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Feedback from a Lurker

Scion Dracos

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Hi there, 
I'm a 47 yo gamer who started with asteroids and Pac Man. I'm writing this letter today just to provide some feedback for the purposes of informing the devs in order to shape decisions for future game design. 

So: RDR2
- beautifully crafted open world game with tons of activities, characters, personalities, landscapes and a story so lovingly crafted that it genuinely pulls at the heart strings... 
... that requires I interface with it through one of the most frustrating, counterintuitive minefields of a control schema that I've ever had the misfortune of dealing with. 

I'm on my 3rd attempt to get through this game. The previous two dead ended right around Saint Denis because I simply could not get past the frustration and annoyance I was feeling with the design decisions regarding the way Arthur both responds to my inputs and moves through the game world. From where I'm sitting it seems that frustration was built into the way Arthur moves on purpose. The inability to transition smoothly into a fast walk or a jog with the left thumb-stick dramatically curtails my ability to express myself as Arthur in an open world RPG. It's also maddening. It's one of the most frustrating control decisions I've ever dealt with because, well, frankly it's just awkward. It's weird. I have two speeds: fast or geriatric with no ability to transition smoothly between them this side of cycling my cameras.... so that's what this game has become for me: non-stop camera cycling. 

Unfortunately that's just the start. Every control is contextual and the contexts are constantly changing which turns learned fast-twitch associations into tripped landmines. You also feel the need to make decisions for me like... why is Arthur off his horse? Why is Arthur pointing a weapon at his horse? Why is Arthur jumping on/off that counter or hay-bale or... cliff. Seriously why is that not a function attached to X or whatever it is on PS4? Why is the game making decisions for me? Why is the game equipping or unequipping weapons for me? Do you know what I would do to you if you tried grabbing the wheel while I was driving? 
I have similar inclinations here. 

I mean I love the limited fast travel. I love the fact that Arthur needs to mind the weather. But I have absolutely nothing nice to say about the fact that the outfits stored on my horse... change. Visit the trapper or a store or even pick a hat up and... oops. Oh we overwrote your cold weather gear. Sorry about that. Or having five things to take care of in one area of the map but accidentally doing a mission first... that requires I travel all the way back across the map IMMEDIATELY... or I fail and the game resets. 

Like... every time I play this game, within ten minutes I'm so frustrated that I'm on the verge of walking away. The only reason I'm still playing RDR2 is I want to finish it and find out what happens. I hate the actual playing of this game. It's miserable. The controls are so FUBAR'd that there is simply no way to play it gracefully (cue the fanboy barrage).

No biggie, right? Who cares about 1 old gamer and 1 game? 

Well... you would. If you were smart. 

I never finished GTA 4 for the same reasons. The game-play was maddening and unenjoyable. I never bought or played GTA 5 either... for the same reasons. I bought RDR2 for the story and the open world and to be Arthur Morgan for a while. But I can't be... cos I have to worry about things like the gravitational fields of barrels while in a gunfight. 

Honestly? Throw your existing human-avatar / avatar world interface in the garbage and start over. Cos if your next game plays like this one... I won't be buying it.
And I highly doubt that I'm alone. 

Edited by Scion Dracos
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Some more thoughts: 
- create an easy path between player and game world with the avatar as the doorway. 
- controls should be a conduit for player will and intent. 
- create legitimate challenges with a consistent or at least intuitive interface in which grace is achievable.
- animation should serve player intent NOT hamper it.
Example: I accidentally hit Y one pace too early while Bounty Hunters were coming down the hill behind me and watched, in horror, as Arthur got into the back of the coach I'd stolen. By the time the animations for getting in and then getting back out of that carriage were done playing I, the player, could have murdered whoever was responsible for creating that pitfall in a situation where I was emotionally invested in the well being of that avatar. I wanted to kick somebody's ass. Which is terrible! Right? I don't want to be that guy! I want the best for everyone! 
But I had a similar experience while cooking at a campfire and seeing the bloody cougar approach! 
But I couldn't do anything but watch helplessly while spamming away on B as fast as I could. 
Why is there no option to lasso a horse... and actually ride away with the thing in tow? Instead I dismount (?!!!!)... in front of the guy with the shotgun ...who is likely to object to my, at this point obvious, attempt to steal his horse and recently killed deer?! 

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It just feels to me like the controls and avatar behavior were put together by somebody who wasn't playing the game the way players do. 
If all you're focused on is your little contribution to the project then you need somebody who is playing the game the way an 8yo with OCD does to let you know how it all works as a whole. You need somebody to tell you... during the design and planning meetings... what works and what isn't. Cos... there are so many little things in this game that should have been ironed out. 

And why can't I track the horse of the guy who's camp I just wandered into... that ran off when I decided to tie up his owner or something? 
Like... huh? You'd think that'd be something any player would want the ability to do... right?  Why can't I always focus on a horse to see what it is? Arthur is a horse thief. Wouldn't that... assessing nearby horses... be something that he'd be doing, idk, kinda all the time? But half the time I look at a horse and I don't even get a study option. And it's always in situations where... I WANT TO KNOW. I finished a race and the woman is on a horse with a beautiful brindle coat... but I can't examine the horse without equipping the Binoculars?! To whomever made that call: do you play this game? 

Cos, if not: please, kindly, with all due respect... STFU. 


Seriously. I just don't get it. Over and over and over again I just find myself staring at the screen with bewilderment on my face. Like: how did anybody think [whatever the current item list is] was a good idea?!
That's the bottom line. 
I just don't get the intentions behind these decisions. It really does feel like they're being made by people who don't play the game. 
I mean, just FYI: if you purposefully build unnecessary stress into my experience I'm going to stop paying you. 
I have tried for nearly 300 hours to enjoy this game so that I can appreciate the gorgeous open world, the magnificently written and acted characters and story... but it's hard.
I am, once again, on the verge of just walking away in disgust... and it makes me sad! 
Cos it's obvious how much time and love went into it. 
But I'm just pissed off all of the time whenever I'm playing it and... yeah! 
No I'm not gonna do that to me. 

Edited by Scion Dracos
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Without a clear understanding of what the game is manifest as a team leader with a vision you're going to end up with a mess. 
I keep trying to like this game. I keep trying. I try and try and try and try to like this game. Cos it's gorgeous and I'm emotionally invested in the characters. 
But the actual gameplay? The actual experience of playing the game? 
It's the act of narrowing down the reasons for why Arthur did [fill in the blank] that turned whatever my plan was into the insane clusterf*ck that actually happened. 
It's the act of staring at my screen with a sad and disgusted expression while shaking my head... again. 
It's the slow act of just accepting that the game itself sucks because there was no clear understanding of what the game was supposed to be while the team was putting the pieces together.
So it's a frustrating mess of experiences that never play out quite right cos... for me at least... it's impossible to predict which of my decisions are relevant, which will be ignored and, even, how the game will respond to the inputs I'm giving it at any given time. 
At best RDR2 is an interactive cinematic experience. 
At worst it's a nightmare of frustration and disgust. 
Cos it's sooo close to be being epic. 

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I find it interesting that I've been labeled a "Player Hater" as well. I mean, as far as I'm concerned, I'm the player. And I feel like that part of the development team responsible for the human-game interface hated me... or at the very least liked setting me up to be the chump. 
I'm literally forcing myself to finish this game once and for all... so that I can finally be done with it. 
What a mess. 

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Morrisons were selling a 4 pack of Scones for 1 quid but, at the same time, were selling a pack of 10 for 50 pence. f*cking bargain.

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