topical media & game development

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pattern(s) / matrix / model(s) / resource(s)

Direct Information

Direct Information

Players have access to information about the game state in the same format that the game state is stored

Many games allow players to see the configuration of game elements, and their individual values, using the same syntax as the game state uses. The easiest examples are from non-computerized board games where physical game elements are used to store the game state. Card games also make use of Direct Information as players typically see their own cards and the cards that have been played but card games can also force players to communicate or gain information in indirect ways, e. g. bidding in Bridge.

Example: Classical board games such as Go and Chess have their game state stored by the spatial relations of the physical game pieces and the board.

Using the pattern

Direct Information can easily be implemented by using tangible game elements to represent values in the game state; if the only way to manipulate the value is to manipulate the game element, information about it is automatically direct. Other ways of implementing Direct Information depend on how much information, and what kind of information, the game designer wants players to be able to give or receive. Social Interaction and Negotiation can allow players to freely choose the amount and type of information, and also allow them to use direct or Indirect Information as they wish or if they wish to mix them. Direct Information in these cases decreases the possibility of Bluffing. Bidding and Trading typically has a minimum set of information that needs to be communicated, typically number and kind of game elements although this can be expanded greatly or reduced to only a number of game elements.

Other ways of giving players Direct Information include game elements such as Alarms and Traces or parts of the interface such as Status Indicators, Goal Indicators, Progress Indicators, and Outcome Indicators. Game elements that can be used for either Direct Information or Indirect Information to support Puzzle Solving include Helpers and Clues.

A special case of using Direct Information is to support Save-Load Cycles so that the game state can be stored for later gameplay or for returning to a previous game state.


Since Direct Information easily allows players to make assumptions about the game state, the pattern supports Perceivable Margins and Stimulated Planning. Since it minimizes risks for misunderstanding information, Direct Information can be used to support Perfect Information although Direct Information is not guarantee of its presence.

Direct Information can eliminate the possibility for Uncertainty of Information or Imperfect Information due to risks for misunderstanding. However, since these patterns can occur for several other reasons, e. g. lack of information or by use of Bluffing, the patterns can co-exist.

Direct Information risks breaking Emotional Immersion as the numerical game states are seldom compatible with Narrative Structures orthe theme of the game used to evoke the emotions.

Negotiation is typically not done by using Direct Information, although the consequences of the Negotiation, e. g. Bidding and Trading, often require it to avoid Player Decided Results.


Instantiates: Perceivable Margins, Stimulated Planning, Puzzle Solving

Modulates: Status Indicators, Goal Indicators, Progress Indicators, Outcome Indicators, Helpers, Clues, Trading, Bidding, Bluffing

Instantiated by: Perfect Information, Communication Channels

Modulated by: Save-Load Cycles

Potentially conflicting with: Indirect Information, Imperfect Information, Uncertainty of Information, Emotional Immersion, Red Herrings

[] readme course(s) preface I 1 2 II 3 4 III 5 6 7 IV 8 9 10 V 11 12 afterthought(s) appendix reference(s) example(s) resource(s) _

(C) Æliens 04/09/2009

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