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Article - 'Common Howlers' by Angroth

An item about Game Design posted on Jan 14, 2004

Blurb

Common problems in many games of late. Read to see how you can overcome them in your game.

Body

Howlers come in all forms from glitches and bugs to general game development problems. Fear not, the mighty Angroth has come to write you a step by step guide of these common problems and how you should probably go about fixing them before the final release of your game.

Files Missing
One thing I find extremely irritating is when you’re playing a game and it suddenly closes down and says that the game cannot open the file ‘blah blah’. Now this is not to say that you are actually using the file ‘blah blah’ in the game but, the file was in the game and has been deleted (obviously, to save memory etc) and the game won’t run because it thinks it needs the file for some unknown reason. I had this with one of my games long ago. Don’t ask me why it happens, it just does. Here’s how to fix it:
1. Add the files to your game as you make it instead of adding excess resources and deleting the ones you don’t want. This will prevent the problem even occuring in the first place!
2. Play your game all the way through (before you send it off for download). This way you will actually find if the files you have deleted were required in the game.
If you do have files missing that don’t need to be in the game, you don’t even need that exact file. Simply have a file of the same name and same file type (eg, .GIF) and the game will continue to run fine. I found with some of my recent downloads that Ihad to do this myself to continue playing the game and it became very tedious, so the moral of the story is, you do it so us players don’t have to!

Story & Introduction
Not meaning to be mean but I’m going to have to pick at least one example here; Silver Claw. Sometimes you get games that have no introduction and you are merely thrown into the game without any clue to what is going on and what the game is about. Let alone this factor, Silver Claw didn’t even have any story. A game really does need to have a decent introduction that explains what’s going on and something about the story. The story is undoubtably the most important thing about an rpg, without a story where would you be? Would your characters be doing!? So here is some questions to ask yourself, if you cannot say yes about your game, then then you should make sure it can!
1. Does your game have a story?
2. Does your game have an introduction that makes it clear what is going on?
3. Is the story & introduction interesting enough to warrant the player to continue playing the game?

Spelling & Punctuation
Surely this can’t be too difficult for you folks. Spelling mistakes can vary from small ones to many big ones. On occasion they are done on purpose but you can almost definitely tell when it isn’t. Pathetic ones like ‘Pheonix’ instead of ‘Phoenix’ may only be minor but when you know they’re wrong and there are numerous ones like this, then it can get very irritating. I forget its name now, but there was a game about an elf boy who had some special power. Its name is significant really however I just wanted to say that, that game had some serious spelling mistakes and worded things badly, aren’t many elfs called elves? And elven is only used in terms such as ‘he had elven features’? This game said the boy was an elven etc. Anyway, that’s drifting off the topic slightly, spelling & punctuation errors should can easily be avoided, here is some advice for finding them:
1. Read what you are writing, makes sure it makes sense, has correct punctuation and has no obvious spelling mistakes.
2. Get someone else to check your writing. An extra mind can help in many ways!
3. If you’re writing any words you are not sure about, get a dictionary or something to help you.
4. Don’t use words that you don’t understand!

Game Theme
I know its not really an error, bug or mistake but there is a certain type of game theme which I think rends all form of seriousness and is not funny in the least. It is the kind of game where everyone knows they are in a rpg but the protagonist doesn’t. They say all sorts of rubbish like ‘wave at the screen’ and stuff. I played one game which based itself on this factor. I do believe that its not funny and spoils what the game(s) could have been. One piece of advice here:
1. Make your game serious or actually funny, not just crap!

And there you have it. Those were the main things that have been bugging me (heheh, get it? See what I did there?) of my experience with rm2k games. I hope many others feel the same about these aspects and agree that people should take the advice to avoid them. Nuff said!