Now that I’ve succeeded in world domination (also known as syndication), I present to you a short list of complaints to fellow developers. 8 ways to make the monthly round-up panel hate you. Unofficial in every way, as it’s just my observations, but toned a tad sarcastic and sharp to get the point across. It’s not for everyone, as we do get a good number of games that work great. But there’s just enough of them to compel me to write this.
Here we go.
1. Make sure your uninstaller is incomplete and broken.
Yeah, I love it when my registry is full of crap entries, game folder don’t disappear, or when file associations still exist for applications that are no longer installed. Come on people! It isn’t hard to look in your “Program Files” folder for your game, or do a search with reg-edit to verify your keys are gone. And just ’cause your game doesn’t use keys, it doesn’t mean your installer didn’t. You can backup existing file associations in a dummy registry entry, so an uninstall returns them to their previous state. The goal of a good uninstaller is no trace of your application is left behind (short of backup save files IF the user wants them). With all the problems with spy-ware these days, some developers need honor. May as well be us.
2. Violate my quick-launch bar.
I love this one. The world’s newest and greatest match 3 has decided it’s as important as the rest of my applications I use for daily operations, like surfing the web, checking e-mail, editing files, and doing complex calculations (2+2=PI?).
Anyone that knows how to use a quick-launch bar will drag icons from the Start menu, or the desktop. Anyone that doesn’t know how to use it, wont be using it.
3. Use program groups/folders named after your company.
Seriously, put things in to perspective. Dirty Fish Chunks Multimedia/ isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Paddle Champion, the Breakout game. Truth be told, we’re not EA. We’re microscopic. We’re nobody’s. It’s the games that has the identity. Don’t let your players get lost in the Start menu, where they can’t even find your game. I personally hate having to run the installer a 2nd time to see where the heck it put a game.
4. Release buggy un-tested games.
Sometimes we’re tolerable of bugs, but other times… hoo boy! I know it’s not always easy to test in a broad number of configurations, but I have to strongly suggest hitting up forums for a pre-release run of your game before you send out press releases and press copies of games.
Do basic usability tests too! Have friends or family who haven’t touched the game sit down and try it, and take note of anything they stumble over.
5. Force installations to the C: drive.
The “C” drive was a pretty reliable place in the DOS days, but some flexibility is always better than none. But in an age of partitions, boot-loaders, low cost removable media, things happen. Prefer wherever “Program Files” can be found, as it’s where most people will gladly put applications. I bring this up as I have a pretty high end PC, but due to a funky combination of a hard drive RAID array, and a USB memory card reader, I don’t have a C: drive… at least not one without a compact flash card inserted.
6. Self extracting archives make great installers.
WinZIP/WinRAR isn’t an installer! NVidia and other hardware manufacturers might think they’re totally awesome giving me a self extracting archive that dumps their driver to a folder, where I need to find the secret “setup.exe” file. This sucks. Your installer should all be self contained. Installation, and uninstallation.
7. Sh*t on my desktop.
Alawar! Seriously! Stop it! Do whatever you want in your program group on my start menu, but the desktop is off limits. You can give me an icon for the game, sure, but your website links weren’t invited.
8. Don’t test with non-standard or international keyboard layouts.
Since the internet is clearly limited to the US, there’s no such thing as non US keyboards. Oh wait! There’s actually a 2nd standard US style keyboard, and it’s called DVORAK. It’s nowhere nearly as popular, except in geek circles. As a fellow geek, at least respect your peers. Then respect your customers who live abroad. Install a French, Spanish, or German keyboard layout and play your game for 5 minutes. This can be done from the Control Panel/Regional and Language Options. It adds a nifty little 2 character group to your bar, that drops down so you can select the language mode for the currently running application. Try it.
*** Bonus ***
9. Laptops don’t exist.
There’s this thing on many laptops called a condensed keyboard layout. It takes the numeric keypad part of the keyboard, and puts it in an awkward place, often only accessible via a magic key that lets you toggle them instead of normal keys. Let me explain… it’s hard to play a game that requires these keys on a laptop!
And there we have it. Rant ovah.