Difference between revisions of "Secret Areas"

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[[Category:Level Design Patterns]]
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[[Category:Mechanical Patterns]]
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[[Category:Information Patterns]]
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Revision as of 13:46, 26 March 2018

Areas of game worlds that are not easily noticed.

While most gameplay areas created for games are made so players naturally will visit them, some are Secret Areas that players may need to explicitly search for in order to find. If players know these exist it gives them reason to explore the game worlds more throughly than otherwise, and even if they do not know about them finding one can provide surprises for them.


One of the first documented easter eggs in a game was a Secret Area, a room in the game Adventure that revealed the name of its creator Warren Robinett.

Many First-Person Shooters like the Doom and Quake series contain Secret Areas with extra resources. The Half-Life series include these as well, sometimes as caches for resistance fighters, as does the Portal series with the dens of the rat man.

Using the pattern

There are two main ways of creating Secret Areas in games. One is making areas difficult to notice due to the presence of Obstacles and the other is to have areas completely hidden until unknown Conditional Passageways are activated. In both cases Clues and Vision Modes can be used to make it easier to notice the Secret Areas or at least hinting that something is unusual.

While Game World Exploration goals and Quests may require players to find Secret Areas, it is also quite common to provide them in order to offer players Optional Goals where they can earn Resources as Rewards.


Secret Areas are ways to hide parts of Game Boards, Game Worlds, and Levels to players, and may be intentional Easter Eggs. Finding them may provide Surprises for players while if they know or suspect that the exist they may instead give rise to Game World Exploration activities.

Knowing about Secret Areas are examples of Strategic Locations, and these may even more likely be conveyed to others players as Trans-Game Information.


Can Instantiate

Easter Eggs, Game World Exploration, Optional Goals, Rewards, Surprises, Strategic Locations, Trans-Game Information

Can Modulate

Game Boards, Game Worlds, Levels, Quests

Can Be Instantiated By

Conditional Passageways, Obstacles

Can Be Modulated By

Clues, Resources, Vision Modes

Possible Closure Effects


Potentially Conflicting With



New pattern created in this wiki. However, it was first introduced as Hidden Area using another template by Hullett and Whitehead[1], and a more detailed description in this template is available[2].


  1. Hullett, K. & Whitehead, J. (2010). Design Patterns in FPS Levels, paper presentation at Foundations of Digital Games 2010, June 19-21, Monterey, CA, USA.
  2. Hidden Area pattern by Kenneth Hullett.


Kenneth Hullett, Jim Whitehead