Letters of Mass Construction

A Good Game Gone Wrong

We have all had it happen to us. Sitting there playing a video game you are totally digging. Then suddenly the game designers lose their minds and throw some giant turd into the middle of your game and ruin the experience. I hate when good games go wrong and wreck your experience completely.

One of the worst examples of this for me in the last year was Batman Arkham Asylum. Some brilliant game designer decided the game needed only one save game slot. One for fraks sake. I have a bazillion bytes of storage (a slight stretching of the truth combined with a made up word. This equals win) use them. No, instead they gave us one save and then released a game with a bug in it. I was lovvvving that game. I had put a lot of hours into it and right before the end the game crashes and takes my saved game with it. A problem which could have been completely avoided. This is not 1985 people. We are not working with old Vic-20’s and tape back-up drives.

My current game of frustration is Deus Ex: The Human Revolution. There is a great game buried in there somewhere. That is when I am not spending countless hours opening up drawers and lockers with nothing in them. Oh and don’t get me started on hacking. Someone’s brilliant idea to add gameplay time to make it seem longer. A complete waste of time. Then there were their stupid boss battles.

Why make me build up my stats. Force me to do all these meticulously boring things in your game to create the strongest character I can have and then make me fight a boss where you take away all my powers. Completely ridiculous. Not to mention the whole end of Deus Ex could put you into a coma with its lack of action. Basically back to back bosses and an end game which is supposed to provide some moral compass of your character when there was no actual moral consequences to any of your actions throughout the game.

Deus Ex was a game I could have loved but they missed the boat. They are not the only ones. It happens all the time. Sometimes I wonder if an actual gamer is on the other end of the game. How else can you explain stupid inventory systems. Games where they have you sell items like you are an arms trader only to find out money really doesn’t matter. Bad camera angles or control schemes which make little to no sense.

I wish I could work at some of these big comapanies simply as a game tester. I would send meticulous notes about things which were going to annoy people who are playing the game. One of my all time favorite mistakes in games is where you have some really cool weapon or power only to find out the game is over. Yep, you got to use it for five minutes. What the hell. Would never happen if I was in charge. It doesn’t seem like it would be that hard. As we enter the holidays all the best games are lined up to steal our money. Here’s hoping a few of them get it right.

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