I'm really feeling it!
I'm really feeling it!

What Are Modern AAA Games Desperately Lacking? Brevity.

Illustration for article titled What Are Modern AAA Games Desperately Lacking? Brevity.

As a man named Billy Shakesman once said, "Brevity is the soul of wit."

I was playing Harmo-Knight tonight, and I kept saying, "Oh my god, shut the fuck up and just let me play." I find myself saying this a lot with games these days. It's been a problem with Nintendo product since the early 00's: Games with over-long tutorial sections, excessive (and pointless) dialogue, and drawn-out cutscenes that are neither visually interesting nor consequential in any way.


However, it's no longer an issue isolated to Nintendo. It's a common problem among big-budget games. I'm tired and I don't want to go too into depth on specific examples, but I do want to highlight specific why this stuff irritates me, and how to do it better.


Watch this video, if you haven't:

There's nothing I can say in words better than what AronRa or whatever says in this video. If a game has you constantly shouting, "Yeah, I fucking get it!" at the screen, it's doing tutorials wrong. Period. It's one thing to have those pop-up balloons that don't really interrupt gameplay; those aren't too offensive. What I hate with a fiery passion is when the game is paused so that the developer can explain shit to you that you've already figured out. This happened very recently in a game I played, but I can't remember which one. It's probably in a bin now.


I like to relate stuff in my hobbies to stuff in my work, so here's a great example. My company builds machines, and part of my job is to work out bugs during the first few weeks/months of running that machine. Today, I had a maintenance worker from this customer scream at me, mad that he was never given a chance to learn the machine for himself. We have manuals upon for the customer, processes and troubleshooting meticulously written out... But when it comes time to fix the machine, that maintenance guy is going to fumble around in the dark until he gets a feel for it.

Gaming is a bit different. Feel is EVERYTHING. If the controller doesn't become a natural extension of your body (not in the eXistenZ way though), you will not become immersed in that game. If a game is going to hold your hand and yell prompts at you for the first hour (or worse, throughout the whole game), you are not going to have a good time. Gaming does not succeed when you realize there's a physical barrier between your brain and the screen.


I really need to watch eXistenZ again.

Excessive Dialogue

There is nothing worse than a video game character that doesn't know when to shut the fuck up. I'm not referring to braindead quips of the Nathan Drake variety (those are horrible for a different reason), but more the, "SHUT UP AND LET ME PLAY THE NEXT LEVEL" kind. Nintendo in particular is really bad for these. Like, yeah, guy, I know that you have to weaken a Pokemon before you can catch it. I know. Shut up. And then there's the banter. You know, the mindless drivel that contributes nothing to plot or character development? One glaring example I can think of is Project X Zone. Because of the massive character roster, you wind up with situations where 20 characters basically repeat the exact same information just so everyone can get their word in. This really doesn't accomplish anything. There's no reason to have it, aside from fan service. Going back to Harmo-Knight, there is always an extended dialogue scene between every level. These conversations usually explain gameplay mechanics that are taught in a tutorial in the next level anyway, so they really serve no purpose. They're just a waste of my time. Developers, please stop wasting my time. I don't have a lot of it.


Drawn-Out Cutscenes

This is another common gripe with Nintendo games. Usually when you start a modern AAA Nintendo title, you're trapped in a good 10-30 minutes of utter bullshit. Before you can start the game, you're caught in a void of useless speech, slow-scrolling dialogue boxes, or forced tutorial demos. There's really not much else to say here. It's fluff. There's nothing to be gained from it, so why is it done? World building? Tutorial? Character development? There are better ways to integrate this in an interactive medium like gaming. Did Final Fantasy VII need a 30-minute window to spout bullshit at you? No, it needed a 60 second cutscene before it dropped you right into the game and told you to have at 'er.



In conclusion, brevity is good. Developers, everywhere, please cut out the fluff. I can play a Super Metroid, or a Sanic The Heghug, or a Crash Bandicoot, and I don't have to deal with this same BS. They're great games, and they're great BECAUSE they're all about the gameplay. They get to the point, and they deliver. Games don't need the extra layer of nonsense; they just need to be good games.

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