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Rules For Games: Do & Don't #6

The Daily Hate

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It’s important that everyone stay calm and do as I say.

DO feel free to include a kitchen in your game. Bathrooms – oh, we’ve got bathrooms. There’s not a gaming character in the land who could possibly be crossing their legs and begging for help – he or she need only open two doors to have a near 100% chance of stumbling into a loo. But if they fancy some toast? They’re screwed. Buildings have kitchens, developers. Oh, and if you do, and you put a fridge in it, there’d better be something in that fridge other than one milk carton when I open it. Ideally a monster, but some ham and cheese would work.

DON’T inform me in an unskippable screen every time I load your game that this game autosaves. Because, and this is obviously going to come as a shock to every developer and porter on Earth so brace yourselves: very, very rarely do I ever end a gaming session by waiting for the game to start saving and then marching to the wall and yanking all the plugs out. Yes, this is a hangover from console versions, where apparently console users must habitually start wildly ripping cables out of things at random moments, such that they need to be so strongly warned. But people don’t tend to switch PCs off by throwing the mains switch in their house and tearing all the fuses out of the wall. They tend to shut them down like daddy Microsoft tells them to, long after we’ve quit out of the game. So what with NO ONE EVER DOING IT, do you think we could not have to sit through a screen showing us what a spinning icon looks like every time we start playing? Please maybe thank you.

DO remember that if you let me carry on playing your game after it’s over, after I’ve saved the world and rescued all of humanity from the brink of death, that it would be nice if the game noticed. Of course when an ending necessitates that the world can no longer be played in, this doesn’t apply. But when it does, come on, at least have the NPCs stop pleading with me to sever the seven heads from the Great Beast Of Ab, when I just so spectacularly did that. Look at me – I’m wearing two of the heads as a hat!

DON’T put a big pile of rocks in your game if you don’t want me to climb up a big pile of rocks. You know what I can’t climb up without specialist equipment? Sheer cliff faces, or vast, towering boulders. You know what I can climb up? Piles of rocks. They’re not barriers, they’re obstacles. And obstacles in games are challenges. And challenges are to be taken on. So when I either discover that there’s some invisible wall near the top, or tumble into the mad void outside of the game’s edges, it confirms for me that you’ve never been outside of a city. Nor indeed seen a rock.

DO let enemies weaken. In gaming, a baddy who has 95% health is identical to a baddy who has 3% health. And that’s crazy! I’ve been doing some experiments on humans I don’t like, and it turns out if you reduce them down to three percent of their total health, they can barely even pick up a gun, let alone successfully aim it. It’s as much as they can do to gurgle pathetic pleas for me to remove the final scraps of life. So how about there’s some level of deterioration when we attack? I’m not talking about wretched Soldier Of Fortune II style dismemberment. But maybe they move more slowly, aim less reliably, beg for mercy less convincingly? That sort of thing.

DON’T put music and cutscene volumes on the same slider. It’s weird how often this one’s done, where switching off a game’s horrible muzak results in silent cutscenes or missing dialogue. Oh, but also, when I switch the music off in your game, DO flipping well switch it off in the cutscenes too! And everywhere else you think I really actually do want to listen to your crappy music even though I muted it. I’m listening to my not-crappy music, and it just sounds awful when they dirge together. Worse even than yours on its own! Or, alternative, have good music in your game.

DO keep doing that completely daft thing where interactive objects are rendered differently from background items. Because if it was good enough for Daffy Duck, it’s good enough for me.

You can catch up on the rest of the obligatory rules here.

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John Walker

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One of the original co-founding robots of Rock, Paper, Shotgun, I'm now a senior editor and hero of humanity. Old and special.

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