The 10 most common game design mistakes

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.

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.

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  • Ell223 - May 22, 2009 9:23 p.m.

    trying to go all the way to one out of two hundred just because the merchant doesn't have enough gold on my xbox version of oblivion is the worst! it takes forever!
  • RebornKusabi - May 22, 2009 9:29 p.m.

    Number 5 annoys me, no **** that- number 5 pisses me off so much that I have quit playing several recent games completely because of not being able to quick-save or hard-save at any time.
  • NeoKef - May 22, 2009 9:32 p.m.

    GD!!!!!! Those worms in Lost Planet were hell! And to start back to spend five minutes to get ready, just to die under 2 minutes is horriable. Great feature, GR
  • Corsair89 - May 22, 2009 10:03 p.m.

  • Ninja-KiLLR - May 23, 2009 2:02 a.m.

    i really hate non-skippable cut scenes. that urks me so much im looking at u BLACK even though it is like 4 years old i remeber trudging through poorly made cut scenes and pressing ever button to make it stop
  • Koouunn - May 23, 2009 2:20 a.m.

    lol "push x to make win happen" that is an epic win right there
  • Skykid - May 23, 2009 3:05 a.m.

    Wow, you speak truth. Are you guys prophets? :)
  • xXD0min8oRXx - May 23, 2009 3:17 a.m.

    So true, but meh, games can't be perfect. reCAPTCHA: short coming ( I dunno.. )
  • Technodragonslayer69 - May 23, 2009 3:54 a.m.

    great artitcle, it's about time someone complains about that ridic boss fight in res 5. Like seriously i had no idea that what i was doing was how i defeated her and kept restarting and killing her.
  • vitoruss - May 23, 2009 3:56 a.m.

    For 'withholding information', how about the first chainsaw manjini fight in Resi 5? You keep running back and forth shooting the guy in the face with the sniper and punching him for a half an hour which left me to pause, go on the internet to see what to do, only for it to say to keep on doing what I was doing. Also, the boulder falling and chasing Leon in Resi 4's first quicktime event was like, "WTF? How was I supposed to know there was quicktime events right now?"
  • ranzatsu - May 23, 2009 4:40 a.m.

    To hell with unskippable cutscenes. Thanks to that, I memorize the entire script for Crisis Core!! Damn them.
  • garnsr - May 23, 2009 8:25 a.m.

    How many people actually played Shenmue, the originator of QTEs? Why did so many developers decide to take that from an underappreciated game? ReCaptcha: lechery Friday Woohoo! I'm off for some lechery right now! These ReCaptchas are getting better!
  • Selectedpayload - May 23, 2009 11:28 a.m.

    If you want unskippable tedium, try splinter cell CT, the opening cut scene was unskippable to a certain point where if you were quick enough with the right timing you could stop it and get to the main menu. If you missed then you'd have to watch the rest, thats like 3 mins of video every time you get that disc spinning, even if you want to play the MP.
  • RedOutlive10 - May 23, 2009 1:56 p.m.

    To be honest these go through the vent moments were awesome to me in HL2, and even nostalgic. They aren't hard to see, heck the game points at the path to you all the times.
  • bamit11 - May 23, 2009 2:31 p.m.

    one of the far crys is really annoying when ever you start the game or quit a mode you have to watch that stupid unskipable cutscene
  • charley235 - May 23, 2009 2:35 p.m.

    this article made alot of sense...except for #3. if you beat the game, what if someone dies, or what if the storie continues in the second game right from that point? #3 is bullcrap, otherwise i liked them all...its been 2 hours, where the hell do i go next!!
  • dtzulu - May 23, 2009 3:02 p.m.

    and a note about shenmue. i had that game for my dreamcast. the concept, great. the problem? I WAS TOO BUSY LIVING MY OWN LIFE TO LIVE HIS!! ie, go to work, buy this, buy that, be at home by 11:00, man!
  • ssj4raditz - May 23, 2009 4:16 p.m.

    "You win! Now get out." LOL As much as I love Eternal Sonata, those damn cut scenes were soooooo long.
  • GoKanuks - May 23, 2009 4:39 p.m.

    You are right. Wow, I never really thought about that before! RT
  • Hunter2458 - May 23, 2009 7:23 p.m.

    The unskippable tedium bit about selling ammo is one of my favorite parts of MGS4, once you have too much of something it's auto sold.

Showing 1-20 of 83 comments

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