Some games with completion rates sometimes block the player from getting 100% (or more) when they cross a certain part of the game. If you want to get the 100% completion award, you have to replay the whole game in a different way.

For instance:

  • Some games completely lock access to certain areas after some events occurred.
  • Some games will 'lock the door' after you went through it, or have you jump down a cliff which is too steep to go back up, effectively preventing you from going back to where you came from.
  • Some games will require you to do some actions in a certain order to have a bonus or an award; the order in which you perform the actions is not important to reach the end of the game.

Some of these "barriers" seem to be completely "artificial", and are not told to the player beforehand.

These barriers are completely "artificial" and only seem there to piss off the player: no warning, absolutely no reason for why you can't go back, you just have to deal with it and replay the whole game if you want to really complete it.

Why would a developer want to do this? What's the point in forcing players to replay the whole game again if they want to 100% it?

  • \$\begingroup\$ Basically you are ranting about things being "lost forever" if you didn't pick them up before a certain point. \$\endgroup\$ – ratchet freak Feb 20 '17 at 11:54
  • \$\begingroup\$ @ratchetfreak While asking a question, yes. Thanks for the tv tropes link btw, I was wondering how they would call it. \$\endgroup\$ – noClue Feb 20 '17 at 15:12

First of all, note that not every game which sold well is perfect. You can find questionable design decisions in every game, even those heralded as the masterpieces of their genre. Sometimes you see backtracking prevention measures which are hard to explain with any sensible design arguments. But here are many cases where they can be explained:

  • You want to prevent the player from getting lost. When the player can always move backwards as far as they want, they might forget where exactly they need to be to progress.
  • It's simply not feasible because something happened in the game's plot which greatly changed some location but did so in a way which provides little incentive to revisit the area. For example, when a city is destroyed and you don't want to do anything in particular with its ruins, mapping out a ruined version of the city would be a huge amount of work for little benefit. So you would just make it inaccessible.
  • You want more control over the timing of the player's experience. Experienced game developers think a lot about when to give the player what content. This allows you to build engagement curves. But when the player can decide to go back and revisit old locations at any time, even when during an intense moment, that can really ruin your carefully constructed pacing. So you might want to prevent the player from backtracking during the more intense sections of your game. The finale is usually the most intense part of the game, which is why even the most open world games often have a "point of no return" shortly before the climax of the story.

Regarding the habit of game developers to hide unique items in locations which can not be revisited: This is a measure to improve replay value. Most game developers expect the player to play the game without consulting any outside sources. So the player would likely not even notice if they missed a neat but non-critical item during their first playthrough. But when they play the game a second time, they might find items they missed before. That means that they will have different resources during their second playthrough than through their first, giving them a different game experience.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Good answer. I wish I knew what the developers were thinking when they made those barriers. Literally none of the three examples you provided fit with Super Metroid or Braid. :/ I guess we'll never know for sure. \$\endgroup\$ – noClue Feb 19 '17 at 19:43
  • \$\begingroup\$ @noClue "This is a measure to improve replay value." \$\endgroup\$ – Vaillancourt Feb 20 '17 at 12:38
  • \$\begingroup\$ @AlexandreVaillancourt That's... not exactly the same. The games I listed as examples are not "easy to miss" collectibles in hidden areas that are inaccessible later. The examples I provided seem to be there specifically to block players from going back, with no warning. Basically, they make absolutely sure the player will mess up the first time playing. Who would've thought the first time playing Super Metroid that the last area just locks you in? At least with easy to miss collectibles, there's still a good chance you might find them on your first playthrough. \$\endgroup\$ – noClue Feb 20 '17 at 15:04
  • \$\begingroup\$ Yes, it is a measure to "improve" replay value... whether it's good or not is another debate. \$\endgroup\$ – noClue Feb 20 '17 at 15:06

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