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Genesis of a game design pattern

Genesis of a Game Design Pattern


Game Design Patterns: a definition
“Game design patterns are general
descriptions of interaction which occur in
games. The patterns are semi-formalized
interrelated tools that can be applied in
situations to generate context-dependent
solutions. Game design patterns are usually
identified from existing games where the
interaction pattern may or may not have been
intentionally been promoted by the game
designers.”
(Björk, 2003-05-13)


A word about our pattern collection
• We have identified more that 200 patterns
• Will not be used today






(except as examples)
Because only ~50% are described
None are verified enough
Threshold to start using (you will use it at later
workshops)


Genesis of a Pattern







Recognize
Analyze
Describe
Test
Evaluate (go back to Analyze)
Outcome:
– Clear definition of the pattern


Recognize
• Patterns easy to recognize, difficult to define
• Play games, think games, dream games, design
games, read about games
• Other areas for inspiration: software engineering,
computer science, HCI, architecture, drama, myths
and legends, psychology, philosophy of mind,
choreography, music, visual arts, sociology,
human relationships, economics, politics etc. etc.


Recognize


• “Hey, there is a pattern!”
• Initial name
• Short (one or two sentences) description of
the particular example
• Sketchy example in games
• Normally patterns come in groups, networks
• Candidate collection
• More is better!


Recognize (example)
• Java thread programming -> producer-consumer model
– One thread is producing objects that the consumer thread is
gobbling up

• “Hey, this could be a game design pattern also!”
(Civilization)
• Initial name “producer-consumer”
• “One element is producing resources which another
element consumes”
• Strategy games


Recognize (example)
• Other brief ideas:
– Accumulator to store produced objects
– Limit to accumulator
– Consumer as factory -> transforms objects to
other objects
– Producer->consumer chains
– Producer->consumer networks


Recognize (where to look in games)





Tokens
Information structure
Control structure
Engagements &
Closures
• Goals
• Interaction &
Experience
• Rules

Game

Tokens

Engagements

Players/
Agents

Attributes

Info
Structure

Control
Structure


Analyze
• Analyze the group together but start with the
main candidate
• The pattern in existing games:
– Think about different genres (RTS, FPS,
MMORPG, strategy, arcade games etc.)
– Think about different kinds of games (board and
card games, children games, table-top and live
action RPGs

• Try to imagine the games without the pattern


Analyze
• List games that do not have the pattern:
– Try to find games in same genres as in the
previous list

• Compare the games from each list
– What is the difference in game play?

• How the other ideas are related to the
pattern? Are they part of it or separate?
• Relations to other patterns


Analyze (example)
• Sid Meier’s Civilization:
– Settlements produce unit
– Units consumed in combat or through new settlements

• Quake III
– Power-ups appear at spawn points
– They are consumed by players picking them up
– Players stats (health, ammo, etc.) are consumed through
activity (are players accumulators or factories?)
– Player avatars appear in spawn points and are
consumed in combat

• Tetris
– Random blocks are produced when the current block is
stopped
– Blocks are “consumed” when they stop


Analyze (example)
• Civilization without the producer-consumer
pattern?
– Would destroy the whole game

• Quake III without the pattern?
– No power-ups
– No avatar respawns
– Boring game?

• Tetris
– Impossible to imagine!


Analyze (example)
• Games without the pattern:
– Board and strategy games (Chess) with fixed
resources, no producer part during the game
– Some racing and simulation games (without
power-ups)
– Puzzles (ah, but they are not games…)
– What about Poker?


Analyze (example)
• Comparison:
• Squad Leader with and without player
controlled reinforcements
– Reinforcements increase complexity and feeling
of control (another level of player actions)
– Regulates the game flow (timed reinforcements)

• More comparisons between different games
necessary


Analyze (example)
• The other ideas:
– Accumulator turns out to be a pattern of it’s
own. Limit is included in accumulator
– Consumer as factory -> the Factory pattern
– Chains and networks are features of the pattern
and should be mentioned in the definition


Describe
• Draft out the first kernel definition (a couple of
sentences)
• Draw a diagram: optional
• Describe how the pattern is used in the example
games
• Relationships to existing patterns:
– What other patterns are frequent in the example
games?
– How the other patterns affect the pattern?
– Sub/superior patterns


Describe
• What are the consequences of using the pattern?
• Are the other ideas part of this pattern?
– Or are they separate patterns?

• Modify and elaborate the description according to
the template






Name
Description
Consequences
Using the pattern
Relations to other patterns


Describe (example)
• Producer-Consumer
• “One game element is producing resources,
which another element consumes.”


Describe (diagram)
Producer-Consumer

P

C


Describe (example)
• Game examples (Civ, Quake III, Tetris etc.)
• Use of the pattern:
– Production regulation (time, turn, action, event
etc.), consumer regulation (automatic, player
controlled, mechanics of consumption)


Describe (example)
• Consequences:
– Concrete, but very common pattern
– Can regulate the flow of the game
– Can increase the complexity of the game,
especially if the players can control the
producer-consumer elements
– Can increase the feeling of player control


Describe (example)
• Related patterns:
– Subpatterns: Factory, Accumulator,
Symmetric/asymmetric distribution and abilities
– Superior: Limited Resources, Trade,
Investments, Resource Management and
Control…


Describe (diagram)
Producer-Consumer with Accumulator

P

A

C


Describe (diagram)
Producer-Consumer chain with Factory

P

C

F

P

C


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