Thursday, January 3, 2013

It's Strange What a Difference Loading Times Make...

In my social circles, I am notorious for my nerd rage. In fact, there are a few people who downright refuse to play any multiplayer games with me because of my tendency towards cursing, screaming, and blaming the game's mechanics for every single death. I know why I'm like this in multiplayer, I'm a very competitive person who hates to lose. I don't like the idea that anyone is better than me, and when someone gets the better of me, I get angry about it.

Unfortunately, I also behave this way in a lot of single player games, and lately I've been pondering why that is. I can't really blame my competitive nature, because I'm going to beat the game eventually no matter how many times I die. So why is it that dying in some games will send me into a blind rage? I’m blaming the load times.

I came to this conclusion while playing Hotline Miami. I die A LOT in Hotline Miami, but I don’t get mad about it. In fact, I’ve even caught myself laughing about it on a few occasions. So why would I laugh in Hotline Miami but scream like a madman in a game like Duke Nukem Forever (first game that came to mind)? It’s the loading times, well that and the loss of progress.

If you die in Duke Nukem Forever, you have to sit through a full minutes worth of loading screen. After that you have to fight through areas you’ve already cleared just to get back to the section where you died, and hopefully won’t die again. That’s frustrating, very frustrating.

I really don’t like the feeling that my time has been wasted, and that’s why I rage out. I know, playing video games is a waste of time in itself, but I choose to waste my time in that way. When I have to deal with long loading times and poor checkpointing, that’s someone else wasting my time, and I don’t like it. So here are some things that developers could do to help me not have a heart attack before forty:
  • Place your checkpoints with the same care you’d use while playing Jenga. There’s nothing worse than sitting through a long load screen, followed by an unskippable cutscene, only to fight through two areas of enemies and die in the same spot just to do it all over again. Shadows of the Damned, a game I loved, put me through this so many times I almost quit playing it.

  • Don’t have unskippable cutscenes. I don’t get what the deal is here, but there is no excuse for not allowing the player to skip a cutscene, especially if you’re going to stick a checkpoint right in front of it. This isn’t exactly rocket science. Hold down A to skip cutscene. Everybody wins.

  • Get those loading times DOWN DOWN DOWN. I know this is more of a technical issue, and I’m not smart enough to have any technical insight into it, but if there’s any way for you to get those loading times down, get ‘em down. There’s nothing more frustrating than sitting through a loading screen pondering how that zombie did a complete 180 in 0.5 seconds to grab me when I was standing behind himYOUR GAMES ALL CHEAT DAMMIT!! THEY FUCKING CHEAT! I'M THE BEST PLAYER ALIVE!1!0!!
you fuckers...