Friday, March 16, 2007

Why Do This?

Dear God of War 2 team,

I'm glad you spent millions of dollars making a great-looking, fun-to-play action platformer for the Playstation 2. I'm not as glad that you insisted on filling it with bloated, unskippable cutscenes. I'm also not happy with the fact that you cannot adjust the difficulty without starting a new game, something that then requires sitting through the long, unskippable opening sequence just to find out if the difficulty is acceptable.

But the worst thing, the most inexplicable thing: Why spend millions of dollars, thousands of hours, crafting a cinematic last-gen masterpiece without putting in an option for subtitles?

In case you're wondering why this matters: "Does anyone know if God of War 2 will support captions or subtitles? It wasn't very fun for me to have to read transcripts on the computer while I played the first game. And before you ask, yes, I'm deaf."

Almost 100% of movies and tv shows have captioning. It is standard for media. Except, for some reason, in the videogame industry, where it remains something put in at random.

It's stupid and makes no sense.

Subtitles. Standard. Make it happen.


Ryan Shwayder said...

Absolutely agreed on subtitles. I don't actually have bad hearing, but I do have issues understanding things I hear, especially when compared to things I read.

For example, I always use subtitles in movies and non-live TV shows, else I won't understand them very well.

The difficulty change is forgivable as not being real time, because there are some design reasons for doing so in that type of game. The inability to skip cutscenes, however, is not. Sure you spent many hours making them perfect, but not everyone wants to see them all the way through... especially the second time.

The same lessons have been learned in other genre. In MMOs, you don't make bloated dialog or force people to read it to continue through the dialog tree, nor do you force them to read an entire quest's text to complete the quest. Why? Because despite all the effort you put forth, you can't force people to be interested in it all the time.

It used to offend my sensibilities as a game designer, but as a player I realize why it's important.

Also... God of War 2 is out? Sweet!

Chris said...

Amen! There are many deaf or hard of hearing players, and there are also players for whom the game is not in their native language for which subtitles are an invaluable aid.

There is no excuse for an upper market game not to include this basic accessibility tool.

darkbhudda said...

No subtitles? There are too many games with loud music that obscures the dialog. The sound mixers have heard the dialog so many times they have no objectivity.

Why do they still leave out the basics? Final Fantasy XII is unplayable because it won't let me set the L to R camera to match the way the camera works in 99% of other games. Nice one Square.