Usability and accessibility

I have a certain reputation with my gaming friends – I am known as Jurie “Died 3 Times During The Tutorial” Horneman. My frustration threshold is extremely low. It can be measured in millimeters (Um. What is that in non-metric? “Toe-nails”. Right.) Not only do I fail comically so early that most people would say that the game hasn’t even started yet, I feel no qualms about publicly blaming my mishaps on some poor game designer somewhere. Thank Donald Norman for that: After he taught me to blame doors, I was completely liberated.

Cases in point:

  • Skate and Burnout Paradise, where I respectively got stuck in the tutorial and failed to find the game.
  • Mass Effect, where I instantly got lost in the first mission. I mean, be serious: Spawn the player in the first level and then point him in the wrong direction? Do you know how much trouble I went through to rotate the camera just so at the start of some of the Manhunt 2 levels I worked on? Maybe this was a glitch – I can’t believe this was left in the game.
  • Assassin’s Creed, which generally befuddled me.
  • Prince of Persia: Sands of Time. Don’t get me started on the first boss battle.
  • Halo 2. I literally got killed by the first enemy in the game. This is a mass-market shooter? I played it again a while later, but the streaming issues, blah graphics, AI problems and a ridiculous cut-scene meant I stopped before very long. (I was expecting a somewhat serious SF story, not some crappy schlock where someone drop-kicks bombs through space.)

Why should gamers put up with it when developers don’t take the time to polish the first 30 minutes or so of their games?

Anyway, I just discovered that Manveer Heir over at Design Rampage ran into a similar problem. He couldn’t even start Metal Gear Solid 3: Subsistence, and he rightly condemns the fabled design geniuses over at Konami for it. Right on!

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