Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Why console ports suck

Reasons why some console ports to the PC suck, IMHO.

* They are not optimized for PC hardware. So you find games with equivalent graphics but lower system requirements.
* Simplified controls. Again this is due to the lack of buttons on consoles. One specific example are quickslots. Some games have only 8. I've seen MMORPG's that use ~ to + and F1 to F12. And there are games that really need some more quick slots. But sometimes if done right this can result in elegant gameplay. Another example is menus. So your weapon has several functions. In the PC you would give each function a hotkey on the keyboard. With ports you press a button to bring up a menu and you choose. Its SLOW man in the heat of battle.
* Checkpoints instead of saves. Even with old old games like castle wolfenstien or doom 1, we could save anywhere. But consoles initially lacked write memory so they had checkpoints. Games could be so frustrating at high difficulty and would be easier if you could save right before or after a difficult spot. Not to mention it saves time. Save files could be archived and you could go back but some cases, you cant do that with checkpoints. Sometimes the game saves only at the start of a level. The level is divided into checkpoints but it is saved only in ram because if your PC hangs, when you start the game again, you are back to the start of the level.
* Limited save slots. With most PC games save slots are limited only by hard drive space. If you're unlucky you only have 1 save slot per user ID. The problem with that what if the game hangs and the save file is corrupted. When that happens either you use a level skip cheat or you start back at the beginning of the game. Around 6-10 slots would be ok so you could go back and repeat. Why the F*** should pc gamers be made to endure the low techness of a console that doesnt have write capability.
* Unskippable intros and cutscenes. What?? Only PC gamers have ADD?? Thank God for no intro hacks. Really frustrating combined with the checkpoint system when you have a checkpoint then a long slog through enemies then a long long cutscene then a difficult battle where you die. And you have to go through all of that again. Even more frustrating if the game hangs and you have to restart the game often. Its a poor excuse if you say that there is no esc key in consoles and you were too lazy to add the code when you ported it to PC.
* Sometimes slower to adapt new PC tech like Direct X, all in the name of compatibility with the console which is frozen in time.

To the programmers. WTF are you doing? Stop programming like it was 1980. Consoles have evolved.

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