Obscure Secrets (aka "How the Heck was I supposed to figure that out?!")

Ragpuppy87

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So I'm playing through Final Fantasy VII for the first time.
For the most part I'm finding it enjoyable. There are several things that are driving me crazy however. One of which is a lack of direction in certain areas of the game.
Example 1
How was I supposed to know that to get the Keystone I would need to travel back to the Gold Saucer and talk to what's his name?
There's an easy to miss house where someone gives you that very important bit of information.

Example 2
This one is optional but is even more ridiculous. Aeris's Final Limit Break.

There's a random cave on the world map. Inside is a sleeping man. He will start rambling about random statistics regarding the number of battles you've been in etc.
You need to talk to him when the last two digits of the total battles you have been in are odd and the same number.

Now this one is as I said optional and considering Aeris's fate, not a huge thing to miss out on. But how would anyone know that without a guide?

But to the point. A secret is just that. A secret. It's always a nice surprise for the player to discover it. But just how obscure should these secrets be before they become detrimental to gameplay?
How do we find a balance between hand holding and throwing the player to the wolves?
 

HumanNinjaToo

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Ahh... the good ole days when RPGs really did need a guide for 100% completion.

Seriously though, I'm with you on this. It's crazy to me some of the secrets I've discovered about games, games that I played dozens of times, that I had no idea about until internet guides were a thing. I mean there was some quest in FF9 that didn't get noticed until like 10 years after the game released??? What? LOL

Personally, I can see having obscure easter eggs and such. However, if there is actual items and content that go along with gameplay, I don't see the need to hide it like this. I think blocking things behind optional questlines or puzzles is okay, as long as there is some clues/hints within the game that would lead the player to figuring it out. I mean, maybe it was some kind of sick joke the old devs wanted to play on their players, IDK. I think it would be neat to pick the brains of the people who actually created those obscure secrets, and ask them why?
 

pasunna

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it is Javanese traditional like a riddle in old tale
they not tell the right information...or even don't tell anything
they don't care if you miss it

it is an Asian thing...
even if I'm Asian I don't understand it too...haha
because that is the habit of older generation than me
as it make me crazy but some how it make a little more exciting
than western game now a day
that everything have navigator quest mark bla bla bla
but... actually I prefer the western one haha...
I don't like to miss anything
but... these secret make a strong fandom
you can't 100% it on your own
if you don't have the seven sense...and kosmo...
so you need to look to other player information

there are no right and wrong
just make your owns decision
some dev like to troll the palyer every Connor of his game
yoko taro nier, miyasaki darksouls
and some hate it some like it
you can't expect the perfect feedback from all players anyway...
 

TheoAllen

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But just how obscure should these secrets be before they become detrimental to gameplay?
How do we find a balance between hand holding and throwing the player to the wolves?
What I don't like is when "the riddle" becomes mandatory to progress the game or detrimental to gameplay. Give the players all of the things they need to know to progress the game. Put every optional content on the secret, you can still finish the game without it. Personally, it can be as obscure as it needs because most of the time I don't even bother to replay the game. I only replay the game with high replayability which most of the time they don't have these kinds of features. And I don't care about the 100% completion rate.

But speaking of a design decision, it has a lot of dilemmas.
If you start to hand-hold players then it becomes an arcade game.
If you start to put moon logic obscure secret then it becomes a puzzle.

RPG is about exploration and giving a sense of discovery. Like, what if you discovered a secret trap door in your house that leads to a secret dungeon despite the fact that you have lived there long enough. My guess is that the dev tries to bring that "you can always discover new stuff even if you have been playing this many times". They probably never consider the game to be an "arcade game" so that you can get the 100% completion in a single linear gameplay. You explore, you discover. You went into an unexpected area and open a secret door.

RPG is not arcade games
RPG is not strategy games
RPG is not top-down shooter games

It is probably the only type of game (if not a few types) that you're able to put secrets in the game without the feeling that you have committed a sin.
 

Tai_MT

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Well, anymore, if you have "an obscure secret" in a game, it just means, "I want my players to go to the internet to find the solution". So, it's honestly 100000000% meaningless to have secrets in your game at all.

Actually, there are direct benefits to not buying games on release date and waiting several months now for their entire wiki's to be filled with all useful/relevant information and for people who care to put videos on YouTube about those things.

So, honestly, putting secrets into your game is actually detrimental to sales to an extent. There are several games I "put on hold" for buying because they looked like they would need an extensive guide to get 100% completion. I simply waited months or a year or more until the game went on sale and all information about the game was known, compiled, and posted... before ever buying it.

That's a sale the company lost, and the retailer had to sell at a significant markdown...

All because it had secrets in it, and looked like I'd need a guide to even get the 100%.
 

Randor01

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Well, anymore, if you have "an obscure secret" in a game, it just means, "I want my players to go to the internet to find the solution". So, it's honestly 100000000% meaningless to have secrets in your game at all.

Actually, there are direct benefits to not buying games on release date and waiting several months now for their entire wiki's to be filled with all useful/relevant information and for people who care to put videos on YouTube about those things.

So, honestly, putting secrets into your game is actually detrimental to sales to an extent. There are several games I "put on hold" for buying because they looked like they would need an extensive guide to get 100% completion. I simply waited months or a year or more until the game went on sale and all information about the game was known, compiled, and posted... before ever buying it.

That's a sale the company lost, and the retailer had to sell at a significant markdown...

All because it had secrets in it, and looked like I'd need a guide to even get the 100%.
This is a very cynic way to look at secrets honestly. The fact the the Internet makes secrets, well, not secrets it's true, but removing the "try figuring it out on your own" from RPGs would be a detriment to the genre. RPGs aren't only combat, they're also exploration: finding optional dungeons, talking to NPCs that could hint you the location of a rare monster, events that activate under very specific conditions, i can't imagine an RPG without a little bit of all this. The combat in good RPGs is the climax of having found a secret (I think about Lugia in Pokémon Heart Gold, the Shroobs in Bowser's Inside Story, the 4 God-Avatars in Octopath Traveler, etc. etc.), followed by obtaining a unique item or weapon, not necessary for story completion but still with their own special effects that could help you out in the game (and also good for bragging rights.).
 

gstv87

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I guess this is comparable to how shooting laser beams out of a character's finger makes sense, and is in fact the weapon of choice when fighting giant carrots with mind control.

¯\_(ツ)_/¯
sometimes you have to understand that the creator might have thought the game as just a mixed soup of nonsense, and that you have to disconnect your brain and try everything regardless of how crazy it might sound.
if it's FF we're talking about, the whole of FF is *Fantasy* to the extremest extent.
anything goes.... and when playing it, you have to know that *anything goes*.

you can take that and turn it into a way of rewarding out-of-the-box thinking.
but if you want to have "secrets" in your game, while your game makes sense, then the "secret" is no secret at all, it's just *an instance of gameplay that'll be available later when the player is more experienced at getting there* (which implies that the player is experienced enough to *spot* it, therefore, not a secret)

it is an Asian thing...
exactly.
you can see how these complex ways of discovering secrets are almost 100% always found in Eastern games, or in games of franchises that started in Japan.
it's part of both the style of the craft and the target market.
if you're not the target market, you'll miss it.
 

Ragpuppy87

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it is Javanese traditional like a riddle in old tale
they not tell the right information...or even don't tell anything
they don't care if you miss it

it is an Asian thing...
I actually found this very interesting.
I never considered that the style of secrets were due to a more cultural reasoning. Whether this translates well to the rest of the world is still up for debate, but it is definitely something to keep in mind. Thank you for sharing that info.
 

Animebryan

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Secrets add meaning to RPGs. They give your adventure a sense of wonder, a reason to explore every nook & cranny in its world. Not only that, but it can add replay value if you missed out on something the 1st time. Its rewarding to those who grew up in the S/NES era of RPGs where exploration was part of a player's freedom to roam about.

As for how obscure, there's definitely a limit to how hidden something should be. After all, what's the point of hiding something so well that nobody ever finds it? It might as well not have existed in the game then. You solve this by leaving clues. A defect in the wall or a slight difference in the floor tiles. Let's not forget what role NPCs should play in RPGs.

Make NPCs useful by giving clues about secrets, or have a system in place for keeping track of secrets. For example, have a variable set for each dungeon that keeps track of the number of chests in it. Then make a skill or common event item that tells the player how many chests are still in the dungeon. Then have each chest reduce that variable.

You can even setup an achievement system around that concept.
Moral of the story: Secrets are the spice of life in RPGs.
 

pasunna

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I actually found this very interesting.
I never considered that the style of secrets were due to a more cultural reasoning. Whether this translates well to the rest of the world is still up for debate, but it is definitely something to keep in mind. Thank you for sharing that info.
In Asia there are many lost knowledge and culture
some old master will die with their secret
more than teach their technique to and outsider than his family/bloodline
or even because the gender of the heir is not matched
and other if they think you not worth it too...
 

Tai_MT

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This is a very cynic way to look at secrets honestly. The fact the the Internet makes secrets, well, not secrets it's true, but removing the "try figuring it out on your own" from RPGs would be a detriment to the genre.
Here's the problem with that... Nobody "plays a game blind" anymore. I think the last one I played "blind" was Mass Effect 1 and only because I had been without internet for 3 months. What it did was made something powerful for me AFTER I got internet back (the choice of picking who to die of your squad in a misson. The game painted the entire experience as being able to avoid all loss and bad outcomes if you just played it the right way and made all the right choices. What was powerful was that the devs knew the reason I'd made the choice I had, and called me out for it using the character I'd saved... and then it became even more powerful after I got internet and realized it was the SOLE CHOICE in the entire game where you couldn't avoid a death or a "bad ending".).

We all live our lives pretty much attached to the internet anymore. We're so attached to it, we can't even leave our phones alone for a day or more. We must be constantly connected to it. Able to chat, text, look up anything we want at any time.

As a result, nobody plays a game blind anymore. We can't.

I can guarantee you've not played a single video game where you haven't looked up SOMETHING in it. Anything.
"What does this item do?"
"How can I class change?"
"What would've been the best solution to this quest?"
"Where are the rest of these 300 collectibles?"

Etcetera. Etcetera. Ad infinitum. Ad nauseum.

Every game you've ever played, you've looked up something about it on the internet. Watched a video. Read a tip or a trick. Looked up a solution. Needed information on how a mechanic worked.

We've all done it. Even in my most "blind" playthroughs, I've looked things up.

I recently started playing "Trials of Mana". I played the original Seiken Densetsu 3. Several of the changed features sent me straight to the internet to figure out what was going on. OH, there's a cactus guy now you have to find 50 times to get period rewards that are actually worthwhile. Okay, let me go get a list of each of his locations so I don't miss him at any point. Oh, there's an extra class change here that didn't exist in the original games. Weird. How do I do that? Is it story related, or is it something I have to do? When is the earliest I can get it? I remember I can get the second class change at Level 38 and remember the locations I need to grind the items needed for the class change... But, a class change after that? Do I need another item? Do I need to be level 50? What are the requirements? Monsters no longer drop treasure chests and there are now just chests in the world, mostly hidden... I need to open 200 of them for a trophy? Okay, let me see if there are map locations for each chest so I don't miss any and have to come back to get them.

Any and all secrets are pointless. We all just google them once we realize they exist to begin with. The obscure and easily missable nature of "secrets in video games" pretty much makes this a necessity.

RPGs aren't only combat, they're also exploration: finding optional dungeons, talking to NPCs that could hint you the location of a rare monster, events that activate under very specific conditions, i can't imagine an RPG without a little bit of all this.
Sort of depends. If the dungeon is "optional", I tend to look up to see what the reward for completing it is. If the reward is "not worth it" or you don't get an achievement or something... I don't bother with it. If I don't need the levels, the currency, or the drops, there's no reason for me to play it. But, if that stuff is worth it, then I begin preparing my characters for tackling it.

I do play games primarily for exploration as well. Exploration. Characters. Story. Those are why I play most video games. I play RPG's in particular strictly for story and characters. Exploration in an RPG frequently doesn't appeal to me because 95% of the world is blocked off to you anyway. Stay in the hallway. Do not deviate from the hallway. The hallway may branch sometimes, but you must always return to the one true path. It's less "exploring" and more "guided tour". It doesn't really scratch my exploring itch.

What does tend to scratch my exploring itch is mostly in First Person type games. Give me a set of tools and let me use those tools in ways I can dream up in order to get to places you may not have planned me to be. Invisible Walls anger me to no end. I like to see your big world. As much of it as possible at a time. I want to look out across the landscape and see a mountain and go, "I want to go there! I want to see that!". RPG's just don't scratch that itch. The last game that did for me was "Breath of the Wild".

As for characters... yeah, I like to talk to NPC's as well. But, you know, there really isn't any detailed text guides of what every NPC says in any RPG. So... non-issue.

Likewise, with "figure it out on your own"... I've just played too many games for that. I've seen basically every puzzle an RPG has to offer. Most are repeats of the same puzzles I did back on the NES. Push a thing to a thing. Flip some switches. Guess a correct door. Wander a maze. Solve a riddle. Blah. Blah. Blah. Boring. I've just done it all before. If I can't solve the puzzle in under 30 seconds, I google the solution. If I can't solve the mystery in the same amount of time, I google the end result of it.

I don't have the time or will to wade through a developer thinking they're clever or that their "being clever" is somehow "fun" and not "annoying waste of time".

Not that I don't enjoy puzzles. I do. I just don't enjoy them in any setting other than "Puzzle Game". Don't stop me in a gunfight and ask me to defuse a bomb by cutting the correct wire... Don't stop me in the middle of an RPG dungeon and ask me to flip switches in the correct order to proceed or to unlock a weapon useful for this stage of the game...

I'm here to play the RPG. I'm not here to play guessing games and deal with logic puzzles. I'll play those particular games when I'm looking for that experience. I won't play an RPG looking for that experience.

Especially when it's the same tired, well-worn puzzle I solved back in 1990 when I first got an NES.

The combat in good RPGs is the climax of having found a secret (I think about Lugia in Pokémon Heart Gold, the Shroobs in Bowser's Inside Story, the 4 God-Avatars in Octopath Traveler, etc. etc.), followed by obtaining a unique item or weapon, not necessary for story completion but still with their own special effects that could help you out in the game (and also good for bragging rights.).
I played the original Silver of Pokemon. I knew the Legendary had to be in the Whirl Islands 'cause I played Red/Blue/Yellow before Gold and Silver. It was just a matter of getting the skill that let me get in there. Turned into a 5 hour slog of trying to find the correct route to get to Lugia.

That wasn't fun. At all.

In the remake of Heart Gold/Soul Silver, when they'd changed how you get them... I went immediately for a guide to see when I'd get them.

It didn't make the experience any better.

I also don't think I've ever played a singleplayer game for "bragging rights". I don't think many do play singleplayer games for "bragging rights". Who do you brag to? A friend who googled how you got the "secret" item and now has it same as you do? What is there to brag about now when everyone knows how to do the secret thing and get the secret uber powerful thing? Brag that you did it without a guide while your friends look at you like you're silly for not just looking it up to get it and pity you for wasting so much of your own time?

Here, want my bragging right?

Pokemon Sapphire and Ruby. The originals. I found and translated the stupid Braille text by myself, without internet. It took me 5 minutes to realize one of stones was a "Cipher". After that, it was matter of writing down that cipher in agonizing detail, and then translating each individual letter... Then going to each location with Braille Text and writing them all down and then writing the translation under them... Then doing what the translation said... To get legendary Pokemon...

I did this because I didn't have internet at the time. Same time I had been playing Mass Effect. If I wanted these Pokemon, I had to figure out this puzzle all by myself with no way to reasonably suss it all out on my own.

I wasted six hours of my life translating this crap. Six hours. SIX HOURS.

No, that wasn't fun. It wasn't fun at all. I didn't feel clever. I didn't feel like I'd broken some code or found something nobody else had found. I felt foolish. I kept thinking all through that 6 hours, "If I just had internet... this wouldn't have taken any longer than five minutes and I'd be done already... I'd be doing something fun instead of this."

I'm sorry, but... Including secrets in your video game is just you telling the player to go grab a guide. To look things up so they don't waste their time.

Almost your entire audience is just going to google whatever your secret is. Usually someone who has cracked your game is probably going to post anything mechanics related or quest related at some point anyway.

If you put secrets in your game... you typically get about 3 days before all those secrets are online for everyone else to google. And they will. So, you've designed secrets in your game for the less than 1% of people who will go out of their way to find them and then post them for the other 99% of people to just use their guide, get clicks and views, and make revenue off of.
 

TheoAllen

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And they will. So, you've designed secrets in your game for the less than 1% of people who will go out of their way to find them and then post them for the other 99% of people to just use their guide, get clicks and views, and make revenue off of.
I know Tai, you often have a strong opinion on something, but throwing off the number like 1% and 99% is exaggerating. Unless you have actual data on it, it feels like you're trying to force your point of view. Besides, is it a bad thing that the guide is up on the internet to discover the game secrets? Alright, it might be a bad thing for people who want 100% completion because now they need it.
 

Tai_MT

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I know Tai, you often have a strong opinion on something, but throwing off the number like 1% and 99% is exaggerating.
That's sort of obvious. I guess I'm not allowed to use hyperbole? But, okay, if you want some raw data... Just go to YouTube and look at the number of people who create videos about a secret compared to the amount of views.

I'd say that "1%" is probably fairly accurate in such an instance. You could even look up wikis for games and just look up the list of people who contribute and compare it to site traffic numbers.

I'd wager the 1% is probably a fairly accurate assessment in lieu of an actual figure just based on easily accessible and googled information (number of people who post a secret in comparison to number of people who looked that secret up).

Besides, is it a bad thing that the guide is up on the internet to discover the game secrets? Alright, it might be a bad thing for people who want 100% completion because now they need it.
It's not a bad thing that these guides exist. It's sort of a bad thing that they need to exist at all. It's one thing if the guides exist as just sort of "quick references". It's quite another when they exist because, "if you don't have this guide, be prepared to waste 5 hours of your life figuring it out".

From the perspective of a dev... it's sort of a waste of time to try to create secrets in your game because of the ubiquitous nature of online guides for video games. It's a lot of time wasted to try to create something for 1% of your audience... when you could've just ignored making it a puzzle or a secret in the first place and just let your audience have something they were going to get anyway.

There is functionally no difference between a player who spends 6 hours to figure out your secret in a game and one who looked it up in 20 seconds. They both get the reward, except now the first player wasted 6 hours of their life to get it while the second player didn't.

To me... it's quite silly.

Now, if we were talking "put secrets in video games!" like back before the internet was so widespread... like say... 20 years ago, my opinion on it would be far different. I'd be in favor of the practice as the internet doesn't ruin the secret and many more players would get to enjoy the act of finding something and sharing that information with their friends who don't know about it.

But, today? If you tell your friends, "Yeah, just slap the turtle 3 times and then sing 'Mary had a little lamb' backwards with Bob and Judy in your party to get the secret Infinity +1 Sword" they're just going to go, "Yeah, I got it already. Why are you telling me this?"
 

TheoAllen

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That's sort of obvious. I guess I'm not allowed to use hyperbole? But, okay, if you want some raw data... Just go to YouTube and look at the number of people who create videos about a secret compared to the amount of views.

I'd say that "1%" is probably fairly accurate in such an instance. You could even look up wikis for games and just look up the list of people who contribute and compare it to site traffic numbers.

I'd wager the 1% is probably a fairly accurate assessment in lieu of an actual figure just based on easily accessible and googled information (number of people who post a secret in comparison to number of people who looked that secret up).
Total views, total page views, and total page contributions are not accurate. Not to mention, you can not distinguish if the watchers are actually the players, randomly people find it, or if the rewatched it. There's no unique view count as far as I know.

Say, if I finished a game and I finally looked up the guide if I miss something. Yes, I totally missed it. But I discovered 80% of them mentioned in the guide myself, and the other one I didn't. Does that mean my view counted as I looked up at the guide for all the secret mentioned there?

I mean, if you say yes, then I guess that is fine. It is just how the way you think.
But that is just a nitpick in my end.

It's not a bad thing that these guides exist. It's sort of a bad thing that they need to exist at all. It's one thing if the guides exist as just sort of "quick references". It's quite another when they exist because, "if you don't have this guide, be prepared to waste 5 hours of your life figuring it out".
if this is directed to a mandatory game mechanic you need to know, I can agree.

From the perspective of a dev... it's sort of a waste of time to try to create secrets in your game because of the ubiquitous nature of online guides for video games. It's a lot of time wasted to try to create something for 1% of your audience... when you could've just ignored making it a puzzle or a secret in the first place and just let your audience have something they were going to get anyway.

There is functionally no difference between a player who spends 6 hours to figure out your secret in a game and one who looked it up in 20 seconds. They both get the reward, except now the first player wasted 6 hours of their life to get it while the second player didn't.
... or maybe not.
The secret is supposed to be a non-mandatory part of the game that you can still complete the game without it. It could range from just a bonus story or a hidden mechanic in the game (if you combine this skill and this skill, it creates a different skill). And the internet is a perfect place to build a community around the world to talk about it.

Probably, a good game does not only make you spend your time in-game but also to engage with the community. Or probably, they just aim for a different goal/audience.

Now, if we were talking "put secrets in video games!" like back before the internet was so widespread... like say... 20 years ago, my opinion on it would be far different. I'd be in favor of the practice as the internet doesn't ruin the secret and many more players would get to enjoy the act of finding something and sharing that information with their friends who don't know about it.

But, today? If you tell your friends, "Yeah, just slap the turtle 3 times and then sing 'Mary had a little lamb' backwards with Bob and Judy in your party to get the secret Infinity +1 Sword" they're just going to go, "Yeah, I got it already. Why are you telling me this?"
It is basically the same thing, honestly. Now replace "friends" with the "internet". The secret is, secret. Your friend probably doesn't know that the thing they found is a secret at all. Until you or they started to talk. The secret in-game probably does the same. If in the game you're forced to waste your 6 hours to crack what is going on, that is not a secret. That's a puzzle. You don't know until you browsed a guide for luls and discovered that you never realized it's there. Or the reverse. You found it yourself, and you're confused that people need a guide for it at all.
 

Tai_MT

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Total views, total page views, and total page contributions are not accurate. Not to mention, you can not distinguish if the watchers are actually the players, randomly people find it, or if the rewatched it. There's no unique view count as far as I know.

Say, if I finished a game and I finally looked up the guide if I miss something. Yes, I totally missed it. But I discovered 80% of them mentioned in the guide myself, and the other one I didn't. Does that mean my view counted as I looked up at the guide for all the secret mentioned there?

I mean, if you say yes, then I guess that is fine. It is just how the way you think.
But that is just a nitpick in my end.
If you wanted a propose a better way to get a more accurate count, I'm all ears. The method I'm using is just the most logical and accurate count I could think to obtain.

It helps that most things that are "secret" are actually searched by what they are, so you can always tell who is looking it up because they don't know about it. After all, if you don't know "Tomatos given to Julia result in her growing Apple Trees for you", you aren't going to look up, "How to get Apple Trees". Meanwhile, if you did know how to get Apple Trees... no reason to look up how to get them.

Anyway, I typically deal with "reasonable assumptions" and "reasonable accuracy". Especially in my job every day. My bosses demand "exact numbers" for most everything I do, but I can't always provide that, so I make "reasonable" conclusions with data I have available to me. I determine what might be the most accurate or probably closest to the "exact number" I'm looking for and then conclude, "this is the best we're going to get because X, Y, and Z, and here's the flaws with the way it's calculated".

I do tend to toss out "percentages" on this website quite a lot, but most of the time they are the "reasonable accuracy" based on best information available.

If you have a better method for getting closer to "the exact number", then I'm willing to listen and accept that proposed idea or method. But, if you just want to say, "It's not an exact number!" then I don't know what to tell you. Few things in the world are "an exact number". Not everyone participates in everything. Not everyone does everything the same. Variables abound when trying to collect data to an exact number.

My assessment is just the best I could think up when using the 1% hyperbole. I know 1% isn't accurate, but with available data... yeah, reasonable assessment. I know it doesn't take into account people who find secrets and don't share them on the internet. I know it doesn't take into account people who view a secret multiple times on a website or video. I know that websites and even YouTube have very inaccurate "view" and "subscriber" counts (the fact that you can have comments before views is QUITE telling of how broken it is). There are probably about a dozen ways in which we could prove it's not accurate. But, it's the best I could muster. The closest reasonable approximation of "People who find secrets versus people who look them up on the internet".

It is what it is.

if this is directed to a mandatory game mechanic you need to know, I can agree.

... or maybe not.
The secret is supposed to be a non-mandatory part of the game that you can still complete the game without it. It could range from just a bonus story or a hidden mechanic in the game (if you combine this skill and this skill, it creates a different skill). And the internet is a perfect place to build a community around the world to talk about it.

Probably, a good game does not only make you spend your time in-game but also to engage with the community. Or probably, they just aim for a different goal/audience.
Most "secrets" are non-mandatory. But, these are things like "easter eggs" in games. Which... hey, those are cool. I don't look for them personally, because it's a waste of my time for about 10 seconds of, "that's awesome!" and someone will just post it to YouTube later anyway... But, yeah, those are awesome.

My viewpoint is "If you're locking off content behind secrets or puzzles, don't bother, you're wasting your own time as a dev because the internet exists... and you're essentially designing something to be enjoyed by about 1% of people who play games". It's just a matter of not wasting precious dev time. You can spend that dev time making your game better. Tightening up dialogue. Signposting existing content better. Balancing gameplay and combat. Whatever. No need to waste 20 dev hours putting in a single secret when you could've used that 20 hours to better balance your game... improve dialogue... or just generally improve the overall quality of the finished product.

As for engaging with the community... I don't know. That probably depends on the sort of person. I think this website is the only place I've ever "engaged with a community" before, and if I ever leave, I probably never will again. I can imagine there are other people like me in that regard. The only reason I even engage with this community is because much of what we do here is "conceptualize" things. There is no "right answer" to most of the things we discuss. There are just right ways and wrong ways to execute those things. Or, circumstances in which the things we discuss would be incredibly valuable.

Anyway, I can't imagine trying to bond with strangers over a video game. I mean... I work for a living and have a real life with real social obligations. Bonding over a video game seems... anti-climactic for me? I dunno how many other people do that either.

We could probably find a decently accurate number if we compare people who engage on the official forums for games versus sales numbers of those games. Just offhand, I'd say somewhere around 25-35% of players? That's just a guess though, based on some of the forums I've seen for some of the games I've played (Bungie forums, Bethesda forums, Bioware forums). Even those engaging in those communities don't even have all that much to say and don't really form any "bonds" with anyone. They sort of just talk like we do on these forums. Very much, "Yeah, we discuss things, but I don't actually care who you are or what you think unless you disagree with me and I have something to say about that disagreement" sort of thing. So... if we're looking at that sort of "community involvement", it doesn't really have anything to do with whether or not you put secrets in your game or not.

Anyway, that's just my personal observation. We could go through a bunch of forums for games and try to get a more accurate count on people actually "forming a community" around a game or a subject instead of just hanging out so they can say, "yah huh!" and "nuh uh!" at each other. Though, maybe some might count that as "forming a community" as well. Not sure.

It is basically the same thing, honestly. Now replace "friends" with the "internet". The secret is, secret. Your friend probably doesn't know that the thing they found is a secret at all. Until you or they started to talk. The secret in-game probably does the same. If in the game you're forced to waste your 6 hours to crack what is going on, that is not a secret. That's a puzzle. You don't know until you browsed a guide for luls and discovered that you never realized it's there. Or the reverse. You found it yourself, and you're confused that people need a guide for it at all.
It's... really not the same thing. Not even on a basic level. Without the internet, you would tell your friend because it's valuable information. In return, they'd tell you stuff too, to help you out. If you found a secret, you shared it with everyone at school. It was basically like playing the game cooperatively.

With the internet... it's a few people giving the information and most people contributing nothing and only taking that information. No sense of comradery. No sense of "shared exploration". No aspect of friendship involved. No shared goals involved. No passion involved.

With the internet, it's all so "clinical" now. Click a couple times, get the information you need, never interact with them, you're on your way just so you can beat the game. So you can move along to the next one.

So, the value of a "secret" in a game has dropped. A secret is just a roadblock to keep you from completing the game faster. Well, unless the secret doesn't offer any content what-so-ever.

Let me put it another way. I'm going to use personal anecdotal evidence because it's really all I got.

When I was young and the internet was new (and few people even had it or could afford it), I actively looked for secrets in video games. I looked for ways to cheat the game, to find things that were hard to get, and for glitches. These were things I looked for because if I found them, I could show my friends. I could give my friends tips to beat the game and get caught up so we all knew the same games and could all talk about them at lunch together.

With how attached to the internet everyone is now... Even myself... I don't bother looking for secrets all that much. I don't care about glitches (unless they're in multiplayer, then I want them patched out for balance reasons). I don't care about finding ways to cheat the game (unless something is too difficult, then I YouTube ways to cheese the game). I don't look for things in the games I play that are difficult to obtain. In fact, unless an achievement requires me to do these things... I don't care. I have no friends to share these finds with. I can talk to my friends in real life, sure, but they went and looked it up long before I figured out how to do it myself. The internet has made these secrets just another checklist. Milk, Bread, Eggs, Infinity +1 Sword.

I'd love to go back to a time when secrets mattered like they used to. When they produced that much excitement and passion and interaction. But, they just don't anymore. Just a part of the checklist on the way to 100% completion. If a player even cares about 100% completion... and most do until they see some game is too daunting to do that.

It's crazy to think that even when I'm playing a game over the internet with my friends, they're usually asking me for information from that game's particular wiki over headset. Or, they've got it open and they're reciting it to me at the same time. No surprise in it either. Just a, "Yep, let's do it this way because the guide says to, and the reward is good".

Anyway, just my two cents on it. I view including secrets that hide content for the game as a waste of dev time and a waste of player time. Those secrets don't hold the same impact they did 20 years ago before the invention of the internet.

But, hey, if your secrets are just neat little easter eggs... yeah, put 'em in. Those are cool. I like watching YouTube videos of people finding Easter Eggs.
 

TheoAllen

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If you wanted a propose a better way to get a more accurate count, I'm all ears. The method I'm using is just the most logical and accurate count I could think to obtain.
My proposal is "just don't". You're forcing a hyperbole to force your point of view. I mean, if you admit it that you're forcing your point of view using what you think is "the most logical way" then it's ok. "Yeah, I just emphasize my point of view, that is not the actual number". Which you do it just now.

The rest of your wall of text is irrelevant to the topic. So I'm going to ignore it.

As for engaging with the community... I don't know. That probably depends on the sort of person. I think this website is the only place I've ever "engaged with a community" before, and if I ever leave, I probably never will again. I can imagine there are other people like me in that regard. The only reason I even engage with this community is because much of what we do here is "conceptualize" things. There is no "right answer" to most of the things we discuss. There are just right ways and wrong ways to execute those things. Or, circumstances in which the things we discuss would be incredibly valuable.

Anyway, I can't imagine trying to bond with strangers over a video game. I mean... I work for a living and have a real life with real social obligations. Bonding over a video game seems... anti-climactic for me? I dunno how many other people do that either.
At least I thank you for confirming that depends on the individual, you're not that kind of people and you don't know them either. That is fair.

--------
Now into your next point, if you put it that way then sure it's different.

My life experience is a little bit different though. So let me tell you why I could think that way. During my childhood, the thing called Video Games were so rare. I got lucky just having a computer with DOS games. Most of my friends didn't play video games. Even if they play a video game at all, they probably rent a PlayStation in a PlayStation cafe hourly. And thus, the games that they could play were just racing, fighting, arcade, and any short session games. And that hardly had any secret. They just could not commit to something like RPG. While I did have access to video games, I couldn't talk to anyone, probably except to my big brother. Over time, I got used to suppressing my excitement on discovering a secret in a video game while retaining the fun. So I used to play alone.

The funny thing is, even with the internet today, I still find myself having a different taste than most of the people I find and interact on the internet. Let alone finding people with the same passion for games in real life, which is totally understandable. So, I looked up at the internet just to see what people find. I don't care to share what I find. I only care to see what people find (even though I also found the secret myself). Maybe if I read the wiki, I will find something I never know. That is how "friends" and "Internet" feels the same for me.

However, to make me care about finding a secret in the game at all, I need to know the game first. If the game is good and I spent 100 hours into it, maybe I will look at the wiki or the community.

Edit: fixed some grammar error
 
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Kuro DCupu

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TLDR most of the post, but I grasp the point.

My only thought, it's fair as long as it's NOT MANDATORY.
Some people want to feel a sense of discovery and want to be rewarded for making that attempt.
If it's required to finish the main storyline, AT MOST what you can do is dropping some OBVIOUS HINT that are REACCESSABLE. If you are stuck in the storyline and don't know where to go, even if you drop thousand clues back then it's not worthed if you can't access it again.
 

Tai_MT

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@TheoAllen

That's not actually the point of the hyperbole. The point of hyperbole was to emphasize reality rather than the idealized version of reality many of the game devs on the forums strive towards. The percentage was thrown out for that reason. To emphasize the difference between "What we wish the world was like" versus "what the world is actually like".

I don't like to deal with "what we wish" and instead prefer to deal with "what is". That's all. I don't tend to offer my opinion as fact (though it is obvious when I'm just offering my opinion). I tend to look at the way things are and work from that standpoint when addressing a subject.

As in this topic. You can put secrets in your game, but you really are catering to such a minor audience who enjoys that sort of thing and will go looking for that sort of thing... and it isn't the same now as it was 20 years ago when we first formed our idealized opinion on the subject (we grew up with these secrets, so we have inherent bias towards putting them in our games, but the landscape of the gaming industry has changed in those 20 years or more). It is the same as "It was cool when I grew up with it, so I put it in the game".

It is honestly better to just make a great game and not waste time on features that are no longer asked for by players.

To the topic at large...

There's little reason to include obscure secrets in your game to begin with. Especially if they lock off content. We live in an age where people playing to 100% completion is more common. An age where people seek their "bragging rights" though achievements and trophies and multiplayer cosmetics. An age where people just google your secrets and your solutions to puzzles rather than try to figure them out themselves. An age where video games are so common and easily obtained that mini-games tacked onto RPG's is no longer "buying one game and getting another" and is instead, "why does this mini-game I'll rarely play exist in this RPG?".

If you do have secrets, however, just signpost them well. Or constantly. Though, admittedly, just making those secrets part of normal gameplay keeps you from having to signpost them at all.

The gaming landscape that existed 20 years ago when I was growing up and formed most of my opinions on "what makes a great game" no longer exists. We can't rely on what we grew up with to inform us of what is and is not a good idea as a game dev. Especially since games are meant to hit the widest audience possible. We can say, "I'm just making a game for me", but that's not really true. We all want as many people as possible to play our games and find them fun.

With that in mind, we need to take a look at current landscapes of video games. Not just what is popular, but why it is popular. Not just what isn't popular or done anymore, but why it isn't.

That's what I typically try to contribute to these topics. What is. Well, unless you see me say, "I hate X feature because Y reason", then I'm just using my opinion and it doesn't really matter all that much unless you believe others share my opinion.
 

HumanNinjaToo

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I think finding secrets in games is still fun for many people. I don't think you have to broadcast every single secret you have hidden somewhere, but you probably shouldn't hide it so well that nobody can find it without searching every inch of the game. Subtlety goes a long way I think, and like with most things in life, there needs to be some balance. In this case, balance between hiding and hinting at the secret.

Finding that balance will probably look different in various types of games. One way I've seen it done well, IMO, is in the Dark Souls franchise. Secrets and such are hidden in the item descriptions. My first time playing Demon Souls, I took no notice of this. In Dark Souls, for some reason, it clicked with me when I discovered some hints about the lore in descriptions that led me to make some discoveries. Then I felt very proud to have figured it out. As the other games came out, I made it a point to study the item descriptions for more game lore and possible tips to where certain items may be hidden, or effective strategies for boss fights, or where other gameplay aspects may be located. I think that franchise did a very good job of balancing secrets and hints.
 

Ellie Jane

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I don't mind this for side quests or end game content, but for general run of the mill gameplay I absolutely hate it. And it always makes me wonder how the guide creators knew about it. I'm convinced it's set up by the creators of such games as a means to sell game guides.
 

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