10 Flaws Modern Video Games Should Never Have
Design has come a long way since we were still trying to figure out how to make a sprite’s feet properly collide with a 2D floor. We have learned a lot from our mistakes (and boy have we made mistakes.) Unfortunately, not every game designer has studied up on his game design history and several unfortunate and sometimes game breaking flaws end up making their ways into modern day games. These are 10 Flaws Modern Video Games Should Never Have just because we have encountered them so many times that we should know better by now.
So here’s the scenario: You’ve battled your way through a long and grueling JRPG, building up a party filled with powerful physical attackers that are critical on just about every hit. Then you get to the final boss which, for some reason, is just completely immune to physical attacks. Your entire party is useless and your magic users are vastly underleveled. This leaves you with the task of going back and grinding level 1 characters up to level 70. This is something that really happened to players of Suikoden V, and many other JRPGs that want to spice up their final boss fight in some stupid way. It’s one of the 10 Flaws Modern Video Games Should Never Have.
When the PS1 and N64 first came out, programming a 3D camera was tricky. No one had really programmed in a 3D space before, and so wild camera swings and a few errant deaths due to the camera being stuck behind a wall were expected. However, we have grown up a lot since then and are heading into an era filed with almost photo-realistic graphics. At this point, if you don’t know how to program in, “camera follows behind the main character” then you should probably just stick to 2D game design.
This flaw isn’t even a problem with programming. It’s a malfunction in video game story writing. If you play an epic action game or RPG for 20-40 hours, you are going to want some payback for your efforts. This is usually what the game’s ending is, but so many current day games simply drop the ball on a satisfying ending. Games like Mass Effect 3 have endings that merely have slight changes in color and tone, while games like Fallout 3 give you a 45 second recap of the things you did during the game and not much else. Developing a good ending doesn’t really even take any extra development money, it just takes writers who don’t have their head up their butt.
Many video games have some variation on the quest to bring item A to person B. Unfortunately, many video games also allow you to sell item A before you even get to person B. At best, this makes the quest unable to be completed. At worse, it makes the whole game unable to be completed. Do you know what it takes to make an item unsellable or undroppable? One line of code. One line of code could have saved gamers a lot of pain when they had to restart their game from the beginning due to selling one special golden apple.
We have had decades of game design to fall back on when developing a game’s difficulty curve. There is currently no excuse for games that go from boring to unbeatable so fast that you might get whiplash. Difficulty spikes are avoidable through testing, thorough planning, focus grouping, and tons of other game development strategies. Frankly, any serious difficulty spike in modern day game design is just the result of a designer dropping the ball.
When you play a game for the first time, you probably want to watch every scene the game has to offer to fully drink in the story. However, if you play through the game a second and third time, chances are you won’t be interested in watching the same melodrama you watched before. That’s where skipping cutscenes comes in, but some games still refuse to let you do it. Once again, allowing a cutscene to be skipped is just a few lines of extra code, so either programmers are lazy or they think so highly of themselves that they assume everyone would want to sit through every cutscene 100% of the time. It's just one of the 10 Flaws Modern Video Games Should Never Have.
If no one else is playing the game, then there should be no reason that you can’t pause it. It’s as simple as that. Yet, we still find games that disable the pause button, or the home button, or even games that continue to run when your DS or 3DS is closed! Disabling a pause function is not only a Flaw Modern Video Games Should Never Have, it’s also a great way to piss off someone who just wants to put the game down for a second to go to the bathroom.
Here is another scenario for you. You have played through a game right until the end. You have spent all your stat boosting items and best equipment on making your main character more powerful. Then, right before the final boss battle, your main character dies and all of those items and equipment vanish into thin air. This is a real thing that happens all the time, and is one of the reasons games like Valkyrie Profile 2 were almost impossible to complete. Frankly, it just makes us feel like fools for trusting that a game wouldn’t make 40 hours of character raising obsolete.
Ever have to play a racing game in an RPG? Or a rhythm mini-game in the middle of a platformer? How about those jumping puzzles in the middle of action games? Does anyone ever actually have fun with tiny little mini-games like this? The answer is no, and game developers should stop putting them games, especially if they have to be beaten in order to progress with the main story line.
The last and most grievous of the 10 Flaws Modern Video Games Should Never Have is any problem with the game mechanic we know as 'save points.' There are tons of them to choose from. Maybe you save in the middle of a scene and when you reload the scene doesn’t start up again. Maybe save points are so scattered that you literally have to play for two hours or more before you can safely quit. Maybe the game only has one save slot so you can never make a backup. Maybe the game actually requires you to pay to let you save it! Either way, PC games have been letting us save wherever we want for ages, so there is absolutely no excuse for these issues to crop up in a modern day game.