Abstract Wall

Description

A wall in spirit but not in form.

Walls are often necessary to block the player's further exploration. This can be for plot or progression reasons, or simply due to the limitations of authored content. An abstract wall is a way to block player movement without literally throwing up a wall or a locked door. The most basic appearance of this pattern is an invisible wall, which has no reality attached to it in the game world but must be used to keep the scope of game content reasonable.

Variables and Affordances

  • Realistic vs Unrealistic: does it fit logically/realistically into the game world? Compare an invisible wall to the surrounding sea of Morrowind.
  • Immediate vs Gradual: does the wall stop the player immediately or allow minor exploration but inevitable failure?

Examples

  • Far Cry 2. The Desert surrounding the explorable map, combined with the protagonist's malaria sickness, walls in the player. If you attempt to go outside of the map, your malaria begins to flair up, and without ever having to physically stop your movement, the game can prevent you from escaping by simply making your character collapse from heat and sickness, respawning you elsewhere. realistic, gradual
  • Elders Scrolls III: Morrowind. The water surrounding the island of Vvardenfell binds the player to the island. Similar to Far Cry's desert, you can attempt to swim away, but eventually you'll run out of stamina, or hit the invisible walls out in the deep sea, forcing you to return to shore. realistic, gradual
  • Zork. Dense forests keep the player within the map. If on the surface you ask to go in a direction that is not described as a path or a clearing in the area description, the message “you would need a machete to move further [in this direction]” appears. This sort of abstract wall is logical as well as immediate. realistic, immediate
  • Blockade. Abstract walls can act as a blockade, which may be removed once certain prerequisites are met. For example, the road in Far Cry 2 that connects the two sides of the map is initially obstructed by a sandstorm. Once you reach the second half of the game, the sandstorm is removed.
  • Soft Gate - Soft Gates can act as abstract walls.

Quest-Level Relationship

  • Move Action. Abstract walls obstruct move actions, forcing the player to take longer paths around the walled area.
patterns/abstract_wall.txt · Last modified: 2011/06/12 01:39 by Gillian Smith
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