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Sentura

State of Game Design 2011

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this thread serves to discuss whatever flaws in whatever games that should not be replicated for good reasons. i'm hoping that in the end there can be a list compiled of major (or minor) problems that are occurring in today's games, that some designers would care to take to heart when designing their next game. i've put the year on this in hopes that there can be a new thread created every year that lists new things (or repeats things not rectified) in present day games.

since this is a slightly more serious topic than usual, i'd appreciate it not being completely filled with trolls from the get go.

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Fuck cover in shooters when it leads to Whack-A-Mole firefights.

Fuck quickly regenerating health, Halo/Gears/COD style. Slowly regenerating health, like Deus Ex or Crysis, is ok.

Fuck near-sepia looking desaturation filters (thankfully these seem to be mostly out the door).

Fuck QTEs in general, but ESPECIALLY fuck having an end boss fight that's just "Hammer X to make a cutscene go!". Every Call of Duty since MW, Battlefield 3, etc. Is it really too much to ask to actually let me SHOOT the bad guy, in this game about SHOOTING BAD GUYS? But no, I have to do something retarded looking and badical like pulling a knife out of my chest by hammering on a button, then pushing a different one to trigger a cutscene of throwing it at the bad guy's face.

Catchall: Fuck me-too game design that rips off a random element of a popular game without thinking about it, why it was in the original game, or how it works in a fun manner. My personal favorite example of this is Bioshock 2's multiplayer, which took the COD level up system, and might as well have just copy pasted IW's design document. You start with a pistol and electric plasmid, and can unlock grenade launchers and all sorts of other super high end shit from SP by grinding levels. Starting that game a couple months after it came out, at level 1, when other people had gotten to level, was an experience not unlike going into Counterstrike fresh and joining a VAC-less server with every other player aimbotting. Just because a game that sold well did something, does not mean your game is going to automatically sell well if you do that thing. Your game won't automatically sell poorly for not doing that thing.

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I think Laurent hit the nail on the head for the most part, with the first assumption that "gamers don't want innovation" being a way too large brush stroke that, as they do, overgeneralizes things.

For my part, I think gamers love innovation as long as that doesn't imply input and otherwise gameplay mechanics. They love to be SHOWN new things, but not to have to LEARN new methods. i.e.: Click in a shooter, gun shoots. Click in Portal, gun shoots, portal opens. Or Minecraft: Click to bash a shovel and destroy blocks is a given. Mastering the tool bench is more akin to "Hey guys, how do I make xxx" on teamspeak than anything else.

Gamers, and players since he makes that distinction want to enjoy their experience by playing it rather than learning it. And we designers need to provide ways for them to learn things without ever taking them outside of their playful mind. Playful education. Valve are widely known as the very best in that field.

Back on original topic:

I'd like for the industry to master, if possible, the art of camera placement in third person games vs environment design. We've had everything from high above the hero to the shoulder cam and the boot cam while running in Gears. My issue with it is a matter of scale. It seems to me than in a few games, Arkham City comes to mind, designers are changing cameras during production without taking into consideration the scale of their environment, and end up with rooms and spaces too small for the camera to properly display the immediate surroundings of the main character and the different gameplay options offered to the player. It doesn't help that we no longer allow for cameras to enter geometry.

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Great comments so far.

I'm swamped this week so I don't have time to go into it, but level design is really annoying in many shooter/action games these days as was alluded to already. QTE in BF3 wasn't used to a huge degree but I felt where it was used wasn't that interesting. QTE in Uncharted 3 sometimes worked, but it's started to get really annoying.

In fact, there are many disappointing aspects about U3 which, again, has been discussed. I still am liking it overall but I think Uncharted 2 is my favorite of the series. In our Uncharted 3 thread someone already said ND should just make a movie.....now that I've played it I totally understand that sentiment.

Ok so I guess I'm going into it. Homefront really annoyed me when they forced the player to walk during moments where they really wanted to convey some story element...except the voice acting and dialog were terrible so it was ruined anyway.

ugh...great thread...will be checking back.

ok back to work!!

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Great stuff here so far, i just have a lil to add.

First of all in my opinion most of us are old hardcore players, who have seen much, but younger players love shit like call of duty and QTE's and epic cut sceens, i've heared many times that "i like this game, it is like movie", you know nintendo is making games where you can sit down and watch how the AI is walking through the whole game, THE PLAYER in general is becoming more stupid and lazy. Dyou you thing Tomb Rider the FIRST would be some bit hit there days, i dont think so.

As for the story telling, i think all of the cutscenes should be fully interactiv, as been said before, if you need to shoot fucker in da face, do it in the classic way, not just by presing X.

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you know nintendo is making games where you can sit down and watch how the AI is walking through the whole game, THE PLAYER in general is becoming more stupid and lazy.

Well is this really different than all the official walkthroughs released since the 90ies, or online stuff for subscription even? :B

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I had to look that one up on Youtube cause I frankly couldn't remember it.... And what I saw was nicely tied together, but from a gameplay standpoint it was your run of the mill 3 strikes combat like every single boss fight Nintendo seems to make. And since everyone copies the big N in that field....

1) Introduce structure weakness (i.e. means to kill Vlad) + the need to dodge projectiles via opening cutscene : Check

2) Show where to shoot by having a strong contrast between the metal structure and the hinges : Check

3) First Strike: Shoot 4 hinges that stand out (they are far apart) : Check

4) Second Strike: Now that you've shown you've learned what to do, do it again but this time with a little more precision: Closer together, the contrast disappears : Check

5) Third Strike: Now that the boss is exposed, please have fun and enjoy putting that last bullet in his brain : Check

6) Conclusion: Enjoy the final cutscene that brings resolution to the entire game/chapter : Check

If it was Nintendo, the only thing different would have been the precision would have been brought by having the enemy move more quickly or further in the environment (i.e. the spider boss or Ganondorf in Ocarina of Time for instance) and you would have gotten a Heart Fragment while watching the body disintegrate because "blood is against our family values"

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you know nintendo is making games where you can sit down and watch how the AI is walking through the whole game, THE PLAYER in general is becoming more stupid and lazy.

Well is this really different than all the official walkthroughs released since the 90ies, or online stuff for subscription even? :B

well yea basicly for me :) in nintedo case this is serving solution for you instead of game, solutions are for faggots, YT channels, magazines vs games - are seperate stuff imo, hope you know what i mean :interseting:

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Alone in the Dark let you skip entire chapters so it’s definitely a feature that exists, though the Super Mario Bros Wii version isn’t actually that bad as it’s not free.

The intention is to allow a player to see all the content and skip a section that’s too hard, but if they can’t do this section how will they be able to do the content afterwards? The game is just going to get harder! Skipping challenges is just going to prevent you from getting better.

It’s like when people play arcade games in MAME with infinite credits: they play for a bit, game over, continue, play a bit less, game over, continue, play for even less, game over, continue, etc. until they’re just going though the game in the window of invincibility after each restart. You end up having no fun at all to see all the content instead of manning up and learning the game.

The only exception to this is a badly balanced difficulty spike in the middle of the game, but you don’t design mechanics assuming you’re going to do a poor job in other areas! What these games really need is more encompassing difficulty levels to make sure everyone has the appropriate level of challenge.

Simplification

With this generation things regressed for a more casual, younger audience (not consoles, don’t you dare start). This is fine because it has got a lot of people into games, but now they are looking for something deeper and we need to start upping the ante once again, not just releasing more and more ‘streamlined’ games.

I think it’s interesting when my beloved mother comes to see me and inevitably shows off her latest Bejewelled clone on the iPad, because each time it’s deeper and more complex than the last one.

Another place you can see this cycle is fighting games with them building on each other, hitting critical limit and then resetting with Simple Fighter IV. Now a bunch of people are interested in the genre again and want to see the complexity layered on.

I’ll write more later, though another quick one is Checkpoints = Lazy Designers. One of the biggest sins this generation is designers using checkpoints to allow poor encounter design, misleading traversal, and general instant-death BS.

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I think the worst thing atm are PC releases filled with bugs that make the games unplayable. It seems like developers don't even care about the quality of their products anymore.

Also developers insisting that I register on their content delivery platform, social network, and hundreds of other services before i can even play. I remember buying GTAIV on Steam, and besides having to lunch Steam, I had to login on Rockstar Social Club and GFWL so that I could save my games, it was the most frustrating experience ever.

Even better, stop using GFWL, it's a complete piece of shit.

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I think the worst thing atm are PC releases filled with bugs that make the games unplayable. It seems like developers don't even care about the quality of their products anymore.

Also developers insisting that I register on their content delivery platform, social network, and hundreds of other services before i can even play. I remember buying GTAIV on Steam, and besides having to lunch Steam, I had to login on Rockstar Social Club and GFWL so that I could save my games, it was the most frustrating experience ever.

Even better, stop using GFWL, it's a complete piece of shit.

That's not a design issue, that's a production issue.

And that's been happening since for ever on PC, so it is not knew. It's just that people get upset (and go stupid) when their pixels on their textures are a bit blurry.

For me these are the things that are getting old(Although we are older generation gamers, we have played most things since the C64):

Cover shooters, trading values with someone gets boring after a while. Being able to flank and what not adds to the fun, but over all no more cover shooters for a while.

The main problem with going in to cover all the time is that (well other than every 2nd game uses a cover mechanic) you are locked in to a static entity/actor and it really limits the way you move around in the world. Combine that with melee enemies who love rushing at you while you are glued to a wall is fun times.

From the R6 thread, had to rant about this. But that trailer doesn't show Quick Time Events. A quick time event is something you have to react to in a time frame or face consequences, pressing X to blow out a candle isn't time bound, so it is not a QTE. Having interactive cutscenes in a new thing designers are trying (I don't really like it, but I see what they are trying to do) to make the player feel more involved in what is going on with his character. I've had this argument at work quite a few times with people that I think it is pointless, but it's quite interesting how many people actually like it.

So get used to it, it could be a new thing in games. Press X to press circle to pick your nose.

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Speaking of bugs, despite the many positive things EA accomplished with BF3 (seriously, congrats to DICE and EA) the game has a lot of bugs in SP. I know there is another thread for BF3, but at one point I thought I was playing 2010's Medal of Honor reboot. I actually liked that game but was astonished at how many bugs there were.

Making games has always been tough, but I guess it's getting tougher..er.

edit: oops...yeah...bugs are a production issue. Sorry for taking this off topic. Still, it is related to design process but not the actual design itself. :(

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Bugs can be related to design. If the bugs are serious enough they can get in the way of the gameplay, and as such having a proper testing should be faced as a design issue, at least in enterprise software development testing is seen as a design issue. If nothing else it can attest to the quality of the product.

If I were, for example, a level designer in a AAA title I would be ashamed if my map got to the client filled with bugs that made it unplayable.

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