Game Mechanics You Love/Hate

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No, we're not talking about Skeeter from Interstate '76, here.
I mean, the elements that make up the gameplay.

After firing back up Half-Life 2 due to the recent Steam update, I was struck by one particulare gameplay element that made me feel all warm and cozy. The aiming reticule.

Before I go on, allow me to lay a bit of backstory. I built a new computer February for the first time since 2004. Since then, I've played a couple of new to me FPS games (Far Cry 2 and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2) that use aiming reticules that do just about nothing, and require you to go into a secondary aim mode (iron sights) to get any real level of accuracy. These two games were the first time I'd played all the way through an FPS with this type of requirement, but I still have spent about 80hours combined among them. Before that, I had only spent a limited time on a handful of other games with this mechanic and not liked it then.

So like I said, I came across this great feeling of a nice familiar crosshair with no extra 'aim' mode required, and I remembered how much I love it. I in turn, really do not like iron sights aiming. I have come to accept it and easily use it in games, but I still don't like it. I'm ok with a zoom mode on a scoped gun, though.
My major gripe with iron sights aiming is it provides an extra layer of comlpexity to aiming on top of an already perfectly useful standard, and as stated above, makes the aim recticules nearly useless, but leaves them on screen as if to say, yeah, we know its there, but who cares. Yes, the arguement is it is more 'realistic' or 'authentic' but that doesn't mean it makes it more fun (for me).

I think my other issues is that guns are typically black, or the aptly named gunmetal gray. Both colors are quite dark. Many game designers like to make use of dark areas and dark attired enemies. Thus, reducing contrast and clarity over the simulated gun model/textures. Thiis makes precise, accurate and quick aiming in 'iron sights' mode more diffucult in varying condtions, and often times more so than should be considered reasonable for the situation.

All of this is to say, I really do hate having to use iron sights in games while I love the simple aiming reticule. I know plenty of you out there think otherwise, too. Feel free to voice your opinions.

So what other elements in games that seem to be standards somewhere do you hate (even when done well/right) and wish were replaced with another? Don't just say you don't like something. Offer what you think works (or would) better.

Jumping puzzles - especially timed jumping puzzles, where you'll get three quarters of the way through, and screw up, and have to start *all over from scratch*. Assassin's Creed, I'm looking at you!

Tanglebones wrote:

Jumping puzzles - especially timed jumping puzzles, where you'll get three quarters of the way through, and screw up, and have to start *all over from scratch*. Assassin's Creed, I'm looking at you!

I'd put that down to a bad camera, and imperfect communication (both ways) between player and game as to what you want altair to do and how the game is reading what you want and showing you what it's going to do. I think an interesting method for 'full world exploration' games like AC would be if there was a cursor on screen, and you aim a few steps/jumps ahead of where you want to go.

Mine: Minigames as gating mechanisms.

Games that obscure your vision as you take damage, e.g., the screen gets darker as you get shot. Infamous was the worst about this in my mind, taking it so far that it wasn't possible to see if you were being shot a lot (and in that game, you were always being shot). It really soured me on the game overall.

Snipers in FPSs.

Doesn't matter the scope of the game. Doesn't matter the objective. There is always either a sniper class or a sniper weapon, and the game is made so you can do nothing but snipe if you want to. A sniper's experience is totally different from anyone else's. Their job is to sit still and piss off other players.

I'd rather they focus on a single kind of experience and let the snipers go play... just about any other FPS, rather than give them a metagame that only worsens everyone else's experience and breaks the cardinal rule of skill-based games: understanding what you did that caused you to die.

In Left 4 Dead, when you try to puke on someone, but get shot before it hits anyone. The vomit disappears. What the hell is that? I'm already a fat ass who pokes through doors, I can be heard a mile away, I'm slow, my attack has a rather limited range, is difficult to use because it's hard to get a sense of just how far it will go, if I puke up at an angle the vomit doesn't go farther and cover a wider area like one might expect, and if I actually land a hit the attack only causes a horde of zombies to show up some of the time and doesn't do any damage on its own. Could my vomit at least continue through the air and into the gaping mouths of astonished onlookers that were directly in front of me even after I explode? Or could my explosion radius be way bigger to make up for it?

I really wanted the boomer to be my favorite, but now I hardly even try when forced to play as a boomer. Half the time I just run straight for the survivors so I can hurry up and come back as something else. I haven't played the games in a few months, but when I do get back into it (probably soon) if the boomer has been tweaked in any way I'm going to be very happy.

Also, slow walking speeds in old JRPGs. Why, damnit?

MechaSlinky wrote:

In Left 4 Dead, when you try to puke on someone, but get shot before it hits anyone. The vomit disappears. What the hell is that? I'm already a fat ass who pokes through doors, I can be heard a mile away, I'm slow, my attack has a rather limited range, is difficult to use because it's hard to get a sense of just how far it will go, if I puke up at an angle the vomit doesn't go farther and cover a wider area like one might expect, and if I actually land a hit the attack only causes a horde of zombies to show up some of the time and doesn't do any damage on its own. Could my vomit at least continue through the air and into the gaping mouths of astonished onlookers that were directly in front of me even after I explode? Or could my explosion radius be way bigger to make up for it?

This one! I hit the same thing in Modern Warfare 2 where I go to launch a rocket or grenade and get killed before the animation finishes then nothing happens. There is a tangible delay between when I click to fire and when the firing actually occurs where I can be killed and my action can be completely negated. I hate this. It's stupid. I don't expect my shot to fire along it's original path but it should still fire, hopefully at a random angle resulting in all kinds of accidental hilarity.

Wembley wrote:

This one! I hit the same thing in Modern Warfare 2 where I go to launch a rocket or grenade and get killed before the animation finishes then nothing happens. There is a tangible delay between when I click to fire and when the firing actually occurs where I can be killed and my action can be completely negated. I hate this. It's stupid. I don't expect my shot to fire along it's original path but it should still fire, hopefully at a random angle resulting in all kinds of accidental hilarity.

Hilarity is not allowed in Modern Warfare 2. Neither is picking which server / map you'd like to play on.

Nor is having fun generally recommended.

IMAGE(http://www.tfportal.de/gfx/content/tf2/guidepics/engiguide/01_engineer.jpg)

Hate

Slow motion dodges or finishes in the middle of combat. Alan Wake did the former, while Fable II did the latter. They add a nice cinematic flair to combat, but they disrupt the flow of combat and, crucially, move the camera into a position that makes it more difficult to see where you are and where you're going. In Alan Wake, additionally, your slow-motion dodges typically left you open to attack as the animations finished playing but everything sped up into normal motion.

Love

Double-jumping. In games where you can double-jump (i.e., jump again in mid-air), I do it nearly every time I jump. It's mainly a comfort thing that helps ensure that I'll land on the ledge I'm aiming for.

Scratched wrote:

Mine: Minigames as gating mechanisms.

This.

I failed one, one, minigame in Mass Effect 2, just to find out what would happen. You know how much time I wasted just opening doors in that game?

Quintin_Stone wrote:

IMAGE(http://www.tfportal.de/gfx/content/tf2/guidepics/engiguide/01_engineer.jpg)

IMAGE(http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2756/4519897932_cdbb214d9b_o.png)

I mean, seriously, look at that ugly hair.

Wembley wrote:
MechaSlinky wrote:

In Left 4 Dead, when you try to puke on someone, but get shot before it hits anyone. The vomit disappears. What the hell is that? I'm already a fat ass who pokes through doors, I can be heard a mile away, I'm slow, my attack has a rather limited range, is difficult to use because it's hard to get a sense of just how far it will go, if I puke up at an angle the vomit doesn't go farther and cover a wider area like one might expect, and if I actually land a hit the attack only causes a horde of zombies to show up some of the time and doesn't do any damage on its own. Could my vomit at least continue through the air and into the gaping mouths of astonished onlookers that were directly in front of me even after I explode? Or could my explosion radius be way bigger to make up for it?

This one! I hit the same thing in Modern Warfare 2 where I go to launch a rocket or grenade and get killed before the animation finishes then nothing happens. There is a tangible delay between when I click to fire and when the firing actually occurs where I can be killed and my action can be completely negated. I hate this. It's stupid. I don't expect my shot to fire along it's original path but it should still fire, hopefully at a random angle resulting in all kinds of accidental hilarity.

This is a problem with the way multiplayer games work right now. In order to keep your experience smooth, your client-side software is predicting what is probably going to happen in the pauses between when it gets updated with the details of what actually happened from the server. The other team actually shot MechaSlinky's boomer before he even had a chance to spew on anyone, and as far as the server is concerned they nailed Wembley between the eyes in MW2 before he pressed the "shoot" button. Your client, though, doesn't know this yet, so it goes ahead and guesses that you did get the shot off and shows that to you for a second before snapping back to the server's version of reality.

hate: pushing a button to sprint on console games. They're analog sticks, developer people. Push farther, move faster. How bloody hard can that be?

Not exactly a game mechanic, but I've found I love hybrid games like Darksiders and Brutal Legend. If you can take working elements of other games and melt them all together in a lovely sludge of joy, then I'm sold.

Unfortunately a lot of people disagree and want a game to do one good thing exclusively, which is depressing.

also ps3 hate: anything that requires me to click L3 and R3 when there are other buttons and/or dpad directions not being used for anything.

edit: possibly an exception for zooming in with a scoped firearm, but a big hell no for crouching.

Escort missions. Die, escort missions.

I'll second jumping puzzles. There's that bit on Half-Life 2 where you have to get across the tunnel filled with toxic waste by using your gravity gun to make platforms and such and jump along. I hate that part. Hey, if I want to play @#$!! Super Mario Brothers I'll play @#$!! Super Mario Brothers, thankyouverymuch.

juv3nal wrote:

hate: pushing a button to sprint on console games. They're analog sticks, developer people. Push farther, move faster. How bloody hard can that be?

The problem with that is most users never learned what analog does. Super Mario 64 and a handful of other N64 games (Pilotwings 64 and F-Zero X come to mind) were great teachers for me and they effectively use the analog stick. Super Mario Galaxy 2, does not implement analog well at all. You either walk slowly, and with a very limited range of motion on the stick for it, or you run. This makes me sad, especially when they included a retro galaxy from Mario 64 (I've only seen this via a video) where they taught you to tiptoe to sneak up on the pirahna plants and they just left that part out in Galaxy 2.

LobsterMobster wrote:

Snipers in FPSs.

God yes. One-hit kills in general are zero fun, as it's incredibly frustrating to be taken out by something that you literally have no ability to react to. Fun for the killer, worse experience for everyone else.

juv3nal wrote:

also ps3 hate: anything that requires me to click L3 and R3 when there are other buttons and/or dpad directions not being used for anything.

Definitely. The lousy feel of those inputs means they should be reserved for rare/optional actions (camera angle changes, switching grenade loadouts, etc.).

On a more positive note, I love being able to customize my character and have that customized character appear in cutscenes/gameplay. The fact that my avatar in Saint's Row 2 was an incredibly obese, ancient Asian woman with a thick Mexican accent and a swagger that wouldn't quit added immeasurably to the experience. Watching her dive over couches and hit on other characters was... something to behold.

Hate:

* long missions with no mid-mission saves. Dawn of War 2 does this, but Relic rectified it in the expansion.

* Stupid A.I. ... I'm shooting at you with a high powered assault rifle, and you stand bolt upright in the middle of the room until you're dead?

* omniscient A.I. : when you're out of view, but within "detection range" and every mob on the map suddenly knows your exact location. There are many examples of omniscient A.I. and it's nothing more than lazy (or perhaps low-budget) programming, IMO.

* difficulty gaps: some of us older gamers aren't exactly johnny on the spot with controls, and we like to game, but don't like being frustrated by over-inflated difficulty. With many games, Easy is too easy, and normal can be frustrating or difficult. Sounds wussy I guess, but I think there's many games with these big gaps. For me, a prime example is Madden. On easy (rookie), I can avg 10 yds a carry rushing and beat the A.I. like 70-0. Next level up, I can't run the ball for sh*t, and usually avg about 2.8 yds a carry and struggle to win.

Love:

* games that let you have freedom. If you're a single-player only kind of gamer, who cares if you can save anywhere? Let the gamer have options and freedom to play as he/she likes. Multiplayer is different, I get that, but sp should be about freedom and options.

* great in-game tutorials, and ways to let the player practice his skills

Gotta head out, more later!

I love visual character progression in games. By this I mean your character's appearance changing as a result of their progression. This usually manifests itself as equipment/armor changing the character's appearance. I don't really care how it is done, though. The visual feedback helps me connect to the character. Alternatively, I hate when a character goes through an entire game gaining new gear yet always remains visually the same. If I started out in a burlap sack and am now wearing a full set of armor, why do I still look like I'm wearing a green jumpsuit?

iaintgotnopants wrote:

I mean, seriously, look at that ugly hair.

He's not a mechanic! RESPECT THE THREAD!

Also, you have no taste.

I am a whore for levelling. Give me a little digital pat on the head, make some numbers slightly bigger, and maybe every once in the while give me a new shiny thing to play with, and I'm happy as a sand-boy.

It's the only way I managed to put with MW2's incessant spawn-die cycle for as long as I did. Which wasn't very long to begin with

KillerTomato wrote:

On a more positive note, I love being able to customize my character and have that customized character appear in cutscenes/gameplay. The fact that my avatar in Saint's Row 2 was an incredibly obese, ancient Asian woman with a thick Mexican accent and a swagger that wouldn't quit added immeasurably to the experience. Watching her dive over couches and hit on other characters was... something to behold. :)

Hahaha, definitely this. Although I think KillerTomato has me beat.

My Saint's Row character was a super fat guy who looked like he came straight from some kind of anime convention. It was awesome to see him gangstar it up.

I hate bad pathfinding. Told my squad in CoH to plant some explosives on a wall, and they tried to run to the opposite side of the wall, past a German machine gun nest.

Scratched wrote:
Tanglebones wrote:

Jumping puzzles - especially timed jumping puzzles, where you'll get three quarters of the way through, and screw up, and have to start *all over from scratch*. Assassin's Creed, I'm looking at you!

I'd put that down to a bad camera, and imperfect communication (both ways) between player and game as to what you want altair to do and how the game is reading what you want and showing you what it's going to do. I think an interesting method for 'full world exploration' games like AC would be if there was a cursor on screen, and you aim a few steps/jumps ahead of where you want to go.

I think by timed he means against the clock (like in the Assassin tombs).

And actually both AC's did try some sort of mechanic that you mentioned, but it was more of a highlighted checkpoint system where you would reach one 'gate' and the next one would light up ahead of you.

iaintgotnopants wrote:
Quintin_Stone wrote:

IMAGE(http://www.tfportal.de/gfx/content/tf2/guidepics/engiguide/01_engineer.jpg)

IMAGE(http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2756/4519897932_cdbb214d9b_o.png)

I mean, seriously, look at that ugly hair.

QFT.

MilkmanDanimal wrote:

Escort missions. Die, escort missions.

Yep. And yet, oddly, I really enjoyed Resident Evil 4 even though it's basically one long escort mission.

ClockworkHouse wrote:
MilkmanDanimal wrote:

Escort missions. Die, escort missions.

Yep. And yet, oddly, I really enjoyed Resident Evil 4 even though it's basically one long escort mission.

But at least you get to stuff Ashley in trash bins.

Clemenstation wrote:

But at least you get to stuff Ashley in trash bins.

And you can't accidentally shoot her, and she stays right next to you the entire time. I got so sick of the escort mission bits of The Sands of Time because Farrah would always run way off somewhere else and get herself killed.

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