It may seem to be common sense to have intuitive features that can accommodate the large audience of players the game industry caters to. But there are times when design choice or game options seem to be counter intuitive or limiting. Sometimes a developer may have an option in an earlier title that has been removed in a newer title. Depending on the option it can ostracize a number of the player base. Below I would like to discuss various game options and how they should be standardized across the gaming industry. Even something that seems to be common sense is something that can be overlooked by the best developers.
The Camera controls at times can make or break a game experience. Sometimes a wonky camera or a poorly coordinated player will die from bad camera options. An adjustable zoom should be a standard feature especially with a free rotation or even a fixed isometric camera, but this is not the case in some games. Specifically, many hardcore PC gamers called for an isometric view on the first Dragon Age. With the free rotation camera comes another option that is overlooked, that being an independent x-axis and y-axis inversion. Is it so hard to be able to change one without changing the other, I have seen so many cases where a developer will have an option to either have both inverted at the same time but never separate the planes. Camera sensitivity seems like common sense, but there are games that forget about that omit an aim/zoom screen where players can adjust the sensitivity accordingly.
We all love a good sound track and dialogue in games. There comes times when the beautiful background music drowns out the voice overs or a sound effect becomes so repetitive it breaks immersion. A master sound option with separate music, sound effects and voice volume options does wonders. That is when the master volume controls works and you can hear the voice actor’s voice over even the lowest setting of the sound effects. I’ve played through games needing subtitles even with this option. Another option that would help with games especially with the prevalance of bluetooth head sets is a stereo or mono option, maximizing the sound experience dependent on if it is coming out of 1 ear bud or 2. I know some games can sound down right creepy in surround sound on a head set.
We all love our pretty graphics and cutscenes. Games should come with advanced graphics settings. If there is an option that can be changed, such as resolution, refresh rate, antialiasing, smoothing, etc. there should be an option to adjust it. An option that is an offshoot but still goes hand in hand with this would be a setting for Windowed or Fullscreen mode, multiscreen mode, customizable game menus such as mobile window, variable window opacity and colors. Obviously these previous options are mostly aesthetic and are mostly for the eye candy of a game. Another feature that should be standard on both PC and Consoles is an option to have a visible or invisible HUD as well as custom HUD positioning. Finally from the whole list of visual options an important yet so often overlooked feature would be having a colorblind and visually impaired setting, which is a feature I feel speaks for itself.
So many gamers complain about the controls of a game, and often there are times they feel the button mapping wasn’t done well. A lot of games have alternate preset controls and even custom button mapping. I think developers have advanced enough to make this feature standard, especially as the complexity of games has increased. Gamers today are given many more button action options than ever before and are often asked to combine these button presses to perform further options. With every player unique, the tools should be customizable to their needs. Also an optional left handed button layout wouldn’t hurt. Give some acknowledgement to all the lefties who get no love with games being right hand dominant.
Other Features or Settings
In this part I’ll cover miscellaneous settings or features that are pretty much standardized. Subtitles as mentioned in the part on sound is very important for poor voice work the hearing impaired or those who need to play games on low volume; an option to have them in every game that has dialogue or cutscenes is all that’s asked. Speaking of cutscenes, every scene should be skippable including the opening and ending credits. Autosave does wonders for the gamer whether they are a power leveler or lazy, yet I’d still like an option to turn it on or off. The same can be said for a tutorial, they should all be optional or skippable. If I am playing a game with no new game plus I get sick of seeing the same tutorial and just want to play. With the beginning of a game in mind let me take a moment and say that in character creation it would be nice to be able to save created custom characters as a preset. Moving on, minimaps should be toggle on/off and be able to use custom markers or indicators. Something that has seen an uptick and would be a great option for games that could be unlocked after beating the game is a Sandbox Mode. So many players have put cheats into GTA or the Sims, so why not have a whole unlockable mode dedicated to it. Player created content support is also a great feature that only a few games support, and I would love to see it more standardized.
This is the home stretch. There are online features that make the game easier to communicate with other players such as support for voice or text chat between your party. Furthermore if you have a loud home or hate the sound of your voice, there should be quick dialogue with commands and smart or common terms to message other players. If a message doesn’t work in the game there could be an indicator ping accompanying the command. Games that have lock on or targeting should show an indicator informing a player they have been targeted. Finally optional cross region play should be standard. The world has gotten smaller through gaming and with internet speeds improving everywhere latency is becoming less of an issue. Let us play with our friends from across the planet! A more farfetched wish than expectation would make multiplatform games playable cross platform.
If these options were standardized in all games it would make picking up a new game that much easier for a gamer, even ones the most set in their ways and many if not all of these do not require a lot of time to implement. If I’m allowing myself to really dream I would love to see intuitive AI enemies and companions, I want to be able to see 2 NPCs duel and never know the outcome or to have offline gamers get to feel as much unpredictability as online gamers. But that’s a problem for the technology of the future. In the meantime I’ll be happy with just a few tweaks!
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