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Bad design decisions

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I’ve been thinking, what are some decisions developers made that stand out in your mind as badly affecting your experience with a game?

I’m playing Cloudpunk and it looks beautiful, with backdrops like something out of Blade Runner. Very atmospheric. Only problem is, the people look like blocky lego figurines. They move around with exaggerated mannerisms, appearing very cartoonish. I imagine part of the reason for this is budgetary, but the rest of the game is HD. It’s far from retro pixel graphics, except for the people. They did include very detailed 2D avatar drawings for the important characters, which is nice, but I’m sure they could have found a more suitable style for the 3D.

Another one is URU. I still don’t like the decision to add a 3rd person view. Myst is all about lonely landscapes, beauty, desolation, majestic forests, towering spires and mountains, ancient caves and seascapes. URU has those but I guess I don’t really associate a dude/gal walking around in jeans and sneakers with all that. I know it was done because of the multiplayer function, but it still sucks for the single-player.

What are yours?

     
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Vehelon - 25 June 2020 03:48 AM

It’s far from retro pixel graphics, except for the people. They did include very detailed 2D avatar drawings for the important characters, which is nice, but I’m sure they could have found a more suitable style for the 3D.

Simon the Sorcerer in 3D, space battles in Star Trek, Monkey Kombat, remastered/special editions of Monkey Island and Broken Sword, and so on, there are too many bad design decisions to choose from.

But based on what you said there, graphical inconsistency is one of the biggest annoyances there can be. For instance, Captain Morgane and the Golden Turtle is an OK game, nothing that special but kind of nice anyway, but they really should have chosen one style and stuck to it. Instead, it’s a mess that I some time ago described like this:

What is a bit annoying is how there are several different graphical styles showing the same characters. For instance, the protagonist is a 3D model, but when she is having a conversation, a 2D cartoon image is shown next to subtitles, which can’t be turned off. For those who care, neither the 3D models nor 2D characters are moving their mouths when talking. In some cases, there are cutscenes which look a bit cheap, like hidden object game cutscenes usually look. The way the characters look in these cutscenes do not completely match neither 3D models, or 2D dialogue images, which gives a bit strange impression.

     
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Vehelon - 25 June 2020 03:48 AM

I’ve been thinking, what are some decisions developers made that stand out in your mind as badly affecting your experience with a game?

Just a couple of things spring to mind at the mo & sometimes co-related:

The introduction of an action and/or timed sequences out of the blue with no indication up until then that might happen in an otherwise action/timed sequence free game.

On said unexpected events & also in other games with expected action/time sequences the decision of developers to not allow saves mid-flow - that’s just pure evil!  Naughty  Laughing

     

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chrissie: Man, you must absolutely HATE Sierra!  Naughty

Gatekeeper: Yes, graphical inconsistency is a good way to put it. One of the things they screwed up in the Broken Sword director’s cut

     
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chrissie - 25 June 2020 10:38 AM
Vehelon - 25 June 2020 03:48 AM

I’ve been thinking, what are some decisions developers made that stand out in your mind as badly affecting your experience with a game?

Just a couple of things spring to mind at the mo & sometimes co-related:

The introduction of an action and/or timed sequences out of the blue with no indication up until then that might happen in an otherwise action/timed sequence free game.

On said unexpected events & also in other games with expected action/time sequences the decision of developers to not allow saves mid-flow - that’s just pure evil!  Naughty  Laughing

When I first played Fahrenheit I initially really liked the controls. Mopping, opening cabinets etc. It was actually pretty intuitive. Then out of the blue there comes the attack while the protagonist is at work. Considering I’d been able to move rather freely in the game up until that point, I kept trying to run between the cubicles. Losing at least two lives because I had no idea that I was supposed to start mashing random buttons that appear in the screen.

If the game wants to me to something so stupid, please, at least tell me.

I suppose no one really like QTE but boy was I weirded out by it before I learned what they were supposed to be. And my example is definitely not from an “otherwise action sequence free” game, but it instantly came to mind while reading your post.

     

Currently playing: Requiescence, Divinity II
Recently finished: The Silent Age, Overland, Before We Leave, Demonheart, SoulSet, Quantum Consciense, Amnesia: Memories
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Vehelon - 25 June 2020 11:04 AM

chrissie: Man, you must absolutely HATE Sierra!  Naughty

i don’t hate the games just the developers who have a cruel streak! Sorry Vehelon, I’m not a vet gamer so you would have to be more specific as far as Sierra games go for me to relate to what you’re saying?
Sierra are by no means the only developer that won’t allow you to save somewhere in what was up until them just a nicey nice game in midst of an ‘unexpected crisis’ - whatever ......for the player it’s still c**p-!      Smile

     
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No manual saves, just autosave. Gggrrr… I want to be able to go back to previous scenes whenever *I* choose. And I hate being forced to replay parts if I happen to quit before an autosave point has been reached.

Developers Pan

     

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millenia - 25 June 2020 11:09 AM
chrissie - 25 June 2020 10:38 AM
Vehelon - 25 June 2020 03:48 AM

I’ve been thinking, what are some decisions developers made that stand out in your mind as badly affecting your experience with a game?

Just a couple of things spring to mind at the mo & sometimes co-related:

The introduction of an action and/or timed sequences out of the blue with no indication up until then that might happen in an otherwise action/timed sequence free game.

On said unexpected events & also in other games with expected action/time sequences the decision of developers to not allow saves mid-flow - that’s just pure evil!  Naughty  Laughing

When I first played Fahrenheit I initially really liked the controls. Mopping, opening cabinets etc. It was actually pretty intuitive. Then out of the blue there comes the attack while the protagonist is at work. Considering I’d been able to move rather freely in the game up until that point, I kept trying to run between the cubicles. Losing at least two lives because I had no idea that I was supposed to start mashing random buttons that appear in the screen.

If the game wants to me to something so stupid, please, at least tell me.

I suppose no one really like QTE but boy was I weirded out by it before I learned what they were supposed to be. And my example is definitely not from an “otherwise action sequence free” game, but it instantly came to mind while reading your post.

I thought Fahrenheit, had one of the most interesting openings of all time. I had a demo for the game and played it countless times and was blown away…. wow did the actual game disappointed me after that wonderful opening. It is like they had a very great idea but had no idea how to turn that great concept into a complete game.

     
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Vehelon - 25 June 2020 11:04 AM

chrissie: Man, you must absolutely HATE Sierra!  Naughty

Gatekeeper: Yes, graphical inconsistency is a good way to put it. One of the things they screwed up in the Broken Sword director’s cut

I actually dont mind the added content in broken sword 1, I do think they ordered it wrong. the opening should have stayed with george and the cafe bombing, that intro alone hooked most gamers for the rest of the journey.

     

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chrissie - 25 June 2020 11:48 AM
Vehelon - 25 June 2020 11:04 AM

chrissie: Man, you must absolutely HATE Sierra!  Naughty

i don’t hate the games just the developers who have a cruel streak! Sorry Vehelon, I’m not a vet gamer so you would have to be more specific as far as Sierra games go for me to relate to what you’re saying?
Sierra are by no means the only developer that won’t allow you to save somewhere in what was up until them just a nicey nice game in midst of an ‘unexpected crisis’ - whatever ......for the player it’s still c**p-!      Smile

There’s really no need to be specific with Sierra in this case. Almost all their games have timed sequences with no warning where you have to act fast, and if you get it wrong, you die. It’s the reason for their “save early, save often” advice.

     
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Its mostly (of the top of my head) what they don’t do; like why didn’t they all follow Daedalic approach with the scroll mouse button hotspot-revealer, instead of relying on the space bar. Or why they do not go with the style of Dreamfall: Chapters and others, were you can assign the keys to the actions you want.

also, one thing they all fail at, the sound mixing between music and voice acting, music has a bigger frequency and gain, so however and whenever they are on the same level music will sound much* higher.

     
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Karlok - 25 June 2020 12:33 PM

No manual saves, just autosave. Gggrrr… I want to be able to go back to previous scenes whenever *I* choose. And I hate being forced to replay parts if I happen to quit before an autosave point has been reached.

Developers Pan

That is annoying beyond words, but it’s not really a design decision but rather a feature that is being carried over from console versions. Developers could of course make a different kind of computer version, but if they can keep it more simple by having just one version, they will most likely go for that.

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Jdawg445 - 25 June 2020 12:53 PM
Vehelon - 25 June 2020 11:04 AM

chrissie: Man, you must absolutely HATE Sierra!  Naughty

Gatekeeper: Yes, graphical inconsistency is a good way to put it. One of the things they screwed up in the Broken Sword director’s cut

I actually dont mind the added content in broken sword 1, I do think they ordered it wrong. the opening should have stayed with george and the cafe bombing, that intro alone hooked most gamers for the rest of the journey.

They made almost everything wrong with that version, sword was actually the least broken thing in the DC version. Changing Nico from NPC to a co-protagonist changed the dynamics of the game completely. One of the charms of the original game was how George was doing all the work and Nico was just sitting home doing almost nothing. The fourth game in the series was at least a partial attempt to restore the game dynamics where George is the focus of the story.

You are correct about the opening sequence though. In the original game that was one of the best openings in the history of video games, having to start the game with some lame slider puzzles starring Nico is blasphemy really. Meh

Vehelon - 25 June 2020 01:07 PM
chrissie - 25 June 2020 11:48 AM

Sierra are by no means the only developer that won’t allow you to save somewhere in what was up until them just a nicey nice game in midst of an ‘unexpected crisis’ - whatever ......for the player it’s still c**p-!      Smile

There’s really no need to be specific with Sierra in this case. Almost all their games have timed sequences with no warning where you have to act fast, and if you get it wrong, you die. It’s the reason for their “save early, save often” advice.

Yeah, although that really didn’t come from timed sequences alone. It also covered dead-end situations, with no timers, but the game being impossible to complete. In my opinion it mostly referred to several Sierra deaths which were the trademark of their style. Timed sequences were certainly part of that, their possibly worst game Freddy Pharkas being practically speaking just an annoying series of hidden deadly timers, but most of the time it was something else.

Timed sequences were not something that only Sierra used. Even Broken Sword, the original game, had a few timed sequences with potentially deadly, game ending consequences. The game did give a relatively fair warning about those however.

One of the only good things about the DC version is that they reworked how those parts happen, although for someone who is used to the old Sierra style, Broken Sword really didn’t necessarily need that to be fixed. For less experienced gamers, probably a good thing.

     

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Vehelon - 25 June 2020 03:48 AM

Another one is URU. I still don’t like the decision to add a 3rd person view. Myst is all about lonely landscapes, beauty, desolation, majestic forests, towering spires and mountains, ancient caves and seascapes. URU has those but I guess I don’t really associate a dude/gal walking around in jeans and sneakers with all that. I know it was done because of the multiplayer function, but it still sucks for the single-player.

You know you can choose whether to play URU in 1st or 3rd person, right?
You can switch back and forth between 1st and 3rd person with the F1 key.

Uru was unfortunately designed as an online game you play with other people rather than as a single player game, and released at a time when most Myst series fans didn’t have the bandwidth for it.

A far bigger problem than having the choice of playing URU in either 1st or 3rd person is the lack of a manual save combined with certain easily missed jumps, long load times, and save points that weren’t always all that close to where you failed the jump. Never mind if you wanted to go back and revisit areas without replaying a significant portion of the game. If your one and only save got corrupt, your only choice was to “reset” the Age.

———————

The lack of a manual save is one reason I don’t buy nearly as many games as I used to.

Another thing I don’t like is tutorials as a replacement for a game manual or reference card that lists the controls. When I start a game, I don’t want to be led by the nose through a sequence of things I don’t want to do. I’m not going to remember any controls when my main objective is getting the tutorial out of the way so I can get control of the game.

     
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GateKeeper - 25 June 2020 02:09 PM
Karlok - 25 June 2020 12:33 PM

No manual saves, just autosave. Gggrrr… I want to be able to go back to previous scenes whenever *I* choose. And I hate being forced to replay parts if I happen to quit before an autosave point has been reached.

Developers Pan

That is annoying beyond words, but it’s not really a design decision but rather a feature that is being carried over from console versions. Developers could of course make a different kind of computer version, but if they can keep it more simple by having just one version, they will most likely go for that.

Shrug. Feature is the most vague term ever, but of course features are part of the game design. So it’s a design decision.

Hairsplitting Gatekeeper Pan

     

Ceci n’est pas un jeu!

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For me it was Life is Strange. I tried playing it 2 times and each time I gave up after 5 minutes. I could not handle the controls at all.  I know that several people like it on this site, but, for me it was horrible and un-finishable.  in fact, I couldn’t get past the first 10 minutes of the game.

     

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crabapple - 25 June 2020 02:09 PM
Vehelon - 25 June 2020 03:48 AM

Another one is URU. I still don’t like the decision to add a 3rd person view. Myst is all about lonely landscapes, beauty, desolation, majestic forests, towering spires and mountains, ancient caves and seascapes. URU has those but I guess I don’t really associate a dude/gal walking around in jeans and sneakers with all that. I know it was done because of the multiplayer function, but it still sucks for the single-player.

You know you can choose whether to play URU in 1st or 3rd person, right?
You can switch back and forth between 1st and 3rd person with the F1 key.

Yes, I know. But you still need to choose an avatar, and that places you in the gameworld as a specific person. And I know it makes sense since the story begins in the 1980s in New Mexico, to be a person who looks like someone who grew up in 20th century America, it’s just I prefer anonymity in 1st person games - it lets me be immersed in the world more fully without identifying with a pixelated figure wearing jeans and sneakers who, even in 1st person view, I am aware that I am controlling.

     

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