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Game Design Patterns Jussi Holopainen, Nokia Research Center Staffan Björk, Interactive Institute.

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Presentation on theme: "Game Design Patterns Jussi Holopainen, Nokia Research Center Staffan Björk, Interactive Institute."— Presentation transcript:

1 Game Design Patterns Jussi Holopainen, Nokia Research Center Staffan Björk, Interactive Institute

2 Our perspective: Interaction Design The design area which focuses on interaction  Computational technology a powerful enabler Describing the interaction in games  Game Design Patterns Describing the facilitators of that interaction  Component framework  Elements of a game

3 What are game design patterns? A way to describe design choices (or emergent features) that reoccur in many games  Offers possible explanations to why these design choices have been made A guide of how to make similar design choices in game projects  What is required to make the pattern emerge  What consequences can the pattern have on game play? We will not talk about the origins of design patterns in architecture nor its use within software engineering, human- computer interaction or interaction design

4 Again, what are game design patterns? Examples Power-Ups Boss Monster Paper-Rock-Scissor Cut Scenes Role Reversal Parallel Lives Orthogonal Unit Differentiation Social Interaction Asteroids®, Civilization®, Missile Command® and Pong® screenshots courtesy of Atari, Inc. All rights reserved. Pac-Man® © Namco Ltd. All rights reserved. Courtesy of Namco Holding Corp.

5 Why is this interesting? Need a vocabulary for talking about games  Describe and compare games while focusing on the interaction provided in games Need to discuss and do game designs in a structured fashion Provide a tool for, especially experimental, game design

6 Yet again, what are game design patterns? Important characteristics  Recurring game mechanics or elements of interaction in games  Semi-formal inter-dependent descriptions  Can be intentional or emergent in game designs No canonical definition  Our definition (others are possible) Not only a collection of patterns  The methods in which they can be used

7 Our pattern template Name Description  Core Definition  General Description  Examples Using the pattern Consequences Relations References Works upon a component framework (game sessions, rules, players, actions, goals, closures, modes of play etc.)

8 Our pattern template, cont. Name  Preferable short, specific, and idiomatic Description  Concise description of the pattern  Description of how it affects the structural framework (if it does)  Examples of games in which the pattern is found

9 Our pattern template, cont. Using the pattern  What components from the framework are required to use the game  Patterns that can be used to instantiate or modulate the pattern Consequences  What effects the game pattern has on game play  What other patterns the pattern supports  Potentially conflicting patterns and why

10 Our pattern template, cont. Relations  Instantiates/Instantiated by  Modulates/Modulated by  Potentially conflicting patterns References  To descriptions of the phenomena not using patterns  Games exemplifying the pattern  Patents

11 Example pattern - Producer-Consumer Name Producer-Consumer Description The production of resource by one game element that is consumed by another game element or game event. Producer-Consumer determines the lifetime of game elements, usually resources, and thus governs the flow of the game play. Games usually have several overlapping and interconnected Producer- Consumers governing the flow of available game elements, especially resources. As resources are used to determine the possible player actions these Producer-Consumer networks also determine the actual flow of the game play. Producer-Consumers can operate recursively, i.e. one Producer-Consumer might determine the life time of another Producer-Consumer. Producer- Consumers are often chained together to form more complex networks of resource flows.

12 Producer-Consumer Example: in Civilization the units are produced in cities and consumed in battles against enemy units and cities. This kind of a Producer- Consumer is also used in almost all real-time strategy games. Example: in Asteroids the rocks are produced at the start of each level and are consumed by the player shooting at them. The same principle applies to many other games where the level progression is based on eliminating, i.e. consuming, other game elements: the pills in Pac-Man, free space in Qix, and the aliens in Space Invaders. Pac-Man® © Namco Ltd. All rights reserved. Courtesy of Namco Holding Corp. Asteroids®, Civilization®, Missile Command® and Pong® screenshots courtesy of Atari, Inc. All rights reserved.

13 Producer-Consumer Using the pattern As the name implies, Producer-Consumer is a compound pattern of Producer and Consumer and as such this pattern governs how both of these are instantiated. The effect of producing and consuming Resources or Units often turns out to be several different pairs of Producer- Consumers as the produced game element can be consumed in many different ways. For example, the Units in real-time strategy game such as the Age of Empires series can be eliminated in direct combat with enemy Units, when bombarded by indirect fire, and finally when their supply points are exhausted. The Producer-Consumer in this case consists of the Producer of the Units with three different Consumers. Producer-Consumers are often, especially in Resource Management games, chained together with Converters and sometimes Containers. These chains can in turn be used to create more complex networks. The Converter is used as the Consumer in the first Producer-Consumer and as the Producer in the second. In other words, the Converter takes the resources produced by the first Producer and converts them to the resources produced by the second Producer. This kind of Producer-Consumer chains sometimes have a Container attached to the Converter to stockpile produced Resources. For example, in real-time strategy game StarCraft something is produced and taken to the converter and then converted to something else and stockpiled somewhere. Investments can be seen as Converters that are used to convert Resources into other forms of Resources, possibly abstract ones.

14 Producer-Consumer Consequences As is the case with the main subpatterns Producer and Consumer of Producer- Consumer, the pattern is quite abstract but the effects on the flow of the game are very concrete. The Producer-Consumers simply govern the whole flow of the game from games with a single Producer-Consumer to games with complex and many layered networks of Producer-Consumers. The feeling of player control is increased if players are able to manipulate either the Producer or the Consumer part or both. However, in more complex Producer- Consumer chains this can lead to situations where players lose Illusions of Influence as the effects of individual actions can become almost impossible to track down and the process no longer has Predictable Consequences. Also, adding new Producer-Consumers that the players have control over gives them opportunities for more Varied Gameplay. Producer-Consumer networks with Converters and Containers are used in Resource Management games to accomplish the Right Level of Complexity. The game usually starts with simple Producer-Consumers and as the game progresses new Producer-Consumers are added to the network to increase the complexity.

15 Producer-Consumer Relations Instantiates: Varied Gameplay, Resource Management Modulates: Resources, Right Level of Complexity, Right Level of Complexity, Investments, Units Instantiated by: Producers, Consumers, Converters Modulated by: Container Potentially Conflicting with: Illusions of Influence, Predictable Consequences

16 Uses of game design patterns Inspiration Creative design tool Design verification Problem-Solving for Game Interaction Design Communication and analysis

17 Inspiration Avoid getting stuck in the same thoughts Avoid missing possible ideas Each pattern is an example of possible interaction in a game  No need to distill ideas from existing games Can be used tarot-like for brainstorming

18 Inspiration: example Brainstorming session  Game for future mobile phones  9 participants Design requirements:  number of required players 3-12  technical details: has to use Instant Messaging etc.  use of certain patterns from Bluffing, Social Interaction, Cooperation, Competition, Hovering Closure, Uncommitted Alliances, Tension, Producer-Consumer etc.

19 Creative Design Tool A collection of patterns as the starting point for a game concept Refinement can be done by examining and choosing additional patterns, gradually building a more concrete game design

20 Creative Design Tool: example Stimulated Social Interaction  Trading -> Producer-Consumer -> Asymmetric Distribution -> Collection  Mutual Goals  Shared Rewards Tension  Bluffing -> Asymmetric Information  Betrayal -> Uncommitted Alliances -> Collaborative Actions -> Delayed Outcome

21 Design Verification Use of the patterns and structural framework to check design against intentions  Spot gaps in design  Spot overemphasizes  Spot redundancies  Spot opportunities

22 Problem-Solving in Interaction Design Understanding why a design has certain wanted and unwanted characteristics  NOT why the game isn’t fun or good! Give examples of what can be added to, or removed from, a design to achieve a certain effect

23 Communication and Analysis Offer a neutral definition instead of relying on that subjective understandings match Patterns can be used as concise definitions that make descriptions shorter and more specific Makes the design process more visible  Explain design decisions  Identify new patterns

24 Communication and Analysis Avoid jargon specific to profession Allows comparisons with other games  How same pattern used in different ways  The selection of patterns used  How the patterns relate to each other

25 Communication and Analysis: example Patterns as design requirements  Common understanding of the features of the game with all stakeholders (publisher, producer, development team, marketing)  Easier to check if the features present in design Design decisions easier to explain  “To achieve Social Interaction I used Trading in such and such way…”

26 Conclusion A possible common language for game design A collection of game design knowledge Tool for Inspiration Structured creative design Problem-solving Communication and Analysis


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