Procrastination Amplification: Punditry on MMOs and games in general.

We Named Him Dranosh

When I’m playing games then there’s little that’s more annoying than some boring event that makes me wait instead of allowing me to continue playing the game. Loading screens are one example of that, unskippable cutscenes – especially repeated ones – are another. If you’ve raided World of Warcraft’s Icecrown Citadel on horde side you surely know what other example this post’s title is referring to.

So his name means "Heart of Draenor" in orcish. We get it. Can we kill him now please?

This stretches far beyond cutscenes and loading screens though. One of the main reasons I am rarely playing League of Legends these days is that at a certain point you actually have to stop fighting, fall back to your tower and wait for reinforcements to come before you can afford to continue playing. If you don’t, there’s a huge chance of being ambushed and killed. We are talking about maybe a thirty second or so wait, but it still really annoys me. I want to play the game and not sit around doing nothing.

This doesn’t mean that I need a game to be 100% action all the time, not at all. Slow periods can be quite enjoyable if there is something to watch or think about during that time – and it’s always nice to be able to take a break from time to time. Being forced to wait is a bit like walking behind two slow people in an aisle in a supermarket. Most of the time, the few seconds you are losing due to them blocking your way won’t matter at all, but it still annoys the hell out of me. A good game in my eyes will never artificially stop me from playing if it can be avoided at all.

A lot of this comes down to game design. Don’t stun or slow players (or at least don’t do it very often), don’t make them watch cutscenes when they don’t want to, and gives them something to do even in the slow phases of a game. Starcraft II games could profit from more options being available to players during the first few minutes of a game, for example, instead of making players wait for resources to come in and artificially limiting the building options severely.

What about you? Do you get annoyed by these forced breaks as well or is that just me being stupid?

  • I am most annoyed by forced breaks that I cannot entirely ignore. By that I mean, a long FP annoys me less than a rant in the middle of a fight. The FP I can tab out or walk away and it doesn’t matter much if I come back a few seconds or hours late. But a boss fight, if I’m back even a second late, that could spell doom for a lot of people.

    In a single-player game I see a simple work-around: at the end of any cutscene or event longer than 10 seconds, add a couple buttons: “repeat” and “continue”. So it pauses automatically at the end, allowing you to safely walk away, while also letting you watch it again if you think you missed some critical detail.