Mutual Goals

From gdp3
Jump to: navigation, search

Goals that are shared by two or more agents in a game.

Players or agents in games nearly always have goals that they try to reach. When two or more share goals for some reason these goals are Mutual Goals.


Members of teams in Sports such as Ice Hockey and Soccer have the Mutual Goals of beating the other team. Likewise, players in computer-based games such as Defense of the Ancients, the Counter-Strike series, or League of Legends try to work together to beat another team.

Explicit Mutual Goals are found in Co-Op Games. Examples of such games are Forbidden Island, Ghost Stories, the Left 4 Dead series, Legendary: A Marvel Deck Building Game, Pandemic, and Yggdrasil.

Using the pattern

Mutual Goals are typically used to provide players with Shared Rewards and/or Shared Penalties for some activity, and if Agents shared those goals create Teams. Another reason is to make Algorithmic Agents into Companions by giving them Mutual Goals with a player. A third, diegetic or narrative, reason is that the goals of some in a Faction logically make them Mutual Goals for the Faction as a whole. Related to this, Mutual Goals can be used to create Social Dilemmas when combined with Internal Rivalry. The goal of Team Elimination for another team is a Mutual Goal for members of that other team, and Beat the Leader is a Mutual Goal for all players of a game instance except the (perceived) leader. However, providing players with Mutual Goals can be a way to temper what would otherwise be a harsh Competition. A special case of Mutual Goals is those that players together decide upon, i.e. the ones that are Player-Defined Goals; these can occur spontaneously within game instances whenever players can identify some form of Shared Rewards (or Shared Penalties they want to avoid). Mutual Goals which players are forced to chose but they still have possibilities to affect the specifics of, that is they are Player-Defined Goals bound by rules, can require or demand that the players engage in Negotiation.

Mutual Goals can be modified in several different ways. Individual Penalties or Individual Rewards can be added, as can Asymmetric Resource Distribution in general, to make the incentives for players to reach the Mutual Goals differ. Having Secret Alliances make Collaboration or Cooperation regarding the goals much more difficult. Be able to, or having to, engage in Negotiation adds a social or diplomatic dimension to Mutual Goals. This can either be in relation to completing the goals - for example by being given Shared Resources when being given the Mutual Goals - or due to the fact that the Rewards or Penalties are given out according to Player-Decided Distributions. Betrayal introduces uncertainty of how much players can rely on each other in wanting to actually reach the now-not-completely Mutual Goals.

Quite naturally, the Mutual Goals players have with each other cannot be Incompatible Goals. It is also difficult to have Mutual Goals over that which one has Conflicts regarding.


That Mutual Goals most often provide Shared Rewards can give rise to Alliances if those sharing the goals are not already in Teams, and Cooperation as well as Symbiotic Player Relations in both cases. This also modifies how players view the Penalties and Rewards they would each get compared to receiving them but knowing that nobody else receive any. Mutual Goals are by definition Symmetric Goals and succeeding with them are often Team Accomplishments. In Multiplayer Games where FUBAR Enjoyment is possible, the presence of Mutual Goals can make this turn into Mutual FUBAR Enjoyment.

While giving players Shared Resources to handle Mutual Goals affect who players try to do this, giving Mutual Goals to players that already have Shared Resources naturally affect how they treat these Resources.


Can Instantiate

Alliances, Symbiotic Player Relations, Symmetric Goals, Team Accomplishments

with Agents


with Algorithmic Agents


with FUBAR Enjoyment and Multiplayer Games

Mutual FUBAR Enjoyment

with Internal Rivalry

Social Dilemmas

with Player-Defined Goals


with Shared Rewards


Can Modulate

Factions, Competition, Mutual FUBAR Enjoyment, Penalties, Rewards, Shared Resources

Can Be Instantiated By

Beat the Leader, Shared Penalties, Shared Rewards, Team Elimination

Can Be Modulated By

Asymmetric Resource Distribution, Betrayal, Individual Penalties, Individual Rewards, Negotiation, Player-Defined Goals, Player-Decided Distributions, Secret Alliances, Shared Resources

Possible Closure Effects


Potentially Conflicting With

Conflicts, Incompatible Goals


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


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