Zileas' List of Game Design Anti-Patterns

First Riot Post
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zzbzq

Senior Member

10-25-2011

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tizok View Post
More like gameplay should be more intuitive. Not to say these rules are/should be set in stone but for the most part it makes sense from a design perspective.

Fostering elitism for the sake of itself makes no sense.
Complaining about games that are newb friendly is a handy way to explain why you're bad at a game while protecting your ego. "I'm not bad at this game, it's just designed so that only people with lower gaming skill excel at it," is the basic logic.


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Tizok

Senior Member

10-25-2011

Quote:
Originally Posted by zzbzq View Post
Complaining about games that are newb friendly is a handy way to explain why you're bad at a game while protecting your ego. "I'm not bad at this game, it's just designed so that only people with lower gaming skill excel at it," is the basic logic.

I generally agree with this statement, except that Riot has a tendency to let champions with high skill floors not be as rewarding as those with low skill floors.

It seems to be this circular logic where players have the potential to do very well with a high skill floor champ so they have to be careful with monitoring it's power while champions such as Annie are really powerful but don't have the intricacies that others do.

Of course some champs are hard to play because their skillset doesn't relate to major game mechanics, and although could be a niche pick, are often just sub-optimal to other champions with similar roles, creating a sense of difficulty to play when really the champion is just mediocre.


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Grim42Reaper

Senior Member

10-26-2011

No one will probably read this, but it will alleviate my ocd by posting.

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Power Without Gameplay
This is when we give a big benefit in a way that players don't find satisfying or don't notice. The classic example of this is team benefit Auras. In general, other players don't value the aura you give them very much, and you don't value it much either -- even though auras can win games. As a REALLY general example, I would say that players value a +50 armor aura only about twice as much as a +10 armor aura... Even though +50 is 5x better. Another example would be comparing a +10 damage aura to a skill that every 10 seconds gives flaming weapons that make +30 damage to all teammates next attack (with fire and explosions!). I am pretty sure that most players are WAY more excited about the fiery weapons buff, even though the strength is lower overall.
Scaling on abilities. Burst or DPS?

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Burden of Knowledge
This is a VERY common pattern amongst hardcore novice game designers. This pattern is when you do a complex mechanic that creates gameplay -- ONLY IF the victim understands what is going on. Rupture is a great example -- with Rupture in DOTA, you receive a DOT that triggers if you, the victim, choose to move. However, you have no way of knowing this is happening unless someone tells you or unless you read up on it online... So the initial response is extreme frustration. We believe that giving the victim counter gameplay is VERY fun -- but that we should not place a 'burden of knowledge' on them figuring out what that gameplay might be. That's why we like Dark Binding and Black Shield (both of which have bait and/or 'dodge' counter gameplay that is VERY obvious), but not Rupture, which is not obvious.
Not trying to stun morg with her shield up. Attacking a trynd with his ult active.

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Unclear Optimization
Yorick's Ult? did you save the person who was going to die? did you ult your ranged ad carry and get the most dps increase in the teamfight? Did you cast Brand's abilities in the right order?

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Use Pattern Mis-matches Surrounding Gameplay
I won't go into too much detail on this, but the simple example is giving a melee DPS ability to a ranged DPS character -- the use pattern on that is to force move to melee, then use. This does not feel good, and should be avoided. I'm sure you are all thinking -- but WoW mages are ranged, and they have all these melee abilities! Well... Frost Nova is an escape, and the various AEs are fit around a _comprehensive_ different mage playstyle that no longer is truly 'ranged' and is mechanically supported across the board by Blizzard -- so the rules don't apply there ;p
Graves' shotgun ability deals optimum damage in melee ranged. But he is a ranged ad carry. (So first... He's ganna start at blue.) <-- i love that comic

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Fun Fails to Exceed Anti-Fun
Anti-fun is the negative experience your opponents feel when you do something that prevents them from 'playing their game' or doing activities they consider fun. While everything useful you can do as a player is likely to cause SOME anti-fun in your opponents, it only becomes a design issue when the 'anti-fun' created on your use of a mechanic is greater than your fun in using the mechanic. Dark Binding is VERY favorable on this measurement, because opponents get clutch dodges just like you get clutch hits, so it might actually create fun on both sides, instead of fun on one and weak anti-fun on another. On the other hand, a strong mana burn is NOT desirable -- if you drain someone to 0 you feel kinda good, and they feel TERRIBLE -- so the anti-fun is exceeded by the fun. This is important because the goal of the game is for players to have fun, so designers should seek abilities that result in a net increase of fun in the game. Basic design theory, yes?
Eve with her stun, Fiddlesticks doing anything. Wits End?

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Conflicted Purpose
This one is not a super strong anti-pattern, but sometimes it's there. A good example of this would be a 500 damage nuke that slows enemy attack speed by 50% for 10 seconds (as opposed to say, 20%), on a 20 second cooldown. At 50%, this is a strong combat initiation disable... but at 500 damage it's a great finisher on someone who is running... but you also want to use it early to get the disable -- even though you won't have it avail by the end of combat usually to finish. This makes players queasy about using the ability much like in the optimization case, but it's a slightly different problem. If the ability exists for too many different purposes on an explicit basis, it becomes confusing. this is different from something like blink which can be used for many purposes, but has a clear basic purpose -- in that place, players tend to just feel creative instead.
Soraka's heal, big heal with an armor buff afterwords.

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Anti-Combo
This one is bad. This is essentially when one ability you have diminishes the effectiveness of another in a frustrating manner. Some examples:
- Giving a character a 'break-on-damage' CC with a DOT (yes, warlocks have this, but they tuned it to make it not anti-combo much at all)
- With Warriors in WoW -- they need to get rage by taking damage so that they can use abilities and gain threat -- but parry and dodge, which are key to staying alive, make them lose out on critical early fight rage. So, by gearing as a better tank, you become a worse tank in another dimension -- anti combo!
- With old warrior talent trees in WoW, revenge would give you a stun -- but stunned enemies cannot hit you and cause rage gain... So this talent actually reduced your tanking capability a lot in some sense! Anti-combo!
Trynd's old mechanics that the rage system replaced. You wanted to have all your stacks so that you would crit harder, but if you needed to heal yourself you would reduce the amount of damage you would be doing.

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False Choice -- Deceptive Wrong Choice
This is when you present the player with one or more choices that appear to be valid, but one of the choices is just flat wrong. An example of this is an ability we had in early stages recently. It was a wall like Karthus' wall, but if you ran into it, it did damage to you, and then knocked you towards the caster. In almost every case, this is a false choice -- because you just shoudln't go there ever. If it was possible for the character to do a knockback to send you into the wall, it wouldn't be as bad. Anyhow, there's no reason to give players a choice that is just plain bad -- the Tomb of Horrors (original module) is defined by false choices -- like the room with three treasure chests, all of which have no treasure and lethal traps.

False Choice -- Ineffective Choice
Similar to above, except when you give what appears to be an interesting choice that is then completely unrewarding, or ineffective at the promised action. An older version of Swain's lazer bird had this failing... Because the slow was so large, you could never run away in time to de-leash and break the spell and reduce damage, and in cases you did, you'd just dodge 20% of the damage at a big cost of movement and DPS -- so running was just an ineffective choice.
Champions that get harder to kill the closer to death they are. Olaf and Trynd. I would actually classify Bloodseeker's ult in this category as well (or maybe the next one), since the only way to survive this ability is to either have more life than the ability will do damage, or to be able to survive the next X seconds not moving. It puts you in a "****ed if you do, ****ed if you don't" situation where running will kill you and stopping will get you killed by the caster.

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Or We Could **** the Player!!1111oneoneone
Riot is pretty good about avoiding this one. Although Solo queue can feel like this sometimes.

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Non-Reliability
Skills are tools. Players count on them to do a job. When a skill is highly unreliable, we have to overpower it to make it 'satisfying enough'. Let me give you an example: Let's say Kayle's targeted invulnerability ult had a 95% chance of working, and a 5% chance of doing nothing when cast. We'd have to make it a LOT stronger to make it 'good enough' because you could not rely upon it... and it would be a lot less fun. Random abilities have this problem on reliability -- they tend to be a lot less satisfying, so you have to overpower them a lot more. Small amounts of randomness can add excitement and drama, but it has a lot of downsides. There are other examples of non-reliability, but randomness is the most obvious one. Abilities that require peculiar situations to do their jobs tend to run into the same problems, such as Tryndamere's shout that only slows when targets are facing away from him.
Jax's stun. Only able to stun after a dodge. Need to be attacked to dodge. If you get stunned, better hope you live.


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DiscOH

Senior Member

10-26-2011

Zileas should probably add armored bears to this list, just so everybody is clear.


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cookingbythebook

Member

10-29-2011

Quote:
Originally Posted by Zileas View Post
So why are you playing LoL and not another game ;p
This is a form of ad hominem, not an arguement


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Kotolok

Senior Member

11-06-2011

Xerath has the longest range in the game.

But his passive gives armor....?


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Wraithbane

Adjudicator

11-09-2011

Publishable


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srkfx

Senior Member

11-30-2011

Bump for new ppl


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Makcibai2010

Member

12-05-2011

i am from dota community and icefrog said "sup"


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Olyps

Senior Member

12-05-2011

Quote:
Originally Posted by Grim42Reaper View Post
derp
Most of your rebuttals fail to understand what is actually being said. Morgana's black shield isn't necessarily 'burden of knowledge' because it makes a BIG ORB around her and buffs her health. You don't have to go research online that to connect the dots and realize she's got some sort of protection.

Additionally, upon trying to stun her 'CANNOT BE DISABLED' flashes in big letters on the screen. Again, it's not extremely hard to figure out what is happening.

The reasons any of these arguments are here are not to say 'Surprises are anti-fun' but that 'seemingly obscurely uncounterable abilities are anti-fun'. The player should at least be given a chance to understand something completely new so that learning from mistakes, not through study and rote memorization of the game, is the primary means of learning.