Zileas' List of Game Design Anti-Patterns

First Riot Post
Comment below rating threshold, click here to show it.

Ravel

Senior Member

10-15-2010

I kind of disagree with Burden of Knowledge, but that may be because I am the kind of person who enjoys studying a character to find out exactly what their strengths and weaknesses are, and don't mind dying to somebody who is beating me with knowledge of their character.

It was like the first time I went OOM and died to a phantom lancer with a diffusal blade in DOTA - my lack of knowledge made me underestimate him.


Comment below rating threshold, click here to show it.

Lazersharkzilla

Junior Member

10-15-2010

But you can see that they have flash in the loading screen. So adjust your gameplay. That's what separates good teams from bad teams. Organize your gank in such a way that even if they flashed, you got them covered. Flash is a unique skill and I think that a low CD is way OP, but as it stands now there's a quite high CD.

Take flash away and you unbalance the game in the favor of people who have other flash like abilities, and abilities that serve a similar purpose; such as being able to jump small walls. You can counter knowing they have flash, you can't counter them jumping a wall as part of their class whereas you have no choice but to run or fire a skill shot (another thing alot of classes don't have).

EDIT: NOT suggesting there should be a skillshot summoner ability. Although maybe there should be. It would be interesting. ;D


Comment below rating threshold, click here to show it.

Guillotine

Senior Member

10-15-2010

Zileas, have a question about mana burn. Mana burn is bad, but life drain (like fiddle) is good, but more hurt and deadly, why?


Comment below rating threshold, click here to show it.

Knote

Senior Member

10-15-2010

Quote:
Originally Posted by zzbzq View Post
I think the real issue here is "pointlessly convoluted mechanics." A subset of the players love them--the more convoluted, the more creative it seems to them. The Swain debacle is an example of this. A portion of the players were upset that the ability did damage one way instead of dealing it a more complicated way. To me it's all the same and I prefer simplicity and elegance.

You guys should cater to that crowd more often, irrational though they may be. DotA was full of pointlessly convoluted mechanics. DotA strove to create the illusion of creativity by adding the most complicated things imaginable. It's cynical, but I think there is a big portion of the player base that would be really, really impressed by a 2 paragraph long tooltip for an ability that merely does anywhere from 150-300 damage depending on some bizarre set of conditions.
Condescending much? DotA did NOT do the most complicated things imaginable. They were fine. Look at the map Age of Myths and you will see abilities that (although pretty unique and cool) were crossing over the line and were too complex for a popular game.


Comment below rating threshold, click here to show it.

SonicTheHedgedawg

This user has referred a friend to League of Legends, click for more information

Senior Member

10-15-2010

Quote:
Originally Posted by TheOddOne View Post
Rupture should be fairly obvious if the animation is obvious after dying to the first time, I think the only reason there was any confusion about it (if any) in dota was the fact that the animation was hardly noticable and it dealt initial damage confusing people to when it was doing damage. In this genre, there is absolutely nothing you can do about this for the first time, when I laned against a Miss Fortune for the first time without knowing what her skills were, she first blooded me around 30 seconds into the lane because I had no idea how broken she was that early and her kite damage was beyond even Ezreal's if you ever try to extend or push. There is simply no possible way to know anything about her without actually looking at her champion stats or skillset.
I agree with this wholeheartedly. A "bleed" mechanic really isn't any more or less confusing than some of the OTHER things champions can do. Just make sure to make it obvious in the "playing against champion X" tooltips and it should be fine.



Oh, and, I still want to have your babies Zileas.


Comment below rating threshold, click here to show it.

Morello

Lead Designer

10-15-2010
29 of 282 Riot Posts

Quote:
Originally Posted by PaperTree View Post
I agree with most things on this list +1, but I don't think this is an effective argument.



Considering "Fun" is subjective, it shouldn't be taken into account when a hero is in development. I personally enjoy playing shutdown style heroes and feel accomplished if I can prevent the opponent from doing their job(mesmer from GW is a good example of the playstyle). While you may argue that it isn't fun for the opposing champion, I could say that my champion taking damage isn't fun. would that mean that all future champions would do 0 damage? I don't think that the perceived fun level of the champion should be taken into consideration.
I have to weigh in and mention that this is something where Zileas and I are on the same page 100%. I also really enjoyed playing a Domination Mesmer in Guild Wars and shutting down enemy actions, but even understanding and knowing that fun for me, I wouldn't add anything to LoL that disallowed any kind of counter-play.

This doesn't mean mechanics like this can't exist though, you just need to modify appropriately. For the best example of "fun" control play, we have to take a look at Magic: The Gathering.

In Magic, Blue usually exemplifies resource control in the game. One very specific moment that was created from this was when you had enough open mana on the table for a counter-spell, several unknown cards, and it was the opponent's turn. That opponent doesn't know if you have a counterspell or not, and has to re-evaluate actions accordingly. Does he bait with a low-impact spell in hopes of drawing your counterspell? Does he see if you're bluffing? Does punish your unused active mana (that could have been used on creatures or other more aggressive actions) by playing multiple small spells and wrenching away board control? Does he have his -own- coutnerspell? The key is, he has numerous options and the players enter a pretty IRL mental duel and play a mini game of poker, essentially.

This example works well in Magic, but obviously the specifics aren't portable to every game - you need to evaluate control and present these possibilities, without adding "lockdown" to the game that simply disallows other actions. This is why having one interrupt on a Dom Meser is fine and acceptable (also applicable to Mage CS in WoW to an extent) - the mechanics are fine in those games and only suffer from poor feedback.

Not related to the quoted post, but "FFS idiots should L2P" style posts are indicative of extremely poor design sense and short-sightedness. Interesting decision-making can easily exist within these guidelines, and I'd even say flourishes under it. Rupture was bad because there's no decision to make, and it's hard to communicate "damage while moving" without reading a little buff. Conversely, Mark of the Storm is a similar mechanic complexity-wise that sells it with strong effects ("I bet something bad happens if he puts 3 of these on me") and is pretty good for letting players know the correct course of action - disallow him from hitting me more until they go away.


Comment below rating threshold, click here to show it.

Phoxly

Senior Member

10-15-2010

Sticky this!


Comment below rating threshold, click here to show it.

SonicTheHedgedawg

This user has referred a friend to League of Legends, click for more information

Senior Member

10-15-2010

Quote:
Originally Posted by Morello View Post
I have to weigh in and mention that this is something where Zileas and I are on the same page 100%. I also really enjoyed playing a Domination Mesmer in Guild Wars and shutting down enemy actions, but even understanding and knowing that fun for me, I wouldn't add anything to LoL that disallowed any kind of counter-play.

This doesn't mean mechanics like this can't exist though, you just need to modify appropriately. For the best example of "fun" control play, we have to take a look at Magic: The Gathering.

In Magic, Blue usually exemplifies resource control in the game. One very specific moment that was created from this was when you had enough open mana on the table for a counter-spell, several unknown cards, and it was the opponent's turn. That opponent doesn't know if you have a counterspell or not, and has to re-evaluate actions accordingly. Does he bait with a low-impact spell in hopes of drawing your counterspell? Does he see if you're bluffing? Does punish your unused active mana (that could have been used on creatures or other more aggressive actions) by playing multiple small spells and wrenching away board control? Does he have his -own- coutnerspell? The key is, he has numerous options and the players enter a pretty IRL mental duel and play a mini game of poker, essentially.

This example works well in Magic, but obviously the specifics aren't portable to every game - you need to evaluate control and present these possibilities, without adding "lockdown" to the game that simply disallows other actions. This is why having one interrupt on a Dom Meser is fine and acceptable (also applicable to Mage CS in WoW to an extent) - the mechanics are fine in those games and only suffer from poor feedback.
Agreeing with you and further srguing the point:

Team stun-lock is TERRIBLE to play against in LoL. while changes have been made so it's not as bad as before, it still feels TERRIBLE to get grabbed by a Blitzcrank who you didn't know was MIA and in your bushes, then stunned into the air, then stunned by sion when you fall back down and silenced by kassadin, rooted by morgana, etc. if you aren't dead yet.

I'm sure it was fun for the opposing team to murder me on the spot like that, but when you have literally zero control over your fate, that is not fun.


Try playing super smash Bros. brawl against the Ice Climbers who have an innescapable chain grab if they set it up right. Sure, if you know what you're doing the game becomes an exciting game of feints and pokes as you try to evade the grab range of the ice-climbers, but if you DO tend to get grabbed by them, you can say goodbye to that life... even if you are at 0% damage.

Maybe it feels good to infinite grab like that, but as the player grabbed, it's simply not fun AT ALL to be tossed about like a ragdoll with literally no control over my character. If the iceclimbers don't mess up their throws, I can't MAKE myself escape.


It's the same amount of anti-fun that's caused when people pub-stop with twitches, eves or shacos.


Comment below rating threshold, click here to show it.

YO FAT MAMA

Senior Member

10-15-2010

great read, thanks!


Comment below rating threshold, click here to show it.

omnishaz

Senior Member

10-15-2010

Quote:
Originally Posted by Zileas View Post
***EDIT: Added a bunch of new patterns.****

I've been asked a few times, "Why don't you do stuff like Rupture (from DOTA Bloodseeker) in LoL?"

I usually respond -- Rupture contains several basic design 'anti-patterns'. I thought I'd post for the benefit of those who are interested what strong anti-patterns I am aware of.

So... Here are a few that come to mind.... Note that you can find an example of each of these somewhere in our game at some intensity level. Sometimes this is just bad design. Sometimes this is because we got something else in exchange. Design is an optimization -- but these anti-patterns are of negative design value, so you should only do them if you get something good in return.

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. But mechanically, it is very strong. Suppose we gave a +15 damage aura... Really powerful, not that appreciated. On the other hand, if you cast the aura and gave them flaming weapons, which on next hit burst for 100 damage, and we could do it once every 20 seconds, you'd get about the same power, and people would value the effect more. The problem with using this anti-pattern is that you tend to have to 'over-buff' the mechanic and create a game balance problem before people appreciate it. As a result, we tend to keep Auras weak, and/or avoid them altogether, and/or pair them on an active/passive where the active is very strong and satisfying, so that the passive is more strategic around character choice.

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 -- 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.

In a sense, ALL abilities have some burden of knowledge, but some have _a lot more_ -- the ones that force the opponent to know about a specific interaction to 'enjoy' the gameplay have it worst.

Unclear Optimization
This is a more subtle one. when players KNOW they've used a spell optimally, they feel really good. An example is disintegrate on Annie. When you kill a target and get the mana back, you know that you used it optimally, and this makes the game more fun. On the other hand, some mechanics are so convoluted, or have so many contrary effects, that it is not possible to 'off the cuff' analyze if you played optimally, so you tend not to be satisfied. A good example of this is Proudmoore's ult in DOTA where he drops a ship. The ship hits the target a bit in the future, dealing a bunch of damage and some stun to enemies. Allies on the other hand get damage resistance and bonus move speed, but damage mitigated comes up later. Very complicated! And almost impossible to know if you have used it optimally -- do you really want your squishies getting into the AOE? Maybe! Maybe not... It's really hard to know that you've used this skill optimally and feel that you made a 'clutch' play, because it's so hard to tell, and there are so many considerations you have to make. On the other hand, with Ashe's skill shot, if you hit the guy who was weak and running, you know you did it right... You also know you did it right if you slowed their entire team... Ditto on Ezreal's skill shot.

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

Fun Fails to Exceed Anti-Fun
This is where the 'anti-fun' created on your opponents by 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. 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?

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.

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!

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.

Or We Could **** the Player!!1111oneoneone
This is where you straight up screw over the player, usually with dramatic flair, or maybe just try to make the player feel crappy in a way that isn't contributing to the fun of the game. These range in severity, but examples usually are spawned because the designer is a pretentious wanker who likes to show what a smart dude he is and how stupid the player is. I do not respect designers who engage in this pattern intentionally, and encourage any design lead out there to immediately fire any of your staff that does. I do understand that it can happen inadvertently. So, I love you WoW team despite the 'playing vs' experience of Rogue and Warlock, as you DO have the best classes of any MMO, and they look even better in Cataclysm.... But, on Bayonetta, what were you guys on Team Little Angels thinking? I know you guys likely do not care about my opinion, but really, did you think the stone award was a good idea?

Very Severe: The original tomb of horrors D&D module is the worst in existence. Good examples are the orb of annihilation that doesnt look like one and instakills you and all your gear if you touch it, and the three treasure chests where each has no loot and deadly traps and no clues that this is the case.

Severe: There's a popular wc3 map in China where you enter a bonus round, and have a 2% chance of just straight up dying rather than getting cool loot.

Situationally Moderate:Horrify + fear kiting from a competent warlock who outgears you in WoW. Guess what? You die before getting to react.

Mild: Stone award in Bayonetta. So... you barely get through the level for the first time, then get laughed at by the game with a lame statue of the comic relief character, and a mocking laugh. Please -- maybe a bronze award and a 500 pt bonus might be more appropriate? The player might have worked VERY hard to get through the level, espec on normal and higher difficulties.
ah
And thats why I've quit LoL.
...Don't you think "anti-fun" is a silly biased term?