10 Lazy Game Design Cliches That Piss Me Off

10 Lazy Game Design Cliches That Piss Me Off

By Jeremy Azevedo
There’s a lot to like about modern video games… The graphics look better, the music sound better, the stories are deeper, and the gameplay is more advanced without being too complicated. But there’s also a lot to hate!

No matter how much time passes, no matter how much people complain, the same old lazy game design clichés persist like crabs in a cathouse. Following is a list of the top 10 most intolerable design elements still in use today…

Unskippable Tutorials/Cutscenes

And so on and so forth…

Goddamnit, the game already comes with a manual, right? If I wanted to know how to play the game, I’d read that and be done with it. Don’t make me sit through a tutorial before I can play the game, especially if it’s cleverly disguised as “gameplay”. The same goes for cut scenes: If I wanted to watch a movie, I’d do that. I’m all for story development and everything, but if it comes at a cost of gameplay, if it’s unskippable (especially on subsequent playthroughs) or if it’s overlong, then I can do without. Metal Gear series, I’m looking squarely at you on this one! Shut your goddamn pie-hole and let me shoot some terrorists or robots or whatever the f**k already!

Locked Doors

Wow. Really?

So let me get this straight: I am a badass 6’4 spec-ops mercenary packing a bazooka, a cyborg exo-skeleton and a machine gun with a chainsaw attached to it, but I can’t kick open a locked door? Seriously? This is especially retarded in games with vehicles, which you always magically have the keys to regardless of said vehicle’s origin, or in Resident Evil games, where the key is always some piece of shit stone idol or jewel or something. If I have a lightsaber or a grenade launcher in my hand, no locked door is going to stop me, so please, for the love of god, think of a better way to impede my progress than making me look for another lousy color coded key card.

Stealth or Anything That Requires Patience

At least give us something to motivate our sneaking, amirite?

Jesus H. Christ in a chicken basket, who enjoys this? What is fun about patiently waiting for some asshole A.I. to round a corner so you can sneak past him/her/it without being seen and instantly sent back to start? If there’s anything I don’t want to simulate in my gaming experiences it’s patiently waiting, something that I get to do plenty of in real life at the grocery store, the movie theater, in traffic, etc. This goes double for any bastard game developers that make me escort some defenseless and suicidal wimp from point A to point B without getting them smoked. If I wanted to babysit, I wouldn’t be playing an action game, I’d be playing Barbie’s Beach Babysitting Adventures and drooling into a cup that’s been conveniently strapped to my chin to protect my t-shirt from getting all wet.

Characters That Die or Leave the Party and Take All Your Good Shit With Them

That’s just f**king great.

Have you ever been playing a role-playing game, like 20 hours in, and all of the sudden one of your characters leaves the party or gets killed? And then you come to find that the departed has peaced out with all your best gear and didn’t have the decency to let you at least loot the body first? For games that put as much emphasis on stat development and item/equipment management as role-playing games do, this can be a real slap in the face. Even worse is when the character comes back at the end of the game with the same equipment, once badass, now totally useless. If you’re going to surprise us with some startling turnabout, then fine, but at least do us the service of giving us back the Sword of Infinite Sorrows or whatever crazy item we logged 2 ½ hours of pure OCD combat in order to obtain!


Birds: An adventurer’s worst enemy.

Never in a million years would anyone (aside from Alfred Hitchcock) have dreamed that birds would be the most dangerous creatures known to man, and yet here we are. At least with werewolves and minotaurs, zombies and chainsaw wielding maniacs you know where you stand. But birds? They just swoop down from absolutely nowhere and peck at you, causing pissant damage, making you to waste ammo and fall off of ledges at the most inopportune times. Remember trying to shoot the spazzoid crows in Resident Evil? What a pain in the ass that was? Or how about the birds in the original Ninja Gaiden games, tell me those weren’t some real controller snappers! If you’re going to throw divebombing super birds at us at every turn, at least give us a “swat” feature so we can shoo them off like the worthless hallow-boned nuisance that they are.

Rubberband A.I.

No matter what, every goddamn race ends this way.

I remember back in the day, when I’d be playing Pole Position (the game, not the euphemism for self abuse) and I’d be having the race of my life. My moves were so perfect, not only was I way in the lead, but I was actually lapping the competition. Nowadays, not even a header off a bridge will stop the computer from caching up to you at the last goddamn moment no matter how much you practice or how far ahead you are. The latest game to make my want to smash the controller for doing this is Mario Kart on the Wii, which requires that you race every track 150% better than is humanly possible to unlock all of the secret karts and characters. But then the game sees fit to hit you with a blue shell, a red shell, a lightning bolt, a banana peel and a giant Baby Mario microseconds before you cross the finish line at the end of the last race, causing you to have to do the whole f**king circuit over again. All this, despite the fact that you were like an entire lap ahead when it happened.

Water Phobia

Tommy Vercetti: Killer, extortionist, water weinie.

This one is in the same vein as the whole locked door thing. Even way back in the days of Super Mario Bros., our hero could swim. So why is it that even to this day I sometimes find myself saddled with an adventurer that can climb sheer rock walls, shoot an anti-aircraft gun with his bare hands, punch out a grizzly bear and run 120mph, but never once learned how to tread water? Even GTA didn’t allow swimming until San Andreas came out, and Vice City took place in a town surrounded with water! My favorite is when you’ve got a treasure chest or something on an island with like a couple of feet of water in front of it, but instead of crossing the water, you have to go some long ass way around or build a bridge or something. Seriously?

Bosses That You Have to Fight 3 F**king Times

Have fun fighting every single boss again, loser.

I refuse to play another Devil May Cry game because of this. There are so many variations of demon/monster/alien/whatever that recycling the same ones over and over again is inexcusable. Making them change color and giving them more hit points doesn’t count. Even worse is when you have to fight a boss that’s hard as balls, and then he transforms into something else that’s even harder. After you beat that form, there’s always one more bastard form with a special one hit kill move that sends your ass packing back to the beginning of the fight. I’m all for a challenge and everything, but I only have so much patience. At least let me restart from the last fight so I don’t have to do the whole goddamn thing over and over. An extra special "F**k You" goes out to the original Actraiser, which not only makes you fight one of those obnoxious multi-stage transforming bosses, but also makes you re-fight every single boss from the entire game before you even get to him.

80 Hour games With 40 Second Endings

That’s it? Thanks for playing?! (Blows brains out, dies.)

WTF? Did I seriously power through a marathon two-week long gaming session only to find out that the whole story could be summed up in a crappy 40-second video? Or a “thanks for playing!” message, or worse yet “to be continued?” I remember getting that last one at the end of Halo 2, one system and three years before the sequel would arrive. Here’s a news flash for game designers: Even movies that are part of “trilogies” have stand-alone endings that make each film watchable on their own. So if you’re going to make believe that you’re Peter Jackson, try paying a little closer attention and give us some payoff for our time and emotional investment.

Timed Button Presses or, "Real Time Events"

Press R2, Up, X and Triangle NOW to escape the humanimal rape chamber!

Sweet mother of god I swear to Christ that this is the dumbest thing to pop up in modern gaming in over a decade. If I wanted to play f**king Dragon’s Lair I’d go to Scandia Funtime Arcade and it would cost me a quarter to be disappointed, not fifty American dollars. God of War is, in my opinion, the worst offender of this. Why in the hell should I spend hours developing my skills to the point at which I can slay the game on the hardest modes only to find myself unable to ever finish the game because I am categorically unable to play “Simon” well enough to finish off Zeus at the very last moment of the game? The goddamn commands change every time, and you only have like a faction of a second to respond! And there are like fourteen motherf**ling buttons on a PS2 controller for crissakes! F**k you, David Jaffe, and that goes double for anyone that went on to copy you, adding timed button presses to every lousy game to follow in an attempt to add “variety”. You suck. Stop it.