topical media & game development

talk show tell print

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

<a novref=true text=@key href=pattern-overcome.html>Overcome</a>


This is the goal of the player to defeat an opposing force in a test, or a series of tests, involving attributes or performance of low-level actions.

The opposing force in Overcome can be other players or other kinds of enemies provided by the game system.

Example: Fighting games, such as Soul Calibur and Tekken, are almost purely about overcoming the opponent by performing a series of successful attacks the opponent is unable to dodge or block.

Example: Chess uses the Overcome pattern through a combination of eliminating the other player's pieces and skillful positioning of one's own pieces.

Using the pattern

The main design choice of Overcome is to select the Enemies a player has to compete against; these Enemies can either be computer controlled or player controlled, and by providing several different types through the use of Orthogonal Unit Differentiation, the Replayability of the goal increases. If the Orthogonal Unit Differentiation is also applied to allow the player to choose different Avatars or Units, this creates Freedom of Choice. By increasing the difficulty of Overcome goals, a game design can guarantee Higher-Level Closures as Gameplay Progresses. For example, games using Levels often have a Boss Monster as the final Enemy for each Level, which players have to Overcome in order to complete the Level.

The test of attributes used to see if the Overcome pattern is fulfilled can range from simple comparisons (which party has stronger attributes) to a long sequence of tests involving different actions or Tournaments. The simplest case can be exemplified by combat resolution in some strategy games: Units with more troops automatically defeat the opponent Units with fewer troops. The combat resolution tables used in conjunction with Randomness, normally Dice, are another, slightly more complex, method of evaluating the outcome. The same kind of method is used to determine the fights between the Units in current real-time strategy games. The exact nature of the tests involved can represent a number of different fields of expertise, including the use of the following patterns: Combat, Timing, Rhythm-Based Actions, Dexterity-Based Actions, Memorizing, Negotiation, Puzzle Solving, and Luck. The Overcome goal can be one of these, a combination of these, or a player-decided choice. Tiebreakers are often used with Overcome goals to make it impossible for both players to win or lose simultaneously. Many Overcome goals use a Tournament format with the same test performed several times to lessen the influence of Luck and allow for Perceivable Margins. Achilles' Heels can be used to give opponents weakness that can be exploited to more easily beat the opponent.

Computer-based games usually automate the evaluations of who won the Overcome goal, but others games, especially sports and roleplaying games, make use of Game Masters or judges.

The effect of fulfilling Overcome goals is commonly to remove a game element or player, resulting in an Eliminate goal and Player Elimination. An example of this is Last Man Standing where the goal is to defeat all other players (or at least to defeat the other remaining player when only two remain). However, other options available to game designers include Capture (e. g., Paradroid), the fulfillment of a Gain Ownership goal through redistribution of resources, or the gain of points used to determine a Score. Other common effects of completing Overcome goals are the Transfer of Control of Resources or Tools or handing over Area Control.


Overcome promotes Conflict, or at least Competition, as the player is trying to be better than another player (or oneself). In the process, it also promotes Tension, especially if players have Immersion in the game or if the actual determination of the outcome of the goal is preceded by a period of preparation or building up resources and skills. This allows Overcome goals to be used as subgoals to inject moments of Tension into goals that are not necessarily fast-paced, e. g., Delivery, Stealth, or Rescue goals.

The Overcome and Capture goals are very often related in a Hierarchy of Goals but what goal is subgoal to the other depends primarily on how their Rewards are structures and how the players' tactics are constructed.

As Overcome has two or more players trying to beat each other, it is often an example of a Symmetric Goal. Although individual tests may allow Tied Results, the overall goal of Overcome goals are Excluding Goals so that Tied Results are avoided. The exception that allows for a form of Tied Results, usually associated with Shared Penalties, is when all players fail to Overcome each other. Both Chess and Go have Overcome goalsthat also are Excluding Goals. However, Chess games can end without any player being able to checkmate the opponent, while Go games cannot be drawn if handicap points with using half stone values are given for the advantage of starting.

As Overcome goals usually center on one test, they provide focused areas for players to develop Game Mastery in. This provided the usual possibilities for social rewards, with the additional facet that the player may have Overcome some of the people in the social group.


Instantiates: Conflict, Competition, Gain Ownership, Capture, Tension, Game Mastery, Excluding Goals, Symmetric Goals, Tournaments, Transfer of Control

Modulates: Delivery, Rescue, Higher-Level Closures as Gameplay Progresses, Player Elimination

Instantiated by: Last Man Standing, Tournaments, Enemies, Boss Monsters, Area Control

Modulated by: Achilles' Heels, Timing, Rhythm-Based Actions, Dexterity-Based Actions, Negotiation, Puzzle Solving, Luck, Orthogonal Unit Differentiation, Tiebreakers, Memorizing, Immersion

Potentially conflicting with:

[] 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.