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Bluefirehawk

Guide to bad game design

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Bluefirehawk    1232
Hi guys and girls

Inspired by the article on badly written plots ([url="http://www.ansible.co.uk/Ansible/plotdev.html"]http://www.ansible.c...le/plotdev.html[/url]), 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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jbadams    25677
The "no twinkie database" (compiled from a yearly column entitled "Bad game designer, no twinkie!) might be a good starting point:
[url="http://www.designersnotebook.com/Design_Resources/No_Twinkie_Database/no_twinkie_database.htm"]www.designersnotebook.com/Design_Resources/No_Twinkie_Database/no_twinkie_database.htm[/url]

:-)
(Posted from mobile.)

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GeneralQuery    1263
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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cronocr    756
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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ATC    551
Here are some of my worst game ideas and design decisions for ya:

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

[b]2) [/b]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.

[b]3)[/b] A game where everything is really dark in [i]every [/i]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!

[b]4)[/b] 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* [i]WWII Online[/i] *cough* lol :-)

[b]5) [/b]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! :-)

[b]EDIT:[/b]

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 [i]wrong[/i] 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 [i]good [/i]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!

[b]EDIT 2:[/b]

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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CC Ricers    1491
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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Prinz Eugn    4418
Here's a few random ideas, some alluded to above:[list]
[*]Show the player a cool thing, but make sure they never get to interact with it or use it.
[*]Inconsistent difficulty: Brutally hard one second, idiotically easy the next.
[*]Six thousand items, only 2 of which are useful at every stage of the game.
[*]Uber Uber-Item- once you get it, why use anything else?
[*]Time's up- You get an extremely fun and exciting item/ability, for 30 seconds and one hallway before the game ends.
[*]Alternatives that aren't alternatives: items "balanced" to the point that they are functionally identical. Gun A and Gun B have different damage per round and different rates of fire, but those equal out perfectly in every conceivable scenario (and they are exactly as accurate).
[*]Linear advancement. Sword A is better than Sword B in every single way which is better than Sword C in every single way. Expect they're more expensive, and available in the next town.
[*]Half-assed genre mash up. You thought you were playing an FPS? Well this level is truly a [i]treat[/i] as 90% of it involves making precarious jumps from platform to platform hanging over an abyss.
[*]Real in all the wrong ways. Make inventory management and haggling excrutiatingly time consuming, force the player to stop and eat every so often, wounds heal in a matter of weeks.
[/list]

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froop    642
[list]
[*]make a really annoying third person camera that you have to adjust all the time using the keyboard so you can even see what you're doing.
[*]make a really complicated control scheme that breaks every convention.
[*]give the player tons of awesome items that he can't use or sell because nobody in the game has money.
[*]show a really long cut scene before each boss fight which you can't skip, so you have to watch it every time you retry.
[/list]

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Daaark    3553
Just look at all of Acclaim's games.

Every single aspect of them was HORRIBLE.

Horrible, uneven graphics.
Horrible motion captured animations.
Horrible sound. It was always all over the place, and either too low, or blowing out your speakers.
Horrible collision detection.
Horrible AI.
The save systems were so clunky they looked like they were pasted out of the tutorial section of their platform SDKs.

The took bad ideas, spent all the budget on a license, and then rushed a clunky, half baked, idea out in 6 months.


But in general these days, it's any game that focuses on non interactive content instead of interactive content.

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Heath    357
[quote name='cronocr' timestamp='1348146364' post='4982012']
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 :)
[/quote]
6. In a platformer, press "up" to jump.
7. If your character can only attack straight ahead, put all the enemies above and below him. The reverse works, too.
8. Getting hit by an enemy knocks you back, and usually into a pit where you die and go back to the beginning because you're a pansy.
9. It's best if you never explain or even hint at what to do or where to go.
10. Immediately at the beginning of the game's first level and with absolutely no heads-up, put a death-dealing obstacle.
11. No continues, no saves, and really long passwords that take forever to input.
12. Every area should look the same, with no proper sense of direction whatsoever.
13. If your character is supposedly the most powerful man on the planet, the man of steel, who can leap tall buildings with a single bound, then make almost the entire game about flying through rings.

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Ashaman73    13715
Give the player a funny and powerful weapon at the beginning, but never ever give him a chance to refill its ammo, so that the player hauled the weapon through the whole game wasting inventory space (i.e. crossbow in shooter). Edited by Ashaman73

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Heath    357
Also, make the game unwinnable under some circumstances. Oh, you need this to enter the last door and beat the game? Well, let's just take that from you then.

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PyroDragn    404
Give the player a powerful super weapon right at the start of the game, but you have to collect all 10 pieces of ammo in the game to be able to use it. Put 1 piece of ammo in a super ultra secret hidden area that is impossible to find.

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cronocr    756
[quote name='Heath' timestamp='1348201945' post='4982233']
[b]13. If your character is supposedly the most powerful man on the planet, the man of steel, who can leap tall buildings with a single bound, then make almost the entire game about flying through rings.[/b]
[/quote]

Hahahah, yes, basically design a tutorial stage that's so long the player will certainly fail when he gets sleepy. This tutorial screen must re-appear after every mission to make clear the player isn't as smart or dexterous as the hero.

Recalled some more:

14. The player can obtain a skate that he can't use because obstacles are unavoidable.
15. Design a flying game inside a maze, and use the same solid color on walls, so he can't distinguish how far he is or his orientation.
16. Make enemies constantly respawn so the player will finally flee from all battles due to lack of ammo. Edited by cronocr

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NaturalNines    335
[quote name='PyroDragn' timestamp='1348222058' post='4982303']
Give the player a powerful super weapon right at the start of the game, but you have to collect all 10 pieces of ammo in the game to be able to use it. Put 1 piece of ammo in a super ultra secret hidden area that is impossible to find.
[/quote]
Or the other side of this one, as FFXII did: you can only obtain the super powered weapon later in the game if you DIDN'T open certain chests (that were not marked or identified in any way) earlier in the game.

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ic0de    1012
[quote name='game of thought' timestamp='1348178760' post='4982178']
Make sure the game has to have graphics out of microsoft paint and does have an error with the error screen.
[/quote]

What a perfect game idea, I should make it.

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Bluefirehawk    1232
So what it looks to me, to make a bad game, you either have to make it boring, or annoying.
I think here is a good starting list to make it boring, but I didn't read much of annying mechanics.

In games, "just because FUCK YOU!" elements are annoying i believe, for example:
In diablo 3 in inferno difficulty, when you didn't kill an elite mob in less than 20 minutes, the mob is "aggroed" or whatever and you have to die (they help you with that, you lose all of your health in 10 seconds). After that, you have to wait 5 minutes or so until the elite mob has regenerated all it's health.
Why? Because SCREW YOU, that's why.

[quote name='NaturalNines' timestamp='1348236924' post='4982383']
Or the other side of this one, as FFXII did: you can only obtain the super powered weapon later in the game if you DIDN'T open certain chests (that were not marked or identified in any way) earlier in the game.
[/quote]
Haha, great "FUCK YOU" to the gamer.


Something completely different:
This doesn't make a game bad, but it certanly hides it's potential. For example: make many different attack types in an rpg game (fire, physical, magic...) but make them virtually equal in all regards, it just doesn't matter if you do fire or lightning damage. Edited by Bluefirehawk

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lauris71    841
Make difficulty levels that only affect enemies, weapons and ammo. All jumping and stealth still requires near-perfect timing, whatever the difficulty is.

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BCullis    1955
My biggest gripe in game design came from God of War (yes, the original).
Give players an entire game to master using several fun and diverse weapons, then at the final climactic boss battle: take them all away and make them use something new and horrible with no practice or warning.

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iAmCodeMonkey    215
[quote name='Daaark' timestamp='1348198837' post='4982226']
Just look at all of Acclaim's games.

Every single aspect of them was HORRIBLE.

Horrible, uneven graphics.
Horrible motion captured animations.
Horrible sound. It was always all over the place, and either too low, or blowing out your speakers.
Horrible collision detection.
Horrible AI.
The save systems were so clunky they looked like they were pasted out of the tutorial section of their platform SDKs.

The took bad ideas, spent all the budget on a license, and then rushed a clunky, half baked, idea out in 6 months.
[/quote]

I could say the same things about any game from Capstone Software/Intracorp Entertainment...

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Alpha_ProgDes    6921
[list]
[*]Always have the camera in an awkward position where the FOV is 30 to 50% obscured. Oh. And also make that camera unadjustable.
[*]Also, I love mission-oriented games that don't log what the mission is, who gave you the mission and where that person was (it's not much of an issue now, but it was before).
[*]Make (single player) off-line games that require you to be online.
[*]If at first you think the player will succeed, then move the platform 3 pixels to the right, have a two wandering enemies, and show only half the platform so the player will jump right into the death trap on the other side.
[/list] Edited by Alpha_ProgDes

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