By John Walker on November 19th, 2012 at 4:00 pm.
It’s been over a year since I last unleashed my law-commanding fist of righteousness. This is intolerable. So thankfully the list of rules that games developers and publishers are FORCED BY INTERNATIONAL LAW to follow have been further extended. Six new rules are added to the lexicon. Failure to obey them results in instant withering looks and sighing disappointment from their mums.
DO save my checkpoints – it’s not actually against the law for me to stop playing a game and then play it again later on. It’s not cheating. It’s not weird. It’s what people do. Why on EARTH should I have to start an entire mission from the beginning just because I wasn’t able to play your game non-stop from beginning to end? You lunatics.
DON’T tell me I’m leaving the mission area. If you’ve designed a level, let me walk around that level. Don’t give me the ability to walk around that level, but then announce that you’re going to kill me if I don’t turn around and go back to the invisibly marked section you’ve deemed acceptable for this moment. I’m not a prisoner released on an ankle bracelet, I’m a maverick with a lot of guns and a need to see that tree over there. If you didn’t want me to do that, why did you put that tree over there?
DO let me have the ability to turn off vibration on my 360 controller when I’m using mouse/keyboard controls, without having to pull its USB cable from the PC. There is little more terrifying in gaming than when the controller starts violently shaking my desk, making that horrible FLRRRRFLLFRLRLLRRLLL sound, because I opened a door or picked up a weapon. Although I’ll tell you what, horror games – you have my full permission to use this to the maximum effect.
DON’T use super-fancy CGI characters in your cutscenes, and then cut to the dodgy old triangle version of the same people that actually make up the game. It makes everything seem so much worse! And on that matter, don’t ever, EVER put actual real-life photographs in frames on people’s desks. It’s like having a big flashing prompt appear on screen that reads: “Look how unrealistic this game world is!” That seems somewhat counter-intuitive.
DO feel free to let your plot be comprehensible. Yes, you’ve seen a film where everything was really ambiguous, and you thought, “Gosh, I didn’t understand any of that, it must have been really clever! I’ll be clever too!” But you aren’t being clever. You’re being obtuse. If you’ve got a damned clever story that will bemuse until climactic moments reveal incredible links, or even an esoteric narrative that is open to the interpretation of the viewer, then great. But you don’t. You’ve got a story about four soldiers who shoot people until it ends. One of them dies.
DON’T Give me an ability that you’ll then take away when it’s inconvenient for you. If you let me jump, and then later on take away my ability to jump, then you are the same as a person who gives a child a big lollipop, and then snatches it away and jumps up and down on it shouting at the child, “HOW DARE YOU CONTINUE ENJOYING THIS LOLLIPOP! YOU MAKE ME SICK, YOU PUSTULE!” If I’m able to run (for the obligatory three seconds), then I’m able to run. Don’t snatch that ability away from me because… because for some reason you’ve decided it’s important to walk at half the usual pace across this patch of barren land where nothing’s happening because you hate people because perhaps you didn’t get the bike you wanted when you were nine. Good.