Zileas' List of Game Design Anti-Patterns

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Member

11-21-2010

Zileas, that was an entertaining read! Thank you very much for showing what goes into your decisions as far as design goes.

I think there is some confusion in this thread. These anti-patterns are not completely missing from League of Legends. That isn't the idea at all. These are things that should be avoided if they don't give some good patterns in return. For example, the Mesmer in Guild Wars is a great example of Anti-Fun for the person who is playing against them. On the other hand, in Guild Wars, players had ways of countering the Mesmer's play, and using these sucessfully was fun. In League of Legends, there is no way to counter Mana Burn while in lane. You have to wait to go back to the fountain.

Burden of Knowledge is also coming up a lot. There seems to be a misconception that Zileas doesn't want complex abilities in League of Legends, whereas the reality is that he doesn't want abilities that are confusing. Complex abilities that have good particle effects, tooltips or sounds avoid burden of knowledge by explaining the ability, and this is what Zileas wants in his game. No skills that make no sense for those who use it or it is used on, like how Rupture just makes you bleed. That doesn't correlate to taking damage by moving at all.


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AychAychAych

Senior Member

11-23-2010

Power Without Gameplay
The problem here is that you are denying the game of so many game designs, just because people can't appreciate it. But why do you bother trying to make the players appreciate it? Because in the end, does it really matter? If the game is won by sacrificing money and time unto items that give lot of team-fight potential and thus the team focuses on team-fight potential while lacking in other areas, you bring more diverse angles to the game. If people do not appreciate the fact that they won the game because they stacked auras, then why did they buy them? If they do not buy them and the enemy team does, they lose team-fights in theory. And they will find why and they will see the items that gave them such edge in team-fights and they will LEARN to appreciate the items.

It comes down to the fact, how you want to treat players. Will you treat them like stubborn children or adults? Because I don't see a reason to force something to be satisfying to the player, there is no need to. Player is responsible for drawing entertainment and satisfaction from the game, you do not need to do it for them.


Burden of Knowledge
This one is a really funny, because due the context of LoL and DotA. The very foundation of the game demands burden of knowledge and learning by the heel. The game, the concept of the very genre of AoS demands it to be full of little things you need to learn to play it, because of the diversity it has. Over 60 different kinds of heroes, even over 100 in case of DotA, all work very same, yet very differently. All the items, all the quirks, all the jukes, all the tip and tricks that makes the AoS game, all of them have to be felt. AoS is one of those games where you have to learn by sweat and tears, it can't be undone. FPS games have it easy, you know everyone has a gun. Guns shoot bullets, they kill you. While the gun changes and how it dispenses bullets, the core concept is so easy to see there is no need to study the game. But nothing, pretty much nothing sticks to the concept in AoS games. Only things are the auto-attack and moving, everything else has to be learned what it does. In a fighting game you don't need to guess will that kick suddenly cause somekind of scripted status that will kill you in situation B under spell A. It hits you, BAM, you take damage.

And it gets worse every single patch of LoL. You bring more content, you make the problem worse and worse. Don't you think it is better to embrace this issue rather than avoid it? There is so much you could do with the game, at the expense of making it harder to get in. Or sorry, was this against the whole idea of LoL? Being the baby's first AoS game? Don't you think it is obvious why LoL has gained this title?

Unclear Optimization
Isn't this just making spells simple for the sake of it being simple? Kunkka's ship has a pretty clear use to me. Use it to start a fight. It goes through your team, hits the enemy team, massive advantages for your team and massive disadvantages for the enemy team. Since it starts fairly back behind the real action, you can space your teammates far behind you and they still get the bonus. You know when the game is in its optimal use, when both the enemy gets hit AND your teammates get the buff. Requires little bit of skill and know-how to both aim it to the right spot and from the right angle, but that is why it is so powerful. The risk of failing is related to the prize of success. I don't see a reason to avoid making risky and multilayer abilities just because someone might be confused of them. Let them learn.


Fun Fails to Exceed Anti-Fun
Ah, I love this. Because here is where LoL starts to get confused because of the purpose it is supposed to do. You should know the basic fact that you can't ”make fun”. Fun is not matter, it is not something that is produced. Entertainment has to be created by the player, not by the developer. There is no way developer can guarantee fun, for you do not exactly know what people enjoy. By trying to guard the player of disappointment, of the feeling of failure, only in the long run makes the game too stale, too frigid. I take it this is why such as “early game heroes” or “late game heroes” don't really exist in LoL, so that someone doesn't feel cheated when they are outmatched early game due to hero picks. Or that some people feel late game heroes are unstoppable after not doing enough to hinder them. Goal of the game is to be a game. People play it and try to attain whatever their goal was for the game. Everyone has a different concept of what is fun and when you class things as “anti-fun” that should be avoided, you are locking lot of game mechanics out of the game.

It also bring another point. Mistakes are not fun. Are they anti-fun? Because then you could reason that we could balance the game around making variable “X” amount of mistakes. Heroes over perform when you do less than X mistakes and under perform when you do over X mistakes. Since mistakes are the norm rather than the exception, you compensate by making heroes that are riskier to play lot more powerful than they should be. And this causes lot of balance issues. Or should we do it the right way, the unfun way that heroes are presumed of doing no mistakes at all and balance around that, causing people to have “not fun” as they are not able to perform to the bar. One of the common issues that competitive games have to solve.


Conflicted Purpose
This one is just plain weird. It treats having multiple purposes as a negative property instead of positive, that it could/should be. If an ability can be used for multiple purposes, then good? It allows greater decision depth to the game than if the ability had only one singular purpose? Because the example is shoddy at best, since lot of damage makes a great initiation ability too. Stacking lot of burst quickly on someone is one of the basic ways to eliminate key players from the enemy team. It is just like the optimization issue, you can't be afraid of players having to cope with the fact that some things need to be learned. Experience will tell them where to use and when to use multipurpose abilities in varied situations. There is no need to avoid this!



Non-Reliability
Add risk to the game to avoid it becoming too safe. Risks that offer good awards push players into more exciting gameplay. Best way to see this is just look at Sona. Her design is extremely risk-free and has lead to really boring lane phases due to her nature. Do not be afraid of risks.


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Berzul

Senior Member

11-23-2010

OK some things I need to ask you Zilean

Namely, champions with combo skills and those that do not have combo skills. Anivia deals double damage on frozen targets, double damage one skill. Nidalee have something similar with spear 250% at max range, still one skill. While champs like Swain/Leblack, do not deal double, but like 10% to 40%, with one or more skills. This is still not as much as the previous champions.

Here's what I think, have champs abilities not being a combo you execute to win, but give them several skills, that do work in different environments.


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AychAychAych

Senior Member

11-24-2010

Also I would add that

False Choice -- Ineffective Choice
Now the issue here is that players should not always have multiple ways to deal with situations. When there are no wrong answers, they are also no right answers. The player has to learn what to do in what situations, why nanny him by making sure he can't be disappointed for failing?


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ILOVEEzzzreall

Member

11-24-2010

So One Question, can we have a Morphling in LoL?


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Zileas

VP of Game Design

11-27-2010
133 of 282 Riot Posts

Quote:
Originally Posted by AychAychAych View Post
Power Without Gameplay
The problem here is that you are denying the game of so many game designs, just because people can't appreciate it. But why do you bother trying to make the players appreciate it? Because in the end, does it really matter? If the game is won by sacrificing money and time unto items that give lot of team-fight potential and thus the team focuses on team-fight potential while lacking in other areas, you bring more diverse angles to the game. If people do not appreciate the fact that they won the game because they stacked auras, then why did they buy them? If they do not buy them and the enemy team does, they lose team-fights in theory. And they will find why and they will see the items that gave them such edge in team-fights and they will LEARN to appreciate the items.

It comes down to the fact, how you want to treat players. Will you treat them like stubborn children or adults? Because I don't see a reason to force something to be satisfying to the player, there is no need to. Player is responsible for drawing entertainment and satisfaction from the game, you do not need to do it for them.
One of the most basic tenants of modern game design is that the goal of a design is to create a SATISFYING experience. Put simply, "The purpose of a game is to be fun". Do you disagree? Because it sure sounds like you are.

Power without gameplay is a situation where as a designer you are creating overhead and legwork for yourself (play balance issues) without creating much satisfaction (which should be your #1 goal). Modern design seeks to not make complicated mechanics well understood by advanced players and designers. The goal is to make satisfying gameplay. I think this is the most basic pattern of all, and the least controversial. I challenge you to find a well-respected western game designer who will disagree with me on this one. (i.e. someone who has been start-to-finish lead designer on a very successful western online game)

Quote:
Burden of Knowledge
This one is a really funny, because due the context of LoL and DotA. The very foundation of the game demands burden of knowledge and learning by the heel. The game, the concept of the very genre of AoS demands it to be full of little things you need to learn to play it, because of the diversity it has.
Well, there's this game called Starcraft. and it's really easy to understand and avoids this anti-pattern heavily. And it has as much or possibly more strategic depth than DOTA... just saying... This is an optimization. All things being equal, less burden is better. "hard to learn" is only beneficial for a hardcore base that already plays the product to protect their elitism and feelings of superiority over less experienced playres, but you can give them the same mastery with simple to learn, hard to master mechanics, as starcraft accomplished, and make the game way more accessible.


Quote:
Unclear Optimization
Isn't this just making spells simple for the sake of it being simple? Kunkka's ship has a pretty clear use to me. Use it to start a fight. It goes through your team, hits the enemy hteam, massive advantages for your team and massive disadvantages for the enemy team. Since it starts fairly back behind the real action, you can space your teammates far behind you and they still get the bonus. You know when the game is in its optimal use, when both the enemy gets hit AND your teammates get the buff. Requires little bit of skill and know-how to both aim it to the right spot and from the right angle, but that is why it is so powerful. The risk of failing is related to the prize of success. I don't see a reason to avoid making risky and multilayer abilities just because someone might be confused of them. Let them learn.
I give up. You are just being argumentative. If you seriously think Kunkka's ship is an obvious use case and can think of a bunch of times you've used it 'perfectly' (without the use of differential equations), I'm not even sure if there's any rational argument you are going to have.


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Zileas

VP of Game Design

11-27-2010
134 of 282 Riot Posts

Quote:
Originally Posted by AychAychAych View Post
Also I would add that

False Choice -- Ineffective Choice
Now the issue here is that players should not always have multiple ways to deal with situations. When there are no wrong answers, they are also no right answers. The player has to learn what to do in what situations, why nanny him by making sure he can't be disappointed for failing?
Under this logic, DOTA would be a better game if you added 4 more abilities to each character, with each of those abilities being 'bad' abilities.

Or, you could do the same to Master of Orion 2 and get Master of Orion 3, and it would be a better game.


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Zileas

VP of Game Design

11-27-2010
135 of 282 Riot Posts

Quote:
Originally Posted by Berzul View Post
OK some things I need to ask you Zilean

Namely, champions with combo skills and those that do not have combo skills. Anivia deals double damage on frozen targets, double damage one skill. Nidalee have something similar with spear 250% at max range, still one skill. While champs like Swain/Leblack, do not deal double, but like 10% to 40%, with one or more skills. This is still not as much as the previous champions.

Here's what I think, have champs abilities not being a combo you execute to win, but give them several skills, that do work in different environments.
Well, if you over-incent specific combos, it can make the non-use of the combo a 'false choice', which is not good. I think Anivia borders on this. But weak or moderate incentives allow you to pat yourself on the back for 'playing right' in decent play. I also agree that giving people tools that function better in some scenarios is a good low-complexity way of allowing satisfying play and skill differentiation.


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Zileas

VP of Game Design

11-27-2010
136 of 282 Riot Posts

Quote:
Originally Posted by banthor11 View Post

Big discussion here: Win-more designs

I'd also like to hear Zileas opinion on snowball items. I personally dislike them because they are a "win-more" item.

If you're doing well ,kills with rare deaths are already rewarding you gold, experience, and time advantages over members of the other team. These, in turn, translate into superior damage and survivability through levels and items. Snowball items are most effective in games that you're already winning, thus helping you "win-more".

In addition to that, snowball items need to be bought rather early in a game so they can reach their full potential later in the game. However, the player is placing a lot of hope on on getting enough stacks quickly enough to have a huge impact on the game. Effectively, players are gambling on their early-mid game and that they won't get shut down or denied killing blows. I find this to be a rather troubling design.

Now, Leviathan and Sword of the Occult seem to be uncommon, but Mejaj's Soulstealer gets used frequently. This looks to be a red flag that a deeper problem exists with champions that primarily use abilities.

Well, that's it for now. Wouldn't mind hearing what your thoughts are on this matter, Zileas.
Yeah so... When someone is winning, and their opponent CANT stop them, it feels frustrating and lame... because you can't do anything ;p But when someone is winning and COULD lose it's not so bad. I still think that with snowball items, this is the case.

Secondly, anyone who plays a lot of First Person Shooters knows that the FPS matches you remember are the ones where you went 20-2, not the ones you went 0-20. High points of immense emotional satisfaction make the game more fun than the low points diminish your fun -- as long as you arent in the low points consecutively a lot. Thta's a lot of the theory behind the snowball items. Plus, someone who goes 20-2 isn't necessarily winning, they are just feeling good about their performance.


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Indexus

Senior Member

11-27-2010

Quote:
Originally Posted by Zileas View Post
One of the most basic tenants of modern game design is that the goal of a design is to create a SATISFYING experience. Put simply, "The purpose of a game is to be fun". Do you disagree? Because it sure sounds like you are.

Power without gameplay is a situation where as a designer you are creating overhead and legwork for yourself (play balance issues) without creating much satisfaction (which should be your #1 goal). Modern design seeks to not make complicated mechanics well understood by advanced players and designers. The goal is to make satisfying gameplay. I think this is the most basic pattern of all, and the least controversial. I challenge you to find a well-respected western game designer who will disagree with me on this one. (i.e. someone who has been start-to-finish lead designer on a very successful western online game)


Well, there's this game called Starcraft. and it's really easy to understand and avoids this anti-pattern heavily. And it has as much or possibly more strategic depth than DOTA... just saying... This is an optimization. All things being equal, less burden is better. "hard to learn" is only beneficial for a hardcore base that already plays the product to protect their elitism and feelings of superiority over less experienced playres, but you can give them the same mastery with simple to learn, hard to master mechanics, as starcraft accomplished, and make the game way more accessible.



I give up. You are just being argumentative. If you seriously think Kunkka's ship is an obvious use case and can think of a bunch of times you've used it 'perfectly' (without the use of differential equations), I'm not even sure if there's any rational argument you are going to have.
Seriously, you think Starcraft has any strategical depth ? It does have it, but not much at all. Dota, with balanced gameplay, would have twice (if not more) strategical gameplay. Still I won't agure about complexity of spells - it's bad, but dumbing them down for the sake of it is just wrong.

"SATISFYING experience" != Fun. Fun is really biased thing - People are satisfied, because they win a game, they don't need fun with it. Others find it fun, when they built AP Olaf and stomped the game, while others want to score billions of kills.
There are even weirdos, who enjoy an even, balanced game, but MM can't provide it.

Building a satisfying game isn't exacly the same as a fun game.