Innovations and refinements that should be in more games

Here are a few really nice features I've picked up on recently that should be adopted by others:

Dishonored has a little check box with your progress details that shows if you are still on track for the no kills achievement. No more playing through an entire game and only finding out you screwed up somewhere when the achievement doesn't pop.

In Far Cry 3 and Dragons Dogma you can slide down sloping cliffs. It isn't fool proof. Try it in the wrong place and you'll die but it's an excellent way to let you make swift progress down from high areas.

Max Payne 3 gives you xp in multiplayer while playing singleplayer. A very civilised approach. If I don't care about the campaign I can play multiplayer and progress that way but if I want to play through the singleplayer once or twice I won't be starting from a cold zero when I finally get to multiplayer.

Both Devil May Cry and BioShock Infinite let you know exactly how long ago your last checkpoint save when you try to quit. This should be mandatory. Although it would be even better if it told you when the next one is. It would be good to know if I have a couple minutes of gameplay to finish this chapter up or half an hour of cutscenes.

Several games have done this by now, but the arrow pointing you where to go that is only on-screen for a second when you specifically want it. Removes the need for HUD elements that are useless 95% of the time, while also helping you find your way or vice verse helping you know which way to go if you want to explore every nook and cranny before returning to the main path of the story.

I wish more games would rip off the modding of guns that the Crysis series has. I keep finding guns in FPS titles that I would like if it weren't for a laser pointer you can't turn off or ironsights I don't like.

I can't even guess at how many times Dark Souls will be referenced in this thread, if it keeps going.

A simple one I thought of recently: in Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon, Luigi sometimes hums along with the background music. It's really charming, and I thought more light-hearted games should try it. But I guess if it happened in a lot of games, it wouldn't be so charming.

Star Conflict

The game gets an automatic 4/5 Stars for one single reason. When I alt tab out of the game, Star Conflict becomes my desktop, sans icons, with the taskbar and any other windows overlayed on top of it. If I click on my "desktop" everything else fades out and it brings me back into the game. No mess, no fuss. Seamless.

kuddles wrote:

Both Devil May Cry and BioShock Infinite let you know exactly how long ago your last checkpoint save when you try to quit. This should be mandatory. Although it would be even better if it told you when the next one is. It would be good to know if I have a couple minutes of gameplay to finish this chapter up or half an hour of cutscenes.

It's hard to estimate how far to the next checkpoint given different ways people play. However, the notification of when you last saved is a major improvement.

I'd still like quicksaves back. I had to replay about 20-25 minutes of Bioshock: Infinite last night because I got in the way of Elizabeth picking a mandatory lock and I couldn't get her to pick it again

I think one of the best new things I've noticed lately is characters naturally interacting with then environment around them. I think Tomb Raider and Far Cry 3 did a great job with this. It just makes the experience that more immersive and gives the character a sense of place in the world.

frozensquirrels wrote:

I think one of the best new things I've noticed lately is characters naturally interacting with then environment around them. I think Tomb Raider and Far Cry 3 did a great job with this. It just makes the experience that more immersive and gives the character a sense of place in the world.

I love this innovation. I think AC 1 got the ball rolling on this trend and it is something I love about modern games. Nothing adds more realism/immersion to a 3rd person experience than your character automatically reacting to the environment around them the way we automatically react to ours on a daily basis.

Yeah, the first time I remember really noticing authentic character/world interaction was with Far Cry 2. Prior to that, avatar traversal in FPSs consisted of simply holding your gun out in front of you no matter what you were doing. Maybe if you were lucky you would tuck your gun in while running or your arms would completely vanish when climbing ladders.

Suddenly in FC2 everything your guy did had an animation. Opening doors, entering/exiting vehicles, fixing your car, sliding for cover, climbing, bandaging yourself up. Everything.

It was certainly a far cry (yup) from the standard arms stuck stiffly out in front of you 99% of the time in standard shooters. Now I know FC didn't start this trend, but it was done so well that it was the first time I really noticed and appreciated it.

I want to see more of progress tracking of achievements. WoW has built this into its achievement system, and Bioshock Infinte has a little pop-up that occurs when you have made another significant step in an achievement. I just wish that on Bishock Infinte you could track them on a menu as well.

frozensquirrels wrote:

I think one of the best new things I've noticed lately is characters naturally interacting with then environment around them. I think Tomb Raider and Far Cry 3 did a great job with this. It just makes the experience that more immersive and gives the character a sense of place in the world.

Character animation in general is coming on in leaps and bounds and makes a hell of a difference for me. Great animation and naturalistic movements add enormously to my enjoyment of a game.

Higgledy wrote:
frozensquirrels wrote:

I think one of the best new things I've noticed lately is characters naturally interacting with then environment around them. I think Tomb Raider and Far Cry 3 did a great job with this. It just makes the experience that more immersive and gives the character a sense of place in the world.

Character animation in general is coming on in leaps and bounds and makes a hell of a difference for me. Great animation and naturalistic movements add enormously to my enjoyment of a game.

The first game I recall similar levels of interactivity was Viet Cong. It was a pretty fantastic and realistic FPS.

In Baldur's Gate, you can save nearly anytime anywhere. More games should feature that.

Stupid double phone post.

Multiple monitor interaction. Few games take advantage of multiple monitors, and some are down right hostile to them. Supreme Commander would let you have the overall map view open on the second monitor, which was very helpful. The ability to run your game in borderless window mode so I can still interact with my second monitor is helpful enough, but again, few games handle it properly.

The health system in FarCry 2. So much better than the regenerating health of other games. They made healing too easy in 3.

There are some innovations that I like that I'm glad are kept around. This includes stuff like:

RTS - waypoint queuing
RTS - give orders while paused
RTS - locate idle workers/units
RTS - locate unhotkeyed units (I like the Company of Heroes system)

FPS - quick-throw grenades
FPS - quick-melee
FPS - cone of fire (in the old days all guns were lasers)
FPS - iron sights/scopes
FPS - weapon-switch takes priority over reloading animation

I wish more games had mantling/climbing of objects that were just a bit too high to jump atop.

I wish more games had plot recaps and quest reminders when you started up a session.

Speaking specifically about PC games, Borderless Window mode should be the bloody law. I know it's one of those things that isn't relevant to everyone but in my case where I run dual monitors and often have to swap out to respond to something or check something else, knowing that the task switch will be seamless and that I won't have trouble restoring the game like many have, it's absolutely wonderful.

Parallax Abstraction wrote:

Speaking specifically about PC games, Borderless Window mode should be the bloody law. I know it's one of those things that isn't relevant to everyone but in my case where I run dual monitors and often have to swap out to respond to something or check something else, knowing that the task switch will be seamless and that I won't have trouble restoring the game like many have, it's absolutely wonderful.

So long as it comes with render scaling.

Aristophan wrote:

I want to see more of progress tracking of achievements. WoW has built this into its achievement system, and Bioshock Infinte has a little pop-up that occurs when you have made another significant step in an achievement. I just wish that on Bishock Infinte you could track them on a menu as well.

Definitely would love to see more of this. Steam is quite good at tracking achievement progress. A lot of games have taken advantage of it. Nothing worse than knowing you have to get 50 kills with x weapon and not have any clue how far into that you are.

LarryC wrote:

In Baldur's Gate, you can save nearly anytime anywhere. More games should feature that.

Also this. I like being able to save whenever I want to. Although technically, you couldn't save while in combat in BG.

For god sake if your game doesn't have auto-saving and checkpoints of a decent sort and it's possible to lose hours of play by dieing. Well go rot. And if it's on pc, give me damn auto saves.

LarryC wrote:

In Baldur's Gate, you can save nearly anytime anywhere. More games should feature that.

This. I'm going on a JRPG run right now, and it's a really frustrating disrespect of my time as a gamer to have to either turn off the game and lose a lot of time, or stay on playing well past when I want to.

Sort of along the anytime saving thing, what I want is better quick save/load funcitonality. I mean the consoles ( and to some extent PC) needs to be more like mobile. I don't have a lot of consistent gaming time anymore. So I don't want to have to wait 10-15 minutes just to load the game I'm in the middle of.

Sleep/hibernate mode. The PS4 is supposed to have this feature, but PC games should really start implementing it too. Freeze the game state and save it to my disk (or RAM depending on the situation), so I can instantly pick up wherever I was without having to leave my machine on.

Chairman_Mao wrote:

Sleep/hibernate mode. The PS4 is supposed to have this feature, but PC games should really start implementing it too. Freeze the game state and save it to my disk (or RAM depending on the situation), so I can instantly pick up wherever I was without having to leave my machine on.

I really like this about my VITA (and 3DS in theory, but that's gathering cobwebs). I'm not sure how it'd work exactly on PC, but it'd be a great feature!

Edit: Also, more games should render your character's body. I love nothing more than looking down at the ground and seeing little booties. Arms that flail about as you're jumping/falling/vaulting etc. are good too. And a sense of weight and inertia to your movement.

Mirror's Edge was really good for this, it's one of the reasons the platforming felt great even in first person.

Wizardry 8 had three quick save slots that cycled. Unlike NWN 2 which has one...and let's you accidentally quicksave just as your last character is about to die:(

For loot games, for god's sake, every single one should have auto pickup of everything. If I killed something and it drops something, if I go the other way, that loot should auto allocate into my bag instead of me walking over there and getting it.

This of course only works if they program in adequate bag slots, etc.

What I've not seen in any game and would like to see is filtered auto pickup or for games with a crafting angle, pickup the crap item and immediately break it down into materials, "good items" not broken and down and just inventoried for later inspection, yadda yadda yadda.

e.g. Borderlands, pickup anything purple or better.

And whoever said multimonitor support, I doubly thumbs that waaaay up.

EvilShawnAndrich wrote:

For loot games, for god's sake, every single one should have auto pickup of everything. If I killed something and it drops something, if I go the other way, that loot should auto allocate into my bag instead of me walking over there and getting it.

This of course only works if they program in adequate bag slots, etc.

What I've not seen in any game and would like to see is filtered auto pickup or for games with a crafting angle, pickup the crap item and immediately break it down into materials, "good items" not broken and down and just inventoried for later inspection, yadda yadda yadda.

I seem to remember that WoW had something like that. Maybe not on the breaking down angle, but on auto-loot, you could choose to only grab yellows or reds...that sort of thing.

I've been playing Etrian Odyssey 3 lately and for and "old school" RPG the way they handle the save system is awesome. Only one save but you can "park" multiple characters that you aren't currently using and they can even gain a bit of xp when you play other characters. You can make a temp save when deep in the dungeon or a more solid permanent save when in town. If you do die (it happens) you still get to save your map information if you want.

All games should be easily moddable. We seem to be going backwards there, as the Great Game Cash Grab continues.

Path of Exile is full of these sort of refinements. The potion system alone is exceptional.

Edit: I should probably explain for those unfamiliar. Potions in Path of Exile are permanent items, they have bonuses and rarity like any item in an ARPG. You refill them by fighting monster (some potions may have a bonus to make them fill quicker, or they might fill through alternative triggers, like landing critical hits).

You can have up to 5 equipped at a time, bound to the 1 through 5 keys, later on you'll actually find yourself weighing up the pros and cons of different potions, with a very different set of parameters to usual ARPG items (potion capacity, charge rate, how much mana/health they restore, how quickly they restore health/mana). It's a really clever solution to the clunky potion mechanic you get in most RPGs.

SWAT 4 featured a nicely modeled enemy morale system. So if you breach-and-banged on a bunch of punk kids with pistols, they'd immediately surrender/run. More hardened bad guys would take cover, and keep shooting until you put them down. It was a wonderful little extra that I haven't seen in any games since, to my dismay, where every single enemy reacts like they're leading the Light Brigade, even if you've just brutally murdered the 49 other dudes they showed up with.

Also, for stealth games, especially modern ones, only the Batman games managed allow the badguys to genuinely communicate with each other, which was great because they'd actually seem like they were scared after a room of eight guys suddenly turned into two with no warning. I think this was most egregious in the last Splinter Cell game, where, despite the badguys having radios and checking in regularly, never seemed to care when their cohorts went on extended, unexplained, unannounced bathroom breaks.