The lights are on
E3 is coming in a little more than a month. That means we'll all be inundated with big news about various features, services, and tidbits about the PlayStation 4 and whatever it is that Microsoft is working on. That's great. I like hearing about those things. As we inch closer to the next cycle of console hardware, however, I hope the companies behind it all also address a few niggling issues I've been dealing with for years. I did something like this last year, but that feature focused on graphical upgrades. This one is a bit more obscure.
Meta achievements and trophies
We're now entering into the second generation of Achievements and Trophies. It's time to get meta. I'd be ecstatic if consoles could track my stats on not only a per-game basis, but across all of my gaming sessions. Most shooters already track how many headshots players get. Feed that into a system-wide stat of headshots per gamer. Track milestones like hours played overall, or the amount of time spent playing with friends online. I'm a bit of a stat junkie, and this would give me one more thing to geek out on.
Sometimes I have to pause games, even when cutscenes are rolling. Pressing start can do a variety of different things, however. It can pause the game (hooray!), pause the game while pulling up a screen that asks if I want to skip the cutscene (hooray x100!), or blast right through it (boo!). Similar inconsistencies occur when batteries on my controller die; sometimes games will pause and gives me a chance to replace them, while other times the world keeps chugging along. There are fewer things I find as frustrating as watching a character's health chip down to nothing while I fumble around for a pack of AAs.
The vast majority of the time, I don't have problems with a game's default inputs. When I do, I don't see any excuses for not allowing me to tinker around with them as I see fit. Certain exceptions can obviously be made – swapping an analog trigger to the select button isn't going to work – but if it's a standard digital face button, I want the option to move them around. Guess what? Sometimes developers put the handbrake button in the wrong spot. This kind of flexibility also opens up games to people with disabilities, too. Who can seriously argue against accessibility?
And here's a bonus one:
Don't take one million years to populate list of games or dink around in your UI
This one's for Microsoft in particular. I download a lot of games, and it takes entirely too long to populate my games list on Xbox Live Arcade. We're talking minutes sometimes. Fix that. When that's taken care of, work with Netflix on their app to ensure that it doesn't take forever to launch. Netflix users have dozens of alternatives. Give me a reason to stick with yours, Microsoft. As it stands, Sony is eating your lunch.
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