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The worst flaws in game design!

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AI that plays to annoy, not to win. They chose actions that are a detriment to you regardless if they are also a detriment to them, causing games to become long tedious and frustrating.

Not taking into the account the game engine. Many online games require a higher level of reaction time than the network allows. I understand the internet can be finicky at times, but don't design encounters that require split second accurate timing if your network/game engine can't handle it. Its not the networks fault, its the designers fault.

AI that doesn't follow the same basic rules as the player. ie. having unlimited resources, instant reaction times (particularly bad in many fighting games), perfect aiming or sight, unlimited ammo, ect... If the tables aren't even, then to win instead of playing the game you end up exploiting some weird AI weakness/pattern. It may work, but at that point the game has broken down.

But my number 1 pet peeve... Unbalanced gameplay in multiplayer games. Something is broken, 1/2 the players are abusing it causing games/matches to dissolve into a game of 'who can cheese/abuse/exploit the other 1st'. And yet the designers insist nothing is wrong, and that players complaining are just baddies/nubs/want to be OP.

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I'd say not being able to assign all your keys/buttons how you want is annoying. I know playing a game that doesn't have 'space bar' as jump takes me so long to adjust too.

More then just assign a single action to a single key though, the input managers for games really need more work. I should be able to assign combo's of keys e.g. Ctrl-G could open my gun selections while Alt-Q opens possible character emotes/sayings.

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Designing the entire game around a feature and forgetting the game.

A few years ago, there was a Battle Bots-type game that allowed you to construct some pretty elaborate robots to match against opponents. The setup was great, building up excitement as the player cleverly devised an instrument of destruction. Then you get into the match and it's over in a few seconds. Total letdown!

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The other side of the coin from linearity as well: in an adventure game, suddenly opening a bunch of mostly unrelated scenes that are meant to be played in a specific sequence, especially if it takes a long time to travel from one to another. Another related problem in adventure-type games is when you have a perfectly suitable item in inventory, but it isn't the correct solution and you don't find out why. And of course anyplace you are expected to exhaustively search for items or through text. Then there's finding out halfway through a game that you needed an item from much earlier, but there is no save from that time.

The all-time worst, though, I'd say, is when a bug in a program (or saving just before imminent death) screws up your only saved game.

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RPGs
---

1. Grinding. This doesn't need to exist.

2.A pervasive lack of balance, especially in JRPGs. If I ever review games, I'm going on a scale out of ten and taking off a point for every useless spell or skill. 90% of JRPGs are going to be in the -30s.

3. WRPGs aren't much better about that, although in recent years its improved. Nothing like MegaTraveller 2 where there were literally skills that *had no function* and were only there to maintain compatibility with the PNP game it was based on.

4. Any cutscene lasting longer than 30 seconds.

5. Any battle animation lasting longer than 5 seconds.

6. Any period of time when I'm forced to just talk to a bunch of signpost NPCs without any decision making or meaningful input. This is filler. This is bad.

7. Skills systems that are obsessed with associating every. single. action. with a skill.

8. Non-interactive worlds.

9. Strict linearity. Plot linearity is fine but at least let me have multiple solutions to problems.

10. Go anywhere, do anything RPGs generally needn't exist.

11. Crafting systems. Letting the player make items as fine but as soon as it's a crafting system it's terrible.

FPSes
---

1. Awkward segments that force the player to do something, lose, reload, and try again with what they learned. Forcing the player to LEARN isn't the problem here but rather creating a situation that is completely unwinnable without knowledge of what is going to happen.

RTSes
---

1. Bad AI.

2. Being a generic base-builder RTS in the style of C&C or *craft. Hi. This isn't the 90s. Those weren't even that interesting *then*.

3. Not including a pause, issue orders, unpause option.

4. Resource gathering, in the *craft style. There's better ways of doing this. Seriously. Use those instead.

4x
---

1. Focusing on military progress at the expense of other areas.
2. For that matter, preventing peaceful outcomes and cooperations.
3. Wars that are always a zero-sum game. Realistically, how many wars are winner take all situations? Yeah, that's rare.
4. Completely ignoring meaningful domestic development/upkeep.

Adventure Games
---

1. Generally as soon as your adventure game has an inventory, it's started down the long, dark road of braindead puzzle design, since inventory-based puzzles are almost *always* disguised key-hunts, where the only puzzle is figuring which key goes to which door, and the ones that are more ornate than that are typically stupid.

Space Traders
---

1. Elite really wans't that good. Stop copying it and try to advance your genre, plz.

2. Dead worlds. Seriously. Some dynamism is nice. Have other space ships puttering about doing things.

3. Newtonian Physics. Or at least make realistic space flight optional. Some people are playing these games for A) The blowing stuff up and B) The economic model.

General
---

Most games would benefit from a lot of addition by subtraction.

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Diablo 2: Money losing it's meaning.

Strategy games: single player rewards massing one big army and finishing the game. Usually you can't harass and destroy their production because they have superior defenses and unlimited money.

Shooting games: snipers. Very few games get this right and not frustrating. Next time you play this part, it's a breeze because you know where the snipers are.

Older shooting games: no way out of a situation because you don't have enough health and there are no health packs to be found. You have to keep a shitload of different saves. They even tried fixing this with multiple quick save slots.

Older games in general: lack of autosave. I think you can just assume that player does want to continue where he left off. It's infuriating to find out you forgot to save and have to start over.

Sometimes games say "Any unsaved progress will be lost" after you have saved and tried to quit. Didn't I just save? Did the saving fail? Why am I getting this warning?

Doom and Wolfenstein: losing your weapons after you die. Um.. the games had saving ability. Why not just reload instead of losing all my stuff and making the level even harder than before?

Hmm, it's lot easier to pick on older games :P I guess game design does keep improving.

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RPGs: to add to some things already mentioned, I'll say bad inventory systems. For example, a single giant scrollable list with a couple insignificant filters is insufficient for games where you will pick up hundreds of items.

RTSs: factions sharing nearly identical tech trees, along with buildings and units that are basically re-skins with different names. StarCraft had three diverse factions...it's baffling that so many RTSs struggle with this.

FPSs: as others have mentioned, the inability to bind controls to the keys/buttons one wishes is ridiculous in this day and age. While I can manage in other types of games, it seriously affects my enjoyment of FPSs.

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Micromanagement Hell. This happens when the game tries to add too many subtelties and fail to provide an adequate interface. Good examples are Front Mission on the DS and The Last Remnant. Customizing 3 mechs when you have 4 pieces in each category is great fun. When you have 15 mechs with 40 pieces, it becomes a nightmare.

Useless features. A good example is weapon customization in RPGs. Nice! I can upgrade my weapon with a variety of modifiers to make it better! Until I play 30 more minutes, get to the next town and buy a weapon that is superior on all points. If it doesn't add any meaningful choices to the player without being cumbersome, it shouldn't be included.

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Personally, I've grown tired of games that are all about show, graphics, long cutscenes and badass dudes with badass katana, while the player is totally passive and just presses X, X, X, X, X, X, X, X, X, X, X while watching Mr. badass do the acrobatics of a cheap animé, without having any real control over the characters or their development. In the last 10 years, Japanese RPGs have all turned into this garbage and it's sad.

Another thing that I consider failed game design is realism for nothing. Don't annoy me every 10 minutes because I need to feed my character. At least, not unless there's an interesting trick to it.

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Quote:
Original post by Ryan_001
AI that plays to annoy, not to win. They chose actions that are a detriment to you regardless if they are also a detriment to them, causing games to become long tedious and frustrating.


This. I've noticed many games recently when in hard mode reverting to the usually very strong enemy simply charging you, even if the game contains a cover system and you are trying to protect yourself.

This is a more specific example, but stealth in general needs to be done extremely well to be worth a damn. One of my favorite game series' is Splinter Cell and I really enjoy the sneaking in it. However, now I'm playing through Metro 2033 and there are stealth levels where you have no way of seeing in the dark (there are traps and alarms) and once you're discovered you are never 'un-discovered' no matter how you were found in the first place. Everyone just stays on guard for eternity, only passable since they are designed to focus on your last position if you are able to fully disappear (turn a corner or run far away *in the dark* without being seen again). To have multiple levels devoted to stealth like this is just a pain.

Also I think every game needs good in-game help that can be optional. Recently I played Silent Hill Homecoming for PC and to learn to fight they lock you in a very small room and tell you to fight. The most you get for controls is 'Press the Attack Stance button'. Wtf, how many of your keyboards have a built-in 'Attack Stance' button?

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My personal pet peve is when the game will spawn an unlimited number of minions. It is ok for games where you're trying to level up your champion, but in fps or melee fighters, its soooo lame. If I've cleared the compound as the hulk 6 times from all hell hounds and guards, I'm pretty sure no more should respawn and I should be able to move forward uninterupted. I've literally played the game where I killed 100 hell hounds in the same room over the course of an hour, and more kept showing up. MF.

The big key with all of these post is that the designer failed to be the champion of the gamer. The designer's job is to protect us from majory annoyances that come with playing his game.

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Battlezone 2 had the worst design I've ever seen in a game of its complexity. It has an awesome IDEA.

It's a hovertank combat FPS combined with RTS base-building. You can build bases, customize tanks by giving them different weapons.

Ammo management limits tactics to hit and run, because you run out of ammo after one or two kills.

The AI is horrible. It's not good at combat, it has poor pathing, it sucks at acquiring targets unless you micromanage them to attack. Tanks can have up to four weapon slots, but the AI doesn't use anything but the primary weapon.

The UI is clunky, poorly polished, and doesn't let you properly handle the complexity of the game. This is especially true for the Scion race.

The Scion race has astoundingly poor design. They have shapeshifting tanks, which the AI hasn't been tuned to handle effectively. They have half the available weapons compared to the other race, because each Scion weapon has a secondary mode for shapeshifting purposes. You can't effectively customize any of their vehicles because any alterations will always make the tank WORSE than its default loadout, and sometimes completely useless. By process of elimination, there is only really one way to customize each vehicle. The other race (ISDF) can use any vehicle or weapon loadout effectively and in multiple roles.

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Using too many dimensions/variables in a misguided attempt to add detail. Invariably the process fails in one of two directions:
  1. Either the needles peg in several metrics, making them pointless and throwing balance out the window
  2. Or they create an enormous space of possibility which is then filled with an incredibly steep bell curve, where everything is in the middle, making the vast space deceptively pointless.
Typically the outcome is that You Must Have Steel Armor, Steel Sword, and the Adamantite Breastplate, and everything else sucks.

[Edited by - AngleWyrm on September 3, 2010 9:49:58 PM]

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Military Game that is touted as 'realistic' and where they try to go to at least some way in that direction in the solo game, but in the multiplayer game they pander to the excitement junkys and the gimmick junkeys to a point where a 'fantasy' (Bioshock 2) game's multiplayer is actually MORE realistic.

Modern War 2 - multiplayer.

The multiplayer I think was built by 3rd string designers and interns, but likely was a management decision to warp realitity so absurdly to maximize the players (the usual 14-year old mentality).

The 'perks' you accumulate as you rise rapidly to 70th level make you outclass lower level players so much and becomes so absurdly unfair (instead of having a very flat/small advantage where skill makes the difference).

For some reason they have players bounce around like pingpong balls on uppers.
People can run around behind you (fast) in the circular terrain paths and kill you much too easily -- you have no flanks you can count on for more than mere seconds. Perks to make the runners quiet exist (where you in real world make a lot of noise anytime you clump around in military equiptment (60lb of equiptment) and cant really do the warp maneuvers this game allows. Targets are gone before you can raise a gun to aim -- actually moving 5x any realistic speed. Real soldiers move with deliberation and sprint (but cant do much while moving that fast).

The guns accuracy (especially scope rifles) at long range is much too easy and can be snap fired (contrary to how any real scope rifle works). People run and shoot and hit targets much too easily (even while running on uneven ground). People hop and go prone way too fast and even weapons that spray walls of bullets dont hit unless you are close to bullseyeing on the target at close range.

The knifing attack is one of the most absurd things as someone runs up to you rapidly and kills you literally in 1/8th of a second (at a run) and is already gone (often running right over you). You have no peripheral vision so its extremely easy to do these 'run up from behind attacks' when YOU are moving slow trying to spot an enemy who will shoot you absurdly easily at long range.
You dont hear them coming and the fast movement has them on you instantly -- there is no Melee, as you can have in BioShock --- you are basicly insta-dead.

There is virtually no penalty for dying so that when you look at the statistics often the top scorers also have died the most times. No reason not to bonzai charge someone or use the loophole of the fast ambush strategy.

In effect the game is little more than constant ambush with everyone moving around at top speed trying to kill enemies from behind or around blind corners. Latency problems are actually aggravated as people can suddenly appear start shooting at you before you can react (or sometimes even see them).

At the higher levels you get vehicles (helicopter gunship/rpv/AC130) to fire down and with 1/2-2/3 of the players being the top(70) level this happens every other minute which disrupts any deliberate movement (as you scramble for cover) Killing people via the vehicles is so easy that a chimp could do it (red boxes outline enemies even inside of buildings) and many of the maps are largely open so that the vehicles (rare in real combat) simply disrupt any tactical coordination of team players -- the whole game.


All in all they ruined what could have been a good multiplayer game by selling out to the skilless and attentionally deficited players, and as for realism, you might as well get A 'Giant Sword' or BFG9000 or a Fartgun for all it matters. The game mechanics make alot of the weapons specifics irrelevant as they are exagerated by accumulated perks.

Moder War 2 Multiplayer is pure fantasy, and WRONG for a game that is supposed to be about (at least moderately) realistic 'modern war'. It is actually a shame and the only reason I still play it is to see how more absurd it can get and to see what I would have done to fix it -- better balance of realism without making it as tedious/optioneless as real war situations are.
Toning down many of the factors (speed/accuracy/gimmicks) could have been easily done. Modding is no good as they dont really work for pickup games and the 14years old mentalities DONT WANT anything but the fake war the as-designed scenarios/mechanics supply.


The usual too small number of maps result in the campers/best spots and other typical distortions, after players have played the same maps 100X by the time they get to 70 (you would think that with 0$ investment the developers could optionally flip each map over one axis (mirror) and throw off the map memorizers at least a little. We are stuck with such maps until 'good' procedural generation takes off (no time soon).



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What I dislike is:

- TOO long and boring storylines -
Yes, some game try to do the best about storyline / story telling
but the mess up with too long explenation of things etc. I know that I'm
not the only one that would rather jump into the game and found out the story
slowly while playing / over interactions. I know story needs to be told before
sometimes but it can be done in much more interesting way than reading 100000 lines
of text.

- Games without storyline -
Even the most simple games can have a story. It doesn't need to be told
but it can be written in game description at least. In single sentence.
I found different over-done games like sudoku interesting because there
was somethnig behind it like - "Old wise asian left 1000 years old riddles
behind. It looks like.... Are you ready to face ancient sudoku riddles?
"
As simple as that is fine, rather than seeing game developer just wanted
to show off his knowledge or something.

Maybe I'm wrong in general but that's just my thinking.

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I dislike boss battles where I don't feel like I'm actually fighting the boss. All too many games take the approach where to kill the boss, you actually have to pull a series of levers that make the thing fall on the thing and indirectly cut off the bad guy's health regeneration or something. The boss becomes nothing more than a passive harm tile all too often. Similarly, sometimes folks try to make the boss so epic, it's really just an enormous level, and all of the locks and keys you have to use are said to be weak points or vitals.

After how well Shadow of the Colossus pulled it off, I admit that it's hard to live up to, but it's a damned good model that everyone knows, and more people should aspire to it.

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AI is a big one, defence missions where you must protect bad AI are the worst.

A common annoyance for me are those boss fights where you dodge an enemy, let them run into a wall (they get stuck) and you slash the boss from behind. This boss appears in every game ever! always bugs me!

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