No, not that type of zombie. Here I'm referencing game mechanics that failed when they were first developed, failed in every game they were used in thereafter, and fail in games designed today. But they are still used. It would be baffling if one didn't except people to be stupid, but sadly they are and so I imagine we'll never outgrow bad game design.
So in this post (the first of a series) I want to take a quick look at Design Zombies.
First up, spending your XP in exchange for altering or changing in-game events. One simple example is classic Deadlands where you spend your hard earned chips for re-rolls or instant healing.
It’s a meta-game decision that pulls you out of character, and doesn’t in any way related to anything ‘real’ to the character. Think about it, does James Bond put off raising his driving skill in order to
keep Goldfinger from killing him? I never saw consider that exchange in
the movie or book. Perhaps I missed it.
I think this mechanic results from a game design that fails to
represent the genre by providing too many non-genre results. To correct this the
designer puts in a player controlled ‘override’ ability but doesn't want to give away 'freebies'. Thus he charges him the one currency the player always values (XP) to make sure it's not 'over-used'.
Alternatively, the designer loves to have his players make meta-game decisions (mistaking such things as a type of resource management), put the mechanic in and then designs his game to *fail* at providing genre appropriate results so that the players must purchase them with XP.
Both reasons are terrible. The whole concept should be avoided like the plague it is and the designer should just design a good game that provides good results upfront.
But that would be hard I suppose. And why do hard when people will still buy easy?
Way of the Wicked 8
1 day ago