No Twinkie For You!

I didn’t know if he was still writing them, but Ernest Adams has just published The Designer’s Notebook: ‘Bad Game Designer, No Twinkie!’ VII. The series has always been enjoyable and informative.

In this installment, he focuses quite a bit on interface issues. I haven’t played a lot of the example games listed, but I couldn’t believe that you couldn’t configure the controls for Driver until after you finish the first race. And if your game does allow the player to configure the controls, let the player have some way to save and load the configuration!

Adams also announced the new edition of the book “Ernest Adams and Andrew Rollings on Game Design”, which has a new name, Fundamentals of Game Design.

2 comments to No Twinkie For You!

  • A great example of bad key customization can be found by loading up BattleField2 by EA. I love playing the game, but setting up your own custom keys is a hassle.

    It wouldn’t be so bad if when you go to rebind say walk forward from W to E (I like ESDF rather than WASD as it gives an extra set of keys within easy reach for extra weapon binds 😉 then a message pops up telling you E is already bound is (for example) air controls. Doesn’t tell you what its bound to, and doesn’t give you the option to remove that bind. So you have to go hunt around in air controls, find what is bound to E and remove it. Only problem is, you need to rebidn to remove it, thus the hunt for key after key continues until finally you get to go back to move forward and change it from W to E.

    Why can’t they do it like other games. Firstly provide a “clear all bindings” option. Useful if you’re changing nearly everything.

    Second, when you go to bind a new key and it’s already bound, give the user the option to override it. So rebinding W to E would simply remove whatever E is already bound to and bind it to what I want.

    I recently re-installed BF2, but having forgotten to backup my config had to go through the process all over again. I gave up after binding the move keys and decided to go play another game for a few hours and sort BF2 out later.

    I know key binds/controls arn’t used that often, but making it easy to do the first time you come to doing it should be a big priority.

    /rant 😉

  • I once played a game that let me use the same key for multiple commands. It was better than being told that I couldn’t bind a key, but it was frustrating if that key was bound to some obscure command.

    They aren’t used that often, but you would think that they would be so simple that it would be implemented well in all games. Of course, if the config was perfect, but the game itself was neglected, there would be other complaints. Still, config settings should be a solved problem.

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