Monday, January 28, 2013

Three Features That Every Game Should Have But Don't

Feature One: Fully Customizable Controls

How many times have you played a game and found yourself wishing that a button on the controller did something other than what it was assigned by the developers? Ya, we all have. And that's when you check the control options to see what default control schemes they have available to use. Many times, there's one that is exactly what you were hoping for. Many other times, however, there is not. And in my experience, the  latter scenario happens as many times as does the former, if not more. So I pose a question: Why no custom controls? I'd say 5% of the games released allow the user to map the controls as they see fit (this percentage is definitely higher for PC games than it is for console games but I am talking about console games here) and all I can think is why? In what way does it harm anyone to allow the user to map the controls exactly as they would have them? If you ask me, it's nothing but positive outcomes ahead if they just start implementing this change.

For me personally, many hack n slash games could have been much more enjoyable had they allowed me to remap the controls so that blocking/dodging worked similarly to Ninja Gaiden. It's just the best, most intuitive block/dodge system in the genre and I really think every other hack n slash could have benefited from allowing its use. Ninja Blade was probably the worst example of this as it was like Ninja Gaiden....except the exact opposite (R trigger instead of L). There were different control configurations but none that allowed you to change the block from R to L.

Another very recent example was the Metal Gear Rising Demo. I LOVED it, but I really wish they would have let the user map the controls to their exact preferred specifications. Hopefully the full game allows it (doubtful). I say doubtful because PlatinumGames developed my second favourite hack n slash game of all time (Bayonetta) and that game did not allow you to remap the controls either. I REALLY wish it did because the dodge was R instead of L in that game as well, although fortunately it did not work in the same way that Ninja Gaiden and Ninja Blade do (using the control stick and the trigger at the same time to dodge) and as such it was not nearly the hassle it was for me as was the system in Ninja Blade (by the way, had Ninja Blade actually been a competent hack n slash game I would have kept playing it, R trigger dodging be damned- so don't say I should just adapt; I can and do but really, why should we have to?)

Feature Two: Quick Saves

Many handheld games (especially Nintendo ones) allow you to save your game at any time and resume at your discretion, exactly where you left off. This is a great feature, especially for portable gaming, because you quite often have to stop playing at a moment's notice and a quick save allows you to play without fear of losing your progress because you ran out of time. fantastic, right? Well, this begs the question why don't all games allow this? Well, you might say, if they implemented this in all games couldn't people abuse the feature like they do save states in emulator programs? Could they not just save every few seconds in a really hard game and guarantee victory? 

Good thinking, but no. See, for those unfamiliar with portable gaming, quick saves are temporary- they are erased upon resumption of the game, so you cannot abuse them/cheat. (By the way, quick saves aren't even utilized in the majority of portable games, which is even worse than it is for console games). 

Now, you might think but if you're playing on a console, you have lots of time to play, and there are always autosaves at checkpoints and such, so who cares? And to you I would ask if you've ever kept playing when you really shouldn't be just so that you could get to the next save point in order to avoid losing your progress. I am willing to bet you have. I am also willing to be that you have also turned a game off and lost progress because you really had to leave. Well, why should either of those scenarios ever occur? Answer: They shouldn't. There are no downsides to implementing quick saves. every single game ever made should have them as a feature (well, unless it's a game that implements manual saving at any point). 

Gamers should never have to lose progress when their play time (hehe) is up. It should be exactly like a movie or a book- resume from where you left off. There's no good reason not to allow this. 

Feature Three: The Ability To Pause Cutscenes 

This one is pretty self explanatory. You shouldn't have to decide between missing a cutscene and straining your bladder/ignoring a phone call/ignoring the doorbell, etc. Just let us pause the damn cutscene. Some games do this, yes, but many/most do not and once again I find myself asking why? I do not think there's any justifiable way of saying that this should not be a standard feature. 

Hmmm....actually, I just had a thought: The consoles themselves could probably allow both quick saves and the ability to pause at any given moment. Sony, Nintendo and Microsoft should get on that! 

1 comment:

  1. Hey magx01, Long time no see. I have a few thoughts on your 3 features every game should have.

    1) Customizable Controls

    I do agree with this, there is little more frustrating than playing a game where every button does things you are not accustomed to, or find bizarre. On the whole I find most games tend to have more or less a standard control scheme since the SNES; however, the games that do something different always screw me up. While I don't know why more games allow for customizable controls or the limitations impeding developers, I do have a possible explanation. A long time ago, on an episode of Extra Credits, one of their writers was hired as a consultant on a game where he play tested a demo version. He found the controls to be confusing, and when he told the staff that they responded rather perplexed. The thing is, the developers knew the controls inside and out and it was second nature to them, thus they thought it was intuitive, but didn't realize that possible gamers would have found it to be an odd set up. This might be the reason some games don't have customizable controls, although some games like RPGs don't really need it.

    Additionally: I know it is intuitive to have the Block command be assigned to the shoulder buttons, but I never found it to be that big a deal whether it is L or R.

    2) Quick Saves
    That is the one thing that pissed me off the most about Disgaea DS. How the hell am I suppose to spend hours on end exploring the Item world if you don't give me the chance to create a suspend save.

    Now, while this is a useful feature for Portable gaming, since you need to have control over when to end a game in case you get off of the Bus or your batteries are dying, I think the lack of this feature for console games is two fold. One) There is probably some limitations in terms of saving data. I mean, there is probably a lot of data that is going on at that moment in gaming, probably more so than is usually saved at a save point, so in order to create a suspend save, a lot more information would have to be saved. And two) there is little reason to have suspend saves. The reason why Portable games have suspend saves is because most developers realize that most portable gaming sessions only last an hour at most, and that they have to deal with the X factor of battery life. But with console games most gaming sessions last must longer, and you don't have to worry about the state of your batteries. And with most games designed with save points laying within an hour worth of gameplay or so a part, the only games that would require such a feature would be SRPGs, in which case it is actually rather common for them to have some form of Suspend save (Fire Emblem games in particular).

    3) Pause Cutscenes
    Agreed with the additional point that said cutscenes should also be able to be skipped in some manner.

    That's all I have to say at the moment, and I really need to leave the house now.

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