Tuesday, December 15, 2009

No excuses pt. 1

I believe that without fail, a game should have three things. These are all centered around enjoying the game, and not particularly making the narrative experience stronger or more effective.
1)Skippable Cutscenes
3)Maximum controller multiplayer

There is no excuse for the exclusion on any of these items. Let's break them down.

1) Skippable Cutscenes

Cutscenes can serve a really valuable purpose. In terms of narration, it allows for the game designer to communicate their story without letting the players run around and screw it up. It allows for maximum impact because the player has no choice to become a viewer, and sit back and get hit with any cinematic technique the designer chooses. I get this.

What I can't understand is why designers choose to leave out the ability to advance through these cutscenes if the player so chooses. Is it that your story is so critical that it would be unimaginable for the player to move past it? Quite simply, it shouldn't be the designer’s decision to force something like this on the players. I argue that it absolutely in no way hinders the narrative of the game when you give players the option to skip ahead. In every game that has cutscenes, I should be able to press pause, and click on option Skip Ahead.

This doesn't take away from the narration or the story, and if it does, that's because the player so chooses to do so. Designers seem to continually forget that their players may have reason to play the game multiple times, in which case the first time you showed that 30 minute introduction movie was great, but the second time around I just want to get the gameplay. And how many times do we see games where we encounter a cutscene, play, die, reload, and need to sit through the scene again? And again? And again? Sometimes, and I know it's a shock, the player doesn't care about the story. They just want to play the game.

Let them.

Give them the opportunity. Give them the option. It's small, it doesn't cost you anything as a designer, and it doesn't make people so pissed off at your game.

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