Locations in game worlds suited for snipers.
The use of ranged weapons is often beneficial in games since enemies may not be able to fight back. This is especially true when the attacks can be done at very long ranges or it is difficult to detect from where the attack came. Sniper Locations are places in game worlds that provide one or both of these advantages.
For obvious reasons, Sniper Locations are most common in First-Person Shooters. The Battlefield series provides many locations where snipers can have good overviews over large parts of the gameplay area. This includes tops of cliffs, roof tops, and scalable cranes. Fallout 3 and Fallout: New Vegas has many features in their game worlds that can be used to attack enemies at long distances and in relative safety. This is also encouraged by the presence of specialized sniping weapons in the game. The open and hilly worlds in the Crysis series also provide many Sniper Locations and
Using the pattern
Two main design requirements exist for locations to be usable as Sniper Locations: that it covers an area which is suitable for targeting Enemies and that the location itself is relatively safe.
Arenas, or any other open area where players can have Line of Sight to large continuous gameplay areas, make good places to observe from Sniper Locations. If there areas are too open, this can easily be adjusted by providing Obstacles or Flanking Routes. While having Arenas is often a way of indirectly instantiating Sniper Locations by provide gameplay areas to cover, the pattern is also a way to modulate Arenas.
Making Sniper Locations safe can be done in several ways. Height differences and Inaccessible Areas can both make attacking sniper more difficult and require Enemies to take detours to reach the Sniper Locations. Placing Obstacles in the Sniper Locations does typically not cause problems with Line of Sight to the overlooked areas but does help snipers in providing cover and making it more difficult to spot them. If Sniper Locations prove to be to powerful in games (or sniping in general), Killcams can be used to reveal these to players that have been sniped. Variable Accuracy does not directly modify Sniper Locations, but since they reduce the usefulness of the Weapons one can use in them it does so indirectly, and this can also be an option to limit the effectiveness of Sniper Locations.
While Strongholds may be obvious locations in Game Worlds, they can function as Sniper Locations if players at least have a couple of different places from which to snipe. Galleries can to a certain degree function as Sniper Locations although they are not optimal for this since the Enemies tend to be quite close when engaged. More generally, Hiding Places can function as Sniper Locations if they support long-ranged attacks but it is more common that Sniper Locations are Hiding Places.
One of the weaknesses of Sniper Locations is that their use may be predictable, and this makes snipers want to vary their positions or not be noticed within them. If the Sniper Locations are too powerful in a game, other players can be helped by Game State Overviews that point out player positions and thereby reveal uses of Sniper Locations. However, since this may instead make Sniper Locations of little use, this design solution is most relevant in Team-based games since it can there be given to a limited number of players.
Sniper Locations affect how Combat, Aim & Shoot specifically, can be done in Game Boards, Game Worlds, or Levels by offering Strategic Locations from which engage in these activities. This makes them potential places for King of the Hill goals as they provide a natural advantage point.
While not all attacks made from Sniper Locations are Surprise Attacks, the pattern supports players in doing such attacks since they can often in relative safety set up slow but powerful attacks that might not be possible otherwise. This promotes Camping in these locations and - since not being noticed in them is an advantage - also encourages players to adopt Stealth goals both in getting there and while being there. Getting to these locations and using them effectively thereby requires Tactical Planning, as does dislocating those that have gotten access to them. Regardless if it is players or Enemies that make use of the Sniper Locations, the use modulates the difficulty of defeating the Enemies.
Sniper Locations occupied by Enemies can effectively become Inaccessible Areas until the Enemies have been removed somehow. It can also let them have Area Control over the areas they can watch. These features, or if victims fail to detect the Sniper Locations, can make for Repeated Domination in games with Sniper Locations.
Can Be Instantiated By
Can Be Modulated By
Possible Closure Effects
Potentially Conflicting With
- Hullett, K. & Whitehead, J. (2010). Design Patterns in FPS Levels, paper presentation at Foundations of Digital Games 2010, June 19-21, Monterey, CA, USA.
- Sniper Location pattern by Kenneth Hullett.
Kenneth Hullett, Jim Whitehead