Outstanding Features

Outstanding Features

Outstanding Features are parts of the Game World that cannot be manipulated but by their shape, color, or texture convey information to players.

For players to be able to position themselves in Game Worlds, there needs to be distinguishing features, those that more strongly attract players' attention to Outstanding Features and can make players aware of where game elements exist or how to navigate the Game World.

Example: The rivers in Civilization indicate that cities that are located near them have better production rates.

Using the pattern

Outstanding Features can be achieved in many forms, from the barely noticeable to that of explicit Extra-Game Information describing to the players the game effects of game elements. When not using explicit Outstanding Features, the two main design choices can be categorized into first whether the feature should lure or dissuade, and second if the feature should be understandable before any consequences of nearby game elements are noticeable, or after those game elements (e. g., Deadly Traps) have taken effect. The former may make Surprises more difficult, while the second allows for Strategic Knowledge if the same Outstanding Features are used again in the game. Traces and Clues that cannot be manipulated are other examples of Outstanding Features.

The actual design of Outstanding Features can range from simple variations in the appearance of the Game World to Obstacles that give players' Movement Limitations due to their placement. An easy way to create Outstanding Features is to introduce local Symmetry in an otherwise unsymmetrical environment. If the Outstanding Features have dynamic appearance or can change between different appearances, they can be used as Status Indicators, for example, to show the status of Alarms.


Outstanding Features give players landmarks to support Game World Navigation in Game Worlds, thereby making Exploration goals easier to complete. Another typical use of Outstanding Features is to provide information where abstract game elements, such as Chargers, Resource Locations, and Resource Generators, are located within the Game World. Strategic Locations that do not depend on physical game elements are usually also marked by Outstanding Features in the immediate environment. In a similar fashion, Outstanding Features can be used to let players know or guess the presence of Deadly Traps but might then limit the chances of Surprises working.

In all these cases, Outstanding Features work as Clues and noticing them is an Illusionary Reward, since they may not necessarily aid the players.


Instantiates: Status Indicators, Illusionary Rewards

Modulates: Deadly Traps, Game World Navigation, Exploration, Resource Generators, Chargers, Game World, Resource Locations, Strategic Locations, Alarms

Instantiated by: Symmetry, Movement Limitations, Clues, Traces, Obstacles

Modulated by:

Potentially conflicting with: Surprises