Updates Wednesdays

Comic 484 - Triple F Games

Posted on Wednesday, the 13th of October at 12:00 AM, 2021 in 2021

Author Notes:

DanVzare Wed, 13. Oct 12:00 AM, 2021 edit delete
I've played a few games which have had some unintentional features that make the game better, that have then been patched out.

A really good example I think was with Portal Knights. Making money on that game was a slow laborious chore, but it turned out that you could get a lot of money from these sandstone blocks. And you could get a whole bunch of sandstone blocks from temples. All you had to do was buy a bunch of bombs, use a special item to go to a newly generated place with a temple, blow it up, then sell the results. Of course though, they nerfed the cost of those blocks.
Now you might be thinking that they had to fix that, because it undermined the entire currency system and all of the other systems that are meant to earn you money, such as farming and fighting. But here's the thing, even with the nerf (they lowered the cost of the blocks from 12 to 2 I think), it's still waaaaaaay faster and more fun to just blow up temples. Rather than fix the exploit, what they should've done is fix the problem that was causing people to use the exploit in the first place! Make farming fun and more involved! Give more money for fighting monsters!
But no... instead they took the salty road. "Wah, you aren't playing our game the way we wanted, wah!"

Another example of an unintended feature that made the game better that was patched out, was in Subnautica Below Zero. In the early versions of the game, you could get a power-up that allowed you to boost at high speed at the cost of oxygen. The thing is, on the surface of the water, you have infinite oxygen, meaning you have infinite boost. And boosting was quicker than any vehicle. So what did they do? They made it so you can't boost near the surface of the water. The thing is, having the infinite boost on the surface of the water made the game better! It gave you a choice between getting to your destination really fast, or bringing your sea truck with you. And let's face it, using the oxygen in the air to boost you through the water, doesn't sound silly or unrealistic, if anything it makes perfect sense considering the power-up. Rather than embrace this unintended feature, they instead removed it by making it extremely inconvenient to pull off. Why would they do that? You could only do it on the surface anyway! It's called emergent gameplay! Why would you patch that out!?!

Ok, to cheer myself up and to give an example of how to make a game the right way, I'm going to give you two examples of unintended features that were embraced and made into an intended features. The first is in Super Mario 3D World. The double cherry in that game started off as a bug where picking up a power-up duplicated the character. They were amazed that the game still ran with two instances of the same character, liked the idea of it, and implemented it as an intended feature.
The second example is on Mario Maker, where the strange mushroom was inspired by a bug that caused Mario to stretch to double his small height when eating a mushroom, instead of becoming big Mario like he should. They liked the idea of it, and implemented a weirdly stretched Mario as a feature. Sure it isn't the same as the original bug, but they still embraced an unintended feature and implemented it as an intended feature.

Now if the game is a multiplayer focused game, you should definitely fix any exploits players find, this is especially true of competitive multiplayer focused games. But if it's a singleplayer focused game, well... let players have their exploits! If players would prefer to play your game using exploits than play it properly, then maybe you should look into fixing your gameplay loop before you fix the exploits. Especially when these exploits are the result of emergent gameplay rather than bugs in the code!
Remember when people used to strive to make games where new gameplay could emerge from having a complex set of features? Now they patch it out whenever they're made aware of the possibilities their complex system can create!