Top 10 Flaws Modern Video Games Shouldn’t Have

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It’s 2012.  Our cell phones are more intelligent than us, we can download more hours of pornography than there are hours in our lives, and flying cars are right around the corner (maybe).  And yet video games still have the same flaws they’ve had for years.  Flaws that should have been fixed long ago, like…

10.  Not Letting Us Pause Cutscenes

Quick, grab your DVD player remote.  Go ahead and get it from the other room if you have to, we’ll wait.  No, don’t tell us you don’t own a DVD player.  Go buy one and put the frigging remote in your hand.  We’re not finishing this list until you do.

…waiting

…waiting

…okay, got it?  Do you recognize the pause button?  Of course you do, you use it all the time.  Unless you’re a game developer, that is.  To them it’s like an indecipherable Egyptian hieroglyphic.

pausebutton

What does it mean?!

Sometimes things happen during cutscenes, game developers.  The phone rings, or we need a bathroom break, or that guy we keep locked in our basement makes a break for it. If we can pause the game at literally any other moment, why do you insist on holding us captive for the cutscenes?

What’s worse is that if you can’t pause them, you can’t skip them.  So every time a boss fight ends with him ripping your spleen out through your mouth you have to listen to his five-minute evil speech before trying again.

There’s no excuse for that.  Game developers don’t have to overcome some great technological hurdle to add pause and skip buttons.  They don’t have to hire a specialist, or slay a lion in hand to claw combat.  They just have to not be lazy.

Now, there is one “valid” reason cutscenes can’t be skipped, but it’s really just a different brand of stupid.  We’re talking about…

9.  Using Quick Time Events

Once upon a time, quick time events (where you have to quickly press a button that pops up during a cutscene) were a novel idea.  They added variety to games, in small doses.

But, much like how it’s okay to eat a spoonful of whipped cream but not okay to spray an entire can into your mouth, QTEs have become overused.  Now gamers can fight their way through hordes of zombies, terrorists, or dreaded zombie terrorists, only to get stuck in a cutscene because they can’t press Y fast enough.  So they have to sit through the same scene over and over until them enter a dozen random buttons, all the while wishing they were shooting zombies instead.  We want to play Zombie Terrorist Murder 4, not freaking Bop It.

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Pictured: Resident Evil 5

The theory behind QTEs is that they force gamers to pay attention to cutscenes, but all we’re paying attention to is how much we suddenly hate the game.  We’re certainly not enjoying the scenes—there could be a lesbian orgy onscreen and we’d be too busy trying to anticipate when the next button will pop up to appreciate it.

And then God of War 3 actually did that, and it was retarded.

QTEs are rarely hard, but if it only takes one mistake before you’re forced to start over then eventually you’re going to screw up.  And there’s nothing less fun than having to sit through the same cutscene again and again, growing more frustrated each time you fail.  At least some game developers are finding innovative ways to use them:

8.  Making Us Waste Our Time

The millions of gamers who played L.A. Noire happily examined crime scenes, interrogated suspects and swapped lead with criminals.  What didn’t make them happy was searching every square inch of 1940s Los Angeles for hidden film reels.  These collectables, which only existed for the sake of being collected, were rightfully ignored by the vast majority of gamers.  So why were they even there?

It seems you can’t make an open world game without hiding countless flags or pigeons or dildos for gamers to hunt down.  But how many people actually bother with them, and out of those people how many don’t use a guide?  And out of them, how many have a mental disorder?

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A normal human being does not find and kill 200 pretend pigeons

These collectables are frustrating because there’s no need for them to be pointless.  Make flags in Assassin’s Creed unlock concept art.  If we shoot every pigeon in Grand Theft Auto IV, send us a live pigeon in the mail.  Hold our families hostage until we find every film reel.  Do something to motivate us.

At least they’re optional, so we can’t complain too much.  But we can complain about games that force us to waste our time.  The latest Zelda game, Skyward Sword, makes gamers perform more tedious errands than they have to run in real life.  The recent Resident Evil: Revelations, has players run back and forth through its cruise ship setting so many times they’ll be able to draw a map of it from memory.  It’s okay to be a little lazy, game developers, but do you have to be so transparent about it?

7.  Not Letting Us Save When We Want

Hardcore gamers would love nothing more than to be able to play for hours at a time.  But life gets in the way—jobs have to be attended, errands have to be run and child services gets uppity if you don’t feed your kids every day.  The good times have to end.

Only they can’t end, because the game’s save points are stretched further apart than Siberian prison camps, forcing you to keep playing so you don’t lose your progress.  You’re not having any fun and your kids won’t shut up about their rumbling tummies, but you just grit your teeth and push forward because you’d lose even more progress if you quit now. The next thing you know, it’s three in the morning and, when you get home from work early because you were fired for sleeping on the job, you discover your children are now wards of the state.

You don’t want that, do you, game developers?  No?  So then let us save our freaking games whenever we want to.

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And if we have to collect some stupid ribbon or something first, so help us God we will destroy you

Now before you run off to the comments section and complain that anyone who can’t handle the challenge of sparse save points sucks at video games, consider this.  First, nobody cares.  Maybe you’re better at video games than we are, but we’re probably better at holding down jobs and contributing to society.  So get over yourself.

Second, there are ways to do this without making a game too easy.  Let us suspend gameplay, so we can quit whenever we want; but send us back to a checkpoint if we die.  That way the nerds can still brag about how extreme they are, and the rest of us can ignore them and go on with our lives.  Everyone wins!

6.  Having Brain-Dead Enemies

Video game technology has advanced by leaps and bounds—except in the area of artificial intelligence, where enemies are as brain dead as they’ve ever been.  Skyrim is the perfect example.  It’s a complex RPG where gamers must think carefully about how they develop and play their character.  It’s also a game where every enemy has the mental capacity of a goldfish that’s suffered head trauma.

Yes, you just saw someone evade detection by hiding right in front of his enemies.  And in Skyrim, that’s nothing.  Imagine you come across two bandits.  You hide in the shadows and kill one with your bow.  The other will ask “Is someone there?” and glance around the room for all of ten seconds.  Then he’ll decide he must have been imagining things, and he’ll stand next to the body of his fallen comrade like nothing happened.

Depending on how you play the game, that’s not an exception to the rule—that’s every fight.  We actually had to quit playing Skyrim, because it made us feel like we were slaughtering the mentally handicapped.

But at least the AI in Skyrim doesn’t blatantly cheat, as they tend to do in every fighting, sports and strategy game ever made.  Anyone who’s played a game of Civilization and had Gandhi fire nuclear missiles at their empire before they’d discovered mathematics knows that.

We understand that writing good AI is hard.  We tried to program a computer to write TopTenz articles for us, and all it did was call us racial slurs.  But there has to be a middle ground between “vegetable” and “omnipotent.”  Otherwise we’re going to have to play with other humans, and who wants to do that?

5.  Using Terrible Minigames

Here’s a word that will strike fear into the heart of anyone who played Mass Effect 2: scanning.  That awful minigame, which had to be played if you wanted to get the best ending, was about as entertaining as being a traffic accident victim.

We’re guessing you didn’t watch all four minutes of that video, because it’s boring.  And if watching it once is boring, you can imagine how mind numbing it is to have to do it again and again and again.  It’s impossible to believe the developers didn’t realize it was tedious, so why did they include it?

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“Gamers are going to tire of all this ‘fun.’ We need something awful to balance it out.”

There’s no law that says minigames have to be terrible.  A quick, simple one is a great way to mix things up.  But “quick and simple” minigames are few and far between, while “frustrating and poorly explained” ones reign supreme.  How many lock-picking minigames have you seen, and how many of them aren’t a colossal pain? (We’re betting countless and zero, respectively).  We could probably pick locks in real life thanks to all the virtual ones we’ve had to crack.

It’s a problem of diminishing returns, because what’s fun once won’t be fun the 100th time.  The hacking minigame in BioShock is a neat little puzzle at first, but by the end of the game you’d rather let a turret shoot you full of holes than go through the hassle of hacking it.  The whole reason we’re playing shooter games is because we’re too impatient to solve puzzles!

4.  Using Terrible Actors

We can’t deny that video game voice acting has come a long way.  Gone are the days where companies would ask their drunken janitors to step up to the microphone and mumble as many lines as they could before they passed out.  They hire professionals now, and it shows.  So why do we still have to put up with voice work like this?

That was from Human Revolution, one of the most critically acclaimed games of 2011.  Acclaimed despite the fact that they directed an actress to pretend she was a Klansman doing an impersonation of a black woman.  If you can sit through that without cringing, you should check to make sure you aren’t a neo-Nazi.

And it’s not just bad voice acting—technical advances in games have actually created new problems.  Games can now hold thousands of lines of dialogue, but developers can’t afford that many actors.  We don’t mean to pick on Skyrim, but it’s set in a vibrant world populated by hundreds of characters who sound like they’re part of the same extended family.  Nothing kills your immersion in a fantasy faster than realizing only 12 people voiced it.

And then there are celebrity actors.  Again, we’ve come a long way from the era when a probably stoned Christopher Walken was considered a big draw.  But while we sometimes get Martin Sheen we’re more likely to get Ice-T, whose guest appearance in Gears of War 3 sounded like he was supposed to be recording for a Grand Theft Auto game but wandered into the wrong studio.  The following link is NSFW, as is virtually any link that involves Ice-T in any way.

We don’t need every voice actor to be an Academy Award winner, but we do need to get through a game without laughing at their work.  That’s not too much to ask, is it?

Apparently it is.

3.  Using Terrible Writers

Of course, you can have the best actors in the world and they’ll still sound awful if their script isn’t any good.  Yet many developers consider finding a good writer to be on par with finding a good bar to hit up after work.

There are well written games out there, but for every mainstream game with a compelling story and engaging dialogue there are a dozen that sound like they were scrawled out on cocktail napkins.  The vast majority have yet to rise beyond the “a soldier shoots evil aliens” level of storytelling, and we’ve been stuck there for decades.

Take the Gears of War trilogy, for instance.  They’re thrilling shooters, but their dialogue consists entirely of angry men grunting and swearing.  The third game tried to break new ground by introducing a couple of angry women who grunted and swore, but it wasn’t the narrative revolution they were hoping for.

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They even gave one a stupid accent, but it just wasn’t enough

We’re not saying every video game needs to be a literary masterpiece.  Mario rescuing Princess Peach doesn’t need to be a metaphor for rescuing the American dream, and when we use a chainsaw to cut an alien in half in Gears the chainsaw doesn’t have to symbolize the military-industrial complex.  There’s nothing wrong with a simple story.

But there’s a huge difference between simple and dumb.  Resident Evil: Revelations has your sidekick announce “me and my sweet ass are on the way!”  Rage has a story that consists entirely of John Goodman telling you to shoot people he doesn’t like.  Even attempts at satire, like Bulletstorm, are about as witty as YouTube videos of guys getting hit in the balls.  Following link, once again, NSFW.

It says a lot about the state of video game writing when the cleverest way anyone could think to satirize it was adding “dick” to every line.

2.  Talking Down to Us in Commercials

Dead Space 2 is one of the best horror games ever made.  It received universal critical praise, sold millions of copies and set a gold standard for the genre.  So why did its marketing campaign revolve around how much our mothers would hate it?

Seriously?  They had access to hours of action-packed footage and they made an ad out of middle-aged women cringing?  That’s what was supposed to motivate us to buy the game?  With all due respect to our mothers, we don’t care what they think about our taste in games.  And we certainly don’t find the idea of traumatizing them with our latest purchase to be appealing either, because we’re not immature.

Dead Space 2 was rated M, which meant anyone under 17 shouldn’t have been allowed to buy it.  Yes, we know ratings aren’t always enforced, but the image of a 15 year old trying to shock his mom with a video game is the saddest attempt at teenage rebellion we can imagine.  The average gamer is 37 years old.  Is it too much to ask to be treated like the adults we are?

According to this Soul Calibur V ad, yes

1.  Treating Us Like 14 Year Old Boys

Speaking of Soul Calibur V, let’s take a look at some of its characters.

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Well, that armor doesn’t look very practical.

That’s Ivy, the poster girl for sexism in fighting games.  But it could be worse—she could look like a clown stripper:

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Is she wearing a ribbon?

Forty-two percent of gamers are women, but it’s often hard to believe that.  Developers still seem to think their audience consists entirely of horny teenage boys who play games because they’re too scared to talk to girls.

The problem is that it’s not just dumb games like Soul Calibur that equate women with breast delivery systems.  The Mass Effect trilogy will go down as one of the greatest in gaming history and, by virtue of having the option of making the tough-talking, ass-kicking protagonist a woman, it will also go down as having one of the strongest female leads in the medium.

And it has Jack, who has eschewed clothing for some kind of harness:

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And then there’s the Asari, an all-female race of slim, perky aliens with a reputation for sleeping around.  They’re sexually adventurous bisexual space girls, basically.  You can even make them dance for you in bars.

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This is what one of them wears on an ice planet.

We’re not saying all female characters should be sexless.  Sex has its place in entertainment, and also we like boobs.  But when a character’s single defining personality trait is how hot they are, then you have a problem.  Not only is it a ridiculous portrayal of women, it’s insulting to men, too.  The implication is that we can’t get through a video game, even a great one, unless there’s plenty of T&A to motivate us.  How about motivating us with some female characters we can care about on an emotional level?  Then when they show us their boobs it will mean something.


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74 Comments

  1. As a semi-avid gamer, I agree with things on this list:

    10. Not being able to skip cut scenes to me is far worse than not being able to pause it. I have a short attention span, so unless a cut scene offers something critical towards advancing through the game, I skip it. Nothing is more annoying than being forced to sit through cut scenes. I think game designers who do that are just showing their egos. I think Metal Gear Solid 4 was something like 80 percent cut scenes! I wish designers would use the memory and disc space to make single player campaigns longer than 4 hours, instead of using that towards endless cut scenes.

    9. Ugh, so agree with this. I HATE quick time events. It was already old by the time the early 1980’s arcade game Dragon’s Lair used a version of it. QTE’s are nothing but an exercise in frustration. Please ditch it.

    8. I agree it’s gotten ridiculous trying to find every single item in many games these days. There’s no payoff at all except maybe bragging rights. I don’t even waste my time.

    7. Agree, one should be able to save at any point as in many computer games. Limiting save points and whatnot to ‘increase the challenge level’ is pure hogwash. If that was the case, then let us gamers have the option of saving anywhere, anytime, instead of spending hours backtracking to find that save spot.

    6. After all these years, gaming A.I. still seems like a hard thing to program. I don’t know what the issue is, but some games are better than others, but most still have brain dead enemies. I don’t mind sometimes as it is good for a laugh and I don’t like too hard enemies.

    5. I agree, most mini games are terrible and ruin the pace of the game.

    4. I just pray that I can skip the cut scenes.

    2. This is an annoying thing that video game makers have been doing ever since the days of Nintendo and Sega. That is, video game commercials show less of the game itself, and more fluff with needless attempts at humor and whatnot. Show us the game and not this other garbage already.

    1. Well, I assume many game designers probably have the mentality of a teenager (nerds and geeks), so it would follow suit that they design women characters in an exaggerated manner and project their fantasies onto them.

    • My big comment about some of these is they are wrong. Now we might not consciously like these things, or we are trying to sound more noble then we are (particularly in #1), but specifically the BIG studios and production companies actually do testing to see if people like certain things.

      For example, one of my friends masters thesis contained a study that he lead about preferences in virtual world environments. Given a large group of testers and a program that allowed the subjects to create the ‘perfect women’ for a video game, it came down to the really that men are automatically attracted to absurd proportions, and even female subjects built sexually inspired avatars.

      If you were to read articles and forums, you would believe players want X, but Y is proven time and again in studies. Much of what a game does in its imagery and game play appeals to your lizard brain and not your conscious will. It touches the most savage and simple to create an end result, not thought on a higher plane which becomes more and more opinionated from locale to locale.

      Another subject to touch on is voice acting. The most expensive (hands down) MMO ever created in North America, is SWTOR. It is a game PACKED full of good writing (and some bad writing, but when you write like a 100 novels worth of content, you can’t expect perfection on each one) and great voice acting. Problem is voice acting was sooo expensive and difficult to adjust as needed, that it caused BW to have to sacrifice in about every other sphere of game play…So while it would be great gravy on my potatoes, I completely understand why it isn’t the core of most games design budget.

      • Telling us that your friends master’s thesis found something is not compelling. We were not at the defense, so we don’t know how it held up to scrutiny. Also, we did not reed the thesis so we can’t examine the methods or the data; for all we know, your friends conclusions could be completely fallacious.

        People really need to stop with the “studies show” crap if they are not going to post a link to said studies. “Studies show” is no not evidence…

  2. You forgot:

    1. Being able to skip cut scenes

    2. Invisible walls.

    3. Sucking in general. Seriously – I get more joy out of a few rounds of Ms. Pac-Man than I do out of a lot of modern games. That tells me something: a simple game, well-produced is better than a crappy game with awesome graphics.

    • I agree with this. I’ve found older, more simple games ultimately tend to be better than massive, criss-crossing multi-storyline behemoths.
      Take for example, the Baldur’s Gate series. While it certainly a LARGE game, it it’s not overtly difficult to understand, or to master, AND it’s got good story.
      Then there are underground masterpieces like Ico and Shadow of the Colossus. It doesn’t get more simple than that.
      As a plus, the female characters in both games are not over exaggerated, and they’re both beautiful, even if one of them is practically incapable of independent action, and the other is more or less lying dead on an alter for the entire game.

      • Ico and SOC weren’t underground… they were sony created games, and while ICO was fairly good, SOC was complete garbage, a tech demo at best, but calling that thing a game is a mistake. It had a huge world to explore and tons of things to interact with, but none of it had any point, because all the game was about was riding for 30 minutes hopelessly trying to find a boss, then getting your ass kicked for another 30 minutes trying to figure out the boss’ pattern so you can beat it. Then you simply repeat this process a dozen times. done. I beat I think the first 4 or 5 and then just quit, completely lost interest, I had more interest in just running around the open world.

        • Ahhhh. should have finished it. In my opinion Shadow of the Colossus was a great game. Once you start to realize that not all the bosses were the same. I had alot of fun trying to fight the bosses. Maybe you didn’t get far enough to realize it, but after a point, the bosses become more like walking puzzles than obstacles. You have to find new and creative methods to beat them.
          My personal favorites were the flying serpent and the sand worm, both of which you had to be riding your horse. to defeat.
          Watching your character deteriorate after each fight, and slowly realizing just what kind of sacrifice he is making to save the women. And the finale is fantastic. Cinematic almost, like watching the ending sequence of a really good movie.
          And as clarification, underground was not the term I meant to use. I beleive… retro or inde is probably a better fit. They are relatively small, simple games, with a minum of graphical effort, with more emphasis on art style and story.

        • SOC was an amazing game, the atmosphere, the huge bosses, the design was amazing, just because you suck at it doesnt mean it isnt a good game

  3. 10. Yes, skip and pause cut scenes.
    9 I don’t play many games with QTE, but they are generally a pain.
    8. Agree again, make it worthwhile in the game to find everything. Otherwise I skip collectables.
    7. At least let me save when I quit without having to find a save point.
    6. Producers are more interested in improving graphics or padding the game with hours of BS to improve the AI. I remember playing Half Life and being amazed at how well the black ops guys fought. They sought cover, ran from grenades, communicated with buddies, threw taunts, and acted almost like soldiers. Now the enemies are pretty, and really stupid.
    5. Good in small doses, but not a major part of the game. It’s like grinding so you can advance the game.
    4 and 3. HIRE BETTER WRITERS AND ACTORS. The graphics are good enough now, really. IMPROVE YOUR WRITING SKILLS AND HIRE SOME BROADWAY B LISTERS.
    2. I have no problem with boobs and crotch shots, as long as they’re tastefully done. Now, I’m kidding. Make me feel dirty when I see them. OR, go find out what real women ar elike and write for them, because while hot chicks are great, smart ones are great too. Stop making male roles but giving them female bodies. I’m tired of listening to a female voice actor try to act like she’s one of the boys. While they aren’t my favorite films, check out GI Jane and Courage Under Fire to see how women show some grit.
    1. Yeah, most gamers are in their 30s and pushing 40. We have the money, we have paid our dues, many of us are on our 5th or 6th generation console. Many of us own more than one console and can drop game references beyond Mario, ET, Lara Croft, Sonic or a thousand others. We have grown up and many of us have wives. We have kids. Don’t stop making games for 20somethings, teens, tweens and the little guys. But stop assuming all we want is swearing, tits and shallow game play.

    I’d like to see game developers add a kiddie mode to many games. Or even better, make kid games that aren’t educational. God those SUCK. Make a simple HULK SMASH!!!! game where you get to be the Hulk and run around destroying things. He’s invincible, so he doesn’t die. You can get knocked around, but won’t die. The enemies seek you out, so you don’t waste time looking for them. The controls are simple, all the sticks move you in a direction. All the buttons are mapped, even redundantly, to make Hulk do something when you hit a button. Be it yell, clap, jump, punch, kick, throw, whatever.
    Make a racing game where you can’t go off the track, crashes don’t stop the game, and the controls are simple.
    Best of all, the game shuts down after 2 minutes of inactivity or the game ends after 10 minutes of play. Parents (like me) would love that!

    • thank you! i feel like i have to cover my kids and husbands eyes every time we go into a gamestop to find a game. i have to do so much research just to make sure the women arent dressed all ridiculously and out of proportion before even considering getting a game. and half the time the rating doesnt even mention it because now games are allowed to have a scantily clad woman without it being a part of the rating (take the female lead in untold legends: dark kingdom). COME ON i am a female married mother who loves video games and i dont want me or my family seeing T&A all over the place.

  4. Just thought I’d point something out about your 42% statistic for #1. On that page, look two below that one at #8: “Fifty-five percent of gamers play games on their phones or handheld device.”. Without having all the data available, I’d guess the 42% is more due to my sisters playing Drawsomething on their iPhones than them waiting in line at midnight to buy Soul Calibur.

    Another problem I have with #1 is that it ignores other medias. Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s Sarah Michelle Gellar or Alien’s Signourey Weaver weren’t hideous. Of course then you could say the entire media is sexist and then we get into how men are also stereotyped in video games too and blah blah blah.

    Heck you can’t even really say Taki is an exaggeration anymore with breast implants.

    • I would still say Taki is an exaggeration… mostly because no Ninja would let dress like that…. and even for implants(In the 16th century??)… dat’s huuuge. And I actually don’t find it attractive.
      Everything else you said is cool though.

  5. Here’s a few other things that annoy me about video games, not necessarily flaws but just plain annoying game mechanics:

    – Having to protect a game character. This is one of the most cliched and annoying of video game sequences, the one level where you have to protect your character against the enemy. One setup might be where the person you are protecting needs time to break a code on a door or something, and you have to protect the character from enemies that attack. Another setup is where you have to escort a character safely, telling the character to pause and advance as required. Just plain annoying and frustrating.

    – Climbing up platforms. How many games feature levels where you have to climb one narrow ledge after another and time the jumps juuuust right or fall all the way down and repeat all over again. Frustrating.

    – Anything timed (like the GTA sequences where you have a limited amount of time to race from one end of the map to another)

    – Switching characters. It’s not too bad when done like one of the RE games where, when you switch characters, you play complete levels with that character. I hate it when you have to switch characters in real time in order to advance past a level. Not too common but still annoying.

    • Uggh. HATE timed games… made the ol’ Starcraft and Warcarft games a pain in the ass at times. “You have 30 mins to finish this mission! Have fun.”

      And protecting characters? Ooohhh my lord I HATE babysitting in games. If you’ve ever played the popular Dynasty warriors series, you’ll know what I mean, in particular DW 5 Xtreme Legends where your victory in a mission not only consisted of you completing your OWN objectives, but completing your COMMANDERS objectives for them, AND keeping them alive… a near impossible feat when your commander likes the idea of throwing himself head first into an impossible situation… on the OTHER side of the map from you.

  6. The ink ribbons were very annoying, but once they ditched them I actually missed them. Resident Evil used to have tedious tasks like that and I always thought they were aggravating, but actually added a lot to the game’s atmosphere. One thing I would add is sports games need to either let you do a roster update for $10 each year or make better products. They add one new feature (which they no doubt will overuse) and call it a new game, very frustrating.

  7. I think this problem with not being able to save where you want has something to do with the past. On the older systems (C64, NES etc) memory was a luxury, so you weren’t allowed to just save anywhere you liked, but only at certain intervals. I remember keeping our C64 on for two days, running Arkanoid and wanting to finish the game, because turning off meant starting all over again 🙂
    Also, at least in the games I have recently played (mostly on a console), the game progresses through missions, and at the end of each is an autosave. So even if you fail a mission, you only lose like five to fifteen minutes of playtime (and learn something useful to help you through the mission).

  8. There is nothing wrong with QTEs when they’re done right. God of War does them perfectly, you rarely fail because it gives you just the right amount of time to react and they’re presented clearly. And most of the time you don’t have to start over.

    Castlevania: Lords of Shadow and Heavy Rain are another two examples of QTEs done well. Just because most developers lack the talent to properly implement QTEs doesn’t mean they’re all bad, if the next God of War didn’t have them I’d be pissed off because they are always awesome to watch and much more involving and makes for a more seamless experience rather than being taken away control and forced to watch a crappy cut-scene instead.

  9. Love how this article gives mega criticism to Skyrim, the GAME OF THE YEAR, and nothing at all the Call of Duty, the worst popular game series of all time. Bias much.

    • And you centered out one game as way better than a completely unrelated game, on a random and nonrelevant thesis that the writer of this article had a bias against a certian game. Any facts to prove this author’s “bias?”

      No? Rage much.

      • Regardless of the truth of liam’s statement, yours is equally if not more fallacious. You are straw-manning his arguement, replacing the conclusion he states and framing it as a premise. Before you respond, please research the straw man logical fallacy and the proper construction of an arguement through what you and I would call “logic”.

  10. Waldo Jeffers on

    The worst case of cutscene abuse I’ve encountered was in the otherwise excellent “Shadow Hearts”- it was an unskippable scene of a woman narrating a story over some static drawings. It went on for nearly 30 minutes! I watched the whole thing because I figured it must have been laying out some clues for what was coming, but it had nothing to do with the game at all! I don’t know who was responsible for this, but they should have been fired (out of a cannon).

  11. Zach Gillette on

    You forgot a big one that is actually the norm. Every single game should let you completely remap your controls. It’s not difficult and doesn’t hurt anything.

    • That’s a good point. I didn’t think of it because I’m usually happy with default controls, but you’re right, it’s a simple feature to include.

    • I couldn’t agree with you more. I’m a quadriplegic and can usually play most games provided I can remap my controls. There are still a few games I wish I could play but can’t due to mapping.

    • I think 007: Nightfire did this. I’m not totally sure though, as I haven’t played it in a few years.

      I wish Halo 4 would do this… Them adding sprint as a regular feature instead of as an armour ability is great, but it really screwed up the controls…

  12. Can we stop pretending to be offended when people create imaginary worlds full of attractive people in stylized costumes? I forgot that every male protagonist is an out-of-shape 30-something with a combover…. Oh wait no they’re all chiseled and handsome and you dont hear a single dude crying about it?

    Couldn’t agree more about the Skyrim AI although the voice acting has come a long way since Oblivion. As far as the lockpicking/hacking minigames go, they’re challenging for a reason.

    • You are absolutely correct. Remapping our controls is an often overlooked feature that can improve any game. Again, too bad publishing the next big hit is more important than putting some effort into the actual design of games.

  13. This article should have been titled top 10 flaws in shooting games, because that’s all you talk about.

        • You forgot RPGs (like Deus Ex & Mass Effect). Several of these issues crop up in those.
          So… what, you wanted something about sports & puzzle games? Sims, maybe? Those are all that’s left.

          Seems like the title is pretty accurate, really.

  14. Some of these limits are sadly not going to go away because of technical or financial reasons:

    Poor acting and writing are mainly money things. Game designers, rightly or wrongly, feel no one will play their 60-dollar AAA release if it looks like crap or plays poorly, so the lion’s share of the money goes into the engine and the gameplay design. Then the writing comes.
    I’d like to note that most games that have storylines widely considered to be the best in the industry and top-tier voice acting use someone else’s engine they’ve licensed to save money; like Deus Ex (Unreal Tournament engine) and Oblivion (GameBryo engine).

    Poor AI is an even more fundamental issue.

    AI scripts are basically massive lists of possible events that the game has to check every time the AI entity is checked. “Did I just see someone die?” “okay, I did, now check to see if I am an aggressive or passive NPC” “okay I’m agressive, what’s my health level and is it lower than the point at which I’m supposed to run away?” “alright, I’m not fleeing, do I see the enemy?” “I don’t, do I see any clues?” “I see a dead guard, run over to dead guard, look for enemy” and so on.

    The more conditions you have to check each time your AI has to make an action takes processor cycles and memory. If you don’t want to be limited to only a few on-screen entities at once, then you have to economize at some point. Even WITH simplified AI in some ways many RPG engines (like Oblivion and Fallout 3 for instance) are limited to 20 or so active NPCs before they have serious performance issues or crashes.
    Writing those huge tables is also… a money issue.

  15. Hey not that I don’t agree with you or anything but you got the Soul Calibur names wrong. The top one is like Arika or something like that she’s new to the series and she is dressed like that for speed movement aka she is a sorceress and quick styled. Tira the clown as you said is one of the evil characters and her armor is damaged and what not because her weapon does damage to her so she needs something that is easy to move in yet can handle her destruction. Lastly, Ivy has more then one outfit you don’t have to dress her all boobs out. At least play the game before you complain about it the character outfits fit their story line if you knew what that was. Oh and I enjoy it and I’m a girl.

    • I happend to be a big fan of the Soul Calibur series. And truth be told, I’m a guy, and I DON’t Like the gratuitous display of over exaggerated upper bodily areas. It’s not so much distracting as it is overdone. And if you’ve noticed…. Ivy’s decolattage getes bigger and bigger with every game, and the game gets… worse and worse. Seriously. Soul Callibur 3, in my opinion had the best balance of graphic detail to Storyline. SC 4 didn’t even HAVE a Storyline, and tried to make that up with Hyper increased customization and a slightly tampered combat system.
      And Five? Alot of potential, but I’d give it a three out of five. They space-aged teh customization, which is good… they nerfed character ability and damage… and they made the AI infinitely more capable than the player by making all the high damage attacks monstrous, multi button mash, criss-cross slide inputs and the like, that the computer player will SPAM you with if they are losing
      Like I said. I LOVE the Soul Calibur Games. They are the ONLY fighting games I will Play. But the designers need to focus less on skimpy, big-breasted women and focus more on:
      1- Better Weapons.
      2- Better voices, (Not saying stars but… Hildegarde Von Krone is NOT an English, and neither is Siegfried.)
      3-Better Weapon STYLES(Still waiting for a competent sword and Shield class (Petrokeles let me down. Big time.)
      4- A combat system more in line with either SC 3 or 4. I liked the finishing strikes in SC 4.
      ….
      1-Not saying they don’t have COOL weapons. I love The werewolf character from SC 5 (I’m ashamed to say I just forgot his name, and I don’t have the game on hand), but… Petrokeles bombed, they cut out one of the coolest characters (Zasalamel), and just added, younger, goofier versions of old characters… and used the same weapons.

      It’s like designers are focusing less on the guts of the game and putting their efforts into the eye candy, but bulking up their females and creating more and more outrageous fighting styles and weapons.

      • Also, the first character, (supposed poster girl), is named Viola in Soul Calibur 5 and may (or may not be, but we know the truth) possibly be Amy from the previous games.

  16. HyMyNameIsMatt on

    Agree and disagree on save points.

    The issue with them is that they’re done poorly. They don’t serve a purpose in most cases other than unneccesarily adding difficulty. But depending on certain games, they are a nessecity. Such as Dead Space 2. Imagine how much it would suck if you decided to save with 5 hp remaining in a panic? Or saved with virtualy no amunition and no store around for an hour? And if done correctly, they can be used to add to the story telling of a game. Instead of cutscenes telling you how to feel, they can be used as an element to MAKE you feel intense, or frustrated, or scared, because the game needs you to. It’s a fantastic tool to do so, and should be made non-frustrating every part of the game that you don’t need to feel that way, (not having a long animation, being frequent and convienently placed)

    An example of poorly doing so is Skyward Sword. They litterally have the save points in areas where it would be easier to automatically set check points and simply waste your time. Fun game still, but padding such as that is obvious.

    • Providing you use real time saves correctly, there should be no issue. When I play games, I keep an in the moment save, and a five minutes back save, and save them intermittently. This COUPLED with the autosave feature, makes a game optimal.
      I don’t like when games force you to push on or cut out, and I personally think it’s a tactic used to promote things like “Get up, Get out, Go play”” and what not. Trying to make you quit while you’re ahead, instead of making you learn to manage your own time. You can’t MAKE somebody learn something. You can encourage them to do it themselves.

  17. “The Mass Effect trilogy will go down as one of the greatest in gaming history.”

    No. Come on, we can do better than this. We HAVE done better than this. This is a big negative.

    • Sorry. I have to agree with him. The Mass Effect series is one of the best I’ve ever played…I can only think of a few games that beat it in my mind… and they are ALL Bioware.
      Well, technically Placescape Torment was Black Isle, bu you get the picture.
      The Baldur’s Gate series is my all time favorite…. haven’t found a game I like better.

  18. Ok this to me is seriously stupid, soul calibur isnt a dumb game. I love the series and if they wanted to talk about sexism they should have just stuck to dead or alive. As for mass effect, its by Bioware, yeah the last couple of games.(namely Dragon age 2 and Mass Effect 3) Have been a little iffy. But they leave the moral complex to us. So if we wanna be a kick ass female character who happens to wanna get shacked up with a blue alien (or a hot thief) thats up to us. Me? I do it on every character i make simplely cause i like getting the achivements and wanna see what happens (is still waiting for a game where the person you form a relationship with can sacrifice themselves to save ya)

    • There is one. Bioware made it. The game is Dragon Age Origins. Frankly, I think the sacrifice option is gender biased, in a corny way, because you either need to be female, or you need to have a gay relationship with Alistair, your right hand man. I think you can also have Logain sacrifice himself, but He’s not your love interest, to the best of my knowledge.

    • This choice thing is pretty stupid…in Dragon Age II I was a mighty warrior that gave 3-4 likes to Vengeance guy and without even realizing what it’s going on we started to kiss. By adding virtual sex into games does not mean you add immersion. To me it was a feature that would make 15 year old kids excited enough to buy the game.

      Best regards,

      Sasha_

  19. Miranda was purposely designed to have a lot of sex appeal. Her character was genetically engineered to be perfect. While I agree with the point of this entry, I just don’t think Miranda was a good example. Also, while having a lot of sex appeal, she was also a very strong, intelligent and powerful woman.

    In regards to everything else: Yup!

  20. You forgot “bad music / no music.” Music sets the emotional tone of a game, movie, whatever, and it’s critically important.

    Remember the canals in Half-Life 2, how boring they were after a while? Remember that one section when that totally awesome track came on, and all of a sudden it was fun, and you got this manic grin on your face? And then the track just stopped, and all of a sudden things were boring again.

    And if you’ve ever suffered through Enter the Matrix, remember the 2 or 3 times that some awesome techno track replaced the boring background music, and all of a sudden the terrible controls didn’t matter anymore–because it suddenly felt like The Matrix! And then the good music stopped, and the game sucked again.

    Those are my two favorite examples, and I hope they illustrate my point. Good, engaging music can make a lame game tolerable, or a good game great. Lack thereof can make a great game merely okay. 🙂

  21. Lord Rosario on

    “That’s Ivy, the poster girl for sexism in fighting games.”

    Uhm… That would be Viola. Her attire makes perfect sense when you realize she is basically a witch, not a warrior. Just look at any Japanese anime and the witches will be wearing exactly the same thing [plus a pointy hat.] The rest of Soul Calibur is more the culture of the people that created the game rather than aiming it at horny teenage boys. A bit of fan service is almost required to sell a game, movie, or even a carton of milk at the grocery store in Japan.

    Mass Effect on the other hand… entirely agreed.

    • Maybe it does reflect Culture… and I can’t expect them to change that… but the problem is they have a tendency to sacrifice good and well thought out for base sex appeal.
      I LIKE Viola… she’s fine, as far as I’m concerned. But then you have Ivy. and Taki… Both dressed impractically… and definitely overdone.
      Then you have HILDE… grossly UNDER-DONE. Hilde is suppposed to be a Germanic warrior princess or something.
      She sounds like freakin Queen Elizabeth, and her weapons style is, and always has sucked. It only became more powerful in the latest installment, because everyone else became weaker.

      Then you’ve got more obscure games like the Valkyrie Profile series… I only played one, but it’s just another example with the Japanese Japanes-ing up Viking Mythology, with short skirts and oversized weapons.

      Then you’ve got games like Catherine.
      Uggh… could you get… any more… pathetic.
      Not even going to mention the game that took my favorite Dynasty Warriors game and mixed it with Pokemon.
      That just made me mad.

  22. People like you are why we can’t have classic survival horror games anymore. Backtracking and being unable to save anytime you want are what made games great and atmospheric. All anybody wants today is mindless action and quick bursts of game time.

  23. about intelligent ai some games do have them like virtually all the paradox interactive series aka Europa universales, hearts of Iron, Victoria 2, crusader kings series all of them have pretty smart ai that will prevent you from blobbing and taking over the world and without cheats are pretty tough to beat.

  24. Paul Rossiter on

    The problem I find with video game AI is that they seem to be purposely created to try to die. Enemies no longer aim out of cover but do a dramatic dive, scream and die in one shot.
    Don’t give me the whole “but they’re hard to program!!! No they very simple. If worms on a ds can feature enemy AI that can successfully use ingenious tactics to outsmart some players then surely computer AI can understand beyond just “run, noise, see, shoot, quiet, gone, oh he must o-I’m dead?”
    Say what you will about Halo but the covenant are no pushovers in AI intelligence. Not counting grunts (although they are master tacticians as far as most game enemies go.)

  25. I’m not sure I see the problem with the voice acting in the Human Revolution clip or the second Skyrim clip.

  26. Peter Quistgard on

    Pretty entertaining list. I especially liked the motivation tactic of kidnapping someone
    s family as incentive to find all of the hidden items.

    I was really surprised not to see this one on your list…

    MUSIC PLAYING WHILE THE GAME IS PAUSED.

    I pause games for a number of reasons, but typically it’s because something that demands my immediate attention comes up. I pause it so I don’t die, and so all the loud noises come to a stop. It’s a pain in the butt to have to hit pause, then fumble for my TV remote and hit mute then race to get up and answer the phone so it doesn’t go to the answering machine. The point of pause is to suspend all aspects of the game, not to listen to music.

  27. I was watching an interview on YouTube. It involved an individual who worked in the video game industry (a publisher I believe). He was asked what it would take for people with video game ideas to get their work out there. And part of his response was “don’t worry too much about the story”. Nuff said.

  28. In defense of Ivy, despite her puzzlingly sexbomb outfits (and that DIALOGUE, dear God), she’s completely celibate. So she’s not going to go around boning everyone. Baby steps?

    • what about movie-based games? Are you talking about games that use movies as the source material or movies that use games as source material? How are they examples of flaws that modern games shouldn’t have?

      Or do you just mean that one should not be made of the other?

      Come on man, this is a serious discussion. Not some bull session about curing cancer or something.

  29. I was agreeing until I got to the top five. For number one it appears the author of this article never heard of the phrase “sex sells”. What do you want, for all the characters in the game to be fat and ugly? For Bulletstorm, I thought it was funny because they were trying something new. And as for your comment about how you contribute to society and we don’t : You write articles on the internet, I doubt you’re helping out that much.

  30. Re: the short attention span of enemies in stealth games, I’ve always figured this was a concession to practicality. Yes, realistically you SHOULD have to hide in the shadows for half an hour before they stop looking, but who wants to play that?

  31. FormerlyFromTokyo on

    “First, nobody cares.  Maybe you’re better at video games than we are, but we’re probably better at holding down jobs and contributing to society.  So get over yourself.”

    LOL

  32. The number one “flaw” is outright ridiculous.

    You are aware that roughly half of humanity, 3.5 billion people, are attracted to female shapes coupled with 75% skin total shown, yes? I mean it is common knowledge and logic.
    Sex-appeal is the single most common ground for all of humanity by a gigantic margin and nothing you will ever do or say will change it because, like it or not, we’re hard-wired to enjoy it and will continue to do so forever and ever unless evolution itself decrees we no longer should enjoy it.
    And that’s not very likely to happen as it is shared in all mammals. That includes us of course.

    What an incredibly pretentious article void of any kind of logic or honesty. You enjoy sex-appeal as much as every other healthy and normal human. There’s no need to hide behind 16th century church morals, you know?

    • Did you even finish reading the article?

      Quote: “We’re not saying all female characters should be sexless. Sex has its place in entertainment, and also we like boobs. But when a character’s single defining personality trait is how hot they are, then you have a problem. Not only is it a ridiculous portrayal of women, it’s insulting to men, too. The implication is that we can’t get through a video game, even a great one, unless there’s plenty of T&A to motivate us. How about motivating us with some female characters we can care about on an emotional level? Then when they show us their boobs it will mean something.”

      That’s hardly 16th-century church morals, and I think it’s clear the author has no problems acknowledging enjoying sex appeal.

  33. “Dead Space 2 is one of the best horror games ever made.”

    There. Right there. Lost all credibility. The author is 14 years old and Dead Space is the only “horror” game he/she ever played. No other logical explanation for this ridiculous, laughable statement.

  34. w00t!

    and here I thought only we (girl gamers) complained about the ridicuous female character designs all over the place. To be honest, I’ve grown used to it, and don’t really anymore. But I haven’t come across any sluts lately (not that i play every single video game that exists), but it’s fine since we can always objectify the male characters in our own way LOL

  35. You know what else modern FPS games, or any game with a first person view for that matter, needs? Feet. Show the character’s feet for god’s sake. When I look down I want to see my avatar’s feet so I can tell where I am actually standing. This goes doubly for games with narrow ledges, thin paths and platform jumping. I can forgive the old games for not showing feet. I can forgive old games for an awful lot. BUT I WANT TO SEE FEET FROM NOW ON.

      • good, I don’t play Halo but feet need to be a standard feature from now on. Not even a feature, just standard. Like windshields are standard on a car.

        • I don’t really mind the lack of feet in other games, but what bugs me is that in most games, everything other than the player in most games has a shadow. Halo has shadows for the player, so that’s just one other thing that helps it stay at the top of my list of favourite games, and also proves that it is definitely doable… I just love the attention to detail in Halo…

  36. Where do I begin? What an insecure author. You do realize that it’s mostly 14 year-old boys who actually play video games, right? They actually like the God of War scene from what I’ve read (I play Xbox). Also, you don’t have to go out of your way to put down the people who are okay with playing long hours just because you can’t. Most of us who are in that boat just accept that we don’t get summers off like the students do (Many of whom are studying for high-quality degrees and will be holding down much better jobs than you or I) and have to settle for more casual games. It’s not a bad list overall, but the soap-boxing was very irritating.

    • Ernest W. Adams on

      It is not true that “it’s mostly 14 year-old boys who actually play video games.” That stereotype has been false for a long time. There are now more adult women playing video games than teenaged boys — see the data from the ESA. So it’s time the industry quit kissing the asses of adolescents.

  37. You know, I have a significant amount of brand loyalty to Paradox Interactive and AGEOD (now called Paradox France). I have never had any of the problems mentioned in this list in any of their games. Never. There was not a single strategy game mentioned on your list. Not one, regardless of publisher. Maybe you should be asking yourselves why that is.

    Maybe the problem isn’t that companies won’t fix significant design flaws. Maybe the problem is that so many gamers are addicted to graphics-heavy FPS bugfests that you can finish in a week and that are written by programmers who don’t care if their game is replayable as long as it looks pretty that they won’t buy games that take actual thought to play and have years of replay value. The ability to write excellent graphics does not require the same skill-set than writing capable AI opponents.

    So, the problem isn’t that game companies could fix these kinds of problems and won’t. The problem is that gamers keep buying their crap so they’re not particularly inclined to fix the problems as long as you’re still willing to throw money at them for bad games.

  38. For me the most annoying thing in games (a trend which I have noticed becoming a lot worse since the recent console generation launched) is unskippable tutorials. A painful example are the last 4 Codemaster Racing games. Why do I HAVE to watch up to 15 minutes of videos on how to navigate the game menu and how to press buttons? This is especially annoying on a PC (which I use for games btw) whereby the controls and process of a racing game have been the same for at least a decade.

  39. I am not a gamer at all, I simply clicked on this link because I was curious what the heck gaming had to do with Count DeMoney.

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