A number of hidden game mechanics have been dragged into the light after a Twitter question from a designer in Australia went thermonuclear over the weekend.
On Friday, Opaque Space design lead Jennifer Scheurle asked Twitter to tell her about "some brilliant mechanics in games that are hidden from the player to get across a certain feeling".
An example she gave was from Assassin's Creed and Doom, where your last bit of health is actually worth more hitpoints than it should be in order to encourage a feeling of just barely surviving.
A huge number of developers – both famous and not so famous – then chimed in, and the thread made it onto Reddit and eventually media sites, where still more developers chipped in in the comments.
Scheurle, who emigrated from Germany to Melbourne, is currently working on narrative-driven space exploration VR title Earthlight at Opaque Space, and "modempunk" stealth space-trading game Objects in Space at Flat Earth Games.
She's also in New Zealand this week to speak at the New Zealand Game Developers Conference in Auckland (something answers from her epic Twitter thread will feature in!).
In Surgeon Simulator we hid many features to incite curiosity: for instance, if you dial your real phone number in the game, it calls you.— Henrique Olifiers (@Olifiers) September 3, 2017
True. And it plays a message integral to unlock a hidden level.— Henrique Olifiers (@Olifiers) September 3, 2017
Is it ok to mention something we're proud of in our own game? :P In Firewatch, a player not responding to dialogue prompt is a noted choice— Jane Ng (@thatJaneNg) September 1, 2017
Not a mechanic persee, but in Hi Octane we simply displayed different stats for vehicles without ever actually changing them under the hood— Alex Trowers (@BulkPaint) September 1, 2017
Far Cry 4 deliberately turns down the accuracy and damage of NPCs the more there are near the player. Helping you feel like a badass. :)— Tommy Thompson (@GET_TUDA_CHOPPA) September 1, 2017
F.E.A.R's AI dialogue is selected by the NPC doing an action, then it tells another NPC to say it. Making it look like they communicate.— Tommy Thompson (@GET_TUDA_CHOPPA) September 1, 2017
Yeah I can't recall if it was also in 1 or just 2, but we slow down Big Daddies' run speed if you're facing away, so you don't die confused.— Jordan Thomas (@nullspeak) September 1, 2017
Not sure if it was mentioned, but the tutorial in Halo 2 asked player to look up. Their input determined whether y-axis would be inverted— Charlie 🍕 (@charliexbutler) September 2, 2017
In @KeepTalkingGame, distractions like the alarm clock are based on how well you're doing. Makes last second defusals more likely.— Ben Kane [PAX West] (@benkane) September 2, 2017
Most of the projectiles in Titanfall 2 have hitboxes that expand as they travel, so it's slightly easier to hit fast targets at range.— Tobasco da Gama (@tobascodagama) September 2, 2017
HL1 - if facing more than two enemies, only two would actually attack. The rest would run to random locations and bark lies e.g. "flanking"— Tom Forsyth (@tom_forsyth) September 1, 2017
In DmC, off screen enemies slow down or stop their attack patterns, to avoid hits from blindspots + allow players to fight larger numbers— Good Stevening 🎮 (@_SteveThornton) September 1, 2017
We have a term called "coyote time" for when the player walks off a platformer ledge and presses jump too late, but the jump still works— Chevy Ray (@ChevyRay) September 1, 2017
First shots from an enemy against you in BioShock always missed...that was the design, think it got fully implemented. No "out of blue!"— Ken Levine (@levine) September 2, 2017
We've used it in Uncharted since U2, so all players get a perfect transistion to the final animation no matter how "good" they are.— Kurt Margenau (@kurtmargenau) September 3, 2017