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# biggest gamedesign/gameplay mistakes

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i''d be very happy to know what you guys consider some of the biggest gamedesign/gameplay mistakes, in any type of games. i''m pretty sure it happened to everyone to think "how the hell could they leave such a big/stupid/annoying mistake in this otherwise great game ? did they even test it ???" for my part, i think the boss in Dead Or Alive 3 (xbox) is pathetic ! really not playable, just annoying. what a shame ! now i don''t want to finish story mode with other characters because i can''t stand the idea of having to fight him again and again and again... it is so not fun that it becomes something you have to do, but you don''t want to :-( another one i can remember is the way bad guys appeared out of nowhere in Project IGI (pc). god, this was so irritating ! diing because a bad guy just appeared behind you in an empty room where you just killed everyone. and you had to start the level all over again because you couldn''t save (which was a good thing, but made it even more irritating). BTW i just tried igi2 single player demo : awesome !!! see the same post on edge-online forum : http://forum.edge-online.com/viewtopic.php?t=46151 here, most of the answers are about console games, and the main conserns are controls and camera positionning and on igda gamedesign forum : http://www.igda.org/Forums/showthread.php?s=464868764e279e6438582b75eae3ff92&threadid=4019 Emmanuel Alpe 3D artist http://anim3d.free.fr "Consciousness is a terrible curse"

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it''s an rpg game and you can''t save anywhere you can. god, imagine this, you are entering a dungeon, and there is a save spot there. you save the game, and enter the dungeon. after 1-2 hours killing monsters, looting, opening treasure chests, you still can''t save the game. what if somewhere in the middle of the dungeon you die. or what if you want to quit right at that time because your mom tells you so? "mom! i can''t save the game!" you basically have to start all over again.

and the bad thing is, they give you another save spot just right before the big boss is coming, so you can kind of guess "alright, finally we find one save spot, i bet there is a big dude behind that door." and there is the big dude. that''s no fun.

return 0;

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Focusing on a story and related noninteractive elements rather than the play itself.

Focusing on a raw technology engine (portals, LOD, occlusion methods, physics, IK) instead of a game.

Giving too little to the player up front, only letting him see the really cool stuff after hours of gameplay.

Going for extreme realism at the expense of gameplay.

Following cookie-cutter design templates: "Okay, now we need to figure out what bosses and powerups to include."

Basing the difficulty on the experience of the designers and expert testers, and thus making a game much too hard.

Having overly huge levels that feel 80% empty.

Solving every "Should we do it this way or that way?" design problem with "We''ll make it selectable on the options screen."

Focusing on the cliched details of a genre: "Should we have two-handed weapons?" "Should we have pain skins?" "Should we have rocket jumping?"

Going with a much too ambitious design and having to scale back by 25-50% or more late in the project, keeping the game from feeling polished.

Overly complex user interfaces and player controls.

Choosing uninspired, over-used settings: midieval fantasy world, post-apocalyptic world.

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The biggest mistake most designers make IMO is going with what is proven to be popular. Sure it might make them some , but not as much as if the game were at least somewhat original. Why would I want to play a 10th game based on the Q3 engine unless it has something new and different? Chaning the models, skins, and textures does not make the game different.

There is far too much focus on things that don''t make a game any more fun. Too many games are created to look good, or have a good story, etc. If I want to see good graphics I''ll watch some demos, and if I want a non-interactive story I can read a book for a probably better effect. Games need to be engaging and fun.

Realism does not neccesarily make a game fun. It can help, but a game that is 100% realistic would probably be pretty boring. Making a game unrealistic does not make it fun either.

Fixing things that many people don''t consider a problem in a way that some players object to: I enjoyed counter-strike until they added the jump-stumble(after juming, a character moves about half walk speed for a few seconds) to fix bunny hoppers(characters that constantly jumped) it broke the game for me. I hardly used jumping in the game, but because of the ''fix'' I could no longer jump when it was needed (for example: to climb a few crates to take an alternate route). I played the game once after the patch, and I miss the old versions a lot =-(

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I think the biggest most aweful thing they can do is not go with whats proven on simple things, like control schemes and navigation schemes (examples to follow):

I have james bond agent under fire for Game Cube, its not a bad game and the controls for it being a console FPS are pretty good, i got turok evolution (no comments please) and the games biggest failure was trying to do its own system (granted it was its own system from the older turok games, but that controle pales in comparison to JB on gc) that in itself made the game unplayable.

The second thing is that they dont go with other proven methods (speaking from what i read) i heard the new game the getaway had some errors in that were unforgivable, and from what it sounded if they just followed a tried and true system of GTA and GTA:Vice City (the parts of course that intertwine between gta and getaway) they would of done just fine, or at least followed and improved upon.

Its like, dont these development houses play games???? Do they play anyone elses games? There is noooo reason for them to do this, its unforgivable, then charging 50$for this. Do they realize software is usually unreturnable? talk about not beliving the hype...if u do u get scrweed with a waste of 50$ that probably doesnt even work well as a coaster..

But enough negative lets commend the companies that do listen to their audiance and improve upon their games in version 2 or even in a patch, the greatest of examples would probably have to be..
Vampire the Masqarade, the release of the game the critics told of its problems, and well in the next patch or two all these things that kept the game from getting a good score were fixed.

Then there was hitman 2, that game was a great improvement over hitman , all the stuff most people complained about in hitman was nonexistant in hitman2.

One other example is when a company actually makes a licensed game and its good, heaven forbid they make a good game based on a licesnse...i hear lord of the rings the two towers for game cube is quite good..and then there was Beavis and Butthead in virtual stupidity (i think thats the title) that game one a lot of adventure game awards...and it was a fun game.

There are many other examples too...

Well thats just the way I see it. I still find it highly irritating that companies just seem to throw crap out the window...arg see now im annoyed thinking about the dung we are forced to view and see.

While im on a soapbox...what is up with crap licsensing? I mean the GBA has a flood of reatarded games, or very uninspired ones (of course a select few of games are a+). Unfortuantly the rest of the selections are just junk..stupid shuve down ur throat junk.

Oh well, 2:30am..time to shut up and goto bed. darn that felt good.

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[edited by - ShonTsu on January 24, 2003 5:27:14 AM]

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Relying on the Save feature as part of the gameplay.
For instance, if I enter a room, but I don''t have a specific tool, like say a Sun Shield or something, and I get immediately fried by a huge beam of light, I better have the ability to have seen it coming, like seeing scorched ground or something. Any traps should be avoidable without having to die first and say, "Oh, how do I get past that?"

This goes for logic problems as well. What I mean by that is let''s say I found some invisibility potion. I see a guard by the gate. If I walk up to him, he kills me. If I drink the potion first and then walk up, he kills me. If I throw the bottle of potion, he comes out to see what happened, and then kills me. It is only after all that do I think to drink the potion and then throw the bottle. He goes to investigates. It is only then that I realize that if I don''t move, he won''t see me. That would have been quite some leap in logic for me to figure out from the get go.
That was an example in "Game Architecture and Design." Just giving credit where it is due.

You walk into a room, only to find that it is a dead end. You turn immediately around. You spend forever and a day looking throughout the maze for the way out. Eventually you find yourself coming back to that room again and again. You finally decide to walk to the other side of the room for once, and all of a sudden, that triggers something that opens a way out or something.
A big, empty room, and I had to step on a specific tile on the other end that otherwise I had no reason to think about walking on in order to trigger some even that allows me a way out of the maze or otherwise continue the game... Big no-no.

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Can't think of any specific examples, but:

In any given game rule that could go one way or the other because of popular demand, and the designers decide to go with only one of them and not allowing the players the options of which rule applies.

Open options I think is key to increased playability on the net. The host just picks the options and everyone plays by the same rules. You can "make your own game" that way, and everyone is happy.

[edited by - Waverider on January 24, 2003 11:52:12 PM]

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[ =~ ]

Trespasser

[ /=~ ]

I think the worse gamedesign ideas are always created by sacrificing ease of use for realism.

Q:Bump into a wall, drop your gun,
A:yeah, that is how it works in real life, but its rather annoying in a FPS.

Q:You can only catch the football if it reaches the player''s hands, reaching his head or his legs counts as a fumble.
A:except I cannot control the player''s arms, so I lose the range a RL player will have, let alone the fine adjustments a NFL player can make

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1) "Hunt the pixel" designs.

I love the Dreamcatcher games. Nice environments, fun to play through (once), good puzzles, and not too expensive. But all too often I get stuck and have to look for a walkthru because I didn''t think of clicking on a particularly small patch of blackness in a large black area. You end up having to wave the mouse around randomly in every single room.

And I agree with both previous posts about saved games, and more:

2) You should be able to save anywhere you want to -- what if the fire alarm goes off, or your laptop battery is about to run dry?

3) The game shouldn''t rely on save/restore/save/restore cycles. Far too many RPGs do this. Yes, it''s nice to be able to restore, but forcing the user to fight the same insanely strong creature over and over and over until they guess the one spell that can harm it is lame.

4) Games with limited save slots are pathetic. Normally I see #2 and #4 together on games that are ports from console games. Just because it''s a port doesn''t mean you can''t add functionality! One game in particular really ticked me off... it was a long time ago, not sure which game it was. Maybe Legacy of Kain? Anyway, 4 save slots. What? Was that so you could run it off a floppy?

5) Games that don''t let you Alt-Tab to other applications (or break horribly when you do so).

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quote:
Original post by Merle
Just because it''s a port doesn''t mean you can''t add functionality
In a world of infinite budgets and infinitely long schedules, that might be true. In this world, however, most ports are done under severe constraints, sometimes even by people who had nothing to do with the original code. Adding functionality (even something as seemingly trivial as multiple saves on a PC) is oftentimes deemed too risky to be worth the effort. (The last thing you want is to introduce a severe bug in what should''ve been, say, a 3 week port).

Just speaking from experience...
-scott

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Wow, lots of good stuff here. But may I ask, what is wrong with putting lots of things in the options menu? The options would have default values, so the player wouldn''t have to muck around with them unless he chose to. If you just design the game one way, he has no choice.

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Speaking of saving, I believe that not letting someone save when they want is a no-no. The concept of not saving sounds good. No more saving every step so you can restore and try again, but it ends up just being frustrating, or worse, boring, for the player.

I''ve just started playing Project IGI again (a stealth style fps) and by far the most frustrating thing is getting 3/4 through a level (say around 5-10 mins per level) over and over again because I can''t figure out the best approach at the end. Its not the complexity or frustration of working out how to finish the level off which gets to me, its having to play the same 4-8 mins again and again to get to the end of the level to try something new which annoys me. Normally I turn a game off when I should, or more often when I REALLY need to sleep. This time I find myself turning the game off coz I just can''t stand playing the same 4 mins yet again. Not a good thing for a game thats supposed to be fun.

Having said that, a game shouldn''t rely too much on dumb luck. I remember a game from a few years ago called Rage of Mages, and you needed to save about every 5 sec''s to have a chance of finishing even the easy levels. There was such a fine line between winning and losing fights, and it was mostly out of the players control. Normally with and rpg or something I''ll save every 10-15 mins just so I don''t have to replay too much if I die, NEEDING to save multiple times per minute is bad.

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quote:
I've just started playing Project IGI again (a stealth style fps) and by far the most frustrating thing is getting 3/4 through a level (say around 5-10 mins per level) over and over again because I can't figure out the best approach at the end. Its not the complexity or frustration of working out how to finish the level off which gets to me, its having to play the same 4-8 mins again and again to get to the end of the level to try something new which annoys me. Normally I turn a game off when I should, or more often when I REALLY need to sleep. This time I find myself turning the game off coz I just can't stand playing the same 4 mins yet again. Not a good thing for a game thats supposed to be fun.

This is an example of a game that does not use save points correctly. It does not mean that the save system it uses is bad, it is just not implementing it correctly.

I can think of plenty of good games that did not allow the player to save anywhere. The Metroid, Zelda, and Mario games come to mind. If you had been able to save anywhere in those games they would have stunk. Save anywhere completely destroys the fear of loss. You have nothing to lose since you can just reload, so who cares if you die? There is nothing at stake. This is stupid, and destroys most of the immersion in my opinion.

Being able to save anywhere can turn a hard game into a cakewalk (try downloading an emulator and saving every step, suddenly a hard NES game becomes fairly easy). I think many gamers have been spoiled by today's games. They want games to be nice and easy, with no tension. Heaven forbid the player actually has to try five or six times to beat a boss or an area. When you beat most games these days you feel no sense of accomplishment, mostly because of the save anywhere gameplay which makes them to easy.

A game with properly placed save points, and save and quite (which allows the player to save his position and reload it but if he dies he must return to the last save point) is the best system in my opinion. Also, dynamic difficulty that adapts to the player and provides the proper challenge is good also, but I have yet to see a game implement this correctly.

[edited by - Mr Saturn on January 26, 2003 6:44:58 PM]

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quote:
Original post by Mr Saturn
Being able to save anywhere can turn a hard game into a cakewalk (try downloading an emulator and saving every step, suddenly a hard NES game becomes fairly easy). I think many gamers have been spoiled by today''s games. They want games to be nice and easy, with no tension.

Quite true! I can agree that for some games, save points make a lot more sense. Side scrolling arcade games, for example -- maybe allow saves between levels/areas, but if you let people save/restore anywhere, it would make it too easy. Defeat the design, too (timed levels, limited lives).

But for some other types of games it doesn''t make sense. Games with lots of puzzles where you get one shot at solving it (the component gets used up). Or games where you''re supposed to experiment (to discover, say, formulas), but the experiments can kill you.

RPGs are another example where save points seem really weird, especially with the nonlinearity that is expected nowadays.

I guess time is the biggest issue. If you can find save points every five or ten minutes, that might be enough. But if it''s an hour or more between them, I''m going to find something better to do, since otherwise the game is going to waste a lot of my time.

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True, and in this case quite accurate. For those that haven''t played it, each scenario has a number of different objectives that must be completed in order, around 5 on average. You find yourself completing the same 4 objectives over and over while you try to figure out the 5th. If you could (or automatically) saved at each objective completion it would be fine. I just feel that each scenario is too long, you find yourself getting bored doing the first few objectives multiple times, you get impatient and start dieing on them as well and before you know it your turning the game off in frustration.

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CLONING is the biggest mistake !!!!

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I agree with Mr Saturn. How a game should implement the saving/loading stuff really depends on the type of the game. A game like Zelda or Metroid, it completely makes sense to have save points. You will pretty much get the same kind of experience if you go through the same place over and over again. Let''s say in Metroid, you die somewhere, you load the game, and now you are trying to go back to the place where you die. The monsters you kill, they are all the same. You don''t have random monsters. You don''t get any experience, gold, or items from them...well maybe a few rockets or life, but that''s not a big deal. Because when you are playing Metroid, you know you are progressing is when you get new items, not xp, not gold, not HP.

However, in a game like RPG where experience, gold, and items do matter a lot, save points just ruin everything. FF X comes to my mind. I don''t know why the heck some people praise this game, just because it has good graphics doesn''t mean it has a good gameplay. Seriously, random monsters, experience, luck, items, they are all there, and they are all important in that game. I will not have the same kind of experience playing that game twice. I enter a dungeon, let''s say, I have gained 10,000 xp, 5000 gold, and 5 new cool items. Somewhere I die because I can''t find any save spots. I load the game, reenter the dungeon, and now I gain 7,500 xp, 6,000 gold, and only 1 new cool item. I fight totally different monsters, I gain different xp, gold, and items.

return 0;

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I think the best method of saving (which was thought up by somebody in a long thread about save systems a while back) is to have save points at logical places, and allow a single save anywhere that exits the game when you use it. When you load from that single save, it deletes it so you can''t load from there again without saving again. That way you can still save anywhere in case you need to go do something else, but you can''t save every 5 seconds as you progress to make it boring. The only problem that remains is placing the save points in logical places close enough together so you don''t need to replay the same several hours over and over.

As for RPGs with randomness: When you save, it should save the state of the random number generator so that it would be the same each time you load, or it should use an algorithm to make it so you always get about the same amount of XP, gold, and the same quality of items.

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the ONLY option (IMO) for an RPG is the way that Diablo 2 went (never played D1).

I might also note that the clasic hack''n''slash, Nethack, did this as well.

That is similar to the one described above. Basicly it saves every minute or so automaticly. Saveing is transparent to the user. It saves on exit as well. It only ever keeps the one save slot and keeps saveing over it. You can''t save and reload when you die, if you die - you die.

Diablo was good, because you could stay in normal mode, and you would not have to restart the game if you died - and often (probably a bit too often) you could get back all your items too. It hardcore mode, however, you lost everything if you died, including your position.

Nethack is a bit annoying, because once you die, you are dead, no return, no reincarnation.

This is really the only acceptable way to handle it in an RPG.

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Biggest Gamedesign mistakes?
1. Not knowing what your vision is. Something has got to tie in all the possibilities.
2. Not testing.
3. Leaving decisions to be made by the coders as they''re working on that feature. I know that, from my personal expierence, if I have to decide on something as I''m writing it, the answer is almost always the one that requires the least amount of work.
4. Not running the ideas past someone else. If it''s too complex to explain it quickly, it may not be sucn a good idea. Also, other people migh tcatch things the initial design might have missed.

This is all from personal expierence, the things that have bitten me in the butt the most.

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getting stuck in the damn scenery really grates me

even big modern games still get it wrong (Unreal Tournament 2 had one part of a coridoor where i got stuck almost every time i took cover there)

********

A Problem Worthy of Attack
Proves It''s Worth by Fighting Back

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I think that about the whole saving feature, you should transparently autosave every minor checkpoint. These are not major checkpoints at all, they are just places that are maybe five minutes of gameplay away from each other and are small achievements (e.g. 00:00:01 entered house - save; 00:03:43 exited house - save; 00:07:24 fought four bandits - save; 00:09:25 enter Tavern - save; 00:10:36 meet X - save; 00:14:40 fight five soldiers of Y).

This would be the best of both worlds. Instead of doing it the artistic way and making the player not be able to save and only save every major event or the down-to-earth way and letting the player save every second, this will keep the flow of the story, keep replay to a minimum, and not anger the player.

It might also be a good idea, in addition to saving at minor points, to let the player quicksave the game every three minutes or so.

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quote:
Original post by walkingcarcass
getting stuck in the damn scenery really grates me

even big modern games still get it wrong (Unreal Tournament 2 had one part of a coridoor where i got stuck almost every time i took cover there)

Knowing the graphics of UT2k3 they probably intentionally stuck that in there so you would have time to appreciate the scenery...

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About saving: I think the biggest problem with save systems is the "Groundhog Day" syndrome a lot of games encourage - where you replay the same section of game again and again until you get it "right". Having everything the same every time you reload is part of the problem - I''ve reached the stage in some games where I know a near optimum sequence of steps and shots to get through certain stretches with no damage and minimum ammo expenditure... Of course, having things change too much every time you reload is also bad because it encourages players to just keep reloading until they get something easy. The transparent autosave is a solution, as is the save-points system in FF style games (though it does suffer from not being able to interrupt-save). I also like the "step-back" system in Zelda games - you can save whenever you like, but you get dropped back to the last restart point - though "plot advancing" actions stay happened. I guess what I want is a system where you can save freely, but reloading has a price.

A very annoying system was the GTA save system where you could only save between levels - I reckon the last level takes around 6 hours to complete, and the first level is probably around 1 hour, meaning that you end up having to schedule game sessions in advance in order to get a large enough block of time to actually progress in the game... That one thing managed to put me off the entire series of games (though I hear they did fix the problem in the later games)

I think the most annoying thing I''ve met in a game recently is in Half Life: a couple of places where you''re going up or down in lifts and when it stops moving, you end up stuck in the platform - one place in Xen, I got stuck in the lift soemthing like 20 times in a row (for lethal damage most times) before finally getting the right combination of ducking and jumping to not get stuck...