Optional Goals

From gdp3
Revision as of 08:37, 12 February 2017 by Staffan Björk (Talk | contribs) (Using the pattern)

Jump to: navigation, search

Goals that players do not need to complete in order to win or finish a game.

This pattern is a still a stub.


Example: Collecting extra heart pieces in Zelda are Optional Goals that help the player.

Example: In one of the games in the Ultima series, one can bake bread, but this is of no use to the player in the game.

Example: The secret areas in Castle Wolfenstein offer several types of Rewards to players but are not required to complete the game. After accidentally finding one, or being informed by other players, the player does not know where these areas are but does know that they exist and can choose to spend time looking for them.

Example: The games in the Final Fantasy series provide many quests that give experience points and objects when they are fulfilled but they are not necessary to solve to complete the game.

Example: The game Day of the Tentacle contains the whole predecessor, Maniac Mansion, as part of a game console that is within the game. The whole inner game could be finished without providing any advantage to the outer game.

Left 4 Dead series Assassin's Creed series Torchlight



Using the pattern

There are many ways of creating Optional Goals, either as explicit goals within the game itself or as part of meta games.

Endgame Quests is another type of Optional Goals since they be definition is something players can do after they have finished what is considered either the main gameplay or the mandatory preparation phases one need to go through.

Looking at goals that are not defined within the framework of the actual game system, Achievements are one way of creating Optional Goals in that they are goals that players in many cases can choose to do more or less independently of the game goals of a game. This is particularly the case for Handicap Achievements as when setting their sight on these players have opted to do things in a more difficult way than necessary. Most Player-Defined Goals are this also as they most often are voluntarily to create and not part of the formal system of the game rules. Through this they are are optional, and encouraging players to make their own Player-Defined Goals is by extension a way of encouraging players to take on Optional Goals.

Optional Goals can be used to modify Ephemeral Goals so they do not have to be completed. They can also be used to provide more details to Factions by letting players have a multitude of goals that show the wishes, needs, and intentions that faction members have.

Can Be Instantiated By

Actions Have Diegetically Social Consequences, Companion Quests, Easter Eggs, Environmental Storytelling, Information Passing, Loyalty, Minigames, Open Destiny, Secret Areas, Sidequests, Speedruns

Game Items together with Sets

Rewards with Time Limits

Can Be Modulated By

Strategic Knowledge, Trading

Diegetic Aspects

Interface Aspects

Narration Aspects


Optional Goals can serve many purposes in a game. They can be Supporting Goals to the main goals of a game, create Selectable Set of Goals, populate otherwise sparsely filled Goal Hierarchies, and provide Challenging Gameplay not only from what they contain but from requiring players to choose what goals to pursue. More generally, they can provide players with a Freedom of Choice and offer Replayability between game instances. The former can also be created through a combination of Optional and Ephemeral Goals in which case players do not need to plan for them but may have to interrupt other plans when they emerge.

While Achievements and Handicap Achievements can create Optional Goals, Optional Goals that are created as part of the goal structures of a game can easily be made into Achievements and Handicap Achievements and the patterns can instantiate each other. Optional Goals can also be made into Goal Achievements, which provide an extra meta game encouragement for players to attempt those Optional Goals. Another types of Achievements, Grind Achievements, can easily be constructed from Optional Goals related to acquiring Collections.


Can Instantiate

Achievements, Challenging Gameplay, Freedom of Choice, Goal Achievements, Goal Hierarchies, Handicap Achievements, Replayability, Selectable Set of Goals, Supporting Goals

with Collections

Grind Achievements

with Ephemeral Goals

Freedom of Choice

Can Modulate

Ephemeral Goals, Factions

Can Be Instantiated By

Achievements, Actions Have Diegetically Social Consequences, Companion Quests, Easter Eggs, Endgame Quests, Environmental Storytelling, Handicap Achievements, Information Passing, Loyalty, Minigames, Open Destiny, Player-Defined Goals, Secret Areas, Sidequests, Speedruns

Game Items together with Sets

Rewards with Time Limits

Can Be Modulated By

Strategic Knowledge, Trading

Possible Closure Effects


Potentially Conflicting With



An updated version of the pattern Optional 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.