Entity Manipulation

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Entity manipulation consists of altering the attributes or abilities of an entity in the game world.

Abilities are the actions that entities are able to perform. They are the "verbs" of the game. Entities that cannot have any abilities are static entities. They usually serve as obstacles, platforms (in games with gravity), or items/collectables. Entities that can have bilities are dynamic entities. Abilities can be gained permanently (ie, gaining the speed boost in Super Metroid) or temporarily (ie, eating a super pellet gives Pac-man the ability to eat ghosts (removal)).

Attributes are the properties of entities or abilities. They are the "adjectives" of entities or "adverbs" of abilities. Abilities alter the attributes of an entity or ability. For example, the ability to move changes the entity's location attribute. The ability to vary speed changes the velocity attribute of the movement ability. Attributes can also be altered permanently (ie, changing character statistics in an RPG) or temporarily (ie, receiving a power up that changes the power of a character's punch for a short period of time). Abilities can also alter the existance of an entity (can instantiate or destroy an entity).

There are cases where the line between an ability and an attribute is fuzzy. For example, in Zelda: Wind Waker, when Link gains the bow, there is a definite change. It could be argued that the change is only an attribute of the ability "To Attack". In this case, the "Range" attribute of "To Attack" has been made broader (Link can now attack from farther away). On the flip side, it could be argued that Link now has the ability "To Attack from a Distance". In order to differentiate in cases such as this, it is important to more concretely distinguish between an ability and an attribute. The distinction is placed on how the the attribute/ability is utilized. If the attribute/ability is utilized through a player choice, then it is an ability. If it occurs automatically, without the player's decision, then it is an attribute. So, in our example, we would say that the bow bestows a new ability to Link, as the player must choose to use the bow over the other weapons.

Again, abilities can change attributes. For example, in an RPG, if an entity can wear the "Ring of +5 Strength" (and thus, raises its strength attribute by 5), then the entity has the ability "To Change Strength". It is an ability because the player can choose to add/remove the ring from the entity, thereby changing the strength. This is opposed to the increase in strength that occurs from leveling, where the strength attribute is changed permanently. In that case, the player may choose to increase strength (as opposed to another attribute), but once the change has been made, the player cannot choose to not use the increased strength.