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<a novref=true text=@key href=pattern-producers.html>Producers</a>


A game element, usually some kind of a resource, is produced as a consequence of a player action, certain game element configuration, or other type of game event.

The productions of game elements can be tied to many types of changes in the game state but are usually linked to a producing game element, the Producer. The most common ways to trigger production are when players perform specific actions, players achieve closures, or simply because a certain amount of game time has passed. The Producer is mainly concerned about the production of the game elements during the gameplay, but it can be argued, for example, that the pieces in Chess are produced in their starting positions, and sometimes this level of analysis can be fruitful.

Example: the pills in a Pac-Man level are produced when the game starts and when the Pac-Man has finished the previous level by eating all of the pills.

Example: the blocks in Tetris are produced at the top of the screen when the previous block has been placed.

Example: the cities in Civilization can produce different kinds of units according to the player's choices. The production rate, that is, how much game time it takes to produce a unit, and the units available, depend on several factors such as the location and size of the city and how far the player has progressed in the game.

Example: in fantasy roleplaying games hit points are regained, i. e. produced, by resting, taking health potions, and using healing spells.

Using the pattern

Producers can be thought of as the mechanisms that bring game elements to the game, usually to a Game World. Even the case of setting up the game elements in their starting positions follows the same basic principles than govern Producers which are active during gameplay. The design questions that have to be answered when designing Producers are: What game elements or resources are produced? What are the requirements for producing the game elements or triggering the production? Where are the game elements produced? What kind of indication is given to the players about the produced elements?

There are two basic types of Producers: those that produce Resources, which are at least potentially available to the players, and those that produce game elements, usually some kind of Enemies or Obstacles, that are not immediately valuable to the players as Resources. The production of Units is a variant of produced Resources and usually directly available to the players controlling the Producer while Power-Ups are available to whoever first locates them. The production of the players' Avatars at Spawn Points, as part of Spawning events are examples of when the players' main Focus Loci are produced.

Changing the basic Resource production is one of the most direct ways to affect the flow of the gameplay as basic Resources often dictate what actions and possibilities are available to the players. The production of other types of game elements than Resources is very often tied to providing different levels of challenges to the player and this, of course, is another level of changing the flow of the game. For example, the amount of monsters produced in generators in Gauntlet has quite an impact on the overall game play and the same applies to the amount of health Power-Ups available.

The ability to produce can be given to Character as Privileged Abilities or can, in games with Game Worlds, be tied to specific locations such as Resource Generators and Resource Locations. Tying Producers to locations make these into Strategic Locations and give rise to Area Control goals. One special case is a Producer that produces other Producers. For example, the cities in Civilization can produce settler Units, which can then be used to create new cities to produce new units.

The Producer can, in essence, also be a Resource to the player. For example, the cities in Civilization are Producers, and they are also the main Resources to the player, as they can be under player Ownership and they dictate the choices available to the players. This kind of Producers is not necessarily directly under the players' immediate control, meaning that the players cannot change aspects of the production, such as the production rate or what is produced in the Producer, even though they can own the Producer. The most complex case of a Producer from the players' point of view is one where players can control both the aspect of selecting which Resources are to be produced and modulating the production rate.

The Producer, however, does not require a Game World to be instantiated. The Drawing Stack familiar from many card games, is an example of a Producer that functions without a Game World. Even in games with a Game World there are usually Resources that are not elements in the Game World and can be governed by a Producer outside the Game World.

The Producer always has some requirements before it can produce game elements. The most concrete requirement is a simple player action. For example, in Go the player gets a stone when the other player has finished his turn. The production, however, does not need to be immediate to the action. This delayed production is perhaps one of the most characteristic features of the Producers found in Resource Management games. In these games the Producer is often also a Converter requiring other Resources to function properly. This makes the act of producing into Extended Actions. The Producer can, of course, still be delayed without requiring player actions, as is the case in the monster generators in Gauntlet. The amount of delay in all these cases determines the production rate of the Producer and this is one of the main variables to govern the flow of the game.


Producers are integral parts of the Producer-Consumer pattern governing the resource flows of the game by providing Renewable Resources, and are usually tightly related to the Consumer s. When put under the control of players, Producers give Empowerment through the Construction actions they allow, and they may cause Stimulated Planning regarding Tradeoffs between different possibilities of production.

Producers are very common and, although abstract as a pattern, have concrete effects on the flow of the game play. It can even be argued that in some level of analysis every game element has a Producer. For example, in Go a Producer governs how the players can get control of the stones from the stockpile. The official rules state that one stone is "produced" for the player during the turn. When analyzing the Producer in Go in this level it becomes obvious what the game play effect would be if, for example, two stones were produced every turn, if the player could store stones in a Container between the turns and so forth. Another example of changing the flow of the game can be found in Chess variants where there is a possibility to bring captured pieces back to the board. Thus, tweaking existing, and especially adding new types of Producers, can change the game radically.


Instantiates: Stimulated Planning, Tradeoffs, Construction, Producer-Consumer, Privileged Abilities, Empowerment, Renewable Resources

Modulates: Avatars, Resource Management, Units, Tradeoffs, Construction, Area Control, Resources, Game World, Power-Ups, Ownership, Characters

Instantiated by: Spawn Points, Spawning

Modulated by: Extended Actions

Potentially conflicting with:

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(C) Æliens 04/09/2009

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