Awhile back I decided to try out Fallout 2, mainly because I had already played Fallout 3 and loved it to bits. I knew that the original two Fallout games were very different than the third, but I figured that I might as well try it out.
Well, as it turns out, I didn’t like it. My main problem with the game was that I didn’t quite understand the interface, and nothing about the interface was explained at all. I had to just learn things on my own, and it quickly became clear that I wasn’t going to get good by doing that. When I talked about this on forums, people told me that I needed to read the manual. The Fallout 2 manual is 166 pages long, and when I said that I didn’t want to read all that, they called me lazy.
That bothers me a lot.
Somebody said to me, “Why don’t you want to read the manual, I mean it’s there for you to read it, why else would it be there?”
Here’s my opinion: Games shouldn’t need manuals at all. If you ask me, most games shouldn’t have manuals, and the games that do have manuals (which would probably be complex RPGs and strategy games) should use the manuals simply as indexes for all of the different abilities, statistics, and other information within the game.
Why do I think this? Because when I sit down to play a game I want to do exactly that – I want to play the game. I don’t want to read fifty pages about how to play the game. A good game can gradually introduce the interface to you as you play through the beginning. If your interface is too complicated to be explained within gameplay, then your interface is probably too convoluted and cluttered and needs to be streamlined somewhat.
I know I may be sounding like a twitchy, instant-gratification type of gamer, but imagine if any other art form did this. Imagine if before you watched a movie, you had to read fifty bland pages about the back story of the setting, and that if you didn’t read every boring page, then you wouldn’t be expected to have any idea of what’s going on in the movie. And then imagine that if you complained about this, people would just call you lazy.
I don’t know about you, but I’m glad that I can sit down and watch a movie with no prior work involved, and I’m also glad that I can do the same thing with most games nowadays. And if that makes me lazy, then so be it.