Zileas' List of Game Design Anti-Patterns

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Zileas

VP of Game Design

11-29-2010
152 of 282 Riot Posts

Quote:
Originally Posted by SelimBradley View Post
"Masochistic" implies that a gamer of that type likes to lose. I think that's a common misconception. It's further propagated when someone says "I like game X because you can actually game over." "Masochistic" gamers, in your words, like the ability to be punished because it makes the eventual, hard-earned success that much more important. You've actually achieved something. They don't actually like losing; it just whets their appetite for winning.

It's why one-sided stomps in LoL aren't fun at all. I like outplaying my opponent, not winning because they're just bad.
You can have achievement in a game that doesn't present you with huge gaps in progress too you know.


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WhattayaBrian

Engineer

11-29-2010
153 of 282 Riot Posts

Quote:
Originally Posted by Zileas View Post
You can have achievement in a game that doesn't present you with huge gaps in progress too you know.
Enlighten me. If my progress isn't halted, what happens to the hurdles I need to clear? For the record, I'm not arguing against difficulty modes. If someone needs to play through Ninja Gaiden Black on Ninja Dog mode, then all the more power to them. I love difficulties, because it allows for a constant iterating and increasing of skill. The way I see it, there are a few possibilities for your quote:

1. There are multiple difficulties, with the easiest one being so easy that anyone can beat it (Very Easy Automatic in Bayonetta, for instance). The idea is that the game will train you sufficiently that the challenges you face in the higher difficulties won't be hard enough that you can't complete them in a fairly low number of tries (idealistic).
2. The game is open-ended, so any boss you can't beat can be left behind and attempted later (Metroidvanias). This works, assuming that other paths sufficiently power up the player so that he'll be significantly more powerful when he comes back to the boss later. This works, but not every game can be built around that.
3. The player can just skip it, a la Super Mario Galaxy 2. Well, you eventually have to come back and replace those bronze stars with real ones, so it's more or less the same as #2.
4. The game is multiplayer and all challenge is PvP, throwing all of this out the window.

I just want to be clear that there's a difference between "fun" and "hardcore". Metroid Prime is one of my favorite games of all time. It's incredibly fun, but not very hardcore. Just like sometimes I eat snacks and sometimes I go out and get a steak dinner, there are instances where I want something fun and hardcore to test my limits as a gamer. Metroid Prime is fun, but there's not a very large "achievement" factor upon beating it, because it's just not that challenging.

So, please, enlighten me.


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Hotarukin

Senior Member

11-29-2010

Quote:
Originally Posted by SelimBradley View Post
Enlighten me. If my progress isn't halted, what happens to the hurdles I need to clear? For the record, I'm not arguing against difficulty modes. If someone needs to play through Ninja Gaiden Black on Ninja Dog mode, then all the more power to them. I love difficulties, because it allows for a constant iterating and increasing of skill. The way I see it, there are a few possibilities for your quote:

1. There are multiple difficulties, with the easiest one being so easy that anyone can beat it (Very Easy Automatic in Bayonetta, for instance). The idea is that the game will train you sufficiently that the challenges you face in the higher difficulties won't be hard enough that you can't complete them in a fairly low number of tries (idealistic).
2. The game is open-ended, so any boss you can't beat can be left behind and attempted later (Metroidvanias). This works, assuming that other paths sufficiently power up the player so that he'll be significantly more powerful when he comes back to the boss later. This works, but not every game can be built around that.
3. The player can just skip it, a la Super Mario Galaxy 2. Well, you eventually have to come back and replace those bronze stars with real ones, so it's more or less the same as #2.
4. The game is multiplayer and all challenge is PvP, throwing all of this out the window.

I just want to be clear that there's a difference between "fun" and "hardcore". Metroid Prime is one of my favorite games of all time. It's incredibly fun, but not very hardcore. Just like sometimes I eat snacks and sometimes I go out and get a steak dinner, there are instances where I want something fun and hardcore to test my limits as a gamer. Metroid Prime is fun, but there's not a very large "achievement" factor upon beating it, because it's just not that challenging.

So, please, enlighten me.
Did you beat it in 10 hours, or 2? Did you find everything throughout the game? Did you use your awesome abilities as a gamer to skip to places you shouldn't be able to get to? Did you beat it with only minimal items? Trust me, Metroid is one of the -better- designed games in my mind. There are So many different things to do, it's not just a "jump on this dime sized pole, use that to doublejump to the next dime sized pole, immediately crouch so you can slide into a long jump, wall jump up, and flip a lever... so that all those spikes under you are now instead swapped with electric eels. Touching more than one electric eel immediately kills you..." See where I'm going? Extremely hard is a LOT different from satisfying. Metroid also provides you with "extremely hard" just... not as much incentive to do so, unless you -want- to.


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WhattayaBrian

Engineer

11-29-2010
154 of 282 Riot Posts

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hotarukin View Post
Did you beat it in 10 hours, or 2? Did you find everything throughout the game? Did you use your awesome abilities as a gamer to skip to places you shouldn't be able to get to? Did you beat it with only minimal items? Trust me, Metroid is one of the -better- designed games in my mind. There are So many different things to do, it's not just a "jump on this dime sized pole, use that to doublejump to the next dime sized pole, immediately crouch so you can slide into a long jump, wall jump up, and flip a lever... so that all those spikes under you are now instead swapped with electric eels. Touching more than one electric eel immediately kills you..." See where I'm going? Extremely hard is a LOT different from satisfying. Metroid also provides you with "extremely hard" just... not as much incentive to do so, unless you -want- to.
You misunderstand. Pretty much every game's challenge can be artificially inflated. "I'm going to play the original Super Mario Bros blindfolded."

I'm not arguing against this; in fact, I think it's a wonderful thing. Super Mario 64 is really a pretty bland game until you start abusing glitches or putting ridiculous restrictions on yourself ("Try to get every star possible without pressing the A button once you enter a world.").

But the problem here is whether or not we credit the makers of the game with that fun. I'm pretty sure I could come up with at least a mildly entertaining challenge for any game out there, but that doesn't mean I'm going to. I'd much rather find a game that provides me what I'm looking for (the aforementioned "hardcore challenge") without me having to artificially insert it.

Isn't that what everyone does? If you wanted a casual fighting game, would you pick up Brawl, or would you attempt to "casualize" Guilty Gear?


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BLTsammich

Senior Member

11-29-2010

No answer about gamer rage in this game? It seems way more prevalent than any other game I've ever seen in 10+ years of gaming online. You can't argue that it's just bad sports. There is something about the game's design that makes it so frustrating relative to other multiplayer games.


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Montoli

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Senior Member

11-29-2010

Quote:
Originally Posted by BLTsammich View Post
No answer about gamer rage in this game? It seems way more prevalent than any other game I've ever seen in 10+ years of gaming online. You can't argue that it's just bad sports. There is something about the game's design that makes it so frustrating relative to other multiplayer games.
My theory on this is that it is because it is such a team dependent game. Very few other games can have one single person pull down an entire team so thoroughly. This has two main effects:

- it causes rage when it happens, because frankly it is frustrating to lose because you had a feeder, or a poor player who refused to listen to advice. (Please stop facechecking bushes when all 5 are mia, and you're way overextended.)
- it provides an easy excuse when you are the one who is sucking, whether conscious or not. Providing more rage for your team for "failing" you. It is easy to blame someone on your team ("stupid fail tank couldn't keep me alive") when you are making mistakes. (Which also makes you less likely to correct that behavior, and causes rage in other people as well...)

That's my working theory. I've definitely noticed a lot more rage though. (And opposing team verbal abuse, for that matter, well beyond normal trash-talk) than most other online games I have played...


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Aerodynamic

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Senior Member

11-29-2010

@Zileas: I would like to know your opinion on Demon Souls. If you ever played it, you would know that the designers catered to masochistic gamers like myself. Though the game is very cruel, and demanding, beating that game had to be the most satisfying gaming experience I've ever had.

If there was a LoL champ equivalent to Demon Souls I would mention them, however the only champ that even comes close the mechanics of demon's souls is Cho Gath because he is the only champ that is punished for dying.


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RocketSlug

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Senior Member

11-29-2010

Quote:
Originally Posted by SelimBradley View Post
You misunderstand. Pretty much every game's challenge can be artificially inflated. "I'm going to play the original Super Mario Bros blindfolded."

I'm not arguing against this; in fact, I think it's a wonderful thing. Super Mario 64 is really a pretty bland game until you start abusing glitches or putting ridiculous restrictions on yourself ("Try to get every star possible without pressing the A button once you enter a world.").

But the problem here is whether or not we credit the makers of the game with that fun. I'm pretty sure I could come up with at least a mildly entertaining challenge for any game out there, but that doesn't mean I'm going to. I'd much rather find a game that provides me what I'm looking for (the aforementioned "hardcore challenge") without me having to artificially insert it.

Isn't that what everyone does? If you wanted a casual fighting game, would you pick up Brawl, or would you attempt to "casualize" Guilty Gear?
I guess I'll toss my hat into the semantic debate. I definitely agree with Zileas in the assessment that your definition of "hardcore" may be more masochistic. You specifically stated that "'hardcore' games are those that cruelly punish mistakes" (emphasis mine). The fact that you specifically mentioned "cruelly" basically sums it up. Just so that we're on the same page, here, I'll explain how I describe the terms.

Hardcore: Any game in which a full working knowledge and mastery of a game's mechanics as presented is not purely sufficient for achievement and mastery of said game as a whole. Let's imagine, say, a fighting game like Guilty Gear. While the instruction manual may explain how to tech or escape a throw, full mastery requires familiarity with not just the in-game material (e.g. movelists and such), but material presented outside of the game (e.g. combos, advanced tactics like frame traps, okizemi, etc.). Similarly, traditionally "hardcore" genres you listed (like shmups) require skills that are developed in parallel but not necessarily congruently for mastery (for example, recognizing common bullet patterns, or just improving reaction times).

The point I'm trying to make is that I think an agreeable definition for a "hardcore" game is one that requires the honing of skills that come from outside of the game in order to achieve mastery. In a sense, all I'm saying is that "hardcore" games have some depth to them that requires more than just a cursory glance to master, which leads me to my next point, which is important. The opposite of hardcore may be casual, but just because they're hardcore does not mean they cannot be accessible.

So going by my previous definition, a casual game is one that does not require an encyclopedic knowledge of game mechanics to master. Oftentimes, people confuse an accessible game with a casual game, and that's what I want to discuss. Again, I'll lead off with my definition of accessibility.

Accessibility: A game is accessible when there is a minimum barrier of entry for a new player to start playing and having a satisfactory play experience (i.e. it's fairly easy to jump right in and start doing "cool stuff"). Furthermore, an accessible game does not heavily discourage a player from making progress, nor does it at any point disincentive the player from wishing to continue playing. I will also go ahead and define the opposite of an accessible game as hostile.

If you notice carefully, a hardcore game and an accessible game are not opposites on some sliding scale of game ratings. Rather, they lie on orthogonal lines, and we have a plane where a game can be placed. A game can be very hardcore, yet completely accessible. You've mentioned Smash Bros. Brawl (heck, the Smash Bros. series in general is a great example). Anybody can go into the game and figure out how the percent damage system works and learn the difference between a tilt and a smash attack. This makes the game very accessible. Is it hardcore by my previous definition? Absolutely. Go onto the SmashBoard forums and there are topics galore on advanced strategies, tactics, and combos for each and every character, with a thriving tournament scene. BlazBlue or Tatsunoko vs. Capcom? Of course it's hardcore, but anyone can jump in and learn a basic Revolver Action or a Slash Rave and do a simple cool combo. To move away from video games, take Chess and Go. Each are governed by very simple rules (thus making them very accessible), yet have tremendous depth (making them very hardcore).

On the opposite side of the accessibility vs. hostility scale, yet still remaining in the domain of the hardcore, are games like Demon's Souls or Pathologic, or The Void. These games are extremely hostile and are antagonistic towards the player at every turn. To some, this may heighten the sense of reward, but that's a different matter entirely. If we shift down towards the casual side of things, we have casual but accessible games like BeJeweled or Peggle. Simple, fun, easy to understand. These casual games are popular by the virtue of being extremely accessible. The realm of hostile, casual games, however, are a realm that I think is beyond this discussion (though I feel as though gambling games may fit here). However, I will state that because hostile casual games are usually not popular, they are rarely seen. Thus, there is the false belief that all accessible games are casual, which is clearly not the case.

I hope this post was somewhat enlightening. As for your question on providing achievement without overly harsh punishment, I'd love to present the following video discussions:

Rev Rant: Crushing Difficulty
Rev Rant: Player Empathy
Rev Rant: Epic Fail

If my post has left you tired and you want a digest of it all, I heavily suggest you watch the second video. It basically answers your question. The rest are for some extra context.


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Amadi

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Senior Member

11-29-2010

Quote:
Originally Posted by Zileas View Post
Yep, in many cases, bad design is just bad design. You can have an easy to learn game that is hardcore. That's what we've sought to do with league of legends. To some extent we have succeeded. In other cases, it's still too hard to learn for people unfamiliar with the concept.
If this brings to the "Easy to learn, hard to master.", you guys got one part right, and it's not the "hard to master" one. The main difference between 1200 and 1400 ELO players is that 1400 ones accept their failures. 1600 ELO players are just the ones that play more careful. The level of play, as far as I have noticed, does not change significantly as ELO ratings change. It just gets more refined.

Compare to starcraft 2, as most people are at least remotedly familiar with it. When you look at great SC2 players play, you really do notice their skill level. The difference between a low-diamond and mid-diamond is already huge, and differences between higher level diamond players are staggering.

I used to be first in my diamond league for a good while, playing at fairly high level. Probably in top 5% of diamond players. I don't even know what that is - something like top 5% of top 1%?. Still, I could look up to the really good players and go "holy effing **** this guy is good.." or "Why did he do that..?", and rewind the replay to seek his justification. Despite these players getting the exact same information (Assume I am spectating in playercam, or watching a replay.), I can with confidence say that they are a lot better than me.

In LoL, I am bouncing between 1450 and 1550, or a bit below those. This is not even top 1% of ranked population. Still, when I look at higher rated people, I can easily understand why they are doing the decisions they do. I do not stand in awe seeing how much better they are. They are better, don't get me wrong, but the difference is not mindblowing. Anything they do, I can see myself do. They are simply doing it with more consistency.

In LoL, higher players are just consistently consistent. In SC2, higher level players are consistently innovative, creative, and in just about any way, good. They don't have to just do allright. They can say "Screw you, I counter banelings with marines just because I can". And they can do that. They are so **** good that they can do that, and trust me, 99.999% of the SC2 playerbase cannot.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Zileas View Post
LeBlanc was burst killing people pretty well in high elo before the nerfs, within 3 games, I was reliably going 5:1 KD ratios in 2000 rated normal matches without any difficulty for example.
But was LeBlanc winning those games? Was she winning any of the games where she didn't go 5:1?Even if so, was the extent of the nerfs justified?


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The Evil Penguin

Member

11-30-2010

I think the only thing I find awkward is the last paragraph detailing that randomness is, indeed, bad without a proper counter-weight, and then taking a look at Counter Attack for Jax.

Just so it's known, Jax is my main character. I love the story behind him, his smug confidence, I love the way he plays, I really do think Jax is one of the coolest characters in the game. I also feel that he isn't incredibly underpowered like most people believe, but that may just be my ELO talking.

The point I'm trying to make is that with the abundance of characters these days not really contributing much for him to dodge, you'd think you'd see a significant increase to what his Counter Attack would do. I admit, an AOE stun is great, but for only 1 second, it's not fantastic, and though the cooldown is short, it's not short until late game. Ultimately the biggest problem with it is that it feels like a gamble every time I dive in, especially if I'm somewhere away from minions, and when Counter-Attack does go off, it never feels like it was worth the large amounts (and sometimes very small amounts) of damage that lead up to that moment.

I guess the plus side of an ability like this is that it has synergy with his new active on his ult, but the truth is that even though that's true, I don't feel it makes the actual ability itself any better.

I just wanted to know what you thought regarding that particular ability, since it seems to be one of the more chance related and counter-intuitive abilities he has.