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

Tai_MT

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@QuietPenguin

It is interesting to tell me that "not everyone plays games the same as you", while then telling me that, yes, you do indeed play games the same as me and look things up, and not play a game blind.

I did not ever once say that people use a walkthrough and follow it like some sort of robot. People grab guides for all sorts of reasons. Collectibles in the game? Grab a guide to find them all 'cause you want the achievement and you know it's going to be a pain. Got momentarily stuck? Go grab a YouTube video or something to see how to get unstuck.

Nobody plays blind anymore.

Secrets don't really retain a "Oh wow I missed that" thrill. More often than not it is, "crap, I missed that, now I gotta go back and get it" or "eh, I'm not going back for it, since it's not all that useful".

Before the age of the internet, people would look for secrets in games to tell their friends, or because getting something extra in a game you weren't necessarily supposed to have or weren't supposed to have found was cool. Now that you have achievements and collectibles and poor signposting in games... That doesn't exist anymore. You don't find a secret and immediately go tell your friends anymore. You don't call them all excited and say, "I just did X in this game, and here's how so you can do it too!" You don't play with a sense of wonder when you obtain something you weren't meant to have either. It's just another thing on a checklist. Another thing in a game that everyone else has found, the same as you, so it isn't even a secret or anything special.

There really isn't any sense in having an "obscure secret" in your game. Not even in an RPG. Because, the internet exists. All you're doing by having something like that is sending your players to the internet to look it up. Sending them to grab a guide. Sending them to watch YouTube. Or, sending them into RPG Maker to pull apart your game to view your code and maps (as a young kid, yes, I did this. I would take RPG Maker games and get them cracked and then load them into RPG Maker programs to view all the codes and events and maps to find every obscure secret without hassle).

If a dev wants to increase "playtime" of their game, hiding obscure secrets really isn't the way to do it. Adding meaningful content for the player to do is the way to do it.
 

Milennin

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The most obscure things I put in my games are like unique dialogues or descriptions on some events that should definitely be out of reach from the player, but just in case they find a hole in the map or cheat to get there.
In my first game I had a few other small, very obscure secrets I don't think anyone who played it found, not that I know of at least. Things like funny NPC interaction under very specific conditions.
 

FleshToDust

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I wonder how people discovered that holding down behind a certain colored block in Mario for a certain amount of time will let you go behind the level and get a warp whistle. Secrets... Not really meant to be found. Fun though if you can discover them... Somehow.
 

Tai_MT

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I wonder how people discovered that holding down behind a certain colored block in Mario for a certain amount of time will let you go behind the level and get a warp whistle. Secrets... Not really meant to be found. Fun though if you can discover them... Somehow.
They watched the movie "The Wizard" about what is essentially an autistic kid who is amazing at video games, attending a video game competition. The entire thing is one giant commercial for Nintendo.

However, the secret is shown off in that movie and is a plot point. They are "playing a new game" which is Super Mario 3, and the autistic kid figures it out immediately without any prompting or hints.
 

Frostorm

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Omg I totally forgot that movie existed! Ima go watch it now lol. Damn, I never realized he was autistic, just thought the kid was just really into his video games like me. XD
 
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kairi_key

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If I were to add obscure secret, I'd do so with intention to expand upon the world so it feels lived-in. Not to really invoke a sense of discovery in this day and age where guides and how-to are all over the place.

If the idea of making some obscure secret that is mandatory is the point, then I'd like it to be more of a everything is there for you to figure it out with some hints. Like, if you're in a plotpoint where you left the player to explore the world out to find whatever it is that will lead to the next plotpoint then I'd try to foreshadow it somehow or maybe have NPC that give multiple leads that could be either true or false. If people wanna go find a guide for that then fine.

However, I don't think I'd like that anyway. Keep the secret optional, I'd say, and don't make it so obscure that there's no hint be it direct or inferred one.
 

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