Innovations and refinements that should be in more games

Prederick wrote:
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.

"Barks" as they're called are around in a fair few games, I know Thief does it. I don't think it's so much an uncommon thing, so much as it's not communicated to the player much, so it's either not obvious that they're on alert, or totally obvious that you've got a hunting guard next to a relaxed one and they're not communicating.

I wish more games would do it right, as it's a very natural way of knowing the game state, rather than having to use a crutch of UI or some voice in my ear.

I want games to start doing their initial loading while they play their logos rather than showing the logos and then loading. Start up sequences seem to be getting longer and longer, especially with servers to connect to. I realise there may be an issue with the smoothness of the short logo films if loading is happening at the same time but surely we must be getting close to it being possible.

I miss Steve Jobs and his obsession with keeping start up sequences as short as humanly possible.

Higgledy wrote:
I want games to start doing their initial loading while they play their logos rather than showing the logos and then loading. Start up sequences seem to be getting longer and longer, especially with servers to connect to. I realise there may be an issue with the smoothness of the short logo films if loading is happening at the same time but surely we must be getting close to it being possible.

I miss Steve Jobs and his obsession with keeping start up sequences as short as humanly possible.

It's a little unnerving how swiftly I'll find a game endearing if it has a fast boot. If I can be at gameplay very quickly, the likelihood of me actually starting it up increases by several orders of magnitude. I consider myself to be a patient man, but apparently not when it comes to unskippable logo trains and Press Start loading screens.

Take Dishonored for example: I'm in the game playing within 10 seconds, and that's honestly a big reason for why I spent 50+ hours on it.

Yes, if there's one thing I hate it's UI designers (for want of a better phrase here) jerking themselves off with intricate timewasting animations. The role of an UI is to let me do what I want to do as fast and efficiently as possible, if I know the button sequence, you better not make it slower to activate.

HUD customization. That's probably my single greatest refinement desire for all games. Let us disable/move elements, or, bare minimum, opacity fade the HUD. I've played quite a few games I've enjoyed that I ended up enjoying far less due to glowing, intrusive, and/or obnoxious HUD elements that couldn't be customized/disabled (FEAR 2 is the first one to spring to mind). Glowing objective indicators, distance to goal, enemy indicators, Hit indicators etc (those awful little x marks or similar that pop up on enemies in many FPS games you shoot to let you know you scored a hit. Those piss me off big time.), screen blood splatters, directional player-hit indicators. Let us turn all of that garbage off if we want to! If my health gets too low, I'll know because the camera turns sideways and I can't move any more. If I hear a dry click when I press the left mouse button, I'll know that I'm low on ammo/need to reload. And since it's an option, it would be the best case-scenario - those who want the extra visual feedback can have it! Heck, enable it by default! Those who don't - can disable it!

Puce Moose wrote:
HUD customization. That's probably my single greatest refinement desire for all games. Let us disable/move elements, or, bare minimum, opacity fade the HUD. I've played quite a few games I've enjoyed that I ended up enjoying far less due to glowing, intrusive, and/or obnoxious HUD elements that couldn't be customized/disabled (FEAR 2 is the first one to spring to mind). Glowing objective indicators, distance to goal, enemy indicators, Hit indicators etc (those awful little x marks or similar that pop up on enemies in many FPS games you shoot to let you know you scored a hit. Those piss me off big time.), screen blood splatters, directional player-hit indicators. Let us turn all of that garbage off if we want to! If my health gets too low, I'll know because the camera turns sideways and I can't move any more. If I hear a dry click when I press the left mouse button, I'll know that I'm low on ammo/need to reload. And since it's an option, it would be the best case-scenario - those who want the extra visual feedback can have it! Heck, enable it by default! Those who don't - can disable it!

Screen blood splatters can be done reasonably well but I generally dislike them. Especially if they obscure the screen too much at the very moment you want to see what the hell is going on. I realise it may be intended as added difficulty and realism but I enjoy close fights and trying to peer through a film of red kills the fun completely for me.

All the text notifications about how you are doing in your missions or head shot tallies should be removable as well. It's silly to go to endless trouble getting the lighting, textures and particle effects right only to kill hard won atmosphere with jolly notification boxes. Obviously, for some games, they work and I'm sure many gamers would rather have them there but the option to turn them off would be fantastic.

Also, while I'm at it :), 'go here' dots should be removable (or, ideally, never there in the first place.) I'm starting to hate those innocuous little dots with a passion. Oddly, I'm ok with indicators on my mini map but a dot in the game world, especially if it's to a rock six feet ahead of me, makes me feel I'm being directed and steered through an experience rather than playing it for myself.

Itsatrap wrote:
FPS - iron sights/scopes

I hate iron sights. Just another button press before shooting is useful. I know it's more 'realistic' but I don't care. It's adding complexity that just gets in my way.

BlackSabre wrote:
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.

To add to that, any game with collectibles needs to number them and display which ones you have collected.

Higgeldy and Puce, you should check out Firefall's in game HUG customization. You can move elements anywhere, resize them, turn on and off current resource amounts, adjust display time of messages, transparencies and even the visual style of energy / health bars. And it's still in closed beta with things being changed drastically (tons of people still have invites if you ask in the thread for it).

I think the problem with iron sights is that it's an almost magical zoom (well, less magical if it's a scope) and increase to accuracy. It kind of makes sense if you take marksmanship and holding the gun better into account, but the way it's presented is as an automatic 'better shooting', I don't think many games go into the depth required for it.

Scratched wrote:
I think the problem with iron sights is that it's an almost magical zoom (well, less magical if it's a scope) and increase to accuracy. It kind of makes sense if you take marksmanship and holding the gun better into account, but the way it's presented is as an automatic 'better shooting', I don't think many games go into the depth required for it.

Speaking of which, I can't remember the last time I heard of a game doing more damages zone modeling than just regular and headshot hits, and back in the day, a bunch of games (like Soldier of Fortune) were modeling arms, legs, body, head, and more.

Yeah, the GHOUL system.

I can see various production reasons why they wouldn't do that now, the main ones being gore rating, how much extra it costs to produce all the art for damage to various limbs and the technical side (Valve did a presentation on this for L4D), and how to communicate to the player what happened (shooting a guy in the hand/arm messes with their accuracy). I think a big(ger?) problem is the political one that "no one else is doing it, so why should we". Companies love to leave stuff out unless they really have to include it.

I can only really see it going in two ways, a really subtle detail that's expensive technically in design with little customer payoff, or an over the top gore-fest that brings "games are gruesome murder simulators" publicity. I don't think it would be noticed in a COD game or something like Bioshock Infinite, I think a first step to take towards location damage is changing the 'normal' combat you find in shooters. Come to think of it, System Shock2 would have been really interesting if enemies were tougher but you could cripple them in various ways.

The Torchlight dog. But, the idea should be expanded. I should not have to give things to the dog. The dog should look over all the loot piles and automatically pick things that have no hope of being useful to me and then go and sell them once in a while.

While we are at it, get rid of the whole inventory mini-game.

I'd also like Ubisoft to add to the library of dialog lines they record for NPCs reacting to stealth situations. The five that they recorded in 2002 are getting a bit worn out (hello Far Cry 3).

I'd like to see more games let you customize your protagonist's appearance (particularly race and gender!) like Mass Effect and Dragon Age. In some cases, this isn't artistically appropriate; but I think this is really nice, when possible, for a number of reasons.

psu_13 wrote:
The Torchlight dog. But, the idea should be expanded. I should not have to give things to the dog. The dog should look over all the loot piles and automatically pick things that have no hope of being useful to me and then go and sell them once in a while.

While we are at it, get rid of the whole inventory mini-game.


Yeah, been thinking this for a long time.

While playing Skyrim, I'm wondering why my adventurer in the middle of a dangerous dungeon would strip down to change into a new bit of armor they found, and why they would root around everything for little trinkets. Wouldn't they just tag a few things to pick up on the way out, or sell the location of a now-safe dungeon to scavengers to reclaim and give you a cut, and the rest work their way into the wider game economy. I like the idea of you personally having to choose one or two items to bag on your trip, although developers would probably formalise that into "there will be three or four worthwhile items, choose two".

I want games to encourage the player to keep playing through set backs or defeats more. When playing a strategy game there's a sort of tendency when you lose a war badly to just hit the quick load button, I'd like to see games that have a smart way of getting the player to follow more dangerous paths with the potential for failure, and to encourage a continuation of play in the case of failure. A good recent attempt I think was in Paradox's March of the Eagles. Your nation advances through idea points, which are accrued by fighting battles. The way it was setup was that losses actually awarded more points than wins, and the more crushing the loss the more points were given out. This encouraged the player to build off of a losing war, rather than reload. Another game it could work in is stealth games. Again, there is a tendency when you get discovered to instantly reload as soon as you are discovered, rather than try to deal with the enemy. Dishonored I think did well in giving the player a selection of skills that could augment sneaking as well as combat. This meant that even if the player was discovered by 3 or 4 enemies they could put them down quickly enough and the whole level wouldn't be automatically alerted to the player's presence.

Tunnel_SnakeOG wrote:
I want games to encourage the player to keep playing through set backs or defeats more.

This is a flip side I think to everyone wanting a 'good' save system, or insisting on quicksaves every 5 seconds. Saves should be about preserving progress, not a safety net for every time end up slightly worse off. Regenerating health helps here I think in a way similar to escaping in Thief and waiting for the guards to reset, it gives the player another route back into the challenge, it's something the developer actually has to think about though rather than just the one way they intend their game to be played.