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My Short Recipe for Saving Gaming
Posted on Saturday, October 6 2012 @ 02:57:51 Eastern

This is going to be hard to write without giving away some of my top secret ideas and game plans, so you're probably going to get gypped on some of the thoughts I have to share. Just a heads up.

I've noticed people complaining about how stale games have become, lately. Well, it's something I strongly agree with. However, I can't overlook the fact that I still play them daily. As I continually expose myself to them, I think more and more about how they could be better. Not just the individual games themselves, but the entire "gaming" experience. So, as I sit here typing this at 1:00 in the morning, I'm going to try to share some of the ideas I've held on to.

I. Revolutionizing Controllers

"I NEED MORE BUTTONS" is something that's always echoing through my subconsciousness. The current design of today's controllers has run its course. It was good once, but not anymore. This is one thing that PC gaming has always had a leg up on compared to consoles. But, the keyboard, while obviously laden with a plethora of buttons, is not a very comfortable means of input. Things like the lack of an analog stick are why some PC gamers choose to use controls for some games. Heck, we've even put more buttons on our mice to try to minimize the use of the keyboard.

More buttons give you more control. Game designers shooting for rich, deep, and highly interactive experiences are getting the short stick from the miniscule amount of input options they're given, whether they know it or not. Games like Assassin's Creed have increased their input options by assigning one button the role of "hold me for more buttons." It's a great idea, and shows how much more in depth games can be with more control.

(Now I'm going to kinda ramble off about some controller ideas I have. Skip this if you want.

So, more buttons, and a more effective design are what controllers need. My ideal controller could be held with just your pinkies and ring fingers, comfortably. It has two lower buttons on the backside for your middle fingers, 6 buttons for your index fingers, 8 or 9 buttons on both sides, 4 middle buttons that could be accessed either by your thumbs or your index fingers, and long, clicking analog sticks. I've got these things called Control Freaks that extend your sticks to give you more control over small actions. They actually work, and when I try to play without them, it's really tough. By the way, this thing needs to be pretty big. And by big, I mean there just needs to be ample space between your hands. No more complaints from people with big mitts. Your fingers should never touch their opposites when you're holding this thing. Also, it needs some kind of expansion port. The Dualshock 3 has a small keypad attachment that plugs right into the mini USB port. Stuff like this could be great for developers willing to take advantage of it.

I haven't actually drawn this out yet, but I think you should get the idea. By the way, if you've been envisioning the Xbox controller this whole time, think again. This baby takes after the Dualshock in face button and stick placement.)

II. More Originality

A game gets an automatic -1 from me when I see exactly this copy-pasta'd on the main menu:

Start New Game
Load Game
How to Play
Settings
Credits

Eye barf.

That's just one point. A more important one is that so very many games are made with rehashed, twice baked ideas. It's like game developers are trying so hard to color in between the lines that they won't even get close to the edges. As if they're more focused on a list of limitations than a list of possibilities. Or, say, they find one developers footprints on the road to success, and try their best to step perfectly in line with them, instead of walking next to them. Some ideas are good, and probably should be followed, but when you don't leave enough room for originality, you end up with the gaming industry you see before you today.

III. Show Concern for the Players

This is especially important with how industry bigwigs are saying that multiplayer gaming is becoming the new norm, or that singleplayer gaming is dying. This is kinda depressing to think about, considering how multiplayer gaming is complete and utter chaos at this point. It's far, far too easy to ruin someone else's multiplayer experience in most of today's popular games. While it's possible that you could place all of the blame on the inconsiderate jerks that are doing this sort of stuff, it's also necessary to blame the game developers themselves for not doing anything about it.

Let me refer to a comment of mine from last week.

"Training should be mandatory for all online multiplayer games. And based on your performance, you should initially be put into matches with other players of similar skill level when you start playing for real."

It's a common thing to see. Players of lower skill levels are getting frustrated by players of higher skill levels, and players of higher skill levels are getting frustrated by being teamed with those players of lower skill levels. And more importantly, the good sportsmen are being frustrated unceasingly by the aforementioned inconsiderate jerks. When you look at it, it's like they're allowing full grown adults and handicapped old people to play in a little league baseball game, but everyone's playing baseball, so it doesn't matter. It's a broken system, through and through.

Let's take a break from multiplayer, though. Another example of being inconsiderate is stuff like the Battlefield 3 campaign. This sin against mankind pretty much just throws you into a dark room filled with pissed off spiders and slams the door. I use this example because it was a recent experience, but countless other games do similar things, in truth. Making things difficult at the cost of enjoyment is a big no-no. Intentionally putting players through strenuous trail-and-error only causes problems. Don't get me wrong, sometimes difficult problems are fun to overcome, but not when you have to wait several minutes for the checkpoint to reload, and end up having to play the last 10 minutes over again to get to where you were...or something.

There's probably more I could add to this, and I might edit it in later, but right now, the window of time I do my best thinking at night in has closed, and once again, the difficult task of falling asleep has presented itself before me.
 
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