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Non-Renewable <a novref=true text=@key href=pattern-resources.html>Resources</a>

Non-Renewable Resources

The amount of resources available in the game is determined at the start of the game and these resources cannot be renewed once they are exhausted.

Some resources in games all exist at the beginning of game sessions and are not replaced as they are used. These Non-Renewable Resources thereby have a fundamentally higher value than resources that are replenished, and the use of Non-Renewable Resources is a greater commitments than use of other resources.

Example: in Chess each player has sixteen pieces, which cannot be brought back to game after being captured.

Example: the amount of wood, food, and other basic resources in Age of Empires is determined at the start and is not renewed during the game. The players can, and often do, exhaust these stockpiles forcing the players to seek out new resource stockpiles during the game.

Using the pattern

Non-Renewable Resources can be used in two main ways based on the Ownership of the Resources or Units. The first option is to give each of the players a certain amount of Non-Renewable Resources. For example, at the start of a deathmatch in a first-person shooter each of the players only get six bullets and there is no way to get more. Modification of the amount of these Resources available to the players can be used to achieve Player Balance through providing a Handicap. The other option is to make the Resources non-renewable from the game system point of view, but give the players a possibility to replenish their resources. Modifying the first-person shooter example to this option would mean that there are some bullets in the form of Pick-Ups lying around the game arena, which are not replenished during the game. If players can pick up unused bullets from the bodies of killed players, they are Renewable Resources in a limited sense through Transfer of Control but from the overall game perspective the bullets are Non-Renewable Resources. Usually this option can lead to Varied Gameplay as the players have subgoals to gain more resources during the game.

The most direct way to impose a Time Limit on the game instance and game sessions is to make the Resources used in the players' basic actions nonrenewable and use the loss of these resources as an end condition of either the whole game instance or just the player's game session. For example, when all the Tiles in Carcassonne are used the game instance ends and the Score is calculated for each of the players.

The game can, of course, contain both Renewable and Non-Renewable Resources, if they are different Resources or if the Ownership of the Resource has an effect on the status of the Resource.

Cards are one form of Non-Renewable Resources that can be use to create Randomness with the characteristic that each type of outcome can be guaranteed to occur a predefined number of times.


Non-Renewable Resources are a natural way to impose a Time Limit on game instances as the players' actions exhaust the Resources. They also create Higher-Level Closures as Gameplay Progresses since the value of Resources increase with their rarity as long as the functionality they provide is at least as important in late gameplay as in earlier gameplay. Non-Renewable Resources are also automatically Limited Resources and make Transfer of Control actions regarding these more valuable than other Transfer of Control actions. Non-Renewable Resources that are part of Closed Economies may be perceived as being Renewable Resources to the players although it is actually the same Resources which are recycled.

Non-Renewable Resources that are consumed by actions make Experimenting costly in games, and promote Puzzle Solving to be done by abstract reasoning rather than external cognition through manipulation of game elements.

The use of depletion of Non-Renewable Resources as end conditions for goals or games can create Tied Results since the end conditions is not explicitly tied to a winning condition.


Instantiates: Closed Economies, Irreversible Actions, Decreased Abilities, Limited Resources, Tied Results, Higher-Level Closures as Gameplay Progresses

Modulates: Units, Player Balance, Resources, Transfer of Control, Handicaps, Puzzle Solving, Varied Gameplay, Randomness

Instantiated by: Cards

Modulated by: Transfer of Control, Ownership

Potentially conflicting with: Experimenting, Renewable Resources

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(C) Æliens 04/09/2009

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