Monday, 21 May 2007

Ten things I hate about you!

The 'you' so prominently referenced in the title is of course, my arch-nemesis, video games. Now before I go any further, let me clarify. I love video games. I rarely find a video game I don't like. However, they are also the most annoying thing on the face of the planet. So here, mostly to clear my own thoughts on the matter, are the top ten things that annoy me in video games.

1o. Loading screens with no progress bar: Loading screens themselves are pretty bad, but those without a progress bar, or counter, or percentage, are the worst of the crop. This is my thought pattern when I see one: 'Oh, loading eh? If you insist. But wait! How long are you gonna be loading for? I've seen fricking long load times before! Can I go make a sandwich, or if I do will I come back to find it loaded, my character dead, and 'Game Over prominently displayed?' Seriously, if you must have loading screens, at least put a progress bar.

9. Repetetive Music: This one should be a no brainer. Music should be varied and interesting, or the player (namely, me) will get bored and restless, and project that onto the game itself. Final Fantasy has always been really good at this. Nobuo Uematsu is a fantastic composer though, and most game companies can't be bothered to get someone even approaching his calibre.

8. Requiring you do repeat the same pointless task until you finally succeed at it: There are some very bad offenders at this, but one of the worst has to be Super Mario. Remember that video I posted a while back? That ain't so far from the truth. The only difference was that that video was funny.

7. Game Over: The very idea of game over sickens me. It's like the game telling you that you aren't good enough because you can't complete it with a certain number of lives. I hate the 'game over' screen more than just about anything else apart from the rest of the items on this list.

6. Lack of progress: In most games, after a game over, you just have to re-load and try again, knowing that you are no closer to your goal, indeed you are further away because you have to fight your way back to the scene of the game over. How should this be done? Well, look at the much underrated Pokemon games. If you lost a battle, your character may lose a bit of money, but all progress that you made is kept, and any experience your pokemon gained, including that gained in the battle that you lost, remains. All you have to do is walk back to where you lost and challenge the person who beat you again. No trainers on the way will challenge you, as you have already beaten them. That's a good system, where game over doesn't exist, and losing is a setback, but not an annoyance.

5. Random Battles occuring too frequently: 'Ah, a random battle? Piece of cake. There I've won. Doobie, doobie, doob- what the crap, another one? I hadn't walked three steps!' Random battles I understand, mostly because games did not used to have the capability of rendering those monsters in real time. I don't mind random battles at all. If they are set to occur every two paces? Fuck that.

4. Jumping puzzles in games patently not designed for them: By 'games patently not designed for them', I obviously mean first-person games. In games designed to switch between first and third person, like the Jedi Knight series, they are acceptable, as you can switch to a view much more amenable to the idea of jumping puzzles. In first person games, get rid of them, they suck.

3. Irritating music at game over screens: Super Mario is guilty of this to the greatest extent I know. I have already pointed out that the game over screen shouldn't be there, but if it is, don't put annoying music there. Especially if that music seems to screem 'hahahahaha you suck' at the player. Seriously, at that point, the player is probably annoyed and frustrated, so putting bad music is like kicking them in the crotch when they're down.

2. Unskippable cutscenes: Cutscenes are good the first time around. They build story and character, they get the player from one place to another, and they often look damn cool (Final Fantasy VIII's 'Dollet Landing' scene is one of the most brain-defying great video game moments of all time.) They aren't so nice the second time around. Or the third. Seriously, make it so that your cutscenes can be skipped. Players don't want to watch them over and over just because they keep failing.

1. A lack of save points: Does this one really need explaining? Seriously, put adequate save points in the game. I don't want to fight through a dungeon, lose to the boss, and then have to fight my way through it again. The golden rule of video games has to be 'always put a save point before the boss.'

Let me reiterate. I love video games, but they can be hella annoying.

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