Zileas' List of Game Design Anti-Patterns

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band of brewskis

Senior Member

07-14-2011

Soooooo in other words, DOTA is the better game.


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Thivus

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07-14-2011

every time a noob calls something anti-fun because they die to it and saw zileas use the term, a pony/kitty/kog'maw's species dies


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Eiales

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07-14-2011

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bog Darking View Post
I feel a good way to illustrate what I mean more clearly, even in LoL's setting is with Thornmail and Frozen Heart. Two items I often pick up on tanks. Thornmail is something of a counter for hard AD carries to who will right click to do damage. Thornmail applies damage back to these characters in a percentage. Frozen Heart slows down the attack speed of enemies in the vicinity. Carrying both Thornmail and Frozen Heart present a new risk: With more armor there is a reduction in damage. The AD carry shooting you takes less damage because they are doing less damage. They also shoot -slower- and can better gauge the damage you pump out to them with these items. Sometimes I'd like to speed up the enemy carry for a brief time, just to hurt them far more than they can withstand, and sometimes I'd like to prevent their speed from ever stacking up so they deal little to no damage to anybody.

I like being able to make these decisions as part of my playstyle. I value those decisions as the greatest features of playing the tank.
Thornmail's damage is based on the raw damage dealt to you, before mitigation. Having more armor does not reduce the damage Thornmail reflects.
Slowing the enemy attack speed will reduce the damage they take from Thornmail. But it also lowers the enemy auto-attack output by 20% while leaving a majority of your output unchanged. Nerfing the enemy carry by 20% at the cost of reducing your Thormail's damage by 20% hardly even seems like a trade-off. Besides, you could argue that Frozen Heart reduces the effectiveness of any armor you have by 20% - you're being attacked 20% less, after all. This just doesn't hold up.
With that said, what's the enemy carry doing attacking someone with Thornmail and Frozen Heart? That's just stupid.


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AncientSpark

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07-14-2011

Quote:
Originally Posted by mogonk View Post
This is why you don't see anything like the innovation you used to in the industry. This, right here, is the mission statement of the new wave of game designers who think that paternalism and oversimplification are virtues, who do everything they can to shut down emergent gameplay and dumb down mechanics in the name of making them more "intuitive". I prefer not to have my games spoon-fed to me, thanks.

Warren Spector would be ashamed of you.

As for why I play LoL, I play because in spite of yourself and your screwed up ideas you have made an entertaining game.
When people in the science and engineering industries research an exciting new invention, do they say "Oh look, we throw out the laws and ideas that have been created before?" No, they build on them and look for potential USING established ideas, while understanding why those ideas exist, when it's okay to break them, and why other similar ideas might fail. Game design isn't any different. You're looking at this as a selfish "It MUST be the way I think it is because so and so game contradicts your methods" when, in fact, that's about as illogical as it could be.

Do you know how a science evolves? They initially do so by first simplifying concepts into the basic forms! I know right, it seems so non-intuitive based on how much harder it is to learn, say, calculus than other basic forms of math, but calculus is the very basis of multiple forms of math. It's the simplest and is only established based on a few laws, vs, say, algebra, which is based on situational methods (something far more complex to quantify). Only when you've established those basics can you proceed to expand into more complex forms.

Game design is in this simplifying stage right now. It isn't like "Oh, they're reducing innovation by dumbing down things." No, they're actually improving innovation by stripping it down into its barest components, before moving on to establish higher ideas.


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Zileas

VP of Game Design

07-14-2011
247 of 282 Riot Posts

Quote:
Originally Posted by AncientSpark View Post
When people in the science and engineering industries research an exciting new invention, do they say "Oh look, we throw out the laws and ideas that have been created before?" No, they build on them and look for potential USING established ideas, while understanding why those ideas exist, when it's okay to break them, and why other similar ideas might fail. Game design isn't any different. You're looking at this as a selfish "It MUST be the way I think it is because so and so game contradicts your methods" when, in fact, that's about as illogical as it could be.

Do you know how a science evolves? They initially do so by first simplifying concepts into the basic forms! I know right, it seems so non-intuitive based on how much harder it is to learn, say, calculus than other basic forms of math, but calculus is the very basis of multiple forms of math. It's the simplest and is only established based on a few laws, vs, say, algebra, which is based on situational methods (something far more complex to quantify). Only when you've established those basics can you proceed to expand into more complex forms.

Game design is in this simplifying stage right now. It isn't like "Oh, they're reducing innovation by dumbing down things." No, they're actually improving innovation by stripping it down into its barest components, before moving on to establish higher ideas.
People commonly see game design as an artsy 'creative' field. Aspects of it are, but even creative fields have a lot of basic principles to them... if you talk to really senior creatives in Hollywood there's definitely a method to the madness. If you talk to a famous artist, there's lots of technique they've mastered which are repeatable. Game design is significantly more analytical than either of these fields, and like you say, there's an engineering process to it. I see game design as an engineering field, where you do need creativity and innovation, but you also build upon principles that work.


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Murph McMorphwiz

Senior Member

07-14-2011

Quote:
Originally Posted by Zileas View Post
People commonly see game design as an artsy 'creative' field. Aspects of it are, but even creative fields have a lot of basic principles to them... if you talk to really senior creatives in Hollywood there's definitely a method to the madness. If you talk to a famous artist, there's lots of technique they've mastered which are repeatable. Game design is significantly more analytical than either of these fields, and like you say, there's an engineering process to it. I see game design as an engineering field, where you do need creativity and innovation, but you also build upon principles that work.
Game Design to me is really just "User Experience Design with Games" in my opinion. We're problem solvers - how do I make mechanic 'A' fit with mechanic 'B' in a way that is intuitive and useful to the user? How do I create meaningful gameplay elements without sacrificing what is already on the table? As game designers, we're also testers. We create scenarios that diagram how events using this mechanic or champ will take place. We craft personas that fit the different types of people who play our game, so we have an idea how the community will accept the new product we offer. We run tests using these methods to find the holes in our design that disrupt fun gameplay.

In the case of these anti-patterns, what we're seeing here is NOT creativity being restricted. Anti-patterns are concepts that generally have negative outcomes when applied to a design. Using them disrupts gameplay and creates the anti-fun that Zileas speaks of. If you've played HoN, you'll commonly see these patterns put into use. It's pretty much "rocket tag" over there. Not coincidentally, you'll also find HoN has some of the most angry people you'll ever see in a community. Now maybe their rage isn't all because of encountering anti-fun elements in their games, but I'd be willing to bet when they've been creep-denied for half the game or their mana burnt down to nothing, they're not gonna be too happy....

Of course, we see these patterns too in LoL, albeit in minute forms usually. While those may think that the discouragement of allowing these patterns from being used are bad and stunt creativity, I believe it actually makes the gameplay more competitive and engaging. We're able to be more engrossed in team fights and stave off ganks (provided we play smart). We're forced to play at our best to zone out enemies from getting experience in lanes, rather then hit a key and deny minions.

As game designers, we have to be acutely aware of how are users react and use our products. Abilities that disable and deny in LoL have been tested over time to show unfavorable reviews by the community. Knowing that a champion needs to be fun to play AND fun when playing against, gameplay that encourages this notion must be observed. Running away from anti-patterns is a good thing, cause it allows you to find new innovative ways to push this kind of engaging gameplay without the anti-fun elements in it.

I'm moving farther off the subject here, so skip if you haven't already.

One thing I would like to see in LoL however, are more well defined, role-fitting champs. One of the issues I currently see with LoL right now is that everyone appears to do a little of everything. Many champs all have some form of CC, for example. What I think would really help strengthen the game is creating defined roles where there are committed CC champs, committed tank champs, etc. You might have a DPS champ who can put out tons of damage, but has no CC and is squishy. Having a champ like that, you would then need a CC champ and a tank on your team. Neither would do much damage, but they would be great in assisting the DPS champ. What this would do for LoL is help promote better team composition, communication, and cooperation among players.

Unfortunately, a lot of champs I see in champ select are dps auto attackers and "bursty" mages. I think the first step in helping strengthen League of Legends' gameplay is having more champs that fit support roles (tanks, healers, etc.). While they aren't always popular to play as, they're always appreciated.


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dbx10

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07-14-2011

This thread has been commended the Official seal of Awesomeness.
As it greatly needs it, may you, Zileas, enrich humanity's gene pool through procreation.
It is your duty.

Attachment 220788


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mogonk

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07-14-2011

Quote:
Originally Posted by Zileas View Post
People commonly see game design as an artsy 'creative' field. Aspects of it are, but even creative fields have a lot of basic principles to them... if you talk to really senior creatives in Hollywood there's definitely a method to the madness. If you talk to a famous artist, there's lots of technique they've mastered which are repeatable. Game design is significantly more analytical than either of these fields, and like you say, there's an engineering process to it. I see game design as an engineering field, where you do need creativity and innovation, but you also build upon principles that work.
Film-making is a fantastic comparison. It's high budget, high risk, it has an enormous amount of people working on it but a limited number of people in positions with real creative control. And ultimately, its purpose is ambiguous. Is it just there to entertain us for 2 hours? Or can it change us? Can it reveal the world to us in new and exciting way? Can it create worlds of its own?

Let's say there's a filmmaker who makes a film that he believe in, that has a clear artistic vision, but that is not completely transparent thematically and involves motifs that bother some audience members. Let's say he releases that film. Voila, we have Taxi Driver.

Let's say that same filmmaker produces a film, but then consults a focus group. He finds that 20% of every focus group has no idea what he's trying to do, and 30% of every focus group loathes the film because of its content. So he excises the portions that offend people and changes the ending to wrap up all the loose ends in a nice little bow. Iterate that process a few hundred times as people learn from "repeatable techniques" and you wind up with premasticated garbage. Iterating the process to make a "good" game 1,000 times doesn't yield a "great" game. It yields mediocrity. If the best possible film can only be understood by half the people who watch it, so be it. If the best possible game involves a high burden of knowledge, too **** bad.

The fact that game design is more "analytical" than filmmaking doesn't mean that it has to be approached with the soulless practicality of designing an engine.

Do you know the origin of combos in fighting games? Where it began? In Street Fighter, players discovered a glitch which allowed guaranteed hits during the recovery frames of certain moves. They discovered that these guaranteed hits could lead to more guaranteed hits, and so on. The game that people played had only a tangential relationship to the game that was intended. It was ludicrously unbalanced, as the central mechanic of the game as it was played was never even addressed in balancing. But it was beautiful. It became the core mechanic not merely of one game, but an entire genre.

If something like that was found in League, you would "fix" it next patch. "Hmm, that's not what was intended. Get rid of it." Convoluted or contrary effects yield unintended uses. Unclear optimization forces decision making that may not be as "satisfying" in a superficial, "hey, I did it right!" sense, but that is considerably more complex and interesting. I'm not interested in "hey, I did it right!". I'm interested in "hey, I never thought of that!". You should be too, if your intention is to make something amazing.

If your intention is merely to make something "fun", you're on the right track. But you're not going to make anything that has more than superficial appeal with that mindset. It's probably an ideal approach for making an existing game more viable commercially (which is what LoL is, a slicker, more accessible version of DotA). It's a terrible approach for actually creating something new.

These aren't principles for game design. They're principles for product design.


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Kingreaper

Senior Member

07-14-2011

Point out what anti-pattern combos (as they exist in LATER fighting games) fit into?

Do you realise that the exact same thing as happened with combos happened with Alistar: and they DIDN'T REMOVE IT. Just as with combos, they made it easier to do.

So, umm, how's it feel being wrong?


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mogonk

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07-14-2011

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Originally Posted by Kingreaper View Post
Do you realise that the exact same thing as happened with combos happened with Alistar: and they DIDN'T REMOVE IT. Just as with combos, they made it easier to do.
Yes.

Alistar's combo is essential to playing him optimally. It affects the attitude taken towards balancing him. It is considered part of his ability set from a design perspective. But it clearly violates the principle of minimizing the burden of knowledge on players. The only way a player would know how to do it, or even that it can be done, is through extensive gameplay experience or research through forums and guides.

That's a great example of what I mean by saying LoL is an interesting game in spite of these principles.

Definitely not because of them, as some people seem to believe. A quick summary of several points on that list is "remove interesting features if they aren't immediately accessible, don't have obvious uses, or are difficult to control and predict". I find it really bizarre that any gamer (let alone another designer) would find such a bald statement of paternalistic design appealing.