Rules of Video Game Design #1: Never Repeat

December 4, 2011 at 15:20 (Games)

A video game should never force you to repeat or sit through any non-interactive part of the game. We just about have this sorted for big cut scenes which now nearly always have a skip button but it’s still happening far too often. In Red Dead Redemption every time you skin an animal there is a four second* animation which adds nothing to the game, actually it rather annoyingly breaks the flow of the action. Now four seconds may not seem like a long time but I’ve skinned around 250 animals and wasted 15 minutes of my life. It would be longer but I actually stopped skinning things because of the animation.

I feel let down that Skyward Sword breaks this rule so often, I always held the Zelda series up as a great example of game design. I’m sure you used to be able to press a button to bring up all the text dialogue on screen instead of slowly appearing in front of you, not any more. That’s almost okay the first time but when you bump into people again and they’re repeating themselves you need to be able to skip past it quickly. Fi is the worst case of this, you are constantly teased with a “more” option only to be slowly told there is no more information available, if that’s the case then don’t provide the option in the first place. Asking the wrong question leads you through screens of slowly repeated non-skipable text, just let me get on with the game. As much as genuinely love the treasure chest opening animation you shouldn’t have to be forced to watch it over and over again.

I realise I’m being petty and complaining about a few lost seconds of time but it will all add up and I have other things to do. I’m mostly annoyed because it isn’t a difficult problem to fix but more importantly shouldn’t be a problem in the first place.

*I’m sure it’s 3-4 seconds, I did time it but can’t remember now.


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