Features in video games that you've never understood

Occasionally one will be playing a video game and your PC will encounter something that is unusual enough that the game creators had to have put it there deliberately- but to what effect you have no idea. Either they’re development artifacts, or you’re getting whooshed.

Just to name one old example: in the original Half-Life, just before reaching the dam you fight some soldiers in an area containing explosive barrels. Nothing unusual there, except that these barrels when you shoot them do this “pop up into the sky and then explode” routine. It isn’t that you were supposed to try to shoot down the helicopter with them; you can’t move the barrels and the helicopter won’t come into that sector.

You take one tiny footstep into water in Red Dead Redemption, and INSTANT DEATH. The game is so well-made in so many other ways, with so many little details attended to so that the player loses himself in the game world - yet, the developers put this in the game. It’s almost like a big “fuck you” to the players. It would have been so easy to at least wait until you get into deep water and have you drown - realistic, possibly, since it’s within the realm of possibility that your character doesn’t know how to swim. Instead, no, they chose to go back to the days of Super Mario where you die from touching the goomba.

A deliberate and bad choice.

I really wish we could talk about video games in Cafe Society. Video games are a form of interactive entertainment, and other forms of entertainment get discussed in Cafe Society. With something like Heavy Rain or Metal Gear Solid 4, you’re really playing an interactive movie. It has absolutely nothing in common with sports or with zillion-page online forum games like “Mafia.” I have never liked the automatic consignment of these type of threads to the Game Room where they’ll get smothered to the bottom of the board in minutes by Mafia thread #5394529.

:o My bad. We’ve had a game forum for how long now??


I’m quite literally shocked that such a flaw made it through in a Rockstar-produced game. They’re usually very attentive to detail. I’ve never played RDR–is there any plausible reason why one step into water kills you? I mean, usually even the most low-rent games offer a plausible reason for restricting your activities. Example: In the original Call of Juarez, a game that was pretty linear and one-dimensional, you are prevented from shooting at innocent people by a “code” that the character lives by. Every time you try to shoot an innocent person, the character will say something like “But they’re not armed,” or “that’s not right.” The restriction on behavior is explained in terms of the story and its universe. I can’t think of any plausible explanation for water=death.

What a shame. I’m not very creative, but I could have dreamt up a reason for water restriction. Maybe the character saw his family drown in a river when he was a kid, and whenever he sees a body of water, he loses his mind. Or something. Geez.

Grand Theft Auto III, Grand Theft Auto: Vice City both had the water = death mechanic.

They did, but then in San Andreas and GTA IV, they let you swim. So I’m utterly astounded that they would go backwards with Red Dead. It’s not merely an omission, it’s a deliberate act of bullshit on their part.

But they got rid of it by GTA IV, so it seems oddly regressive to go back and introduce water death…

100x this.

It’s been 10 years, but I still don’t understand why Counter-Strike has resource management system.

The invisible walls in the middle of nowhere that block certain routes over the ridges/hills in Fallout: New Vegas. I can understand invisible walls if they are needed to keep the plot intact, but in a game where wandering all around the wasteland is one of the primary selling points of the whole thing, they are more than a little perplexing. Good thing you could remove them with a mod on PC, but I just didn’t understand why they were there in the first place.

There’s a lot of PC games which suffer from that, and you’re right, it is annoying.

I’ll add “Enemies with equipment you can’t have” to the list- you defeat a “standard” enemy armed with a piece of equipment you don’t have, and when you go to search them… that piece of equipment has vanished.

Given than games are supposed to be scaled so a level 1 character won’t be able to defeat a level 99 Warrior-Mage who can cast Harbinger Of Doom at will, it just seems like a silly artificial restriction to prevent characters from acquiring weapons and armour from their fallen foes.

Unless it’s different to Oblivion/FO3, those invisible walls are only there to keep you away from the nothingness at the edge of the map. Rather than end the map right at the edge of the play area, they’ve added more terrain to hide that unnatural nothingness and make the world look more like a real place.

It still creates an instant disconnect though. There are myriad better ways to prevent access to a path than by use of invisible walls. A gate would suffice, as would a gap, a boulder, a ridge, a parked car, among others.

Well they have those sort of invisible walls but the more annoying type are all over the map. I think they are designed to stop you entering certain areas from all directions and taking short-cuts around dangerous parts of the game. I hate them because I see what I think is a clever way to approach a dangerous area but it turns out it is blocked by an invisible wall, so I just have to attack from the front like an idiot. As Red Barchetta said, they just need to block it with a real obstacle.

Scores in platform games. Unless - Kid Chameleon being the best example - they can grant you lives and continues.

Diablo II. You can’t save in a point in a game and get back later… this means that you have to complete a full quest before leaving the computer, or everything you’ve done up to this point will just disappear.

Sometimes I just want to kill ten minutes, people from Blizzard. I shouldn’t have to schedule an hour and a half every time.

Moved Cafe Society --> Game Room.

Monster! I love high scores and you’ll only take them away from my cold, deaed hands!

That actually doesn’t happen in The Game Room. It’s a relatively slow-paced forum that doesn’t generate as much video game discussion as some of us would because few people play the same games at the same time.

[Hijack]You have it backwards. The Game Room has a fewer threads that get posted to less often. Video game threads can last longer and have a better chance of being seen in The Game Room.

For example, the Game Room currently has 236 threads that are not archived yet versus Cafe Society’s 339. According to the “new posts” icon on my computer, the Game Room has 16 versus 38 for Cafe Society. I like that video games have a space to grow instead of being weeded out in Cafe Society.

Besides, the Mafia threads only take up one or two thread lines while Cafe Society is gummed up with various Poll: What is the best song off of this album?[/hijack]

I’m always annoyed by the huge disparity in levels in RPGs. At least one of the heroes is “old” (late 20’s), and despite their experience, they’re around the same level as the teenage main character. Then they grow by 50-60 levels in a matter of weeks to keep pace with the rest of the party.

I’m not sure if it’s a feature, a design choice or even a subgenre, but there are some games where both the story and the world are completely linear; there was one where at the start I was in what looked like an open area behind my character, with a narrowing and a door that had an opening under it, and I couldn’t explore the area behind me, couldn’t open the door and was supposed to use a three-button combo to roll under the door. If I’m going to watch a story that’s going to go the same way for every person who’s ever watched it, I’d rather pop a DVD in than have to be pushing three-button combos, thanks.

Not a feature of game design per se, but those ported-from-console games which
have only one keybind for each option,
of which the worst offenders are those that
do not let you change the keybinds,
and of these the worst are those that
assume everybody in the whole world has the same keyboard (usually American) and use literal input (some games say “/” but mean “the key which on an American keyboard has a /”; others require me to use shift+7 if my keyboard is set to Spanish; I mean this second kind).

Yes, I know how to convince my keyboards that they’ve got dual nationality, as a matter of fact it’s one of the first things I do on any computer of mine, but given how many times I explain that trick every year, how many people think that if they change the keyboard’s settings they need to change the physical keyboard, how many think that if their laptop’s keyboard is British and they set it to Spanish and attach a 103key Spanish keyboard the keyboard on the laptop itself will stop working… I really think sales of those games would benefit from having something resembling user-friendly keyboard settings. They translate the voiceovers and the subtitles, but can’t be arsed redo the keybinds.

The thing about *Red Dead *that I don’t get is why they offer ammo for sale in the general stores. You can collect all the ammo you need from fallen enemies and if that doesn’t work … pitch camp and you automatically get stocked up.