Zileas' List of Game Design Anti-Patterns

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NinjainSpandex

Senior Member

10-15-2010

I like and agree with almost everything you posted....except for Burden of Knowledge... I thought this was what death recap was for.? It's annoying the VERY FIRST TIME IT HAPPENS. But after that, you look at death recap, scroll over the spell, and it tells you what happened....

Also, the Use Pattern Mismatching surrounding gameplay....You have characters that are very tanky and dish out tons of damage, or characters that dish out tons of damage and can sit there all day doing it.


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ExpertSockThrow

Senior Member

10-15-2010

I only have an issue with complicated/unclear mechanics. If I don't understand it, that means I get to look it up, have an "ah HA!" moment, and have fun using it on someone else. If it's frustrating to play against, I'll find a way to mitigate that. That's what I did in DotA and I was kind of disappointed that there were no secret or hidden things here. (Yeah, I'll go back to DotA when I want to be confused and wondering what's going on, so don't bother telling me to do it.) The greater transparency is awesome, but sometimes I feel like I'm cutting paper with safety scissors, you know?


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Lockraemono

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Senior Member

10-15-2010

Very informative.


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Zileas

VP of Game Design

10-15-2010
5 of 282 Riot Posts

Quote:
Originally Posted by NinjainSpandex View Post
I like and agree with almost everything you posted....except for Burden of Knowledge... I thought this was what death recap was for.? It's annoying the VERY FIRST TIME IT HAPPENS. But after that, you look at death recap, scroll over the spell, and it tells you what happened....

Also, the Use Pattern Mismatching surrounding gameplay....You have characters that are very tanky and dish out tons of damage, or characters that dish out tons of damage and can sit there all day doing it.
Death Recap reduces burden of knowledge effects.

All abilities have some burden of knowledge, but some have more than others. It's an optimization.


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Perennial

Senior Member

10-15-2010

makes a lot sense , nice work ^^
annie's q is so great for farming


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Zylina

Senior Member

10-15-2010

Quote:
Originally Posted by Zileas View Post
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.

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 < 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. Duh.

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!
Amazing post. I could read stuff like this all day!


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Berzul

Senior Member

10-15-2010

Quote:
Originally Posted by Zileas View Post
Hey, we make mistakes and throw anti-patterns in all the time. we just try to do it less.
and sometimes you take on an anti-pattern to get something else valuable. It's not a hard rule.
It is ok.. Jax is still my main, since the times I wasn't lvl 30, and I did suggest that his ulti would receive an passive component somewhere in the forums


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IS1d69e2e5726f5f

Member

10-15-2010

Quote:
Originally Posted by D0llSlght View Post
- Burden of knowledge is always there in any game you play.....if you know that garen can ult you, you will run and not stay in tower even if you have about 33% life left, where against maybe morg, you wouldnt run.
keyword here is minimize


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IEatBabies

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Senior Member

10-15-2010

Good Post.

It makes it easier to see why some things are done the way they are.


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Geeves

Lead Live Designer

10-15-2010
6 of 282 Riot Posts

Quote:
Originally Posted by TechpriestJadoko View Post
I want to disagree with you on something; playing a Priest on WoW in the past, I love nothing more than making my opponents flop around helplessly, out of resources. I also enjoyed doing the same thing in DotA. Maybe I'm just sadistic or something.

Ah, well. I can always mass attack speed with Wit's End and try to get the same satisfaction.

Most of this, though, I agree with. Rupture was a PAIN until you knew, "Hey. If I stand still, it stops hurting me." And even then, Bloodthirster isn't a slouch when it comes to close range combat. Kinda a frustrating mechanic with how long it lasted.
I enjoyed the gameplay of Priest mana burn in WoW. There was lots of positioning/counter positioning gameplay (don't stand in the open to get gibbed if you're the priest, LoS behind pillars as the victim, interrupt etc), and 3 mana burns didn't leave you oom. Hunters were way worse - 1 shot to drain 15% of your mana, repeat for 1 minute, win.

WC3 had more offensive mana burn in the form of the Demon Hunter. He would kite you for 15 seconds and drain your mana in the process, meaning you couldn't cast spells for 5 minutes. Wait a minute, didn't Zileas work on WC3...