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Zileas' List of Game Design Anti-Patterns

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I hate to be on the Vlad bandwagon, but isn't one of those patterns in relationship to Vlad's Transfusion? I mean, it costs nothing to use and is on a low cooldown, how the heck can I harass him if every time I go do it I lose blood each time? You know how woozy I get? I like having an active laning phase trying to keep the enemy out of the proper zones, but Vlad is like a punishment for trying to be even moderately productive, well just his Transfusion; everything else I think is fine just the way they are.

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Senior Member


Vlad = Anti-Fun > Fun

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Hollow lchigo

Junior Member


Evelyn makes the game no fun imo, especially as a jungler where you have to buy vision wards (125gp versus 75gp) to stop jungler ganks or pay the price for taking more than a few steps out of tower range. As a ranged carry at mid tower pushing is impossible with a mia eve jungler.

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The Lord of Hats

Senior Member


Hollow lchigo:
Evelyn makes the game no fun imo, especially as a jungler where you have to buy vision wards (125gp versus 75gp) to stop jungler ganks or pay the price for taking more than a few steps out of tower range. As a ranged carry at mid tower pushing is impossible with a mia eve jungler.

Well, it's mostly something you just have to play aware of. If you're pushed up to their tower, just about any jungler is going to be able to screw you over like that. Udyr will roar up to you and stun you. Rammus will powerball knockup+taunt you and drag you underneath the tower. There's all sorts of ways that being pushed up in mid is going to screw you over. Just because you forced their mid to go back to base doesn't mean that you're entitled to autoattack the tower freely (and if their mid is still there, why the hell are you pushing up your lane in the first place).

There are plenty of things that you can do as mid when you've forced them to b. Even if it's just to shove a creepwave into their tower so that you can b and heal up (and deny them a creepwave). You generally don't want to be actually attacking the tower too much as mid, at least not if they're a competent team and have a jungler.

Eve isn't well designed, true. But that's still a bad behaviour you've got there.

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Senior Member


Thanks for the comprehensive list, though it does still feel a bit lacking. There's some areas I feel really need to be considered as well.

For example:

Lack of key information

Let's say yeu have an ability. It's a very effective, potent ability... but only if used right, otherwise it's kind of lackluster. Let's then make this ability's tooltip completely inaccurate, or lacking important information required in order for anyone to know how it works without extensive testing.

A key example of this would be all the taunts in WoW; while it does force a 3 second attack, it also has the hidden ability of setting the threat level of the enemy taunted for the caster, to be equal to the highest threat on that target. So if a warrior taunts, and already has hate... nothing happens. If a mage winds up a huge pyroblast, then follows it up with a PoM fireball instantly after, THEN the warrior taunts, they get a huge boost to their threat as they get up to the same threat level as the mage. There's nothing in the game which even remotely hints at how this works, and without hours of dedicated tanking research, or days of testing with extra third party interface mods, there's literally no way to know about this.

The lack of information on characters until actually played in game is atrocious in LoL; the character screen page does NOT adequately list whot the spells actually do most of the time, and do not list the passives AT ALL. Toss in that the LoL community site often does not have up to date information, sometimes several months delayed, this can cause serious annoyance when trying to figure out how to counter an ability. If a poppy is slapping yeu around all game, yeu want to know whether to get armour or magic resist to counter; when yeu die, yeu get a list but it's not always accurate for abilities like poppy which are a split of magic/physical. Other issues such as having no idea on the coefficient values of spells or how they are applied can severely change how a character is built... another example would be Caitlyn - her ultimate benefits from the bonus damage from items/abilities/etc only, not from her basic attack damage, which can be very confusing as it doesn't clearly state this, and if someone picks up a dorans' sword and only sees +16 damage on her ulti when they have 73 AD... they may not bother to power their ulti properly.

Providing accurate information on how abilities work is key to both the player using it, and the enemy trying to counter it.

Game play, in the sense mentioned in the opening post, often relates to counters, dodges, and so on, ie letting the player feel like their actions have any meaning at all. As soon as a player feels like their input into the game has no effect on the outcome, then it's not a game anymore, it's a tv show where they sit and watch, with no direct interaction.

Which leads to a key flaw in the current metagame in general:

Well... I got to watch

Team fights, and in fact team composition in general, right now, is pretty heavily based on CC. Yes, CC is a big part of the game, and always will be, but we're starting to see entirely too many champions with multiple effective, long duration CC. Cho'gath used to suck to fight back when the game first came out, since he was one of the few with two strong CC; a long duration silence AND a stun, both area of effect. These days, it's not uncommon at all to run into 5-8 CC on the enemy team, with a variation between fear, taunt, stun, etc, with no diminishing returns between different types, and with so many types, it's unlikely to get the same one repeatedly. This can just too easily mean being feared, then stunned, then taunted, then stunned again.

This causes an issue where one virtually *MUST* under 95% of circumstances, get CC reduction... which almost always means getting the merc treads, and often either cleanse, or a sash. This would fall under yeur own heading of "false choice"; there's many nice boot choices, from CDR to attack speed, to immense movement... but it's all meaningless if the only right choice every single game is merc treads. If one doesn't take merc treads, with very, very few exceptions, it's practically suicide.

Game play requires playing the game. If it looks anything like a game I played earlier today, where the two teams sat just off screen next to each other, feinting, trying to swap back and forth between jungles, hit a tower, or whotever, but never going near each other since they both know full well the second ONE person sticks their neck out or trails ever so slightly behind their group, that they'll be CC'd into the ground and won't even be able to move literally for 10+ seconds straight, then there's a problem. It means that one doesn't really get to actually "play" the game, and the whole game is spent just staring at each other and waiting for someone to make a mistake. Yes, there's the whole chess thing about moving around and warding and such, but it gets to the point where yeu don't get to actually DO anything. There were only 20 deaths in total in the game nearly an hour into it, both teams combined, because the ganks were counterganked, the "tanky dps" **** that's been going on for ages reared its' head so noone could really kill anyone else, and would just back off with stuns flying both ways, to snare one, and to prevent the others from killing them, that fights were so boring when they finally did happen. Noone died, noone did damage, it was just a massive CC fest against highly defensive players to the point that it was like why even bother playing at all.

When all yeu can do is sit and watch, and not actually do anything, because yeu've been trapped in stunlock for literally 10+ seconds straight, then the game play value is literally at 0. Because yeu could get up and go get a drink and there would have been absolutely no difference of whether yeu were sitting there playing at yeur best, or if yeu weren't even at the computer. Too much CC and too much emphasis on everyone taking the very few ways to remove said excessive CC becomes far too restricting.

Jack of all trades, master of all

Alright, yeu've got a champion that is effective at laning. They're effective against towers. Against minions. Against other champions. They're effective in the jungle, effective solo or paired with another, they're effective at disabling, at escaping, at survival, at defense, at offense.

Whot's their purpose?

I took about an 11 month break from the game, starting at just after christmas last year, and returned about 2 months ago. When I left, generally the champions were pretty well mixed, they had their pros and their cons, and then... when I return, I find about 15 new champs, many of which are so well rounded that yeu can't seem to find a weak side to them.

I know yeu want to encourage people to play the newer ones so it keeps making the game more interesting, but alot of the older champs just are so lackluster in comparison now.

Why would someone play a squishy DPS with no CC, and so-so farming, when they could play one with the survivability of a tank, the dps of a carry, and the farming of a center solo, not to mention 1-2 forms of CC on top of that.

The "glass cannon" effect requires there to be some cannon to go with the glass... but if the glass cannon really only has the same output as a cannon that isn't glass, then why pick a glass cannon in the first place?

Far, far too many champions these days, are either DPS that can tank well with minimum tank items, or tanks that can dps well with minimum dps items. Garren can (not quite so much postnerf these days, but still kinda effectively) take pretty good hits while still making people scared to rush into a team fight. Vlad, who is truly in need of a massive reworking, has immense health, immense damage, lifesteal, slow, aoe, and a get out of jail free card on virtually no cooldown that can let him ignore most of the counters to him, including ultimates. I'm not about to list every champ in the game, that'd be silly, but it's become entirely too easy for far too many champs to simply be strutting around with 3k+ health, 150ar/mr, and STILL be outputting very respectable damage with only 1-2 damage items.

Vlad kind of shows a perfect example of whot's wrong with the current system, namely a character that has virtually no weak point to exploit, and whot little weak point there is, can be easily protected with little matter of thinking on the players' part.

Jack of all trades - master of none (for spells)

Abilities which get too convoluted. An example yeu gave earlier, was proudemoors' ship... which listed so many different effects, that it didn't even make sense why it would have so many abilities.

Some require multiple ideas to them, such as shens' taunt, which both allows him to dash forwards AND to taunt. This is kind of required for an aoe taunt, as he should be placed into harms' way if he wants to taunt a whole team.

Others... get bogged down with layer, upon layer, upon layer of ability.

Sanguine Pool - Vladimir sinks into a pool of blood becoming untargetable for 2 seconds. Additionally, enemies on the pool are slowed and Vladimir siphons life from them.

So he becomes untargetable. And he slows. And he heals. And he damages. And it's AoE. 5 major abilities, any 2 of those would be considered an average spell, that's pretty descent quality. Any 3 would be an above average ability that would usually need some significant drawback to make up for covering too many areas, such as reducing the damage to be over a longer time, or easily avoidable, and so on. This is an ability which does so much that it's like having 2-3 abilities all in a single spell slot. Trying to make interesting abilities is difficult to accomplish, trust me I do enough character creation stuff as personal hobby as it is, and balancing it out can be a tricky juggling act. Trying to cram too much into a single spell though can often lead into it either becoming:

A - Diluted, with each of the individual effects so weak that none of them serve any real purpose; a weak slow with low damage and limited beneficial effect as a whole

B - Too strong in general, covering too many different tasks well, to the point that it's like having an extra 1-2 additional abilities over every other champion.

or C - One or two key features, with extras tacked on in such low amount that there's seemingly no reason why the extras were even there in the first place

Making new champions, especially with each requiring 5 new abilities, that have to present unique gameplay, can be very challenging, especially with the vast quantities of how fast they're being created. Just be careful about not falling into the trap of "let's just keep adding more stuff until it seems unique". Avoiding obviously generic abilities, such as the nuke that does damage and nothing else, or the blink that has nothing to make it special, is an important task, otherwise one'll end up with wonderfully... generic champions like Sven from DotA, who has all the interesting appeal of... 4 stock abilities with only 1 effect each and no real uniqueness because of such. Is he effective? Very much so. Is he interesting to play? As a right click wonder, not especially so.

I have faith in yeu guys to do a good job, and some of the combos lately have been impressive... cassiopeia is a fun character to play, despite some glitchy issues with her ultimate. Karma, although I love intricate characters that need to have their spells play off each other, is looking a bit too muddled on the design table at the moment... so much going on in an attempt to give her 6 spells instead of 4 that it feels like it's forcing too much into too small a space, similar to some of the issues currently held with rene and udyr, though nidalee seems to be a bit less of a hassle due to her spells only really having 1-2 effects apiece.


Years, and years ago, I got a game development starting kit for christmas. Nice idea, though I've since learned that there's alot more to it than just that. Starting my own company? ...Erm... no. But anyway, it came with a rather nice book... hundreds of pages of interviews by various big names, from Romero to level designers at naughty dog, to lead artists at blizzard, back before starcraft had even come out. Yes, this's old school stuff we're talking about.

And there's some things which were stated back then, which have held true throughout the course of time. One of these which was mentioned, by a blizzard dev which I forget exactly who it was at the time, was the issue of being unbalancable.

Consider an ability, a spell on a unit for LoL, which has a 1/3/5% chance to instantly win the game when cast. The other 95% of the time nothing happens.

Can this be balanced? No. It doesn't matter how much yeu tweak or adjust or change numbers, there's really only one thing yeu can change on the spell, which is the % chance to win the game, and it's blind luck. Either it's useful, or it's not.

This issue lasted literally for *YEARS* with world of warcraft's warlocks... and continues to this day. A soft, squishy character which relies on damage over time spells... to get a kill, they have to DoT up the target, then survive. But they're squishy... so they use fear, which either is

A: too powerful, allowing the warlock to just have the enemy be constantly running in circles forever until they die

B: too weak, where the enemy breaks out of it with ease and simply kills the warlock then heals themselves

There has never, and truly never will be, a perfect balance. Because there isn't one with multiple character classes in the game. In some cases, it will simply be guaranteed win, in other cases it'll be guaranteed loss with no real in between when comparing players of equal skill in the equivalent to a high ELO ranking.

Any ability which is too strong or not strong enough, with no middle ground and is stuck as a black and white, 1 and 0 approach, will never be balanceable. A LoL example of this, wait wait... yeu know it's coming... sanginious pool. Aaah yeu knew it was the one.

An ability with the power to make the champion immune to all damage, all CC, all ultimates (alright there's a few exceptions), and generally is godmode for 2 seconds.

Another example being trynd's ultimate, 6 seconds of immortality, which's longer than any stun in the game, and means, if played properly, he can kill any one player he needs to assuming he has cleanse.

These abilities are either too strong, or too weak. There is no middle ground. They will never be truly balanced, and can not be fixed by any amount of tweaking in the world.

Can the character as a whole be overall made kinda close to balanced? Yes. Do they make the character godlike powerful to completely inept newbies who have never played a computer game before in their lives? No. But do they still represent a situation where yeu've made an ability which is far too black and white with no way to adjust the overall effectiveness in between? Yes.

Alistar's ultimate reduces damage significantly... but the numbers on it can be tweaked to allow for adjustments as the metagame changes over time. So can most abilities in the game.

The only ones which cause true balance issues, are those which are either global, or cause invincibility of some sort, as these abilities restrict all capacity for a team to counter them. Yeu can't silence them, stun, or use any abilities at ones' disposal in order to prevent such, instead, yeu are stuck with an ability that is either too strong or too weak, and as the game changes, items are adjusted, metagame adjustments occur (such as lower early game survivability coming up next patch), these abilities won't scale properly, and can't be easily tweaked to compensate as the game evolves around them.

They are problematic in long term balance, and though it can be possible in certain conditions to get them balanced temporarily, there will be changes to the metagame which will prevent their capacity to be balanced the same way later.

These are the biggest abilities to be wary of overall as they can quickly ruin a game and make it go from fun to just irritating.

Anyways, despite all this, LoL is surprisingly close to balanced... though some champs are obviously FAR more often used in high ELO ranked, and others are banned every single game, and some simply don't exist because they're never used. Despite this, it is still very good, and yeur original post shows a strong understanding of alot of pitfalls one can get stuck in.

The above I just mentioned, are also ones to keep yeur eye on just in case.

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Senior Member


I want blind monk very badly

HE CUD be like Master Yi's secret FATHER or elder brother or smg :O

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Junior Member


i have seen ur currently reworking the queue systems..

pls keep in mind to value the "count of games played" more.
specially the first 100 games should improve your elo..

there is a big problem:

people with win / lose of 500/500 .. get queued with people
haveing 5 / 5 .. cause total games dont count anything!

pls address this issue as soon as possible .. thx

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Senior Member


my head hurts after all the reading lol XD

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I should clarify the example, but I'm specifically opposed to abilities where when you use them, you aren't really sure if thats how you were supposed to use it, or abilities that throw so many effects on, that it starts to become very vague what the 'right' use cases are and when.

I feel this way with Mantra on Karma because it's so limited in its use (being 2) and it takes so long to recharge I find myself really asking if I should use it on the shield to help kill someone before they kill an ally and heal that person as well with the other, or if I should use it to speed/slow down someone else, etc etc.

There are a lot of situations that would just take too long to mention, but I feel as though her heal has been made powerful since it is limited, her shield provides powerful damage absorption and is not limited, but the damage her shield does is limited and is much less powerful -- though it is also an AoE. The speed up is ridiculous with Mantra but then you've just used a Mantra to essentially run away or slow someone down for your team.

I feel as though Mantra needs a bigger cap on charges, like 4, I don't know, but the limit of 2 really presents the case that you're speaking of now, and playing the character makes me feel really restrained even though she has quite a few things she can do. I don't think she's underpowered or overpowered, actually probably closer to the latter based on how much her heal can sway a battle or not sway a battle, but I do feel a tweak is needed to sort of lift the restraints a bit. I understand that if you buffed the # of Mantra charges and maybe reset on assist or have a shorter cool down, that the heal would need to be nerfed and the speed up would probably need to be changed to 1.5x instead of double Though I doubt the shield would need to be changed.

Also, every time I press Mantra to make the next shield do damage, I feel as though I've just done something incredibly stupid.

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Senior Member


In general yes, but I won't please ONE player at the expense of my job. Now, if EVERYONE in the community wanted blind monk, maybe it would be a different story.

I wouldn't say EVERYONE... but as the number of players is not published... I would say that 6k players is a pretty sizable force... you're wouldn't pleasing one player, but a whole bunch of us... Zileas, add the blind monk NAO!