Over at Gamasutra, Ernest Adams has an article on various bad game design features. Things like “Setting The Player Up to Fail” and “Not Specifying Victory or Loss Conditions”.

The one that I think we come up against most, especially in RPGs, is the infamous “Friendly AI Characters That Do More Harm Than Good”. You know, the moron you’re supposed to escort to safety, who is determined to fight every enemy along the way. And who has less hitpoints than a mosquito.

That’s not counting how easy it is for them to get stuck. By a door. In a corner. On some minor obstacle they can’t seem to find a way around, even when there’s room. Of all the little jobs one can take in RPGs, this is the one I dread most.

Or maybe it’s those NPCs in your party who shoot or throw spells at the enemy, right through you. Or in front of you. I remember in one of the gold box games, there was such a mage in the group. Threw a fireball right into melee combat and near fried everyone. We were fighting an efreet, too.

One thing that drove me crazy in Diablo 2 was the “helpful mercenary” or summoned critter who could open doors. Whether you wanted them opened or not. They always seemed to do that just as you came across a bunch of enemies. Naturally, there were more behind the door. Thanks so much for all your help!

I’ll bet you have some examples of your own. Check out the article, though, for more reasons not to give designers a twinkie.

Bad Game Designer, No Twinkie! on Gamasutra