This week’s Wednesday Rant looks at unskippable content in video games.
Have you ever had to play a boss over and over because of the difficulty level…and each time you reload, you’re subjected to a drawn out cutscene that you can’t skip? What about an insanely long conversation in an RPG, when all you want to do is save but are stuck listening to a character drone on and on? Or maybe it’s the fifth time you’ve started a new game, and you don’t need to go through the tutorial again…yet are still forced to. Doesn’t that just infuriate you?
Let’s start with cutscenes. I fully appreciate the amount of effort and money that goes into making cutscenes…but come on. Let me skip the damn thing! Sometimes, I’ve already played through the game once, and I don’t want to sit through the cutscenes again. LET ME SKIP IT! I will almost always watch cutscenes start to finish the first time I play through a game…but if I’m replaying it, I will generally just want to skip them. There are also people that just plain don’t care about cutscenes…don’t force them to go do something else while waiting for the cutscene to end. Unskippable cutscenes are far less of an issue than they used to be, although some of them still appear (as pointed out in this article, they sometimes appear in high profile games.)
Moving on to long conversations, JRPGs are the primary culprits. Final Fantasy VI is a great example of this…listening to Sabin drone on and on about being free, hearing Cyan talk about duty and honor, Kefka just yapping away, the returners spending half a century just to decide to split up…these things occur throughout the entire game. Now, don’t get me wrong, I LOVE the dialogue in Final Fantasy VI, but sometimes I just want to save the game and go do something else…which I can’t do because these morons insist on continuing to talk. Let me skip the dialogue quickly, or let me just skip the “cutscene” entirely. Don’t make me have to sit there mashing on the A button (missing story in the process) just because I have to get up and leave to go do something else. Oh yeah, and if there is going to be an unnecessarily long dialogue after a boss fight (again, JRPGs are notorious for this), give me the option to save right after the boss fight, and then also right after the dialogue. Don’t make me listen to the dialogue each time I load that save, or make me wait for the dialogue to be over before I even can save.
Nothing pisses me off in the world of unskippable parts of video games more than tutorials. I appreciate a good tutorial…I like feeling comfortable with a game before really “getting into it”. But please, for the love of everything you believe in to be holy: stop making the tutorial an integral part of the storyline. This means that I HAVE to play the whole way through it each and every time I start a new game. I don’t care about training! I don’t care about learning! I just want to play the game!
The only exception to this is Dragon Age. The origin stories in Dragon Age moonlight as tutorials, enabling you to get into the headspace and surrounding environment of your newly-created character. That’s fine! This section of the game remains simple enough for you to learn if its your first time through, yet remains interesting and unique enough for you to enjoy it if its not your first time. Definitely a great example of how to include a mandatory tutorial without making it feel like one.
Long story short, stop putting in non-gameplay content that we can’t skip. Seriously.