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Attention to Detail - The Little Things That Make Great Games

By Edited Nov 13, 2013 5 7

With all the innovation that gaming companies are trying to shove down the throats of gamers these days, sometimes they forget to take the time to make sure all those little things we love are also placed in the games. Sometimes we do not even realize that we miss these little things until we find that they are not in the games we are trying to play.

However, like the lover we were meant to be with, we miss them when they are gone.

Brightness Adjustment

We know that game artists take their time making their worlds as beautiful and detailed as possible, but if the game is too dark to enjoy them, then what is the point. Even if the darkness is setting a creepy ambiance, there should always be an option to adjust the brightness.

Whether it's just because we want to enjoy the game world, or we are playing something like Amnesia: The Dark Descent and we want to be able to see what is around us as much as possible so we do not pee our pants in utter fear.

If we are forced to instead adjust the brightness on our television or computer monitor instead, you have failed your fan base. It is especially frustrating when you are playing two games and have to adjust and readjust the brightness each time you switch.

Skippable Tutorials

Games keep getting more complex with their controls, and with this comes even long tutorials. We get that you want us to get the most out of a game, but making us sit through tutorials for thirty minutes is frustrating. It is best to just make them skippable so we can make our own mistakes. Like in Final Fantasy 10, I completely skipped through the sphere grid tutorial and did not use it until I got to Djose Temple.

I thought Final fantasy 10 was amazingly hard until I figured that out, but it was my own fault and I regret nothing!

If a player really needs to know what they are doing, then at least integrate the tutorials into the game play like they did with The Witcher and The Witcher 2. Gamers do not want to have to stop their game play experience to read a bunch of boring text.

Good Autosaving

A good autosave system is a must these days. Especially if the game is particularly hard. A good autosave system means saving when entering a new area, after a load screen, after you level up or allocate skill points, or after a cutscene. Of course, players should still have the option of being able to manually save if they want to, but it should not be a necessity.

A good autosave system ideally will make it so the only time a player needs to manually save is when they are done playing. The player should not be penalized by replaying a half an hour worth of content because they forgot to save before the last boss of a dungeon.

Pausing Cutscenes

This seems like something small, but it can be very big if you are really into the game. Some games like to completely skip the cutscene if you try to pause it, which can lead to a controller being thrown at the screen. Being able to game without interruption is a grand thing, but with todays' 'always plugged in' society it is not often possible.

All games should be able to be paused at any time so the player can completely enjoy the story without having to miss anything because you had to take a phone call or your kitchen burst into flames.

Skipping Cutscenes

You know how above I said all cutscenes should be able to be paused? They should also be able to be skipped. Though the skip button should be clearly marked so one does not get confused. Not everybody is into the story of the game as much as they are into the gameplay. A good example of this is any first person shooter ever.

Nobody cares that you just rescued Captain Price from the russian Gulag. They want to throw grenades as men with riot shields and watch them explode like bowling pins in a bowling alley.

Readable Captions

mass effect(117887)
In this day and age of high definition television, readable captions on standard definition televisions are becoming few and far between. A great example of this is the Mass Effect series. It seems as the series went on, the captions became harder to read on standard definition television. Game companies, we know you are trying to make your games look amazing, and that's great. Why does this mean you have to make the caption text smaller and smaller, though?

Some of us do not have the luxury of being able to play the game with the sound blaring so that we do not need the captions, so at least through those people a bone.

What is worse is games that have small nigh unreadable captions and as soon as the action of the game starts the sound amps up ten times as loud. Though are the most irritating games in the world, unless you can turn the sound effects down.


All games should have credits at the end. In fact, most games do have credits at the end! I know, it is an utterly shocking revelation. However, having the ability to speed through the credits or skip them should be a must. No one wants to sit through 20 minute credits as they thank every single person from a multi-national corporation, right down to the accountants.

If you cannot skip through the credits, the developers should make them interesting, like they did with Kingdom Hearts. The credits in Kingdom Hearts gave you little extra scenes where you got to see what the characters were doing after the game. That is some great incentive to sit and watch the credits.

A better incentive is to give the players a little something extra after the credits are done. Whether it's just further wrapping up the game or setting up the plot for the sequel.



Nov 11, 2012 4:27pm
I have to agree with everything you say in this article. I oftentimes miss the games I grew up with because they kept things simple, easy to adjust, and took time to make sure you understood what to do. Maybe it's because they were just simpler back then, so required less maintenance.

But I feel like games these days can really benefit from stopping and making sure that the little things are included. It's oftentimes critical to a game's success that it doesn't frustrate the gamer right from the start. After all, it taints your view for the rest of your time playing it.

Well done on the article. : )
Dec 21, 2012 3:54am
I still remember games where the entire instructions consisted of things like "Press < for left, > for right and SPACE to fire."
Dec 21, 2012 6:21am
I believe you left out: A well thought out ending, free of plot holes and death in easily escape-able situations lol
Dec 21, 2012 7:21am
Thank you! Somebody finally says something!
Dec 21, 2012 7:41am
Good article. I love games with auto-save... I remember in the original space quest where you couldn't save at all. If you died and the descriptions were very detailed when you did, you had to start over.
Dec 21, 2012 10:19am
You're right about the artwork not being enjoyable because of poor lighting, but sometimes the action gets in the way of enjoying the environments, too.

I can clearly recall a game I was completely into, great story great graphics, and I had my character in a new space. I took some time to scan the area, impressed with what the graphics' people had done.

However, as I was doing this, my "health" was draining rapidly, and I couldn't figure out why -- there were on diseased badguys in the area. Finally, I scanned down -- a frickin' rat was gnawing on my character's leg, and I was bleeding to death as i stood there admiring the scenery. By the time I discovered this rodent, it was too late -- my guy died and I had to start again.

So, artists -- if you want people to appreciate the hours you invested in animation and design, give your players a few seconds to admire you work before attacking them!
Dec 21, 2012 2:22pm
Haha Vic. Sounds like someone playing Skyrim for the first time.
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