Would You Kindly Choose Something That Makes Sense? - Will Sora Layton Blog - www.GameInformer.com
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Would You Kindly Choose Something That Makes Sense?

Y'know what? Sometimes, things don't make sense. Sometimes, they're just facts of life. Why is the sky blue and not orange? Okay, maybe that makes sense...joking aside, there really are things that don't make sense. One of those things is game design. Have you ever played a game, and had the thought "wow, I...wouldn't have done that". Maybe it was some plot point, or possibly a gameplay mechanic, that just caused you to scratch your head and wonder what could have been going through the developer's head. This phenomenon recently came to me in the form of something in Resident Evil 6. This thing was me being infuriated that when the game was in an offline state, you couldn't actually pause it. So, because of this, I decided to write about how "Why Resident Evil 6 Makes Me Want An Offline Future", which would have been about how having a game have similar conditions in online and offline modes is stupid, and not something I wanted. For part of this blog, I thought I'd include how much I wrote of that blog.

I don't blame you Leon.

The following is the entirety of what I wrote, under the assumption that you cannot pause Resident Evil 6 while playing offline, with no co-op. The excerpt is everything in italics, with the rest being a continuation of this actual blog.

When the original trailer hit for Resident Evil 6, I was excited to see that the series was taking on what seemed to be a more traditional focus, as well as a new one. Including two of the series' most popular protagonists, Leon S. Kennedy, and Chris Redfield, was also a plus. However, when it came to release, I saw the series get mostly panned by reviewers, who referred to the game as more of an action movie, and watching gameplay, and seeing all the QTE's and action made me feel, unfortunately, like they were making accurate statements. Now, about a year later, during a sale on Steam for Capcom's 30th anniversary, I decided to pick up Resident Evil 6 for a great bargain, because I still did want to play the game to get a definite judgement. I still haven't completely finished the game (I have gotten through Leon's campaign), but I can safely say that my feelings about the game have mostly been on par with what I thought the game was going to be, but I have been enjoying the game overall. However, one small thing about the game, one small thing, has inspired me to write this blog, because of how infuriating it has been.

If you've played the game, you may know what atrocity I speak of. It's something so simple that Capcom could have fixed, but no, they chose not to. I cannot fathom why they made this design choice, and I am honestly unsure if this feature occurs in any other games that have cooperative campaigns, but I do know that it exists in Resident Evil 6, and that's why I'm writing this blog: because I don't want this to become a norm in the feature. This feature IS permissible in other instances-say, when you're playing against another team in a cooperative game, and there are other players playing at the time, but when I am alone, and when my game is in an offline state

And at that point, I decided to check something. You see, in Resident Evil 6, you actually CAN pause the game in an offline state. The problem is, when you're looking at your phone, or menu, which has the option to quit the game, or change key bindings, or anything like that, the game is still going. You're just letting the zombies get closer and closer, and you have no means of defending yourself. The only way to actually stop the game is to use a key binded specifically to be the "pause' button, which just makes the screen dark and shows "PAUSED". After I found out about this, a third of my way through the game, I was stunned. Why hadn't the game alerted me to this? Why did I have to go all the way down to the bottom of the keybindings area to find that there was a button called "pause"(not to mention that the button it had defaulted to binding didn't actually pause the game-I had to rebind it)? Couldn't just using my phone have paused the game in of itself? 

Hey, zombies, stay away, I've gotta tweet about this.

I know, I know, this seems like a minor gripe-but really, wouldn't you be annoyed to learn about five hours that you could have paused the game whenever you wanted, instead of waiting for a "safe" area (that's sometimes hard to find in RE6)? It bothered me enough that I'm here now, writing this blog, to bring this topic to light. How many other unconventional things are in some great games? Maybe bringing up if I want to use Strength all the time in Pokémon? Or maybe making an enemy that appears dead to have bullets pass through it, only to attack you once you get close? Some of these things are just...bleh, I don't know, they bother me. Some of these choices can sort of be considered alright, but in reality, I hope that when a developer is making a game, they use something called common sense. I'm not saying that developers that make these, or other games, are unintelligent by any means-they do wonderful things in these titles. But when these little things slip through, they can be a bit of a nuisance.

There's a difference between bad game design, and bad game design. There's the "oh it's hard to figure out I need to use the soda bottles to knock that thing free", and the "WHY CAN'T I PAUSE THE GAME...oh, THAT'S how". I'm not expecting games to be perfect when I play them, but when I do, I hope not to see things like I have in Resident Evil 6. When the developer sat down to play his own game, did he get bothered by this thing too? That's a main thought-when you make something for other people, why would you implement ideas that would most likely bother you if you encountered them somewhere else? It just seems so, well, counter-intuitive to me, that I can't fathom why these choices are made. "Accidentally skipped a cutscene? Sorry, can't go back and watch it!" What if Kojima sat down to play, say Metal Gear Rising, which he wasn't super involved with, and he accidentally cutscene while watching it, because he wanted to pause it to go get a snack? Wouldn't he be mad? Okay, I'm not Kojima, but I assume he would be. Then, when doing his own game, would he have his cutscenes function in the same way? I don't think he would-it would just be perpetuating something he doesn't agree with.

Not all developers are ones that actually go home and play games, I know that-but still, I just want to hope that in the future, developers recognize flaws in their games that are there solely because they would be inconvenient for the player, or would just not make sense in any view. Again, it's always possible for things to get missed, and maybe in Japan, more people like having a button entirely devoted to pausing, and nothing else. Maybe the pause button was put in separately so that the player felt like they had to hurry with their business on the phone, in order to defend themselves from approaching enemies. Anything is possible, but this instance of a logical choice not being made is one that stands out enough for me to make this argument.

I know this has been another sort of short blog, and I apologize for that, but I'm still in my writer's blog, which has hindered ideas coming to me, even for this blog. If you have encountered any similar instances of illogical choices by the developer of a game (don't mention OverBlood), or feel like my grips with Resident Evil 6 aren't entirely justified, leave your thoughts below. 

Oh hey, this works.

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