Bad stuff. Unpopular choices. Terrible games. (In your opinions)

Sure, we all know what’s a good idea to do. We know some of the obvious. But nobody knows what people don’t like! The small, little problems people have with games! The tiny things, like the blurb being a certain way or too long text timers!

What are your vetoes (is that right?) and your pet peeves when it comes to playing IF? I’m sincerely interested. Especially with the REALLY BAD IF jam coming up!


An author demanding that I engage in an extended round of character creation disguised as an introductory chapter.

I am a blue-eyed, elephantophobic, female, mechanophilic firefighter who produces half an ounce of earwax a day, of a brownish-green colour and gritty consistency and has a wart on her left buttock.

Makes me want to yell at the scream: “You’re the writer! Figure it out and then present a decent character to me, the reader.”

Mind you, a few well-chosen options at the start of the game to steer the narrative towards a certain branch can be a great opportunity for engaging the player.
I just loathe picking details like haircolour. Or even so-called important traits. Picking a gender or a sexual orientation annoys me. Just write your character and I’ll roleplay.


I believe that is more or less what the Choice of Games players expect of their games? But I have to agree, adding such a mechanism to other types of games might be less than ideal. Of course we can always make it optional…

Welcome to Bad Games Inc's implementation of "My Apartment".
Would you like to run our extended gauntlet of
character customization for your game puppet?
Generating default character...
You are now a blue-eyed, elephantophobic, female, mechanophilic firefighter
who produces half an ounce of earwax a day, of a brownish-green colour
and gritty consistency and has a wart on her left buttock.

I have the following pet peeves:

  • Typos. I know I am not perfect, but there are plenty of tools out there for spell checking. When people do presentations I tend to notice typos immediately and those kind of things irritate me. I still remember a huge banner a team created within our company where they managed to put three spelling errors in their mission statement. Why not dump your text in Word or any other tool with spell check magic and fix your errors?

  • Going against conventions. Guilty as charged. With my One King game for IFComp I tried to go for a VERB NOUN vibe in the hopes of simplifying game play. But the way I handled this was nonstandard and caused confusion amongst experienced players.

  • Missing things. When the room description mentions something but you cannot examine that something because it has not been implemented. Okay that makes it unimportant to the game, but the author could at least make that clear instead of using a default error response.

  • Missing synonyms. Sometimes I tried to refer to something in a game which I was sure existed but could not figure out the right noun or noun phrase to refer to it. Sometimes it was even the exact noun as used in the room description which turned out to be unimplemented.

  • Moon logic. Needing to do something which appears to be totally unrelated to the goal you are trying to achieve. E.g. picking up some discarded underwear to unlock a door. If people want to go for this kind of thing, at least make it “logical” for the game, e.g.

Prison Cell
You see a sturdy wooden door providing the only exit out of this room.
You see some smelly underwear lying in a corner.
> open door
The door does not have a handle on the inside.
You try to push the door, but it appears immovable.
> get underwear
While holding your nose, you pick up the underwear with one hand.
Suddenly you hear some wood scraping behind the cell door,
and the door opens. "I forgot my laundry!" the troll exclaims,
grabbing his underwear, and runs off, leaving the door wide open.
  • Moon endings. I remember playing a game called “fable” which looked nice but had a totally weird ending where the player apparently “wakes up” from some kind of alien-looking device and it was all a dream or something. Okay the game was not too bad, but why such a weird ending…

  • “rare” unhinted verbs. E.g. imagine playing a huge game where you need to use a few times the command “search” to find something hidden. Unless hinted at, this would force the player to “search” everything and the kitchen sink, just to ensure they do not miss anything.

Maybe I should create a game “Moon Logic” and stuff all kinds of illogical things in there…


It is a convention to have certain traits to be chosen by the player, like gender, sexuality, some physical aspects. But more traits, especially detailed ones, is a pretty common thing. It can help some player feel more immersed in the story (by having a clear picture of the PC, that is just theirs) or represented (by looking like themselves or a version of, often relevant for minority players).

I’m sure other peeps do like it but:

  • Tedious fetch-like puzzles where you need to run back and forth between opposite rooms of the map to get one item then use it, then get another item to use that one (but you can’t get both items at once)
    Essentially, having to run around the map…

  • Over-customisation of the MC at the start, especially if most characteristics are not used later down the line. Like, I don’t mind being able to choose gender, or a quick ID-required characteristics (hair, eyes, height) just to help me settle down, even if this is not really used. But having to choose your favourite colour or ringtone and it never comes up in the game just… why.
    But then again, I get easily tired when making up a PC in regular RPGs so…

  • Non-contrasted text or just palettes that really mess with accessibility. Want to have red on blue? Cool, but make sure you have a good rating for it…
    This doesnt work…
    but this does a bit better (not perfect tho)

There are more but I can’t think of them right now :joy:


I wholeheartedly concur. I will bounce right off any game that requires me to endlessly mold a character. The whole reason I read fiction and play interactive fiction is for someone else to do the work and take me along for the ride.


Agreed, and in a text game it really screws up the pacing in a way that it doesn’t in a visual game. Having pages and pages of input required to get to the story feels an awful lot like doing my taxes for fun.

That said, there was a Petit Mort game a few years back that I thought did some interesting things playing with the expectations of Choicescript character customization: Cabin in the Forest - Details


Other personal bugbears of mine:

  • Making me scroll back up. In Twine games this happens sometimes if there’s only one link out of a passage since the author will often pick a thematic word from the text to link to the next passage, and if that word is near the top of the page instead of near the end I will hate you. In parsers this happens if an action triggers enough text that I have to scroll up to get to the top of it, which will also make me hate you.

  • Unnecessary fancy fonts or text effects

  • Unnecessarily timed text, especially if the delay isn’t adjustable (I read much faster than average). There’s some games that use it well (see also Dysfluent from last year’s IFComp) but usually it’s just annoying.

  • Dark mode color schemes. They hurt my eyes, ok? :sob:


I have the reverse, I rarely stand light/bright mode schemes :joy:


I guess there’s no pleasing everyone! :rofl:


Have both, let the player choose :woman_shrugging:


Well an actually BAD design then: half of the screen is light mode, half is dark mode. And it switches up with every passage.


I can do one better: alternate between light and dark modes every second so everybody will be satisfied less than 50% of the time and get a splitting headache or fall to the floor and worse… maybe add a slider to control the frequency as a ‘configuration convenience’


Triggering epilepsy… :grimacing:


Thus much worse than any other light/dark mode setting. Do not worry if I create an intentionally BAD game I will certainly not create HORRIBLE games using such features. I want to create a BAD game which people still might want to try to play :sunglasses:

It reminds me of certain animated series which featured flashy images giving me a headache. I do not know what the editors were thinking at the time but I definitely do not appreciate such use of ‘flashy’ behavior.


I do my taxes for fun, but I also have this peeve!


I do my taxes, but not for fun.


I do my taxes for profit, what else? I could go the easy way and just say OK government I trust the info you gave me (we get prefilled forms) and just sign it off and return it. But I prefer to check everything and ensure I don’t miss out on some deductible expenses…


In fairness, it’s gotten a lot less fun since Trump borked the withholding tables so that I, like many people, wind up having to pay on tax day rather than getting a refund. But other than that, it’s math, it’s policy, it’s economics… it’s everything I like, basically (someday someone will write IF about doing your taxes, and so long as it’s sufficiently rigorous, I’ll be in heaven).

Back on topic, games that don’t let me return to check out a reasonable chunk of earlier text often annoy me, since I often like to flip back and review stuff I’ve previously read.


Now that’s an idea! If someone could write something that would gamify doing your taxes they’d make bank. (This idea is mine now, please don’t steal)