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Cyberdemon531

Maps Without Secrets

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How do you feel about maps without secrets? Personally, I am not a fan. Even if it's just a small closet with some ammo, I feel like it adds a lot to a map just by being a secret.

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I like secrets a lot. I think its good mapping etiquette to include secret areas, especially in difficult maps to give the player a little of an edge if they're not as good at fighting as they are at searching. Secrets can make a map feel more mysterious and give reasons to replay if you complete it without finding them all the first time.

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Secrets are awesome! They add puzzle elements to a game that is highly oriented by fast-paced action, but at the same time remains as a optional type of gameplay... It's a win-win situation and a brilliant concept.

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Frankly I think secrets are a little pointless (sometimes, not always). When I work on a map I usually forget about secrets until the last minute. Though the concept is pretty cool to Noiser's point.

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In what sense? Secret as in "have to actively look for something slightly hidden", or Sectortype 9?

Regardless, a map doesn't feel "complete" to me if either case is missing.

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I really don't care for maps without secrets or with secrets, If It's In the main game, Yes. But If It's In an WAD or anything, I really don't care.

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I feel more free to appreciate the gameplay and architecture of a map when the pressure to find secrets is removed.

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Job said:

I feel more free to appreciate the gameplay and architecture of a map when the pressure to find secrets is removed.

This is curious. Personally speaking, I never felt pressured to find secrets. Unless the map has some bullshit difficulty or something almost required to proceed.

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Putting secret items in your maps feels like killing the balance. You're going to test how your map plays without any secrets, right? And you'll make sure that it's playable. Well then adding secret items on top of that will destroy that balance you worked so hard on. If the player can have one more soulsphere then the map is too easy now. No secrets is probably better because it removes the bullshitty "ohhh, so there was a frickin' BFG with 200 cells right near the start".

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Memfis said:

Putting secret items in your maps feels like killing the balance. You're going to test how your map plays without any secrets, right? And you'll make sure that it's playable. Well then adding secret items on top of that will destroy that balance you worked so hard on. If the player can have one more soulsphere then the map is too easy now. No secrets is probably better because it removes the bullshitty "ohhh, so there was a frickin' BFG with 200 cells right near the start".


Solution: put tough fights in secrets, and/or strip a few of the non-secret resources from the map and transfer them to secrets, and/or don't put many useful resources in secrets at all.

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When I'm playing I rarely look hard for secrets and I'm not a completionist. I only look if I notice the secret is cued or I'm desperate for resources and most the time I don't even check the secret tally at the end of the level.

When I'm mapping I rarely have secrets in mind. An idea will either pop into my head while looking at the editor or playtesting or I will force them in at the end. My biggest issue is that I hear too many whiners who complain when secrets are too hard to find, unmarked or locked off at some stage due to being one shot or located in an area that becomes inaccessible later in the map. I agree that there are occasions that these might be bad design but I also don't think you should expect up be able to max every map the first time you play.

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I like some secrets that are obvious with items that help balance. It gives the player a cool feeling to find a secret (even if it's easy to find and supposed to be found) and still doesn't break balance too much.

Also, I don't mind balance being broken for secrets. That's the whole point of them, really.

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Punishing for finding secrets is bullshit, always disliked that. Putting necessary items in secrets is maybe even worse. Making secrets generally useless = might as well not have them then. \o/

Cyberdemon531 said:

Also, I don't mind balance being broken for secrets. That's the whole point of them, really.

Well, as a mapper I find it kinda sad to rape my own maps with secrets. Who's going to appreciate my cool balance if the secrets ruin it? I doubt the player will agree to deliberately ignore all secrets just to please me.

purist said:

but I also don't think you should expect up be able to max every map the first time you play.

Yes! I dislike it when people complain about secrets being obtuse. Yes, they are secrets, you're not supposed to find them, that's the idea lol.

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Memfis said:

Putting secret items in your maps feels like killing the balance. You're going to test how your map plays without any secrets, right? And you'll make sure that it's playable. Well then adding secret items on top of that will destroy that balance you worked so hard on. If the player can have one more soulsphere then the map is too easy now. No secrets is probably better because it removes the bullshitty "ohhh, so there was a frickin' BFG with 200 cells right near the start".

It's true that secrets can make balance harder, but if applied carefully they don't ruin it that much, at most they give the player an additional edge (e.g. letting him get away with one mistake more.)

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I suck at finding secrets and don't even look very hard. So I'm pretty much indifferent to it. I like easy to find secrets though.

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Maps without secrets make me disappointed. Finding secrets usually makes me satisfied. Not finding secrets in a map that has them can make me curious. In the last case, sometimes I may cheat to see where the secrets are. I won't do this if I don't care about the map and just wish it to be over, and I also won't do this if I particularly liked the map to the point that I'm sure I'll replay it at some point in the future - even if it doesn't really happen then. :)

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Maps without secrets feels lazy to me, like the author didn't have enough creativity or care to include them. I also dislike simple closet secrets. I think secrets which give you access to other parts of the map which are otherwise blocked to the player(a locked door, a high ledge, outside area) are the coolest and most rewarding. Also IMO, secrets does not have to include items that give you immediate edge like a powerful weapon or powerup, there are plenty of things to put in secrets without making them "balance breaking".

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Dave The Daring said:

Is it uncool to make a secret without marking it as such, so the player doesn't even know it exists?


Nope! It is entirely fair game to include "secrets" without actually marking them secret. That makes them super secret because if the player completes the map with 100% secrets they still won't know they're missing something :)

Okay that is a little cheap but for completionists and speedrunning, you can make a map with a really boring speedrun video if the majority of the time is spent locating the secret areas rather than impressing the viewer with faster ways to do other things. Secret areas are mandatory "you must go here" objectives for UV-Max videos, so personally I think its cool to use secret areas as a way to ensure that all monsters are woken up or to attach deadly consequences to the rest of the map for finding them.

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I like secrets, but they're not necessary in every level. What I don't like is when they're too well hidden (mostly in more detailed and stylized levels). If I can't find secrets in few first levels, I don't bother to look for them in later levels.

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I wish I put more secrets in my maps, I love finding secrets. I think people who worry about them destroying the delicate balance of their maps are maybe not thinking creatively about it, secrets aren't just about finding a soulsphere in a hidden cupboard. You can have whole secret areas with their own population of monsters to kill, or secrets that provide alternative routes through the map, giving you access to fights from different angles or earlier than intended. In a map with limited ammo and health even a secret box of shells or medkit is a welcome find. They will make your map easier, but that is the reward for looking for them.

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Maybe teh biggest problem is that obviously I will find all secrets in my map, unless I haven't played it in 5 years or something. So I don't really have any reason to make them. Of course I could purposely decide to "not notice" some of the secrets when playing my stuff, but that feels a little stupid. So it's either have 0 secrets or balance the map with the expectation that the player will find all of them.

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I don't mind if a map has no secrets. I'm not really much of a secret hunter anyway.

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my thoughts on secrets in maps:

exhibit a:
https://www.dropbox.com/s/ll7x1ua8hao1kct/just%20zan%20things.png?dl=1

exhibit b:
the way there's six secrets in my 2048px map for PCCP2 including a couple of unofficial minor things and none of them are just simple cupboards with chainsaws.

basically I reckon secrets work best when you've started the map with the places you'll hide the secrets already in mind... it's rubbish when you just tack on little closets with a medikit, very disappointing imo, I tend to prefer zero secrets to afterthought secrets.

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Memfis said:

Maybe teh biggest problem is that obviously I will find all secrets in my map, unless I haven't played it in 5 years or something. So I don't really have any reason to make them. Of course I could purposely decide to "not notice" some of the secrets when playing my stuff, but that feels a little stupid. So it's either have 0 secrets or balance the map with the expectation that the player will find all of them.


Its interesting that you say that, but in another thread discussing cheat codes you were averse to the idea of a wad disabling cheat codes. Putting secrets and Easter eggs in your map is a lot like putting cheat codes specifically in your map. I usually use them for ammo stashes just in case the player exhausts all the resources on the base map. If they look for secrets they can have all the resources I let them have as long as they take the time to look for it.

Rdwpas suggestions are also very good.

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mouldy said:

or secrets that provide alternative routes through the map

This x1000.

Secrets can do a great variety of fun and/or useful things that don't necessarily affect your map's balancing, or even touch the player's health & ammo directly, such as:

- allow you to bypass a tough choke-point, granting a surprise attack / pacifist friendly approach
- allow you to gain preemptive knowledge about (and maybe kill) the later enemies from a distance
- Add entire areas that may not be 'kosher' to the game (Action Doom was packed with these) such as a mario-style secret area.
- Secret exits (and alternate exits that aren't even intended to take to a different level)


Also, like in E1M3, secrets in secrets really feel rewarding to the player, even if the reward is minuscule the fact that you even found it gives you a buzz!

I completely concur with yakfak's standpoint. Consider your secrets WHILE mapping. In Skulldash, the level named 'Maltreatment (the final level of tier 4) has a secret shootable switch in a secret room which opens a pathway leading STRAIGHT to the red key door. This was one of the very first things made in the map, and I made it with the intent of providing near-instant access to the red key allowing for different routes through the level. It also provides a new way to tackle (or skip entirely) one of the large, tough rooms.

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I really like to search for them, and you can do many interesting things to give more depth to the map (like others already said): shortcuts, optional areas, give the opportunity to pick a fight from a different position...
Though I'm fine with maps without them, and it's actually better than having secrets without any hint. Also I think that putting ambushes on secrets is pretty lame.

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