Abstract Player Construct Development

From gdp3
Jump to: navigation, search

The development of abstract attributes and characteristics associated with a player of a game.

Games often associate some parts of their structures with the players. When these structures are abstract in the sense of not being direct part of game worlds and they can be improved, this allows for Abstract Player Construct Development in the games.


The development of different types of technologies in both the Civilization series and the Europa Universalis series are examples of Abstract Player Construct Development that can provide access to new units, new buildings, improved abilities, and, for the Civilization series, new diplomatic actions.

Units in Civilization series can received experience through combat or through being built where special building exist. With enough experience points these can be traded for promotions that either improve abilities or give new abilities.

Adding cards or tiles to one's setup in Race for the Galaxy, Ursuppe, American Megafauna, Origins: How We Became Human, or Puerto Rico increase one's abilities or provide new ones and thereby provide an Abstract Player Construct Development.

Using the pattern

Making Abstract Player Construct Development present is games naturally requires Abstract Player Constructs, and besides these ways of improving, from the players' perspective, the values, attributes, and abilities in these. Just as Characters are a special case of Abstract Player Constructs, so is Character Development a special case of Abstract Player Construct Development. In both cases, giving players Gain Competence goals lets them align their intentions with what is possible in the game. In games where Teams have their own Characteristics besides those of their members, Team Development provides another special case of Abstract Player Construct Development. Expansion and Exploitation are two phases in gameplay arcs where Abstract Player Construct Development is in gameplay focus.

The actual development is typically either New Abilities or Improved Abilities for both Abstract Player Constructs and Characters, but for Abstract Player Construct Development achieved through changes in Technologies, promotions, or increases in number of Units or Territories - the Civilization series have all of these and the Europa Universalis series have all but promotions. Improving Bases, Units, and Territories can also be a way to improve Abstract Player Constructs. It is less common to use Ability Losses or Decreased Abilities to create Abstract Player Construct Development but this can sometimes be motivated from a narrative perspective. In general, any development of Characteristics can be seen as Abstract Player Construct Development.

For games using Cards to describe Abstract Player Constructs, e.g. Race for the Galaxy, Erosion, Ursuppe, American Megafauna, and Origins: How We Became Human, the addition of new Cards provide an easy was to provide Abstract Player Construct Development. More generally, Deck Building can allow for Abstract Player Construct Development using Cards. Puerto Rico shows an example where Tiles fill the same role and Bag Management shows how Tokens can be put to this use in order to create temporary Abstract Player Constructs.

While Abstract Player Construct Development deals with "internal" development of players' Focus Loci, Persistent Game World Changes looks at "external" development of gameplay due to players efforts. Since both relate to how players perceive Value of Effort in games, it makes sense to consider both simultaneously when designing a game.


Abstract Player Construct Development can like Character Development provide players with New or Improved Abilities - often directly associated with their Focus Loci and through Unlocking. This can over time produce Paper-Rock-Scissors structures and provide Varied Gameplay. The introduction of these can provide players with both a Value of Effort and an Exaggerated Perception of Influence since they are given more powerful ways of affecting gameplay, even if this is actually offset by increased difficulty as part of Red Queen Dilemmas. It can also, depending on what is required for the development, also encourage Grinding. If players have some level of Freedom of Choice regarding the direction of Abstract Player Construct Development the Exaggerated Perception of Influence can be further increased. In addition, it can support Player-Planned Development. With Freedom of Choice over the development, making these become Investments as well.

While Player Balance can be affected negatively by Abstract Player Construct Development in Multiplayer Games, this becomes especially apparent in Persistent Game Worlds since differences can grow over time as well as new players being compared to those that have played the game for a long time.


Can Instantiate

Exaggerated Perception of Influence, Grinding, Unlocking, Value of Effort

with Abstract Player Constructs and Freedom of Choice

Investments, Player-Planned Development

with Improved Abilities or New Abilities

Paper-Rock-Scissors, Varied Gameplay

Can Modulate

Bases, Focus Loci, Territories, Units

Can Be Instantiated By

Character Development, Expansion, Exploitation, Team Development, Quests

Abstract Player Constructs together with Ability Losses, Bag Management, Cards, Characteristics, Deck Building, Decreased Abilities, Improved Abilities, New Abilities, Powers, Technologies, Territories, Tiles, or Units

Can Be Modulated By

Gain Competence

Possible Closure Effects


Potentially Conflicting With

Player Balance when used together with Persistent Game Worlds and Multiplayer Games


New pattern created for this wiki by Staffan Björk.