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<a novref=true text=@key href=pattern-obstacles.html>Obstacles</a>


Obstacles are game elements that hinder the players from taking the shortest route between two places.

Often the Obstacles can be moved, destroyed, or avoided by specific actions but until this has been done (and it has become possible to do so), the Obstacles slow or block the players' progress in the game.

Example: The typical Obstacles in adventure games are locked doors, which can only be opened with a correct key, for example, the locked doors of The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker require keys.

Using the pattern

The choice of an Obstacle determines how players can bypass it, if at all. Obstacles that block the way to Inaccessible Areas are often also Controllers, which support an action to remove the Obstacle but also require a specific Resource or Tool. Obstacles can be Outstanding Features when placed alone or given different visual appearance to other Obstacles.

Typically, Obstacles that do not act as boundaries for Inaccessible Areas can be avoided by taking a longer route, even if it is simply walking around a boulder or tree. The Obstacle may not necessarily block the passage through it, but can make the movement slower or cause damage or deplete Resources. Note that an Obstacle can also be a larger area, for example, a chasm or a pit.

Skillful players can often bypass more than one Obstacle at the same time, and without requiring more Resources than needed for an Obstacle -free course. This expression of Game Mastery can be made possible by Timing, e. g., moving between moving objects, or Dexterity-Based Actions, e. g., avoiding stationary objects and other vehicles when driving, depending on the nature of the Obstacle.

Obstacles are usually not deadly to Units or Avatars, at least not immediately. However, they can cause Leaps of Faith and can hinder Aim & Shoot actions against threats. See Deadly Traps for these types of game elements.


Obstacles create Movement Limitations in how players can perform Movement or Maneuvering in Game Worlds. Depending on the size of the Obstacles, they can also make Game World Navigation difficult. By using these features and purposely placing them in special locations in Game Worlds it is possible to use Obstacles to modulate the Right Level of Difficulty of Traverse or Exploration goals in Levels.

The combination of several Obstacles can create natural boundaries to an Inaccessible Area, and when used in this fashion, they can support the Narrative Structure of the game. To be able to bypass Obstacles more easily can be the effect of a Privileged Ability or an expression of Game Mastery.


Instantiates: Movement Limitations, Outstanding Features, Timing, Dexterity-Based Actions, Inaccessible Areas

Modulates: Game World Navigation, Leaps of Faith, Exploration, Rescue, Game World, Traverse, Movement, Levels, Maneuvering, Right Level of Difficulty

Instantiated by:

Modulated by: Privileged Movement, Privileged Abilities

Potentially conflicting with: Aim & Shoot

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(C) Æliens 04/09/2009

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