You will lose all unsaved progress!

April 23, 2008

I love good user interfaces, and I love games. Unfortunately they don’t often overlap. Games seem to have a lower standard of UI polish than the desktop, maybe because of deadlines. This is no excuse, because a frustrating UI sucks the fun out of any game.

I love Rock Band ((Except for the fact that the PS3 version is only 3-player for now because Activision sucks and won’t let the Guitar Hero guitars work with Rock Band.)). That said, it suffers from a common game UI flaw: an irrational fear of unsaved progress. This is particularly impressive for a gave that autosaves by default.

For a demo, go into Quick Play. Play a song a couple times, get frustrated, and choose quit from the pause menu. “Egad! If I do this, I will lose all unsaved progress!” Wait. What unsaved progress? My score up to this point in the song? ((As a side note, this is also a good example of the “Yes and No are always bad menu options” rule.)) If anybody is upset that they can’t resume a song from mid-song, they can go suck a rock.

EA’s NHL games, the poster child of bad game UI, have this problem all over the place. Once a game is over, and you want to leave the game (which you want to do approximately 100% of the time) it asks, “Are you sure?” This isn’t you trying to leave Word without saving, this is you leaving a game that’s finished, people.

Now you game designers go out there and spend more time on UI development.

© Allen Pike. See also Twitter and Steamclock.