***To note, this is a rant, not one of my normal articles, so I did very little proof reading. Sue me.
I’m not sure if it could be considered ADD, but I spend a lot more time staring at my video game collection, wondering what I want to play than actually playing them. I usually fiddle around on my computer doing nothing of any sort of importance instead of playing one of the hundreds and hundreds of Steam games that are literally a couple of clicks away. And it got me thinking: what exactly is keeping me from actually playing those games? Well, the main reason is that maybe the game just isn’t interesting me. I bought a lot of those games I own on a whim, and if they ever get played, it’ll be a miracle. However, another thought came to mind.
But first, a story. Don’t worry, it’s important.
I am one that loves to keep track of time spent in games. Steam’s feature of counting every minute you spend in a game is very addicting to me, and I pride myself in not artificially enlarging my time spent; running through my Steam game list of the games I’ve actually played, the majority of games will have accurate times to how long it took me to beat the game. It’s just something I do. Probably a little OCD. And because of it, I never let games run in the background of my PC. I always close them out, even if I plan on returning in mere minutes.
However, I was unlucky enough to get Assassin’s Creed III on Ubisoft’s proprietary software, uPlay, which doesn’t keep track of playtime. So, as I slogged through the terribleness that was Assassin’s Creed III, whenever I went to dinner or needed to use the bathroom, I just alt-tabbed out of the game and brought it back up whenever I was ready to play again.
That’s when it hit me like a ton of bricks. I knew why, or at least knew another reason why I don’t play games as much as I have time for. They won’t let me play them.
Let me explain.
When you turn on a game, you’re not instantly playing the game. There is a LOT of things that have to happen before you’re in control of the game that you’re wanting to play. You usually have to sit through at least two or three company names of those who developed and published the game, and it’s not unheard of for there to be five or six names that slowly fade in and out of your screen. I understand having the gamer “enjoy” sitting there and learning about who made the game and what engine it is on the first time they load up the game, but why in God’s green world do we have to watch it every single time? I know that Crytek made the game, I understand that EA published it, yeah, I figured out that it was running on the Cryengine 3, and YES, I know it uses Dolby Digital sound! Quit telling me! I’ve been playing your game for ten hours, you really think at this point that I either care or don’t know? Just let me go to the menu!
Then, you finally do get to the menu, which isn’t usually a problem in some games. Others, however, have painfully slow menus that load with every button press and lag when you switch options. Those are a hassle, and waste time. Menus should be the gateway to the game, not a [bad] game in itself. Just let us click once, twice, maybe three times and be on our way to the game.
So ok, we’ve gotten past forty minutes of learning all about who created the game and have loaded through the menus, and finally, the “game” is loading. Yay! But wait! Cut scene ahoy! Ok, totally nothing wrong with a cut scene. Games pride themselves in their story. I think that’s awesome. But you know, I’m not really in the mood to sit and watch a cutscene right now, let me just hit start and ski-
Oh. Oh, cool. Yeah, cool, you can’t skip the cutscenes in this game. Awesome. Super.
I honestly cannot think of a single good reason that a game won’t allow you to skip a cutscene. Look, I know the developers might have put a lot of time into creating this story, but I just spent however much money on this game because you showed me some sweet looking action scenes in the trailer, and darn it, I want to do those! Just let me skip them if I want to! And then there are the games that don’t let you skip the cutscenes even after you’ve beaten the game. How sick and twisted is that?
And finally, the biggest and probably the worst thing any developer can do to get me to not play their games.
Tutorials are the spawn of Satan. They are what’s wrong with the majority of the gaming industry today. I haven’t played through a tutorial in recent memory and said “Yeah, that was fun! I’m glad they had me do that” after it was over. Believe it or not, there is a way to teach a player about your game without holding their freaking hand the entire time. It might take a little more work, a little more thought, but levels can teach through their design. It’s not fun to have giant dialogs every second telling you where to go, it’s not fun being on a guided path that is making you watch something that you need to learn and it certainly isn’t fun trying to learn the controls super quickly on a damned loading screen! Games are fun things! Tutorials are not! They have no place in games.
Ok, not quite true. Some games are incredibly complicated, on purpose, and I can see something like that needing a tutorial. Fine. Whatever. But there are still ways to create a tutorial that doesn’t make the user feel like they are a retarded child trying to figure out why the square block won’t go into the round hole. It’s bloody possible, yet developers just assume that their general audience is daft!
Fine, fine, maybe you like the tutorials. Maybe you’re a bit slower when it comes to games and the tutorials help you get into what you need to do better. I suppose I can understand that, especially looking through the glass as a non-gamer. But, there is no reason in Hell that tutorials shouldn’t be skippable. And don’t you dare integrate the tutorial into your story because not only are players not even going to be paying attention to the story because they’ll be too busy trying to mash the button that’s flashing in front of their face, but they’re more likely to dislike the story because they’ll already be grumpy with having to deal with a freaking stupid tutorial. So if the tutorial isn’t integrated with the story, MAKE THEM SKIPPABLE. Just do it. Please, for the love of the great and mighty Smooze, make them skippable.
If you are a game, or happen to know a game, that doesn’t have any of these problems, bravo! I applaude you. However, my main point here is that I don’t play games nearly as much because they just don’t let me. There are so many things between putting the game into the disc drive and me having full control of my character on screen, and that saddens me. I dream of a world where I press play on Steam and after a breif loading screen, I’m brought back right where I left off the last time I left the game.
Alas, I’m just going to go watch this stupid video of a cat on the internet.