MLB 2K12: Can I Get Some Animations in Player Creation?

In the last article, I talked about how the realistic use of animations in MLB 2K12 makes the game take way too long to play. While the animations are pretty, after you see them once or twice it’s easy to realize that they don’t offer the player any lasting benefit. This time, I’m here to tell you that in another case, the lack of animation causes a serious usability problem in MLB 2K12.

When creating a player, there are all kinds of things you can customize – the equipment they use, what color socks they wear, and all manner of things about your pro-to-be’s body shape. As I was building the San Diego Padres’ next superstar closer, I was excited to see the detailed controls for customizing the player’s face – there are two two-dimensional sliders that you control with both of your controller’s thumbsticks. That’s a serious control for some seriously detailed customization. But take a look at what happens when you’re adjusting these sliders:  Continue reading

MLB 2K12: Annoyingly Realistic Animation

Among the major sports, baseball is unique in that it isn’t governed by a time clock. Football (both American football and soccer), basketball, hockey, all of those games are done when the referee sees the clock tick down to zero. In baseball, you get 27 outs, and sometimes more. Depending on your point of view, that can be a good or bad thing. Regardless though, it’s part of the reason baseball is often called a “slow” game, with real life games clocking in at an average of nearly 3 hours.

MLB 2K12, another iteration of 2K Sports’ annual baseball sim, does a pretty great job at capturing the “essence” of major league baseball. That also means it can take forever to play a game. Mostly, I blame this on the annoyingly realistic way the batter and pitcher take their sweet time between pitches. Continue reading

Mass Effect 3: Blindly Upgrading Weapons

The weapon system has gone through a number of changes in the Mass Effect series.  In the first game, there were just so many weapons that you picked up along the way, managing them all was ridiculous. Not to mention trying to make a well informed decision about what you should be using. The disaster of that game’s inventory is well documented  elsewhere (my favorite is at, but suffice to say it wasn’t good.

In Mass Effect 2, they solved the problems from the first game by essentially getting rid of the whole thing. I’m not sure I ever changed my weapons in the entirety of Mass Effect 2 – that’s how much they got rid of the system. Fair enough.

So in Mass Effect 3, BioWare got back into the swing of things a little bit with a small amount of weapon customization and upgrading. Continue reading

Mass Effect 3: Keeping Track of Fetch Quests

Ah, fetch quests. The bane of RPG enthusiasts everywhere. Basically, a fetch quest is a device in a game where a character tells you “hey, go get me this thing”. So you go get the thing and bring it back to them, probably with some amount of drama along the way. It’s usually annoying, and usually unfulfilling for the gamer. The good news is that most of the time, fetch quests are only optional diversions as side quests to the main story.

While sometimes you can do your best to dress up a fetch quest so the player thinks they are doing something worthwhile, Mass Effect 3 doesn’t even try. But really, that’s not even why we’re talking about them here on that game’s ux. The problem is that Mass Effect 3 gives the player a huge number of fetch quests at once, then doesn’t offer much of a way to keep track of the quest’s progress. Continue reading

Mass Effect 3: Hiding Loading Screens, or Just Wasting My Time?

I’ve been working my way through Mass Effect 3 on the XBox 360 the last couple of weeks, and it’s interesting to see how Bioware has continued to evolve the interface of these games over the course of the series. Something I’ve noticed in the game is either a clever way to reduce loading times or an irritating obstacle to moving around on the Normandy. When going from the tech labs to the galaxy map, you enter a tiny room with two other members of the crew, and you get scanned for about 10 seconds before being allowed to proceed. Check out this video example: Continue reading