointing the camera. Just because I want to look out over a cliff doesn’t mean I want the car to go that way too.

    • Ravenger says:

      @Sporknight

      I really hate that control method. I’ve played so many games with proper tank controls that to have the vehicle turn when I aim the gun seems really awkward to me. I don’t know how anyone can consider it to be a good control scheme.

    • measurements says:

      Ravenger I believe you and sporklight are in agreement, not the opposite thing. On the topic of drivey viewy issues, anyone wish you could have shot out of the car window in gta while still looking forward? I think it was vice city where that bugged me.

      Here’s a totally random don’t I just realised which relates to ‘let me rebind keys': DON’T be economical with keys because controllers don’t have enough buttons. Context sensitive buttons really bug me. I was jubilant when I discovered suitmode binds in crysis, if only you could also get unique grenade binds as well. PC gamers have more buttons. Let them use them! (I’m looking at you Assassins Creed).

  23. Dean Learner says:

    DON’T: make climbing down a ladder difficult, the consequences of getting it wrong usually result in death.

    “Finally, I climbed the tower and defeated the most evil being in the universe, now all I need to do is climb down this here laddAAAAAARRRRRRGGGHHHhhhhhhhhaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa

    *BUFF*

    • Corrupt_Tiki says:

      How come noone else has thought of this.

      It always happens to me, and usually in checkpoint-type games, and usually miles from the checkpoint =/

    • Tarqon says:

      All of the methods I’ve seen for making climbing ladders foolproof were horrible though. That said going down a ladder in most first person titles is a horrible chore.

    • D says:

      FEAR 1 had it right

    • Fumarole says:

      Put a dead girl at the top?

    • measurements says:

      Half life one had sticky ladders, that was okay. Crysis had usey ladders, that too was okay. Correction: I found both okay.

      I find that most supposed ladder functionality fixes are more annoying when they inhibit your ability to disengage with the ladder. If you aren’t completely up or down you’re in a dangerous place.

  24. Dean says:

    You’re missing something John. If all games had interactive cut scenes and conversations, when exactly are we meant to play Slitherlink eh?

  25. Flaringo says:

    Again I completely agree with all of this.

    Games nowadays have the bad habit of thinking they’re movies. They take away all your freedom and take you from fight to cutscene to fight to cutscene (repeat that for 4-8 hours) to advance the plot. In the fights they make sure you play exactly how they intended the game to be played, by not letting you wander off ANYWHERE. Then you have the cutscenes where you can’t do this: http://www.youtube.com/watch#!v=eE7fAiw3-C8&feature=related

  26. RoteByrd says:

    I remember I had to stop playing the Resistance and Liberation WWII mod for HL2 because the head bob was SOOO pronounced it actually nauseated me.

    • Corrupt_Tiki says:

      When I played Serious Sam (Can’t Remember which itiration) on Xbox I actually got a massive migrane and had to stop playing. idk if it was the bright colours, flashing, or what but man that was painful!

      Could’ve been the fact we’d been playing videogames for 7-8 hours nonstop.

  27. Cpl_Trim says:

    I think headbob *can* be useful, sometimes – it’s another way of illustrating how fast you’re moving, which is pretty useful feedback. I’m playing some Thief 3 again at the moment, which has about three different speeds of headbob. And in Thief games, you wanted as many clues as possible about what movement mode you were in… (of course, there aren’t a lot of games like Thief, alas…).

  28. Kangarootoo says:

    Not sure about the cutscene one. I don’t want to be a semantics-nazi, but if you can control a cutscene, its simply not a cutscene anymore.

  29. EthZee says:

    I love headbob, shakeycam, etc. They are awesome.

    DON’T: In FPS, make the viewpoint a floating camera; when I move around, I can see my arms, my legs, and in fact, most of my body. I can see them! And when I walk or run, my head doesn’t keep perfectly level. In fact, it bobs about quite a lot!

    I want an end to the standard FPS floating camera. There are games, good games, where it has been proven that you can attach a camera to the player model, so that the viewpoint follows the movement of the head. DO THIS. NOW.

    DO: Let me sit down. There is a bench there. Let me sit on it. You heartless bastards.

    • Mad Hamish says:

      yeah games have no excuse for this these days, yet many FPSs still do it. I want to see my legs got damn it. I love in the original op flashpoint you could look your head around and even see your shoulders. Hell I’d go as far as being able to see your nose at the end of the screen, but that’s just me I think. As far as head bob goes, bob_d said it’s unrealistic because of the inner ear thing. Which is probably true I guess but if the option is head bob or floaty cam I’ll go for head bob. I’ve never experienced any kind of nausia from looking at a screen but I hear complaints about it all the time so I guess it affects a lot of people, but an option to turn it on and off isn’t hard to implement.

  30. Wednesday says:

    You’re still worse than BP John.

  31. malkav11 says:

    Don’t: have unskippable cutscenes. You know what sort of cutscenes are really really unskippable? The kind where you can wander around and mess about during the whole thing.

    Also, it’s quite easy to be looking the wrong way when something cool happens during this kind of cutscene. So, in conclusion, they are rubbish, don’t do them.

  32. Premium User Badge

    Wisq says:

    Don’t: splash on my screen. I AM NOT A SCREEN! I’M A HUMAN!

    I recall posting a comment about this to one of the Silent Hunter vids on RPS one time.

    It’s bad enough to get rain/blood on your screen when you’re a space marine who may or may not have a helmet visor to actually splash on. But when you’re a disembodied ghost floating outside your submarine? Come on.

    (After all, everyone knows ghosts don’t wear glasses. Or helmets. And even if they did, your puny corporeal water isn’t going to stick to them. Sheesh.)

    Anyway, glad to see I’m not the only one inordinately bugged by this particular (mis)feature. :)

  33. Tarqon says:

    Far worse than screen splashes and lens flares is depth of field. The game doesn’t know where I’m looking, no, I’m not always tunnelvisioning the center of the screen. When you look somewhere and it’s this blurry, unfocused mess that just completely ruins my immersion.

    Also fun: depth of field focusing on a blade of grass in front of your camera while you’re trying to snipe.

  34. Dean Learner says:

    DO: assume I am in a hurry.

    NPC : Thanks for clearing the way for me, I appreciate what you are doing and I know it will probably save all of our lives. I will now proceed to the door and unlock it for you
    *NPC slowly turns and walks towards it’s target at a pace just slightly faster than walking backwards that suggests he/she doesn’t have a care in the world*

    bonus annoying points to to games which make the NPC stop if you’re too close or too far away.

  35. Corrupt_Tiki says:

    DO: Make the opening sequence of Publisher Title Names, Developer Names, and logos skippable – Always. I don’t care how fancy you EA Games logo looks, Get the fudge outta my way and let me play.

    • Corrupt_Tiki says:

      My HTML skills are woeful ='(

    • Alez says:

      God damn. those intro logos need to go away. I actually had to google for borderlands how to disable the stupid robot nvidia thing. All those who thought it should not be skipped need to die, and not be able to close their eyes so they have to see the thing that is killing them, what with it being unskipable and all.

  36. Dean Learner says:

    DO: proper resource management.

    Especially with games trying to make you jump. There’s nothing worse than a brief pause just before a new creature jumps out. I now associate this pause and am aware that something is about to try to shock me, it utterly ruins it.

  37. Whelp says:

    Republic Commandos are, for all intents and purposes, space marines.

  38. Dean Learner says:

    DONT:
    Make me switch between my keyboard and my mouse a lot when navigating menus. Flash games seem to do this when and if they please >: /

  39. Bob says:

    Here’s one for you: if you’re going to make a realistic game where the ordinary bad guys can be dispatched with a single swift headshot, don’t then present me with a “boss” character who, while wearing less armour (and often clothing) than the ordinary guys, takes 50 times more face shots to kill!

    /scowls at Alpha Protocol

  40. Megagun says:

    DO: do the research.

    If you want to be the next big space marine corridor shooter, play previous big next big space marine shooters. If you want to be the next big RTS with awesome controls, play other big RTSes with awesome controls. Learn from other people’s work. Don’t make the same mistakes that they did. Steal often, but have a reason for the stealings and apply the stealings properly. Also, focus on whatever your profession is and what you find important. If you’re a programmer who wants to create a new awesome graphics engine that performs well, grab a copy of the Quake 3 Arena source code and begin reading. If you’re an artist looking to create a nice realistic representation of some desert town, book a plane ticket.

    There are two games that I can think of that do this well (disclaimer: they’re the two games that I like most): Deus Ex and Star Control 2. Deus ex, well, should be obvious. They wanted to make a game with an intruiging storyline about all kinds of crazy conspiracies, and it’s clear that the writers read up on all these conspiracy theories. As for Star Control 2, well, they make it painfully obious why the Star Control 2 aliens seem very ‘realistic’ and ‘as if they jumped straight from a sci-fi novel’… ;)

  41. Jacques says:

    I agree with most of what you say, granted I have to disagree on the blood splatters and rain/ water effects; many games now have characters with visors to explain the HUD’s presence, rather than a visual representation of situational awareness with dead on accuracy. It makes perfect sense for water to mess with a visor, and/ or blood. Granted, if you have no HUD, and no visor, there isn’t really a reason for this. That said, what can replace screen flashing for damage indication? Aside from a little figure of yourself in some part of the screen with pain indications of where you were hit in 3D combined with sound and physical impediments (which would be awesome), I can’t think of much that would make you accurately aware of damage, aside from classic “ouch” noises, which don’t grant any sense of direction to pain.

  42. PUMPY says:

    How about games in general returning some measure of genuine agency to the player? There are fewer and fewer games where it actually feels like I’M the one doing things and not just pressing buttons in the order the game dictates. Even in games with branching dialogue choices like Mass Effect and Alpha Protocol, the choices still don’t feel like my own – they’re constrained to exactly those options provided by the writers, rather than arising naturally from the mechanics of the game.

    Also SKIPPABLE CUTSCENES GODDAMMIT

  43. Irish Al says:

    Regarding the placement of saves in the depths of your application data folder structure, it could well be that this what you have to do so that Microsoft will give you the nice shiny certification sticker.

  44. Jacques says:

    Because total freedom requires a free world, a free world is not something that can be created in someone’s spare time or on a game budget of today (perhaps ever, though I think dream tech will offer something like this). Dialog choices will feel out of place until we can speak for ourselves and have the game respond, which is quite a feat. In short, translation would be a bitch

  45. MrFake says:

    The name has slipped my mind, but I remember a game that had mounted guns, some pointing backward, with more use than target practice on scenery. Using the gun would trigger a wave of enemies from whichever direction it was pointing, letting the player take some time to just mow down more of the bastards that were just giving him a ard time (probably with the mounted gun). Or the player could skip the gun without triggering the wave. A neat trick.

    I hate Half Life 2 cutscenes for giving me freedom of motion, because it always hammers home that I’m stuck on rails. The doors won’t open, NPCs block the way out, nobody responds to my insanity, they are mostly unskippable, etc. It’s kind of a downer. I don’t mind a short break in the action just to set down the controller and let my hands rest. It moves the game along without pointing out that I’m a helpless psychotic tool being used by oblivious talking robots. Kojima-scenes, of course, are infuriating. Even I, and I love every bit of exposition, get a little exasperated by the time the fifth reel begins rolling. In short, skippable cutscenes in moderation are better than I AM TARZAN FREEMAN, BEHOLD MY FREEDOM AS I THROW POTTED PLANTS AT YOUR CROTCH.

  46. Kdansky says:

    I just wanted to mention lens flare, which makes me shout at my screen in any FPS when I encounter the effect for the first time.

    And I have to say I loved the droplet effects in Metroid. Because you are wearing a suit, and you can even see your own reflection sometimes. Those effects were so well done that my eyes started watering every single time (even after thirty hours of play) when my character got a cloud of steam on her visor, because it looked exactly like steam on my glasses. So that is fine.

  47. KeenanW says:

    RE: game saves

    There’s a sort of-solution out there called GameSave Manager that lets you locate and back up save files for a lot of games.

  48. Kdansky says:

    DON’T:

    Move the camera when my character reloads his gun. Borderlands makes me sea-sick when I want to use shotguns. Camera movement is acceptable for “recoil” (though I do not appreciate it), but not for reload. Add an option do deactivate all shaky cam effects, or use them very, very sparsely.

  49. broklynite says:

    Okay, so we all agree that the droplet effect is okay when the character is wearing a face-mask of some sort. That said, I loved in the original bioshock would blur your vision when you walked through water. Not the droplets, but the vision blur- you know, like when you walk through actual water and the water gets in your eyes and you are momentarily blinded. I liked that a lot.

  50. Rob says:

    Sorry, saved games *ARE* a DRM issue, like it or not.

    See: Broken PSP, Broken Wii…