Over at Destructoid, Jim Sterling has a piece up on obnoxious ways designers pad out games. In his usual cheery manner, he lists ten of them.

Oddly, he missed the number one method: jobs. Those often-trite “optional” little tasks that fill up the empty middle of most RPGs. Of course, if they weren’t there, games would just be linear, point-to-point dungeon crawls as in earlier days.

While they do serve a purpose – and some are even more interesting than the main line – all too often, the games are stuffed with more than is necessary.

Jim has some unkind words about cutscenes, and I couldn’t agree more, although he has consoles in mind here. They infest PC games, too. Neverwinter: The Movie was infamous in that regard.

Every PC you could recruit was introduced with a lengthy cutscene, and combat was usually involved, as well. Much exposition was done this way, too, and you couldn’t skip past any of it. Which is why I didn’t play it a second time.

He doesn’t look with favor on backtracking, but that is variable. Much depends on how easy it is to travel around. For instance, in the Geneforge games, moving through the world is done with a handy map. Provided there is a clear path, just click where you want to go. Poof! You arrive in moments.

Trial and error is also on the list. That one I consider iffy. There’s always plenty of trial and error in most games on the first playthrough. The only time it’s really obnoxious is when it shows up in adventure games.

I remember Legend Of Kyrandia, which had many puzzles for which there were no hints, no clues, and deduction was useless. You simply tried one thing after another until one of them worked. That really drove me up the wall.

And then there’s the grind. Well, combat can get out of hand too. It’s what we do most in any RPG. Without that, we’d just have an adventure game. Still, I’ve been feeling lately that there’s too much fighting, as described in Less Combat, More What?. Even so, I think the grind really applies more to the MMOGs like WoW. Really, what else is there most of the time in such games?

Check out his article, and see if there’s anything you think he missed that qualifies as “obnxious padding”.

Ten obnoxiously cheap ways of extending a game’s length