Big Opinionated List of Game Design Mistakes

Having done indie gamedev for 6-7 years now, the most educational design resource I’ve found is Epic and its constant stream of free/subsidized games. They’re certainly not all winners, but you can learn a ton from seeing lots of variations on the same themes.

But the other thing you notice from playing lots of (mostly indie) games is that they make the same mistakes over and over. So I started compiling a list of them! Without further ado, here’s…

Fen’s Big List of Common Game Design Mistakes

  1. Never play loud audio on startup.
  2. Never tutorial a button you’re about to disable.
  3. Never have characters interrupt each other, unless the audio can be timed convincingly.
  4. Don’t tell me a currency is valuable - show me what I can buy with it.
  5. Never ship a game with audio and no volume control.
  6. Never disable player inputs without a compelling reason.
  7. Never gate the Settings menu behind gameplay.
  8. Never ship any first-person view without correctly supporting inverted Y-axis.
  9. Never tutorial a currency without player agency.
  10. Don’t hit new MMO players with five years of cruft.
  11. Never ship cutscenes that can’t be paused.

That’s what I’ve got so far. (Last updated 2022/2/16)

Note: I’m (mostly) not posting specific examples of games that commit each error, but I do enjoy hearing about them. Feel free to tweet at me when you see these errors in the wild.