Dear game publishers: Let me configure my controls! (s)

Video games…they just own.  If you have to ask why, then you’ll never get it.  There are good games, great games, okay games, and terrible games.  What is great about one game can make another game terrible.  What one game does right, another does wrong, and every game afterward can come up short.

There are generally three things which make a game great.  In no particular order, here those three things are:
1. Graphics
2. Story
3. Control

Now, of those three, the absolute most important is control.  Even if the storyline is novel worthy and the graphics stellar, if the game controls like shit, then the game isn’t enjoyable.  There have been some games in the past which have this flaw, which is a shame, since if they controls were better, the game would have been great.  Controls make or break a game.  What would be the point of having a game so realistic it is like watching a movie and a storyline which would make Charles Dickens weep in awe if you can’t make the characters do what you need them to?  Yeah, it would suck.

This is the focus of the entry, obviously…but more than that, it’s about the severe lack of customization these days with controls.  In the days of an 8-way directional pad, a start button, a select button, and two “use” buttons, customization wasn’t really something we needed to worry about.  Arcade games were always, and generally still are, self explanatory and didn’t require customization, either.  Well, now we have eight “use” buttons, a start, a select, two 360 degree joysticks and a 16-way directional pad on one damn controller!  Yes, we need the ability to customize the controls to fit us.

For the longest time games allowed us to customize the controls to fit our individual play style.  This has always been extremely important on fighting games especially.  Thankfully, those games seem to still allow us to change the mapping of the controller to our needs.  However, almost every single other game out there has taken that from us.  Why can I suddenly no longer customize controls on games such as Saints Row: The Third, Ace Combat: Assault Horizon, or even Need For Speed: Hot Pursuit Limited Edition?  What has changed?

To make all matters worse, every game designer out there changes the mapping of the buttons on their games in order to further make the player understand they aren’t playing the competitor’s game of similar type.  Well, guess what?  If every single game out there uses the bottom trigger buttons for making a car go forward and reverse, then don’t make your game use the two left “hat” buttons to do it, but make it impossible to change!  I get it…I’m playing Saints Row and not Grand Theft Auto…but that doesn’t mean the controls should be so changed that I spend the first 15 hours just getting used to the bloody controls, Volition.

Are game designers really so stuck on their own ego they feel this is the only way the game should be played?  No…I don’t believe that at all.  What I do believe, and I’m sure most of you will agree with me, is they are being lazy.  They program the controls how someone in the department tells them to, and instead of going in and writing the code to allow players to remap the controls, they simply lock you in.  What is the damn point of allow me to view “Control Schemes” if all it does is tell me what each button does, but not allow me to change it?  That’s just straight up bull shit, you assholes.

This has got to stop.  Games rely on the ability of the player to control them more than anything else.  A game running on SNES style graphics with killer story, progression, and tight controls is more fun than playing on something which looks like a blue ray movie, but you can’t get the person to move correctly or the controls are so overly complicated or mapped so strangely you can’t do anything.

Give us back the ability to customize our controls and stop being lazy, jackwads.

Posted 1/20/2012 at 3:37 AM on Xanga


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