Anti-Design Patterns

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NecroFasciitis

Senior Member

12-05-2010

Game developers have a reputation of xenophobia, not a fear of strange people, but that of unfamiliar techniques, practices, and principles. The truth is really that game developers are usually just too busy to look outside their immediate surroundings. They usually don't have the time to seek out new techniques, figure out how to integrate them into their games, and take the RISK that a new technique might fail. Huge amounts of capital investments don't help this risk factor either.

So, they play it safe, and stick to a set of predefined "rules" that seek to limit all risks, which unfortunately leads to a lot of "cookie-cutter" game titles that you see on the market.

But to succeed, to create something great and innovative, you have to do something different. Step out of the comfort zone and be creative.

Quote:
The voyage of discovery is not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.
-Marcel Proust

I want to start (or continue) the push to encourage our amazing designers to venture outside of their comfort zones once in a while. There are many examples of anti-design patterns incorporated in the game already and they have been a success. A game that recycles all the same familiar concepts gets dry and boring very fast.

Players these days want to make hard decisions during battle. Should I use this ability to serve one purpose or save it for another purpose? The hardest decisions that pan out in our favor and THE MOST satisfying ones.

The most used argument/example was that of Bloodseeker's Rupture ultimate from Defense of the Ancients. Leaving all the animations aside, and assuming Riot could implement such a skill with obvious animations signalling the damage over movement, skills such as Rupture are NOT bad ideas or bad design. You want your players instantly deciding (unknowingly) in their minds unconciously which route to take in a battle. You do not want your players KNOWING what is going to happen and exactly what is the best route.

The argument Zileas or other designers would give is that this is too ambiguous and optimization is impossible (or something like this). New players might suffer a few times but all players suffer to ALL abilities in the game a few times before they learn what they do. Who the hell wants to "optimize" all situations anyways? This makes a game dull and more like math homework.

I say hire a new designer who thinks differently from the Riot designers and try to venture out of your comfort zone OR show some initiative to break a few "rules" and have a little fun (ultimately creating a more entertaining experience for us gamers).


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HClol

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Senior Member

12-05-2010

BRB firing everyone


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LittleWhiteDove

Senior Member

12-05-2010

Zileas made his anti-pattern list so he didn't have to try hard at work.


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Triptophan

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Junior Member

12-05-2010

You have no idea what you're talking about.

The reason for constraining design is so that optimizations of the game's balance are more obtainable. Not situations within the game.

If the developers were to go with your "proposed suggestion" the game would get wildly out of control as far as balance, then we'd have you back here whining that they jacked everything up.

They're trying to provide a pleasurable experience, but you have to strongly weigh whether or not decisions and designs that are going to make it into the game will provide not only what the players want or the designers/developers but what is best for the game. People are harsh critics, something as simple as introducing a character that redefines the rules of battle will EASILY dissuade hundreds of people for any number of reasons. There's times to play safe and times to take chances, but I assure you in the interest of maintaining a successful product and business they are not taking their decisions lightly.

If you have concrete suggestions how to achieve what you propose, I suggest you make them. But I see no such suggestions here, just a whole lot of "You suck, get someone else who can do the job". Honestly, as a game developer, myself, they're doing quite well with what they have. They're always reviewing balance, doing what they can to keep adding content and making the experience enjoyable.

I see a lot of complaints that there are too many champions not enough other content but let me ask you this, which is easier for business, to add more food to the menu or redesign the corporate structure? Adding champions is easy, hence why we see 2 a month, average. Adding a new map, playtesting it to death with all 60ish champions is HARD and very extensive. Riot is looking for developers, perhaps to add to the teams which will allow them to build these more complex components to the game.

It's easy to criticize what you know little about.


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NecroFasciitis

Senior Member

12-05-2010

Constraining creative design for the sole purpose of keeping game balance within "obtainable" grasp is a terrible reason if it can even be called such. It could also be argued that League of Legends' balance is unobtainable BECAUSE certain elements are missing such as mana burn.

Imagine playing rock, paper, scissors with someone except they tell you one extra rule: No rocks. This is basically what you are proposing while saying "This is done to prevent a situation where balance is unobtainable".

There is no concern of what the designers "want" or what they feel they want the "game to be". The primary principles of a designer are:

  • Listening (to the team, audience, game, client, and self)
  • Creativity
  • Communication
  • Critical Thinking

Game designers want to create an EXPERIENCE for the gamer. True human experiences. These experiences tend to run dry after a few games with the same recycled abilities and champion concepts.

I understand that they are "playing it safe", however, is this really the best way to go about a business that is always changing? What I mean by this is: have you not seen the many players who have left LoL for other games or who are waiting for that other game to come out and just filling the time? Why are some old fashioned DotA players STILL playing DotA? I assure you it's not because they have enjoy the familiarity of the same old, bland abilities recycled over and over.

I agree that they are doing a good job so far and hopefully they continue this streak and get better. I am suggesting they keep the ball moving and if they are, I am simply congratulating them. This post is incomplete, I know, and I plan to expand further in the future. I have started a blog just to keep track of all my experiences and thoughts on current game systems.

I am also a game developer and know what they have to do every week to meet the quota. You asked me what is easier for business, to add more food to the menu or redesign the corporate structure. I assure you if you go to a restaurant and don't like the food the first couple times, who in their right mind would come back again to try something "new" they have to offer when you already know it'll be the same dish.

In business, it is much cheaper to retain your current customers than it is to find new clients. All I am saying is that Riot needs to increase their efforts in polishing their existing work and slow down on introducing "new" content. There's good games and polished games. Good games don't get anywhere.


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Zeryth

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Senior Member

12-05-2010

It always has something to do with Bloodseeker's rupture huh?


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NecroFasciitis

Senior Member

12-05-2010

Well, I use it as an example because it is the one ability that is most referenced in the argument of anti-designs.

I'd more prefer to talk about all concepts that are blacklisted completely with neither consideration of their benefits to the game nor brainstorming of how to get rid of the "negative" side effects of these abilities.

Mana burn, for instance, doesn't have to be gamebreakingly annoying like Nerub's mana burn. Perhaps a mana burn could be incorporated with Eve's Death spike, removing MP depending on the amount of damage done. This way it can be countered by increasing magic resistance. On top of that, Death Spike is a very close range ability so it wouldn't be abused very easily at all.

I also wanted to propose a remake to Eve's ult (along with the mana burn on death spike) so that it deals flat damage + damage based on missing MP of target?

I feel that this would work pretty well considering the short range and fragility of Eve in the first place. This simple mana burn effect would introduce a whole new dimension to LoL and would allow mana burning champions (such as the proposed Eve remake) to combat and counter a few of the annoying champs currently in game.

It's ideas like these that I'd like to have thought experiments about with the designers and perhaps convince them that not all of these ideas are innately bad just because a previous game did it all wrong.


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NecroFasciitis

Senior Member

12-05-2010

Wanted to add a quote that I just read in a book. This is in direct response to arguments against randomized events and surprises in general.

Quote:
"Our brains are hardwired to enjoy surprises. In an experiment where participants received sprays of sugar water or plain water into their mouths, the participants who received random sprays considered the experience much more pleasurable than participants who received the sprays according to a fixed pattern, even though the same amount of sugar was delivered. In other experiments, brain scans revealed that even during unpleasant surprises, the pleasure centers of the brain are triggered"


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Slogra

Senior Member

12-05-2010

Quote:
Originally Posted by NecroFasciitis View Post
Game developers have a reputation of xenophobia, not a fear of strange people, but that of unfamiliar techniques, practices, and principles. The truth is really that game developers are usually just too busy to look outside their immediate surroundings. They usually don't have the time to seek out new techniques, figure out how to integrate them into their games, and take the RISK that a new technique might fail. Huge amounts of capital investments don't help this risk factor either.

So, they play it safe, and stick to a set of predefined "rules" that seek to limit all risks, which unfortunately leads to a lot of "cookie-cutter" game titles that you see on the market.

But to succeed, to create something great and innovative, you have to do something different. Step out of the comfort zone and be creative.


I want to start (or continue) the push to encourage our amazing designers to venture outside of their comfort zones once in a while. There are many examples of anti-design patterns incorporated in the game already and they have been a success. A game that recycles all the same familiar concepts gets dry and boring very fast.

Players these days want to make hard decisions during battle. Should I use this ability to serve one purpose or save it for another purpose? The hardest decisions that pan out in our favor and THE MOST satisfying ones.

The most used argument/example was that of Bloodseeker's Rupture ultimate from Defense of the Ancients. Leaving all the animations aside, and assuming Riot could implement such a skill with obvious animations signalling the damage over movement, skills such as Rupture are NOT bad ideas or bad design. You want your players instantly deciding (unknowingly) in their minds unconciously which route to take in a battle. You do not want your players KNOWING what is going to happen and exactly what is the best route.

The argument Zileas or other designers would give is that this is too ambiguous and optimization is impossible (or something like this). New players might suffer a few times but all players suffer to ALL abilities in the game a few times before they learn what they do. Who the hell wants to "optimize" all situations anyways? This makes a game dull and more like math homework.

I say hire a new designer who thinks differently from the Riot designers and try to venture out of your comfort zone OR show some initiative to break a few "rules" and have a little fun (ultimately creating a more entertaining experience for us gamers).
Big words for small ideas. Basically you're saying that Riot, a company that offers a free game and only skins (or, optionally, champions and additional rune pages) as their only source of income, a company that took a mod map from another game and made a whole new one out of it, one that is beating other competitors that also sprouted from DotA... you're saying that this company isn't using unfamiliar techniques? And that they need to fire Zileas and hire, what, you?

Throw in some DotA references, Eve, and some philisophical BS and that's what you're posting here.

Sorry. You presented your case all pretty, but what you're saying is actually pretty substanceless and untrue.


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NecroFasciitis

Senior Member

12-05-2010

Quote:
Originally Posted by Slogra View Post
Big words for small ideas. Basically you're saying that Riot, a company that offers a free game and only skins (or, optionally, champions and additional rune pages) as their only source of income, a company that took a mod map from another game and made a whole new one out of it, one that is beating other competitors that also sprouted from DotA... you're saying that this company isn't using unfamiliar techniques? And that they need to fire Zileas and hire, what, you?

Throw in some DotA references, Eve, and some philisophical BS and that's what you're posting here.

Sorry. You presented your case all pretty, but what you're saying is actually pretty substanceless and untrue.
"Big words for small ideas"
Often, it takes lots of words in game design in order to get the idea across sensibly to all parties. Since there aren't defined terms of game design, significant time is spent communicating ones experiences and creative ideas with fellow developers. This is a crucial part of game development and cannot be avoided. This discussion is just that: A discussion to spark interest and ideas for LoL creative design and development.

Riot is doing a great job but I think they can do an even better job and I'm pretty sure that they will be growing in that direction in the very near future. The company is only going to expand and not stand still. I am only trying to encourage it to move forward.

Zileas is a great designer, I did not contest that and you misunderstand my comments. I simply want to spark discussions on these topics because I haven't had anyone else to discuss them with and definitely haven't seen many credible arguments for or against either side. And Zileas should stay where he is, he is an integral part of the Riot team as are all the other developers. I only mentioned his name because he specifically posted his anti-design patterns on the forums a while back and I thought it would be interesting to spark a conversation.

Saying something is "substanceless and untrue" has no bearing. Tell me WHY and WHERE it is untrue? Where is my argument lacking? Simply throwing out my argument on the basis of "I don't like you" is not a grounds for insulting my thoughts

Read and understand what you may, my original invitation to intellectual game design discussion remains.

Another quote for you that you may misunderstand and thumb down:
Quote:
When problem solving is removed from a game, it ceases to be a game and becomes just an activity