Is it ok for a Developer to Dictate How a Game is Played?

Dec 23, 2022
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So in the last year, perhaps two, I have noticed that game developers have become more rigid with some game mechanics such as pausing or saving the game. I have also seen things like Game controller required (No KB/M support), no HUD or reticule, no saves, auto save only etc.

An amalgam of things I have read tells me that game developers want gamers to be immersed, and to be challenged etc. and pausing the game is exploiting or underming the difficulty in some games.

Here is my perspective.

First, if I want to ruin a (single player) game by cheating, it really isnt any developers business, it only cheats yourself.

Second, I put in alot of work in some games, real work, real hours of my life I will never get back. If the doorbell rings, my wife falls down a flight of stairs, or the baby is on fire, certainly these things are more important; However, at some point, more than likely, I will return to the game and want to pickup where I left off.

Also I would mention people with disabilities, I experienced a difficulty in a game whereby the player had to listen for a very faint 'click', and I dont hear well. It happened to critically important in the game. Also, people with intelectual disabilities may need to pause or save a game due to special needs.

Its a thoughtless insult to me that the game designer whom I have never met, can dictate how a player plays, and that I must redo things in the game to get back to where I had to step away for real life, or because the person has a disablity.

I split the things in two categories, hard things like no pause, no savegames, and soft things like no HUD, no reticule, game controller required, autosave only.

What are your thoughts? Right? Wrong? Things to add to the list?

Do game developers get to tell us how to play
 
I mean, I think certain things should be standard, like pausing and saving. All games should support that. But I think when it comes to actual gameplay, the game creators absolutely have the right to dictate how we play. It's their vision that they're sharing with us and allowing us to play. I like it when games are made like Breath of the Wild, how they designed puzzles and battles to be able to be solved and fought multiple ways. I like it when games are made to let you think and act outside the box, and maybe even in ways they didn't even imagine. But even though I like games being made that way, I don't feel like I'm entitled to it. When it comes down to it, the game is the game creator's work of art, and they have every right to make it however they want.

But on the other hand, I also have the right to not buy or play a game that was made differently than something I would want to play.
 
Result of a small poll in a previous thread on this topic, Playing how the game was intended to be played:
mGN9FRB.png


Not going to rehash my posts there—in short, I agree with Dan & disagree with Woody :)
My main beef is deceptive marketing, which leads me to believe a game is one thing but is actually another.

Options are a Good Thing!
 

ZedClampet

Community Contributor
So in the last year, perhaps two, I have noticed that game developers have become more rigid with some game mechanics such as pausing or saving the game. I have also seen things like Game controller required (No KB/M support), no HUD or reticule, no saves, auto save only etc.

An amalgam of things I have read tells me that game developers want gamers to be immersed, and to be challenged etc. and pausing the game is exploiting or underming the difficulty in some games.

Here is my perspective.

First, if I want to ruin a (single player) game by cheating, it really isnt any developers business, it only cheats yourself.

Second, I put in alot of work in some games, real work, real hours of my life I will never get back. If the doorbell rings, my wife falls down a flight of stairs, or the baby is on fire, certainly these things are more important; However, at some point, more than likely, I will return to the game and want to pickup where I left off.

Also I would mention people with disabilities, I experienced a difficulty in a game whereby the player had to listen for a very faint 'click', and I dont hear well. It happened to critically important in the game. Also, people with intelectual disabilities may need to pause or save a game due to special needs.

Its a thoughtless insult to me that the game designer whom I have never met, can dictate how a player plays, and that I must redo things in the game to get back to where I had to step away for real life, or because the person has a disablity.

I split the things in two categories, hard things like no pause, no savegames, and soft things like no HUD, no reticule, game controller required, autosave only.

What are your thoughts? Right? Wrong? Things to add to the list?

Do game developers get to tell us how to play
This is the reason I rarely play some Japanese developers. There are plenty of Japanese made games that are very restrictive on saving and also in control schemes. I downloaded a JRPG on Game Pass, and the first thing that popped up was a message telling me to use a controller. I just shut the game down and uninstalled it.

If they want to sell more games, they'll learn to be more accommodating.
 
If the dev has decided to use a particular control scheme/method, and you don't like it, your only choice is to not buy it. Perhaps there is an audience out there who doesn't mind the games how they are, or they would have changed it already if no one bought the games.
First, if I want to ruin a (single player) game by cheating, it really isnt any developers business, it only cheats yourself.
yep and long ago cheats were built into the game as rewards for beating it more... not a terrible thing to be fought with viruses. Clearly most devs now don't actually play games. Those days are long gone, now it seems hate making a game is latest trend. Lets not give people what they want, lets give them what we think they deserve. Edutainment... you need to be told what to do and no going outside the outlines.
 
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Sorry about the dupe thread. I did do a search. I have another in the chamber about game difficulty.

Those days are long gone, now it seems hate making a game is latest trend. Lets not give people what they want, lets give them what we think they deserve. Edutainment... you need to be told what to do and no going outside the outlines.

This has me laughing hard :)
 
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Here is a bit more in-depth for one. This idea of immersion. I would say first that I have never virtual reality, so anything related may not apply to my experience.

I know often that dev's will completely remove the HUD in a game with the idea to 'make the player feel more like there really there'

The flaw in that logic as I see it, is that we are not actually there, and a great majority of our experienced reality is our other senses that are not duplicated by a video game. So for example, when I see on my minimap there is a baddy 30m SSW, to me that 'blip' on my minimap is not just some game generated crutch, but rather 'my guy' with 'special forces training', acute or augmented senses etc. Often as humans when we 'sense' something it is a combination of our senses working together 'something just doenst feel right' Generally speaking, in a game we have audio & video. No smell, touch, air current. And BTW thanks Microsoft for killing surround sound. Sorry I always have to add that.

Have you actually ever snuck up behind someone? In a quiet place it is really difficult, but sound is only part of that experience, smell is our strongest sense, and dont discount air current. Thats usually how people 'feel' your presence.

To my point, the HUD replaces what we might really experience if we were actually there, or our super soldier/level 12 warrior might actually perceive.

Having no hud I find it more of a disconnect personally. FWIW fading hud never has bothered me.
 

Zloth

Community Contributor
I haven't seen any game not allow pausing except games that are online. You obviously can't just stop an MMO.

Saves are something I think about a lot, and often make a point of putting the save system in my Steam reviews. For most games, I really want autosaves AND manual saves AND quick saves, preferably at all times. Just know that saving when things are hectic (like when bullets are in the air) is not an easy process! Being able to save during combat means you're going to lose a feature or two you would have otherwise gotten. What's more, the style of some games can make the whole save-and-reload thing bad. A game like Subnautica with the ability to dive in wherever you like with full knowledge that you can just re-load if it goes bad would lose a lot, for instance. Games like that typically will have some mechanic to make it so death isn't all that painful, too. (And, again, MMOs are out of the equation.)

Game controller required can be just the devs being "lazy" (i.e. not having the budget/skills to pull it off), but that's not the only reason. While controllers have fewer buttons, they are in more tactically distinct places. If you need to push several different keys quickly, a controller will work far better. (If you need a whole bunch of keys and aren't in that big of a hurry, a keyboard can do it best.) A mouse can be similar to a thumb stick, but it isn't quite the same and hardly anyone on PC has two of them hooked up. In other words, sometimes a game will require a controller because the game really doesn't work very well with m/k.

Also I would mention people with disabilities, I experienced a difficulty in a game whereby the player had to listen for a very faint 'click', and I dont hear well. It happened to critically important in the game.
Those kinds of things have long been problems. One of the problems with the problems is just how many there are. Color blindness, dyslexia, hard of hearing within certain ranges, dim vision, on and on. Much like figuring out what languages to translate a game into, developers have to weigh the cost of accounting for various disabilities against the profits likely to be gained.

HUDs are frowned upon because they are distracting. Obviously, no game is going to be completely immersive. That doesn't mean it shouldn't try to do what it can! A good HUD will show you what you need to know and no more. A really good HUD will let you scale it. An exceptionally good HUD will let you configure where everything is - but I haven't seen one do that in years. Of course, if you're working on that great HUD, who's working on your excellent save system? Hire another programmer, and you won't have the money to translate to Spanish.
 
You obviously can't just stop an MMO.
why not? Why can't I impose my will on every one else... I want to go eat a meal, I just pause wow mid raid fight, thats fine... everyone can just wait until I remember to come back... I might get distracted watching YouTube. What is an hour or more anyway?

in a way, not being able to pause in a single player is the complete opposite of the above. Why can't you pause in a game if you the only player? I don't play enough games as I can't think of any SP games I play I can't pause. Maybe Torchlight 3 as the hubs are shared by other players from memory. Diablo 4 not having pause will sadden me but I suspect it will also be last Diablo game I try. The balance between game play and scam is starting to lean too far in one direction, and its not a good direction.

i would have problems hearing a soft click just over my pc speakers. games should add subtitles for that situation.
 
I like my video games like I like my board games. I want to be able to walk away whenever I want without losing progress and I want to be able to mess with the game state whenever I want to. So in game terms, I want to be able to pause whenever and to cheat/modify the game. Being able to open a dev console in the game is always a huge plus.

Saving a board game state is of course possible, but in a lot of games not particularly feasible, or not at all times. Which is understandable, but also means we don't play (or buy) a lot of games with long play times. The same holds for video games.

Accessibility for people with disabilities is always nice and should, in my opinion, always be considered from the beginning of development, but in the end it's up to the developer to determine if the extra effort is worth it.
 
I like my video games like I like my board games. I want to be able to walk away whenever I want without losing progress and I want to be able to mess with the game state whenever I want to. So in game terms, I want to be able to pause whenever and to cheat/modify the game. Being able to open a dev console in the game is always a huge plus.
Guys, never play scrabble or Chess against him :D
 
Their is a game on steam with an adult warning i would describe it as porn with a sword so i wont name it as youngsters might see this posting.

I want to get it but i commented that players were saying that after every patch or update you had to start agin as the saves were destroyed.

I commented that this was unacceptable and the devs basically said .... if you have never played a game that you have to restart due to an update destroying a save then all we can say is you cant have done much gaming.


I also think that some devs make the rules up as they go along , i have been given a life time ban from discussions in steam on 1 particular game for " flaming " . A few days later i saw the games devs on twitter using expletives that would get you a ban from their game if they saw you do it. I reported it to twitter and they actually said they allow expletives ???
 
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I haven't seen any game not allow pausing except games that are online. You obviously can't just stop an MMO.

Saves are something I think about a lot, and often make a point of putting the save system in my Steam reviews. For most games, I really want autosaves AND manual saves AND quick saves, preferably at all times. Just know that saving when things are hectic (like when bullets are in the air) is not an easy process! Being able to save during combat means you're going to lose a feature or two you would have otherwise gotten. What's more, the style of some games can make the whole save-and-reload thing bad. A game like Subnautica with the ability to dive in wherever you like with full knowledge that you can just re-load if it goes bad would lose a lot, for instance. Games like that typically will have some mechanic to make it so death isn't all that painful, too. (And, again, MMOs are out of the equation.)

Game controller required can be just the devs being "lazy" (i.e. not having the budget/skills to pull it off), but that's not the only reason. While controllers have fewer buttons, they are in more tactically distinct places. If you need to push several different keys quickly, a controller will work far better. (If you need a whole bunch of keys and aren't in that big of a hurry, a keyboard can do it best.) A mouse can be similar to a thumb stick, but it isn't quite the same and hardly anyone on PC has two of them hooked up. In other words, sometimes a game will require a controller because the game really doesn't work very well with m/k.

Those kinds of things have long been problems. One of the problems with the problems is just how many there are. Color blindness, dyslexia, hard of hearing within certain ranges, dim vision, on and on. Much like figuring out what languages to translate a game into, developers have to weigh the cost of accounting for various disabilities against the profits likely to be gained.

HUDs are frowned upon because they are distracting. Obviously, no game is going to be completely immersive. That doesn't mean it shouldn't try to do what it can! A good HUD will show you what you need to know and no more. A really good HUD will let you scale it. An exceptionally good HUD will let you configure where everything is - but I haven't seen one do that in years. Of course, if you're working on that great HUD, who's working on your excellent save system? Hire another programmer, and you won't have the money to translate to Spanish.
Yes I don't think I've seen a game you can't pause. I thnk devs do make some good decisions about Saves and as you say it depends on the game. Players on Steam used to complain about lack of saves in Sniper V2, but I think it gave the gameplay a sense of jeopardy knowing you had to make it to a certain point.

Isn't it that some games are designed for controllers and most games are designed for consoles, but I just imagined that was manufacturers supplying a demand. Then Sony will release the PC version later.

Developers are thinking about how to allow better access, some are more progressive, not only in the content of their games(ie: depicting all types of people), but WD's Legion offered different settings for those who are colour blind. I use one of the colourblind settings, it just looks better.

'options are a good thing!' does seem to be the way most dev teams think.

Most games let you switch off all HUD's. In fact most games allow for massive amounts of personalisation, so unless the dev team have chosen something because they believe it will enhance gameplay, then usually there are options.

So OP I don't think dev teams(or gaming companies) are becoming 'dictatorial'. I think the opposite, I think they are developing a wide variety of games, on different devices and trying to make it as accessible as possible to as many people as possible.
 
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I commented that this was unacceptable and the devs basically said .... if you have never played a game that you have to restart due to an update destroying a save then all we can say is you cant have done much gaming.

That is flat out wrong. The only thing they can't always account for and will warn you about is mods but wiping out everyone's run every update is not standard practice at all except maybe early access.
 
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/quote
Zloth wrote:
A game like Subnautica with the ability to dive in wherever you like with full knowledge that you can just re-load if it goes bad would lose a lot, for instance. Games like that typically will have some mechanic to make it so death isn't all that painful, too. (And, again, MMOs are out of the equation.)
/quote

Oooh Subnautica, thats my game, played since early access, must have 12 play-throughs, sequal in the works if you havent heard :)

Its worth mentioning that, unless otherwise stated, I am always speaking from a single player game perspective since I dont play games online. I will note that in my posts more frequently for clairification.

Personlly I can live with 2 or 3 save slots, sometimes it pinches when you have to decide to overwrite, but you get the choice.

/quote
[B]mjs warlord[/B]
I want to get it but i commented that players were saying that after every patch or update you had to start agin as the saves were destroyed.

I commented that this was unacceptable and the devs basically said .... if you have never played a game that you have to restart due to an update destroying a save then all we can say is you cant have done much gaming.
/quote

I agree with you. Personally I think that well designed software shouldnt break between update/upgrade/patches. We all know sometimes this is unavaoidable because well, dev's say stuff like that sometimes:

"in the past savegames worked after the update, unfortunatley this time we were unable to maintain compatibility, you will need to start a new game." Blah, blah, blah

We understand, but I wager most would agree every single update, and patch is egregious. Especially if its buggy and needs frequent updates. Those are the ones you wait for 'Gold' edition.
 
...
To my point, the HUD replaces what we might really experience if we were actually there, or our super soldier/level 12 warrior might actually perceive.

Having no hud I find it more of a disconnect personally. FWIW fading hud never has bothered me.
You made some good points in this post. I like having a very informative HUD. There are some things that you don't need in front of you that would work fine in a menu. But I like having everything in front of me that I need. Not only that, but I really like in-game guidance, too. I know some people get annoyed, but I like it. I like having navigation points for quests, and I also like the on screen reminders for controls to do what currently needs to be done, if it's something you don't constantly use. Having that for the first fourth or third of the game is pretty helpful.

in a way, not being able to pause in a single player is the complete opposite of the above. Why can't you pause in a game if you the only player? I don't play enough games as I can't think of any SP games I play I can't pause.
I think it's mostly multiplayer that you can't pause, and that's understandable. About every SP game I've played has at least one screen you can pause on. But what is frustrating sometimes is when you're on one of the menu screens that does not pause, and you get attacked by a wild bear or something when you're just trying to look at your inventory. I'm playing AC: Odyssey right now, and it's like that.
 
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Oooh Subnautica, thats my game, played since early access, must have 12 play-throughs, sequal in the works if you havent heard :)

Did you play Below Zero? I have it sitting there and haven't touched it.

Friggin' loved subnautica. All my playthroughs I always ended up building my starter base craddling the edge of the mushroom cave vertical entrance, to the East of the shallows. I liked it there, beautiful spot and pretty central to a lot of important resources.

They actually released a huge update for Sub1 very recently. Retrofitting a lot of Below Zero improvements in the first game which is pretty dang cool to see a company maintain their older games like this.
 
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Very nice post @danthegamer , it touches on several issues that I've always had concerns with, though I'd don't know that I'd personally term it "dictating how to play a game"; though admittedly it comes close. I think it's due to a developer's game design vision (which can be a bit overbearing at times) to create an immersive experience, tension, suspense, or a sense of accomplishment when you complete a difficult objective.

But all those feelings tend to be pretty subjective based on each individual gamer, what's suspenseful to one person might be frustrating to another. Take the inclusion of QTEs (@Brian Boru 's favorite) for example. You could be really into a game's gameplay, combat, exploration, and/or story; and then you come up against a QTE where you have to hit quickly certain keys, at certain times just to progress. Is it dictating how to play or game design to create "suspense"? Is it fun or is it frustrating? It's going to depend upon the perception of the gamer.

For me QTEs are immersion breaking, as repeating the same "event" over and over just to hit the right key, at the right speed, at the right time is frustrating.

I have noticed that game developers have become more rigid with some game mechanics such as pausing or saving the game.
Saves are something I think about a lot, and often make a point of putting the save system in my Steam reviews. For most games, I really want autosaves AND manual saves AND quick saves,
Saving my game at anytime is huge to me as well. I play only single player games, and I can accept not saving during combat or cutscenes (which is not that uncommon), but I absolutely hate "check point saves", and I will avoid games that rely on them. If I'm immersed in a game and I suddenly realize that it's 2:00 AM and I need to go to bed, I want to be able to save my current place in the game (or if I have to help put out someone's baby who is on fire :)). Do not tell me when and where I can save (with the acceptable scenarios of combat & cutscenes).

The one exception to that is with ARPGs that usually have the "Save on Exit" feature, like Diablo 2. It works with those types of games because they are mostly about clearing maps or levels, gathering "loot", upgrading your gear, and leveling up your character. Also, replaying a certain map or level doesn't usually take long and can yield better loot, and is often done by players that "farm" certain areas.

I know often that dev's will completely remove the HUD in a game with the idea to 'make the player feel more like there really there'

To my point, the HUD replaces what we might really experience if we were actually there, or our super soldier/level 12 warrior might actually perceive.

Having no hud I find it more of a disconnect personally. FWIW fading hud never has bothered me.

When it comes to HUD elements, I ascribe to the famous quote of @Brian Boru (or maybe it's the quote by the Famous @Brian Boru ?), that "options are a good thing". There are games that I play that I actually want, or even need the UI, or HUD elements to feel comfortable while playing, especially if there are a lot of key bindings to remember. But I also like to take screenshots, so I appreciate the choice to turn them off (or have them fade away when not in use).

In Bethesda games, like Skyrim & Fallout 4, there are mods that allow you to either change the UI/HUD or choose when it appears. In Elex 2, I used the UI/HUD until I became fluent with the controls, then kept it off. In my current game of The Witcher 3 there are options to turn all UI/HUD elements off (I currently leave it on because of all the controls to remember), but there is a photo mode key that freezes the game and removes all UI/HUD elements. So it varies game by game for me, but having variable options is a sign to me that a developer really cares about all the different wants of as many gamers as possible.
 
For me QTEs are immersion breaking, as repeating the same "event" over and over just to hit the right key, at the right speed, at the right time is frustrating.
I don't mind QTEs as long as they're few and far between. Like the Tomb Raider games have QTEs every once in a while, but it's not the main part of the gameplay, by any means. If it's like that, I don't have a problem with it.
 
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agree with woodensaucer about the quick time events, I dont linke them but they are tolerable if few and far between.

Here are a few games with no 'pause' in gameplay, I will hunt down more later I am replacing the gearbox on my bushhog, and playing the 'beat the sunset' game at the moment.

I may be wrong about some so dont hold my feet to the fire plz

Dying light 2
the colonist
raft
mount and blade 2 bannerlord

I will check these later and add some more.
 
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I think the 'lack of games without Pause' is already established.

I have noticed some in game mechanics that I felt were being forced on me, but usually gamers find a way to by pass restrictions, create a mod or try whatever.

I think with HUD's it depends how you view them. Some see them as additional feedback for players, others see them as part of the training, which you reduce as you learn and turn off for full immersion.

So I can see that if the dev team were aiming for immersion.
 
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/quote ipman
I think the 'lack of games without Pause' is already established.
/quote

You lost me. Probably because I am very tired, but has it been established that there are or are not games that do not have a pause feature? I only listed a few because some were saying thay had never seen any.

I verified raft, and I may have been thinking 'State of Decay 2' rather than 'Dying Light 2'

/quote ipman
I have noticed some in game mechanics that I felt were being forced on me, but usually gamers find a way to by pass restrictions, create a mod or try whatever.
/quote

Yeah like autosave only, and you alt-tab to your user folder and copy the savegame file into a backup folder LOL!

Someone acually wrote a program to do this very thing. You tell it which folder to copy, and you can click again to restore it to the game folder.
 
Someone acually wrote a program to do this very thing. You tell it which folder to copy, and you can click again to restore it to the game folder.

I once set up my save folder to sync with DropBox, mostly to share saves between computers before cloud saves were a thing, but it also had an automatic versioning system so you could restore an older version of a save with a few clicks as well.
 

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