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Console Continuation Means Sometimes Going Beyond Default

Six persistent problems that continue to plague most console games are addressed.

As someone who loves playing and working with video games, I have noticed that there are some persistent problems in the console gaming industry that are still not getting the full attention they deserve.  In an effort to improve the overall quality of console games everywhere, I am sharing what I have found to be some of the most overlooked problems and solutions.

PROBLEM: LIMITED CONTROL OPTIONS

SOLUTION: CUSTOMIZABLE BUTTON-MAPPING

The Best-Case Scenario is being allowed to choose either the default controls or customize your own control scheme by mapping out each specific action to the exact button and stick of your choosing.  The Worst-Case Scenario is being forced to use only one specific control layout, no matter how much you may dislike it.

Many console games today allow you to adjust control preferences such as vertical / horizontal movement sensitivity, X / Y axis inversion, vibration on or off, and sometimes even specific button-mapping.  Even though the default control scheme is usually the most well-thought-out layout for that particular game, by not allowing action-mapping customization, we not only risk displeasing the player, we risk preventing them from purchasing the game in the first place.  Some players are handicapped, with limited motor skills or missing limbs, and may not be able to adequately enjoy some games due to the lack of button-customization.

PROBLEM: LIMITED ONSCREEN LEGIBILITY

SOLUTION: WRITTEN WORD ADJUSTABILITY

The Best-Case Scenario is being able to adjust the words on the screen so that they are easy for you to read, no matter what size the screen, or how far you are from it.  The Worst-Case Scenario is being stuck with print that is so tiny, you have difficulty reading it even after moving in close to the screen.

Many console games today allow you to adjust display preferences such as brightness / color, adjusting HUD opacity, hiding or showing the crosshair, and sometimes even the level of gore onscreen.  The ability to change the font style, color, and size of the words onscreen can make them easier to read, making the players gaming experience that much more pleasant.  Not everyone plays console games directly in front of their television, and not everyone has a large state-of-the-art flatscreen.

PROBLEM: LIMITED LANGUAGE & SUBTITLE OPTIONS

SOLUTION: OPTIONAL LANGUAGES & SUBTITLES

The Best-Case Scenario is being able to choose the language being spoken, the language of the subtitles, and the ability to turn the subtitles on or off.  The Worst-Case Scenario is having only one language available with no subtitle support whatsoever.

Many console games today allow you to adjust the volume levels of the music, voices, sound effects, and sometimes even allow the choice between two spoken languages.  We cannot assume that everyone of a particular country speaks only one specific language, because there are always exceptions to the rule.  If we cannot provide a choice of the spoken word, then we should at least provide the choice of the written word, like that of watching a foreign movie with native subtitles.  Some players are handicapped, with limited hearing or complete deafness, and may not be able to adequately follow the story and dialogue to some games due to a lack of subtitles.

PROBLEM: LOAD-STALLING AUTO-SAVE AKNOWLEDGEMENT

SOLUTION: LOAD GAME & THEN INFORM

The Best-Case Scenario is inserting a game and having it load before making the players press buttons and take actions.  The Worst-Case Scenario is inserting a game and then having to wait as the game partially loads, then pressing a button to acknowledge a message (usually informing the player about the auto-save function) and commence with the rest of the loading, all before arriving at the main menu.

Many console games today allow you to adjust settings such as display, audio, game difficulty, and sometimes even the ability to toggle the auto-save function on or off.  Any important messages should be displayed only after the game has finally finished the initial loading process, taking the player immediately to the main menu once they have acknowledged the message by pressing a button to continue.  After playing a game for many times, it is not unheard of for a player to insert the game disk and then step away for a moment while the game loads, forgetting they will need to press something in the middle of the loading process.  Then only upon returning do they remember they need to push a button to wait some more as the game finishes loading, before they can finally play the game.

PROBLEM: NO INSTANT REPLAY

SOLUTION: OFFER INSTANT REPLAY CAPABILITY

The Best-Case Scenario is being able to see an instant replay of the last few minutes of gameplay from different angles and at different speeds like that of a highlight reel, or even saving that moment to your gaming system to view again at a later date, or possibly share online with friends.  The Worst-Case Scenario is to have no instant replay or recording ability, leaving only fleeting moments with no record of them happening.

Many sports, racing, and fighting games of today incorporate instant replays of some kind, usually during or after gameplay.  If more games incorporated such a function, people could show each other their personal gameplay highlights, leading to further discussion of that specific game.  The online console capabilities could even be used to upload these highlights to sites such as YouTube, leading to increased global awareness of that particular game.

PROBLEM: LONG END CREDITS

SOLUTION: INTERACTIVE END CREDITS

The Best-Case Scenario is to enjoy the end credits by interacting with them in a manner that is both fun and rewarding for the player.  The Worst-Case Scenario is having to sit passively through the credits with no interaction whatsoever.

Some console games today have pleasant surprises either during or after the credits, which can encourage a person to sit through them rather than end them prematurely with the touch of a button.  It is good to acknowledge all of the hard-working people it took to make that particular game, but due to the many people involved, the end credits can take up a large amount of the players time.  Rather than simply end or speed up the credits, there should be more creative solutions that allow and encourage the player to continue to play as the credits roll, such as rewarding the player with extra knowledge of the game, insight to the game characters, or even special trophy / achievement awards for playing through to the end.

The evolution and continuation of the console gaming industry is an ongoing process, one that continues to benefit greatly from the exchanging of ideas and the taking of chances.

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