God Views

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Presentations of game worlds free of specific relations to entities within these game worlds.

Many games that intrinsically tie gameplay to specific game elements also tie the presentation of their game worlds to these game elements. In contrast, games that do not focus on specific game elements - or let players switch between several specific game elements - can instead use God Views to give players an unrestricted view of the worlds that can be changed interdependently of what is contained within them.

Examples

By their definition, Perfect Information Games such as Chess, Go, and Hex have God Views although over rather limited game worlds. The various types of strategy games, e.g. the Civilization, Europa Universalis, and the Starcraft series all also make use of God Views but often hide the presences of faraway units with a fog of war. Populous, as an example of a god game, unsurprisingly provides players with a God View.

Early Arcade Games such as Asteroids, Centipede, and Pac-Man provided players with entire levels at a time where all areas were visible simultaneously. This is still common in computer-based Puzzle Games such as Peggle and Sokoban; Cogs and Continuity do at time not show the entire levels to players but have God Views since players can freely navigate to any part of a puzzle.

The SimCity series allows players to move around the city without having to consider the locations of any individual game element such as cars or pedestrians. The Sims series does likewise but players can let their viewpoint be looked on particular Sims in third-person views so they do not have to move their viewpoints to watch the Sims as they move about in the game environment.

Using the pattern

The two main components of providing God Views in games is Dedicated Game Facilitators that can create presentations of Game Worlds and Cameras that allow players to change their view point of those Game Worlds. When Game Masters are the Dedicated Game Facilitators the Cameras are implicitly present, and when God Views are part of Cutscenes the Cameras may also be absent since the "camera" movement can be completely predetermined. First-Person Views and Third-Person Views are not directly compatible with God Views. However, in games where players switch between different Focus Loci, Third-Person Views can replace God Views when Focus Loci have been selected to make it easier to perceive which Focus Loci is used as gameplay unfolds. Vision Modes are not as commonly used for God Views as other types of views but can serve a purpose in avoiding information overload in complex games with God Views (e.g. the Europa Universalis series) by separating all the information available into several different views. Point of Interest Indicators can more easily be used with God Views than other views without breaking Diegetic Consistency.

Having a God View in a game does not necessarily infer that one is omniscience (i.e. have Perfect Information); Fog of War is quite often used to make it possible for players to experience Surprises even if they have God Views. Other ways to achieve this is to provide opponents with secret Hands (as Memoir '44) does but this is not actually modifying the presentation of the Game World.

God Views can be used to create Public Information that provides Spectators with more information about the gameplay than players have.

Diegetic Aspects

God Views is an Diegetic Pattern.

Interface Aspects

God Views is an Interface Pattern. As their names suggest, God Fingers are natural choices for Focus Loci in games with God Views. They can make some goals, e.g. Reconnaissance trivial, unless modulated by Fog of War or other ways of hiding information.

Consequences

God Views provide Game State Overviews over Game Worlds and allow these overviews to be easily and quickly moved, making them ideal for Attention Swapping but hindering Spatial Engrossment. These types of views also make Aim & Shoot actions difficult and can make Game World Navigation trivial. They do not easily work with Avatars as the link between player attention and the Avatars is weak, but it is possible in games with Third-Person Views to use God Views without this issue to do general navigation and support the movement between Focus Loci that are to be controlled.

God Views can influence the Freedom of Choice players have both by allowing them to vary their view on the gameplay and by making it easier to spot the actual possible actions they have.

Relations

Can Instantiate

Game State Overviews, Public Information

Can Modulate

Attention Swapping, Freedom of Choice, Game Worlds

with Third-Person Views

Focus Loci

Can Be Instantiated By

Cameras, Cutscenes, Dedicated Game Facilitators

Can Be Modulated By

Fog of War, God Fingers, Point of Interest Indicators, Third-Person Views

Possible Closure Effects

-

Potentially Conflicting With

Aim & Shoot, Avatars, Game World Navigation, Reconnaissance, Spatial Engrossment

History

An updated version of the pattern God Views that was part of the original collection in the book Patterns in Game Design[1].

References

  1. Björk, S. & Holopainen, J. (2004) Patterns in Game Design. Charles River Media. ISBN1-58450-354-8.

Acknowledgements

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