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4 Things That Can Improve Every Game
Full disclosure: I love playing video games. At times though, it seems more like a love/hate relationship than a true marriage. True love comes not from worshiping one’s best qualities, but from loving despite their worst flaws. I can’t say how many times I’ve said something along the lines of: Man I love this game, but I hate (insert small problem that I have blown up inside my own head). Sometimes though, it isn’t a small problem. Sometimes the fault is on the little things that have plagued games for years. Fight the status quo people!
But seriously, I just don’t understand some concepts. Below are four things that I believe could help improve almost every single game out there, in small ways and large. Not every game mind you, but I think you’ll agree that adding these things certainly wouldn’t hurt most titles.
Universal Pause: I may put an inordinate amount of my daily time into playing video games, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have other things to do. Nothing is worse than knocking over a drink or hearing the doorbell, only to discover that pressing start does nothing, or even worse, immediately skips the cutscene you are in the middle of. Some games, like Dark Souls, don’t have a pause button by design, and while it is arguable if that makes the game better, I suppose I’m fine with it as long as it is a conscious design decision. But more often than not, it seems like developers just aren’t paying attention to how it affects their game. I’ll fix it for you guys: Press start once to pause the game no matter what is happening on-screen, then give us an option to skip the cutscene from the pause screen. See, was that really so hard? Also, and I feel this goes without saying, online multiplayer games are exempt from this open policy, but theoretically a vote-style pause feature, particularly for online cooperative games, could work.
Multiple Save Slots: Raise your hand if you have been bitten by the single save slot bug. I can’t see you, but I can only assume I’m not the only one stupidly raising my hand. The Deadrising franchise has been a notable offender on this front, but it certainly isn’t alone. Being forced into a single save slot is a baffling decision, because it seems like a lose/lose situation: obvious drawbacks with no clear advantages. I get the idea behind a game like Deadrising: instead of multiple slots, you are supposed to start over with better stats like a poor man’s New Game +, but that doesn’t make it a good idea. This is particularly detrimental to households that share a gaming system, and it turns out gamers like to have options when it comes to how they enjoy their games. Who knew?
Customizable Controls: Speaking of options, this is something I’ve never understood: the lack of customizable controls. For everything Nintendo does right, they are notorious for sticking to single control schemes when the game would clearly benefit from some customization. I get it: some games have very unique controls that simply wouldn’t work any other way…but not many. I’m not even asking for full control of every button layout, but when some games don’t even offer inverted controls or stick sensitivity, that can be a problem. Again, the more choices gamers have in a game, the happier they are going to be. There are a ton of games that are basically unplayable by gamers with disabilities that could be fixed with a simple option for remappable buttons.
Radial Keyboard: PC Gamers or console gamers with keyboards, you are excused from this. For everybody else, there is the struggle of inputting text with a controller. For some games, this isn’t a problem. You enter a name for your character once, and you never have to touch text again. And really, I suppose you could argue this is meant more for the consoles themselves than particular games, but their is one criminally underutilized idea that could go a long way towards fixing this: radial menus. Beyond Good & Evil had one two PlayStations ago, and it made it so easy to enter text. All the letters are in a circle, and you point to which one you want next. Brilliant! For those of us who have had to enter emails ad nausem, or worse promo codes, this would be a godsend, because it seems to me the current method of throwing a QWERTY keyboard up on screen with a controller is just about the worst possible option. Heck, you could even turn the controller into a mouse pointer while entering text and it would be an upgrade over the current system. Just a thought.