Difference between revisions of "Herd"

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=== Can Be Instantiated By ===
=== Can Be Instantiated By ===
[[Check Points]]  
[[Check Points]],
[[Deliver]] together with [[Indirect Control]]
[[Deliver]] together with [[Indirect Control]]

Revision as of 07:43, 3 August 2022

The goal of moving one or more game elements to a location without directly interacting with them.

Many goals in games consist of getting one or more game elements to a specific location. Herd goals are variations of this where players cannot directly move the game elements but instead have to affect them by moving other game elements.


Pool Games such as Eight-ball and Snooker are examples of Herd Goals where players only have one point of control, the cue ball, to move the other balls.

Populous allows players to place markers in the game world which make all controlled people move towards the marker. Lemmings provides a variety of tools that can influence the movement of the lemmings under the players' control.

Games where players get quests to guide willing subject to specific points are numerous. Examples include Dead Island and World of Warcraft, and the Assassin's Creed, Crysis, Everquest, Fable, Fallout and Grand Theft Auto series.

The site GiantBomb has pages for Guidance Gameplay[1] and Escort Mission[2] whose meanings are both covered by this pattern.

Using the pattern

Herd is a form of Deliver goal where what has to be delivered can move on its own and not necessarily is cooperating. This creates three primary design choices when creating Herd goals: what to Herd, how players can influence the Movement of that which is herded, and where they should be herded.

Practically any type of game element that can be affected by Movement are possible candidates for Herd goals. However, having Agents as the game elements to be herded is more in line with the common connotations of herding and brings in additional complexities to the goal since the Agents may intentionally or not move in the wrong directions. While any type of Agents can be used in this sense, Avatars are rarely used (examples include multiplayer maps in the Half-Life series where one specific player needs to be guided and protected by the other players in his or her team to a goal location).

The most important issue on how players can get the herded game elements moving is that it is through Indirect Control. This is most often by moving some game elements, which may be Avatars or Units but can also be cue balls as in Snooker, and having the movement of the herded game elements changed by direct collisions or by being attracted or repulsed by the proximity to other game elements. Games using this form of herding can be made easier by providing players with Privileged Movement. The influences for the herded game element to move based on player actions are typically motivated to maintain a Thematic Consistency. Examples of possible explanations include transferal of momentum from other game elements due to Connection, physical forces such as gravity or magnetism, or effects of emotional reactions such as anger, attraction or fright if the game elements are Agents.

Like for other Deliver goals, the end point for Herd goals can be described as Check Points. Reaching these can often be made easier be Choke Points or locations with One-Way Travel since they restrict the Movement of those herded while Arenas and Open Worlds can make them more difficult since unwanted Movement can occur in any direction there.


As described above, Herd is basically a Deliver goal of bringing game elements to a specific Check Point but only having Indirect Control over them. This goal automatically creates a Traverse goal and can in many cases have the characteristics of Collecting actions (especially so if the Agents can become separated). It is likely to make Maneuvering more difficult since the Movement of several game elements need to be considered in real-time. Like many other goal patterns, Herd can easily be made into explicit gameplay goals as Quests.

Since players not only need to consider their own possibilities of Movement but also that of the game elements they are herding to succeed with Herd goals, the pattern is likely to open up for Spatial Engrossment. That players have only Indirect Control of the Agents may cause these to be perceived as Enemies, especially in games based on Maneuvering since here the Agents can resist herding attempt in real-time. Agents may in this situation also be seen as having Preventing Goals of not making the Herd goals succeed. Herd may be difficult itself but combined with Stealth it is more likely to create Challenging Gameplay as players have to try to be sneaky with something they do not control directly.

The use of One-Way Travel together with Herd goals creates a Goal Hierarchy of Herd goals.


Can Instantiate

Collecting, Quests, Spatial Engrossment, Traverse

with Agents

Enemies, Preventing Goals

with One-Way Travel

Goal Hierarchies

with Stealth

Challenging Gameplay

Can Modulate


Can Be Instantiated By

Check Points, Movement

Deliver together with Indirect Control

Can Be Modulated By

Agents, Arenas, Choke Points, Connection, One-Way Travel, Open Worlds, Privileged Movement

Possible Closure Effects


Potentially Conflicting With



An updated version of the pattern Herd that was part of the original collection in the book Patterns in Game Design[3].


  1. GiantBomb page for the concept Guidance Gameplay.
  2. GiantBomb page for the concept Escort Mission.
  3. Björk, S. & Holopainen, J. (2004) Patterns in Game Design. Charles River Media. ISBN1-58450-354-8.