Virtual life lessons
You know what happens when you assume: You get a lot more game overs and wasted inventory space. We dont think were being unreasonable, but games continue to punish us for trying to apply the lessons learned in one game to an entire series or genre. No matter how many times a particular habit results in negative feedback, we time and again find ourselves following these (perhaps illogical) trains of thought.
Join us as we regale you with the sorrowful tales of our bad gaming habits, so that you may succeed where we have failed. Maybe you can learn from our tragic mistakes--or maybe you, too, suffer from these most dangerous and time-consuming behaviors.
Always picking up everything
Before you pick up your 20th rock off the ground, lets take a step back and really think about it. Do you need that rock? Will it ever come in handy at any point throughout the entire game? Its a wonder it can even fit in your inventory, given how cluttered it is with animal bones, glittering magic dust, carrots, one-time-use novelty potions, and two-handed maces thatd look great if only your feeble mage could wield them. Even if gamers are only taking up virtual space, their compulsive hoarding can still be an ugly sight.
Checking every wall, cave, well, and pit for secrets
Rad! We just found a secret item at the bottom of a lake, then missed a platform jump only to land safely in a hidden room. Theres got to be more of those around, right? Wrong. While some games are jam-packed with secrets to reward your exhaustive exploration, others offer diddly-squat for finally reaching that tricky-to-spot area. Sometimes, a pit is just a pit. Maybe youll have time to think about that when youre plummeting to your death.
Doing everything in our power to prepare for the final boss
This is it. It took dozens of additional hours to complete all the side quests, level up our best spells, seek out hidden monsters, and assemble the materials for our ultimate weapons. The final boss might be one tough cookie, but now that weve prepared, we just might have a chance. Here goes nothi--THATS IT?! We didnt even need to use our full mana pool, potions, or stockpile of 99 Phoenix Downs. Now the credits are rolling, and well never need those awesome items again. Hurray.
Looking up solutions online when were stuck in an adventure game
Gosh, this puzzle sure is hard. We want to know what happens next, so forget the logical thinking--well just look up the answer on the net. Man, that sure is convenient! So convenient, in fact, that any time an item combination puzzle requires the slightest amount of brain activity, we default to fishing up the answer online. Thats a real quick way to ruin the majority of an adventure games content, permanently.
Assuming our character can breathe underwater
Classic 16-bit wisdom teaches us that, given how easily Mario and Diddy Kong can wade through deep water sans scuba gear, no video game hero should have to traverse water levels tormented by a fear of drowning. So lets just dip Sonic in this pool of impassable water and think about oxygen later. Hold up--whats with this anxiety-inducing music all of a sudden? Why do we feel a pain in our chest, and tightness in our throats? Sonic? SONIC?! NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!
Assuming our character can even touch water
John Marston is a grizzled cowboy, able to six-shoot a man while riding a horse at full gallop. But because he never learned to swim, waist-deep water is apparently a fatal predicament. The kid in Limbo has the upper-body strength to pull himself up from a ledge, but he gives up on life once his shoulders get wet. Tommy Vercettis pitiable inability to avoid drowning in Grand Theft Auto: Vice City was 10 years ago, people--cant we just assume that all video game protagonists can doggy paddle and call it a day?
Relying on one good combo in a fighting game
Dozens of characters and a cornucopia of combos to master? Thanks, but well pass--wed rather stick to what we know: the repetition of a simple, reliable attack string. Haha! See, it worked! Dang, were good. Lets put our skills to the test in the local arcade and--huh. This guy just double perfected us. Everyones pointing and laughing. Now we remember why we dont leave the house.
Giving ourselves just one more turn
Its 1a.m. in the morning on a Monday. Youve got to head into the office early tomorrow, but all that really matters is the here and now. The Mayan civilization you fostered from humble beginnings has blossomed into a prosperous society, and your advancements in military research are staggering. On your next turn, youll have finally attained that most precious piece of nuclear technology. Whats the harm, its only one m--and now its 7a.m. Time for work!
Worrying about the first two-thirds of a kart race
Phew! Those were some intense twists and turns in the first two laps; we were certain Wario would edge us out on that narrow wooden bridge. But now, our drift-perfect racing has us starting the third and final lap in first. Were king of the world, baby! The only thing that could get in the way of assured victory would be a fffffffffffffFFFFFFFFFFFFFSHHHHH-THOOOOM welp, came in fifth place again time to go sob profusely in the corner.
Enough of this story exposition, we just want to get to the action. Lets just mash the A button until we--wait. What was that last bit of dialogue? Were staring at a loading screen. What just happened? Did we just skip a provocative cutscene? The games auto-saving, and we cant go back. Greaaat. Now well never know whether or not Commander Shepard confessed his love for Asari sweethearts.
Taking it slow
Slow and steady wins the race, especially in virtual life-or-death situations. Inching forward bit by bit is your best bet, so not a single bad guy could possibly get the jump on you. Then you realize that youve been killing the same two respawning enemies 10 times over. Screw this; were just going to abuse post-hit invincibility to charge through to the end of the level.
Quick Saving every step of the way
Save, and save often: You never know when youll want to undo the last thirteen seconds of inefficiently depleting your ammo. With just a tap of the F9 keyor was it F6? Whoops--we just got nailed in the head while fumbling for the right key. No matter, well just--no.
Oh please no.
Our latest, accidental Quick Save now forces us to hopelessly relive the same horrifically fatal head trauma again and again, or restart the entire level. F our lives.
Focusing on one thing at a time
Each Space Marine is like a precious jewel. After going through boot camp, equipping some new armor upgrades, and developing an addiction to the recreational use of stim-paks, hes finally ready to take on the horrors of stellar war. His Marauder and Medivac buddies are all here too. Theres no way the enemy can take down this mobile ball of death; well just carefully advance across the map, making sure to keep focused on our units lest we lose them to a surprise attack. So focused, in fact, that we completely neglected the fact that our home base was being wiped out by a handful of units in a dropship. GG.
Trying to power-level through grinding
Used to be, the key to leveling quickly in MMOs was good ol fashioned grinding. Forget those quest hubs--youre better off killing heaps of respawning enemies in the wilderness to boost your experience bar. But that was then; nowadays, most MMOs follow World of Warcrafts example by putting a premium on questing as the means to level up. This reality might only sink in when you come to the horrifying realization that the one quest you just turned in was worth twice as much XP as the 60 minutes you spent slaying random wolf-things.
Thinking that co-op always makes things more fun
Streets of Rage, Turtles in Time, and The Simpsons Arcade make the world feel like a utopia of video game cooperation, where we can joyously skip through the fields hand-in-hand with our pals. But sometimes, harsh reality sets in. Sure, your buddies can occasionally be jerks and purposely try to frustrate you by playing poorly. But far worse are the moments when you realize theyre not doing it as a joke--theyre just legitimately bad at games. The awkwardness of trying to stay encouraging during your friends repeated failures will haunt you for the rest of your days.
Believing that achievements are worth something
What is it about Gamerscore and Trophies that compels us? Were not sure--but if we stopped to think about it, wed probably plummet into a crippling depression. All those hours spent looking for worthless bonus trinkets. All those E-rated games we blew through in a weekend. All the Insane difficulties we put ourselves through--for the sole purpose of boosting our pointless tallies above those of our peers. And Microsofts rebate rewards are almost a mockery of its most devout Achievement acolytes, giving them a whopping 2 percent savings on XBLA purchases. That translates to 30 cents off a $15 game. Yaaay.
Smashing everything in the environment
Its not like were hiding a malevolent desire to destroy everything around us. Its just that you never really know what magical treasures might be hiding in the next clay pot. Will it be a rupee? A health item? Absolutely nothing at all? Only one way to find out, even if it adds 20 minutes of time-wasting, OCD-fueled tedium to our gameplay. And lets not even think about the poor potter whose lifes work was smashed to pieces, all for the slim chance at finding the gaming equivalent of a penny.
Not letting the game beat us
Perseverance always pays off. But have you ever noticed the effects that frustration has on your gameplay? With each mind-numbing death, you start to value life that much less. Eventually, your apathy dooms the games hero to an unending, cyclical torment of gruesome annihilation followed by futile rebirth. Is the game getting harder? No, you're getting worse. Turn the game off, go make a sandwich, take a walk, play with your pets. We promise that tricky level will still be there when you get back.
Always hitting the ground running
Stand still, and youre as good as dead. So the second you spawn in modern-day multiplayer, sprint directly ahead in search of an enemy. Theres no time to notice the significant plummet of your kill-death ratio, or clue in to the fact that youre feeding the other team points like a forever-fumbling quarterback. Because every time you get sniped by a long-range attacker, it feels 10 times worse than a game consisting entirely of haphazard close-quarters combat.
Conserving our nuclear option
Only a fool would use their trump card too early. Thats why weve given this rare, precious rocket launcher a permanent home in our limited inventory, so that well have it at the best possible moment. This huge group of enemies? Nah, not necessary--bullets will do. A mini-boss? Tough, but well hold out for the real big baddie. A level boss? The devs mustve assumed we'd have used the rocket launcher by now, so we can probably beat him without it. At last, the final boss. Our lone rocket can fulfill its lifelong purpose, and--well then. Looks like theres a bundle of rocket launchers right next to the final room. %&*@.
When will we learn?
Those are the bad habits we find ourselves repeating time and time again across tons of games. What are your silly tendencies and assumptions when playing a new game? Let us know in the comments below, so that we can learn from everyone elses ridiculous mistakes.
For more video game goofs, check out the 6 games industry mistakes absolutely no-one learned from and the Top 7... Totally unrealistic things games do all the time.