Game Designers’ Pet Hates
Following yesterday’s feature on usability testing, we gather Codemasters executive producer, Adam Parsons; Bungie user research lead, John Hopson; and Black Rock Studios game director, Jason Avent, to find out their opinions on some of gaming’s more irritating quirks.
Adam Parsons: “I think unless they’re short and essential then cutscenes need to be skippable for those who want immediate action. But there is something to be said for setting the scene: not everything is going to be an adrenaline rush from the first second.”
John Hopson: “The problem with letting players skip cutscenes is that they miss a lot of information about what’s going on in the game when they skip them, and become confused about their objectives and the story. In some of the past games I’ve worked on, we’ve made a point of allowing players to skip all cutscenes while simultaneously making the same information available elsewhere. It works, but it’s a significant commitment on the part of the studio. I think the right question is: ‘Why are people skipping cutscenes, and how do we make cutscenes people actually want to watch?’”
Jason Avent: “My general feeling is that cutscenes are a bit old-fashioned, and that stories should be relayed to you as you play, like in Half-Life 2 or BioShock.”
JH: “This is an area where data-mining can contribute a lot to design, because you can collect metrics on the time and number of deaths between save points and figure out where the experience is breaking down.”
HARDER DIFFICULTY LEVELS THAT HAVE TO BE UNLOCKED
AP: “You shouldn’t have to play on normal to get to the hard setting. Sometimes, though, there are development reasons for adding higher levels as DLC, purely down to the fact that super-hard difficulty takes much longer to test.”