Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Some Do's and Don'ts

Bacon gone bad
Before writing this blog entry I did a bit of reading with regards to other lists that people had written with a similar theme.  In all honesty what I read was not good.  I could think of far too many exceptions to the blanket demands that were presented in each article.  Overall it felt like the authors really just wanted to spout pet peeves rather than give advice on how to make games better for everyone.  So, with that in mind I'll try to choose six things (three "do's' and three "don'ts") that I think almost everyone can get behind.  Here we go.

Do have good camera placement in your third person game.  It saddens me to say this but a lot of my favorite games have had bad camera usability; Dark Souls, Shadow of the Colossus, Resident Evil and the list goes on.  It can be tolerable depending on the game (especially less action oriented titles), but for shooters or brawlers it's vital to have a camera that doesn't get bunched up or pointed in a useless direction...doubly so if the games has third person plaftormer.

Do have precise collision detection in your three dimensional environments. Emerson breaking clipping aside, all too often these days I see games trying to cover their sloppy melee combat with bright impact flashes and particle effects.  What I'd really like to see is more games with enemies that implement a dynamic hit reaction system similar to the one used in Red Dead Redemption.  An improved version of the injury texture modeling in Silent Hill: Homecoming would also be very welcome.

Do have responsive controls.  This one sounds like a no-brainer, but the reality is it still remains a persistent problem (especially for a lot of games on the Ouya).  You could blame it on hardware, but the remake of Mickey Mouse's Castle of Illusion and TMNT: Out of the Shadows are other recent examples (and they're for the PC, PS3 and Xbox360).  There's no excuse for this kind of problem which brings me to my "don'ts" list.

Don't release a full priced game that is full of bugs and needs numerous patches to get to a playable state.  If you want to release it as early access on Steam - great!  If you want to do some kind of limited beta test with your fan base - even better.  Just make sure to be honest with us gamers about what we're getting into.  This has been such a major problem the last few years, I almost never buy anything until it's gotten patched a couple times or at least given a relatively clean bill of health on various gaming forums.

Don't do day one paid DLC.  Just don't!  I get that in order to make DLC for games in a timely manner plans have to be made early on in the development process.  However, if that extra content is ready at launch then there's no valid excuse.  There just isn't.

Don't remove features in your sequel that were previously well received by fans.  Why does Total War: Rome II no longer have "guard" or "fire at will" commands?  Why no co-op play in Golden Axe: Beast Rider?  Why doesn't Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs have any inventory, sanity mechanic or oil lamp management anymore? Worst of all is unlockables and cheat codes being turned in to micro-transactions, but that's a topic for another time.

That's my list.  Nothing profound, but given the number of games that fall into these traps, I figured it worth mentioning.  Especially since next gen consoles are just around the corner.    

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