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eelke_folmer

top 10 usability problems in games

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I have compiled all the problems into different categories. We might need to combine certain groups. For now the gameplay category seems the biggest but possibly needs further refining.

Controls

  • Difficult controls (e.g. X-men legends II on the psp has very annoying controls to distribute items you find over the members of your party, you need to go into a menu like 4 levels deep).
  • No reprogrammable keys - game that dont have an interface or even an .ini file to redefine key-to-command mapping.
  • Clumsy option selection via scrolling (usually found on Console game to PC ports, where they were too lazy to rebuild the interface with pulldown menues.
  • Tiny Frequently USed Buttons - example close buttons on popup boxes that eventually give the players a case of 'mouse twitch' from having to endlessly target tiny buttons (which could easily have been made MUCH larger).

Interaction

  • No render lag compensation for input Keystrokes/clicks get queued up and get out of sync with the view -- throwing off eye/hand coordination and causing unintended effect (partucularly with view rotation commands when the frame rate drops due to particularly complex frames).
  • Too many buttons - Sony 4 trigger buttons???, XBox the black and white buttons?? I'm looking in your direction. Learn from nintendo, who in my opinion created the best console controller ever for the gamecube. I don't think we need to return to the atari one button joystick but if a controller has more buttons than you have fingers, you need a usability check:)
  • bad RTS troop controls/commands. Your guys get stuck or walk in circles while your collector dies...all because the movement menu is 3 items deep and you selected look stupid and let everything die by accident.
  • bad controls/bad conversion on computers theese seem to go hand in hand.

Interface

  • No skippable cutscenes especially annoying if your savepoint is just before an end level boss and you have to watch the cutscene that comes with the boss over and over again.
  • Gigantic console interfaces directly ported to PC
  • Bad localization (See FF7 translations)
  • No subtitles for cutseens / voiceover
  • Weirdly handled 3D visualizations of 'over the shoulder' views where terrain behind the player gets in the way (nauseating auto zooming....)
  • Bad Camera angles

AI

  • NPCs that get stuck in weird places or die making a mission impossible to complete, requiring a ...gulp... restart. usually these are console games too so you have to start from the beginning of the level. Bad clippling / scripting.
  • stupid ai in combination with other stuff ex. half-life 2, you say put and a few seconds later they still follow you.
  • team mates in your way: either teammates that goes in your line of fire, while you are firing, or teammates that just stands in your way.

Game quality

  • Crashes -No game is without crashes, although they appear to be more frequent in PC games. Its really frustrating in online poker games if you just had AQ in your hand (happened to me at pacificpoker 2 weeks ago).
  • Load times (e.g. Grand Theft Auto San Andreas) takes a while to load, same for most games on the PSP.
  • not being able to reset configurations out of the game IE getting over zealous with the video settings leading to a resolution that crashes the game. Then searching for 20 minutes to find a configuration file that isnt in text format. very annoying. sometimes you even have to reinstall.

Gameplay

  • No adjustable difficulty level I've selected a particular difficulty level when I started but halfway through the game, the game is just way to difficult too beat, or too easy. Selecting a tougher/easier difficulty level requires you to play from the start again, which i don't want.
  • Infrequent 'chapter' Saves - which force repeats of long sequences of tedious boring repetition (particularly in the hop/skip/jump style games).
  • No cheats to get past poorly designed (tediously repetitious) sections of the game. Some situations require too exact play to get past and having to repeat the same thing more than a dozen times is NOT fun (found most frequently in hop/skip/jump twitch games). Often a buggy game simply doesnt allow the player to actually execute the 'designed' solution.
  • Excessive use of CD-Keys / Cd-Key printed on tiny piece of paper of manual instead of Jewel Box
  • Incomprehensive Multi-player menus (see BF2)
  • If it takes more than 15 seconds to find a server you like, its bad.Include slow server refresh, difficult or lack of server filtering, lack of buddy list and favorites server list
  • In multiplayer games, lack of an ignore/kick command.
  • Games that need system loading time in order to access or parse the main menu. Console games have a huge problems with this since they use disks instead of cartridges.
  • levels that require you to hit a random obscure button that you search 20 minutes for...or in general you need to preform some random objective that is extremely simple, but not clearly alluded to. Clearly bad level design.
  • No attachements Nothing that keeps me interested to keep on playing
  • Memory&Kiling games Games that require you to save, memorize where enemies are, load and then kill everyone.
[Edited by - eelke_folmer on June 12, 2006 11:52:49 AM]

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I am going to elaborate on difficult controls. You know, by the mid 90s, developers got side scroll controls down solid. Then 3D came, and controls went to hell for many games. I stopped playing Kingdom Hearts because I got so frustrated with positioning the camera.

In a related subject, PC games that support a gamepad or wheel or joystick often give you a tough time setting up the controls themselves. It used to be my job to write FAQs on this very subject, so I had to play literally hundreds of games to figure out how to set up controls.

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Bad Camera angles- Dizzy...oh my head.....

No sound tests- I really like the theme from puyo pop fighting against Satan, but the only way to listen to it is to get fight my way to him. Then I have 30 seconds of the song before I accidentally beat him.

X box controller in general- not used to the smaller one even


well, that's all I can think of, cept the fact that some games don't include extras for completing and exploring every little crevice of it, but that's not usability.

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Guest Anonymous Poster
Quote:
Original post by eelke_folmer
I want to create a top ten list of most annoying usability problems in games. I'll give you my top 5:
1) Crashes No game is without crashes, although they appear to be more frequent in PC games. Its really frustrating in online poker games if you just had AQ in your hand (happened to me at pacificpoker 2 weeks ago).
2) Load times (e.g. Grand Theft Auto San Andreas) takes a while to load, same for most games on the PSP.
3) No skippable cutscenes (Final Fantasy X) especially annoying if your savepoint is just before an end level boss and you have to watch the cutscene that comes with the boss over and over again.
4) Difficult controls (e.g. X-men legends II on the psp has very annoying controls to distribute items you find over the members of your party, you need to go into a menu like 4 levels deep).
5) No adjustable difficulty level. I've selected a particular difficulty level when I started but halfway through the game, the game is just way to difficult too beat, or too easy. Selecting a tougher/easier difficulty level requires you to play from the start again, which i don't want.

I'm not passing any judgment on the games I've used to illustrate, most of the games were great games. But they could have been better if these usability problems had been adressed.

Which usability problems do you encounter? And which do you find most annoying? Lets create a top 10 list!




6) Infrequent 'chapter' Saves - which force repeats of long sequences of tedious boring repetition (particularly in the hop/skip/jump style games).

7) Tiny Frequently USed Buttons -- example close buttons on popup boxes that eventually give the players a case of 'mouse twitch' from having to endlessly target tiny buttons (which could easily have been made MUCH larger).

8) No reprogrammable keys -- game that dont have an interface or even an .ini file to redefine key-to-command mapping.

9) Clumsy option selection via scrolling (usually found on Console game to PC ports, where they were too lazy to rebuild the interface with pulldown menues.

10) Weirdly handled 3D visualizations of 'over the shoulder' views where terrain behind the player gets in the way (nauseating auto zooming....)

11) No render lag compensation for input. Keystrokes/clicks get queued up and get out of sync with the view -- throwing off eye/hand coordination and causing unintended effect (partucularly with view rotation commands when the frame rate drops due to particularly complex frames).

12) No cheats to get past poorly designed (tediously repetitious) sections of the game. Some situations require too exact play to get past and having to repeat the same thing more than a dozen times is NOT fun (found most frequently in hop/skip/jump twitch games). Often a buggy game simply doesnt allow the player to actually execute the 'designed' solution.

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- No subtitles for cutseens / voiceover

- Excessive use of CD-Keys / Cd-Key printed on tiny piece of paper of manual instead of Jewel Box

- Gigantic console interfaces directly ported to PC
(e.g. http://www.elderscrolls.com/images/art/ob_xbox360/obx21B.jpg)

- Bad localization (See FF7 translations)

- Incomprehensive Multi-player menus (see BF2)

If it takes more than 15 seconds to find a server you like, its bad.

Include slow server refresh, difficult or lack of server filtering, lack of buddy list and favorites server list

- In multiplayer games, lack of an ignore/kick command.

And my all time favorite usability problem:

-Games that need system loading time in order to access or parse the main menu.

Console games have a huge problems with this since they use disks instead of cartridges.

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Too many buttons!!

Sony 4 trigger buttons???, XBox the black and white buttons?? I'm looking in your direction. Learn from nintendo, who in my opinion created the best console controller ever for the gamecube.

I don't think we need to return to the atari one button joystick but if a controller has more buttons than you have fingers, you need a usability check:)

Cheers
Chris

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Quote:
Original post by chollida1
Too many buttons!!

Sony 4 trigger buttons???, XBox the black and white buttons?? I'm looking in your direction. Learn from nintendo, who in my opinion created the best console controller ever for the gamecube.

I don't think we need to return to the atari one button joystick but if a controller has more buttons than you have fingers, you need a usability check:)

Cheers
Chris


This is a matter of opinion though. I can't stand the gamecube controller but I love the Sony PS2 Dual Shock. I think the X-Box has the worst controller ever!

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Quote:
Original post by chollida1
Learn from nintendo, who in my opinion created the best console controller ever for the gamecube.


I also really like the GameCube controller. But, I think it probably has to do with which controller you use most often.

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Quote:
Original post by tstrimp
Quote:
Original post by chollida1
Too many buttons!!

Sony 4 trigger buttons???, XBox the black and white buttons?? I'm looking in your direction. Learn from nintendo, who in my opinion created the best console controller ever for the gamecube.

I don't think we need to return to the atari one button joystick but if a controller has more buttons than you have fingers, you need a usability check:)

Cheers
Chris


This is a matter of opinion t hough. I can't stand the gamecube controller but I love the Sony PS2 Dual Shock. I think the X-Box has the worst controller ever!


Agreed but so is everything else posted in this thread:)

Cheers
Chris

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