topical media & game development

talk show tell print

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

Leaps of Faith

Leaps of Faith

Making an action without any guaranteed, or visible, chance of success.

Not all actions in games have predictable outcomes. When a player can see many potential ways of failing an action and no clear ways of how to succeed, performing the action anyway is a Leap of Faith.

Example: the platform game Ghost'n'Goblins had places where the player could not see the other side of a chasm. In order to advance in the game the players had to jump out into the air hoping that there would be something to land on at the other side.

Example: the negotiation game Intrigue has players bribe each other to get jobs in the castles of the other players' masters. However, bribed players do not have to follow promises, and giving bribes are Leaps of Faiths for the briber.

Using the pattern

Designing Leaps of Faith consists of creating Irreversible Actions and creating situations where these actions do not have positive Predictable Consequences, typically where players either risk being the victim of Betrayal or have difficulties performing Game World Navigation. Possibilities for Betrayal can be created by Negotiation between Uncommitted Alliances or where Delayed Reciprocity exists. Difficulties in Game World Navigation can be due to Game State Overview or Imperfect Information caused by several different types of problems: Movement Limitations, Obstacles, and Inaccessible Areas. These are usually combined with Deadly Traps at the location where the Leap of Faith is intended to happen in order to create Tension and Risk/Reward.


Leaps of Faith are acts consisting of Irreversible Actions, or what is perceived as such, with few Predictable Consequences. As such, they are results of Risk/Reward choices and easily create Tension. As players doing these actions have a little Perceived Chance to Succeed the Leaps of Faith that result in advantageous outcomes are usually Surprises and may be used to advance a Narrative Structure. Leaps of Faith actions have low Replayability since Surprises have problems co-existing with Save-Load Cycles.

Leaps of Faith actions can emerge from games where players have little Game State Overview and players start to do Experimenting.


Instantiates: Surprises, Irreversible Actions, Tension, Risk/Reward, Narrative Structures


Instantiated by: Deadly Traps, Experimenting, Imperfect Information, Delayed Reciprocity, Betrayal, Negotiation, Uncommitted Alliances

Modulated by: Movement Limitations, Obstacles, Inaccessible Areas

Potentially conflicting with: Game World Navigation, Predictable Consequences, Perceived Chance to Succeed, Save-Load Cycles, Game State Overview

[] 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

You may not copy or print any of this material without explicit permission of the author or the publisher. In case of other copyright issues, contact the author.