Design Patterns

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Design patterns are a form of presentation of proven solutions to recurrent problems in a specific context, accompanied by references and assistance on the forces and/or consequences involved in their application [1][2].

Each pattern is referenced by a common name or expression that usually becomes synonym with the concept or solution and, as such, enters everyday domain language among practitioners. The presentation usually follows a template but the definition of the template and the adopted terminology can be authored according to what makes more sense.

Patterns are, in this way, a synthesis and a translation of knowledge that was not yet formally structured or that was structured in some other format. Namely, a pattern’s author may have no relation to the creator of the solution for the problem that such pattern addresses. It may even be the case that a solution is well known and authorship has been lost in time.

Patterns are gathered in collections. Patterns – addressed by their names – constitute a vocabulary for the domain and if they are organized by specifying their relations, such as interdependency and influence, they may come to constitute a domain language. While emerging, a language may not be unique, or may comprise or have overlappings with other languages. Yet, when it becomes a non-elitist asset to the point of enabling production of discourse and dialog among stakeholders in a domain, such a language can empower different actors to have a stronger participation in design process and outcomes.

One main characteristic of design pattern collections is that they are a living body-of-knowledge. The evolution of patterns is an inherent strength of this methodology. A collection is permanently open for additions and each pattern can be challenged, improved or refined. Patterns may meet several states of maturity, often referred to as confidence levels, an indicator that can be explicitly included as a field in the pattern template. A pattern that is not yet fully accepted as so is often classified as “candidate”. The fact that patterns may be drafted, even if their authors are not able to fully prove them, opens the possibility to prior and generative discussion with other practitioners.

A Pattern Language for Sound Design in Games

There is a strong match between what the formalism of design patterns can offer and the current needs and characteristics of the field of sound design in games[3]. The know-how is mostly informally held and very unevenly distributed, and there exists a large and active community of independent game developers who could benefit from a dissemination of sound design knowledge. Design patterns could become especially useful to train inexperienced designers and therefore particularly suitable for promoting and guiding competent sound design in the broad community of small or independent game developers.

Methodology

The methodology to synthesize these patterns consisted mostly on literature review, testimonies from field protagonists including respected practitioners and reviewers, visiting disparate game forums, and actually experimenting with a multitude of games.

Feedback

The reader is encouraged to be critic and take the patterns as open pieces of work, consistently with the formalism’s own nature.

References

  1. Alexander, C. 1979. The timeless way of building. Oxford University Press, NY.
  2. Vlissides, J. 1997. Patterns: The top ten misconceptions. Object Magazine, 7(11) (March 1997).
  3. Alves, V. and Roque, L. 2010. A Pattern Language for Sound Design in Games. In Proceedings of Audio Mostly 2010, 88-95.

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