This isn’t how you design a game, part 54321

Everyone makes mistakes, including game developers. But this post isn’t about a random unbalanced class or (even a game breaking) bug. They’ll fix it.

I’m talking about games that are built on a completely hopeless idea, like Zeal.

Zeal is a 3rd person Action RPG where you don’t need to level up and gear up your characters, you just pick a class, make a build and jump right into the action!
— Up to 16 playable classes
— Arena mode of 1v1, 2v2 and 3v3 with ladder system
— Battlegrounds, big scale fights that ranges between 5v5 to 20v20 depending on map with interactive objectives such as Capture The Flag or Defend The Base.
— Dungeons: An action-packed PvE mode with different difficulty levels.
— Conquest Mode: A massive map with 35 teams of 2 players fighting for dominance until a last team is standing.
— Story Campaign which can be completed alone or with up to 2 friends.

None of these is bad, per se. But they are industry standards. Every MMO has classes, arenas, battlegrounds, dungeons and scenarios. No gears and levels are standard in MOBAs and FPS-es, and while they are a weird choice for an MMO, level and gear scaling WoW is practically the same thing with some cosmetic gear and levels.

Ergo, we have a game that offers absolutely nothing new. On the bad side it offers all the new-game problems from bad graphics to unbalanced classes. But even all of it are ironed out, the perfect version of this game would still be worse than WoW.

Please note that I didn’t mean “in my opinion”. In my opinion the Black Desert gear upgrade mechanic is horrible. But it’s fundamentally different from WoW’s and I understand that some people like it better. But with Zeal nothing different. It’s like a rusty sword and a shining one. They are both swords, but one of them is shiny.

Let’s say I’m not surprised that the Kickstarter is failing and has 57 average players. Were these people not thinking? Is there no formal training for game developers?

If we excuse them as dumb enthusiasts in a garage, what’s the excuse for ArenaNet who thought that and WvW becomes a Major Thing, including an esports franchise. What? How could anyone with a brain think that Server vs Server can become anything but server hopping. Players always switch to the winning or more rewarding faction instead of fighting it out. Always! Not me saying it, but every single experiment. Remember Tol Barad win-trading? Those were the days, but they only lasted for a week and Blizzard never expected TB more than a side-activity.

And people are still crying over developers losing their jobs? These people don’t know the very basics of their profession. Crying over their misfortune is like crying over the engineer who – after years of dreaming and hard work – fails to create the Perpetuum mobile.

Author: Gevlon

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9 thoughts on “This isn’t how you design a game, part 54321”

  1. You forget that some people love simplicity, back-to-basic kind of thing. My guess is that the dev are a bunch of lazy asshat who think he can lure those kind of people, and earn money from them with minimal effort. If they can pull it off, it will be a good business for them.


  2. Gevlon, this is off topic and I do apologise, but I need to ask your advice about something. I recall you posted about how you managed the hungarian currency being devalued. As it seems likelier then ever there will be a no deal Brexit I believe the pound will drop massively in value and I’d like to safe guard my savings. My polish friends have the advantage of polish bank accounts and have been squirrelling money away, but my options seem to consist of a) trying to buy gold and b) converting £ to euros at the local travel agents for a hefty fee and then sticking the notes under my mattress. I think with the later option I am gonna be stung for a hefty commission both ways in the transaction. Perhaps any readers you have could offer advice on this too? Either way Im confused and concerned and I dont know what to do. So there it is. I dont want to be a moron though and just wait for my savings to turn to nothing.


  3. I think you (Gevlon) are right, as long as those games don’t have anything that makes them truely unique (like for example Rocket League, also no character progression, pure pvp, ladders, 2v2, 3v3… but soccer with rocket cars!), such games will most likely fail.
    But especially with Kickstarters… can’t hurt to ask people if they want to spend some money. In that way game designers are like artists, drawing (or creating) things that have been drawn a thousand times already, but they hope their own style makes it unique enough to be worth something. And who knows how far such a simple concept is away from being the next PUBG / MOBA. PUBG was also only an inferior Battlefield with a typical Quake/UT death match logic, bad physics, bad graphic, bad performance, big problems with cheaters and bots… but sometimes it needs the courage to try your own spin on things and see if they take off, I guess.


  4. There’s almost no formal education in game design. It’s trial and error mostly. You make bad game, then you make better game until you make something good. Usually your goal is to make those mistakes as cheap as possible during prototyping. There’s some understanding of basic things like game loops and “game feel”. Trouble with Zeal as far as I can see is that game lack any form of high-level loops and that really basic mistake. But it can be fixed pretty easily too. They just need to add some form of progression. Fixing core loop (things that player do every 5-10 seconds) when you already have a lot of things built on top of it is hard or impossible. Not sure that it can help so generic game though.


  5. There is a time and a place for a game that offers nothing unique to succeed and this time and place is when the non-unique thing the game is offering is in itself in short supply relative to demand.
    MMORPGs are definitely not in short supply right now.


  6. @Nightgerbil: no one has a crystal ball and no one has a good advice. Use your own brain. Or just get USD, that’s extremely unlikely to fail big.


  7. @nightgerbil: What you want is called “hedging”, specifically “currency hedging” in your case.

    Basically, split the amount you want to hedge into half. Convert one half into USD, and keep the other half as GBP. Let’s say that GBP falls against USD by 20%. Your GBP holdings are now worth 20% less, but your USD holdings are worth 20% more, so it cancels out. Similarly, if GBP instead increases, your GBP holdings are worth more, and USD worth less, again no net change.


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