Rules For Games: Do & Don’t #3

By John Walker on February 8th, 2011 at 6:55 pm.

Six months ago I took over the world. My decrees for gaming are the result, and all developers and publishers are obliged to follow them. You can read previous entreaties here. Since they only began half a year ago we haven’t seen the results yet, but any day now. Here is a third instalment of that which must be obeyed.

DO: let me choose my game settings from outside the game. I want to play games in a window, at the resolution of my desktop. The reason I want to do this is because anything else would be mad like a crazy person. So defaulting to showing it to me at 640×400 in EGA at fullscreen is perhaps not the way I want to kick things off with your game. First impressions count. When those first impressions are of seeing the name of your game overlapping the edges of the screen, looking as though it’s made out of LEGO, while IM windows are flashing demanding to know information from me immediately that I can no longer click on, it makes me think you’re a bit of a dick. And you know how you then insist that I restart the game to apply those settings? DO YOU SEE?

DON’T: launch your game with an unskippable cutscene. It seems so crazy that I even have to type those words, let alone that so very many games might do it. Since you’re bound to be breaking the rule above, I’m inevitably watching this video at some embarrassingly low resolution, when all I want to do is get the bloody thing into a window. What I don’t want to do is be required to sit, transfixed at my machine, when I’ve clicked to load. I may well be making coffee. Did you even think about that? About my coffee? You can even give me one of those pointless screens saying, “Press any button to start” as if I’m on a PS2, before getting to the title screen proper, if it means not putting your opening narrative before an options screen. What are those screens for, by the way? Stop it.

DO: let me pause cutscenes. It blows my little mind how few games offer this option. Doorbells and telephones wait for no man, and if I’m trying to follow your half-arsed attempt at a story, it’s not going to help if my takeaway arrives midway through Anthony Gunnington explaining to Ladyface Helpme that he has to punch fourteen aliens or the evil Gorgal will blow up the universe. This is especially bad on the few occasions when the scenes are worth watching, as I’ll then stumble into the next sequence clueless and annoyed. While some games do make them accessible from the menus, obviously many don’t, and it’s hardly the same. A pause button. Do it. Or I’ll blow up the universe.

DON’T: install DirectX without checking which version I currently have. Nor a .NET framework, whatever that is. And yes Steam, I’m mostly talking to you. Just what are you doing? You know how you could know I already have the latest version of DirectX installed? BECAUSE YOU INSTALLED IT YESTERDAY. That’s how you could know. Or you could, I don’t know, check for the version number and notice it’s exactly the same as the one you’re now insisting on installing without even asking first. Especially if I’m playing the demo for a 2D puzzle game from 1989. Oh my goodness.

DO: have your in-game volume sliders work. It’s beyond all my understanding – and I have over sixty-three understanding – why I can drag the slider down to a fraction of a millimetre from the bottom and still not be able to hear the TV show I’m watching on the other screen. I shouldn’t have to use Windows’ in-built volume controls to SHUT YOU UP. Especially YOU, Popcap. It’s like your volume sliders go, 10, 9, 8, 7, 7, 7, 7, 7, 7, 7, 0. Your games do not demand my full attention, as brightly coloured as they may be. I might want to enjoy an evening of Peggle and light-hearted crime procedural dramas, and I need to hear the quips.

DON’T: make it difficult for me to quit. In fact, since I’m telling you how to do your jobs, you should add this new requirement. A quit button. I know, it sounds cuckoo-crazy, but bear with me. From anywhere in the game, I want to call up the menu (by pressing “Escape” – not by looking at a device strapped to my wrist, tabbing through three pages, and finding the four pixel button for the options) and then choose “Quit to desktop”. I do not want to quit to the main menu. I do not want to quit to the level selection screen. I do not want to quit to that insane screen that asks me to press a button to start. I want to quit the game. Completely. In one go. I don’t, because I’m some sort of insanely fussy old pickypants, want to go through each of those previous pages one by one, until I’ve eventually climbed back up enough ladders to see the crack of daylight that is escape. Yes, you can ask me if I’m sure, in case I select the wrong thing because you probably haven’t bothered to add mouse controls to your 360 port. And then, PING!, I’m back at my desktop ready to continue with my day. Leaving a game shouldn’t be more of a challenge than a boss fight.

DO: let me have as many save slots as I want. Because you’re on PC! You’re free! The most a save is likely to take up is about 10MB. My hard drive is, like, lots more megabytes than that! Millions of them! There is no reason in the whole wide universe why you need to restrict me to eight. I might want to keep my earlier saves without having to hand copy them from which ever stupid folder you’ve secreted them into that you won’t tell me anyway. Is it because you hate gamers? You work so hard, for so many months, and by the time your game is done you just feel nothing but contempt for your potential customers? “How many saves shall we allow in the PC version? We’ve got room for infinity of them.” “THREE. And store them in the Recycle Bin.”

DON’T: give me a fight I can’t win. I’ve faced the boss for fifteen minutes, I’ve painstakingly shot out its legs, arms, wings and eight of its eyes, and now I’m going for the final blast! His stupid, stupid face. BLAMMO! Cutscene! The monster is alive and disappearing down a hole… waitwhat? No! Absolutely and emphatically no. All of the no in a big pile all at once. If you’re going to make me go through some tedious extended fight, let me bloody well win it. If your story relies on this baddy mysteriously surviving having his energy bar completely emptied, his body hideously destroyed, then perhaps your story is a big stinking piece of old underwear.

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212 Comments »

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  1. Malawi Frontier Guard says:

    You need to take a hostage before you can make demands.

    • Premium User Badge

      Sunjumper says:

      We are all hostages here, of our own device.

    • Mr_Hands says:

      You can stop playing PC games any time you like – assuming you can find the menu, and the quit button and answer the 32-question test that decides whether you’re worthy of a vaguely unsimulated reality and — ah fuck it. You can never leave.

    • Radiant says:

      ie, name names.

    • Mr_Hands says:

      Plenty of room at the Hotel PC gamer?

    • SirDimos says:

      Here’s one that drives me banana nuts sandwich:

      Boss fights in which the inevitable outcome is your death/capture, yet which make you start over if you die/get captured before they want you to.

    • apa says:

      Yeah, it’s annoying if you stab the boss with your steely knives but you just can’t kill the beast.

    • jon_hill987 says:

      @SirDimos: You would not like the Etherian level of Star Trek: Voyager: Elite Force then. If you died at any point in that level you had to go back to a save/the start but when you get to the end of it it turns out that it was all a misunderstanding and the other crew members who you thought were killed were just put into stasis. Apparently none of the things you shot at died either…

    • Ian Moriarty says:

      Had to dig in my Design linklist to drag these back up, but every designer should probably have these as reference:

      The “Rules” (AKA the Do’s)
      http://www.theinspiracy.com/Current%20Rules%20Master%20List.htm

      The No Twinkie Database (AKA the Don’ts)
      http://www.designersnotebook.com/Design_Resources/No_Twinkie_Database/no_twinkie_database.htm

      ~I

    • Demon Beaver says:

      I want to point out how this is done proper, reminding all you good chaps of the opening of Far Cry 2. Maybe not much liked, but I really did enjoy the concept of fight til you die (while still sick with Malaria), and only once you’re half dead and riddled with bullets does the game keep the story going.

  2. Heliosicle says:

    Somebody’s upset!

    On a serious note – all good points that developers (& publishers) should acknowledge!

  3. Risingson says:

    Good points. I think the last one can be related to something I really don’t like about some action games: boss battles are not difficult, but just long. It’s not a matter of reflexes or ability, it’s just crouch, shoot, move right, crouch, shoot, move left, crouch, recharge, move right…

    Also: please, developers, many of us have 5.1 sound in our rooms. We are lucky, and we would be much luckier if you took advantage of that more often.

    • Kieron Gillen says:

      RisingSon: I have basically decided not to finish Chaos Rising because I can’t face going through the tedium of the final battle, chipping away at that health bar.

      KG

    • Mr_Hands says:

      If I had any lasting critique of Chaos Rising, it’s that I found the final battle to be SIGNIFICANTLY less tedious than killing that Eldar motherfucking Avatar.

      But that’s just me. The idea of a boss fight in the DoW universe makes SENSE, but yeah. So frustrating.

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      The Sombrero Kid says:

      I AM FURIOUS AT CHAOS RISING, THE WORST THING IS WHEN THE GAME SHIPPED IF YOU SPENT THE 45 MINUTES KILLING THAT BASTARD THE GAME CRASHED RIGHT AFTER IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      The capitalisation was necessary, sorry.

    • DarkFenix says:

      Oh Gods, that fucking last boss in Chaos Rising. Don’t remind me. I’d love to find the guy who thought that’d be a good idea and drown him in his own piss.

      The best thing? Certain builds for your squads – perfectly viable builds that make short work of every other mission in the game – make that last boss completely impossible. Add to this that the game isn’t perfectly stable and you have a recipe for what I experienced.

      I spent probably the best part of an hour trying to slowly chip his health down with my almost purely melee force (seriously, don’t try going all melee, it works everywhere except here), then the game crashed. Well fuck you Relic.

    • Mr_Day says:

      Yeah, I also had the game crash directly after the final boss died in Chaos Rising. But then, all of the bosses bar the traitor fella were tedious fights in which you shot at someone inexplicably impervious to bolter fire for about three minutes, whilst moving your squads from the telegraphed mega attack and/or dealing with a sudden influx of more bads.

      Even the traitor fight was a bit crap. He didn’t have that much health when I had him under my command, the cheeky scamp. At least he used the abilities open to his class, which made it less tedious.

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      Malcolm says:

      I’ve not played Chaos Rising, but my reward for most stupidly irritating final boss of recent history is still that ridiculous tentacled eye-monster (original!) from Borderlands. Shame, I was quite enjoying it ’til then.

    • Chucrute says:

      Prototype comes to mind. (SPOILERS, i think)

      Horrible, repetitive boss fights that you endure for half an hour. The last boss is the pinnacle of bad design choice, GARGANTUAN amount of health and a 1-hit kill attack. To top it all, a countdown clock starts when you drop half of his health.

    • Inglourious Badger says:

      The worst Final boss battle ever? Beyond Good and Evil

      Great game. Terrible, repetitive, memorize which way they attack next so when you redo it for the 28th time you’ll know boss battle

    • Dominic White says:

      Developers shouldn’t be allowed to design boss fights until they’ve sat down and played every single game by Treasure (especially Alien Soldier, which is 34 boss battles back-to-back), and then gone through most of the Contra series as well, taking notes all the way.

      There is no excuse for terrible boss design when you’ve got a single game out there with 34 great examples IN A ROW.

    • triple omega says:

      When it comes to boss fights I really need to add one:

      DO: Give me the freedom to beat the boss how I want. Instead of forcing me along a rail with the only options being hitting and missing. It makes no sense that a grenade exploding ON the guy’s eyeball does nothing, but hitting that orange spot with a 9mm bullet takes out a quarter of his HP. It’d also be swell if I could figure out the guy’s weaknesses without using a freaking guide on the internet.(Thnx Gears of War, really.)

      DON’T: Force me to use techniques I haven’t specialized in. If I’ve been doing [A] for the ENTIRE game, don’t make me use [B] in the final battle!(I’m looking at you Black&White 2) I don’t know how to use [B] and I chose to use [A] for a reason.

    • Jake says:

      I’m glad some other people take issue with the final boss in Chaos Rising. I have no idea how you are meant to kill that boss but all I did was use artillery strikes on it about 15 times until it died while fleeing if it came near me. I find it hard to believe this is what the designers had in mind.

      With the Avatar I just ran away and used orbital bombardments. Quite similar but quicker.

    • Acorino says:

      >>The worst Final boss battle ever? Beyond Good and Evil
      >>Great game. Terrible, repetitive, memorize which way they attack next so >>when you redo it for the 28th time you’ll know boss battle

      It wasn’t too bad, especially not too long. But I had to note down the ways I have to move to beat the bastard. My head wasn’t able to comprehend otherwise.
      The boss battle in Nomad Soul was much worse, but I enjoyed that, too.

      I heard that the final boss in Turok 2 is pretty much impossible. From lots of friends, actually.

    • brulleks says:

      @Malcolm.

      Borderlands? Borderlands?!

      I suffer from severe bossfightophobia, and even I found the end of Borderlands easy. It’s largely heralded as a major letdown by all those hardcore gamers with their huge, swinging virtual balls who were expecting something much grindier.

      Personally, I was just relieved at how quickly it was all over.

      Now Star Trek: Elite Force, that was a terrible end boss. Never bothered finishing that one. Or Condemned. Or Prototype (didn’t even get to the final battle with that one). Or Tomb Raider: Anniversary (Oh God, that was the worst. Made it as far as the two horseman and uninstalled it).

    • erhebung says:

      The two katana-wielding dancers and the irritating save system led me to give up (well, for now) on Dead Rising 2… I’m sure some find it easy, but it can all be over so quickly, and it can then take so long (because of save positions) to get back… That one strikes me as a particularly good example of bad design. Worse, too, because I really enjoy the sandbox that is Dead Rising 2.

    • Ovno says:

      Really? I just kitted everyone out with terminator armour and nutted the bastard to death….

    • Mr_Day says:

      For both Borderlands and Chaos Rising:

      The problem with the fights was not that they were hard. It was that they were tedious.

      The bosses had huge health pools and your attacks chipped away at it. It took a long time not because it was difficult, but because it actually took a long time.

  4. afarrell says:

    There are some games where having a limited number of saves is arguably a game mechanic (though not nearly as many as there are games with limited number of saves)

    • Brumisator says:

      Arguably, okay.
      I can’t remember a game where that wasn’t infuriating, even if it was supposed to be like that.
      Just like phones and doorbells wait for no man, how about I need to get off my computer to go to the grocery store? Or stop playing for any other reason?
      “Sorry, I can’t let you do that, dave” is evil, we all know that.

    • qrter says:

      But you’re still playing on a PC, so you can still manually copy gamesaves yourself, like John also mentions. It’s just very, very unnecessary and annoying.

    • afarrell says:

      @Brumisator: Ah yeah, you’re talking about having a limited number of opportunities to save? I was more thinking about having, say, quicksave everywhere, but only two or three save games to overwrite.

      @qrter: Sure, but you’re on a PC so you may be able to edit the save games themselves: just because you can get around a game mechanic externally doesn’t make it not a game mechanic.

    • MadTinkerer says:

      Minecraft limits the number of worlds/saves to 5, though you can manually backup, rename, and copy worlds to your heart’s content. Currently, each world is made up of many individual “chunk” files, which balloon enormously as you explore each world and the game generates more for you to explore. In fact, explore too far and you’ll end up causing your computer headaches when it tries to load the most enormous world. If you weren’t somewhat limited in the number of worlds, it would be a little too easy to accidentally use up all your hard drive space with billions of tiny files representing bits of Minecraft worlds.

      (In fact, given a system with theoretically sufficient memory and processing power, Minecraft is capable of creating a world larger than it is currently possible to store on the largest commercially available disk drive. In reality, your current CPU will give up long before you hit that limit.)

      In addition to proper mod support, fixing this issue is their current #1 priority.

  5. Moni says:

    Can we, in some way, tie these demands to make games more accessible to players afflicted with cerebral palsy?

  6. vash47 says:

    DO: Let me change my controls in game, settings in game.
    DON’T: Require to restart the game to change settings.
    DON’T: Do unskipable cutscenes, ever.
    DON’T: Hide saves. No I don’t want them in appdata/randomfolderthatgoesonforever/
    DO: Include support for any kind of controller

    • cliffski says:

      DON’T: Require to restart the game to change settings.

      I’m guilty of this. I wasn’t, until I ported to directx9, and then I was. why?

      Because directx9+ makes this a flipping NIGHTMARE OF AWFUL PROPORTIONS. Maybe there are some wise old wizards who know the trick, but he isn’t sharing. I know every word ever written by microsoft on how it should work, and it’s still unstable as hell. Why? I have no idea, but I strongly, passionately suspect it is flaky video card drivers. Stuff like this is WAY down on their pirority lists, after vital stuff like “extra 0.0001fps in oblivion”. I share your pain here, but it really isn’t as easy as it sounds. Not unless you want 2% of machines to have random crashes until a reboot.

    • John Walker says:

      Vash – you may want to check out some of the previews Do & Don’t articles that cover most of those: http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/tag/do-dont/

    • Medo says:

      IMO a restart to change the resolution or similar is ok – you’re not likely to do that often. However, if you can’t switch to windowed mode without a restart, at least let me alt-tab out and back without freezing for half a minute or crashing completely (I’m looking at you, Source. It worked great with HL2 back in the day, and I had much less RAM then to keep stuff in the background. What happened?)

    • MikoSquiz says:

      Team Fortress 2 is amazing that way. My system was shit hot back when the game came out, and clearly struggles with it now – alt-tabbing is a good way to cause crashes or quadruple the amount of chugging and freezing (which happens anyway, all the time), changing the screen resolution is the same, changing certain video settings may do that or just gum up the entire system for about three minutes while a half-second loop of sound plays (and those video settings also reset themselves on a regular basis)..

      Generally closing Steam, starting it again, and running TF2 first thing helps things run a little smoother, but that may require repeatedly killing the steam.exe process in Task Manager, too.

      Sometimes I think Valve’s back-end system coding is something that gets done during coffee breaks by the people who are responsible for making all the excellent bits of their output.

    • ShawnClapper says:

      @cliffski
      I was just going to mention this myself. There are definitely some games out there that require a restart when they don’t need to, but there are some instances where there really is no way around it. The only solution (possibly) would be to create the program with main() instead of winMain, but that’s just being an asshole and not working “with” windows.
      The problem usually doesn’t lie in the game programming but in windows programming. When you make a game for windows you are just a guest in their buggy ass programming environment. You have to play by their rules if you want to get along, and sometimes this requires only being able to set how a window is drawn to before it is created. If it gets changed you have to make a new window.

    • ShawnClapper says:

      @vash47

      I’m working on my first c++ game currently and the question has come up on where to store the save games. I can’t find a standard anywhere. I have hundreds of games installed and the save location seems pretty random.

      I was thinking \Documents\My Games. Does this seem like an agreeable place for everyone?

      Also where should the .cfg files be stored. Like the ones that save your graphix settings. Saving in the game install folder seems more appropriate, but putting it in Documents/My Games along with the save game seems more consistent so you can find everything in one spot.

      Oh and while on the subject of saving files. Most games save user settings in a *.cfg type file. This seems pretty standard however I still see people that don’t know how to open those in notepad if they need to manually change something. I was considering saving them as a *.txt file so it’s easy to open but on the other hand that might confuse experienced gamers who are used to finding them in a *.cfg file?

      • Vercinger says:

        PLEASE stick the save games inside “/MainGameDirectory/Save Games”. And put config.txt in the main directory itself, along with Readme.txt, the game .exe, and the uninstaller. And preferably nothing else.

        Also, please include a note at the top of the Readme that lists all the user files, so we know what to copy when migrating to another system.

    • Tommo says:

      @ShawnClapper you could always call the file config.txt …? And keep it with the saves.

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      Znea says:

      Is there some reason that all the saves and configuration files can’t be kept in the game install folder? That way if I want to do something with “Awesome Game 46″ I just look in the “Awesome Game 46″ folder.

    • qrter says:

      I’d go for the /Documents/My Games/ place, too. Also have the config file there, so it can be easily backed up, if need be.

      @Znea Most games aren’t installed in a “Your Game’s Name Here” folder, rather in a folder with the publisher’s name, which sometimes is something completely different than what you thought it was (different publishers for different ‘zones’, etc.), or you might not know who published it, and so on.

      Granted, not that big of a deal, generally hitting ‘date modified’ in explorer will let you know the folder you want, but it would be nice if developers could find some common ground, and the My Games folder seems a good middleground – easily accessable, that kind of thing.

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      phlebas says:

      @Znea: Because storing writable documents and runnable programs in the same place (ie under Program Files) is a very bad piece of admin practice and the fact that you can do it at all is a design flaw in Windows. It’s like keeping your raw meat on the fridge shelf above your pavlova.

    • Turfster says:

      Yes. Please stop putting crap in directories that have nothing to do with the game. Just put saves in an %installdir\saves dir and config files in an %installdir\config dir. See how easy it is?

    • royaltyinexile says:

      “It’s like keeping your raw meat on the fridge shelf above your pavlova.”

      Mmmm. Medium-rare pavlova.

    • Dozer says:

      DO: abandon DirectX in 199something and use OpenGL instead, which means no DirectX check, and porting your game to Mac, Linux, iPhone, iPad and Android takes all of twenty minutes. (I love you, Austin Meyer of X-Plane)

      DON’T: expect OpenGL to work properly with exotic hardware, such as ATI graphics cards.

    • vash47 says:

      @ShawnClapper

      Yeah, I think either “My Documents\My Games” or inside the game folder: “C:\Game\Saves\ProfileName\” are perfectly fine.

    • Deano2099 says:

      @cliffski

      But at least you try yeah? Your games boot up pretty damn fast. If there’s absolutely no way around a restart when settings are changed then:

      DO automatically close and re-open the game
      DO take me right back to the main menu screen
      DON’T display 26 different logos and the intro cut-scene again
      DON’T then also make them unskippable, since the only reason I’m restarting is because you made me

      If you can’t solve a problem, you make the user experience with the problem as minimal as possible. You don’t just throw your hands up and blame someone else.

    • Batolemaeus says:

      Never. Ever. Put anything user specific in the installation directory.

      Why would you even come to the conclusion that this would be a good idea? It’s the worst thing you can do.
      1. WINDOWS IS NOT A SINGLEUSER OS ANYMORE. There might be more than one person using the pc! That’s why people have their user profile folder. USE IT.
      2. It’s unsafe
      3. Have you heard of backups? Because other people did, and they usually don’t want to backup the whole game, they want their SAVES. Do you really want to force them to manually look for them spread over 20something games that all put them together with several hundred gigs of irrelevant game data?

      %userprofile%\Documents\My Games\supermanslaughter2000\saves <–use it.

    • jarvoll says:

      @Batolemaeus:

      Sadly, Windows is Purest Evil, and will never resemble any sane, secure, moral OS. There’s no point trying hang an air-freshener off one of the devil’s horns, which is what adhering to the principle of separation of userspace and adminspace in Windows amounts to.

    • Ovno says:

      I’m sorry but why would you want your saves in the install directory….???

      Posibly so they can be found without searching a million different places within docs and settings…

      Possibly so everything for the game is in one place making it easily portable between work and home…

      Possibly becuase as gamers we don’t care about how bad it is in terms of admin practices and care about how it works for us the end users…

      I mean how many times have you had to search online to find where your save games are because they are not kept in the games install directory. (I’m looking at you minecraft)

      And as for multiple users gamedir/profiles/{username}/saves seems quite sensible to me, you can even go further and have gamedir/program to keep the application and the saves seperate.

      At the very least keep everything profile specific in MyDocs/MyGames/GameName not just the saves so that I can easily backup my settings as well as my saves…

      Or even better add it as an advanced install option so that users can choose if they want to put them somewhere sensible or somewhere that admin practices say is sensible.

    • Droopy The Dog says:

      @Batolemaeus

      Hardly the worst thing you can do in my opinion. First I’d dispute just how many gaming PCs are multi-user machines to begin with. Even so, the games themselves can handle the multi user aspect if you’re truely worried about other people using your saved games.

      Steam et. al. already have user specific accounts, and plenty of games have me create a profile to play with on first use, just tie saved games to that. Yes it doesn’t have the protection of windows’ access permissions, but really now, do saved games need that kind of protection?

      And searching in the game folder for a subdir called “saved games” is a lot easier than trawling through the My Games, the local and roaming folders of your user profile for something that may or may not even be labeled as “saved games”.

      Finally, and personally, perhaps some people have their OS installed on a smaller, faster HDD than where they install their games and are tired of games forcing you to keep Gbs of save files and other superfluous data in your user folder. If you’re dumping games crap in the windows user folder, don’t make the saved games 100Mb each.

      (Or just don’t do it, it’s like keeping your sock draw padlocked; anal and paranoid.)

    • MadTinkerer says:

      Minecraft was very educational. I had no idea the latest Windows OS used a folder called “AppData” for things until I had to hunt down the location of the Minecraft files.

      I still have absolutely no idea what the distinction between “local” and “roaming” folders are, though.

      DO: Feel free to put save files in My Documents | My Games | AFolderForYourGameSaves
      DON’T: Decide to to put save files in My Documents | AFolderForYourGameSaves

      Some of us actually use our Documents folder to organize our documents! It’s fricking rude to dump a folder in the root My Documents folder, and especially annoying to nest it inside your publisher’s name, but not inside My Games. I would consider, on principle, boycotting every publisher whose name shows up unwanted as a folder in My Documents, but then I wouldn’t be able to buy any new games CURSE YOU ALL.

  7. DVSBSTD says:

    The bit about volume might be explained with the fact that volume does not work on a linear scale and a lot of developers don’t account for that when making sliders.

    Also about installing DirectX – the versioning is actually more complicated than a simple number and usually it’s easier and safer to just install the version the developer has bundled with the game.

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      The Sombrero Kid says:

      It’s not just that, the directx installer only installs the version it needs to if it’s missing so steam really is doing this as efficiently as it can without causing the game not to work, the blame here lies with microsoft, the way this should work is everytime (4 times a year) they release a new direct x sdk they should release the redist as a windows update, coupling that with a meaningful error message when you try & run a game that depends on a missing version of directx or the vc runtime and hey presto this problem would be fixed.

    • adonf says:

      @The Sombrero Kid

      I don’t think that so many people run Windows Updates regularly. Having to update your whole system (or un-check all unrelated components) just to install a game would be even worse than the 2 minutes you have to wait for DX to check its DLLs. Also not every PC is connected to the Internet and can run Updates

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      The Sombrero Kid says:

      Hmm that’s a good point tbh.

    • bonjovi says:

      about directx updates, before i got on steam(so years ago) form time to time i had problems with directx missign ddls. even thou i had the latest verison form MS website i was missing some ddl. So yeah installign direct x first time you launch the game is a good thing to offset that problem with it.

    • Hunam says:

      Was going to post this. DirectX doesn’t really come in hard and fast versions anymore but rather what ever the files used by the games are, which are probably unique to the developer half the time in their configuration. Same with the Visual Studio C++ redist’s. Everyone is a different binding set up for each game so yeah, devs basically have to do it or your game will not work.

  8. mazai says:

    MOAR! This should be a weekly topic (or at least monthly). Seriously.

  9. Wallllrod says:

    The one good thing about Xbocks 360 ports is that they usually completely obey the ALT-F4 command, dropping you right to the desktop. Which is lovely. Sometimes the game gets over enthusiastic and does it on its own, but you shouldn’t mind that, it doesn’t know any better.

    • DigitalSignalX says:

      That was my fix for Assassin’s Creed, which I think wins the all time prize for most key strokes required to exit the game (12 or 13?).

      Another gripe is lack of support for wide screen and multiprocessor. I recently re-installed Saints Row 2 and found it unplayable due to both a lack of any aspect ratio other then 4:3 and some sort of double speed problem where all the NPC’s and cars drove around like frantic ants due to newer multicore processor bug.

  10. Premium User Badge

    Colthor says:

    Unskippable movies on startup – and worse, unskippable adverts on startup – guarantee developers an eternity in the hells just along the corridor from the developers who use checkpoint save systems. So use both, and you get two eternities of torture! Won’t that be fun.

    You can often get around idiots’ inexplicable hiding of the quit button by pressing Alt+F4. But not always, because sometimes they are idiots who demand you partake of their idiocy.

    • SkUrRiEr says:

      What’s almost as bad is *many* skipable adverts.

      UT3 I’m talking to you: Do you think that after skipping the Epic animation I want to see the Unreal Engine animation, the nVidia (or is it ATI?) animation, and the poorly rendered Intel branding? No. I don’t want to see any of them, *at all*. Now I understand that they’ve given you bucket loads of money to show them on startup, so that people with a Intel processor and nVidia (or ATI …. whatever) card can say “yay me!” but I don’t want to have to hammer the mouse button to get to the menu screen in a reasonable time. For Horace’s sake!

      Another point on this is if you’re going to display an unskippable cutscene on startup, you’d damn well better be hammering the disk like your life depends on it so that once it’s over you can cross-fade me straight to the menu, I don’t want to then sit through your copyright notice for another 10 minutes while you read a whole pile of stuff off my suddenly active hard disk.

      —-END OF RANT—-

    • Alexander Norris says:

      @Colthor: at least their hells aren’t anywhere near as unpleasant as the ones reserved for the kind of people who design unskippable animated menus that trigger for literally everything. Thanks for ruining yourself, Darksiders.

  11. Batolemaeus says:

    Don’t: Store your settings and saves in a subfolder in “my documents”. Especially not in one folder for every new incarnation of your game. There’s the “my games” folder. Use that one. The other cool kids are putting their stuff there too.

    Do: Always. Include. The original language version. Yes I’m German. No, I don’t care for your mediocre translation. Just give me the raw deal, I can work with it just fine. See how I’m writing this is in a foreign language? SEE?!

    Do: Give me access to the uncensored version. I’m over 18. Heck, I’m over 21. Is that not enough? Do I HAVE to endure black blood and corpses vanishing in mid-air? I’M LOOKING AT YOU, VALVE

    • Premium User Badge

      Sunjumper says:

      A thousand times yes to the last two points.

      The original language should always be an option. I’d love to grab all the developers that don’t do it by their hair and rub their noses in the extended version of the Witcher to show them how it is done.

      And ironically the cuts made to games released in Germany make me much more aggressive than any form of computer violence ever has. Also the censor ship can always be circumnavigated but it is an utterly annoying process.

    • John Walker says:

      I think you’re looking at German regulations there, rather than Valve. It’s my understanding that they’re only complying.

    • dogsolitude_uk says:

      Definitely yes to the original language option! Perfectly happy with subtitles, and I love playing The Witcher in the original Polish with English subs.

    • Premium User Badge

      VelvetFistIronGlove says:

      I’d love to grab all the developers that don’t do it by their hair and rub their noses in the extended version of the Witcher to show them how it is done.

      I concur. Except other developers shouldn’t copy the way The Witcher always resets to English voiceover on launch, which I only notice after loading a savegame and hearing some dialogue, and then have to exit the game back to the main menu, change the option, and load the savegame again.

      Also, The Witcher stumbles on the infinity save games: it lets you have them, but also takes infinity seconds (almost) before it shows you the list of them when you just want to load the top one that you saved last time.

    • Batolemaeus says:

      German regulations only say that if you want to market a supergoredeathmanshooter2000 in germany, you’ll have to acquire a sufficient rating. If not, you can still market slightlyless-supergoredeathmanshooter2000 and sell it openly, but if I want to, I can still buy and play any evil unrated game I want.

      I, for one, am a proud owner of an Internet, and I will gladly pay real life moneys to buy virtual games and have them delivered to me through the tubes. But Valve, in their personal hatred for me, my life, and my cute cat, decided to query a geoip database to ship me heavily castrated games even though they would not have to!

    • Premium User Badge

      Sunjumper says:

      Funnily enough I got a copy of Left4Dead2 as a gift from a friend in the UK and it installed the full gore version of the game.
      Even stranger: one (German) friend who played with us expirienced a massive update after playing with us which restored the game to full buckets of gore with assorted limbs.
      I have no idea if they got infected by our versions or if Valve decided that they did not have to reduce the gore for the German version after all or if it is in someway connected to the laguage settings of the OS and/or Steam…

    • noom says:

      Ahh, original voiceovers. I played through the “undubbed” fan version of FFXII on emulator and enjoyed it immensely. Say what you like, everything sounds more awesome in Japanese.

      As a legal disclaimer, I add that my above comment is, of course, completely untrue.

    • Plankton says:

      Valve arent allowed to openly market unrated games in Germany. If they intrduced a age verification they could market stuff to adults though, which I wonder why it hasn’t been done yet.
      You can’t market stuff that contains nazi symbols or stuff that is otherwise generally banned (like child pornography). The thing that annoys me about the Nazi symbols is that there isn’t a clear ruling or laws about them, specifically for games. Yes, the rating board wont rate games with those symbols, but they are an independant body and have little to do with the government or courts.
      Problem here is that games aren’t recognised as a form of art. So you can throw around swasticas in films and books as much as you want, but in games, being “just a form of entertainment”, it is not possible.

    • Nova says:

      Valve preemptively censor their games for the German market only to make sure that they don’t get placed on the index. They could just release them uncut with the “not for teenagers” label that they get anyway. You can market games openly with that label.
      Valve is much to complaisant in that matter as evidenced by the ridiculous cuts they make (e.g. Half-Life 2).

    • Premium User Badge

      VelvetFistIronGlove says:

      Also, The Witcher stumbles on the infinity save games: it lets you have them, but also takes infinity seconds (almost) before it shows you the list of them when you just want to load the top one that you saved last time.

      Well, after posting that I found that The Witcher doesn’t let me have infinity save games after all: I killed a boss monster and tried to quicksave afterwards, only for it to tell me it couldn’t, as there was not enough disk space left.

      I alt-tabbed out and found its save files: 457 saves, taking up almost 9 gigabytes! That’s an average of 20 MB per save, I guess.

  12. Premium User Badge

    Johnny Law says:

    When the startup process says that it is installing DirectX or the .NET framework, that is in fact the version check there (as the first step). It won’t actually re-install if you have the necessary version.

    • John Walker says:

      Wow. I could check the version by hand in about four millionths of the time it takes.

    • alice says:

      Yes but can you verify the contents of all the necessary DLLs as well? I agree this is annoying but I also know about DLL hell and understand it is a very necessary evil.

    • Premium User Badge

      The Sombrero Kid says:

      see my point above abut how this should work imo.

    • Veracity says:

      There’s no really compelling reason Steam couldn’t keep track of this stuff independently of installed games to reduce the amount of redundant crap cluttering your hard drive. Linux distros have been automatically handling at least as byzantine dependency hell forever, and they sometimes even work. But not being a bit of a bloated monstrosity has never been a priority for Steam, and no one really cares about hard drive space these days – see save file limitation complaint. Didn’t NWN save the entire module every time you saved? That was amusing. Always checking everything just has the best chance of preventing developers, publishers and Valve getting support tickets they can tell you is one of the other two’s problem. Agree an actually sensible solution would be for Windows Update to look after it from the moment you have any version of the thing installed. Isn’t that more or less what it does for Windows Media Player and Internet Explorer?

    • Shadram says:

      “Yes but can you verify the contents of all the necessary DLLs as well?”

      I have code that could do this in about 1/10th of a second on any gaming-viable PC. Steam’s check takes days. I always assumed it was actually installing the DirectX files, maybe making local installations in each game’s directory to ensure it had the right version.

  13. Premium User Badge

    sonofsanta says:

    DO: let me pause cutscenes.

    Because you can guarantee that in 45 hours of playing The Witcher, a game that uses the biggest button on the keyboard for the world’s easiest pause, the only time my wife or daughter ever needed my attention was in a cut scene that I couldn’t pause.

    EDIT ADDENDUM (eddendum?): far too many games also use the same button for pausing and for skipping cut scenes, so that when you absent-mindedly try to pause, you always end up skipping, then swearing, then having to Google up what just happened.

    • Oneironaut says:

      I had the same problem for a game recently. I can’t remember the game, but I was forced to skip the cutscene and later watched it on youtube before I started playing again.

    • Shagittarius says:

      I had to do this with Mafia II.

    • Dozer says:

      I think ‘Addendum’ means ‘add end um’ in Latin.

      Or you could append. not sure why this is different from addend, but it does explicitly mean ‘add to end’.

  14. Nova says:

    Best edition yet and the second don’t is the most important. I also wonder what that “Click any button to continue” screen is. They are especially infuriating when then after pressing a button they just start an animation, that you of course can’t skip (hello Darksiders).

    • Premium User Badge

      Stijn says:

      I always thought it was a result of console porting, until I realized it doesn’t really make a lot of sense on consoles either. Maybe it’s a remnant of arcade machines, with the “insert coin to begin” screens?

    • Premium User Badge

      Devan says:

      @Stijn The reasons they do it on a console are:
      – To prevent burning the main menu into the TV screen
      – To have a timed “attract mode” where they replay the intro sequence after idling on the Press Start screen for a minute or so. This is mostly done for when the game is displayed in stores, to entice more people to pick it up and play.

      Both reasons don’t make sense on the PC however, so that screen should ideally be removed during the port.

    • JuJuCam says:

      Yep it’s almost certainly a holdover from the arcade cabinet “Attract mode”. I have no explanation for why any home game might want it, the only game that I’ve ever seen that made this make any sort of sense was Guitar Hero 5, which allows you to pick up and play whatever song is playing in attract mode without going through any menus at all.

    • Nova says:

      @Devan

      The first thing you say only affects plasma-screens and they are dying, as far as I know.
      This “attract mode” could just be done from the main menu. Max Payne 2 did that. Sure it’s not as nice as a special screen, but that mode should be of minor concern anyway since it’s really about the people playing the game not showing it somewhere. (Yeah. I know they/we are not so important.)

    • adonf says:

      Yes it’s a console thing but not related to the attract mode. It is used to determine which one is the main controller that will control the menus (and the player in a single player game). I think that the attract mode will start after some time without player interaction, either before or after the Press Start screen.

      In Darksiders they kept the Press Start screen but they ignore the controller unless it is turned on before the game start, so that’s stupid and annoying.

    • Nova says:

      Don’t remind me. The controller handling was another “fun” part of Darksiders. If you want to play with mouse+keyboard you have to disconnect the controller cause you can’t switch between input devices. If you left the controller plugged in and disconnect it while the game is running it doesn’t switch back to Mouse+keyboard, no. You have to restart the game.

  15. Shazbut says:

    While we’re at it, we might as well wish for a private army of flying monkeys that will roam the world doing our bidding or games featuring emotionally mature interpersonal relationships.

  16. Premium User Badge

    VelvetFistIronGlove says:

    It’s like your volume sliders go, 10, 9, 8, 7, 7, 7, 7, 7, 7, 7, 0.

    By a bizarre and improbable coincidence, that’s the combination to my safe!
    By an even more bizarre and improbable coincidence, that’s also almost exactly the same as the scale used for rating games, which goes 10, 9, 8, 7, 7, 7, 7, 7, 7, 7, 6.

    • John Walker says:

      Tee hee hee.

    • OptionalJoystick says:

      A 6? Man, that game must be terrible.

    • Premium User Badge

      Saul says:

      Hey, don’t forget 1! I gave a game 1.5 on Beefjack the other day. That said, whoever gives a game a 3? Now that would be crazy!

    • OptionalJoystick says:

      I remember a 3, incidentally. It was out of 100, awarded by Sega Power to Rise of the Robots.

      I wish I could remember useful things.

  17. dethtoll says:

    This reads like a slightly less whiny, entitlement-whore version of a certain lost soul at TTLG.

  18. dogsolitude_uk says:

    DO: let me NAME MY GAME SAVES

    FFS, there’s no Earthly reason why a game’s saves can only consist of the system date and time string. I like to label my saves with something a bit more descriptive than “07-02-2010:8.15pm” If you must have the date and time, add it to the metadata.

    • Thants says:

      Related to this: Don’t MAKE me name my saves. Let me change it, but there’s no reason not to put the time and date as the default name.

    • Stuart Walton says:

      Also related,

      Do: Segregate my saves into different playthroughs. Just salt the first save with a hash (either in meta-data or the filename) that also goes on to any saves that follow it. Starting a new game, use a new hash, a hashed date-time stamp from when you start a new playthrough is unique enough. When you have hundreds of Elder Scrolls saves across 3 or 4 character builds it’s handy to not have to scan the meta-data field to make sure you have found what you are looking for. I remember Ghost Recon 2 created a campaign master-save which individual level saves were tied to.

  19. Starky says:

    On DirectX

    Unfortunately due to the way Direct X works it is impossible to do what you request. DX exists as a constantly updated thing, it has repacks [every few months], all of which have to be on your PC (if a game uses them) it isn’t just a case of having the latest version – but having the EXACT version the game requests.

    A game compiled for The march 2008 D3dx9_37.dll might not work with the June 2008 d3dx9_38.dll

    So the game on install has to check that you have the correct version, and if not it needs to install it.

    Which is why you need to install (or check) directX every time you install a game – there is no way around it at all. Failing to do so would result in many more broken games, bugs, or errors all of which will get blamed on the Devs.
    Just like devs get blamed by bugs resulting from people failing to update display/sound/whatever drivers – when really it is the fault of the end user (or the company who makes the drivers).

    • Premium User Badge

      The Sombrero Kid says:

      They’re not monthly they’re quarterly

    • Starky says:

      Maybe now, they used to be a bit more random than that, I remember when there was an update 3 months in a row, then a gap of of about 5 months.

      It is a bit more stable now, especially with DX11 – but there are still a lot of updates/setups possible.

      DX installer still needs to check.

    • Thants says:

      It’s starting to dawn on me how many of the mistakes game devs make actually turn out to be Microsoft’s fault.

    • CareerKnight says:

      Are you sure this is how it works? Because it has always seemed to me that it is just the game designers making the irrational decision that directx 6 will be the last version of directx or that no one will play their game after its a year old. If what you say is true then why do some games during installation check to see if you have a version of directx that was out at the time of the games release and then move right along even though it was looking for 7 and you have 10?

  20. Premium User Badge

    Biscuitry says:

    Yes. Yes. YES.

  21. Jetsetlemming says:

    The DirectX thing is a necessary evil, thanks to Microsoft, different versions of DirectX, and different versions of Windows. When you install the DirectX9 version off of Microsoft’s website, it might not have all the different dlls and components that developers rely on. EVERYONE would love it if there was some DirectX complete pack that just installed all components of everything across the 9/10/11 spectrum, however it’s not really possible due to versions of old things and new things with the same name being incompatible across the generations.

    And so, to avoid any really super impossible to easily diagnose and fix technical issues and crashes, games just say “fuck it!” and install what they need so they know that it’s there. It’s not the same DirectX being installed by all those games, and the average user doesn’t know jack about Directx to be trusted with saying “yeah I’ve got the right version, game, don’t worry about it”.
    Anyway, it’s not like it’s a massive issue. All the install crap newly installed games on Steam go through takes up a whole minute at the most for me and it’s once ever for that one game, so I don’t really care.

    Edit: Beaten by starky.

    • Deano2099 says:

      But but but…

      (genuine ignorance here)

      I have the latest version of Direct X. So whenever a game installer says “hey, I’m going to install Direct X, unless you think you already have an up-to-date version and don’t want me to?” I say no.

      I’ve never once had a game refuse to work after doing that, and then fix it by installing an old version of Direct X. Not’a once.

      It’s just Steam, with it’s entitlement issues, that insists on installing it. Most other games don’t. How come they work?

      Edit – and Steam does it every time, without fail, on first start-up of a game. No two of the 100 or so games I have on there have the same Direct X version?

    • Starky says:

      You say no all the time, and the game works, you only think you’ve had no issues – if you are running XP and you’ve refused DX installs you HAVE had issues and never known. This is less true of Vista/Windows 7.

      Game crashes (ctd), graphical glitches, video driver errors, or worst case lockups/blue screens – all of which you will have experienced (every PC gamer has, or they are not a PC gamer :P) but you would have just chalked it down to bad drivers, or a buggy game which 9 times in 10 you’d be right. When the fault lay with some minor issue with directX which you’d have clicked yes and waited 30 seconds.

    • Deano2099 says:

      I still don’t buy it sorry. Never seen it as a trouble-shooting step for game crashes “install the version of Direct X that came with the game” rather than “install the latest version of Direct X”.

      I’m willing to be convinced, am just not right now.

  22. Hybrid says:

    Yep. Completely agree with all of these. Ladyface Helpme agrees as well.

  23. Ertard says:

    Hell yes.

  24. dogsolitude_uk says:

    Nor a .NET framework, whatever that is.

    It’s a bunch of stuff Microsoft made to help people code on Windows, containing various libraries and Windows-specific stuff.

    It includes the System.DateTime.Now thingy, which soooooo many games use to name their save files with, instead of letting the user input their own filename…

    Rah.

    • Premium User Badge

      The Sombrero Kid says:

      more accurately it’s a jited virtual machine with a lot of good pre-assembled libraries, and like java it’s main advantage is security and portability, it doesn’t really help developers at all, snce it means having to learn to use new libraries & languages.

    • dogsolitude_uk says:

      Well, most of the devs I know where I work either work with .NET or Java, and .NET certainly speeds up development for Windows apps. I knocked up a few little widgets to help folks out at work a while back using Visual Studio, and it would’ve taken far longer doing it from scratch…

      Although I do agree: learning a new class library is akin to learning a whole new language and can be quite daunting.

  25. godkingemperor says:

    Instantly quit a game? It’s called alt-f4 mate

  26. sinister agent says:

    See also: Don’t have 23 developer/publisher/video card/copyright videos/screens before I can even get to the main menu. Almost nobody in the world cares, and those who do (a) will not want to see them after the first time and (b) can just look at the credits screen if it matters. Having players associate your name and logo with pointless irritating is not a good thing.

  27. Lewie Procter says:

    The thing with the DirectX stuff.

    Why do they wait for you to click on it. They could do it immediately after the download completes, so it is ready to play when you go to it.

    • Starky says:

      Security – if they allowed DX to self execute without user interaction feedback that could be exploited by malicious installers.

    • MD says:

      Could you elaborate on that, Starky? (I’m not arguing, just curious.)

    • Starky says:

      I’d imagine that allowing one installer to silently launch another installer that has the ability to drop .dlls in your system32 folder without any kind of user permission would require some specific exception – because usually nothing can be installed into protected folders (such as program files or windows) without admin (elevated) permission.

      So the only way it could happen is if you’re running in full admin (which requires running a script in command promt in vista/windows7) or you have user account control turned off utterly – in which case your PC is about 100 fold more vulnerable to malicious code anyway so it makes no difference and I would hope you have a good hardware firewall. And an up to date antivirus.

      If windows granted that exception, it wouldn’t be hard for someone to abuse that.

  28. Premium User Badge

    Andy_Panthro says:

    Ahh… Saved Games. A modern nemesis of mine! I’m glad you made mention of them, for I have another point to add!

    What I cannot fathom, is why so many games these days (and indeed it seems to occur more often by the year), do not allow me to name my own saved games.

    By the Gods! Is it too much to ask to be able to write a few words to remind myself which play-through I’m on, and what particular questing I am attempting to continue? Madness I say!

    I recall, many years ago, all games upon the personal computer box allowing me to title saved games at my whim! For why did this change? For the ease of those inconsolable arcade boxes?

    What a shame.

  29. Out Reach says:

    Yeah I got the paradox interactive bundle (along with a few of the indie bundles) on steam over Christmas and I was installing several games a day. The installing direct X with EVERY SINGLE GAME became really obvious and drove me mental.

  30. Premium User Badge

    Sunjumper says:

    Voice should always have its own volume slider.
    Countless time I had game that had horribly mixed sound where I could hardly hear what the people where saying because either the SFX or the music was way to loud. I go to the options and what do I see sliders for ‘music’ and ‘SFX’. Thanks. Thanks a million.

  31. EthZee says:

    “Someone make me a nicer one of these, and I’ll write them more often.”

    …Fair enough.

    *gets out tablet*

  32. Urthman says:

    ARE YOU LISTENING GAME DEVELOPERS?! HOW DARE YOU DO ALL THESE TERRIBLE THINGS TO A HANDICAPPED MAN WITH ONLY…

    (…wait, how many arms and legs does John have? What? Four?! Seriously?!)

    JOHN, YOU BIG CRYBABY!

  33. Premium User Badge

    The Sombrero Kid says:

    Don’t: Encrypt your save games, if you do I hate you, i’m looking at you Gfwl, esp. Batman AA & GTA 4!

    • ShawnClapper says:

      Although I agree with encryption being pointless a lot of times it is just compressed so it doesn’t take up as much space on the hard drive.

    • Premium User Badge

      The Sombrero Kid says:

      Specifically i mean don’t encrypt it & tie the encryption key to your current windows install, that’s what these games are guilty off, reformat windows, load up batman AA, hey presto corrupt save games! woo! thanks!

    • Navagon says:

      This is why GFWL is a cunt. Sorry, but that’s just the way it is.

  34. bascule42 says:

    I said this last time, and Im gonna say it again, ’cause I’m like that. I don’t wantt o be asked if I’m sure. If I hit quit by mistake, well; Lesson taught, learned and wont be so bloody stupid next time. I know what the letters QUIT mean. I even recognise then from across the room without my specs on – by the shape alone. It’s unambiguous, there’s NO dual meaning for “QUIT”. Dev’s if you want to keep asking me if I’m sure, do it at the damn checkout when I’m paying lots of £££ please. Don’t ask me if I want to QUIT. I know what I want out of most things, so a simple matter of quitting the game, I’m definitively sure to the nth degree.

    Skip logos skip logos skip logos skip logos.

    Am now going to hit the “Opinion, Away” button. It’s more complicated, it’s 2 words, both of them bigger than “QUIT” (at least in essence), and will have a longer lasting effect on the sum total of the fabric of the universe. Watch and observe the lack of “Are you sure”? prompt.

    • Urthman says:

      RE: skipping logos

      The 2nd think I do after installing a new game (1st is installing the no-dvd crack so I can keep the disk in the drawer where it belongs) is go into the “movies” directory of the game and add an “x” to the beginning of the name of all the bink files with logos and crap. Usually the game doesn’t care that the movies are missing and will just boot straight to the main menu. If there’s a problem, you can always go back and restore the names of the files (which is why I don’t just delete them straight out).

      Helps to have a Bink player installed so you can check to make sure you aren’t re-naming a cutscene by accident.

  35. Premium User Badge

    UW says:

    Haha, I definitely agree with most points on this list. However, I don’t have a problem with unwinnable boss battles in principle as long as they’re handled well.

    If the boss is way too tough to defeat, it should be pretty clear that this is the case. Taking off half your health in a hit, taking almost no damage (Or none at all) if you do manage to hit them and over very quickly (The beginning of Demon’s Souls does this well, I think). It often helps to put things in perspective, the sheer enormity of the task in front of you. You have to get strong enough to beat that.

    I prefer it if enemies who run away before you can finish them still have some health left when they make the escape, and if you meet them again soon after the bar hasn’t fully replenished. But it’s hard to argue a convincing case for that. I mean, really, “You wouldn’t still be alive if your health bar was empty” doesn’t cut it because you’re trying to apply some sort of odd real world principle to a fucking health bar.

    Plus, I’m all for games bringing out emotions like frustration, sorrow and anger. If you’re fighting an enemy who’s giving you real trouble, chipping away at their health bar and just as you line up your final shot they squirrel away to assault you later. I’ve been absolutely furious before when that has happened, and it’s usually a better experience for it. It will also be infinitely more satisfying when you finally do smash their face into the pavement.

    Especially if it’s a QTE. ;)

  36. Skusey says:

    I think some games use an unskippable cutscene so they can load behind it, and then make it skippable when the game’s loaded. I don’t know how I feel about that. Probably angry, I am on the internet.

    • Starky says:

      Quite a lot of modern games do that actually, it is one of the best methods of hiding a loadscreen.

      The problem is when games DON’T allow you to skip these videos after the game has finished loading in the background – I’m looking at you Bioware, with mass effect 2.

    • Xocrates says:

      It bugs me greatly that EA never allows for one to skip their logo, even when all the other are skipable.

  37. AlexV says:

    Intro cutscenes are bad enough, but can we please, please do away with intro logos and warnings and stuff.

    I don’t care who the studio was. I don’t *care* who the publisher was. I particularly don’t care what engine you are using. Or, if I do care, it’s something I will know already by the time I’m launching your game. Or something I’ll read in the credits. Your Legal, ESRB, and Photosensitive warnings are likewise unnecessary. Put them in the installer if you must, but if I wasn’t put off by the rating and chance of a seizure when I bought the game, I’m unlikely to change my mind when I see them at launch time. And no-one will read you legal disclaimer. Ever.

    When I start the game, I want to go straight to the main menu, and I want the first choice on that menu to be “Continue”, which loads up the last save point, checkpoint, level or whatever the closest thing to “where I left off when I exited last time” is.

  38. DarkFenix says:

    DO: Make the game minimise cleanly, quickly and without crashing. I’m looking at you Valve. If someone messages me in the background, I want to stop my manshoots for a moment and see if it’s worth replying to. A good game will let me do precisely this, a bad game will bitch, moan, then crash.

    DO: Give PC gamers full control over their graphics settings. I really don’t appreciate anti-aliasing being disabled because some twat-console-developer thought their platform didn’t need it. A generic low-medium-high scale is not good enough; I want control over each aspect of the graphics.

    DO: Include the ability to quicksave. And for fuck’s sake keep more than one of them. Same goes for autosaves.

    DON’T: Put the quicksave button right fucking next to the quickload button. Or at least require a confirmation to quickload.

    DON’T: Include all those bloody logos at the start. If I give the faintest possible shit who made the game, I’ll already fucking know.

  39. Zogtee says:

    DO… give me graphics settings that actually work like they’re supposed to. I’m currently baffled by how hit and miss a simple thing like anti-aliasing is to many games.

    DON’T… mix low-res textures with high-res ones, because it looks bloody awful.

    DO… look at the stonkingly beautiful and robust character creator of something like EVE and then look at your own and feel the shame. Not naming names, but fuck you, BioWare, you can do better.

  40. Navagon says:

    Passionately agreed on all but the last Do. Now don’t get me wrong, I want a lot of save slots too. That’s not what I’m disagreeing with. What I’m disagreeing with is the 10MB file size bit. Clearly you never played Company of Heroes.

    • Premium User Badge

      The Sombrero Kid says:

      lol or deus ex – 200mb save files

    • Thants says:

      There’s still no reason not to let me have as many save files as I want. Even 200mb files. Screw it, I’ve got a big harddrive! And if I replay the game five years from now it’ll be even bigger.

      There’s another DO: Give me a usable way to manage my save files from within the game. It’s surprising how many games make you look at your saves 3 at a time, or don’t support selecting a group of them, so if you want to delete some you have to do it one by one.

  41. Sigh says:

    Great article John. This type of laugh-out-loud whimsy reminds me of the early days of RPS. This made my afternoon look more palatable. :-)

  42. Davie says:

    All good points. I especially agree with the first one, for essentially the opposite reason: if your computer starts smoking and sputtering whenever it attempts to run a game less than four years old (e.g. mine) it’s nice to be able to turn the settings to shite before entering the game, so you don’t have to attempt to navigate the menu that runs at 4 FPS on the default setting. That always takes at least ten minutes.

    • Noc says:

      In my experience, at least, you generally can change options outside of the game, if you have to: your current settings tend to reside in a text file (Named “settings.ini” or something), and setting it to, say, run in a window is a simple as changing “FULLSCREEN = 1″ to “FULLSCREEN =0.” (Which is honestly all that button on the options screen is doing anyways!)

      And if you’re running something in a nonstandard environment, some amount of manual fiddling is probably to be expected anyways. The thing that bothers me is when config files aren’t clearly labeled, or are stashed somewhere besides the application directory where I’ll have to hunt them down.

      (This last is especially obnoxious if I’m reinstalling a program because I borked it up (i.e, most of the time)…and instead of a fresh install I get one that’s inherited everything that’s wrong with the old one. I am open to explanations of why this practice is actually a good thing, but it’s generally just manifested as an obstacle. [EDIT: which is discussed in the comments above! Wheee!])

  43. Noc says:

    I am generally okay with not having an entirely unobstructed path back to the desktop, so long as the process does not involve waiting for anything to load and can be accomplished by hitting “Escape” a couple of times until it’s time to hit “Enter.”

    I actually rather prefer this to what you sometimes see in little indie games, where hitting “Escape” at any time immediately dumps you to the desktop. I’ve been frustrated by an errant keystroke unceremoniously ejecting me from the application far more than I’ve been annoyed by having to take an extra second or so to make my exit…but then again, I haven’t spent terribly much time playing console ports originally designed for a platform you just turn off when you’re done playing.

    . . .

    On the Setting Settings front, I suspect that this may be an attempt to avert another “Don’t,” which is that of making people go through an extra dialog window before they get to play the game.

    “I don’t want to visit your website, or configure my settings, or uninstall…when I open the game I want to play the game, so just…open the game! If I want to change something, I’ll do it from the ‘Options’ screen you’ve so helpfully provided in-game.”

    The solution, I’d imagine, is a one-time settings check the first time you start the game, just for basic windowed/resolution options, which are things most players set before they start playing anyways. As a fairly basic interface it’d be easy to stylize too, if you wanted to be classy and not use the stock OS dialog box…and I can’t imagine that it’d be terribly time-consuming to implement, since you’re likely just changing be a line in a config file.

    • ShawnClapper says:

      I’m usually annoyed when I see a game start up with a settings dialog. Most of the time this means there are settings there that I cannot change while in the game. So in order to tweak it I have to keep exiting out of the game and changing settings in the dialog until I get it right.

      Then the other day I loaded up Tomb Raider: Anniversary and saw a dialog asking if I would like to change settings. Instantly annoyed I went to the settings dialog and changed things around only to find that the settings were mirrored in the game.

      I’m not sure of a good solution to please everyone on this. I’d rather all settings be inside the game. You could put a separate program to launch and change settings outside of the game but I suppose not all people would find that.

    • Noc says:

      That’s why I’m thinking less a full settings dialog, and more a…

      “DO YOU WISH TO RUN KITTENS OF WAR IN:
      FULLSCREEN | A WINDOW
      (PLAY)”

      …thing. Fullscreen should default to your current monitor resolution, and windowed would default to a standard size one step smaller than your monitor resolution. It’d only show up the first time you run the game, and would be a one (or two) click thing instead of a collection of tabbed pages — a quick check, rather than something players are expected to look through and set up.

    • Nidokoenig says:

      When I bought Jade Empire a couple of years ago, I found that the game would run perfectly fine if I downloaded the right DirectX files, but the configuration wizard always crashed, forcing me to hunt down the “proper” exe and run the game directly. So have a separate settings wizard can cause trouble.

      Really, the solution is obvious: let the player right click on the game’s exe file to run the configuration wizard, put a direct link in the shortcut folder and let them change stuff in-game. If something can’t be changed without restarting the program, have a message box pop up at the bottom of the screen “Some of your settings changes require a restart” with a symbol at the end, then show that symbol next to the settings that force a restart.

  44. Edawan says:

    Amen to all that.

    Games that first start at 1024×768 are my biggest annoyance.
    Game saves buried in a random folder, too.

    • Thants says:

      I don’t understand why games don’t just start up the first time at the resolution I’m already at. Are they worried my monitor can’t handle the resolution it’s currently on?

  45. pakoito says:

    I know the

  46. pakoito says:

    I know the quit button: ALT + F4. Works on most xbox360 ports as the bastards wouldn’t care to disable it :p

    • adonf says:

      There is a ‘Quit to dashboard’ option in the Xbox in-game system UI, which, I guess, sends the standard windows QUIT event. So it’s actually easier to implement Alt+F4 on Xbox to PC ports than to ignore the QUIT event.

      But yeah, all Windows games should exit do desktop on Alt+F4. Same thing for Macversions with the corresponding key combination…

  47. Ziv says:

    Game save files are a Microsoft issue, they won’t let people put stuff inside program files w/o administrator permissions (which no game should ask you for) and they gave two alternatives, My Games folder inside my documents (which since win 7 is only Games, outside Documents) and app data.
    Actually I think that appdata is a great place so long as your naming convention makes sense, ie. DeveloperName\GameName\Saves. But everyone has to decide on one place, backing up my PC before a reinstall can become a nightmare because of that.

  48. Premium User Badge

    Foosnark says:

    Especially YOU, Popcap. It’s like your volume sliders go, 10, 9, 8, 7, 7, 7, 7, 7, 7, 7, 0.

    With Bejeweled 3 it’s more like 20, 20, 20, 20, 19, 18, 17, 17, 17, 0. I wonder if their sound guy is a CD producer who doesn’t know how to release audio that isn’t compressed nearly into squarewaves.

  49. halflucas2 says:

    DO support fullscreen resolutions. It just pains me to think about it now.
    DO make game menus less CPU/GPU intensive. Stop trying to show off the game’s graphics and effects in the menu. That way I don’t have to quit out entirely when I have to do something else in between.
    DO give me advanced volume control of the game. As in being able to mute the music and keep sound effects.
    DON’T spend 99% of the dev time on graphics. Gameplay, Story and AI is what separates the good from the bad.
    DON’T make the esc key obsolete.

  50. Barman1942 says:

    So I take it you just re-played Mass Effect 2 as well John?

    • Premium User Badge

      phuzz says:

      That’s certainly what I was thinking as well:

      Dear ME2,
      I love you dearly, but really, here’s a few things you should think about before ME3:
      ……

      Seriously, “Press Any Key To Start”, which then drops me into another menu (which takes precious seconds to load) before I can start the game? Why? What possible use is there for that screen? WHHHHHHYYYYYYYYYYYYY!?!