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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Combat in Games

  • Author(s): Osborn, JC
  • Lederle-Ensign, D
  • Wardrip-Fruin, NG
  • Mateas, M
  • et al.

While the game design and game studies communities have analyzed combat both in specific games and game genres, and while combat is clearly central to many types of games, there is no general account of combat that is portable across diverse games. We provide such an account in the form of criteria which are satisfied by games that players inter- pret as “having combat.” These requirements are eventually fulfilled via operational logics, which tie the game’s observ- able behavior (including its instantial assets) to play expe- riences and cultural knowledge, creating what we refer to as a “combat model.” In addition to establishing a com- prehensive model of combat, making it possible to discuss combat across game genres, this work is the first to describe how complex playable models are constructed from composi- tions of operational logics working in concert; we also define two families of logics which are novel in the literature. This broad model of combat has already proved useful in practice, yielding insights in the analysis of the art game Unmanned; it also promises exciting computational applications in areas such as game design support tools and general game playing.

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