I was at first wishing to do something a little more joyful, but then I decided to go the other way. I assume that if you read this blog, you’re interested in video games, right? I mean, you’re probably a fan of Nintendo and whatnot, and maybe you also know a lot about the other consoles in the great console battle. That’s what I assume, anyway. And so, it is likely that you’ve run into a number of trends in game development, or in gaming in general, that you simply cannot stand. You see a game use any of these and you just go “Urghhhhhh… again?” Or worse even, what was up to that point a good game becomes intolerable in your eyes. These are the gaming clichés that have worn out their welcome, the missions that annoy the players rather than encourage then, the characters who serve no purpose… we’ve all run into stuff like that. The good games may contain a few instances of these gaming tropes, the bad games may contain dozens of them.
Obviously, my gaming experience will taint this Top 12, so if you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you might know a few of my pet peeves. I will try to remove most tropes related to storytelling, as those can be found in just about any story, beyond the realm of video games. However, everything else is fair game; game development, gaming communities, trends, gameplay elements… I’ll try to keep the rage to a minimum. But I’m sure you’ll agree with me on more than a few elements on this list. Hell, you could basically consider this list “12 common complaints directed at video games, that I’ve seen, and that annoy me, ranked from what I consider the least bad to what I consider the worst”. Obviously that title would have been too long for Blogger. Remember that these are my opinions, you’re free to disagree; Heck, if you’ve got something in video games that really annoys you, and it’s not on the list, feel free to discuss it in the comments! In fact, please do, I want to hear what irks you in gaming today. Alright, let’s get this started.
12. Rubber-band AI
|How it is supposed to work.|
11. Escort missions
You know what, you're not even worth me doing that joke.
Makes you wish you could just shoot an arrow in that NPC’s face. And you have to move your little ass around killing enemies left and right for the ingrate jerk princess Ruto or for the stupid Parallel Bird. Advice to future game developers, if you create an escort mission, you damn better know what you’re doing. Avoid he common escort mission traps. Do not attempt this if you don’t have the talent to do it correctly.
10. Disappointing final level/Boring level designs in general
Games take time to create. Hundreds work on a single game at once, and even with that many people, sometimes creativity runs out. It happens. There is also the mindset that not all gamers will play all the way through a game, thus some developers will put less effort in the later levels. Even though that’s the worst leap in logic on a developing standpoint. Just because less people will get to the end doesn’t mean the end has to suck. And yet, many players feel disappointed when they reach the final level, or the final world, or the final dungeon, or the final whatever, because it’s just not up to par with what came before. This is an aesthetic problem, but it can go beyond that: When you add level design to this and, suddenly, even the platforming becomes tedious, either too difficult or just plain boring. Both extremes have been seen. And that’s of course when the ugly aesthetics aren’t making up most of the game in the first place. When it comes to level design, some games… just don’t have it. Maybe they don’t know how to give every world a new look, a new feel. In a perfect world, games would stay creative till the end, but this isn’t a perfect world. This is an entirely subjective point, so your examples may differ greatly from mine, but I can think of a few cases: Castle Oblivion in Kingdom Hearts re:coded, or Bowser's castle in New Super Mario Bros. Wii.
9. Too brown, too grey, too dark
Another point of criticism regarding aesthetics: The idea that, in order to be realistic, a game has to be brown, gray or dark. The webcomic VGCats coined the phrase “Real is brown” to refer to this phenomenon that plagues an awful lot of first-person shooters on the Sony and Microsoft consoles. And the PC games too, of course. Some Nintendo games also suffer from this, though I don’t see it as often. That’s of course when the game doesn’t also go the “dark” route. You know, darkness works in many games, especially the horror genre. It must not hinder the gameplay experience, however. Nobody likes to wander around in the dark wondering where to go, what may be ahead, what their toes might smash into if they step forward. Story of my life, my poor toe, again this morning it bumped on something.
8. Lack of balance
This one’s for all the competitors out there. I am not much on the competitive scene of games, but sometimes a game’s lack of balance can be felt even in single-player mode or between friends. Most games with competitive scenes have seen this happen: The Yu-Gi-Oh! card game had to create archetypes just to counter the overused decks that won all the time, with recently the Performapal/Performage archetype destroying everything in its way. Smogon’s ban lists have to be consistently updated as the Pokémon series changes and evolves; the Mega Evolutions, for the most part, were integrated pretty well, but then the PvP was flooded with Mega Kangaskhan. I can’t speak for most games on the Playstation, Xbox or PC competitive games out there, but there is one other example of a horrible balance I can think of: Super Smash Bros. for the Nintendo 3DS. I played that game. I… am not a fan of it. I’ve barely even played in Multiplayer mode, but I am convinced that I would despise it when items are turned on. Some game series evolve constantly, so the balance has to be re-done every time something new appears, and sometimes one too many One-Hit-Kill items, one too many overpowered characters, one more stupid stage with an NPC fighter, can be just the thing that ruins the fun.
7. Too easy
|For all your rope-burning needs, we offer you...|
the easiest Burn The Rope level ever made.
Though this is more of a parody than anything else...
6. Little to no postgame
Talking about postgame, a good way to increase the longevity of a game is to add things to do once the main game has been beaten. Story Mode over? Good! Now what? Collecting three Star Coins in every level? Do we have some bonus dungeons? Now that we’ve got the National Dex, how many Pokémon do we still need to find? Do you want to get all Gold medals? A multiplayer mode? Trophies, stickers? Are there achievements to complete? Can you unlock content from the developers showcasing concept art, a Sound Test? Postgame missions can increase your playing time on a game by a few hours, or by dozens of hours. As long as there’s something more to do after you’ve seen the ending. Most games I’ve played for this site have postgame content. It’s a little extra that makes you want to go back to a game, even after the end. No postgame means there’s nothing to encourage you to keep playing that particular game. And especially when other games offer more in that regard. For some, it’s a minor issue, for others it’s a deal breaker. And of course, it depends on the length of the main game itself, the Story Mode as we call it. And this brings me into my next point…
5. Too short
How expensive are games now? On the Wii U, games go from 50 to 80 dollars? It goes around that price range for Playstation and Xbox games too, if I’m not mistaken? I mean, there’s the bargain bins, the cheaper titles available, but we can all agree that modern games are not cheap. Thus, one of the most infuriating problems with certain games is that they just don’t offer nearly enough for the price you pay. Imagine, if you will, paying fifty bucks for a game that is completed in four hours. Can you imagine that?
And yes, I do mean taking out all the bonus content. There is such a thing as offering too little to the audience, and the gamers have every right to be pissed at a game that can be beaten in a few hours. Obviously, this will not apply to all games, especially the ones that offer great postgame possibilities or an interesting multiplayer mode (since all consoles these days are connected to the Internet and allow this). But there are still many examples out there. And we need to stand against such practices.
4. Grueling experience grinding
|Not every RPG has a peninsula of power|
3. Faulty or terrible mechanics
Developers must also avoid mechanics that work poorly, or sometimes, not at all. Obviously some games have a lot of material, and you can tell the people behind it went to great lengths to give you something good. Then you see that one item that everyone hates because it screws up the gameplay, and then it becomes obligatory for a mission! There’s a rule to this point: It’s a mechanic so bad that the community around the game near-universally agree on; almost everybody hates it. And if it’s in there, it’s because the entire development team thought it was a good idea; that’s the sad part. Tripping in Super Smash Bros. Brawl, not being able to call your horse Epona from anywhere in Hyrule at the start of Twilight Princess, roaming Pokémon, backtracking in general, trade-with-item evolutions in general (especially those that requires hard to find/unique items), the Spring Mushroom, Ztars, rolling the Star Ball, the fucking blue shells, Mach Speed sections, vanishing and reappearing block platforms in Mega Man… I could give examples all day. In general, it’s not enough of an annoyance to ruin your fun of the whole game, but it’s definitely that part you won’t be looking forward to if you decide someday to start a new save file.
2. Too much luck!
|Gee, both images here come|
from Mario Party. I wonder why...
1. DLC, microtransactions, oh my!
The obligatory “Game companies think we’re just money waiting to be spent” tirade. And yes, it’s a problem in gaming today. Like many examples on this list, there are ways that this gets done well. If you sell trophies or figurines or level packs for Skylanders or Disney Infinity or LEGO Dimensions, Hell even the Amiibo… Look, I personally won’t buy them, but a lot of people do. Therefore, make sure the content these new products offer are actually worth the price you’re asking for them. A new level for 30 bucks? Aw, Hell no. Make it worth that price. I guess the best Amiibo are the ones that you can use on more games, but since I don’t collect them, I can’t say.
|I didn't think I'd be going back to the Angry Joe well so|
quickly, but here it is.
There is no development advice I can give for this one. Who am I kidding, I am not a developer in the first place. I can’t even pretend to know what it’s like. However, I can tell you this much: Game development, I can understand if you do it partly for the money. Video games are a business, after all. But video games are also a form of art. And if you do it only for the money, you’re doing it for the wrong reason. And we can feel it in the finished product, we’re not stupid. Game development without passion, with only the paycheck in mind, is a soulless venture. And I guess that’s all I had to say about this particular point.
Well, there you go, this concludes this very long list. I hope you enjoyed reading it. If you didn’t, I won’t blame you, those twelve points tend to ignite something in us, they remind us of bad times with games. But we power through, because we love gaming and we won’t let stuff like this put us down. And I guess that’s what really matters in the long run.
Alright then, see you next week for something perhaps shorter, perhaps longer. Following the review chain chart, next week is probably going to be a Kirby game.