Unless there's some huge conspiracy going on at every major studio in the world that I don't know about, then I think its pretty safe to assume that all video games are designed by humans. Maybe one lizard man, I don't know. The point is that humans make mistakes or just tend to ignore the obvious flaws in certain aspects of their work.
These decisions usually just end up as aggravating aspects in otherwise great games, but that doesn't mean I hate them any less for existing in the first place. We're living in a world where games are now capable of almost anything you can imagine, so why are we still seeing these same old things appear in so many games?
Barriers That Aren't Actually Barriers At All
I understand that our game worlds can't be endless. Technology has made some huge leaps and bounds, but we're nowhere near capable of infinite (or nearly infinite) game worlds to explore. But that doesn't excuse some of the barriers you'll find in random games. It could just be a lack of attention was paid during these hours of game design, but things can get ridiculous quick.
No. It isn't.
In Silent Hill: Homecoming, you play as Alex Sheperd, a special forces soldier who returns home to find most of his family is missing. This leads him on a journey through Silent Hill that will unravel his psyche and reveal the horrible truth behind his family's disappearance once and for all.
Also Alex can't hop over waist high fences or blockades. Many times throughout the game Alex will be presented with impassable obstacles such as a pile of rocks, an over turned car, and many other three foot tall obstructions. Remember he's a freaking member of the special forces. He's trained for combat and extremely physical tasks.
Despite this, he has to backtrack all over town just to find a path that doesn't have something lying in front of him. Even if the main character was an average person with no military experience, you would expect them to be able to hop a waist high fence while they're being chased by a bag of skin that spits acid. I understand Silent Hill needs to have barriers; just don't make them look like minor inconveniences instead of actual blocked paths.
Looks like we're trapped.
And as an added bonus of "Come on, what were you thinking!?" - here's a door in Fallout 3 with a super hard-to-break lock. Watch out! You'll never get through there.
Getting A Game Over Because The Main Character Died
I haven't played a whole lot of the newer RPGs on the market right now so I'm not entirely sure just how many games are still affected by this design decision, but just one is enough to make me stare angrily into space for a few seconds. When a team member dies in an RPG, you get a chance to bring them back and continue on fighting.
When you die in an RPG game, it's over. You have to reload your save or start over from the beginning of the fight. This can be exceptionally annoying in an RPG because you're only likely to be beaten by the big boss fights. You know, the ones where the boss has six forms, a billion hit points and the ability to kill you instantly.
They were all secretly waiting for Yu to die so they could go home I guess
One game that I've been playing recently that does this is Persona 4. Any of my teammates can die and be brought back, but if the main character goes down - its over. Despite having a healer in my team, there is just nothing that can be done and it annoys me to no end. I don't die often since I tend to over-level but that doesn't mean the design should just stick around.
In other news, Final Fantasy finally got the memo with Final Fantasy XIII-2. I was rather far into the game without a single death so it was rather surprising when a boss knocked out Serah only for Noel to become the party leader. I used a spell to bring Serah back and I was right back into the fight as easy as that. I'm sure the old death mechanic will still be in Persona 4: Golden, but there's always Persona 5, right?
Blocking Exploration For No Reason
I can praise Final Fantasy and bash it in the same breath. While not exactly prevalent in Final Fantasy XIII-2 thanks to the time travel aspect (a huge mistake story wise; you never involve time travel unless you can get it to make sense, and Final Fantasy XIII-2 did not make sense of most anything.), the game that came before it was rife with missed chances.
People bash Final Fantasy XIII for having a very rigid game world. You were practically walking down a straight path the whole game. Randomly your path would break into two or three different directions. This meant that one of these paths had an item to find that could make your journey easier.
JUST LET ME GO BACK AND SEARCH THAT AREA, PLEASE!
The problem was that the odds of finding the item was essentially a coin flip. If you chose the wrong path - BAM, you've moved on to the next area and you can't go back to see where the other path led. Usually you would end up finding the item because the special path was obvious, but later on in the game it boiled down to going left or right with no indications of where the item would be.
Of course you should be rewarded for going out of your way to find secrets, but this wasn't how it was at all. You knew there was an extra path from the moment you looked at the map, you just weren't sure of which path would push the story forward or which path would give you an item. That's not exploration at all.
Rockstar Games' Controls Are Crazy
Red Dead Redemption was a pretty great game with some awesome DLC packs. I bought it and loved it. But my god, the controls at times were just too much. I don't mean just making your way around the map. I'm talking about all the big shootout sequences peppered throughout the game's massive story.
Jokes on him. Red Dead Redemption isn't on the PC.
More often than not, a shootout would become a chase. You would hop on your horse, catch up to them, take out their gang members and then ultimately kill them. Sure it was fun, but let me break down why I hated it so much at first. You pull out your gun with L2, your fire with R2, you steer with the left stick, you aim with the right stick, and you move by pressing X.
That's at least one more button than it should be. You can do all these things together obviously, nobody would have beaten the game if we couldn't. But every single time someone jumped on a horse, I knew it would be a chore going after them. I'm sure it'll be better in GTA V seeing as you can use our car as a weapon, but in Red Dead Redemption you never had the option to ram a horse off the rode with your horse.
Buildings Only Exist To Take Up Space
Again, this goes back to that whole part about me saying games can't have endless open worlds just yet. You play games like Grand Theft Auto and Sleeping Dogs where you're in a huge living breathing city only to find that most of the buildings you see are permanently closed off to all of humanity.
Really wish I could have gotten in that barn
I can deal with this because of the whole "no way you can build an entire city with today's technology." But then there's the ARMA 2 mod, DayZ. You start off with nothing but a flash light and some bandages and the knowledge that you're probably going to die within the next few minutes. I like that sort of stuff. There's a real challenge to push through just to survive.
What i don't like, however, is when I find a small town with a few houses and only one of the houses is actually real. The reason is all of the houses look similar. There is no indication that the door you're sneaking up to won't open when you reach it. So for five houses, you're putting yourself out into the open and in danger four times in a row for nothing. In a game where one mistake can kill you, it is incredibly annoying to get yourself killed because someone thought it would be wise to paint a door on the wall.
Game developers are making progress. Fewer and fewer games are making use of these archaic design choices and making games better because of it. While there is still a long road ahead, things are looking better than ever for me, the nitpicker. Are there things in certain games that just annoy you to death? Why not talk about them in the comments below? Thanks for reading!