Top 10: Video Game Design Decisions that Need to Go Away (and Never Come Back)

SimCity (Error Screen)

As you can appreciate just by looking around this website, I play a lot of video games for the purposes of review. Part of the review process involves analyzing what’s good about a certain title, what’s bad about it and how recommendable that game is despite its flaws. Most of the times though, I find that the little quirks can be the most infuriating ones and that’s why I decided to create a list with ten of the most frustrating design decisions in video games.

Before moving on to the actual list, I want to say that I’m not a video game designer and I don’t intend to become one. I don’t know anything about programming and I have no idea how difficult it’s to fix all the issues on this list. Nevertheless, as someone who’s extremely passionate about video games, I think that certain design decisions should simply cease to exist. Without further ado, these are ten flaws and design quirks that I just hope disappear and never come back. As usual feel free to share those design decisions you hate in the comments down below.

Logos that appear when you launch the game

If you’ve been playing video games for a while, you’re probably familiar with this one. Every single time you launch the game, you’re forced to watch the logos of all the companies behind the game you’re playing. I think it’s fair to assume that most of the people who play video games are quite familiar with most publishers and developers. On the other hand, casual players couldn’t care less about who made or published the game they’re playing.

Nvidia Logo

Unskippable cutscenes

Let’s say you’re playing a Japanese role-playing game. There’s a checkpoint, you save and then you watch a ten-minute cutscene. Right after that cutscene your party gets annihilated by a gargantuan boss and when you restart from the last checkpoint, you’re forced to watch the ten-minute video all over again. You should be able to skip that custcene once you have watched it at least one time.

Too Human

No save points before boss fights

Another RPG quirk. There’s nothing more frustrating that making it to the last floor of a really long dungeon and then dying during a boss fight. Replaying the entire section all over again is extremely painful and some players will be so frustrated that they will turn off the console and never play that game again.

Final Fantasy 2 (Adamantoise)

Controls that can’t be changed

Unintuitive controls is something that PC players have been suffering for years and years. But even if you’re a developer and you’re using the most intuitive interface ever made, you should at least give the player the option to remap controls. Each player likes playing games in different ways and I’m pretty sure this feature isn’t really that difficult to implement.

Xbox 360 Controller

Penalty for saving often

I have a really specific example to illustrate this point. I remember playing Resident Evil 2 a few years ago and noticing that you could only save a limited number of times. Basically, you need to collect ink ribbons that you can then use on typewriters to save the game. If you run out of ink ribbons, you have to find more of them before you can save. Although this makes the experience of playing Resident Evil 2 a lot more thrilling, it also punishes cautious players.

Resident Evil 2

Content that needs to be unlocked

Some games should have all their content unlocked right off the bat. Specific titles such as Rock Band or Street Fighter should come with all songs/fighters unlocked from the beginning. There’s nothing more disappointing that having people over and realizing that you can’t play as your favorite fighter or that you can’t play a specific song because you haven’t unlocked it.

Street Fighter IV (Character Select Screen)

Excessive quick time events

I understand the appeal of quick time events: pushing a series of buttons that have a direct repercussion in the game makes players feel engaged (hey, that rhymes!) But what happens when there are way too many QTEs? The player gets bored and the process of pushing random buttons becomes frustrating. Next!

Asura's Wrath Quick Time Event

Always online

One word (or is it two words?): SimCity. If you buy a brand new game, you should be able to play that game whenever you want and wherever you want. I don’t care if the EA’s servers are down and I don’t care if it’s the year 2033 and SimCity 13 is out. I paid for your game, so I should be able to play it on a plane or a mountaintop.

SimCity (Error Screen)

Invisible walls

In the original Serious Sam, you could walk towards the desert for hours without running into anything other than some bizarre secrets. This made the game feel huge in terms of scope. In Dragon Ball Z: Budokai Tenkaichi 2, you where constantly running into invisible walls that made the experience feel extremely contrived. I understand that the former is an extremely rare example, but if they are going to include invisible walls anyway, developers should take the time to disguised invisible walls a bit better.

Dragon Ball Z - Budokai Tekaichi 2

Scarce checkpoints

Portable titles should let you save pretty much whenever you want. Console and PC games should let you save often. I understand that a lot of people enjoy that feeling of thrill that certain titles offer, but when you’re an adult and you don’t have that much time to play video games, turning off the console when you haven’t had a chance to save for a while can be heartbreaking.

Intrusion 2

Unbeatable boss fights

This one’s also common in certain RPGs. You fight an overly powerful boss and there’s no way to defeat it. You try your best and you feel frustrated when the boss is about to kill you, only to realize that there was no way to beat that boss and that the game was pretty much making fun of you.

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