The level to which a game provides new challenges, learning opportunities, or experiences when played again.
This pattern is a still a stub.
Many games are designed to be played many times. In order for these to be interesting, the game must offer new challenges to players or give players new experiences that are perceived as entertaining enough to merit continued playing. The degree to which a game provides these incentives determines its level of Replayability.
- 1 Examples
- 2 Using the pattern
- 3 Consequences
- 4 Relations
- 5 History
- 6 References
Example: Chess and Go have so many possible outcomes that players have very little chance of ever playing two games that are exactly the same. This means that every game session will have new challenges in which players can test their skills.
Example: The multiplayer first-person shooters Team Fortress Classic and Return to Castle Wolfenstein and the Battlefield series allow players to choose a character class to play. This gives them special abilities, which means that beyond the normal differences in gameplay due to varieties in players and levels, players also have different possibilities of what to do and have different roles in their teams.
The challenge and advanced mode in Portal
Using the pattern
Replayability can be achieved in several different ways: by letting the challenges players met differ between game instances, by allowing the challenges be solved in several different ways, or by letting players compare results between different game instance through Trans-Game Information.
Games that provide a huge potential game state space seldom offer players exactly the same challenges and thereby provide one form of Replayability. Another is to use Randomness to create different Ephemeral Goals, Quests, Levels, or Game Worlds for every game instance (as for example is done in NetHack and Minecraft). A slightly more limited version is to use Asymmetric Starting Conditions or Asymmetric Goals (as for example Memoir '44 or team versus team matches in the Left 4 Dead series), but this can be use together with other solutions to multiply the variety of challenged encountered. Dedicated Game Facilitators that are aware of players who have played the game before can change the setup of the particular game instances to provide new challenges. This can for example be achieved through Reconfigurable Game World, although games with Player Constructed Worlds can allow the players to reconfigure their Game Worlds without the presence of Dedicated Game Facilitators (Settlers of Catan provides an example of this).
While differing the challenges in the ways mentioned above given Varied Gameplay, this can also be achieved through letting players have different ways of trying to meet the challenges. Asymmetric Abilities is an easy way support this but letting players complete the game or parts of the game in different ways can be done through providing them with Selectable Sets of Goals. Optional Goals give Freedom of Choice of how to try and solve the overall game. The Replayability of such games increases by letting the players measure how many Optional Goals they have completed, for example, by using a Score or having Easter Eggs that give access to Inaccessible Areas.
Replayability is often acquired by supporting players to measure the level of their successes or failures. Score and High Score Lists can be used for this in Single-Player Games, and allow the players to have a measure of their Game Mastery, either to let players measure their own skill or to allow a Social Status among other players. Tournaments, with the exception of Polyathlons, allow for a similar type of Replayability as a game is typically played several times to create the outcome of the Tournament. Near Miss Indicators can show players how close they were to succeeding, encouraging them to try again and possibility also increasing their chances of succeeding by the information the provide.
Save-Load Cycles and Reversability provide Replayability on a fundamental level within games. These allow players to do Experimenting and to choose the length of play sessions, but they have little effect, or negative effect, on Replayability of the game as a whole.
Games that are challenging or provide experiences based upon the lack of knowledge of players, i. e., Imperfect Information, are difficult to combine with Replayability. This is due to the Trans-Game Information players acquire when they successfully perform Memorizing of what happens in the game, i. e., when they can apply specific facts learned in one game instance in another game instance. This information can affect Replayability in many ways: Surprises in Narrative Structures will no longer be Surprises, Tension will be less effective when players experience the same situations, Puzzle Solving will become trivial if it is not changed between game instances, Unknown Goals will be known in later game instances, and Exploration will be pointless since the environment is already known to the player. An exception to this is presented by Conceal goals in Multiplayer Games, as the challenges in these are to find new hiding places.
For games that require player skill, Replayability becomes automatic as players strive to achieve, test, and show Game Mastery. Similarly, when players have Strategic Knowledge in games, the games have a certain level of Replayability, as players can make use of Strategic Knowledge and improve it between game sessions as Trans-Game Information.
Can Be Instantiated By
Can Be Modulated By
Replayability in a game offers players enjoyment of a game beyond a single game session, and often does this through offering Varied Gameplay between game sessions. When this is due to player being able to contemplate different ways of playing, this leads to Stimulated Planning.
Although developing Strategic Knowledge can be part of why a game has Replayability, having complete Strategic Knowledge can work against the pattern instead. Examples of how can happen is fully understanding Algorithmic Agents without Open Destiny or being able to Memorize all choices that are supposed to require Puzzle Solving.
Can Be Instantiated By
Achievements, Asymmetric Abilities, Asymmetric Goals, Asymmetric Starting Conditions, Dedicated Game Facilitators, Freedom of Choice, High Score Lists, Internal Conflicts, Open Destiny, Permadeath, Randomness, Selectable Sets of Goals, Sidequests, Speed Runs, Testing Achievements, Trans-Game Information, Unwinnable Games
Can Be Modulated By
Possible Closure Effects
Potentially Conflicting With
A rewrite of the pattern Replayability that was part of the original collection in the book Patterns in Game Design.
- Björk, S. & Holopainen, J. (2004) Patterns in Game Design. Charles River Media. ISBN1-58450-354-8.