Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Yes actually, I would actually like to buy some seeds

News is out that there's almost certainly going to be a sequel to Viva Pinata - which is nice, since it's a good game that seems to have sold like very cold stale cakes.

I really hope they look hard at their interface this time though. For a game that claimed to be kid friendly it needed a lot of button presses and pointless pauses in the game to do even simple actions, and managed to confuse me more than once.

Things that I thought were piss about VP's interface:

  • Lots of movies kept popping up and interrupting whatever it was I was doing at the time. I don't care that the pinatas are happy I'm at level 38, especially not if the only reward is they're going to show me a movie I've already seen 4 other times, I was in the middle of beating a sour pinata to stop it shitting out poison.
  • The shops. Oh God, the shops. If I want to buy some seeds I need to: go to the village menu; select the shop; wait for the shop to load and the woman to start saying her horribly repetitive soundbite; wait for the items in the store to load; select seeds (which is up a level, so I get to hear the shopkeeper humping their sales board); wait for the shop items to load; navigate to the seed I want (cue more humping noises); and then I get to place them in my garden. If I want to fertilise them I need to go through most of the process again. Utter piss. Why not have the option for a shop interface that's just a transparent window over the garden, or allow me to assign common shop items to a 'quick buy' button selection?
  • The little messages that pile up on the bottom of the screen are often useless. 'A pinata is about to be eaten' happens at the point your pinata has just exploded. Great, thanks for the advance warning, chum. And when you select a message, and then 'view target' you can't go back to the garden at this point - you have to cancel out, returning you to your previous view, and then track down the location you've just been shown.
  • The encyclopedia seemed to take too long to load and navigate through, and unless my memory fails me (it often does) often didn't link things like being able to shortcut to your awards for a Pinata from that Pinata's main entry.

That's enough for now. I know there's other stuff that annoyed me enough to give up long before I got all of the awards for all of the Pinata (which was another thing I found a bit odd really - in a game like this I'd expect at least one achievement for the 100%, but the only one I didn't get was the 50 hours, and that's just because it only seems to count time in your garden when I spent half of my play time in the shitting shop interface). I just can't remember what it was.

And yes, I am irrationally angry about that stupid shop.


JC Barnett said...

I am constantly surprised how badly our industry's artists deal with GUIs and front-ends. Multiple clicks to get to somewhere simple, repetitive tasks buried under layers of menus, and my biggest gripe, LOADING screens for menus; unforgivable.

We can make virtual worlds populated by realistic looking and acting characters but can we let a player easily access an options menu? Can we f

FreakyZoid said...

I think it's most likely that the interface is written and 'set in stone' (because rewriting an interface that works, even in the loosest sense of the word, is a waste of time, right?) before anyone with a hint of design nouse gets a look in.