The little options make all the difference.
Welcome to VideoGamer.com's Monday Morning Rant, our regular feature where one of the team gets to vent their spleen on anything that annoys them about the wonderful world of gaming. No subject, no matter how taboo, will be free from our cutting comment and vicious vitriol. Got that Monday morning feeling? Read on, and brace yourself for a wake-up call.
OK. This rant is something that won't bother everyone. In truth it's something that only bothers me every now and then, but when it crops up my faith in the offender as a solid developer is diminished. What am I talking about? Lack of customisation options in video games.
This problem can come in many levels of severity. Let's take Microsoft's Scene it? as an example of a slight problem. The game isn't anything we haven't seen before, but it's done well and is one of the increasing number of titles that appeals to gamers and non-gamers alike. But it's totally devoid of options.
Our main gripe in the office is that there are a relatively high number of questions that are rather US centric - either about films that simply did nothing in this country or films based on popular US sports. Can we not have an option to leave these out of our quizzes? We're also all big fans of the movies from the 1980s. Could we not have had an option to limit questions to films released during that brilliant decade? Christmas is round the corner. How about the option to have a whole quiz based on Christmas movies? But we've got nothing of the sort.
As much as that bothers me, there's far worse out there. I play all action games with an inverted camera on the right analogue stick. When I push up I want my character to look down, and vice-versa. Thankfully this is something that most modern games allow you to change and something the Xbox 360 ties to your Gamertag profile. So why do games ship without the option to switch the X-Axis camera? It's madness.
If I'm walking along in a third-person game, I often use the right analogue stick to move my character. If I push it right the camera and character turn to the right, etc. So if a game ships with the camera set up the other way, and there's no option to inverse it, the game becomes instantly harder to play. Final Fantasy XII on the PlayStation 2 commits such a crime, meaning I was put off from playing one of the best games released for the console. All because a simple toggle switch wasn't included in the game's options menu.
But there's worse still. Video games are designed with right-handers in mind. Thankfully I'm right handed, but for many left handed players the ability to switch the control of the left and right analogue sticks around can make the difference between a game being great and totally unplayable. Again, this is something that isn't hard for a developer to do, but it's something that is often not included. For these 'southpaw' gamers, this option means everything and developers simply don't seem to give the problem the respect it deserves.
I don't want console games to become like their PC counterparts, with options for everything you'd ever want to tweak, but these simple things should be in every game released. We're not all the same and punishing certain gamers for something out of their control is ludicrous.
So here's my Monday Morning Rant: Developers, give console gamers the customisation options they need. It's not hard to do, so don't be lazy.