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<a novref=true text=@key href=pattern-tools.html>Tools</a>


Tools are game elements that enable the players' Avatars and Units to perform actions otherwise unavailable to them.

Tools and the game elements that use them are separate entities and can exist independently of each other, allowing Tools to be designed in such way that they can be picked up, dropped, destroyed, traded, and so on; that is, they do not have a fixed position in the Game World.

Example: Roleplaying games make most intense use of Tools, often in the form of weapons and armors to affect combat outcomes and gadgets (e. g., keys, ladders, mirrors) to overcome problems. Massively Multiplayer Online Roleplaying Games have expanded this further by requiring the use of various Tools in the item production chains such games sometimes support.

Using the pattern

The fundamental characteristics of Tools are the actions they support. They may be Improved Abilities through increased in Skills, New Abilities, and possibly Privileged Abilities that players do not have otherwise, or they may have Extra-Game Consequences.

Several questions regarding the nature of the actions to provide are possible: Do they allow Achilles' Heels of Enemies to be exploited? Do the Tools allow Controllers to be used that otherwise would not be usable? Do they modify Aim & Shoot actions?

Depending on how actions of the Tools have been set up, several other design choices need to be made: which Units or Avatars can use the Tool? Does the use of the Tool require specific skills or does it consume Resources? Is there a limit on how long a time or how many times a Tool can be used? Can Tools be combined? Is there a limit on the amount of Tools that can be carried? Are the Tools available to a player when creating a Character and giving it abilities? Can some Tools be acquired directly after Spawning?

Typically Tools are Pick-Ups, i. e., they exist as game elements in the Game World before being acquired. It is also possible to combine Tools with other kinds of game elements such as Helpers. If the Tools are useful to several players, they promote Competitions and Races if the players know the location of the Tools. However, it may or may not be possible to drop or trade a Tool after it has been taken. If a Tool is dropped when an Avatar or Unit carrying it is killed or destroyed, or if Gain Ownership over other players Tools is supported in the game design, the presence of Tools promotes Competition even after the Tool has been acquired.

Tools can be used as goal objects in Gain Ownership goals, especially if there is only one instance of the Tool available and it is in a predetermined place. If the players can construct the Tools themselves, which is common in games using Converters in Producer-Consumer chains, the knowledge of what Tools to construct can be Strategic Knowledge. However, the production of the Tool can require Resources or knowledge, and gaining these may be used as goals in themselves using Gain Ownership or Gain Information goal patterns.


Tools are game elements that provide actions within a Consistent Reality Logic and allow players means of having Ownership and performing Transfer of Control actions regarding these actions. They provide players with Collecting goals that directly give players Illusion of Influence or a Perceived Chance to Succeed.

As Tools can give Privileged Abilities, they allow the fulfillment of Gain Competence goals but are also often Rewards of other goals. Further, as physical game elements, they can function as explicit goal objects and can be affected by the various actions and events in the Game World. Tools give the players the ability to affect what actions are available to them and in some cases to other players, for example, by giving the Tool to another player.


Instantiates: Gain Competence, Illusion of Influence, Rewards, Extra-Game Consequences, Perceived Chance to Succeed, New Abilities, Collecting, Improved Abilities

Modulates: Avatars, Achilles' Heels, Units, Characters, Gain Ownership, Spawning, Ownership, Skills, Consistent Reality Logic, Controllers

Instantiated by:

Modulated by: Aim & Shoot, Converters, Helpers, Privileged Abilities, Transfer of Control

Potentially conflicting with:

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(C) Æliens 04/09/2009

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