An interesting delve into the concept of anti-fun, though I’m not sure Riot is doing as bad a job as OP would make it out to me. There is no doubt that the constantly shifting balance scale has an impact on the competitive community digging its roots in and defining what are the good team makeup’s / strategies, but I would consider this a different type of balance than traditional competitive games rather than an inferior one.
The constant patches prevent the player base from getting a complete grip on the state of the game before it changes again but it also keeps the roster fresh and at the very least the unpredictability prevents the game from settling into a “X are the best champions for X position and X is the definite way to counter it”. It limits the depth that players can use and abuse game mechanics (such as the Starcraft 2 windows of opportunity case), which is a good and a bad thing. Good because it allows for unforeseen strategies / builds to cause a breakout in competitive play, but bad because there’s only so far players can develop their builds and strategies in the current game environment before it shifts.
As far as anti-fun goes though, I would argue that the idea of “preventing players from playing the game” is pretty close to the mark and gameplay changes have reflected Riot’s motivation to steer the game away from situations in which this arises. The Fiddlesticks example stated in the original post – which is more of a disadvantaged situation rather than a removal of options isn’t an example of this. It’s pretty obvious in a case such as this that the player on the receiving end would have had at least some chance to prevent the death.
Anti-fun isn’t simply a nice concept to make people feel good, completely separate from a harsh reality where players shouldn’t be limited by some “artificial rule?”. A prime example of anti-fun would be Riots recent attempt to prevent snowballing in competitive play. The issue Riot was dealing with was competitive play swinging too hard in favor of the team that wins 1, maybe 2 good fights. The argument – that the team gained so much of a power lead that the losing team had little to no chance to fight back and take control of the match. Now I don’t think that the losing team in this case should not have to fight for their victory, don’t get me wrong. If your team has lost the last two fights and are struggling it should take some real teamwork and solid play to get back in the game, but that’s it you SHOULD be able to get back in the game by outplaying your opponents.
I would argue that it’s anti-fun if scaling is at a point where a lead means almost inevitable defeat. If irrelevant of whether you outplay your opponents their power lead means that they beat you not only is it not fun for the losing team, it’s also not fun for the spectators. I for one know how boring a competitive match can be to watch when one player / team gets a big lead and then slowly picks their opponent down to nothing. Champions like pre-nerf Vayne are a good example of this at a broader player-base level. Vayne scaled so hard and so harshly that it didn’t matter how badly you stomped on her early game, if she got some money and levels she would be able to take almost anyone on. In addition to this once she had that power lead there was very little most players could do to combat this. Yes you can argue that you simply co-ordinate to take her down but this is true for any champion.
Anti-fun is not about removing mechanics that punish unskilled players (like stunlocks etc), but more about removing and/or fixing elements of the game that take the gameplay down a specific path with very little deviation. Forcing passivity because you literally have no other options when faced with a hardcore scaled enemy is not fun. It’s not that players should not be able to become an unstoppable powerhouse if they outplay their opponents consistently, but that there should never be a point where the losing teams options become so limited they get forced on a downward spiral WHILE NOT BEING ABLE TO COMBAT THIS BY THEMSELVES.
Oh and a quick note on the state of Evelynn. The problem with her was not that scrubs couldn't deal with her so she be removed, it was that to deal with her your team was forced into passivity. This was the ONLY WAY to reliably deal with her at a competitive level. If a team could reliably force the enemy team into a passive laning phase simply by picking Evelynn, this was an issue. Aside from banning Evelynn or picking her first there was literaly NOTHING the revieving team could do to prevent this and this is what I believe the actual concept of anti-fun is. Being FORCED down a particular route reguardless of enemy / your own skill. Being forced to change up your build/strategy because you're having a tough lane is not the same as being forced to tower-hug at a competitive level because that's the only reliable way to keep Evelynn at bay early game, there is no player choice involved in the latter.
Edited by Rapid99, 25 April 2012 - 11:26 PM.