TORONTO — Dark-hearted UI designer Arnold Wright has reportedly placed the subtitle toggle for the upcoming game Lords of Nightshadow in the deepest, most inaccessible crevice of one of the game’s dozens of obscure pause menu subscreens, according to anonymous sources familiar with the development.
“The subtitle setting could have gone under ‘audio,’ of course, but that’s far too easy to find, and I’m not some cheap hack,” said Wright, muttering to himself at his desk as he bumped down the menu font size a few more points to be less legible. “I mean, subtitles aren’t even technically audio, right? I guess it could go in display, too, since it’s a non-game screen element, but that doesn’t sit right either. And the Accessibility section is far too obvious. I mean, does this game look accessible to you?”
“Oh, nope, it’s definitely gotta go in Controls,” Wright added. “Yeah, that’ll really give them something to think about once they finally discover it. I’m a genius.”
This design choice has drawn criticism from other members of the studio’s UX team, who were hoping to indulge their own cruel tendencies in the game’s full release.
“The rest of us are sick of Arnold hogging all of the sloppy design choices,” said audio engineer Marcus Liu, who has been working hard to create the most indecipherable cutscene dialogue mixing of all time. “Unless we want the publishers to catch wise, this game can’t have impossible-to-find subtitles and music that’s five times as loud as the voice lines. You have to pick your battles with these things.”
Equally upset by the subtitle placement are staff subtitlers Guy Hurst, who transcribed the dialogue as inaccurately he could get away with, and Isabelle Rogers, who peppered the final copy-edited subtitle text with confusing typos and punctuation omissions at every opportunity.
“Our team put in so much effort to make these captions illegible, which will be all for nothing if no one can find the option to toggle them on,” Rogers complained. “We even added code that makes the letters so faint by default that they’re nearly impossible to read. Luckily we still have a few weeks before launch, so at least we’ll get to watch our QA team suffer through the options a little bit.”
At press time, Wright clarified that it didn’t matter too much how hard the subtitles are to find, since players won’t be able to open the options menu until after the unskippable one-hour intro cinematic anyway.