I play a lot of games. That means I often run into a lot of pet peeves. Not enough controller mapping options, inappropriate use of subtitles, tutorials that are too long (or not long enough)… the list goes on.
Game design is practically becoming a science; yet, there are still two major design points that I feel aren't implemented enough. In fact, these two points should be turned into mandatory rules when it comes to developing and publishing games.
What are they?
Give us the choice to save any time.
Unless I carve out huge chunks of my day in order to game in marathon stints, I'm often only able to sit down for 30 minutes to an hour. I'd venture to say that most gamers are fixed with the same schedule, save for free weekends and late nights.
One of the quickest ways for any game to hurt that schedule is when it presents a broken save system. I don't want to have to clear a castle in order to save; I don't want to have to finish a full game of football in order to save; and, I certainly don't want to have to beat an entire hour long level in order to save.
The option to save should lie in the pause menu, a simple button press away from the in-game action. Gaming should be a convenient outlet, not something we have to plan around when we think we'll be able to save our progress next.
The only exceptions to this rule should be survival horror games and twitch titles. These games are often built around moment-to-moment exploration and planning. Making save points ever-present by way of the pause menu would often put a hamper on the most tense facets of the genres.
Otherwise, we should be able to save whenever we want.
Always let us pause cutscenes.
I'm the type of player who sits and watches every single cutscene in each game I play. Honestly, I can't understand the people that skip cutscenes on their first play-through of any title. They're an important part of the narrative at hand, and they are often vital to gleaning any amount of appreciation from the plot.
With that said, why isn't the ability pause cutscenes an accepted industry standard? Every game should offer players the option to take breaks during moments of scripted discussion. You can pause a movie, you can pause a show and you can even pause live TV (with a DVR system, of course); not being about to pause cutscenes in video games is just bizarre.
The worst part? Since cutscene pausing should be so common place, a lot of regular gamers tend to simply assume it's available. How many times have you sat down to play a brand new game, only to get a phone call during the opening cutscene? You instinctively hit the start button and, whammo, the whole thing is skipped.
That's just silly.
Where do you readers stand on specific aspects of game design? Do you like mechanics as they are today, or would you rather certain things be changed up?
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