One of my biggest user interface peeves is the use of loading interstitials that don’t leave the user a means of escape. This is prevalent in a lot of Flash and AJAX sites that tend to load a lot of external data. You click on a button or link, everything deactivates while the word “loading”, or some equivalent, is shown on the screen and once the application loads what it needs it reactivates the buttons and does its thing. The problem with this design is that if there’s an error in the data it’s loading or a network hiccup it gets stuck on the loading screen. And if there’s no way to cancel the request, the user is stuck and is forced to reload the whole thing. I hate when this happens on a website.
When this happens in a game — a game that takes a long time to load and start-up — I become incensed. For all the thought that Criterion put into the user interface of Burnout Paradise, it is the lack of a single cancel button on the leaderboard screen that has left the most lasting impression on me.
As you can guess, I was stuck on this screen. There was no way out and I was forced to quit to the dashboard and reset the whole game. Thankfully, I didn’t lose any data, but that doesn’t excuse the mistake. When relying on data coming over the internet always leave a contingency in case it fails because, online, it will eventually fail for someone.
I’m liking the game though.