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ScottNCSU

List: Most frequent game design flaws in modern games

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I figured a compiled list of common game design flaws in modern games could help out us indies the most, as working in a small team we are going to be the most blind to see them. These flaws should be easy to fix or bypass for the most part if you aren't too far along in your game/engine. This list is for design flaws that hurt the game for mostly everyone. In other words, the fact that they are a flaw is a universal truth, rather than an opinion. Silly complaints like "you shouldn't lose EXP on death in an MMO" don't belong here. Also, make sure if you suggest a flaw that it is in "flaw format". Read through some flaws listed and try to follow that format before posting one. If your flaw doesn't have a solution, don't mention it. If your flaw is vague, give an example of a game where it takes place. This isn't a list for things you'd like to see more of in a game, its a list of things that should not be in a game. If someone wants to start a thread on things they'd like to see more of in a game, then I pity whoever has to update it ;) Edited for updates, keep them coming. All games: -Making large levels with little variation in order to increase game length. Short but sweet with replay value is better than long and drawn out with no replay value. It really isn't hard to add replay value to a game these days. (SephirothEX) -Bad implementation of one button performing different actions depending on the situation. In Splinter Cell, the action button would both pick up a body and turn on the light, and it is hard to choose between the two actions when the body and light are close to each other. (Vampyre_Dark) -Bad camera positions that put your enemies or jumping platforms out of view. This is an advanced flaw without an easy fix, but a very frequent one. (Vampyre_Dark) -Inconsistency in the interface. If hitting escape closes a menu or screen in one place make it the same every where. (monkey8751) -Poorly implemented user interface/inventory systems. Rather than design your own, its generally better to find a game like yours that had a great interface and copy it. If something you interact with every other second has flaws, you're killing the gameplay experience. (monkey8751) -Don't tack on a feature to a game just to spice it up and spend no time implementing it right. Badly integrated or chosen features will ruin a game, either by turning it into a mish-mash of ideas or by leeching off development time on the other more important features. Example: the odd poorly implemented stealth level in a primarily shoot everything that moves game. (Trapper Zoid) -Don't try to make your game do everything. It is a game, and it doesn't need to be a messenging system, email system, voice chat system, and accountant. There are specialized programs that can do this work just as well. If you ARE going to put some kind of IM in your game, make it very simple and make it work. (Extrarius) -Don't make up your own poor AI methods when you can find working methods in books like "AI Game Programming Wisdom #", "Game Programming Gems #", online at sites such as CGF AI, and many other places. The resources are there, and all you need to do is dedicate some time to using them. (Extrarius) -Intro movies/cutscenes without some form of skip option. Being forced to watch these really hurt replay value. Also, I've seen a lot of games made by indies these days with pre-menu screen intro movies without skip buttons, and it boggles my mind why they don't forsee that as a serious annoyance. -Games that create an Internet popup window that resizes your default Internet window. -Games that try to(and sometimes succeed!) in overwriting your Windows *.DLLs. Put them in your game directory and your *.exe file will look for them there first. -Lack of ability to bind keys or change mouse sensitivity -Not really even worth putting here, but: hidden adware. Platform games: -Blind jumps that can lead to death. Nuff said. -Simplistic and unresponsive jumping controls. If the game revolves around timed jumps, then you need to have a well thoughtout jumping system. Despite that Mario is ancient, famous and got this right the first time, we still see platformers with horrible jumping control schemes. Adventure/RPG games: - Having that one stat that is completely useless except in one part of the game. If you're going to have Charisma as a stat, do it right. (monkey8751) -Games that expect you to know where to go next. This is usually because the creator didn't test the final product on people other than those that tested throughout the development phase. You can't test you're own explorable adventure game yourself because you are subconsciously biased towards what you know and what you think the player knows. If your game is decent, you shouldn't have trouble finding a new playtester. -Long side-quests that yield horrible rewards or EXP relative to the main quest. If I spend 5 hours side-questing for that rare Masamune, it better have stats I can respect. -Building up your character for the entire game, usually in your own unique way, then "morphing" into something completely different for the final boss fight. This new morphed version usually has nothing to do with your current stats/equipment. This is bordering close to that of opinion rather than universal truth, but I've never met someone that didn't feel ripped off when they experienced this in a game. FPS games: -Headshots recieving the same damage as bodyshots in modern FPS games. Our generation now used to being rewarded for head shots, and its painful when that reward is taken away. -Mazelike levels with very little variation in environment, and no map screen. No one enjoyes getting lost in an action game then backtracking for 20 minutes with nothing to shoot at. - Badly implemented jumping puzzles. You can't see your feet in most of them so it's hard to judge where you are going to land. These felt natural in Half-Life, but painful in Turok. Have someone test your jumping puzzle and if it doesn't feel natural, take it out. It will only hurt the game. (monkey8751) Sports games: - Computer Assistance that you can't turn off. If you don't know what computer assistance is, it's when one team starts to get too far behind in a sports game the computer will make the game easier for them in one way or another. A basketball game might make more shots go in. A football game might make your recievers more likely to hold on to the ball. (monkey8751) Racing games: -Again, a large genre, but I've got nothing. The game design of cars speeding up as you pass them to keep things interesting can't really be a flaw, as it is both aggrivating when they do this but boring when you get laps ahead of them at the same time. [Edited by - ScottNCSU on August 15, 2005 2:29:25 PM]

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All Games:
-Don't try to make your game do everything. It is a game, and it doesn't need to be a messenging system, email system, voice chat system, and accountant. There are specialized programs that can do this work just as well. If you ARE going to put some kind of IM in your game, make it very simple and make it work.

Games where interacting with AI (as ally or opponent) is required:
- Don't make up your own poor AI methods when you can find working methods in books like "AI Game Programming Wisdom #", "Game Programming Gems #", online at sites such as CGF AI, and many other places. The resources are there, and all you need to do is dedicate some time to using them.

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Here's my number one design flaw:

Don't just include something in the design because it's "cool". Badly integrated or chosen features will ruin a game, either by turning it into a mish-mash of ideas or by leeching off development time on the other more important features.

Heaps of games have made this mistake: Black and White is probably the best example (taking all that time to tack in that Creature ruined the game, in my opinion). Then there's the FPS that are run-and-gun, but they have to tack in a stealth mission that's really poorly implemented. And even some of the popular games like Quake fall down majorly to this flaw; the horrible boxy weapons, the bad particle effects and the torches would have been so much better if they'd used sprites instead of 3D models, but everything had to be 3D in Quake because it's "cool".

Of course, it's really hard not to try and include all these "cool" features (I'm struggling not to do this in my games too!)

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All Games:
- Lack of dynamic gameplay. EVERYTHING is scripted. Even things that are unscripted (Half Life 2's physics, for example) revolve around scripted events happening.

Sports Games:
- Lack of dynamic physics and animations. You can tackle someone in football in only predefined ways; you don't get benefits of fine skill because the system blurs everything to save on investments in things like physics systems.

Racing Games:
- Static, unforgiving environments. If you make one crash in a race, you're pretty much garunteed to fail. At least Burnout made it fun to crash.

RPG's:
- Turn based combat
- Random computerized-dice based combat
- Stigma against involving even a shred of player skill in MMORPG's (Something more than just moving out of range in World of Warcraft. It's all cookie cutter strategy)
- Lack of truly dynamic environments. RPG worlds tend to be massive - but only dynamic by illusion. In an RPG, you can affect the world in a variety of ways, but those ways are hard coded into the game. They use randomness and pseudo-randomness in all the wrong areas - the combat rewards you for chance and the story limits you even when you use skill.

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Quote:
Original post by Nytehauq
RPG's:
...
- ... the combat rewards you for chance and the story limits you even when you use skill.

The balance of random luck and skill are what makes many RPGs very entertaining to play. Skill comes in a variety of forms, whether it be deciding what spell to cast, what order to organize your party for the most effective results against enemy x, etc.

Ironically, players use the randomness of the roll as a constant, determining moves and strategems based on that constant. This exact same concept applies to games like poker, where players use their skill and experience to make correct long-term decisions, with the assumption and dependency of huge amounts of short-term random luck.

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Well, it's more algorithm design than game design but yes, I agree with your thread title: (linked) list abuse is a frequent design flaw. [smile]

(that's what I thought your thread was about [grin])

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Quote:
Original post by Nytehauq
RPG's:
- Turn based combat


I think the opposite. I hate real time combat in an RPG. At least give us a choice.

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What about the "Might & Magic" system? It allowed for real time combat, but was awful to use, and could be paused to work as a turn based (in fact speed based turn based) system. With whazt some producers have taken out lately, I think it might be possible to improve such a system, and make it worth. "Tales of Symphonia" shows a really promising system, with a real time fighting, but a pause showing each time you press some key to give your characters some instructions.

And don't forget the system of all the tom Clancy's franchises, in which you can give directives to your teammates. I know it wasn't a pause, but at least, it allowed you to propose SOMETHING, in the plan...

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- Inconsistency in the interface. If hitting escape closes a menu or screen in one place make it the same every where.

- Unnecessary steps to do something simple. I'm going to use Animal Crossing as an example. To change equipment, axe, net, fishing pole, you had to open your inventory, select the tool you wanted, move it up to your character and drop it on them, then move the old tool back to a place in your inventory. Why couldn't they have just made it so you can select the new tool and have an equip option. Even better they could have just made it so you can cycle through them with the L and R triggers and not having to go to your inventory at all.

Sports Games
- Computer Assistance that you can't turn off. If you don't know what computer assistance is, it's when one team starts to get too far behind in a sports game the computer will make the game easier for them in one way or another. A basketball game might make more shots go in. A football game might make your recievers more likely to hold on to the ball.

FPS Games
- Jumping puzzles. You can't see your feet in most of them so it's hard to judge where you are going to land.

RPG Games
- Having that one stat that is completely useless except in one part of the game.

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The camera!

I have some games where the camera can get caught in the level geometry, so it's stuck behind a pillar in a room while you get your ass whipped, unable to see. This is even a problem sometimes in games I would rate with a 10/10 otherwise. I'm just playing Ratchet and clank, and it gets to be annoying at times. Just let the camera stay behind me! I don't mind if it slowly transitions behind me while I'm turning, just make sure that it's always behind me, or in the process of moving there quickly.

When I want to look around, I'll do it manually with the right thumbstick!

Oh, also I hate when 2 buttons do the same action. eg: In Buffy, I can't pick up the stake off the floor, because some creature has gotten to close to me, and now that button does something different. Or in splinter cell, when I knocked out the office worker too close to the wall in his office. Pressing the action button to pick him up... oops, I hit the lightswitch instead! Now everyone sees me and they are coming after me!

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