Game Design Patterns and other Analytical Tools. firstname.lastname@example.org. But first…. Note change in deadline for assignment 2: now 2011-02-08 23:59 Game Jam starts today, 17:00 in InDesign Absolutely last change to register 12:30 today
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Notions and concepts needed – a language for the design of gameplay
From using frameworks or design languages?
(Ultima Underworld I-II, System Shock, Thief I-III, Deus Ex I-II, Lara Croft Tomb Raider: Legend, FreQuency)
Making an implementable plan of one's own creation in response to the current situation in the game world and one's understanding of the game play options.
A clear reaction from the game world to the action of the player.
(Ultima Underworld II, System Shock, Flight Unlimited, Terra Nova, Thief I-II, Deus Ex, NFL 2K2, NBA 2K2, Oasis, Field Commander)
(Maniac Mansion, Secret Weapons of the Luftwaffe, The Secret of Monkey Island, Loom, Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade: The Graphic Adventure, Monkey Island 2: LeChuck's Revenge, Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis, Star Wars: Empire at War, ParaWorld)
Provide Clear Short-Term Goals
Always make it clear to the player what their short-term objectives are. This can be done explicitly by telling them directly, or implicitly by leading them towards those goals through environmental cues. This avoids the frustration of uncertainty and gives players confidence that they are making forward progress.
This is a basic rule of game design, and applies to all games directly.
It trumps the rule “Emphasize Exploration and Discovery” because the player should not have to discover their short-term goals. If discovery is warranted, it should be to discover the tools or information needed to achieve the clear, short-term goals, not to discover the goals themselves. It also trumps “Provide an Enticing Long-Term Goal”, as it is more important to have the player know what to do next than to simply know that they have to Kill the Evil Wizard/Save the World/Rescue the Princess.
It is trumped by the rule “Make the First Player Action in a Game Painfully Obvious”. However, often that first obvious action in a game – read the paper, click on the wise old man, shoot the monster – should trigger an explanation of the first short-term goal beyond that.
When Hal Barwood and I designed Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis we gave the player explicit goals throughout the game by having the supporting characters guide the objectives. The initial theft of an artifact by a Nazi agent led the player (in the role of Indiana Jones) to Madam Sophia, who in turn presented Indy with his next objective, and so on. One short-term goal, like “convince this character to give you an artifact”, often triggered conversation with the character that led to the next goal, like “find the lost dialog of Plato”.
Shigeru Miyamoto uses clear short-term goals throughout all of his games. In Mario 64 he uses explicit goals like characters or signs that tell you how to move, jump or swim, adjacent to appropriate obstacles. Other goals are implicit ones, as when you’re left to explore the landscape at the beginning of the game with a large castle dominating the landscape and a drawbridge leading right to it. He also uses strings of floating coins to pick up as implicit goals that help lead the player into attempting jumps and using catapults or cannons pointing toward the coins.
More recently, Halo from Bungie does an admirable job of using the landscape itself and suggestions from both an AI companion and fellow Marines to channel you towards the next short-term goal.
Does it support analyzing games?
Mateas M., Zagal, J. &
Locus of Manipulation
A games locus of manipulation is where the players ability to control and influence the game is located. In many games, the players manipulative powers are tied to either an on-screen or implied avatar, such as the on screen representation of Mario in Super Mario Sunshine (Koizumi and Usui, 2002) or an implied player avatar like in Doom (Carmack, 1993). In other games it is tied to a number of entities, whether anthropomorphic, as in Warcraft III (Pardo, 2002) or more object like, such as the tetrads in Tetris (Pajitnov, 1986). In all of these cases, at any given moment of play, the player exerts control over some game entity or entities, but not over others.
Secondarily, the locus of manipulation provided within a game can work with other aspects of the games presentation and rules to create a sense of identification between the player and the role he plays within a game, or Player Position (Costikyan, 1994). This is especially true in games where the player controls an avatar or a group of anthropomorphic entities. In Super Mario Sunshine (Koizumi and Usui, 2002), the game centers the players control and view of the world on Mario so as to lead the player to identify with Mario. In Madden NFL 2004 (Tiburon, 2003), the player is led to identify with the team he is playing, either as a team, favorite players, or in the capacity of coach. The game provides presentational and subgame modes to reinforce each position.
* Input Method
* Multiple Entity Manipulation
* Single Entity Manipulation
Carmack, J. (1993). Doom. id Software, dos edition.
Costikyan, G. (1994). I have no words and I must design. Interactive Fantasy, (2).
Koizumi, Y. and Usui, K. (2002). Super Mario Sunshine. Nintendo, gamecube edition.
Pajitnov, A. (1986). Tetris. Dos edition.
Pardo, R. (2002). Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos. Blizzard Entertainment, windows edition.
Tiburon, developer (2003). Madden NFL 2004. Electronic Arts, xbox edition.
How does it support analyzing or designing games?
Staffan Björk & Jussi Holopainen
(Not any games you would know about)
The freedom to choose between several different actions which all seem meaningful.
It has been can argue that for a game to be a game at all, the players have to be able to make what they feel are interesting choices. For example the quote attributed to Sid Meier's "a good game is a series of interesting choices" argues this, as does the definitions of game from Costikyan where player make decisions and Abt where players are independent decision-makers. This means that the choices must have seemingly different effects and have effects that are meaningful. If these conditions are met, players can feel that they have the Freedom of Choice within the game system and they can affect the outcome of the game.
However, what constitutes interesting choices can vary between people. It can seem that there are no choices in some goal-oriented activity requiring skills, e.g. solving puzzles or participating in some sports, but this is a matter of perspective. Choosing strategies for how to lay a puzzle can be seen as an interesting choice if one is aware of the different strategies. The same applies to many sports, including sprint races and weight-lifting, besides the different strategies one can use while training. Similarly some games, e.g. Tic-Tac-Toe, provides several choices of where to place one's tokens which may seem meaningful for a novice player but becomes less so for somebody that has explored the whole possibility space of the game. Thus, Freedom of Choice of a game always needs to be considered in relation to the intended players.
No Thanks only provides two possible actions to a player when it is his or her turn but still maintains a Freedom of Choice since the choice between the actions are in nearly all cases important.
The board game Puerto Rico and the card game Race for the Galaxy not only provide each player the choice of what action to perform during a turn of the game; the other players also get to perform each others' actions and thereby get more opportunities to make decisions.
Open-ended games like the Sims series provide players with a multitude of game elements to interact with and many types of actions for each game element. In addition, they give players the freedom to define their own goals within the game.
Role-playing games such as Dungeons & Dragons and GURPS allow players a huge variety of choices since all actions are judge by a game master that on the fly can allow or disallow actions depending on how well they fit the diegesis and the character's abilities and personality.
Using the pattern
Freedom of Choice can be achieved within three different areas in relation to games. First, players may have choices to do before gameplay starts on how they wish to play a game. Second, they may have choices on which actions to perform as part of the gameplay to affect the outcome of the game. Third, they may have choices to engage in other types of activities while the gameplay progresses. An important aspect of designing for Freedom of Choice in gameplay is to be aware that the allowing players several different ways of affect game states in not the most critical issue; it is that they perceive that they have it. This makes the options of Exaggerated Perception of Influence and Determinable Chance to Succeed important considerations for the pattern to appear. It is also worth considering that even if a game may wish to have Freedom of Choice this can be centered on specific moments in the game rather than be spread throughout the gameplay.
Besides the option to play or not, which is explored in September 12th, and when to play, which 4 Minutes and 33 Seconds of Uniqueness explores, the highest level of abstraction where players can have a Freedom of Choice is regarding which rules a specific game instance should have. It is possible to consider all games of having flexible rules when considering gaming rules, but games can be specifically designed to support choices of rules before gameplay begins. This can be done by Player Decided Rule Setup or Game Masters to provide a wide possibility space of which rule set to use while Optional Rules can offers boolean choices regarding specific rules. Games with Game Masters or other Self-Facilitated Games provide the additional opportunity of being able to change rules during games, but this can also be found in a few games that include rules for how to change or include more rules during gameplay, e.g. Nomic and common version of Quarters. Although only modifying value in the game state or rule set instead of changing the rules, Difficulty Settings can be considered another way of providing choices of how the gameplay will develop before a game starts.
Using the pattern, cont.
Moving away from choices of rules, games that support Strategic Planning gives players a Freedom of Choice in the possibility to spend time considering interesting choices and strategies before gameplay. This is found in classical board games such as Chess and Go, where studying opening sequences and maneuvers such as forking (in Chess) and ladders (in Go) is relevant for future gameplay. In these cases it is voluntary if one wants to make choices related to the game (e.g. choosing to test a certain first series of moves if possible) before the gameplay begins, but in other games one must make decisions before the game can begin. Roleplaying systems such as GURPS and Dungeons & Dragons have Initial Personalization in that they require players to engage in Character Creation in the set-up phase of game sessions and these typically require many choices related to Attributes, Skills, and Tools of their Characters (these choices can be avoided by using pre-generated Characters or using Randomness, but doing so is a choice in itself). Games with No Direct Player Influence, e.g. Crobots and Progress Quest, takes this to the logical extreme, in which players create their robots or characters and then have no direct interaction with the system during the gameplay. In contrast, games that have Heterogeneous Game Element Ownership, e.g. Magic the Gathering and Warhammer 40K, require players to make decisions on what game elements they own to bring to the game since the game cannot be played without those elements. Players may also have choices regarding the diegetic representations they control in the game, see Diegetic Aspects. Zero-Player Games take the idea of making interesting choices before the game session is initiated to its logical extreme; one cannot (or do not need to) make any actions once the game has begun so it is in one sense in conflict with the Freedom of Choice pattern while not in another sense.
Using the pattern, cont.
Related to the issue of choices before gameplay begins is the design on when it is possible to interact with the game. For Single-Player Games this is usually in the players' control modulated by their context when one wants to play (although connectivity can affect certain Trans-Game Information and thereby Global High Score Lists and Massively Single-Player Online Games). Looking more specifically on ongoing gameplay, Interruptibility can be provided through Game Pauses so they have the opportunity to decide when to take breaks while Save-Load Cycles allow players to return to game states even after the underlying platform has been turned of in the intermediate time period. Multiplayer Games require players to find each other and agree to play, but online games can support this through Friend Lists and Game Lobbies. Persistent Game Worlds allow players to join at any time, and in one sense all participants in such games are Late Arriving Players, but all types of actual gameplay may not be available at all times (e.g. doing larger raids in Instances of World of Warcraft require coordination with other players). However, when playing with others the options for when not to interact with the game (and other players) becomes more delicate since it may be disrupt Team Balance or may be perceived as Analysis Paralysis. Tick-Based Games address this by giving players a certain span of time during which they can do their actions, not only letting players know how often they should do something in the game but also when the game will be updated. By setting the time period sufficiently large compared to the time it takes to make the gameplay actions, players can have a bounded freedom of when to play without disrupting gameplay for the other players. Games with Drop-In/Drop-Out instead make it possible for players to close their game sessions while leaving other players' gameplay unaffected, typically through use of Dynamic Difficulty Adjustment or AI Players.
Using the pattern, cont.
Looking only at how players can have Freedom of Choice regarding gameplay with fixed rules, this can be achieved in several ways: affecting the actions possible for the players, letting players affect the results in the game, and letting players choose goals. An obvious way to increase the Freedom of Choice in a game is to expand the range of possible actions players' can perform. This can be done from the beginning of the game by choosing from the wide range of possible actions in a game (e.g. Aim & Shoot, Betting, Bidding, Collecting, Combat, Construction, Maneuvering, Movement, Negotiation, and Trading) but having the possibility to not doing anything, doing No-Ops, is also a choice. Although motivated by Limited Resources, Resource Management gives players opportunities of how to use Resources, including No-Ops, by saving them in Containers and creating other types of Resources through Converters. Producers can also be a source of Freedom of Choice - what Units, Tools, or Resources to produce, and when to do so. The type of Investments that give players the greatest Freedom of Choice are following Arithmetic Progression, since they does not give any Penalties or disadvantages between making one large Investment or several smaller ones. Having Units is in one sense a trivial way to provide more Freedom of Choice, this since a player can make more choices than if he or she only controls one unit, i.e. an Avatar.
For the reason of wishing to have Smooth Learning Curves, the number of options is often increased gradually in Single-Player Games through Improved Abilities and New Abilities and is often represented as Rewards or Character Development. In contrast, Multiplayer Games, including multiplayer versions of Single-Player Games, typically provide all actions available at once to maintain Player Balance. The number of actions available may however not be meaningful, and therefore not provide a interesting Freedom of Choice if there are not different Risk/Rewards associated to them. The game No Thanks shows this in having important Freedom of Choice situations where the only options consists of performing one action or taking a No-Ops. The use of Actions Have Diegetically Social Consequences can be used to add a social dimension to actions and thereby let players have a Freedom of Choice of how they should be perceived based upon which actions there are willing to perform.
Using the pattern, cont.
Freedom of Choice can also be expanded by offering several variations of the same action to players. A generic way of doing this is through Extended Actions, giving players control over how long time they wish to continue doing the action, while more specific examples include having a variety of weapons (Tools) or spells to use when performing Aim & Shoot, being able to do Maneuvering at different speeds, and choosing where Spawning occurs. Related to this issue is the option of providing elements in Game Worlds to increase tactical options. If players are able to detect Enemies first, they have the choice of avoiding them (which can also be seen as providing the Optional Goal of Stealth) or whom to attack first. Likewise, Alarms and Traps may not only be hazards to the players‘Avatars or Units but may also be used again Enemies directly or as distractions.
Actions in games lead to different types of events, and letting players choose what events these are is another form of Freedom of Choice. Player Decided Results and Player-Decided Distribution of Rewards & Penalties are generic ways of doing this while choosing between several different results of Randomness can be used in some situations. Rerolls and Game Time Manipulation are specific game mechanic ways of providing options of Reversibility to avoid a unwanted result, found for example in Bloodbowl and Braid respectively, while Save-Load Cycles do this generally.
Ways of letting players have increased Freedom of Choice of what to do is to let them choose goals. Games can force players to make choices regarding how to try achieving some types of goals while others can be voluntary to strive towards. Games requiring Tactical Planning makes it necessary for players to consider the different actions available and this is also present is games which require Game World Navigation, which both are benefited from Perfect Information. Allowing some more Freedom of Choice, game designers can control the goals available in the game through Selectable Sets of Goals which allows players to choose goals but only from a pre-determined collection; this allows for a form of Player Defined Goals but more open versions of this requires Game Mastersor Self-Facilitated Games. Optional Goals in contrast give players' the Freedom of Choice to pursue them or not. Specific examples of this include trying to gain Alliances in Multiplayer Games, Achievements, and Player-Planned Character Development which is a natural consequence of allowing Freedom of Choice in Character Development. Any game which gives Creative Control to players, e.g. through Player Created Game Elements, can likewise be seen as giving them Freedom of Choice in choosing Optional Goals.
Using the pattern, cont.
Freedom of Choice is not only an effect of how many choices are available at any given moment, but also on how important the decision between those choices is for the future gameplay. If a choice is to make an action which can easily be undone immediately by the player or negated by another player, that choice is likely to not affect the gameplay significantly in the long term and is therefore not really a choice. Making actions cause Irreversible Events is one way to do this, and one example of how this can done is through the ko and superko rule of Go, which make immediate or any repetition of past game state impossible, and thereby guarantee that each action has meaning. How actions affect future gameplay of course dependent on context, for example in games with Emergent Gameplay an action that is typically not significant can become very much so in special conditions. Similarly, games where players have explicit choices of how to explore Predetermined Story Structures can be very important since they do not know how the story will unfold but have desires how it should unfold and have assumptions on what effects the choices will have. However, unless there is Randomness involved in the process, after a certain branch in the story has been explored players know exactly what will happen and the series of choices building that branch becomes meaningless except for wanting to re-experience the narration. The same problem occurs with games which allow Game Mastery since only some actions may be interesting for skilled players, so to maintaining Freedom of Choice in these games may require other types of freedoms, e.g. Achievements or Roleplaying.
Another way to increase the Freedom of Choice is to allow players to perform other actions than the ones directly related to gameplay. Performing Extra-Game Actions such as Negotiation, Roleplaying, Social Interaction, or Storytelling is one way to do this. Activity Blending offers another possibility, that of being able to do non-gameplay related activities at the same time as playing the game, which may be important for pervasive games and live-action roleplaying games.
Since too much Freedom of Choice can lead to Analysis Paralysis, it may also be relevant to limit the number of choices available, which can be done in several ways. Limited Planning Ability lessens players' freedom to make long-term plans in a game while Predefined Goals may force players to have certain goals and tactics in a game. Enforced Agent Behavior and Ultra-Powerful Events may enforce Narration Structures and cause Shrinking Game Worlds. Inaccessible Areas and Movement Limitations can hinder players from moving within whole Game Worlds. What players can do in the game may be defined as a Limited Set of Actions or require commitment to Extended Actions or Collaborative Actions, and these actions may further be restricted by Decreased Abilities and Ability Losses during gameplay.
Using the pattern, cont.
Games can also provide Freedom of Choice after gameplay has finished. One way, which is common in racing games such as the Need for Speed Series and fighting games such as the Tekken Series, is to allow players to view Replays to support Bragging or Strategic Planning for the next game. Games that support Strategic Planning can encourage this further through letting players of a specific game instance have Perfect Information or God Views so they can study it to draw conclusions on how to play next time; something which can be especially valuable if the game had Asymmetric Information during gameplay. This feature is available for free in non-mediated Self-Facilitated Games but can also be supported in mediated games through Free Game Element Manipulation. Another design possibility is to allow players to send Trans-Game Information after some particular gameplay has finished. Two examples of this is allowing the sharing of Player Created Game Elements, e.g. Levels, or Gameplay Recordings. These can often be achieved by dedicated players regardless of the design, e.g. through using third-party level editors or simply videotaping the gameplay, but designers have the option to support these features within the game (as for example the Advance Wars series for Levels as Player Created Game Elements, Battlefield 2 for Gameplay Recording, and the Sim series for both). Internal Conflicts are a way of modifying Freedom of Choice so that it is bounded and ensure that at least some action or goal is selected.
The removal of Freedom of Choice can occur for several different reasons. In Multiplayer Games with Turn Taking it is a necessity and typically accepted on fairness grounds (as long as Analysis Paralysis doesn't occur). Other typical reasons include Cut Scenes to advance in Narration Structures or the need for Excise to update the game state.
From a representational point of view, many games let players do Avatar Personalization and customize their Handles to change how they will appear to themselves and other players. This Freedom of Choice can help Coordination through Diegetically Outstanding Features and may be needed to High Score Lists to be meaningful, but also provides a Possibility of Anonymity. This is typically part of Initial Personalization but can be possible during gameplay also, and can in the latter case either be unrelated to the game state or part of the game mechanics. For example, in the Sims series the appearance of the players‘ sims can be changed during any point of the gameplay while in Fallout 3 changes in hair styles are done by visiting certain establishments and more radical changes in facial characteristics is part of the Rewards for solving a specific mission (in the latter example the Freedom of Choice regarding Avatar Personalization maintains the Diegetic Consistency).
Using the pattern, cont.
Since all actions players can do in a game needs to be accessible through its interface, a game with more Freedom of Choice requires more extensive interface and thereby makes it more difficult to make it easy to use. An exception to this is games with Self-Facilitated Games with Game Masters such as Roleplaying games since the Game Masters can on the fly interpret the actions players wishes to perform.
Besides the problems of having Narration Structures co-existing with Freedom of Choice on a gameplay level, the more Freedom of Choice exists that effects the narration of a game the more resources need to be devoted to that narration.
Freedom of Choice lets players plan their actions and thereby promotes Stimulated Planning, either Tactical Planning during gameplay or Strategic Planning before and after. As one example, Freedom of Choice in conjunction with Character Development leads to additional freedom regarding Player-Planned Character Development. The planning typically requires that the players imagines themselves as playing which provides Immersion, especially Cognitive Immersion but also Emotional Immersion since Freedom of Choicegives players Empowerment. Being able to choose between different actions or goals can support Varied Gameplay if the actions require different skill sets or make it possible to create different strategies. When the Freedom of Choice causes players to have Asymmetric Abilities, it can promote Replayability of the game.
The presence of Freedom of Choice can also have negative connotations for players, in the form of Social Dilemmas and forcing them to make Tradeoffs and Risk/Reward choices. This occurs when all choices have some negative effects associated with them, regardless of their positive effects. Regardless of any negative effect on the game state of a player, Freedom of Choice in Multiplayer Games can cause Analysis Paralysis, and thereby still have effects which are experienced as negative by others players.
Players' Freedom of Choice can affect their Determinable Chance to Succeed with actions both positively and negatively; while having many possible actions and seeing how they can lead to a goal leads to an increased perception of how likely one is to succeed, having many choices without clear views on how they can directly help one pursue a goal can instead be confusing. Similarly, the possibility to make choices can effect Exaggerated Perception of Influence. Having more choices is an easy way to make it at least seem as one has greater possibilities to help shape the outcome of the gameplay, but even gamebooks, which have Predetermined Story Structures and very limited choices, provide a sense of influence the first time a certain story structure is explored since readers can have goals on how the story should unfold.
Asymmetric Goals are the typical effect of allowing players to choose goals in Multiplayer Games.
Analysis Paralysis, Asymmetric Goals, Cognitive Immersion, Determinable Chance to Succeed, Emotional Immersion, Empowerment, Exaggerated Perception of Influence, Immersion, Player-Planned Character Development, Producers, Replayability, Risk/Reward,Social Dilemmas, Strategic Planning, Stimulated Planning, Tactical Planning, Tradeoffs, Units, Varied Gameplay
Avatars, Avatar Personalization, Character Development, Characters, Handles, Extended Actions, Predetermined Story Structures, Randomness, Spawning, Units
Can Be Instantiated By
Achievements, Actions Have Diegetically Social Consequences, Activity Blending, Aim & Shoot, Alarms, Alliances, Betting, Bidding, Character Creation, Collecting, Combat, Construction, Creative Control, Difficulty Settings, Drop-In/Drop-Out, Enemies, Extra-Game Actions, Free Game Element Manipulation, Game Masters, Game Pauses, Game Time Manipulation, Game World Navigation, Gameplay Recording, Heterogeneous Game Element Ownership, Initial Personalization, Interruptibility, Investments, Maneuvering,Movement, Multiplayer Games, Negotiation, No-Ops, Optional Goals, Optional Rules, Persistent Game Worlds, Player-Planned Character Development, Player Created Game Elements, Player Decided Results, Player Decided Rule Setup, Player-Decided Distribution of Rewards & Penalties, Player Defined Goals, Replays, Rerolls, Resource Management, Reversibility, Risk/Reward, Roleplaying, Save-Load Cycles, Selectable Sets of Goals, Self-Facilitated Games, Social Interaction, Storytelling, Strategic Planning, Tactical Planning, Tick-Based Games, Tools, Trading, Trans-Game Information, Traps
Can Be Modulated By
Ability Losses, Collaborative Actions, Decreased Abilities, Determinable Chance to Succeed, Exaggerated Perception of Influence, Extended Actions, God Views, Improved Abilities, Inaccessible Areas, Internal Conflicts, Irreversible Events, Limited Planning Ability,Movement Limitations, New Abilities, Perfect Information, Predefined Goals, Predetermined Story Structures, Ultra-Powerful Events
Possible Closure Effects
Cut Scenes, Excise
Potentially Conflicting With
Enforced Agent Behavior, Game Mastery, Narration Structures, Predetermined Story Structures, Zero-Player Games
An updated version of the pattern Freedom of Choice that was part of the original collection in the book Patterns in Game Design.
↑ Costikyan, G. (2005). I Have No Words & I Must Design: Toward a Critical Vocabulary for Games. Proceedings of Computer Games and Digital Cultures Conference, ed. Frans Mäyrä. Tampere University Press
↑ Serious Games, Viking Press, 1970, p. 6, ISBN 0670634905.
↑ Sjöblom, B. (2008). The Relevance of Rules: Negotiations and Accounts in Co-operative and Co-located Computer Gaming. Proceedings of the [player] conference, IT University of Copenhagen, August 26-29, 2008, pp. 335-378.
↑ Wikipedia entry for gamebooks.
↑ Björk, S. & Holopainen, J. (2004) Patterns in Game Design. Charles River Media. ISBN1-58450-354-8.
Not a quiz on the patterns identified by Björk & Holopainen!