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Bluefirehawk

Guide to bad game design

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Hi guys and girls

Inspired by the article on badly written plots (http://www.ansible.c...le/plotdev.html), I thought maybe we could come up with a guide to bad game design. Since making a "good" game is hard, even harder to describe why it is good, it's often very easy to say why a game is bad.
I hope that we can discuss bad design choices in the different categories of game design.

Since game design is such a broad word and games can be so distinct from each other, I suggest writing the genre and specific subsection (like Leveldesign), if it only applies to one. If you disagree or have suggestions, please respond.

I plan to keep a list of the bad design choices in this first post.


To get this rolling, I start with some bad design choices:

In general, try to punish the gamer regularly for absolutely no reason, just because you can.

Make the gamer collect an arbitrary amount of resources for no reward, just to make the game longer. Make the collection as trivial as possible. For the worst effect, let him collect resources serveral times during the game, always increasing the amount needed. Edited by Bluefirehawk

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ZomBob™

You play a zombie called Bob who has yet to be animated. The screen is black, there are no controls and the game uses up 100% of your system's resources. After 10 mins the game bluescreens. Any takers?

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I remember some from watching AVGN:

1. Make the player's character long and difficult to maneuver. All obstacles kill and send you back to the beginning of the level.
2. Make the key to open next level to appear randomly and in random places, but only after an obscure event has been triggered (like touching an unmarked tree, three times).
3. Give the life bar 10 hit points, but even the weakest enemy will take 9 HP from the player.
4. Take a violent game and transform it into a Bible game!! (blood, weapons and enemies are exchanged for something nice) Don't forget to include questionaries at the end of each level.
5. Instead of creating a story related to the game's title, insert objects barely related. For example, if you want to make a game based on Back to the Future, make it a casual game about collecting clocks; for Star Wars the same casual game about collecting stars and guns.

Just watch the series, there are tons of ideas :)

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Here are some of my worst game ideas and design decisions for ya:

1) Yet another game involving zombies... to make the plot particularly original, it's a virus; and zombies must be shot in the head to kill.

2) A movie-game that attempts to follow the plot of the movie, but adds lots of "chores" and "busy-work" to fill in the gaps.

3) A game where everything is really dark in every scene and you can barely see. Add lots of cliche monsters, skulls, colorful flames, etc... This will help hide the poor level design and sub-standard artwork and programming!

4) Create what appears on the surface to be a realistic WWII simulation... but has awful physics, "nerf" all the German weapons and then get on your playerbase forums and try to insult and belittle anyone who questions your awful physics, poor programming skills and horrible "balance" (which makes it even better, because a simulation shouldn't "balance" weapons/equipments but present them realistically)... Oh wait, you might get sued for copyright infringement if you do that... *cough* WWII Online *cough* lol :-)

5) Another generic FPS game with completely implausible weapons, no actual ballistic physics (just trace rays for fake trajectory), no true damage model and "dumbed-down" game mechanics, controls and plot... When in doubt, just add aliens!

Enjoy! :-)

EDIT:

It would also be wise to make players waste a lot of time and effort. Always play really dull and boring intro/outro videos for everything that you cannot skip and are forced to watch. Make players work to develop skills that are totally useless in the game... for example, make the player help an old lady churn butter and spend hours building up their butter-churning skills, only to find out that it is the only point in the game in which you churn butter and even the one time you did it served no purpose... Always provide poor instructions to the point that they convey the wrong information to the player; that way they spend a long time just trying to figure out how to operate the game at all, only to have their hopes crushed when they realize the game sucks even when you're good at it. At random points in the game you should require the player to suddenly and unexpectedly press a complex sequence of buttons with perfect timing, precision and order; if they fail, teleport them back to the beginning of the game. Code all AI to cheat, cheat, cheat... If it's a card game, the AI dealer/opponents should know the player's hand and select whatever cards it needs to win. If it's a FPS, AI bots should be able to run, see and shoot through walls. But better yet, make sure they only do these things when the player isn't looking!

EDIT 2:

The ideas just keep coming! This is for #2, a lousy movie game... Make sure that ALL of the interesting parts of the movie plot are portrayed as non-interactive video cut scenes which have better graphics than the actual gameplay. Only make the dull parts and "chores" playable. For instance, the final battle between Harry Potter and Voldemort: cutscene... Harry Potter talking to Ron or running an odd errand for Dumbledore: playable... Edited by ATC

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Boss characters that are only tough in that they read your inputs and counter everything accordingly and almost perfectly. Best applied to fighting games.

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