There are plenty of things we see in games over and over again -- but we don't have words for most of them. Thanks to Vlambeer's Rami Ismail, we may be on our way to building a new lexicon.
That's probably an understatement, but the well-known indie today started a Twitter thread where he coined the term "Bloody Baron Effect" -- named for the quest in Witcher III -- with the definition "a sharp pacing drop after dense content with strong potential to disengage players" and invited his followers to come up with more terms.
The results are amusing, of course, but they're also insightful -- some encapsulate play mechanics and situations that developers frequently use while others shed light on trends of game design that (in many cases) should maybe be rethought. We've selected a number of tweets and present them below.
These tweets are also more than a little reminiscent of Cliff Bleszinksi's game developer flashcards -- a series of design tropes that the Gears of War man identified over his years at Epic Games. We even did a community-sourced sequel, so if you enjoy this post, make sure to read both of those.
@tha_rami Butt-Stab: Using in game rewards to tick a player into getting ambushed. IE - a vending machine in a security camera's FOV.— William Armstrong (@WillWArmstrong) January 4, 2016
@tha_rami Star Rod-syndrome: When you have to fight a boss that is impossible to beat and you have to lose.— Marie (@Mariethesquid) January 4, 2016
@tha_rami "pariah mechanic" something that you instinctively know to avoid without prompting like metroids without ice or your disc gun— TETRASWAGMATON (@velardamakar) January 4, 2016
@tha_rami "Biker Levels"- unnecessary additional content that muddies and complicates a game's otherwise tight concept.— Klee-ver Krum-ish (@CleverCrumbish) January 4, 2016
@tha_rami The Meat Circus Effect: a late game level that is so frustrating it nearly makes you hate an otherwise great game— BantamSam (@BantamSam13) January 4, 2016
@tha_rami Sandbox Fatigue: that point in your first sandbox survival game where you built a house and you dont know what to do next.— Bash (@BashKetchum) January 4, 2016
@tha_rami "The Durante" when players almost unanimously agree that a user-created mod is essential for the "full/right" experience of a game— Megal O'Face (@MegaLobsterFace) January 4, 2016
@tha_rami Map Assassin: Showing me so many things to do that it kills my desire to do any of them— Scott Jenkins (@PositronPlays) January 4, 2016
@tha_rami "Telegaming": The activity of watching Lets Plays & Twitch gaming streams instead of playing the games yourself.— Daan Broekhof (@McDaan) January 4, 2016
@tha_rami 'Spork in the Road' When a branching story really doesn't change that much with choices— Tim (@ineedfocus) January 5, 2016
@tha_rami Not mine,but I love the term "Abilitease":When you start a game with all your abilities that get taken away from you in the intro— It'sjustme (@Fruchtikus) January 5, 2016
@tha_rami Waist-high Hunch: When you come across environment props which are conveniently all waist high cover, and know what's coming next.— Ben Wilson (@zerofiftyone_) January 5, 2016
@tha_rami Blando Calrissian: An original player character in an existing franchise designed to have no personality and thus blend in— Henry Ives (@HenryThomasIves) January 5, 2016
@tha_rami "Lost on the Sword Coast" - when RPGs like Baldur's Gate offer so many sidequests you never get round to progressing the main one.— Ciaran Conliffe (@shinyemptyhead) January 4, 2016
@tha_rami a "Hinterlands" is the slow starting area in a huge game that players can get mired in when better stuff is there if they advance— Malcolm Pierce (@RedbirdMenace) January 4, 2016
@tha_rami LA Noire Effect - when a conversation option completely misrepresents the subsequent dialog.— _bass (@SamuelBass) January 5, 2016
@tha_rami Caging: When you know ahead of time your choice won't matter— Henry Ives (@HenryThomasIves) January 5, 2016
@tha_rami shitsphering: taking something that's fundamentally not fun, and sanding of all the rough edges till it looks like it SHOULD be— New Year, New Fish (@gritfish) January 4, 2016
@tha_rami “bullscene” when a character dies/gets hurt in a cutscene from something they were able to withstand during gameplay for drama++— Tommy Tomalinsky (@tomalinsky) January 4, 2016
@tha_rami red-shell hell: when taking damage just once causes a disproportionate chain reaction of setbacks— Crab Artist (@itsSupercar) January 4, 2016
@tha_rami The stalker Threshold- the point at which a slow, tedious start to a game gives way, and the game becomes fun.— Andrew of the year (@HereticSoul) January 4, 2016
@tha_rami "this spot" - a harsh difficulty spike in a game that makes it almost impossible to progress further— Eric Merz (@ErnstMOKKA) January 4, 2016
@tha_rami My friends use "Budokai-ing": When you beat a boss, only for the cut scene following the fight to show you losing to the boss— Harry Mackin (@Shiitakeharry) January 4, 2016
@tha_rami Chloe Dilemma: final choice in a multiple-choice game where every available option makes all your previous decisions meaningless.— Alex Z Van Chestein (@havochq) January 5, 2016
@tha_rami I didn’t coin it but always loved “goreshadowing” where before a big fight or boss you receive a bunch of power ups and ammo— Drew Fitzpatrick (@DrewFitz) January 4, 2016
@tha_rami I've used "Xenogears-ing" to refer to "a sudden, unexpected, and deeply confusing 11th hour tailspin of plot elements" for a while— Lady Boss Returns (@laevantine) January 4, 2016
@tha_rami "Flappy Bird Effect" the resulting swarm of analysis articles trying to explain an unexpected success after an unexpected success— Tyler Glaiel (⌐■_■) (@TylerGlaiel) January 4, 2016
@tha_rami I'll say "mandatory sponge" for all games, mostly shooters, that feel some servitude to old tradition, throwing in unneeded bosses— Joakim Sandberg (@konjak) January 4, 2016