Guard

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The goal to hinder other players or game elements from accessing particular gameplay areas or particular game elements.

Guard goals are simply the goals of keeping others from getting access to something. This may be entering gameplay areas or getting possession of game elements. It may also be keeping diegetic people incarcerated, which includes hindering others from freeing them.

Examples

Chess and Stratego are games that are lost if one fails the mission to guard a specific game element: the king in Chess and the flag in Stratego.

The goalkeeper in Soccer must Guard their team's goal so that the ball does not enter it.

Guard goals often appear in First-Person Shooters. As one example, the terrorist team on some Counter-Strike levels needs to Guard hostages until match times run out. Another example is how teams in capture the flag matches (found for example in the Quake and Unreal Tournament series) need to guard their own flag, as is how teams need to guard the control points in the Battlefield series.

Using the pattern

Creating Guard goals consist of two components: choosing the objectives to be guarded and the means by which the objective can be guarded. The latter of these also implies that ways for the goals to fail are designed if they not already exist; in most cases this requires the creation of Enemies. Examples of objectives to protect include Non-Player Characters, Strategic Locations, Strongholds, and any areas that players need to have Area Control over. The presence of Fog of War can in itself require players to set up Guard goals.

The means of guarding can be divided into two main categories: passive and active. Passive actions include changing the environment, e. g., through placing Traps or Alarms, or making certain activities impossible for the other player, e. g., by occupying a space and thereby hindering the other player from entering that space, but do not affect the actual game value associated with game elements under the other player's control. Active guarding actions are those that directly change value of game elements, e.g. engaging in Combat with intruders. Of course, passive actions can have second-order consequences that affect game elements, e.g. setting off Alarms may call guards that then enter into Combat with perceived Enemies. The ease of Guard goals can easily be modified by terrain features such as Choke Points, Flanking Routes, and Galleries, and more generally how well-suited areas are for Camping.

If the goals opposing the Guard goals are Optional Goals to the opponents, e.g. if the opponents can choose to Capture an area or simply bypass it, the Guard goal may never be fulfilled. However, not actively trying to ensure that the Guard goals are fulfill compared to pursuing other goals are Trade-Offs between the perceived Risk/Reward of the different tactics. Games where those with Guard goals only should guard some places or only guard places during some times need to have Context Dependent Reactions if they can meet other Agents in other situations.

Consequences

Guard goals require observation of specific areas, game elements, or players in games and through this they provide Attention Demanding Gameplay. This can lead to Reconnaissance goals if the area to Guard is too large to have any complete overview at in one glance. They are typically Preventing Goals related to Capture, Rescue, or Stealth and therefore create Excluding Goals that lead to Conflicts. Further, they are Continuous Goals as they are only completed after there are no chances of the guarded game elements being stolen or gameplay areas entered. Failure to Guard objectives due to Combat or Stealth activities of others can transform the Guard goals into Rescue goals.

If players are free to position game elements used in the task of guarding, the positioning of them promotes Stimulated Planning and allows players to make use of Strategic Knowledge about Strategic Locations. When Guard goals are combined with Delivery goals, they become Guide and Protect goals.

Guard goals often make those that have them feel they have Ownership over what is guarded, even though it may not be the case in either a game system or the Alternative Reality of a game.

Relations

Can Instantiate

Attention Demanding Gameplay, Conflicts, Continuous Goals, Ownership, Preventing Goals, Reconnaissance, Stimulated Planning, Trade-Offs

with Combat or Stealth

Rescue

with Delivery

Guide and Protect

with Capture, Rescue, or Stealth

Excluding Goals

Can Modulate

Capture

Can Be Instantiated By

Area Control, Enemies, Fog of War, Non-Player Characters, Strategic Locations, Strongholds

Can Be Modulated By

Alarms, Camping, Choke Points, Context Dependent Reactions, Flanking Routes, Galleries, Strategic Knowledge, Traps

Possible Closure Effects

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Potentially Conflicting With

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History

An updated version of the pattern Guard 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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