Breaking the Laws of Physics with Menus in MLB 2K12

In a recent blog post, I talked about how MLB 2K12 takes way too long due to some very realistic ballpark animations. The best way to shorten your game is to turn on “hurry up mode” – basically, it’s like the game is constantly pressing the A button for you to skip the animations (think of the wear and tear on your controller!)

I could think of less awkward ways for the game to speed things along, but that’s not the point of this post. The point is, the menu option where you pick hurry up mode acts really strangely if you aren’t paying close attention to what’s going on. It’s not ever a good idea to break the laws of physics, and I’d say that’s especially true in a game’s menu system.

An image of the menu showing Game Flow among other options

Here’s the problem: when selecting hurry up mode, there are three other options that aren’t available anymore. Action Replays (a TV-style instant replay), Pitch Analyzer (while pitching it gives the player more detail on how well or poorly the last pitch was thrown), and Swing Analyzer (while batting, a small slo-mo replay shows if the last swing was early or late).

So if you pick hurry-up mode, none of these options are available, and I think that’s a reasonable tradeoff – it doesn’t really make sense to keep them enabled. My beef with it is how the game presents the player with this tradeoff. Here’s a quick video to show you how it actually works:

This fails in two major ways.

  1. One setting (Game Flow) controls the availability of three more (Action Replays, Pitch Analyzer, and Swing Analyzer). However, the settings appear to be in random order. This is easily fixed – reorganize the controls so Game Flow is the first one in the set, then put the other three underneath. That simple change makes this make a lot more sense.
  2. When hurry up mode is selected, the three other controls can’t be changed anymore. But the game doesn’t make any indication that they are disabled – the player just taps to the right or left and nothing changes. Another easy fix – just make those controls look disabled.

Users have their expectations set that menu options that look available should be available, just like the expectation that if I dropped an apple, it would fall straight down. So don’t break the laws of physics in your UI, because your users expectations should always be correct!