I may have to ask this dwarf for directions, but he looks pretty angry…
Nobody likes getting lost, let’s be honest. It’s frustrating, because there’s usually somewhere else that you’d rather be, and unless you happen to be lost on a beach in Hawaii somewhere, you just want to get to your destination. Even worse is when you keep ending up going in circles – at least if you’re seeing new territory, it feels like progress is being made.
Being lost isn’t any more fun in video games. Last week I talked about how Dice Poker in The Witcher 2 features a UI that is an exercise in needless frustration. The Witcher 2 makes another appearance on that game’s ux this week because the game makes it nearly impossible to figure out where you’re going. And there’s not even anybody that you can ask for directions.
Ah, minigames in RPGs. There have been a lot of classic minigames over the years that introduce really random tiny games into otherwise unrelated titles. Probably my favorite was the Triple Triad game back in Final Fantasy VIII – a simple collectable card game, but oh-so addicting. Final Fantasy actually has a long history of random minigames that can suck up a lot of your time while not really having anything to do with saving the world.
Gambling minigames are relatively common in any game that has you amassing a fortune. Yakuza 4 might be the king of minigames, and it has no shortage of ways to separate you from your hard-earned cash. But onto business – the most recent game I’ve been playing is The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings for the XBox 360. It features, among other things, a little dice poker minigame that lets you earn credits (Orens in this game) by beating your friends. For such a simple concept, it somehow manages to get nearly everything wrong. Here are five ways that dice poker in The Witcher 2 has an absolutely terrible interface.
World maps are a standard-issue feature in games of all kinds of genres, and have been for a long time. In many games the map is a critical feature, and gamers are constantly flipping to it in order to avoid getting lost. For PC gamers, this is usually straightforward – there are a lot of keyboard keys available to enable direct access to the map.
Gamers playing on a console don’t have it quite as easy. In fact, sometimes it’s downright hard to figure out where you’re going. Let’s talk about three different patterns console games have used for getting players to the map screen:
Directly access the map
Use a status menu
Use the pause menu
Of course, not that we needed to ask for directions…
As previouslymentioned, NHL 12 has some usability issues. For a game of its scope, maybe that’s not unexpected. There are a lot of menus to sift through for sim-heavy parts of the game like the Be a GM mode. But being able to change what players are on what line shouldn’t be that hard. It’s been in every hockey game since the beginning of time (probably). Unfortunately, NHL 12 manages to be terrible in a lot of ways on this one screen. Continue reading →
Title screens. Nearly every console and PC game has one. Back in the arcades, the title screen was the tollbooth of the highway of gaming bliss. But with a game that you’ve already purchased, what is the title screen really doing for us these days? And a better question, why do a lot of games delay loading content until after the title screen?