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The Perils Of Badly-Handled In-Game Text

In the 12th annual installment of Ernest Adams' Bad Game Designer: No Twinkie column, the consultant looks at a host of mistakes developers make -- and a surprisin
In the 12th annual installment of Ernest Adams' Bad Game Designer: No Twinkie column, the consultant looks at a host of mistakes developers make -- and a surprising number of them center on how games handle text. Adams has been writing these columns every year since 1998, and one of the reader-submitted topics included criticism of the use of "Rapid Non-Stop Text." Shairi Turner wrote, "I have a problem with dialogue moving too quickly. We don't all read at the same speed. While I may have found pressing X or clicking to be tedious in the past, I miss it when it's gone." This is a basic accessibility failure. (Most games have terrible accessibility.) According to Adams, "You need two buttons: Advance to Next Page (which should happen instantly, not in a slow scroll or worse yet, a letter-by-letter display -- TeleTypes were old news by 1985, okay?) and Jump to End, which should take the player to the next point at which she has to take action or make a decision." Uninterruptible text and unreadable subtitles both make the list, too, as well as entries about player alignment and strategy game design, among others. The feature is live now on Gamasutra.

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