Have you ever picked up a game and just gotten utterly frustrated at it? I know we have, but many of us are subjected to these annoying mechanics and we just put up with it. Have no fear, you’re not alone in getting angry, or outright flabbergasted as to why developers would leave these in. You chose this, so don’t get angry at us if we feature the most annoying mechanic to you, because we’re here to educate everyone about what games do in this week’s Top 10.
10) Super Attacks in Fighting Games
A super attack can be an amazing thing to have, especially in things like fighting games. However I’ve singled out super attacks in fighting games specifically, as if you’re like me, someone who played a lot of older fighting games, then get introduced to newfangled super attacks, you have to learn to then adapt to play with them – and to use them as a part of your arsenal.
Don’t get me wrong, I love a great super attack. They look fantastic and they can make for amazing spectator sport, but as a gamer, if you go into a game completely unprepared for said super attacks, then you’re going to be in for a nasty surprise. Furthermore, when a super attack changes the height of the attack (I.E a high, mid or low), this makes it hard to block and thus more things to remember. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not hard to block these in some games, but the unprepared may have a great game, until a super attack comes out at them.
Let’s preface this fairly, sometimes a good vehicle driving mechanic is a great component of any game. A bad one can drive you to despair.
I said “drive” you t- never mind.
So often I have picked up a game I love only to be driven mad the moment I have to step into a car, or submarine, or helicopter. Somehow it’s worst when you are still your character being put in charge of the controls, wonderful immersion guys, but it doesn’t make it fun, real me has many hands to do this and can push buttons without staring at them. Or perhaps the vehicle is prone to getting stuck, or overshooting the mark, steers like an angry shopping trolley, or is so fragile that you have to get a new one if you ding a wing mirror.
In any case, no thanks, I shall be steering well clear in future.
8) Hitbox Detection
Fun fact – Mario’s Hitbox in Super Mario Bros is pretty terrible. There are ways to make him crawl through the walls, there are ways to go and kill an enemy by hitting them from underneath. These are all strange features of the game, which is all down to hitboxes. Hitboxes can also affect whether or not you’re going to get a “perfect speedrun”, or not. Hitboxes are the difference between so much.
But have you ever played a game where hitbox detection has messed you up? Us fighting game fans are very aware of hitboxes. Hey, I punched his leg, why did I whiff? Woah, apparently that leg doesn’t have a hitbox. Sometimes, hitbox detection is how you win a matchup in a high profile match of Tekken, so trust me, this is a real issue even today and it does make a massive difference in player skill.
Hey, you know that game you were really enjoying? Here’s another one that’s nothing like it but is for some reason an integral part of the game that you’re trying to play. Looking at you Bioshock! You know what you did! It’s fine to have fun little options like maybe a slot machine where you can gamble for extra loot, or a chicken kicking competition that earns comedy prizes, but how many games will randomly start some weird little “bonus game” that forces you to learn something new and weird just to advance the plot.
Here’s a bugbear of mine, the weird Simon-Says personal interaction thing from Oblivion that takes too long and sometimes randomly decides to make things worse for you. What ever happened to quicksaving, hitting persuasion, and reloading if it failed? If I was this determined to put games in my game I’d have bought Warioware.
6) Pixel-Perfect Jumping
This isn’t the best example of pixel-perfect jumping, but there are hard jumps in this!
Platformer developers, stop it!
This is quite a niche entry, but one that’s a massive issue. Platforming titles are tricky enough as it is. You need to watch out for enemies coming from from side of the screen, then you need to figure out the distance between you and your destination. Do you need to jump off an enemies head? Do you need to have a running start? Or what about figuring out how many pixels you need to be standing off your current platform, in order to get the optimal jump for this impossible leap of faith?
Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy harder games and in fact, I implore developers to get tricky. However relying on pixel-perfect jumping is like saying “I don’t know how to make something hard, unless I make them play it the way I want them to play it”. Give players freedom to make mistakes and a way out of it – Or, better yet, just don’t do pixel-perfect jumping and put in more enemies. This one links into Hitbox Detection somewhat, but it’s so niche, it deserved its own higher spot, even if it’s uncommon.
Hey, you know what this high action ARPG with mountains of awesome loot and artifacts could really benefit from? A mechanic that soaks up space in your inventory so that you can stop killing things for half an hour to read through reams of stats in the vain hope that one of these items might help you cause more damage when the game starts again. Who knows, maybe burning through half your cash and hard-to-find crafting items will be better than… I don’t know, just fighting on a little longer and finding a new rare weapon?
If crafting is your thing then you go right ahead, there are plenty of games expressly for that purpose, but so many games drop it in as an extra – sometimes a mandatory extra game component without which you lose out on some critical elements of gameplay. Otherwise I’m just twiddling my thumbs gathering sticks and rough gems and wondering why?
4) Quick Time Events
Quick Time Events, often shortened to QTEs, are effectively a developers way of saying “I can’t make our game engine do what I want”. I’m sorry if that’s cruel, but that’s how I and many gamers feel. QTEs when done well, like many of the mechanics on this list, add a great deal of depth to games – But more often than not, pressing X to dodge an attack in what amounts to a cutscene is immersion breaking.
Oh sure, it looks cool when you time it and manage to get your character to jump out of the way. However, gamers are what gamers are – They are inquisitive, they are adventurous – They want to do what’s happening in the QTE themselves, even if it’s clunky. I respect a developer who tries to put a new mechanic into a game, in order to avoid having to do a QTE. I don’t want interactive cinema, I want a freakin’ game mechanic beyond pressing X for a pre-rendered shot.
3) Unlocking ‘Nightmare’ Mode
Quick aside: I actually think the reason for higher difficulty grinds makes sense for the Diablo series, but it’s a good example of the difficulty changes!
I thoroughly enjoyed first time I played a game where, once you completed it, you could unlock the ‘Hardcore’, or ‘Nightmare’ mode. It made me feel like I had worked hard and unlocked a reward. I was amongst the elite of the elite, I was amazing at the game and I was now ready to go into this harder mode; the way the game was meant to be played, right? This was the difficulty I expected – One hit kills, swarms of enemies, yeaaah! Take that, enemies!
But now I’m older and somewhat more cynical (though not much more), I’ve come to realise that unlocking ‘Nightmare’ mode is a terrible idea. It’s rare that these modes add much that’s new to the game, but rather just makes you get on with doing it all over again. Nightmare modes in games are fine unto themselves, but don’t make us play the game, to then unlock a harder mode of the same game we just played. That’s not making a game longer; that’s holding content and difficulty hostage.
There’s no need to keep raising the bar, unless you do it infinitely and let your game get infinitely harder, I guess. Damn, if a game does that, share it in the comments!
2) Resource Management
Alright, so a health bar is normal but still a resource we have to keep an eye on. Sometimes we have to track time, it’s a resource as finite as any other, and I guess that’s fine… but then they start piling up:
- Energy for items like torches, lanterns, essential tools
- Breathable air
- Item durability
- Inventory space
- Raw materials
- Unit limits
By the time you’re managing four or five it becomes an exercise in plate spinning rather than the game you thought you were getting into. Sure, sometimes you might buy a game that’s expressly about keeping your resources together (try the Long Dark if you’re into that sort of thing) but if you’re looking to crack skulls then it’s time to move on.
1) Escort Quests vs Fetch Quests
Are you an avid RPG fan, or perhaps you’re just working with dreadful AI? Either way, there is no doubt in my mind you’ve had a moment where you’ve had to deal with these quests. These were the first mechanics we thought up for this list, and by jove are they annoying? But which is the undisputed king of annoying?
I like to call this “the bad AI test”. If you have bad AI in a game, they will want to go wherever the hell they want. Escort Quests aren’t limited to RPGs – You can play an action game, where you need to protect some survivors, who like to walk right out in the middle of gunfire. Alternatively, you could be an epic hero, trying to save an alchemist who has wandered too far into a cave filled with poisonous spiders – But you’ll protect them, won’t you? … Right?
I would say these quests are a bit more limited, but arguably you can play a platformer with a form of fetch quest. Go out there and bring me 10 of these stars. Go and get for me 2,005 spears from the bad people. All in all, fetch quests are exactly like opposite escort quests – You don’t do it to get out, you do it to go all in. But, you want to ramp up the annoyance? No problem, you just need to add random chance to the mix. These are frustrating mechanics.
So which of these two quest types gets your vote for our number 1 most annoying mechanic?
Not all mechanics are bad, but we’ve got two more that sort of irk us. We question whether these are really mechanics, but in all honesty, they annoy us anyway, so here are two more options for this week’s Top 10 that don’t frustrate us quite as much as the aforementioned list.
Trial & Error
Who among us has not at some point reached the stage in a point and click adventure where you resort to trying everything with everything just hoping to stumble across a solution? Who has played Minesweeper and had to guess between the last two cells, only to guess wrong and undo all of your hard work? Who has had to hammer their character at a problem, again, and again, and again, hoping that this time they can guess right?
Trial and error isn’t frustrating in its own right, time consuming perhaps, and can get repetitive if you don’t seem to be making progress. The worst part is how unsatisfactory reaching the conclusion can be, agonising and dull attempts leading to an anticlimactic solution… no I’m not going to make that joke. Even if the other side is a glorious thing to behold, it can never feel earned, and victory earned this way is hollow at best.
Multiplayer for the Sake of Multiplayer
It’s a common complaint, either a company fail to include a much beloved multiplayer function, or – and this is the far more likely – a company will rush to jam on an unnecessary multiplayer that was not wanted, asked for, and is often prioritized at the expense of quality in the single player campaign.
Market pressures do have a way of ruining things because presume things about the audience that often just aren’t true, a lot of films go bad for that exact reason. And we’ve seen a lot of potentially good games get screwed over by studios who insisted that multiplayer be added as an afterthought when there was still so much work to be done on the actual game… the thing we actually bought because we wanted it.
Argh! I’m so mad I could break a controller. All of these mechanics have left me utterly frustrated, annoyed and broken. I’ll have to regain my composure and try again another time, as these mechanics can be put in any great game. Nevertheless, whilst I collect myself, I think it’s time to give you the power to help us decide what our Top 10 for next week is going to be.
Annnd relax… We’re finished with this rather annoying list, but perhaps you think we haven’t highlighted enough? Did we forget to include a mechanic that really grinds your gears? Did we get the order of the most annoying features right? As ever, share your thoughts with us in the comments below, or over on Facebook and Twitter.