Mistakes were made

New York City meets Munich

Things that make you go "WTF!"

July 31st, 2006 · No Comments · Gaming, Reviews, Stupidity, Xbox

To all companies working on future games for the Xbox 360, may I offer some free interface tips?

When I am going to load or save a game on my 360, your software should look at all the possible storage devices that are connected. If, after doing this, you notice there is only one storage device (which is what will be the case, for the vast majority of gamers), you do not need to ask what device to use. I’m looking at you Chromehounds, and Need for Speed: Most Wanted (and several others I can’t recall).

Chromehounds makes this pretty painful, because you can save and load your designs, a task you do often. Each time you do, there’s a “Storage Devices” dialog with a list that contains my one and only hard disk, which I must patiently select, every frickin’ time. Now, maybe it’s just me, but I don’t think it’s very helpful to ask the user to make a choice when there is actually no choice.

It makes me feel like I’m dealing with a half-wit instead of a next generation console:

ME: Let me load my last game.

XBOX 360 GAME: You want to load it from your hard disk?

ME: Do you see anywhere else to get it from?

XBOX 360 GAME: Umm. No. Not actually.

ME: So why are you asking?

XBOX 360 GAME: To be sure!

ME: Sure of what?

XBOX 360 GAME: I want to be sure that’s the right place!

ME: Since that’s the only place, how could it be the wrong place?

XBOX 360 GAME: Never hurts to be safe.

ME: It does when it makes you annoying. Never mind, I’ll quit.

XBOX 360 GAME: Quit? Any unsaved progress will be lost! Are you sure?

ME: Wait a second. Instead of asking if I’m sure, why not ask if I want to save my game? Wouldn’t that be the “safest” question?

XBOX 360 GAME: I really can’t be bothered.

Which leads me to my other beef, games which allow you to save at anytime, but don’t ask you if you want to save when you quit. Instead, they always pop up a fear-inducing dialog that is full of vague warnings and dire premonitions of lost progress, dead kittens and heartbreak. Nothing adds to my gaming pleasure than a game that hectors me about the perils of possibly losing my game instead of just offering to save the game for me. This goes double for games where the save operation is in the same menu as the quit operation, and even though you just saved the game, and haven’t left the pause menu, you still get a stupid warning that maybe, just maybe, you might lose some progress.

Obviously, that doesn’t apply to games that don’t let you save whenever you want, which is almost always a game design cop-out anyway, and another annoyance on its own.

All of these beefs can be summed up with Mr. Nosuch’s first rule of interface design (gaming or otherwise): No stupid questions.

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