In some games, when you miss a pickup, you can never get it again unless you restart the game, and those pickups count in your collection. (therefore, you must restart the game to finish the collection, if you made any mistakes).

In Pokémon, you have only one Master Ball, limited supply of Ethers and legendary Pokémon appear once per game. Trading fixes all of those problems.

For a more radical perfectionist, they demanded all dialogs, background music, and even items to be revisitable. Some games, like Naruto Ninja Council, satisfied all of those needs.

Is it always a good practice to make things revisitable? Even cutscenes and music? When is it not a good practice to do so?

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Technically in Pokemon it's possible to get an infinite supply of Master Balls, if you can strike lucky at the lottery corner (in some of the games). \$\endgroup\$ – The Communist Duck Sep 2 '10 at 17:42

It definitely depends on what your intentions are for the game!

For example: If the game is some sprawling RPG with 60h of gameplay and 1000 secrets, then yes, as a player I would expect to be able to slowly chart out the world and collect things. Or, they should be able to miss things (make them non-revisitable) by choice, but not by ignorance (i.e. get the Super Sword, or the Super Shield, but not both).

Alternatively, if the game is short and/or linear, missing content on the first playthrough can provide motivation for second/third/... playthroughs. In this case it may be interesting to make it impossible to see everything in a single playthrough. Or it may not!

It depends on how you want people to approach the game, what kind of value (both gameplay and real-world) these things hold, and why you want people to be gaining these things in the first place. Remember: You can't please everyone, all of the time. Figure out who your game is for and make a game for them!

  • \$\begingroup\$ Good point about play-length \$\endgroup\$ – Bryan Denny Sep 2 '10 at 20:55

I would say it depends on the kind of game. Something like an RPG, it wouldn't fit the game that Mr. Look At Me With My Amazing Armour Which You Didn't Pick Up Earlier suddenly reappeared, with the set of unique armour just because you didn't pick it up and instead a band of rogues did. However, it would fit that, for example, you find those rogues with the armour later. Then again, the other issue would be that the player could not physically pick up said items. An idea would be that they are kept, somehow. You do not want to punish players for something they cannot control or predict, such as inventory space.

On the other hand, an arcade game or something with less of a storyline would probably benefit from being able to replay. There's no reason for the player not to be able to re-defeat Master Foo, when the game is split up.

Cinematics and the like, I would say, are a different ball-game. I know on Red Faction: Guerilla, I am a fan of the cutscenes and am glad that I can rewatch.

It really depends on the game length, the type of market, and the game genre.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Ah, yes. Cinematics are especially key since games still don't provide proper pause/play/ffwd/rewd controls on these sequences. \$\endgroup\$ – Ipsquiggle Sep 2 '10 at 21:36

I would say a lot depends on your intention.

With the original Pokemon Red/Blue, I think it was flatly impossible to complete your collection without trading. But since trading and battling other players was a large part of the intended core gameplay, forcing the issue made sense.

I think Chrono Trigger was the first game to offer the popular "New Game+" option that lets you restart after beating the game, preserving your inventory and levels and giving you immediate access to all game locations, specifically to aid completionist players. You might find that to be a good compromise, if the player might miss out on some things early on but be able to go back after the game is done.

I'm sure at least some games had obscure secrets in them with no clues and no way to go back and get them again after passing a certain point, specifically as a ploy to sell more strategy guides. If that's your reason, I'd say that is borderline unethical design, at least.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Games that are hard for the sake of selling add-ons probably lose more in customer-base than they gain in add-ons. \$\endgroup\$ – Kzqai Jun 17 '11 at 23:52

It's a question of how complex you want your game to be. Everything that isn't revisitable implies there's state stored with the player's game to note which things have been visited and which things haven't. That state makes the game more complex to play (players must correctly do things in the right order), but more importantly, makes the game more complex to design.

Every time you store an additional piece of state, the game designers have to carefully track how the game works when that data is in either state. For example, consider a key that is spawned somewhere and can unlock a door. If the game forgets that the player has gotten the key before and allows it to respawn, it's pretty simple. Any time the player needs that key, they can go there to get it.

If the game doesn't let you revisit it, now designers have to make sure they handle situations like:

  1. The player dropped the key somewhere inaccessible. Are they stuck?
  2. What if they use the key on the wrong door. Can they still get a second key to use on the expected door?

The more game state that gets tracked, the more complex the player's flow through the game world, and that complexity increases combinatorially. You can consider game state to be a state machine. Every bit of state you store ("has X been visited before?") doubles the number of states in that state machine.

  • \$\begingroup\$ On the flip side, the less is tracked and repeatable, the less deep/complicated your plot becomes. E.g. minecraft, infinite repeatability, no plot. \$\endgroup\$ – Kzqai Jun 17 '11 at 23:49

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