So when ole Kris Kringle rolls around in a good few monthes time, it won't only mean the end of 2013, but also the beginning of the 8th Generation of video game consoles. Yes, yes, I know technically that started with the Wii U, but does anyone really feel like it's a next-gen console? Right, moving along.
A couple of weeks ago I did a list of stuff I'd like to see in this new generation, but that was more on the business end of things. I've since thought of a few more things we can put in place to make gaming a more enjoyable experience for everyone, but this time it's about the games themselves. In any event, I think if we act on this stuff while the new generation is still in gestation, we can make them commonplace, ensuring a good time for all.
So here we go.
5. Pausing Cutscenes...
Generally, I like a good story in my games and typically most games transmit their story via cutscenes. I'm sure you've seen some before. Now occasionally my phone will ring or someone will knock on my door or one of my kids will need to make a poopie; that's just a part of life. Now when life intrudes like that while I'm in the middle of a cutscene, it puts me in a very awkward position. Do I let the shit hit the fan, or do I prevent it and miss finding out that Solid Snake is actually his own father? Obviously I let the kid crap their pants, but the point is I shouldn't need to choose, if I could just pause the bloody cutscene. Developers make it happen.
4. ... & also Skipping them
And while we're at it, make sure I can skip those cutscenes too; and not by accident either. If a game is especially good, sometimes I like to play through it more than once and at times like that it may be useful to able to skip through a cutscene. But more importantly, developers like to place a checkpoint just before a cutscene, oftentimes this is at the beginning of a boss fight. And perhaps it's a boss that so happens to have an insta-kill technique and thanks to that, the @$$hole keeps sending me to the game over screen. That's frustrating enough, but then when I continue I have to watch some stupid cutscene again? Just lemme skip the scene, so I can get my ass handed to me for the 66th time. Or better yet, put the checkpoint after the cutscene. Developers make it happen.
Best. QTE. evar!!!
Stop, just please stop. Cutscenes are bad enough, but quick-time events (QTE's) are like the drunk uncle of cutscenes at a wedding. He was quite entertaining when he told you that story about the time he was a roadie for Bon Jovi and he had to stand in for Jon Bon Jovi that one time 'cos he was high or something, but he stops telling the story because you weren't 'listening' well enough. So then every time you see him he starts telling it again and then stopping and eventually you really start to regret inviting him. QTEs are supposed to be a way to get you invested in the action being played out, but instead they distract you from it, because your brain is primed more for what button you need to push next, rather than what's actually happening on screen, so you end up missing the thing entirely. Case in point, there is a lesbian sex QTE in God of War III
... I missed it completely.
2. Casting appropriate voice actors
If you've watched the video above, then I think this one is self-explanatory. I understand that games are made on a budget, but I don't think this is the area to skimp on. Seriously now, hire a professional dammit.
1. The Escort Mission
Exactly one game has done the escort mission right, and that was ICO
. And why did it work in that game and not others? Because ICO
was specifically designed around the concept. The whole game was an escort mission, so every thing about it was built around making that work. In every other game, escort missions just don't work, because the game's other design principles aren't prepared to deal with it. Either the character being escorted has terrible AI and keeps getting themselves killed or if they are invisible they have terrible pathfinding. Regardless, if the question comes up about whether or not to have an escort mission, the default answer should be 'no'.
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