Top Ten Annoying FPS Design Flaws

throwingknifeI’ve been playing a few FPS games again recently after a fairly lengthy break from them. It is amazing how much they stick to convention. They feature the same old gameplay over and over again and the same old problems. Here is my top ten of annoying FPS game design and behaviour.

  1. Enemies spawning in behind me. I just checked that room, it was empty. Why does me standing on this patch of ground cause an angry gunman to materialise there and shoot me in the back? If you are going to keep spawning in enemies around me, at least make them come in from an entrance, don’t just teleport them into the action.
  2. Platform jumps in first-person. Don’t make me judge a jump in first-person, it is just annoying. Having to make jumps that could potentially see you falling to your doom is irritating in any genre but in first-person it is truly horrible.
  3. Linear corridor environments. When I go places in real life I get bored of walking the same routes so I alternate. The same rule applies in games. I understand the need to have linear levels from a technical point of view, especially if your game is heavily scripted but at least give me a bit of choice. Going back and forward through the same section of map over and over is tedious.
  4. Identical map sections. I get an overwhelming sense of déjà vu, have I been here before? No it is just a regurgitated bit of map identical to the bit I just went through in true cartoon style because it is cheaper. If you’re going to have an identical section of map at least change a texture or two, maybe move some pot plants or stick a blood smear on the wall so I can tell which is which.
  5. Camping. I like to run around in FPS multiplayer, people who camp with their sniper rifle fixed on the horizon clenching their buttocks in anticipation are my sworn enemies. When we were designing The Ship we added Needs to drive you round the map and gave your position away to your hunter every so often, partly so campers would be penalised.
  6. Spawn killing. This has been eradicated in decent FPS games and it is quite simple to stick in code which ensures you spawn away from the other players or in a safe zone of some kind. There are few things in life more irritating than spawning in and catching a bullet in the face before you’ve moved from the spot.
  7. Opposing teams with identical uniforms. I really don’t care too much about realism when it comes to uniform visuals in FPS games. I like to play with friendly fire turned on but if two opposing forces are wearing the same uniforms then I find either my team mates get annoyed when I keep shooting them or the pause as I scan the uniform to see if it has an enemy insignia is enough time for them to shoot me in the face. Make them different and if you’ve auto switched my team from red to blue please keep reminding me or I’ll go on a friendly fire killing spree and wonder why the kills seem so easy 😉
  8. Unbalanced weapons and dominant strategies. If there is one approach in the game which works best or one weapon which is clearly more useful than the others then the designer is forcing me to adopt that strategy or use that weapon if I want to compete. I want some choice damn it.
  9. NPC’s who don’t react to anything I do. I love Half Life 2 for this. The moment where you knock over the monitor in the professor’s office and he tells you off is awesome design. If I walk off while a character is talking to me then they should react or stop talking until I return. If you don’t want me to shoot the guy in the head to see what will happen then take away the option. I like the system where you automatically lower your weapon when talking to an ally. The worst case scenario is a character explaining a mission while I shoot him repeatedly in the head with no effect and then run out of the room with the sound of him droning on continuing behind me. If you don’t have the resources to do responses then just freeze me for the dialogue.
  10. Stupid AI. This can manifest itself in so many ways and despite the fantastical claims made by many games AI characters are generally very stupid or at least simple in terms of behaviour. Path finding flaws are the most common, where you find an AI running into a wall because they can’t reach their destination. Perhaps the worst AI I’ve seen was in a game I won’t name but they had obviously been told to zero in on the player’s location, the problem was they apparently wanted to stand inside your body before attacking you which resulted in them running straight at you and then firing from point blank range. It is tough to approximate humans too, AI are typically idiots at movement but fantastic shots capable of hitting you in the face from miles away. To be honest I think the only way you get a real challenge in an FPS game without playing against code which effectively cheats is to play other people.

Got something else to add to the list? Post a comment.


About Simon Hill

I'm addicted to gaming and have been since I was a wee boy. Worked in the industry as a tester, designer and producer. I'm now a full time freelance writer and editor.