How Not to Write a Computer Game

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How Not To Write A Computer Game

Before I start I had better qualify this by saying that, despite what I write underneath, I spent hours playing White Knight Chronicles, and even now, two years later, I still get flashbacks and longings to play it. That's not to say that it isn't rubbish, by the way, just that it's also quite entertaining. I even wrote an Entry about it, but I pulled it out of PR on the grounds that the Entry itself is flat and boring (just like the game).

How Not To Do It

Make The Player's Character Pointless

When you first load up the game you have a fabulous character generations screen. You can change height, weight, skin colour, hair colour, eyebrow position, jawline, and about six million other things. I have no idea why though, because your character is absolutely pointless. It never says a single word, is practically ignored by all the other characters, and appears to only be there because you followed the protagonist and nobody had the heart to tell you to go home. It only exists so that you can play multiplayer with it, and had to be shoehorned into the solo section. With a very large shoehorn.

Write A Plot That Is Unbelievable And Incredibly Clich├ęd

The peasant boy goes on a quest to save the princess who has been captured by the Evil People, discovering that he has a mystical ability to control a special weapon, making him the Chosen One. Yawn. I mean, really, that could be the plot to almost any rubbish fairytale. It doesn't even pretend to surprise.

Make the Special Weapon Overpowered

The White Knight armour is ridiculously powerful. In fact, I made a personal rule not to use it unless I was forced into it by the plot. If you wanted to, you could swipe your way through all boss fights without breaking an in-game sweat. The only thing worse than a game that's too easy is a game that's so impossibly hard that you can't even imagine getting past the first level. Demon's Souls, I'm looking at you.

Making A Big Deal Of A Game Mechanic That Doesn't Do Anything

In the game it clearly says that some moves are quicker to carry out than others. Unfortunately, when you actually compare the cool down times1 between fast and slow moves you discover they are exactly the same.

Create Enemies That Don't Play By The Rules

Your characters can only hit what they can reach. This makes sense. If you are fighting a dragon, you can only hit its legs and tail if you are carrying a sword. So why, when you aren't allowed to hit a creature that is too far away, are they allowed to hit you?

Making The Second Play Through Exactly The Same

When you complete the game you have the option to re-play the single player campaign, keeping your level and all the equipment that you have earned. 'Fab!', you think, totally unaware that the re-play is identical. As in, the monsters are the ones that you killed back at level 1, even though you are now about level 40. Yes, there are a handful of chests with new items for you to collect, but I'm sorry, that isn't enough to have to watch all those cut scenes again.

Have Enemy Drop Rates That Are Ridiculous

It is very common in games to have to kill enemies to make them drop specific things. This then can be crafted to make new weapons, armour or items. You might need, say 50 bits of brimstone and 20 bits of fire lizard pelt to create a new bit of magical armour. Sounds fair? Well it does until you discover that the chance of this creature dropping the item that you want is less than 1 in 100. Less than 1 percent. Practically zilch. And I am supposed to get how many pelts?

Limit What People Can Learn

"Look! I've bought you a shiny new axe! It cost me half my gold! Whaddya mean, you can't use an axe?"

Nuff said.

Have Frustrating Lag And Dropouts

Mr Vip and I would often play this game at the same time so that we could play together. Despite being sat about two feet from each other, we have to use the online server to do this. This isn't uncommon in modern games (much to our annoyance). Except that in this game, on regular occasions, one or both characters would freeze mid-quest, leaving the other to fight heroically by themselves until the giant troll splatted them with his club. It was even worse when playing with strangers, who probably thought you were leaving intentionally because it had got a bit hard.

It's Not All Bad

I've moaned a lot about this game. It really had some really bad points, and they drove me nuts. In particular, knowing that I would have to fight a tough boss about a thousand times to get my new piece of armour made me give up entirely. But until that point, I actually really enjoyed it.

Maybe I'm just weird.

The Vip Archive


11.06.12 Front Page

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1Cool down - the time you are forced to wait until you can start the next move

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