Zileas' List of Game Design Anti-Patterns

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The Bad Lamb

Senior Member

12-13-2010

i guess cho's 800 true damage nuke slipt through your anti-fun radar


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Havy whopons gai

Senior Member

12-13-2010

Quote:
Originally Posted by Amadi View Post
You forgot Vorthos, who just cares about the fluff, and probably some others MaRo has introduced in the past few years.

Regarding +10/+100 armor aura, I do enjoy the +100 at least ten times more, because at least it makes an effing difference. +10 armor would just be lame, and not really enjoyable at all.
That would be Melvin, who enjoy interesting mechanics. Which, by the way, I feel LoL is severely lacking in.


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Amadi

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Senior Member

12-13-2010

In another post, here, I demonstrated how Urgot breaks all but one of your anti-patterns with his ultimate.

Care to explain why it was implemented?

At least that explains why he is not getting buffed, because if no one plays him he only exhibits false choice, I.E spending IP on him.


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hyliandanny

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Senior Member

12-13-2010

As this week's Flash threads pop up, I started wondering your take on the borders and effects between game design and UI. Here's a question.

Do you think that many community-driven complaints about Flash could be written off through a different UI for ranked (draft mode) matches? Specifically: in draft mode, do you think that exposing summoner spell choices -- in addition to champion choices -- would affect the balance of the game? Are the effects, or lack thereof, something that you would embrace or discourage? What drives your decision (example: embracing the effects, "a more complete product from application start to close", or discouragement for modularity)?

Assume that all required changes in the UI (locked in mechanism, etc.) have been handled -- though feel free to comment on whether it should be your call, your UI designer's, or someone else's to make (timer for lock on champion vs. timer for lock on summoner spells, etc.).


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BJSV

Senior Member

12-14-2010

Quote:
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, and that you might cause some of this stress on purpose in an RPG for character development.. And of course, 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, did the developers really think the stone award was a good idea? But I digress...

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, while watching it in slow motion!

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.
So we keep on nerfing champions, cause we dont test them properly, and showing players that thy actually arent good at all its just that champion is OP.

Very Severe: the three treasure chests where each has a loot and godly gifts and no clues that this is the case. And than we take that away.


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RegAlGhul

Senior Member

12-15-2010

Quote:
Originally Posted by Zileas View Post
1)Most complex games will cause you to get better when you read up, and LoL is the same way. What LoL does not require you do though is read up to understand what is occurring in the game.


Which is not what I am debating, I agree with you. But that is not what burden of knowledge is about. Having players learn to get better is great, but having players require out-of-game learning to figure out what is happening to their character is not desirable.

2) Ignoring the personal attack about me being a jerk, and going to your next actual point of debate...



3) I think that the difficulty of executing a typical flash escape is far lower than the difficulty of executing a proper 2 man gank that will kill you if not for flash. Additionally, flash leads to a much more passive play experience, where players just don't get rewarded for trying to be aggressive in the early and midgame because flash foils it. Is it 'fun' to spend 60 seconds setting up a gank, waiting for the lane to push, and initiating perfectly to have flash nullify the whole thing, and then have you lose a ton of XP and gold while you walk back to your lane?

It also creates a variety of cheesy situations, like riskless dragon attempts for a blue jungler with flash, etc.
1) No, there is a lot of research involved as it stands. Primarily with the passives. I had to actually look up the hardcaps of various stats in the guides section and several other key elements to creating characters, and I like it that way, to be honest. A little research never hurt anyone.

2) I call'em like I see'em, man.

3) Why is it that no one has ever thought to set up ganks according to the flash element? I do this all the time, and it doesn't matter if they have flash if I've set up a good gank. Flash doesn't have the distance to cover major screw-ups, and most of the time people push because they have flash to give them breathing space. There's a confusion about the cause-effect pattern here. If you removed flash, there would actually be a steep shift to turtle gameplay. Without that comfort zone, the GOOD players will take less risks, since they don't have a nifty spell to foil poorly-conceived gank attempts.

But go ahead and promote your game design, Zileas. The last patch has already guaranteed I'm not spending another dime on this game. I'm gonna go dust off my retro games.


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Nenesse

Senior Member

12-15-2010

NERFS ARE ANTI-FUN.

There. Now half of you can stop posting.


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BJSV

Senior Member

12-15-2010

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nenesse View Post
NERFS ARE ANTI-FUN.

There. Now half of you can stop posting.
No they arent.
I loved the new patch, but i really dont get what have they done with urgot.
And long time ago when we said that they cant nerf LeBlanc early game without buffing her late game, they done exactly that. They are ruining the game by not testing anything. But still they keep on pumping out new champions every 2 weeks to disrupt that little balance they had.

P.S. How long did pantheon had overpowered HSS? It was anti-fun when LeBlanc was killing ppl with half hp in instant but it is totally normal for pantheon to do 70% of dmg with only one spell. Really lame guys.


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RokkEmSokkEm

Senior Member

12-15-2010

Well, I have to ask: what is your CV as far as game design is concerned? The list of 'anti-patterns' (strange way of putting 'flawed design') seems a bit hap-hazard.

Quote:
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.
Okay - so my first question is, "How do you know that players don't notice these things or find them satisfying?"

Where is the data to back up the foundation of this hypothesis? Anecdotally, my own experience has been that auras are enjoyed and valued a lot, particularly in tabletop & turn-based environments.

I would imagine that, yes, players would appreciate a graphically superior ally buff to a dull looking one, but that highlights the importance of aesthetic in design rather than dealing with the issue of whether or not players notice or appreciate the benefits of things like ally buffs. Your argument is fallacious ('A boring looking aura is less exciting for players than a flashy one time buff, therefore players don't find any auras exciting').

Quote:
The problem with using a "power without gameplay" mechanic 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. For example, Sona's auras are all quite weak -- because at weak values they ARE appreciated properly.
I contest that you have not demonstrated that this is actually a problem. Until you can provide some evidence that substantiates the basic premise, the conclusions you've drawn from the premise are without any weight.

Burden of Knowledge
Quote:
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.
The user is always going to assume the burden of having to learn how a game works; this isn't really a 'problem', it's just part of the way that games work. There's a variety of ways to give players the information they need to use any particular ability and/or understand it's functions if it's played on them (tooltips, tutorials, text displays, audio queues, etc). To use your own example, perhaps a player could be alerted by the same text that alerts them that Master Yi cannot be slowed that they should not move or they will recieve damage.

Quote:
Good particle work and sound -- good 'salesmanship' -- will reduce burden of knowledge (but not eliminate it). We still would not do Rupture as is in LoL ever, but I would say that the HON version of Rupture, with it's really distinct sound effect when you move, greatly reduces the burden of knowledge on it.
I don't think that holding preconceptions about specific elements you've seen done poorly in other games is a constructive way of approaching game design.

Quote:
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.
Okay - so the basic premise here is, "Players only have fun if it's easy to optimize what they can do."

Again, where is the evidence substantiating this premise? You're getting way ahead of yourself diving into anecdotal examples of things you thought were unsatisfying in other games if you don't even have the data showing your premise to be true.

The fact that there tend to be different approaches & debates about how to itemize particular heroes suggests to me that this premise either is not true or, at the very least, it's not as clear cut as you're suggesting.

Quote:
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
Again, I don't think preconceptions are constructive. Rather than flatly saying, "Well, this character is a mage, so obviously they will only ever fight at range, because that's just what mages do in games," maybe you should explore why things are that way in different games and make a judgement based on that exploration.

Quote:
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?
Not much to debate with here; it's a trivial observation, though.

Quote:
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.
This is just a re-phrasing of the 'Unclear Optimization' statement. The same criticism applies.

Quote:
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!
'Anti-combo' is a strange way of putting it - you're talking about synergy and keeping a character concept focused. I agree that this is an important issue in game design, but again, it's better to make your case on the back of established data (there is plenty of data for this particular issue, Wizards of the Coast having done a ton of quality control research after each release of Dungeons & Dragons) rather than personal experience.

Quote:
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.
Okay - so you'e saying that it's always wrong for a player to run into the trap wall, correct? I mean, that's sort of like saying, "It's always wrong to run into an Ashe arrow," or "It's always wrong to run into an Event Horizon,"

I don't see how this is a design problem. Being able to project an obstacle that is always bad for players to run into isn't fundamentally flawed, assuming it's executed correctly & balanced.

Quote:
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.
Again, this is a specific balancing issue, not a fundamental design issue.

Quote:
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, and that you might cause some of this stress on purpose in an RPG for character development.. And of course, 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, did the developers really think the stone award was a good idea? But I digress...

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, while watching it in slow motion!

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.
First, I don't think you understand why Gygax created the 1987 Tomb of Horrors module (writing it off as 'pretentious wanking' is, again, hanging onto preconceptions and demonstrates profound ignorance of the different goals one might have when designing a game). The objective was to create something that players would go into knowing that they would not win (or were very unlikely to). Now, that's not everyone's cup of tea, but anyone who embarked into the Tomb of Horrors should've been made aware by any DM worth their salt that it was a one-shot adventure that their characters likely would not live through.

'Losing is fun' is as legitimate a pursuit in game design as any; if you don't personally find it enjoyable to engage in that sort of gaming experience, that doesn't mean that nobody enjoys that kind of experience or makes it invalid.

Quote:
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.
Again with the odd wording; you're talking about the degree of control players have over the outcome of their actions. I would argue that you can have a high degree of player satisfaction even without giving them a lot of control over an outcome, as long as every possible outcome is entertaining - so 'satisfaction' & fun really isn't the issue. The issue is, "How much control over the outcome of an action do I want to give players in order to achieve the goals of my game's design,"

In a game like League of Legends, yes, I agree: you need to give players a lot of control because the game is supposed to be a skill-oriented experience that you can learn to get better at. In other games, a high degree of control isn't necessary, and perhaps isn't even wanted.


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Uccisore

Senior Member

12-15-2010

Quote:
Originally Posted by RokkEmSokkEm View Post
Well, I have to ask: what is your CV as far as game design is concerned? The list of 'anti-patterns' (strange way of putting 'flawed design') seems a bit hap-hazard.

.
You're like the 100th person in this thread to do the whole "Let me criticize the anti-patterns by first re-wording them in over simplified, easily attacked ways, and then attacking them" thing. It's not smart, or funny, or even worth rebutting in detail anymore. Maybe Zileas will do it anyway, though.