The science of sucking: game design crimes

A traipse through some of the industry’s less exalted moments with commentary from leading developers and journalists.

By Edwin Evans-Thirlwell, January 22, 2010

“Games that rely on AI-controlled secondary characters are always a chore,” Gary complained. “The developer may well have programmed Private Vasquez to automatically press that big open-door button, but they weren’t planning on you standing in the way, or him getting stuck on a lump of deformable scenery. There’s nothing worse than having to wait, sitting there while your AI buddy struggles to extract himself from an unexpected broken wall texture so you can progress.”

"How many times must I tell you to stay out of my line of fire, woman?"

"How many times must I tell you to stay out of my line of fire, woman?"

It was left to Kristan, however, to tackle the undoubted High Grand Master of contemporary design bogeymen – recharging health.

“Can we seriously not think of a better idea than letting the player soak up ANY amount of damage as long as they run away for a bit?” he enquired.

“I’m all for a bit of recovery, but it’s got to the stage now with most shooters that there’s sod all skill involved at all, and you run around just tool-boxing the game, not really playing it with any fear, but entirely aware that you can take any amount of damage as long as you get back into cover in a second or two. I think it’s made games really very dull and inconsequential.”

What are your favourite game design crimes, readers?

4 Responses to “The science of sucking: game design crimes”

  1. Shox says:

    gotta agree with the regen of health point.
    there is no fear of dying anymore. “sure i’ll just hide behind this here barrel, and i’ll be grand ina minute”

  2. tommy says:

    some crimes as old as time. (1) having to repeat too much when you die including parts that you actually did well (2) bottomless holes that make you die instantly (3) finite amount of lives before you are kicked off the game (4) not being able to set the difficulty to something super easy for people who don’t want to be in that loop of dying and repeating the same level but would rather progress

  3. Stuart says:

    Tommy – Don’t buy Demon’s Souls! I have replayed the first level loads of times, had to restart with a new character, and I’m hardly making progress! It’s guilty of 3 out of those 4. If you die repeatedly, it won’t kick you out of the game, but it gets harder.

    Still, even though it breaks 3 of your 4 rules, it’s an exceptional game. Tough as adamantium nails, but fair.

  4. tommy says:

    :-) Only if I think a game is really good will I step up to the plate and attempt a level as many times as it takes and try the harder difficulties. Most games I just want to keep making progress and don’t like to lose.


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