Stupid Developer Tricks

The thread on BG1 mentioned the annoying save system there, reminding me of a topic I’ve had in mind for a while:

What simple things could game developers do to make our lives ten times easier? I’m talking the stuff that would take an hour of coding, and we’d all die much happier people with vastly less stress in our lives.

My proposal (which I think should be law):

Save systems must be designed for maximum convenience.

This means:

a) Access to the saved games from the first game screen, not buried three screens in as if loading a save is something you’d do less often than changing your character class.

b) One-click access to your last-saved game from the first game screen. Why is ordering a book from Amazon easier than getting to my last save?

c) Date-sorted saves, so your last save is at the freaking top, not the bottom.

d) Delete key for saves on both the save and loading screen.

e) One key quick save/load functionality. Yeah, most games have this now, but still not all of them.

Do these things and I will pay twice as much for your game.

What other such features are out there?

F5, F7 and the load/restore system from Ye Olde SCI Sierra games were robust.

Controls and similar configurable settings should be tied to a user profile instead of just being global to the game.

All cinematic sequences should be skippable. Make them pausable, too.

In a game that uses an analog control for both flying a plane and free look, make sure there is a separate “invert Y-axis” setting for each action.

Multiple rotating quick save slots.

Oh and in that same vein always make quick save and quick load far apart on the keyboard. There is nothing worse in a game with a single quick save (that you’ve been using for too long) than when you are falling to your death or facing some other imminent demise and you reach for the quick load only to hit save instead.

Edit: So when this happens do you guys also end up shouting “NOOOOOOOOOOOOO!” like Kirk cursing Khan? I once had the wife come running in from two rooms away to find out what terrible thing had transpired.

Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes.

Seconded. Being able to pause a cut scene is such a rare feature.

Quit to Main Menu, and Quit to Desktop. I don’t think I’ve ever wanted to go back one or two levels of setup options and start a new game, but that’s what a lot of games are set up to facilitate.

And also repeatable. I hate it when the phone rings in the middle of a cutscene for which I’ve spent an hour and a half replaying a frustrating section of a game to see.

Tutorials also must be repeatable at any time. When I haven’t played a game for six months, I need a refresher course before I can start playing again, but I shouldn’t have to start a new game just to relearn how to play.

No. No. No. No. No.

What they should do instead is get rid of the save anywhere system. Save anywhere is a crutch for bad game design and ruins any challenge or tension in a game. All games should use a checkpoint save system.

It must also be possible to skip the tutorial when starting (fortunately this is common).

Second on the quit to desktop thing. When do I ever want to quit to the main menu? If I did isn’t that just evidence that they need to add whatever option I’m looking for to the in game menu?

I always side with the people who say most games should have both and a few (turn-based, primarily) should have only save anywhere.

Heh. Come on, you’re just saying that for flamebait.

This is a decent thread so far. Let’s skip the misnamed “save anywhere” debate and instead let’s say that suggestions relating to saves have “in games where saves are appropriate” implied in them.

Nope. Its true. Save anywhere gives developers a pass so they don’t have to properly pace their games or properly ramp up difficulty, because if you die, no big deal, you can just reload the save from 5 seconds ago. It totally ruins proper game design and is nothing but a crutch for weak designers and weak players.

Do not. I repeat do not. DO NOT have the audacity to throw up a loading screen, finish it and then throw up another one.



Either way, since that subject always leads to a flamewar let’s assume for the purposes of this thread that when it comes to save related suggestions we are talking about games where saves are appropriate.

What, you don’t like seeing an intro for the publisher, the developer, the developer’s parent company, the owner of the IP, the video card, intel, the video engine, the sound engine, the physics engine, and of course the actual game intro?

I don’t mean that, I don’t really care about that so very much. It’s when you get things like the standard black blankness that means “I’m loading” then an actual “Now Loading” screen, and then you get back to the game, and somebody comes on screen, and there’s like a pause where nothing happens, so it is clearly still loading.

It’s so shoddy.


YES! Just tried to replay Mercenaries and they just keep doing this. Drives me mad.

Are we counting in game stuff as well? If so:

Boss fights that give the boss a never ending spawn of enemies. Bonus points if the enemies summoned can give you status effects.

Any game that requires you to go thru 3 or more menus and/or dialog boxes to use items.

I agree completely about skippable and pauseable cut scenes.

During a game a small cut scene is played before the start of a timed event, and is then replayed each time you have to start it again. Also about timed events, when the game seems to go to a camera angle that is completely in the wrong direction of the event.