When a game is developed, its designers come up with some core gameplay mechanics. As players play these games, however, they come up with new strategies and ideas resulting from putting individual mechanics together.
Technically speaking, any synthesis of gameplay mechanical elements is Emergent Gameplay. However, this article (of necessity) will only list notable examples, such as ones that have been given names by players.
Unlike (but closely related to) Gameplay Derailment
, emergent gameplay features are generally seen as positive developments. May result from Good Bad Bugs
, but bugs are not necessary. Metagames
of competitive games are examples of emergent gameplay. Sequence Breaking
are also examples, as are Videogame Caring Potential
and Videogame Cruelty Potential
when not tied to the actual plot.
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- Nudging a pinball machine to save an otherwise doomed ball has become an allowed maneuver in competitions. The technique of banging the bottom of the table to knock the ball over a divider and back into play, on the other hand, remains universally banned.
- Metroid: The maze-like structure and open-endedness of the first game was very interesting to speedrunners, since it allowed them to devise and test alternative routes through the game. Its third installment, Super Metroid, continues to be a widely-appreciated game, with Good Bad Bugs still being discovered that allow new speed tricks. Furthermore, said openness helped give rise to the metroidvania genre.
- The Metroid series and the metroidvania genre in general allow for the emergent gameplay feature of Sequence Breaking as dedicated players try to figure out just how little time (or items) they'd need to get through a game. (Said players were also quite disappointed when Metroid Fusion didn't allow sequence-breaking.)
- Combos in Fighting Games started out as this. Players were never intended to be able string multiple attacks together in the original Street Fighter II, however once the players figured out how to do them, the developers acknowledged them, as did every other fighting game developer at the time.
- Even today, majority of the combos in these games are things that the players themselves create. In fact, it's generally acknowledged that one of the marks of a good fighting game is how much freedom it provides the player in terms of developing combos.
- Super Smash Bros.: like Pokémon, this series also has a competitive metagame involving tiers.
- Nidhogg is based around a six button/key control scheme, with a very advanced set of actions, even when four of those buttons are directional buttons.
First Person Shooter
- The idea for Left 4 Dead came about when Turtle Rock Studios (who developed L4D) were developing the bots for Counter-Strike: Condition Zero and decided to play game where there were a ton of bots, players versus bots, and the bots on very hard with knives only. The result is very similar to the Horde Zerg rushing at times in L4D
Real Time Strategy
- Starcraft: being able to tell where a (competitive) opponent's base is by how long it takes their scout to find you.
Role Playing Game
- Pokémon: the entire metagame idea of "tiers" is an emergent gameplay feature.
- Second Life isn't a game itself but the building tools allow for the construction of games and there are many. There's also the ongoing game between trolls and player run anti-troll security.
- Go Cross Campus: Spies (people signing up accounts on opposing teams), Special Forces (people who make their moves late in the turn so as to prevent spies from being effective), and Swaps ("trading" territories between allied teams to give both teams conquer bonuses).
Wide Open Sandbox
- Terraria: the Hellevator (a vertical tunnel stretching from the surface down to Hell) and the Skybridge (a bridge in mid-air, used to traverse the upper part of the map and for quick horizontal travel)