What is Your Space Gaming Kryptonite?


A new thread popped up on one of my favorite forums the other day (Gamers with Jobs) entitled, “Your gaming Kryptonite” in which user Higgledy asked, “What is your Kryptonite?” This got me inspired, because honestly it’s a GREAT question. Therefore, I’m stealing his idea and putting it here, where I will also ask the question: Friends, what is your space gaming Kryptonite?

Mine are as follows:

  1. Escort Missions – Yes, yes, this is an easy choice, but still, how many times have we groaned or rolled our eyes when we saw one of THESE chestnuts coming our way? I SUBMIT EVERY TIME. Now a few games add some interface flourishes to help with this, like Freespace 2’s exceptional escort list or Eterium’s simple and effective color-coding (enemies attacking the ship you’re escorting turn purple in the HUD, for example), but for the most part, it’s typically an exercise in frustration. I mean I get why these kind of missions exist in our games, sure, but do they always have to be so annoying? I mean, why can’t I escort something that can run away if need be, or better yet, defend itself while we help defend it? Most of the time though our friends just sit there, waiting to be destroyed. Damned frustrating, that.
  2. Poor Situational Awareness/Targeting – I’ve likely harped on this before, but it REALLY gets my bacon. I can’t stand games — space sims are particularly egregious at this — that want you to do a task but don’t give you the tools needed to actually do it effectively. Strike Suit Zero and Destination Sol are fantastic examples of this. There are missions where one is supposed to take out incoming torpedoes (which could be its own category here, but I digreess), but there’s no button to target those torpedoes individually nor do they show up differently in the HUD, so one has to cycle through numerous targets to find them. Freespace 2, on the other hand, has a button specifically for targeting bombs and torpedoes and it works brilliantly.
  3. Extreme Ramp Ups/Walls in Difficulty – There are more non-space games guilty of this aggrievance than not, but still, when it happens it really grinds my gears. You’re chugging along, feeling fairly challenged and having a good time then WOMP. You slam into a wall of difficulty you can’t seem to get around. With space games, this has recently happened with my beloved TIE Fighter, but has also happened with games like Void Destroyer and Arvoch Alliance. I run into this one more with non-space games, however. With both inFamous games on the PS3, for example, I’ve run into missions that have nearly made me throw my controller into the TV, and I just stopped playing after that.

Alrighty, your turn! What’s your space gaming Kryptonite? I can’t wait to read all about it in the comments. Thanks for reading!

Author: Brian Rubin

21 thoughts on “What is Your Space Gaming Kryptonite?

  1. Lack of meaning. I love sandbox games — the idea of them anyway. Because if you just drop me in a space sandbox in a universe I have little or no knowledge about, do not expect me to pick my own goals. I need more of a nudge before I start to WANT to play in a specific direction.

    Naev felt that way. As does Kenshi. You can do a lot of things… I just don’t feel any need to.

    On the other hand, KSP, even in sandbox mode, has built-in goals to work toward that are implied by the context of the game (make it to orbit, build a station, etc). Although I think those reach their limit eventually without larger goals/context.

    1. That’s totally fair. Have you run into this with games like Elite: Dangerous as well?

    1. Hah, I can TOTALLY see that. Exploration and expanding are usually my favorite parts.

  2. Failure, really. I’ve played so many single player games with unlimited saves that trying something like Elite Dangerous paralyzes me. [Got it, never left the tutorials.]

    1. That’s totally fair, but as long as you have enough coin to cover your rebuy cost, getting shot down is never THAT detrimental in Elite. Just make sure you can run away if you’re hauling. ;)

  3. 1) Escort missions. I hate them. If I really like the game I’ll push through but for most games an escort mission is insta-quit.

    2) Time limits. I have a job with deadlines. I don’t want deadlines in my games.

    3) Quick time events. Nothing interrupts game play and breaks immersion like a quick time event. Another thing that is insta-quit for most games.

    4) Cut scenes that interrupt game play. Do the cut scenes between levels and let me play the game. I tried playing Mass Effect but every few minutes I had to stop playing and watch the game. No thanks.

    5) Scripted events that happen no matter what I do. For example, in an FPS game where there’s no way to avoid being captured by the enemy and dropped in their base with no weapons. I know I’m just going to do some half-hearted melee combat and stealth and then you’re gonna give me back my gear and get back to the game. Don’t bother.

    6) In a related event, I hate games that change the core game play for one brief section or boss fight. If you’re game is an RTS don’t suddenly throw in some platforming or a puzzle, make me learn a bunch of new stuff, and then never use it again. Minigames that can’t be skipped fall into this category too.

    7) And definitely agreed on Extreme Ramp Ups/Walls in Difficulty.

    8) My biggest and newest is interfaces designed to work on a tablet and then ported to PC. SOTS Ground Pounders had a ton of potential and has some really great things about it. But in order to make a complex hex based war game work on tablets and pc for cross platform multiplayer they had to make the crappiest interface in crap town.

    I complain a lot.

  4. 1. Escort missions, of course. Especially when escortee is built from pure explodium, and dies in a few seconds (or to one torpedo). Examples: Wing Commader 3&4, Starlancer, Eterium (as much as I like Eterium, all escorted ships have this deadly allergy to dumbfires).

    Double that for escortees with death wish. “Oh, you are busy chasing fighters away from me? All right, I’ll just blunder right into the firing arc od this huge capship here. See you on a next try!”.

    2. Restricted saves / lack of mid-mission checkpoints. Notable example: I-war 1.

    3. Insta kills. Combine with 2 for maximum frustration. Example: X series, where a random jumping capship can crash int you… and then you discover that last save was a few hours ago.

    4. Enforced stealth. Usually combined both with “detection means instant failure” AND lack of mid-mission checkpoints.

    5. Puzzle missions. Do specific things in specific order… or fail (and fail, and fail). Notable example: X-wing’s FIRST BLOODY MISSION (ahem).

    1. We’re doing a podcast on puzzle missions soon, as they can be a boon and a bane. And yeah, I just ran into that stealth problem recently with Klingon Academy. Ugh.

  5. As I recall SSZ’s targeting system would prioritize the nearest objective. If your objective was to shoot down torpedoes then it would target those first. But you could switch it off of that mode and onto a different targeting mode, and that one was definitely the “flip through everything” style.

    1. I think they added that AFTER my review in a patch, if I recall correctly. ;)

  6. I would have to say bugs! Nothing more infuriating then game crashs, freezing or options and features that just dont work.

      1. I can’t stand typos. Even though I know it doesn’t affect the game at all, it takes me out of the immersion and reminds me that you’re just reading what some dude fumble-fingered (or didn’t know how to spell).

        Is that weird?

        That’s probably weird.

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