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Bad Game Designer, No Twinkie!

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Presentation on theme: "Bad Game Designer, No Twinkie!"— Presentation transcript:

1 Bad Game Designer, No Twinkie!
Ernest W. Adams a member of the design group

2 Twinkie Denial Conditions
Bad Conceptual Design Bad Game Mechanics Bad User Interface Design Bad Programming Bad Level Design Bad Content Note: These are design errors, but they don’t always make a game bad! Many good games contain errors.

3 Bad Conceptual Design

4 Adolescent Armageddon
“Conquer the world!” “Save the galaxy!” Yeah, yeah, yeah. Can we have some games that aren’t teenage power fantasies? Better:

5 Kill Monster/Take Sword/Sell Sword Buy New Sword/Kill New Monster
I’m supposed to be a hero, so why am I spending all my time bargaining with shopkeepers?! I’m not a hero, I’m an itinerant second-hand arms dealer! Robbing corpses doesn’t feel all that noble, either... RPG’s need to break the “Monty Haul” cycle.

6 Conceptual Non Sequiturs
Anything that a normal human being (not a gamer) would say makes no sense. Medical kits hidden inside oil tanks in FPSs. Half-naked women who, when killed in RPGs, drop suits of plate armor. Ordinary people moving 20-ton stones in action games.

7 Bad Game Mechanics

8 Deadlocks A situation in which a process cannot continue without the resource that it produces, or two processes are each waiting for the other. All games need a mechanism for breaking deadlocks – an additional source of the resource.

9 Too Much Randomness Random bad luck that makes a long game unwinnable.
Poker is highly random but each hand is short. Over time the better players win. Constant, irritating random encounters that add nothing to the plot.

10 Bad User Interface Design

11 No Save or Pause Game Feature
Often used to make games more difficult without any work by the designer. “Saving is cheating” attitude is a sign of a weak design. Saving isn’t cheating in Monopoly or baseball. It’s the player’s machine, not ours. It’s not fair to punish her just because it’s her little brother’s turn to play.

12 Games Without Maps Games don’t offer the same visual cues that the real world does. Getting the player lost is a cheap way to lengthen the game. Better:

13 Bad Programming

14 Games That Run Too Fast If an old game runs too fast to play on new machines, it’s sloppy programming. All game events and animations should be based on timers. If you have spare cycles, use them intelligently, on AI!

15 Stupid Monsters Hear player. Lumber mindlessly towards player. Get shot. Die. It’s time for some smarter monsters! Better:

16 Bad Pathfinding Nothing makes an otherwise smart game seem stupid than a unit who can’t find his way past his own comrades! Groups should stick together walking around large obstacles (hills) but split up among small ones (trees).

17 Bad Level Design

18 Difficulty Moving in 3D Spaces
Locations in 3D games should either be clearly accessible (floors) or inaccessible (walls). People can climb very steep slopes if they try, so let them! Give players a little slack about where they can stand and jump from.

19 Boring and Stupid Mazes
Any maze that has to be solved by brute force is a boring and stupid maze. Mazes need to be fun and clever, organized according to a principle that the player can deduce (with effort) and then follow easily. YOU ARE IN A MAZE OF TWISTY LITTLE PASSAGES, ALL ALIKE. – a maze in Adventure

20 A Switch Opens a Door Miles Away
Another time-waster, designed to slow the player down without challenging his mind. In the real world, doorknobs are usually in the door (!). If you want a door to be locked, then lock it, and store the key somewhere reasonable.

21 Many Combinations, No Clues
A puzzle in which the solution is one of a large number of combinations (with no clues about which one) is a trial-and-error time-waster. Infidel ended with one of 24 possible choices and each time you died and had to reload!

22 Extreme Lateral Thinking Required
Use the lampshade with the bulldozer? This is OK as a joke. Maybe. Once. Other than that it’s just a designer playing rather mean tricks on her audience.

23 No Lateral Thinking Allowed
I can kill stone trolls with my axe, but I can’t break down a wooden door? With today’s deformable environments, we should allow more lateral thinking. Better:

24 Obscure Knowledge Required
Unless it is a trivia game, all the information needed to win a game should be contained within it. When localizing, beware cultural differences! Q: WHAT IS THE AIRSPEED VELOCITY OF AN UNLADEN SWALLOW? A: AFRICAN OR EUROPEAN? – a Monty Python joke in Haunt

25 You Have 30 Sec. Before You Die
Puzzles that kill the player with an extremely short time limit are just another sign of designer laziness. If the player will have to reload the whole game, one-third of the possible solutions should lead to safety.

26 Bad Content

27 Not Enough Voiceover Clips
Players get bored and turn the sound off. This was often the case with cartridge games, but there’s no excuse any longer. My rule of thumb: no fewer than 5 audio clips for any given situation, even the rarest.

28 Fantasy-Killing Elements
I just saw my father murdered and now I’m supposed to solve other people’s problems?! Anachronisms, bad writing, inside humor, and irrelevant mini-games all help to destroy a fantasy. Harmony is a key quality of the best computer games.

29 Pointless Surrealism Surrealism is not just weirdness for the fun of it! True surrealism has an underlying point, to cause the viewer to think. Better:

30 Poor Acting (and Writing)
Bad acting destroys suspension of disbelief. It ruins emotional tension. Good writing is cheap, so there’s no excuse. Better:

31 Neat, Tidy Explosions If the game industry has anything to learn from September 11, it is that explosions are not good clean fun. Bombs ruin things: buildings and lives. Let’s tell the truth about them. Any explosion should leave some wreckage.

32 Low-Poly Trees (and other things)
A good-looking sprite is better than a bad 3D model any day of the week. If you can’t do something well, don’t do it at all. Don’t ask me to pretend that some weird blocky green umbrella thing is really a tree.

33 Huge Breasts & Other Juvenilia
Yes, it makes money. But it also gives normal people the impression that games are only for drooling adolescent morons. Juvenile content hurts the entire industry because it discourages non-gamers from starting to play.

34 Twinkie Denial Conditions Redux
Challenges solvable only by trial and error. (Not to be confused with exploration or practice.) Non sequiturs and pointless illogicality. (Not to be confused with necessary simplification.) Designer egotism, vanity, or showing off. Confusion between “hard” and “enjoyable.” Laziness: making the player work so you don’t. Sloppiness and inattention to quality. Deliberate, needless offensiveness.

35 Bad Game Designer, No Twinkie!
Ernest W. Adams a member of the design group

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