Welcome to the Inconvenienced Blog. This is a Comedy and Gaming Culture Site all rolled into one. Alongside humorous articles, we'll also be be giving our thoughts on games, and the gaming industry as a whole.

Hope you stick around and get to know the place.

5 November 2007

To Games: Stop Wasting our Time

I realize I'm quite an addict when it comes to making up completely misleading titles so let me recompensate by writing something that no doubt many of you people will agree with, and possibly call to arms an uprising against responsible companies, were it not that many of us don't even know where they are.

See, my frustration is not with how games cause us to look at our watch and exclaim "It is 3 in the morning." It's more that there's so much time in games where we can't do anything. Let me try to make some explanation of this. In the recent Medal of Honor Airborne, you are forced to watch the EA logo and "opening"...thing...of the main menu. You must then click Continue Campaign whereas you must watch a long 3D briefing, something which you have no doubt seen before, and doesn't help since most of us can improvise our own attack plan once we've hit the ground.

Conversely, I have recently been playing Grim Fandango, whereas when you hit the shortcut for the game, a little window pops up offering to take you DIRECTLY TO your last save game. No menu, not much loading, and before you know it you're Manny, looking around cluelessly for a bottle in which to store some Coffin Shooters.

I could go into a lengthy analysis of what, specifically, people should be doing to fix all this, but this is not some psychiatric interactive entertainment analysis: It's simple, the longer the time between you hitting the shortcut and you being actually IN the game, the WORSE.

It goes beyond this too, however. During the game, keep in mind that some people are going to play it over and over again, having absolutely nothing better to do and apparently believing that whole bit about a secret level hidden behind a blast door. First, make all cutscenes skippable. Besides the fact that your writing and voice actors are horrible, consider that someone has ALREADY SEEN THEM. Half-Life 2 becomes a prime culprit of this, because in reality it would be really awkward to be able to skip a cutscene in Episode 2. What I liked was those bits in Half-Life 1, where a scientist would start talking for the plot-interested player, while the speedrunner would wave goodbye and continue bunny-hopping away.

But I'm not going to limit this to just cutscenes. There are even short, 0.3 second segments in games that will annoy me in the same way. Instead of forcing a "jump over barrier" animation that removes control of my character, why not just let me JUMP it? I realize people are trying to move from cutscenes to always-first-person in an attempt to immerse the player, but this really fails when suddenly you're no longer "playing as" mr.shootspeople and just "watching through the eyes of" mr.shootspeople. But would you kindly agree...it DID make some sense in Bioshock. This is also apparent in games where your character getting hit requires you to recoil back and such, unable to control your movement. (Lost Planet is the prime suspect and thus has been sentenced to 4 days of constant minigunning)

I think Resident Evil 4 was one of the first to help counteract this by introducing a level of interacivity even in those awesome cutscenes. Those seem to be pretty mandatory for many games now, but I feel like as long as they're properly executed, they're just there to make the game a bit more fun. The obvious solution for anything removing control by the player is by allowing the player to interrupt things. I hate any game that doesn't let you stop reloading your gun in order to whip out a pistol and cap the monster that popped out at you.

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