<a novref=true text=@key href=pattern-enemies.html>Enemies</a>


Enemies are avatars and units that hinder the players trying to complete the goals.

Many games have game elements that portray people or monsters that try and hinder players' goals. These Enemies can actively resist players' intentions through actions or they can be an explanation for challenges or obstacles in the Game World.

Example: With the exception of puzzles, most games include enemies. A typical example of an enemy, albeit initially unknown, is Ganon in The Legend of Zelda, whose defeat is the plot of the game.

Example: In Soul Calibur II, the combat opponents are straightforward Enemies, which try to hinder the players' progress in the game.

Using the pattern

The primary design choice when defining Enemies is how players can Overcome or Evade them. There may be many ways to do this, which may change during gameplay, and players may have to complete several subgoals before having the chance to challenge the Enemies at all. Typical ways of overcoming Enemies are by Elimination (most often in the form of Aim & Shoot), by permanently making Interferable Goals impossible or by converting through succeeding with Gain Ownership goals. Games that provide many Enemies can give them different abilities to support Orthogonal Unit Differentiation, and thereby Varied Gameplay, or vary the environment in which these Enemies are encountered.

Another design choice is where in a Level the Enemies are met. They may block paths to Traverse goal, which makes their appearance likely or guaranteed, they may be the objectives of Reconnaissance goals, or may be Surprises in Exploration goals. In games requiring Maneuvering they can provide additional hazards that have to be actively avoided.

Having the Enemies appear separated allows players to decide what Enemies to challenge first (which can be useful to counter Orthogonal Unit Differentiation), while having the Enemies appear together can modulate the Right Level of Difficulty between different areas of the Level.

The most challenging Enemies are other humans. Computer controlled Agents can be made very challenging by using information or ultra-powerful abilities impossible for players to have, in principle, using Ultra-Powerful Events, but this easily conflicts with players' Perceived Chance to Succeed. Game Masters can more precisely modulate players' Perceived Chance to Succeed not only on their actual chance to succeed but also what the players believe.

The cause for enmity between the player and the Enemies can usually be described through a Goal/Preventing Goal pair. By using high-level goal pairs, the Enemies can be used as the main driving force for the Narrative Structure of the game. Such an overarching goal can then be used to create numerous subgoals within a Hierarchy of Goals: a Collection of goals that consist of several duels, Gain Information goals to gain the identity of the Enemies or their Achilles' Heel, Overcome to defeat the henchmen of the Enemy, Supporting Goals to find the Tools for defeating the Enemy, and so on. However, causes compatible with the Consistent Reality Logic need to be found to explain why these Enemies cannot be encountered early in the game.

The difficulty of Enemies can be modulated by changing their Skills, giving them Privileged Movement, or changing their numbers. Alarms can be used to support Enemies and can motivate the introduction of move Enemies if the Alarms are tripped. If players can have Identification with the Enemies, it can create a form of Social Dilemma as can having to perform certain actions to Overcome the Enemies. A special type of an Enemy is the Boss Monster, who is used to signify the final goal that has to be fulfilled to complete a Level.


Enemies are the Characters or Avatars of players that have Preventing Goals or Agents or Units controlled by Dedicated Game Facilitators or Game Masters. The presence of Enemies in Game Worlds causes Tension and gives players motivation for Overcome goals, often through Combat. As such, they naturally cause Conflict or Competition as they threaten to make the players lose Lives or Resources (working as a form of Consumers), or otherwise block the players' progress in the game.

The appearance of Enemies are nearly always Disruption of Focused Attention events and can require Attention Swapping when several different groups of Enemies exist. Enemies are often used to give the motivation for the unfolding of Narrative Structures in games. When players can identify common Enemies, this is usually a motivation for creating Alliances.


Instantiates: Attention Swapping, Aim & Shoot, Conflict, Combat, Competition, Alliances, Overcome, Social Dilemmas, Reconnaissance, Preventing Goals, Tension, Disruption of Focused Attention

Modulates: Exploration, Game World, Traverse, Evade, Levels, Narrative Structures, Right Level of Difficulty, Perceived Chance to Succeed, Maneuvering

Instantiated by: Avatars, Units, Agents, Dedicated Game Facilitators, Game Masters, Characters, Eliminate

Modulated by: Consumers, Privileged Movement, Identification, Orthogonal Unit Differentiation, Gain Ownership, Skills, Alarms

Potentially conflicting with: