Well I started tis blog to talk about design (system design, if you came here for art you’re in the wrong place) so I’m now going to pick up where I left off.
I was playing a lot of mass effect recently and what can I say, the game really stands out. Generally it is a model you can follow, but apart from the small collision glitches and the fact that the button that skips cutscenes doubles as the button that selects conversation options, that game has just one serious flaw: checkpoints.
I don’t know, maybe I’m a pretentious prick, but it just doesn’t seem normal to let the user redo more than let’s say 10 minutes worth of gameplay. What this means is not necessarily that the game engine should feature a timer that saves the game every 10 minutes, rather that at the beginning and the end of EVERY mission (yes, that includes side quests) there should be a checkpoint. Or even more general, let’s say you’re working at a game that doesn’t feature any sort of quest. If there is a sequence during which a player might fail his objectives and have to restart his progress, make a checkpoint before and one after that sequence.
What this means for the user is that he won’t have to redo the boring sequences in between missions like say for instance how I have to run around and talk to every NPC on Feros right now because I got killed when I was returning to the quest giver.
So to sum it up: Checkpoints are your friends, use them often.