Sustenance Rewards

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Rewards consisting of replenishing resources that are constantly consumed.

Many games require players to constantly consume some type of resource or otherwise drive a game system towards a bad game state. Sustenance Rewards are those rewards that provide players with more of this resource or move the system away from the bad game state, thereby prolonging the time until negative consequences occur.


Players of the Sega Rally series need Sustenance Rewards in the form of more time to be able to play beyond the initial limit set by the game.

Ammunition are Sustenance Rewards in games such as the Doom and Half-Life series since using various forms of firearms in a necessity in these.

Using the pattern

Designing Sustenance Rewards consists of two main aspects. First, what should the Rewards consist of which players more or less continuously need. Second, and most likely more challenging to design, when should these be able to get to fit the speed with which players need the sustenance provided by the Rewards. Typical examples of Sustenance Rewards are Ammunition and Money, which is not too surprising since they both are Resources that players typically use and may run out of. In games with Time Limits, receiving more time can be seen as a Sustenance Reward (Sega Rally is an example of this). However, any Resource that can run out can serve as the basis for Sustenance Rewards.

The need for Sustenance Rewards can be created through the presence of some patterns. Most generally, any type of Consumers can create the need for whatever Resource or other things they consume. Less generally, the presence of Vehicles can require Sustenance Rewards in the form of fuel if players are supposed to be able to continue using them.


Sustenance Rewards is one of the types of Rewards possible in games. The can create Collecting activities and Continuous Goals in the sense that players may need to continue getting them to avoid Penalties, and provide one part of what is needed in creating Faucet/Drain systems that players cannot ignore. In games where players have an awareness of when and how they can get access to Sustenance Rewards, timing when to get them can be part of Risk/Reward calculations.

Tension can both be lessened to a certain degree by Sustenance Rewards and be prolonged if the sustenance needed continuously depletes.


Can Instantiate

Collecting, Continuous Goals, Faucet/Drain, Rewards, Risk/Reward

Can Modulate

Consumers, Tension, Vehicles

Can Be Instantiated By

Ammunition, Money, Resources, Time Limits

Can Be Modulated By


Possible Closure Effects


Potentially Conflicting With



New pattern created in this wiki. However, it is based upon the concept of "Sustenance Rewards" discussed by Hallford and Hallford[1].


  1. Hallford & Hallford, 2001, Swords and Circuitry: A designer’s guide to computer role playing games. Roseville, CA: Prime Publishing, p. 158.