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Rules For Games: Do & Don't #11

Just do as you're told

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It has been far too long since I issued some decrees from my throne atop Gaming Mountain.

There has been some confusion in the past about the availability of potential to disagree with these mandates, so to be absolutely clear: there isn’t. They’re rules. You follow them, or, you know, you die. Simple enough.

DO try out your tutorial on a normal person who didn’t develop your game. Goodness me, this would solve so many sins in gaming. A regular game player, faced with those god-awful, unskippable, “Breathe in, then out, to continue existing” level patroniso-fests, would shout, “NO! I KNOW!” And then suddenly the option to skip would be added. And indeed at the other end, when your tutorial is so bloody complex that it requires its own tutorial (I’m looking at your Divinity: Original Sin GM mode – it literally has a tutorial tutorial), that person could scream directly into your face until you rewrote it in Human.

DON’T have characters smugly chastise your character for walking into a house, if there’s no ‘knock on the door’ option. It was cute the first time, when you were exploring a town and an NPC was shocked to find you sniffing around their lounge. “Ah!” we cried, “The game is being all clever!” But it’s not really clever when games rely on our pressing A to open doors, to then tell us off/punish us for pressing A to open doors. Sure, it doesn’t directly relate to real life – I’m not arguing I’ve the right to walk into people’s houses if they don’t lock the front door. Only after I survive the apocalypse. But when gaming historically relies on our doing an action, it’s time to present an option like knocking if you want to be Mrs Cute about it.

DO have a double-jump in your game. I don’t care what sort of game it is, there is no game that isn’t dramatically improved by a double-jump. An RPG, a driving game, a text adventure.

> JUMP

You jump in the air

> JUMP AGAIN

You jump a bit higher

DON’T put crafting in your game. Your game doesn’t need crafting. That other game you like has crafting because the entire conceit is built around the player’s ability to craft, but you’re adding it because you feel like your game should probably also have some crafting. Your game doesn’t need crafting, and it’s only going to add tedious fiddle. You do the crafting, the player will do the playing.

You can read the complete Dos and Don’ts of gaming here.

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John Walker

Senior Editor

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

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