Our newest game, Avernum: Escape From the Pit, has reached Release Candidate status. This means that we've made a version that seems complete and ready to sell, and we are touching it as little as possible while beta testers spend one more week trying to break it.
This means that I have a very, very important job: Doing nothing. Don't touch the app. Hands off. Anything I change has a chance of breaking something. So I'm spending this week catching up on my game-playing.
(I also made a really spiffy trailer for Avernum. Turns out, there's this site called YouTube. Who knew?)
This has given me a precious chance to find new pet peeves to complain about. And isn't that what blogs are for?
I Need To Drop Three Pounds Of Gloves So That I Can Walk Again
Of course, like everyone else in the world, our house has Skyrim-fever. As you may have heard, it's a good game.
But, like all RPGs Bethesda makes, you spend sooooo much time sorting through items. Looting the dungeons takes ten times longer than killing the monsters within. And you can only carry so many pounds of treasure. So every item you find requires tiresome "Is this hide shield worth enough money to justify the weight. OK. It weighs eight pounds and is worth 20 coins, or 2.5 coins per pound, so that is an efficient piece of treasure to pick up and ... AHHHH. MY BRAINS!!!!!" And then you pick up one suit of armor too many and you have to drop two pounds of stuff so you go through your pack to find something top drop and ...
Does anyone ever find this fun?
This is one of those things that gets hardcore gamerz mad at me, but screw realism. In my newest games, I give the player a Junk Bag. You can put infinite items in it, their weight isn't counted, and, when you reach a store, you can push a button to sell everything in it.
This is great for people who find even the awesome Dog Takes Your Stuff Back To Town To Sell It system in Torchlight too taxing.
It's the opposite of realism, and I really don't care. When I design a game, the first thing I do is decide what I want the player to spend most of his/her time doing. Hopefully, that part is where the fun is. The second thing I do is minimize time spent doing absolutely everything else.
If I can keep even one player from spending a hour picking through his or her backpack and trying to shed those three extra pounds, I have done my good work as a citizen of the Earth.
I Did Those Jumps In 61 Seconds Instead Of 59, So I Should Totally Be Punished.
In any game with a lot of jumping on platforms, it seems like a legal requirement that there has to be at least one room with a timed sequence. You're at the bottom of some shaft with sheer walls and a tunnel at the top. You push a button. Ledges slide out of the walls. And then you hear that accursed, stress-inducing ticking that lets you know that you have to get to the top quickly, or not at all.
"Tick. Tick. Tick. TICK. TICK. TICK. TICKTICKTICKTICKTICK. [Sound of ledges sliding back into walls.] [Sound of you falling to earth, swearing all the way.]"
Is there anyone, anywhere, who pushes that button, hears the telltale ticking sound, and thinks, "This is so AWESOME!"
This isn't fun. Here is why. Gaining a heroic skill (Fighting. Leaping.) is fun. Using that skill is fun. Perfecting a skill is far less fun. Repeating a series of jumps until you can do them perfectly is even less fun than that.
There. I Feel Better.
Very therapeutic. Now I can finish my game in peace.
Also, I was going to write about how every shooter now has you go down one long corridor with no branches (or alternate paths to victory, or variety), but this design trend is contemptible enough to deserve its own post. I just need time for my blood to get more angry.