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The Play Trials: court records

The Play Trials: court records

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First may we present the rest of Samuel Ranta-Eskola of Starbreeze’s testimony:

1.       Lack of Imagination
The absolute number one gaming crime is Lack of imagination. If you’re in the gaming industry a creative mind is imperative. Things that shows a lack of imagination are:
–          Blatant stealing of ideas – I can’t help but be disappointed when a game comes out that pretty much copies exactly what someone already has done without adding any new twists to it.
–          Pointless progression  – When you get something pointless after reaching a goal (once again, something in the style of a new skin to your character or similar). Tacked on progression that’s just there to be there is  wasted effort that could be spent better in other areas of the game.

2.       Greed
I hate all those pointless games that are created on some famous brand just to cash in (which they rarely do). Another thing that falls into this category is pointless premium content, such as skins to you character or some other stupid pointless thing that adds no value whatsoever to the game.

3.       Sloppiness
If you’re making a game and just don’t care enough to take it to the “next level”, you should be banned from the industry. Nothing should  be “Good enough”, you should always try to improve and don’t allow any half-ass efforts out of your door.

But Mr Ranta-Eskola didn’t stop there, and went on with a few more choice words:

–          Over thought boss designs or puzzles – I hate when I have to resort to a walkthrough on the internet to figure out how to solve a problem in a game. I would consider myself rather patient in solving situations in games, but sometimes they are so frustrating that you just want to the take console and smash it to pieces and use the game disc as a Frisbee.
–          Unskippable dialogues – Nintendo are the kings of this. I hate when you have to play through a dialogue sequence over and over again without being able to skip it
–          Showstoppers that you can’t get around – Nothing is more frustrating than a showstopper that is impossible to get around, such as you get stuck in a room and a checkpoint kicks in so that you can’t go back nor reload. Only option is to start the game from the beginning again. That’s when you see a game come flying out of my window.

Next we have Dan Howdle, games editor of the lovely NowGamer.com and man who hates this thing in particular:

For me that’s easy… number one annoyance: Subtitles ON by default. Seems to be the case on ALL Japanese games, but now increasingly western ones too.

Start game, intro starts with subtitles, turn console off, restart, option, subtitles off, start game. That’s a pretty standard thing with new games in my house. I hate subtitles that much. It’s like reading a newspaper while someone reads it out loud over your shoulder.

There should be an option for subtitles for the deaf and for those who want to play very quietly, but while these people are a miniscule minority, they somehow get the default setting all to themselves. The only thing more annoying than this is when there’s no option to turn them off at all. Avatar is a recent case in point.

Matthew O’Handrahan’o’handrahandra, features editor of GamesTM, followed with this gem:

The arbitrary inclusion of choices in narrative games is starting to wear very thin. They’re great when done well, but just dilute the drama when shoved in so inelegantly. You can choose your character model in Avatar, for example, despite it having no impact on the play experience or the perception of your character, while simultaneously making it impossible for the developer to actually give the protagonist a defined personality.

InFamous is another example, though not as jarringly shit – “Do you want to give the child a lollipop, or rape and murder it? Depending on your choice, the light that is emitted from your hands when you use your powers will be a different colour.” I’d rather they invested that time in making Cole someone you could give two shits about, and writing dialogue that wasn’t awful. The shiteness of the story removes all the satisfaction of controlling it.

Sam Bandah, oh he of senior staff writer on 360 fame, added his two pence:

Hmm,

Having to press buttons to pick up ammo in third or even first person shooters irritates me. For changing weapons fine – but just for ammo? That eventually builds to a rage if I find myself without ammo, if that helps.

Oh yeah, playing RTS games when units all look too slightly similar gets my goat as well- tactical decisions require visual distinctions.. or something along those lines.

Wrestling games that use an analogue stick to perform actual moves- they should all use a stick button combo-(like Revenge) nothing worse than accidentally touching a stick and doing a move you didn’t mean to.

PC games, usually ports, that decide you don’t actually need real graphical options that you can tweak- I have a shiny graphics card for a reason!

Xbox Live games that dictate whether or not you can use party chat in game- if I want to talk to the idiot children I’ll opt into game chat thank you!

Poor lobby systems (MW2 put your hand up!) that drop people from your party for no reason, forcing you to round everyone up again.

Poorly weighted match making systems- MW2 again also Halo, that make you play the same maps over and over again when there’s a perfectly good supply of maps with many good ones you rarely get to see- and I paid for the buggers

More than any of the above- games that have DLC already on the disc- Soul Caliber (Vader)and SFIV (costumes)  that instead of unlocking the old fashioned way you have to pay cash for. It’s a greedy, knee cap worthy offence

Sorry, I couldn’t think of anything more, I’m not really an angry person you see…

It should be noted that this court doubts that final claim very much.

Nicolas Doucet, a producer at SCEE, added these choice nuggets:

Traditional battery-powered controllers. Have you ever run out of batteries in the middle of a very intense moment of the game and you’re having to run around the house stealing old batteries from your clock or your kids’ toys? It’s infuriating. So as an alternative, you buy cheap 3rd party power packs (first party sometimes don’t even exist!!) that eventually end up running out after 30 minutes of charging them. Then you forget about your kids’ toys and they start crying. You feel like a horrible parent… not to mention battery pollution.

I remember some epic battles with a strong narrative and huge everything, all hell breaking loose, suddenly cut with a cheap 2D text box explaining “Mini Game controls”.  How about that to bring you crashing back to reality?  It’s often a very functional solution but we’re in a day and age where this can really be avoided. There are some sublime examples of interfaces and tutorials built in the environment or characters. Dead Space comes to mind.

I find overly hyped titles often end up disappointing me. There is nothing like a great surprise to liven up your experience and leave unforgettable memories. Knowing what to show and what to hold back during promotions is an art in itself, a difficult balance too.

This is my personal battle. Although visuals do have the edge, your ears need to be stimulated with just as much precision and care and far too often, sound effects and soundtracks are left to pick up the crumbs. From missing sound to great moments spoiled by an annoying VO. In an ideal world, we should all be aiming for an audio award not matter what game we’re making. It comes for free provided we can be bothered.

If there is one thing Japanese games have established a long time ago, it’s smooth menu-scrolling, rapid refresh and fast scrolling when holding down a direction. The X Media Bar does that very very well,  it’s almost sensual.

Sandy Lockie of Bizarre Creations threw an opinionated hat into the ring with this:

I’d probably say my biggest bug-bear at the moment is games that have a huge difficulty spike just before the end. It seems to happen all over the place as well. The player will get through 12-15 hours of a game having great fun and then spend the final hour tearing their hair out with seemingly immortal final bosses, cheap deaths and incomprehensible puzzles. I’m not saying games shouldn’t maintain a challenge throughout but some designers appear to have a perverse desire to torment the loyal player who has invested so much time in their game. Sure difficulty can add tension, but too often games designers seem happy to cross the line into frustration leaving the player with a bad taste in their mouth.

And last, but by no means least, was the furious – furious – Peter Gothard, senior staff writer of 360 magazine:

Like I said the other day, I hate the fact that 87.24% of videogames are set ‘in the near future’ or ‘the far future’ and are about a company of generic, ugly marines, of which you’re always the most average-looking one with short brown hair and a two-day growth, who has a vaguely insubordinate relationship with his commanding officer, who’s usually called General Scott/Williams/Blake, or simply “Sarge”, and you have an on-off romance with a female marine in form-fitting body armour who’s supposed to be attractive but has a character model like Willem Dafoe and David Spader’s lovechild.

I realise Hollywood’s somewhat to blame, but this is an industry which once gave us Jet Set Willy and Chuckie Egg and, clearly, with a little more imagination, we could return to a world in which videogames could be conceptually original, rather than relying on tried and, apparently, true storytelling tropes which go absolutely no way to informing the game they’re lazily ladelled on top of five minutes before the game’s shipped.

And with that, this court is adjourned.

Remember to go pick up a copy of issue 194 of Play, on sale now, to read the rest of this fine feature – including our verdicts and sentencing on all crimes committed. Visit the Imagine Shop if you can’t be bothered going to a shop in real life, or just go to any good newsagents.




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