Oh PC games! Let us count the ways we love thee, for thou art pretty cool. And if thou hadst a shapely corporeal bod, we would cradle that bod in our arms and do that thing where we hold hands and spin around in the park while the camera switches from our perspective to yours and back again, spinning and spinning as we fall in love. You’re alright, PC games.
But you’re not perfect. And while you’d be right to think that our whining about minor inconveniences in PC gaming is a disgusting abuse of the immense privilege of being born into a reality in which every one of us has ready access to incomprehensibly powerful technology, we’re going to do exactly that because we are awful.
Ssshhh, here are 50 things that PC gaming needs to stop doing right now.
1. Leaving folders behind after uninstalling, like dirty regret confetti.
2. Any form of copy protection that doesn’t involve using a codewheel to design a pirate’s outfit.
3. Why does .NET framework need more updating?
The .NET Framework step (4 of 4) of Steam installation is the Waiting for Godot of modern PC gaming. In the long pauses before this ambiguous process resolves (or doesn’t), we are forced to confront the shrieking emptiness of our lives, the oceans of regret that lap against the shore of consciousness, and the inevitability of our decline and death. Basically, .NET Framework amplifies everything that makes PC gaming necessary.
4. Using My Documents as a filthy dumping ground for your mucky save games, making it marginally more difficult to find more important things like my in-progress teen vampire romance novel.
5. Updating Java.
6. Updating Flash.
7. Trust me, I have the latest version of DirectX.
Let me tell you about the time a DirectX auto-update enabled me to play a game.It was Christmas 1997, and I’d just taken a new IBM Aptiva desktop out of its box and installed Dark Forces II: Jedi Knight. It installed a new version of DirectX and solved some graphics issues with my videocard’s performance. “What a cool feature,” I thought.That is the last time that thought ever occurred to me.
8. Changes to video settings requiring a restart.
9. Updating Adobe Reader. What possible new developments have been made in the field of opening and viewing PDFs?
10. Displaying in anything other than my monitor’s resolution by default.
11.Requiring that I keep a loudly whirring box of wires and dust under my desk. Surely AMD can suffuse nanotransistors into the atmosphere by now, turning the very air around us into inhaleable graphics processing power.
12. Double clicking, come on, what’s up with that? Less double clicking if you don’t mind.
13. Please uninstall, I beg of you
After I decide to delete a game, absolutely everything needs to be gone, except perhaps a few small save files somewhere sensible. Like in a folder called “Savegames”. I don’t want to update before I can uninstall. I don’t want to discover that the game has vanished from the desktop or quick-launch row, but has left behind several GB of data. I don’t want to blow a game away, but then be left with a bunch of vestigial “services” that it carried like fleas.
This isn’t a break-up, I don’t want to do this gently. I want your shit out of my virtual house, and I don’t want to have to think about you until the next time I feel like giving it a shot.
14.Windows updates forcing my PC to restart every other day, with dialogue boxes that pop up as you’re typing and accept any keypress as confirmation that you’d like to shut everything down immediately without saving.
15. Let me pick a target framerate and then leave the room to make a cup of tea while you benchmark a bunch of different video and graphics settings in an attempt to find the best possible configuration.
16.Let’s leave 1920×1080 behind for good and make 4K the standard PC gaming resolution. That’ll show those Xboxers who’s in charge.
17. Actually, about My Documents…
This might be a problem that’s more common among people who write for a living, but is anyone else a little annoyed that My Documents is being treated as a root directory dumping ground for all the cruft generated by just about every program you install? Let’s get this figured out, people. How about a Save Games directory in My Documents that everybody agrees to use, so that next year my accountant doesn’t wind up with my Mass Effect 2 save.
18.It’s absolutely unfair to give Steam a free pass here, but we have more than enough third-party storefronts software now. Our system trays are full. Origin, uPlay, GameHat, BlastZone, X-Jibe, BumConnect, you can all take a hike. We’re feebly prostrating ourselves at Valve’s monopolistic feet and that’s that.
19. Alt-F4 must immediately abort everything and dump us stunned and blinking back to the harsh brightness of our desktop.
20.Alt-Tab must switch us out to whatever else we’ve got going on with no graphical bizarreness. We’re not programmers, but this seems like it should be easy to do.
21.Mouse acceleration should be off by default. It shouldn’t even be an option. Attempting to turn it on should just flash up a sad old face on screen alongside a .wav of your grandmother sighing.
22. Among the very few things Games For Windows got right was allowing you to plug in an Xbox 360 pad mid-game and have all the controls and HUD indicators dynamically switch over. Bring this back. This was nice.
23. Why yes, I HAVE played a videogame before, thank you!
Tutorials should not be designed for people who have never seen a game before. Seriously, is there a camera configuration you’re using that nobody has ever seen before? Does moving the mouse to the edge of the screen cause it to move, or cause my character to rotate? Does “R” reload, and does right clicking cause a unit to move to point on a map? Then cut the crap and let me cut your tutorial.
24. Way back in the 2000s, presumably before some lawyers got involved, you could point a game towards a folder of MP3s and listen to your own music while playing, through in-car radios and the like. Can we have that back, please?
25. Multiple profiles for saved games and control configurations, because we have friends and partners and children and siblings and parents who also want to play.
26. If I press a button, move the mouse, or do anything that isn’t sitting perfectly still, that means I want to skip the Nvidia logo.
27. Default graphics settings made easy: here, use mine
Do you think I’m running my desktop at 1920 x 1080 just for the sheer thrill of it? Do you really think I haven’t calibrated my monitor’s contrast, brightness, and gamma? Then don’t have your game default to anything else but the same display standards that Windows uses. If it needs to be tweaked, help me calibrate in-game settings to work with my own.
But don’t launch at 720 vertical pixels and make me re-launch to fix it, and don’t allow those settings to changes to filter back to Windows. Every time I use a Codemasters game I have to restore my default display settings because they blow out the gamma and then my desktop looks like I’m trying to cheat my way through Doom’s dark areas.
28. Audio diaries.
30.Pre-rendered cutscenes made using the game engine, allowing us a brief glimpse at an unachievable graphical fidelity, albeit one muddied by blocky compression artifacts.
31.There’s no reason why graphics drivers aren’t entirely self-updating. This technology is way behind the curve. By now my graphics card should be sentient and offering me cups of tea.
32.The concept of platform or retailer exclusive content. The PC doesn’t have the likes of a Sony or a Microsoft to fork over cash to publishers in order to secure an exclusive mission or a special hat, so we inevitably end up missing out on stuff.
33. Could voicechat just… work?
Making a multiplatform game is probably hard, I get that. Standards are different. PC owners might talking into a webcam microphone, a studio recording suite, or a standard headset. PS3 owners may not be talking into anything at all. And the Xbox 360 owners, well, some of them are talking, but others still struggle with the power of human speech and instead gasp and breathe into the microphone they’re apparently attempting to eat. So yeah, my sympathies.
But really, I just want the option for push-to-talk with easy, clear voice communication with everyone on my team or in my group. Without installing a third-party client, or corralling everyone I need on Skype. Just… let me talk to people.
34.MOBAs that look a bit like Dota.
35. FPSes that look a bit like Battlefield.
36.MMOs that look a bit like World of Warcraft.
37. Why am I navigating menus with my keyboard?
Seriously, why is this a thing that happens? Why was I using my steering wheel’s face buttons in conjunction with my keyboard to play F1 2013? Trust me, nobody was thinking, “Gee, I wish there were more games that let me use arrow keys and a paddle-shifter to get through options menus.” Mouse support is non-negotiable.
38. Any sort of always-online requirement.
39.Any sort of timed exclusive.
40.Region-specific online release dates. The internet doesn’t have borders.
41. Microtransactions. They’re not an inherently bad business model, sure, but they’ve been criminally abused and more often than not are entirely counter to proper game design philosophy. So now you’re not allowed to have them, you naughty publishers.
42.Not strictly games related this one, but oh my god, printers. Printers. How did we get printers so wrong.
43. Embrace our multifunction software environment
Does alt-tabbing cause your game to crash? Can I reliably get right back in after I’ve visited my desktop? Can I run your game in windowed mode, so that I don’t need to alt-tab in order to pay a visit to the rest of my machine? Can I minimize your game?
These aren’t trick questions, they’re important functions that a modern PC game should be able to fulfill. Especially because I guarantee you something is going to update in the background while I’m playing, and snap me to desktop anyway, just so some piece of Adobe garbage can congratulate itself on downloading a patch.
44.It would be nice if when we looked down we saw our legs more often. Just saying.
45.We have enough polygons now to always have detailed in-car views in racing games, with properly rendered velour driving gloves.
46.Let’s spend an ounce of the energy and processing power spent on rendering rounder army helmets on developing better AI, as we seem to have plateaued around the time Half-Life launched.
47. How about YOU register for an account, pal?
Here’s the thing: I don’t really want a relationship with a company. If I bought your game with cash up front and don’t need to play online to enjoy it, then I don’t really want to give you my email, much less any kind of credit card information.
There are dozens of places that now demand I give them an email, a username, and a password. Because I’m a human and not some kind of keygen robot, I tend to use the same handful of usernames and passwords across a variety of services. So when you want my info, I am trusting you not just with the keys to one account, but an unknown number of others. Is your security good enough to handle that responsibility?
Oh, who are we kidding, of COURSE not. So how about you just let me play Assassin’s Creed without logging into your non-service to ignore offers for free wallpapers? Maybe make a SimCity that just lets me build a sprawling metropolis by myself, like God and Mayor Daley intended, instead of bending over backwards to explain how you’re doing me a service by handcuffing me to a dubious multiplayer service?
Oh, and take your “special character” requirement and double em-dash it.
48. Maybe don’t obfuscate the reasons why you’re updating so often, so that ignorant list-writers on PC games websites don’t presume you’re simply updating DirectX to wind us up.
49. Bring back game boxes with chunky manuals and CDs because we’re old and this new era of convenience terrifies us.
50. Disable the Windows key.