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Ultra-Powerful Events

Ultra-Powerful Events

Events that cannot be affected by player actions.

Some events in games cannot be affected by players. Some of these events are parts of the game environment, for example the rising and setting of the sun, and can be well-known to the players and occur whether or not players try to cause them to occur. Others can be started by players, for example by tripping alarms, but once they have been started, players cannot influence how they develop. These events may be used to unfold the game's story or simply represent greater forces of for example machinery.

Example: Some of the platforms inSuper Mario Sunshine start to dissolve after Mario has stood on them for a certain time. Although Mario can be moved from the platform to save him, the player cannot affect the disappearance of the platform.

Example: Games that have cut-scenes between levels or after completing goals are examples of games with Ultra-Powerful Events, since players cannot affect the game while the cut-scenes are being shown.

Using the pattern

Ultra-Powerful Events can be impossible for players to affect in two ways. The first way, which is optional, is that players cannot affect why and when the events start. The second way, which is required, is that players cannot affect the events when they have begun to unfold nor the way in which they unfold.

Knowledge of why Ultra-Powerful Events start can be Strategic Knowledge, especially if players can start the events. Likewise, knowing how Ultra-Powerful Events unfold can be Strategic Knowledge and promote Stimulated Planning, as players can prepare for actions in the game state that will be after the events has taken place.

Game elements that can cause Ultra-Powerful Events that can be explained within a Consistent Reality Logic during gameplay include Moveable Tiles, Deadly Traps, and Controllers. Shrinking Game World is an example of an Ultra-Powerful Event that affects the Game World rather than game elements. Movement of Obstacles in the Game World is another example of an Ultra-Powerful Event that affects the Game World and may require Maneuvering or Rhythm-Based Actions by the players. Storytelling and Cut Scenes are common forms of Ultra-Powerful Events that can be used to move Narrative Structures forward, or explain Ability Losses, and make players into Spectators.

In games with Turn Taking, Ultra-Powerful Events are common after the completion of a cycle of turns to ensure a level of Player Balance and prepare the game state for the next round of Turn Taking.


Ultra-Powerful Events cannot be affected by players. To guarantee this, they must be enforced by Dedicated Game Facilitators such as Game Masters or computer programs. They can make actions into Irreversible Actions, for example to unfold Narrative Structures. In contrast, Reversability of Ultra-Powerful Events cannot unfold Narrative Structures but represent a form of Investment or play mode, as the game state is restricted to a certain subgroup of the possible game states until the Ultra-Powerful Event is completed. Since the enforcement of events cannot be guaranteed in Self-Facilitated Games (with no Game Masters), these types of games cannot guarantee Ultra-Powerful Events unless players agree upon them.

Ultra-Powerful Events that also are Extended Actions usually have Predictable Consequences, as player cannot affect them, although they may be difficult to predict if their outcome is dependent on the game state. As these Predictable Consequences are caused by Delayed Effects, these types of Ultra-Powerful Events provide Hovering Closures and Anticipation for players and are examples of The Show Must Go On.

Ultra-Powerful Events can easily remove players' Freedom of Choice. Further, they can cause players to have Downtime or lose a Perceived Chance to Succeed if they remove players' possibilities to perform any actions or make all action only have negative consequences. Extended Actions are an example of such Ultra-Powerful Events that have been initiated by the players themselves. Depending on if the player is left with any actions and how well the events can be explained within a Consistent Reality Logic, Ultra-Powerful Events can support or break an Illusion of Influence.


Instantiates: Spectators, Predictable Consequences, Strategic Knowledge, Stimulated Planning, Anticipation, Rhythm-Based Actions, Downtime, Narrative Structures, The Show Must Go On, Ability Losses, Delayed Effects, Hovering Closures

Modulates: Consistent Reality Logic, Illusion of Influence, Turn Taking, Storytelling, Maneuvering

Instantiated by: Deadly Traps, Extended Actions, Controllers, Cut Scenes, Shrinking Game World, Movement, Game Masters, Dedicated Game Facilitators

Modulated by: Irreversible Actions, Reversability

Potentially conflicting with: Self-Facilitated Games, Freedom of Choice, Perceived Chance to Succeed

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(C) Æliens 04/09/2009

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