Difference between revisions of "Drop-In/Drop-Out"

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(Using the pattern)
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=== Can Be Modulated By ===
=== Can Be Modulated By ===
[[AI Players]]
=== Potentially Conflicting With ===
=== Potentially Conflicting With ===

Revision as of 15:08, 20 November 2009

Designed support to handle players coming and going during game sessions in multiplayer games.

Gamers cannot always participate in whole game sessions, having to stop prematurely to do something else. This causes problems for the game design in how it should keep the game balanced and interesting for the remaining gamers, but another type of problem can occur if the gamers that left wants to come back again to the same game session. For this problem the game design needs have mechanisms for re-introducing players without disrupting game balances nor making the effort of the already present players unrewarded in comparison with the returning players.


The multiplayer arcade game Gauntlet partly supported players leaving and entering the game during a game session. Players whose character had died could start playing again simply by inserting coins and new players could do the same. There was however no graceful way for a player to leave the game when one had a healthy character since that character would keep the others to that area until the abandoned character died (this meant that leaving was worse the more health the character had).

The Lego Star Wars Series (except the GBA version) supports a second player to at any point join the game with a character, and then leave whenever by simply choosing this option in the game. Given that the gameplay never requires both players and that players can replay levels infinitely the gameplay does not degrade when a player drops out.

All game sessions in the Left 4 Dead Series begin with four human characters but only one of them needs to controlled by human gamers. Those not played by humans are computer-controlled but can be replaced by gamers joining the games session. Likewise, if a gamer leaves the game (or loses network connection) the computer takes control over the character without disruption to the other gamers' gameplay. People can even "pause" the game to take their own short breaks while the other gamers continue with a temporary computer substitute.

Using the pattern

Text about what to think about when putting the pattern into a design, i.e. possible options. Have links to other patterns mentioned.

The sub headings below should be added if feasible.

Diegetic Aspects

If players are represented in a game through Avatars it is easy to show the entering or exiting of the game session by simply adding or removing the Avatars in the Game World. The removal can be done without causes discrepancies between the theme and the events in the game world if the Avatars represent expendable units that are easy to kill, since players may time their leaving to when they died and abandoned avatar will probably be killed soon anyway. Introducing new Avatars can be trickier but Spawn Points in close proximity to Inaccessible Areas can provide a diegetic explanation.

For other types of games, the use of AI Players can let gameplay continue undisturbed.

Interface Aspects

The are typically several reasons for other players to wish to know when another player leaves or joins a game session.



Drop-In/Drop-Out allows players to have Negotiable Play Sessions in that they do not need to adjust their own play sessions to other players sessions. Besides being able to choose how long time they wish to play, Drop-In/Drop-Out gives the game Interruptability since players can use the functionality to define the breaks in the game session rather than define play sessions.

Finally, since not all players need to start at the same time the pattern supports Late Arriving Players.


Can Instantiate

Interruptability, Late Arriving Players, Negotiable Play Sessions

Can Modulate

Multiplayer Games

Can Be Instantiated By

Can Be Modulated By

AI Players

Potentially Conflicting With


New pattern created in this wiki.


Microsoft patent regarding one type of Drop-In/Drop-Out in games