01 June 2012

Design patterns in games

A workshop held at FDG 2012 with a dozen people.

Game patterns needed for: sharing a common vocabulary, recording design decisions, exploring the design space (survey), and procedurally generating content.


  • How to navigate and teach through 100s of patterns? How to be generic yet not too vague?
  • Which theories can be used to back up the effectiveness of patterns? Methods to collect patterns?
  • Descriptive vs prescriptive? Should a pattern hold values/ethics?

Patterns are solutions to problems, or gameplay experience?

Patterns differ across levels of expertise, and across game genres.

Different granularity levels: for example in FPS, weapon patterns (e.g. short range + slow fire rate + high damage) are at a lower level than gameplay/behavior patterns (e.g. push-pull or search-and-destroy). Need to combine low-level patterns (e.g. weapon or NPC or level-design patterns) to create higher-level gameplay/behavior patterns (e.g. push-and-pull or secure play).

Patterns are generally from the designer's perspective; what about from the player's perspective? Should a pattern take into account player's feelings and emotions (e.g. feel badass when holding a shotgun or sneaky with a sniper)?

Dimensions of design: is the design space (e.g. weapon range, load, fire speed, damage ...) completely explored?

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