Conditional Passageways

From gdp3
Jump to: navigation, search

Passageways in games that can only be moved through if certain conditions are met.

Many games have areas that players cannot access before fulfilling certain objectives or goals. Conditional Passageways are the places in the game worlds that provide the blockage and these may be literal blockages, like a pile of rocks blocking a tunnel, or be more abstract reasons why movement is not possible, e.g. a rocket that will not take off before it is repaired.


Many doors in the Doom, Far Cry, and Quake series cannot be opened before players have accessed the proper security cards. The Legend of Zelda series requires players to collect keys, defeat boss monsters or manipulate the environment in different ways to open doors. The Super Mario series requires players to collect stars to be able to enter levels that are more difficult and thereby guarantee that players have completed easier challenges before ones that are more difficult.

Adventure Games like Day of the Tentacle, the Leisure Suit Larry series, and the Zork series have meeting the requirements of Conditional Passageways as major part of their gameplay, although in many cases figuring out what the requirements are is the most difficult part.

Using the pattern

Designing Conditional Passageways consist of first making travel between two points in a Game World possible - for example through creating a Transport Route - and then preventing this Movement, and one of the most common reasons for this is to make it possible to open up otherwise Inaccessible Areas. One way of doing this is by inserting Choke Points together with Enemies or Obstacles - making the removal of the Enemies or Obstacles the requirement for opening up the passages. Another is to have Environmental Effects or Obstacles that block Movement but having Switches (or Controllers) that can remove these. In the case of Environmental Effects, having Invulnerabilities or Privileged Abilities that allow players to ignore them is another option. A third is having Warp Zones that only can be activated under certain circumstances. Places with One-Way Travel provide Conditional Passageways that only depend on from which direction one is approaching them; related to these are Conditional Passageways that support Quick Returns by making returns easy once one as gotten to a specific point. More generally, Tools can allow passage through Conditional Passageways.

Besides the above options to creating Conditional Passageways, these can be modulated by only applying to certain players, require Teams to Coordination to use them. They may also require the use of a Vehicles or not; the latter is often an effect of some Vehicles being larger than opening or passages. Conditional Passageways can also be combined or co-located with Invisible Walls to let players see what is one the other side of the passageway, possible to motivate them to try and get passed it.

Conditional Passageways may be between parts of Game Worlds that cannot be moved between through continuously Movement. The most usual case of this is Movement between Levels and for games with Levels it is very common - in most cases one has to "complete the level" before being able to go on to the next Level.

Not all Conditional Passageways need to be apparent as potential routes to new areas; the most common reason for this is to create Secret Areas.

Narrative Aspects

Many games tell stories as a consequence of how players have been able to move to different areas in Game Worlds. For games designed in this fashion, Conditional Passageways can be used to ensure that the order in which Predetermined Story Structures are unfolded is the one intended.


Meeting the criteria of Conditional Passageways are Access Rewards and Conditional Passageways are ways of controlling and directing Movement in Game Worlds - as a specific example, they can control access between Levels, and those that can pass through them have a certain type of Privileged Movement. Two effects of using Conditional Passageways is that they can ensure that Predetermined Story Structures are unfolded in a specific order and that players receive both Higher-Level Closures as Gameplay Progresses and Smooth Learning Curves by having to complete easier challenges before trying harder ones. In these ways they can modulate who and when Traverse goals can be completed - if the goal locations are inside (temporarily) Inaccessible Areas these two can create Traverse goals simply because the challenge to get there exists.

Conditional Passageways that are unknown to players help define Secret Areas. Those that are known, and where the requirements to go through them are also known, typically lead to goals of Gain Competence or Gain Ownership depending on what the specific requirements are.

When Conditional Passageways limit travel to those that use Vehicles (as for example the impossibility of tanks to enter most buildings in the Battlefield series), this provides Balancing Effects by requiring that all combatants are pedestrians inside buildings. In contrast, when the condition instead is that only specific players or Teams can pass through this can create Safe Havens.


Can Instantiate

Access Rewards, Gain Competence, Gain Ownership, Higher-Level Closures as Gameplay Progresses, Predetermined Story Structures, Privileged Movement, Quick Returns, Safe Havens, Secret Areas, Smooth Learning Curves

with Vehicles

Balancing Effects

Can Modulate

Game Worlds, Inaccessible Areas, Levels, Movement, Teams, Transport Routes, Traverse, Vehicles, Warp Zones

Can Be Instantiated By

One-Way Travel

Choke Points together with Enemies or Obstacles

Environmental Effects together with Invulnerabilities, Privileged Abilities, or Switches

Obstacles together with Switches

Can Be Modulated By

Controllers, Invisible Walls, Tools, Vehicles

Possible Closure Effects


Potentially Conflicting With



New pattern created in this wiki. However, it is functionally equivalent to the pattern Blockade in the RPG Design Patterns collection by Gillian Smith and others.