Design Patterns

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Design Patterns are used in many different computer science arenas. This article tries to use the same approach to designing interactive fiction games. These patterns may describe how to do things that have been done before or they may describe how things may be done that can cause problems in game-play. These latter patterns are called anti-patterns.


Action  Anything that happens in a single turn in a game.
Solution  The sequence of commands needed to solve a puzzle
player cannot possibly progress  It is impossible for the player to come up with a solution (example: the key is destroyed)
player is stuck  There is a solution, but the player cannot figure it out.


  • Lock and Key - A player is confronted with a barrier that requires a particular object or magic word in order to remove the barrier.


  • Illogical Actions - A player is stuck in a game. There are one or more illogical solutions.
  • Unimplemented Actions - A player is stuck in a game. There is more than one logical and reasonable solution to progress, but the player has only thought of one or more solutions that do not progress the game. The actions or sequences of actions that do not progress the game may or may not have logical and reasonable responses.
  • Unprompted Actions - A player is stuck in a game. There are one or more logical actions, but the player hasn't been given reason to try them.