Posted by yeah_write (219 posts) -

From movies and music to friends and food, our tastes change as we get older. Games are no exception. Looking back over the last few years, I can see a change in my tastes and interests, especially after I became a father. While I still love to play all kinds of games—minus strategy sims, sports and most JRPGs—I find myself gravitating towards games with the following features:

EASY MODE

Back when I had more time, I always played games on normal because I wanted to play them the way the developer intended. Now unless I’m reviewing the game or I’m in the mood for more of a challenge (played Mass Effect 3 on hard my first time through, thank you very much), I play games on easy. It’s great for story-based games. For example, the other month I went back to Uncharted 2, put it on Easy and then turned on Infinite Ammo and One Shot Kills. The pacing was perfect! The gunfights were just long enough to be fun, but not long enough to be tedious. I could still die if I was too sloppy, but it wasn’t likely. It was more like playing a movie than it was the first time on normal without cheats.

PAUSABLE CUTSCENES

This needs to become an industry standard. Most of my gaming these days takes place after the baby is in bed, but I do get to play a bit on the weekends and I appreciate the ability to pause cutscenes. The worst part is figuring out if a game has them: Do I press the A button? Maybe Start? Oops, just skipped that cutscene, hope it wasn’t important.

HELPFUL MAPS

The glowing trails in Fable 2 and 3, the on-road GPS in Saints Row, the icon explosion of Assassin’s Creed’s maps, the “Go here, kill this” marker in Skyrim—all of these are good things. They help me get to where I need to go quickly, but also give me the chance to explore if I feel like it. I hate getting lost in a game, it’s not fun. That is why I stopped playing Fez.

SAVE ANYWHERE

I’m hoping old school end-of-level save points will eventually be left behind. You can already see it happening. Most games are littered with autosave checkpoints, quick saves, and/or the ability to create multiple save files. PC games have been doing this forever. It’s about time everyone gets on board.

GOOD INVENTORY AND MENU MANAGEMENT

User Interface design is so important in games. The Skyrim UI is beautiful, but not the best organized (there are mods for that though). I want to play a game, not fiddle around in menus. I usually hold off on mods so I can experience the game as intended, but if there’s a UI or inventory mod that removes encumbrance and/or organizes things more sensibly, I get it immediately. I was one of the few people that preferred the systems in Dragon Age 2. I feel like half of my 50+ hours in Dragon Age Origins was spent in menu screens, outfitting each party member, comparing stats and managing my carry weight. Why do games have encumbrance limits anyway? For realism? If that was the case, I shouldn’t be able to carry around 25 wheels of cheese.

Those are just a few of the features I appreciate more now than I did a few years ago. Looking at them together, they’re all things that make games more accessible. Easier for someone with a wife and baby, a full-time job, a dog that needs walking and a ton of freelance art and writing work to do. Back in college, I would have gladly pulled out a paper and pencil and deciphered the mysteries of Fez. Now I’m lucky to game for more than an hour and a half at a time, the features above help me make progress. What are some of the little features in games you appreciate? How have they changed?

#1 Posted by yeah_write (219 posts) -

From movies and music to friends and food, our tastes change as we get older. Games are no exception. Looking back over the last few years, I can see a change in my tastes and interests, especially after I became a father. While I still love to play all kinds of games—minus strategy sims, sports and most JRPGs—I find myself gravitating towards games with the following features:

EASY MODE

Back when I had more time, I always played games on normal because I wanted to play them the way the developer intended. Now unless I’m reviewing the game or I’m in the mood for more of a challenge (played Mass Effect 3 on hard my first time through, thank you very much), I play games on easy. It’s great for story-based games. For example, the other month I went back to Uncharted 2, put it on Easy and then turned on Infinite Ammo and One Shot Kills. The pacing was perfect! The gunfights were just long enough to be fun, but not long enough to be tedious. I could still die if I was too sloppy, but it wasn’t likely. It was more like playing a movie than it was the first time on normal without cheats.

PAUSABLE CUTSCENES

This needs to become an industry standard. Most of my gaming these days takes place after the baby is in bed, but I do get to play a bit on the weekends and I appreciate the ability to pause cutscenes. The worst part is figuring out if a game has them: Do I press the A button? Maybe Start? Oops, just skipped that cutscene, hope it wasn’t important.

HELPFUL MAPS

The glowing trails in Fable 2 and 3, the on-road GPS in Saints Row, the icon explosion of Assassin’s Creed’s maps, the “Go here, kill this” marker in Skyrim—all of these are good things. They help me get to where I need to go quickly, but also give me the chance to explore if I feel like it. I hate getting lost in a game, it’s not fun. That is why I stopped playing Fez.

SAVE ANYWHERE

I’m hoping old school end-of-level save points will eventually be left behind. You can already see it happening. Most games are littered with autosave checkpoints, quick saves, and/or the ability to create multiple save files. PC games have been doing this forever. It’s about time everyone gets on board.

GOOD INVENTORY AND MENU MANAGEMENT

User Interface design is so important in games. The Skyrim UI is beautiful, but not the best organized (there are mods for that though). I want to play a game, not fiddle around in menus. I usually hold off on mods so I can experience the game as intended, but if there’s a UI or inventory mod that removes encumbrance and/or organizes things more sensibly, I get it immediately. I was one of the few people that preferred the systems in Dragon Age 2. I feel like half of my 50+ hours in Dragon Age Origins was spent in menu screens, outfitting each party member, comparing stats and managing my carry weight. Why do games have encumbrance limits anyway? For realism? If that was the case, I shouldn’t be able to carry around 25 wheels of cheese.

Those are just a few of the features I appreciate more now than I did a few years ago. Looking at them together, they’re all things that make games more accessible. Easier for someone with a wife and baby, a full-time job, a dog that needs walking and a ton of freelance art and writing work to do. Back in college, I would have gladly pulled out a paper and pencil and deciphered the mysteries of Fez. Now I’m lucky to game for more than an hour and a half at a time, the features above help me make progress. What are some of the little features in games you appreciate? How have they changed?

#2 Posted by habster3 (3600 posts) -

I love all of that stuff too.

For me, the main little thing I look for in games is, strangely enough, beautiful blood and gore effects. In my opinion, it just enhances the graphics and maybe even the experience. While some games with darker, more realistic blood effects (Metal Gear Solid 4, for example) look great that way, others like the Uncharted series and Max Payne 3 just benefit from the colorful flying hemoglobin. Maybe I'm just sick, but that's what I like in video games.

#3 Posted by SexyToad (2722 posts) -

I like games that can keep me entertain for a while. Such as minecraft. I like games that has like a sandbox mode, once again like minecraft or Halo. Halo has the forge mode that I really like. I guess wow goes under the category of games that would keep me entertain for a while as well since its really long.

#4 Posted by Sparky_Buzzsaw (6398 posts) -

Good maps are becoming a must for me. As much as I enjoy the Witcher 2, the quest icon being so damn small makes it a really frustrating game at times. I also enjoy the many, many helpful options in games like Forza 4, where I can decide if I want to have a guided line to follow, assistance with turns, that sort of thing. I think that should be standard in all sim racing games to come.

One big thing I liked about Gran Turismo 5 was a zoom button in the menus. Text too small? Just hit L2 (or whatever) and you get a zoomed in look at whatever you want. I wish that was standard in every video game, period. For those of us with low vision, the shittiest part of this generation of games has been the tiny text that has seemingly become the industry standard.

Moderator
#5 Posted by yeah_write (219 posts) -

@Sparky_Buzzsaw: I agree about the Witcher 2 map. Yes, Geralts bobbing hair looks cool, but I don't want to stare at it longer than I need to because I couldn't find my objective. It's funny how accessibility can sometimes be a dirty word to gamers. I love it. Whatever makes it easier for me to enjoy is better. But I understand that the enjoyment for some people is figuring it all out. I played Demon's Souls before I had a kid and I sunk maybe 9 hours into it. About 3 of those hours was spent on GameFAQs trying to understand what the crap I was doing. Unfortunately I went out of town for a week and when I got back, I had forgotten what I was doing in that game, and I had no desire to dig back into the forums to figure it out. A quest list and a proper pause menu would have helped, but then it wouldn't be Demon's Souls.

#6 Posted by Veektarius (5024 posts) -

I guess what I like most in a game is having open areas I can wander around and dick about in. It makes things so much more immersive to me, somehow, when after an intense mission I say to myself "I need a break", but I can actually take the break while still playing the game. Maybe this doesn't count, I dunno.

#7 Posted by High_Nunez (214 posts) -

I don't know if this counts, but what comes to mind now isn't mechanical but stylistic. In Fallout 3 & New Vegas when you'd start a new quest, and you would hear the crackling, hissing static sound, and the title of the quest would slowly fade on-screen. It's not integral, but I like it when games have nice a presentation, and inspired stylistic choices.

#8 Posted by yeah_write (219 posts) -

@Veektarius: I get that. Sometimes you’re “done” with the intense mission stuff, but you don’t really want to be done with the game world. It’s nice to have other things to do while you’re there. That’s part of what made Skyrim so successful. I must have spent a good 20 hours dicking around before getting even halfway through the main quest.

#9 Posted by Sparky_Buzzsaw (6398 posts) -

I like that games like Demon's Souls exist, but much like you, I got about ten hours into Dark Souls (I know it's not the same, but...) and couldn't do it. I just don't want my gaming to feel like masochism, although I get the appeal of that level of difficulty for some gamers. For me though, I don't think putting in an easier difficulty setting or options for accessibility dumbs down the game if the game developers keep the more brutal difficulties intact for gamers who want that sort of experience. Getting back to Forza 4, I love that it's as accessible as you want it to be, and if you genuinely want to become a better driver in it, you HAVE to drive without some of the assists on, because without them, you're limiting yourself to what the AI has determined is best for you. The EXP and cash bonuses for driving without assists are a great carrot-on-a-stick for getting better, too.

Moderator
#10 Posted by Hizang (8532 posts) -

Thats stuffs all great, pause able cutscenes are amazing. I love the Metal Gear Solid series but god damn some of them are long, I was always halfway through one when my mom shouts out we need to go now!

#11 Posted by impartialgecko (1689 posts) -

Nice looking UI, the ability to change difficulties without having to restart your game, a New game+ that lets you take the previous playthrough's unlocks into the higher difficulty, a big head mode because video games and some way to check achievements/trophies without having to bring up the console interface.

#12 Posted by RandomInternetUser (6789 posts) -

It's not really a "feature" but I really appreciate games with gun "authenticity."

Walking Dead Episode 1 SPOILERS ahead:

For example, in the final moments of Walking Dead Ep 1 when you have to save Doug or Carley, it is impossible that Carley doesn't have a round in the chamber to shoot the zombie that is holding her ankle. For one, the slide isn't locked back (like it would be after firing all the rounds in her magazine, but say she for whatever reason pressed the slide release after running empty:) but ignoring that, you give her the magazine and she puts it in the gun and is able to fire without putting a round in the chamber first (by cocking the slide.) So she already had a bullet to kill that zombie that was holding her. I know it's severe knit-picking but it cheapened that moment for me just a little bit.

#13 Edited by pyromagnestir (4339 posts) -

I'm always too scared to see if a game has pauseable cutscenes.

I like when a game has stylized menus that move or something like that but are also still totally functional. Final Fantasy 13's character things that did a brief animation when loading up were cool. Escape from Butcher Bay's big rotating square also struck me as really cool. Metroid Prime 2's start up menu was pretty neat. Fallout 3's Pip Boy menu was also good.

That's a little touch which seems to stand out to me.

Oh another one I like is when games have an in fiction reason for making the game harder or easier, like Bastion with it's Shrine stuff and stuff like that.

#14 Posted by yeah_write (219 posts) -

@pyromagnestir: I get nervous seeing if you can pause cutscenes too. I've found that on Xbox, if you hit the guide button or detach the battery pack, it will often pause the cutscene. That can be risky too though. Sometimes the cutscene will just keep playing out underneath the Xbox Guide box.

#15 Posted by BitterAlmond (400 posts) -

I agree with everything you said to the enth degree, except Easy Mode. I look for a Hard Mode that the developers actually played, and didn't just double every number from the last difficulty. I love hard games, and if that means playing them for longer than if I had picked easy, then so be it.