Not every game needs a story. Left 4 Dead is a prime example. Some good characters and a simple situation is enough, and any more would be pointless. All we really need to know in a shooter or RTS is who we’re fighting, and why we’re fighting them. Any more and it better be worth our time.
It is worth our time in a lot of games, but in just as many others we really don’t care. We think we care, because we like the game, but we don’t. Halo’s story could have been drastically simplified and we still would have enjoyed it. We might even have enjoyed it more, because we wouldn’t have spent so much time picking apart its convolution.
We don’t need more “go rescue so-and-so” or “plant five charges” missions. They only exist because someone thought we needed variety (as if repetitive tasks are variety), and more convincing that there’s a story going on somewhere behind-the-scenes. Don’t bother! Give us a good reason to shoot the bad guys and we’ll shoot the bad guys. Offer challenges that weren’t contrived to make us feel all storied up, and we promise we’ll still have fun.
Ok, it’s time for a boss – now FORGET EVERYTHING YOU’VE BEEN DOING FOR THE LAST THREE HOURS.
What? We know bosses are supposed to be hard, but that doesn’t mean they have to completely discard the game’s established mechanics. Build on the existing mechanics - let us use what we’ve learned. Oh, and don’t think we don’t realize that the super-powerful mega-weapon you gave us earlier is suddenly inexplicably useless.
This also applies to those annoying-ass driving levels that developers love to slap into the middle of shooters. Why the hell are we driving when we’ve spent the last ten levels shooting?
I’m tired. I want to go to bed, and I don’t want to leave my stupid console paused all night. Why are some developers so terrified of letting us save our damn games? If you think being generous with save points will make your game too easy, you’re probably doing it wrong.
We don’t mind re-killing a bunch of dudes if we have to. What we want to avoid by saving often is walking through empty hallways and re-organizing our inventories. The difficulty of a game shouldn’t be entirely reliant on making us die and redo large, tedious sections of non-action. If we die in a big firefight, let us go back a little ways before that battle so that we can prepare a new strategy and jump back in. Don’t make us walk around for five minutes first.
We forgive you Capcom, but only because you’re so lovable.