Thursday, March 29, 2012

Top 5 Bad Ideas in Video Games

Thanks, XKCD!
Bad ideas seem to invariably start with a frat boy origin. "Guys, we should do this.  It would be totally awesome if we do this!"

And then, they fall flat on their face.  Every industry has its share of good ideas and bad ideas.  It just happens that the bad ideas in the video game industry are far more humorous than other industries.  Video games have had their share of gaffes, and some of these are worthy of making a Top 5 over it.  So, here's my Top 5 bad ideas in video games.

5:Using Urban Dictionary to build the "censored word" list

Believe it or not, someone actually did that.  The PC version of Pure from Black Rock Studios had a word filter that was built from How do we know this?  The flipping folder was named "UrbanDictionary."  WHEN WAS THIS EVER A GOOD IDEA????

If you think this is bad, wait until you see what's coming next:

4: E.T. video game tie-in

Most movie tie-ins are bad ideas in general.  Sometimes, however, you get some genuinely good games. E.T. was not one of them.  According to Wikipedia:

"[Game developer Howard Scott Warshaw] and other Atari executives presented this design to Spielberg, who did not express enthusiasm. Spielberg instead asked him to create a game similar to Namco's Pac-Man."

Even then, making ET to look like Pac-Man is not a particularly good idea, either.  Granted, copyright laws are more restrictive now than they were back then, but you can't make an epic game out of a clone.

Yeah, that's not asking for trouble at all...
3: Hot Coffee

Now, this is one that is a textbook example for bad game design.  The Hot Coffee side mission was left in the retail release, albeit commented out.  For the console versions, unlocking it involved hacking the console, reverse-engineering the code, removing the comment, burning the hacked game to disc, THEN playing it.  It wasn't easy to get going, but the firestorm that ensued was a major blow to Take2 software.

This is a bad idea from a lot of angles.  Leaving in code that's not used is asking for whatever negative publicity you receive.  That said, if you're a developer who removes a feature, just remove the code entirely from the final build.  The community will eventually reverse-compile your game and look at your code, with all of its comments and omissions.  Anything you leave out will be put back in and used against you.

Was this even necessary?
2: Guitar Hero vs. Guitar Hero vs. Guitar Hero vs. Guitar Hero

This one is just plain stupid from a business standpoint.  Activision released four different Guitar Hero Games in one year: Metallica, Smash Hits, Guitar Hero 5, and Van Halen, all in 2009.  When each game is selling for $60 each, Activision essentially gets to compete with itself.  From a business standpoint, this hurt sales for each of these games, and to be frank, the world could have done without Guitar Hero Van Halen.  That one was just plain rushed and totally lackluster.

1: Releasing Duke Nukem Forever

All jokes aside,  Duke Nukem Forever should not have been released.  In many ways, keeping DNF in permanent development limbo would have served as a good teaching point for aspiring game developers.  Young recruits could learn from the failure of 3D Realms and see a real-world lesson in what not to do when making a game.

And, with that, I end another Top 5.  See you in two weeks!


Hunter said...

This is a pretty good list. I am having a hard time picking alternate events for any of the slots. I recently rented Duke Nukem Forever through my Blockbuster @Home service from DISH. I am SO glad I rented the game instead of buying it like I initially wanted to. As a classic Duke fan I had high hopes for that game, only to be dashed by the final product. A DISH coworker asked me if they should rent the game and I told them no. Don’t even look at it. Any ideas you have in your head about the game are much better then the real thing, rent something else.

ddrfr33k said...

Yeah, the game was way overhyped. That said, you might get a laugh out of one of my earlier articles. Go look up "Defending Duke Nukem Forever." I think you'll get a kick out of it.

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