Five Gaming Dealbreakers

My short list of game dealbreakers, those “features”, quirks, bugs, (ahem) design choices which will send me to the logout screen on DAY ONE and I’m not looking back.

1. Gross server problems. (well duh) I’ll allow a few weeks for the proverbial shit to be gotten together with a new release, but repeated server crashes, freeze frame lag in crowded areas, the hated rollbacks, frequent or excessively long login queues, corrupted databases … all no good.

2. Stupid character movement design. No, I’m not going to click on the ground to move my toon around and I’m not using the W, A, D, etc. keys. I want to use my arrow keys and hold down the mouse buttons. The End. Those are the only choices. Oh ya, I also want need an autorun option.

3. Customizable key bindings. Somewhat related to #2, but frankly the default movement keys should be the arrows and the mouse buttons. The End. Mess with that, and I promise, I’m out. Anyways, back to key bindings: there are so many variables and choices here, I will need to customize. I’m used to the autoattack as “A” or “1”. (Yes, I died many times in EQ talking to Quest NPCs when I’d accidentally attack them. So??) I don’t want to use F1, long reach from the home row on the keyboard, donchaknow. In fact, just to put an end to the madness, offer a choice of key binding sets: EQ, WoW, and whatever else. Problem solved.

Also: don’t forget to add a Hail key binding. It’s sentimental for a lot of us hags. No, I don’t want to macro it and I don’t want to install a Hail mod for crissakes.

4. Ground speed increase. No matter how a game is tuned between amount of land and character movement speed, we will want to go faster. We are humans after all — more is better, faster is better. This could be in the form of traditional transportation (mounts, bikes, cars), spells (the much beloved EQ Spirit of Wolf) or earned/purchased talent or ability. I can wait a few levels to get this increased speed, but each level of delay is a nuisance.

5. Too few spawns in noob areas. Actually, if there’s too few spawns in the big level areas, I’ll hate the game too, but it will take at least a few days to discover this. Probably the first few weeks after release, additional noob monsters should be available but I realize that’s Advanced Game Polishing 502. I’ll tell you what too few spawns says to me: it says “We didn’t finish the game, but thanks for buying it anyways, loser!” See? The game and I are starting off on the wrong foot already. That never turns out well.

Also rans (I’ll stick around in the game, but it’s not love):

Jump — one of the commenters here (forget who) wrote that having a jump ability was a dealbreaker for him. I’m warming up to that idea, especially as I’ve noted that without jump, moving around the game is like running a rat maze.

Killable Quest NPCs — if an NPC sends me out for hours of work and rewards my effort with a lameass item or only a few coins, I want to kill him/her/it. If I can’t kill him/her/it yet, I want to return later and exact my revenge.

(You probably could see this one coming) An AFK and /anon system — we gaming celebrities need some sort of system to fend off the adoring masses. /anonymous takes care of the would-be stalkers and /afk turns away the beggars and other undesirables. The /afk needs to autoreply with the AFK status, too. Man, nothing more annoying than some zealous fan who gets increasingly shrill because they think I’m intentionally ignoring their tells.

Well, I AM ignoring their tells, but I don’t want them to know that.

6 thoughts on “Five Gaming Dealbreakers

  1. I’ve got to disagree on a few of these:

    Movement Keys
    Unless you’re left handed or keep your mouse on the left, the arrow keys are a hinderance. After a week of Guild Wars, I’ve brought away a strong sense of how effective a well-designed keyboard layout can be in improving the game (ASDW movement, QE strafe, and R for auto-run–genius!). By comparison, the original EQ layout and DAOC layouts were expressions of mind-buggery the likes of which have rarely been seen, and thankfully seldom repeated. And if those aren’t screwy enough, go play Nethack, with movement keys inspired by the editor vi (written before arrow keys were standard).

    Mapping keys is, of course, the solution to most of society’s ills, as you stated.

    Ground Speed Increase
    “But if you move too fast, you’ll find out how small our world really is! It’ll break immersions!”

    Bull. Again, my instructive foray into Guild Wars taught me map travel is godly and all other forms of transport, including mounts, are second-best. Take me directly to the action, and skip all the boring waiting for boats and zepplins and getting stuck on wyverns and hippogriffs from which I can’t leap to my death. DAOC got a couple things right with their horse routes: they’re relatively fast (twice as fast as the top speed chant), and you can jump off them anytime. A good as that is, map travel is better.

    If I wanted to play a platformer, I would have bought a Gamecube with my MMO dollars.

    That said, this is where Guild Wars falls down on its face and breaks its delicate nose. You really do feel like you have to figure out the maze of each level, and because of how the engine handles (a) collision detection and (b) walking up hills, you’re constantly running into stuff you’d walk over, jump over, or charge through in That Other Game (TM).

    But, seriously, this isn’t a crtique of Guild Wars, since I already wrote one of those. This is to remind you that jump isn’t an excuse to make an MMO like U8: Pagan or a console game.

    Killable Quest NPCs
    You’re just inviting cock-blocking, griefing, and the whole gamut of anti-social expressions. I could go on, but I’ll leave you with much as I want to kill Nessingwary and his whole cheap crew, I’ll let them continue living in Stranglethorn and swindling players out of hard-earned quest XP rewards because someone, somewhere is doing that series of quests, and would have hurt feelings upon finding the collective corpses of the expedition artistically arranged around their campfire.

    What you missed: a completely modelled world
    It’s disappointing to look at the game world model in a viewer, and discover inconsistencies, like the watch fires above the walls of Oggrimmar float in air, and the sandstone city walls that are pixel-thin. Even though the design decision is often made to reduce meshes that need to be rended, and most games disallow arbitrary flying, the world should still be designed to to not have unfinished areas. Blizzard is halfway there, with “flavor” areas (the Ironforge Airport, for instance), but didn’t go far enough (cf, Oggrimmar). All companies should fill in these blank spots, if only for consistency in virtual world presentation, even if no customer will ever see the location or can only reach it because of a bug (falling through the world, getting pushed through a wall, etc.).

  2. Ya, twas I bitched about jumping, mostly stemming from SWG..

    And now I’m doing Guild Wars, which I initially said I wouldn’t play because of no jumping, well, we’re all gaming whores, and I have a hard time not playing a game with a Jeremy Soule score, and made by obvious Diablo fans..

    That said, indeed, the ratmaze factor is high in GW, looking down a small 10 foot slope, can’t hop down it, or even FALL off it (falling damage, yay!), you have to double back 3 days to get down there, damn!

    Why’d they make it that way? It’s like it’s a 2.6666667D, not 3D world, or maybe the Diablo programmers just never figured it out? Dunno!

    Give us jumping in there dammit! (SPACEBAR to attack, wtf?)

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  4. I agree with Chris, in particular with his last point. I find this kind of curious because it’s something that I always thought but that I was never able to justify properly. It’s odd to read the same unjustified idea written by someone else 🙂

    I also agree about Guild Wars, there are some elements that are annoying and the whole maze-solving is again about the player fighting against the interface, or, in this case, the controls. If these games rely a lot about the conception and use of the space, it’s obvious that the element is important and irrelevant features like the possibility to jump become fundamental.

    I wrote not long ago about the need to remove the interface as much as possible and this fits perfectly in the idea. Players like to jump because it’s intuitive. They want to climb a rock, lean over a bridge, trying to jump on or off an high place exactly because this is what they naturally expect. Functional rules and constrictions break the immersion and the natural approach to tackle and overcome problems.

    In Guild Wars you don’t have to handle the space you see in a natural way, instead you have to figure out the pattern that the developers set in that precise zone. And too often you have to fight against the boundaries to figure out how to reach some other place.

    Also, give a look to this 🙂

    Btw, a quick fix to the boring flight paths in WoW: give the players the control over the griffons. Maybe with a functional “wind” simulation so you can accelerate or slow down depending on your position and altitude.

    What is broken is the fact that they become nothing more than an animated load screen. Give it some active gameplay and everyone will stop complaining.

  5. Maybe my next ingame project will be to level up a horde just to take out those STV quest NPCs. They’ve been living on borrowed time.

  6. Thank god! I thought that I was the only one suffering. But seems that I have a whole gang out there to accompany me.. I will be happy if anybody can suggest some solutions for all of us.

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