Zileas' List of Game Design Anti-Patterns

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Kldran

Senior Member

10-28-2010

I felt I should comment on the Bayonnetta stone award: I've played the game, and found the stone award amusing. Yes, the game was laughing at my performance. So was I. So, I found it pleasing, because the game was agreeing with me: I played poorly.

I kinda think whether the stone award was a good idea or a bad one really depends entirely upon the playerbase. Some players like me, enjoy a lighthearted laugh at failure. It's not like the game was calling me names (*coughDoomcough*), or some other insult. When playing with friends, the laugh of the game is almost exactly the same as the laugh we make, so it actually helped me feel like the game makers were "one of us".


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Mailius

Senior Member

10-28-2010

Quote:
Originally Posted by Zileas View Post
I've been asked a few times, "Why don't you do stuff like Rupture (from DOTA Bloodseeker) in LoL?"

I usually respond -- Rupture contains several basic design 'anti-patterns'. I thought I'd post for the benefit of those who are interested what strong anti-patterns I am aware of.

...

Burden of Knowledge
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.

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 find it absurd that you would consider rupture a "burden of knowledge" when in fact ever single character in the game with hard CC is basically a walking burden of knowledge anti-pattern. If you have a clear graphic on rupture, and a little tooltip on the death recap that says "don't move if you see blood gushing out of your hero or you'll take damage and die" there's just as much of a burden of knowledge of knowing how the skill works/that it exists as there is being grabbed by Blitzcrank into a tower and butchered.

The only real way you could solve that is if clicking on an enemy hero showed their skills which you could mouseover and get tooltip information. Something that would be an incredibly amazing feature for players just learning (you should probably do this), but one that would be useless for experienced players.

"They have to learn something to use this skill so we can't implement it!" is a very stupid philosophy to have about game design considering that games are fundamentally about learning. Learning how the game works, and in particular, how you can be more effective at it-- skills like rupture add a lot of depth because it's essentially a very long duration root you can cheat the duration of to take damage instead.

Anyway, this design philosophy explains why there's a dearth of deep and generally sophisticated skills in this game. (Although LeBlanc seems to laugh at this rule with at least two of her skills based on their short descriptions).


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Zileas

VP of Game Design

10-29-2010
109 of 282 Riot Posts

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mailius View Post
Anyway, this design philosophy explains why there's a dearth of deep and generally sophisticated skills in this game. (Although LeBlanc seems to laugh at this rule with at least two of her skills based on their short descriptions).
It explains why the game is still deep and it also explains why the game is popular ;p


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Zileas

VP of Game Design

10-29-2010
110 of 282 Riot Posts

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ansre View Post
How do you explain Gangplank's still unreliable ult?
see the disclaimer at the top of the thread ;p Gangplank is a mess of anti-patterns, we know. Sooner or later we will mitigate them some more.


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Zileas

VP of Game Design

10-29-2010
111 of 282 Riot Posts

Quote:
Originally Posted by Wingflier View Post
Thank you.

Yeah when Zileas and I were talking over e-mail, he did that kind of nonsense to me too. Zileas thinks that because he's a game designer at Riot, and because he worked with Blizzard briefly, he knows everything there is to know, and he is automatically smarter than us.
I don't know everything, I just have a lot more (successful) experience doing this than you.

Quote:
When I brought up the fact that the last several heroes Riot has introduced to LoL - including heroes like Xin Zhao, Vladimir, Kog Maw, Miss Fortune, Galio, Lux, etc. were just extremely boring rehashes of heroes that have already been done, and that they haven't added anything to the game, his reponse was hilarious. He said that some senior leads at successful game designer companies like a few of them, so they were definitely good design.
Right, and professional game designers with good titles shipped know how to make good games. I'm pointing out that if my mechanics snob designer friends at good companies like those champions, and I like those champions, for logical game design reasons... that the champions are probably 'good' by some professional standard of good game design.

Quote:
Well I hate to bust your bubble Zileas, but you just practiced a logical fallacy called Appeal to Authority, and completely missed the point. I don't care if Barack Obama thinks Lux is the coolest hero ever, that does not make it good hero design, and that does not make it good for the game. We already understand that most people think your new heroes are cool (or in the case of Lux, they will be reworked until they reach that status, heh), what does that have to do with anything?
Appeal to authority? How about appeal to logic, what do you think my entire post is?

Anyway, I understand exactly what your perspective on this is. If it appeals to YOU and what YOU feel is a good set of design values, it's a good hero to you, and what appeals to you is original for the sake of original. I believe that your design values would not create a broadly appealing game. Because a lot of those games are made every day and don't do well, except in rare situations where it also crosses with principles like these.

We aren't against original, we are against bad design.


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Pigsticker

Senior Member

10-29-2010

Why are online gaming communities so eager to bite the hand that feeds them? They read but don't listen. They're much more interested in proving a developer wrong then understanding where they're coming from. Its frustrating because this attack inevitably wears on a developer, and from my experience, they post less as a result.


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Foggles

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Senior Member

10-29-2010

Quote:
Originally Posted by Zileas View Post
I don't know everything, I just have a lot more (successful) experience doing this than you.


Right, and professional game designers with good titles shipped know how to make good games. I'm pointing out that if my mechanics snob designer friends at good companies like those champions, and I like those champions, for logical game design reasons... that the champions are probably 'good' by some professional standard of good game design.



Appeal to authority? How about appeal to logic, what do you think my entire post is?

Anyway, I understand exactly what your perspective on this is. If it appeals to YOU and what YOU feel is a good set of design values, it's a good hero to you, and what appeals to you is original for the sake of original. I believe that your design values would not create a broadly appealing game. Because a lot of those games are made every day and don't do well, except in rare situations where it also crosses with principles like these.

We aren't against original, we are against bad design.
I think that there is a bit of a misunderstanding here. Zileas you keep arguing against complexity for the sake of complexity, which I think most people here agree with. The argument is that you're limiting the complexity of the game TOO far, to which you respond that, in so many words, they are wrong and you are right; that your design is good and their design is bad.

People are here to discuss your design patterns with you, and discuss when are the right times to break them. Opinions here will vary from person to person, and while there may be an ideal point that would be the "best" game and appeal to the "widest" audience and it seems like you're saying that you know exactly where this point because you and your fellow designers have successful experience which comes off as rude, arrogant, and ignorant.

I don't believe at all that this is the message you're trying to get across, so perhaps you should do better in choosing your wording against people who disagree with you. Instead of calling someone's opinion "bad," just say that it's design that you won't put into your game and state your reasons if you haven't already. Instead of dismissing their criticisms altogether, just say that you disagree and don't think their suggestion would make your game better. Otherwise, it feels like I'm reading "Why I'm right and your design sucks" by Maddox.


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SonicTheHedgedawg

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Senior Member

10-31-2010

I pretty uch only see Gangplank violating the Non-Reliability anti-pattern . . . but he REALLY violates it in my eyes.

Quote:
Originally Posted by SonicTheHedgedawg View Post
Gangplank
  • Parrlay
    • Relies on Critical strike to be effective
      • When it DOES score a critical, it's a very powerful, short cooldown nuke
      • When it DOESN'T score a critical, it's lackluster
  • Raise Morale
    • Only works when allied minions are near
      • When minions ARE near, it gives him a great steroid skill plus the only "deny" ability in the game.
        • Some newbies might have no idea how good a deny can be, nor how much it helps gankplank solo a 2 v 1 lane.
      • When NO minions are near, it's like playing a character with only 3 abilities.
  • Cannon Barrage
    • This move is reliant on actually getting the cannonballs to HIT
      • If a good deal of cannonballs hit, it's a VERY powerful, global AoE skill on reasonable cooldown.
      • Sometimes, NO canonballs hit at all.
  • Grog Soaked Blade
    • Effectively counters healing based characters.
      • When the enemy team is reliant on support and heals, gankplank's passive can screw them over from the get-go.
      • When the enemy team has ZERO heals on it, his passive is essentially just a weak DoT on his standard attacks.


I'm really torn on gangplank, you know.
On the one hand, his reliance on luck makes him unique and, for some people, fun.
On the other hand, a really lucky gangplank is incredibly frustrating to play against, and an unlucky gangplank is pretty much a waste of space on the team.
Luck DOES tend to have a way of evening out, but it's still kinda frustrating in situations where a Gangplank gets incredibly lucky or incredibly unlucky and there's nothing he nor I can do about it.





That DOES bring up a question I have Zileas:

Is being CONDITIONAL considered just as unreliable as being LUCK-BASED?


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zignatur

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Senior Member

10-31-2010

Isn't the flat / scaling mp5 a "false / deceptive choice"?

To be honest, picking the flat mp5 runes will help you for about 4 minutes of the game, whereas the cheaper scaling mp5 will help you throughout the game.

What?


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The Dainslaif

Junior Member

11-01-2010

After playing the game a bit I came across this thread, and some characters seem to break these design patterns pretty blatantly, so I was curious what your logic was when they were being made.

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.
Fiddlesticks and Morgana are both squishy ranged characters that have ults which require the player to get in close quarters and chase down an opponent in order to do max damage. While both of these abilities can be very effective when used properly (especially with an Amumu teammate), they're also perfect examples of what was described above.

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?
A properly played Veigar can easily instagib most AP built characters via the E-W-Q-R 4hit combo, due to the fact that his abilities scale very well with AP and that most carry characters are fairly squishy (if you build AP you generally won't build HP and Magic Resistance, and vice versa). While I certainly enjoy my free kills, it doesn't feel right that I can kill an enemy every single time I see them before they can even react.

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.
Dr. Mundo's ult gives a massive health regen and a nice movespeed increase, making it great for chasing someone down, initiating a team battle, and running away. Furthermore, the cost is 20% of his current health, so it gets cheaper (and thus more effective) the lower he is. Being that the ability can be useful in all of these situations, it's hard to tell if it was used to the best of its potential (if you used it to initiate, that runner towards the end may be able to get away, but if you didn't use it, you may have died to the initial burst damage)