<a novref=true text=@key href=pattern-combos.html>Combos</a>


Sets of actions that trigger additional effects than those that occur due to the individual actions.

Combos are a sequence of actions that due to the order or configuration they are performed in trigger additional effects. The sequence of actions perform to create the effect can be seen as an action in itself, although more complex than ordinary actions and possibly interruptible even when the actions it consists of are not.

Example: Fighting games such as the Tekken or Dead or Alive series have only a few basic actions but by heavy use of Combos each character in the game can have the number of possible actions increased by an order of magnitude.

Example: The height of jumps in game such as Mario 64 or Super Mario Sunshine can be extended considerably by pressing the jump button again at the right moment after starting a jump.

Using the pattern

The design of Combos includes deciding if they should provide additional effects or simply modify the already existing effects, how complex they should be to perform and if their execution can be affected by others. Combos can simply modify the original Rewards and Penalties or introduce new Rewards and Penalties. Combos are often used to provide Privileged Abilities, either as an additional Reward or as a way to provide Orthogonal Unit Differentiation, and are especially common in Combat activities in Real-Time Games. The complexity of performing Combos can be used to set the Right Level of Complexity, for example by requiring Rhythm-Based Actions, in the game and can provide a Smooth Learning Curves as players can have the possibility to choose between performing simple actions or more difficult Combos. As with any Extended Actions, Combos offer the possibility of being Interruptible Actions independently of whether the actions they consists of are interruptible. In the case of Combos that are complex or interruptible, motivation for performing them can be given by providing Geometric Rewards for Investments in addition to any Privileged Abilities.

In games with complex Combos, or games where players are encouraged to find the Combos by Experimenting, it is common to indicate when a player has started to perform a combo and provide additional feedback for each of the individual actions that has been performed. This can be done by Illusionary Rewards within the game world or by Progress Indicators providing Extra-Game Information.

All forms of Collaborative Actions are forms of Combos.


Combos are Extended Actions that require Timing to be successfully executed. Being able to perform a Combo can be a goal in itself as it is a Configuration of actions. Games where players know that Combos exist but are not provided with instructions on how to do them encourage players to do Experimenting. In these games, knowing how to perform the Combos is Strategic Knowledge and can be shared as Extra-Game Actions.


Instantiates: Extended Actions, Strategic Knowledge, Rhythm-Based Actions, Smooth Learning Curves, Experimenting, Configuration, Privileged Abilities, Extra-Game Information, Timing, Extra-Game Actions, Orthogonal Unit Differentiation

Modulates: Combat, Right Level of Complexity

Instantiated by: Collaborative Actions

Modulated by: Penalties, Interruptible Actions, Illusionary Rewards, Rewards, Progress Indicators, Geometric Rewards for Investments

Potentially conflicting with: