Tuesday, 2 October 2012

10 Features More Games Should Include

This feature can also be found on Shadowlocked, here.

Everyone has their personal likes and dislikes when it comes to game design, and when making games for the public, a developer can't possibly please everyone. That said, there are often trends and fashions when it comes to putting features in a game, and there are definitely some features that I wish would start appearing more often in current releases.

As a small disclaimer, these personal preferences aren't at all objective. There is a long time yet before I'm crowned Ultimate Overlord of Game Design. And I'm not saying all games have to include these features - they are the sprinkles on top that could make a solid game even better.

1. Local Multiplayer
Local Multiplayer on Mario Party N64...
I grew up playing games designed for 'friends on the couch' style gaming. My childhood was filled with many evenings of Snowboard Kids and Mario Party on the N64. These days, because online play is incredibly prevalent, playing with strangers on the internet takes precedence over anyone in the room with you. It worked well for Journey, but when there are games like SSX that don't offer Split-screen play, something is horribly wrong.

2.The Non-Violent Option
Sure, breaking ribs is great, but must we always revert to violence Batman?
So you're a paragon of virtue, and being attacked by thugs. Sure you could just impale them with three feet of steel, but you're 'the good guy', so simply cracking all their ribs and leaving them to the elements is the obvious humane choice. Batman: Arkham City and Deus Ex: Human Revolution both do this, and it's a little unsettling. If I'm to be given the option of non-lethal force, I'd like to not have to hospitalise half the population, thanks.

3. Theming With a Meaning
The upcoming Watch Dogs concerns internet security. Should more games have fixed meaning?
With the push for video games to be considered an art form and not just entertainment, games are going to have to be 'about' something. Not just "This is a game about being a cool guy with awesome powers", but actually discussing something relevant to real life. Better yet, let the player interact with a meaningful topic through the game play. The soon to be released Watch Dogs is very much about Internet security. By placing you as a character who's job is to hack into other people's lives, you're going to think a lot more about how you handle your real life internet affairs.

4. Beautiful in Any Body
Feeling a bit dog-rough? Well Saints Row allowed you to show that through your character customisation...
A popular inclusion in many games of this generation is character customisation. On paper it's a good idea - you can immerse yourself in a game even further by having a representation of yourself - but often the options are rather limited. Which isn't really a problem if you're an average-looking white dude, but it can be a bit disappointing for everyone else. The Saints Row series is very notable for how it accommodates all body types (and genders!) to a ridiculous extreme, and it's something other games with customisation should really look into.

5. Gotta Collect 'Em All
You just HAD to have them all. Damn you Pokemon...
I never grew out of my Pokémon phase. It's sad, but true. What kept me coming back was the immense number of team combinations I could come up with, and the effort put into all of the monster designs. It's the same traits that has me hooked on Magic: the Gathering, too. Collecting and customisation is a tried and tested way to hook an audience, and it's way less insidious than the Skinner Box techniques that games like World of Warcraft employ to keep you playing.

6. A Grey Matter
It's so stale when a game tells you that your actions are either unquestionably just or pure evil. It's a weird illusion of choice when really a better story can be told without forcing such Black-and-White morality. Catherine does a good job of having a personality quandary without it necessarily being about morality. Better yet, NieR is a title that at its very core is about subverting your feelings as to what's right or wrong.

7. In With The New
CoD: Modern warfare 3 was the 8th installment of Infinity Ward's Call of Duty series. How much is too much?
It's something that plagues all media, not just video games, but endless sequels feel really restrictive and stagnating. Some of the best games have the benefit of not having to be tied to a canon. Platinum Studios (the guys behind Bayonetta and Vanquish) have deftly avoided making proper sequels to their own Intellectual Property; and it lets each game speak for itself.

8. Mytholo-VG
Shin Megami Tensei - full of mythological fun
Very circumstantial, but I just love it when, if a game has to source from world literature and culture, it goes all out in its adaptation. The menagerie of mythological beasts and deities in the Shin Megami Tensei series keeps me coming back game after game. Of course, shallow or lazy insertions are not favoured. More Okami and less Smite, please.

9. Micro, not Macro
Games like The World Ends With You proved that games don't have to have realistic sizing to work
Sandbox games with large explorable worlds are definitely popular ('Skyrim' will show up in the Oxford English Dictionary at this rate), but I've always found them a little unsatisfying. For all the landscape, the inhabitants - especially ones that aren't plot relevant - feel weak and soulless. I'm not easily immersed in my video games, but the game worlds I hold the most dear aren't the largest, but put loving detail into every inhabitant and the lives they lead. One of the many things that made The World Ends With You my favourite game.

10. Vampires
There's something about the blood-suckers that are so...appealing. Castlevania taught us that.
For real. Way cooler than zombies. You can't argue with Castlevania.

No comments:

Post a Comment