There’s a lot game developers could learn from standard user experience practices applied to the web. One in particular (which has been driving me absolutely nuts lately while playing Need For Speed Most Wanted) is having to confirm every action I do. But not only that, they take it a step further down the path of most annoying user experience ever, by making the default option ‘No/Cancel’. I think there’s a better chance that I am indeed, going to want to do follow through with the action I have requested, than if I had selected it by mistake. Why they insist on treating me like a moron and adding 2 extra clicks (1 to select the right option, the other to click it) for every action I initiate, I have no idea. Luckily for us, there aren’t too many developers that are guilty of this bad practice. But EA is notorious for it. Every EA developed game I’ve played as far as I can recall has done this.

While we’re on the subject – why can’t we customize our experience? I’m not talking about changing the rims on your ride, but how the interface is presented and how we interact with it. Every application I use on a daily basis, whether it be Photoshop, Dreamweaver, Thunderbird (email) or MSN Messenger can be customized – how they look, act, what menu/toolbar items I see and even how things are laid out. In a game, I have absolutely no say in the matter. If there was a standard set of UI preferences – things like “auto-confirm redundant, annoying alerts” in NFS Most Wanted, the experience would be far more pleasant. After all, we are talking about user experience based on our interaction with the user interface.


Comments

I totally hear where you’re comin from. I hate having to confirm the same message over-and-over-and-over again.

I understand your frustration but a lot of options you are faced with are required by Microsoft or Sony, especially those dealing with their specific hardware; memory cards, saves to the drive, controllers, etc. A lot of times you have to present the user with all those options, "Are you SURE you want to save to your memory card?" Don’t present the options that Microsoft and Sony want you to, and you won’t be allowed to release your game on their console Now the gameplay specific options are up to the developer.

"Every application I use on a daily basis, whether it be Photoshop, Dreamweaver, Thunderbird (email) or MSN Messenger can be customized – how they look, act, what menu/toolbar items I see and even how things are laid out."

Sure it sounds nice but I bet it would be pretty difficult to implement. At the end of the day unfortunately complete UI control for the user would probably be the last worry of the developer. They’d rather create a great gameplay experience than the ability to customize your toolbar. What would it matter if you could customize the UI if the game sucked?

Just be happy there aren’t any commercial screens. Just imagine the money one could make in, for example, F.E.A.R. if just before nailing some half-witted soldier with two landmines, you would get a screen telling you "Enroll in two of our psychology courses … and get one for free!".

Or confirmation screens? "Are you sure you want to blow this friendly, nice family father to smithereens? – Yes, damn it – Maybe? Tell Me more. – Not really, but I can’t gewt agrip on myself."

That should add a whole new dimension to the game and if done cleverly, it could add a lot of good laughs as well.

Great comment Ryan. I see where you’re coming from and agree that some times there is a need for a confirmation. In any case, I think the default option should be ‘yes’. Like I said, there’s a better chance I actually do want to follow through with the action I selected. But on the other hand, the messages I’m really complaining about here are the completely unnecessary ones. In NFSMW they’re essentially asking you if you’re sure you want to play the game – then defaulting to ‘no’. That doesn’t even make sense.

In regards to menu and toolbar customization in games – I was comparing desktop apps to games to show how flexible desktop apps are. By no means would I expect to see a fully customizable menu screen in a game, but I should be able to manipulate some aspects – like error/warning messages, etc.

deus62: In game ads are definitely on the horizon – in a big way too, unfortunately. We’re already seen this is some PC games lately – posters on walls changing out in SWAT 4. But you’re right… it’s going to get worse. There will be commercials. I’m sure we’ll see the end of load screens soon enough… they’ll probably be the first to go. I really hope it doesn’t get to the point that we’re interacting with ads, but I’m sure it will.

I’m sure we can expect to see a ton of ads in Xbox 360 games. Why else would they offer a free Live base service? So every Xbox 360 has an internet connection and can download new in game ads – oh, and send reports back to their servers.

Yeah, that sounds dreadful. Some games already have loading times approaching the launch of a space shuttle (inc. delays) … if ads get in the way, we might have to drink a lot more coffee in between screens.

I remember old Commodore 64 times with loading screens that simply printed "… and time passes …" at the bottom of the screen while we had to wait for the next level of some fantasy adventure to load.

Man I totally agree. It’s the saame way with NHL 06 for ps2 or xbox. Sometimes it takes me almost almost 4 clicks to just save my friggen game. Click here to save.. Are you sure you want to save? are you sure you want to overwrite this file? Save Confirmed plase click to contiue?

It out of control in some instances.

Another one is when you load the game… You have to press X then followed by start then followed by X again before you are even at the start screen.

Anyway ya it poisses me off to.

Sonic Rush actually asks "Do you really want to play this zone?" when you select a level. How’s that for stupid questions?