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The degradation of game items due to active use.

The use of tools and other equipment in the real world quickly or slowly wear them down. Games can include this Deterioration of items as ways of limiting their usefulness, requiring maintenance or replacements, and making the choice to use or not use the items a bit more interesting each time players have a chance to do so.


Items used in Fallout 3 and Fallout: New Vegas become less and less efficient and need to be repaired to continue functioning. Besides items used actively by characters this includes armor and apparel. Similarly, using any tool in Minecraft wears it down and so does absorbing damage for armor. Mutant, a Tabletop Roleplaying Game also has rules to simulate how high-tech artifacts can be unreliable in its post-apocalyptic setting.

Damage to vehicles in the Grand Theft Auto series and the Battlefield series is not Deterioration per se as it always occurs as the effect of attacks or collisions but given that this is such a common occurrence in these games it can from the drivers perspective be the same.

The Gran Turismo racing game series has tires wearing down at different speeds depending on how players drive. This wear and tear may also force players to enter pit stops to change tires during races.

Using the pattern

Designing Deterioration into a game mainly concerns what Game Items can be affected, what causes the Deterioration, and how the Deterioration is manifests in the game. Although the cause is most often active use by the players' or Agents using the Game Items, active use many not necessarily come from these, e.g. Armor can suffer Deterioration due to absorbing attacks. The tire wear found in Racing Games shows that Deterioration can also be seen as decreases in Attributes rather than just decreases in the quality of Game Items.

While any type of Equipment can suffer from Deterioration, common targets for it include Armor, Tools, and Weapons. In the case of Armor the primary reason for Deterioration is Damage but Damage can also motivate Deterioration of Vehicles due to collisions. In fact, Damage can be used to model Deterioration by simply giving any piece of Equipment some damage each time it is used.

If Deterioration should have gradual or immediate effects are the two main options in how it should affect gameplay. The former is mainly done through linking Deterioration to Decreased Abilities (this is for example done in Fallout 3 by lessening the Damage which Weapons deal as they degrade) or to Ability Losses (the loss of Tools in Minecraft is an example of this). An option related to Ability Losses is if the Game Items should be destroyed when they no longer provide any Abilities or they should remain but not be useful (the former makes Deterioration make the Game Items into Destructible Objects).

Many games that include Deterioration also include options to counter it. This may be through players' own Crafting ( e.g. merging Game Items together in Fallout 3), consulting the services of Non-Player Characters (also found in Fallout 3), or consulting specific Self-Service Kiosks (e.g. pit stops in the Gran Turismo series). Being able to create new Game Items to replace the old ones is another solution (found in Minecraft).

Interface Aspects

When possible, countering Deterioration is often done in Inventories (possible through Crafting) or through services provides by Non-Player Characters.


Deterioration is a way of modulating various types of Equipment (or in some cases Attributes) so that those using them can suffer Decreased Abilities or Ability Losses if they are used too much. It may make Abilities into Temporary Abilities and Game Items into Destructible Objects. For these reasons, having Deterioration can force players to consider the Trade-Offs between the Deterioration caused by using the Equipment and the (potential) gains received from doing so. This can also provide Balancing Effects since the usefulness of powerful Equipment becomes limited.

Deterioration can be seen as a Vulnerability. When Deterioration can be countered, holding Equipment at a certain level of usefulness requires Maintenance.


Can Instantiate

Ability Losses, Balancing Effects, Decreased Abilities, Destructible Objects, Maintenance, Temporary Abilities, Trade-Offs, Vulnerabilities

Can Modulate

Abilities, Armor, Attributes, Equipment, Tools, Weapons

Can Be Instantiated By


Can Be Modulated By

Crafting, Inventories, Self-Service Kiosks

Possible Closure Effects

Potentially Conflicting With


New pattern created in this wiki.