Gating outside areas

I’m having some trouble thinking of a good way to close off part of my map that’s outdoors so I thought making a list of gating ideas (even if they don’t apply to my current WIP) might get some creative juices flowing.

  • the bridge across the river is broken, you need to make a new one or get swimming lessons

  • you keep getting lost in the woods, you need to ask somebody for directions

  • a magic / sci-fi force field blocks the way forward, you need the gizmo to disable it / walk though it unharmed

  • a terrifying Pangolin is blocking the way you need to defeat it (though if you’re outside this just begs the question of why you can’t just go around it)

  • there’s a highway in the way and you’re a frog

  • your character simply refuses to go near the wetlands without his wellies

  • the atmosphere of this planet is toxic and you only have so much oxygen in your tank, if only you can find a way to build a bigger tank

  • your companion is scared of going deep in the jungle but you can’t abandon him, you need to park him somewhere safe or get him drunk

I’d love to hear your ideas too. :slight_smile:


NPC blocks the way
there’s a cliff and you need a rope to climb up, or you need to be told the way
it’s a wide open space, it’s a hot day, you can’t cross it till you get a sun hat
The King’s No Poaching Zone, you need to get an official Not A Poacher badge
Bugs. SO MANY BUGS. Bug spray required

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A herd of goats blocks your path?

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Here’s four more…

-A soldier guards the way - you need authorization.

-The music is so unbelievably loud, it’s disorienting trying to get through the room until you kill that stereo!

-That stench is so bad, not even blocking your nose works! (Ever visit a landfill?) You need to clear the air first.

-Some Girl Scouts have set up their cookie table up ahead and you don’t have the heart to tell them you’re broke. You need four bucks.


Looking that way you see several people you owe money to.

It looks like there is police activity in that direction… and you remember what you have in your pockets.

You see people handing out leaflets and a person with a bullhorn screaming about you all being sinners.

— As a side note… you could also make other options far more attractive, in addition to warnings about a specific choice. Sort of like:

To the left you see that Girl Scouts have setup a cookie table and are waiting to pounce if you approach. But to the right several of their mothers are looking at you with a smile and a wink.


I was looking at the walkthrough for Wetlands for ideas and the one that comes to mind–maybe the outdoor area is in a place you can only reach by train, and you need a way of getting on the train?

Or if we’re going directly for taking stuff from that, various parts of the landscape are only available once you raise/lower the water level. If that’s how she did it. It’s been a long time since I played!

I was going to try to suggest something from Cragne Manor, but you already did it in your first post! Ooh, how about this: relevant part of the landscape is covered by a fungal bloom which must be eradicated before you can proceed.

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You vowed never to go into the woods again after that fateful day, long ago…

Cut away to a flashback of a child eating breakfast.
Kid: “Dad, I don’t think I’m going to go into the woods again.”
Dad: “That’s nice.”


I like @vaporware Jesse McGrew solution very much :slight_smile:

Perhaps you can try other more technical than argumental approaches too:

1) “You can’t do that” message

Well, the classic and hated message telling you that you can’t do that in the adventure. A supposed “not to do” approach that i think perhaps is not so horrible after all. When the user receives one of the suggested messages in this thread, he will be really reading “ok, i can’t do that, let’s try another thing” anyway. Is it so rude to be clear about it?

2) Zeno of Elea paradox: Achilles and the tortoise

This is a famous paradox from one of those crazy classic Greeks that you will probably already know.

Zeno’s paradoxes in Wikipedia

In a race, the quickest runner can never overtake the slowest, since the pursuer must first reach the point whence the pursued started, so that the slower must always hold a lead.

— as recounted by Aristotle, Physics VI:9, 239b15


So in your game, you could use it when the player goes far away from the main location, increasing for example the granularity in the actions supported there, and making it impossible to ever reach that “outside”. The way back to the main area can be solved in one simple step, for example.

It can be annoying for the user, perhaps, but i think is an original approach to the problem :confused:

Those are just my two cents :slight_smile:


Zeno’s Paradox sounds a whole lot like something Infocom would do! I approve.

Thank you all for your ideas. :slight_smile:
When I said gating I had in mind a temporary barrier that needs to be overcome rather than a boundary of the game world to be hidden / disguised. I’m glad I was unclear since it broadens the discussion. :slight_smile: Is there better terminology I should have used?

I once did something similar to the Zeno paradox idea (in a non IF game but I think it would work well with IF too): when you went off the screen in an unimplemented direction you would be on a random “you’re lost in the blizzard screen” appearing not necessarily on the expect side of the screen, every exit would bring you to another random “you’re lost” screen but here any exit there would bring you back to your starting point.

Ah, ok. My first language is not English, so i can easily misunderstood the point of conversations :space_invader:

An idea of barrier to overcome, in this line more system related than argument, could be take advantage of the fear of the player, placing the barrier in its brain :ghost::

  1. This could be done perhaps with an illusory impassable barrier, like the cliff challenge in the Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade film: The player will not cross it if he didn’t try.

  2. Another trick could be a dangerous long area where the player starts to loose health or any other valuable resource in your game, as money or hard to obtain objects. The player would be punished with each action taken there until the limit of health or no more objects left, when he could go through this area.

  3. Another idea would be break the fourth wall, simulating a software failure that restarts the game when you reach this area for the first or second time, being only possible to overtake in the third try. A bit in the Andy Kauffman’s jokes way ¬.¬ :tv:

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  • it’s foggy out and you can’t see where you are going. Fog collects in low lying areas. So, in some directions it’s clear.
  • You’re barefoot and there are sharp rocks/rust nails/broken glass strewn about, or maybe bear traps.
  • You’re really hungry and every time you try to move in the wrong direction you get a distracting message about hunger.
  • Hedges
  • Tangled vines that trip up your feet if you try to move in forbidden directions.
  • A ha-ha (a trench used to keep livestock from going where they’re not supposed to go.)
  • A clear incentive to move toward more interesting areas. (To the north you see a flower, tree, castle, etc.)
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  • A parade, or large crowd of people milling around.
  • Cow pasture. Your shoes are too nice to risk stepping in something.
  • You are likely to be eaten by a sandworm.
  • You can’t risk being seen, there’s no cover, and you’re not crazy enough to crawl the entire distance.
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Sorry our examples weren’t directly what you were seeking, but anytime IF authors can brainstorm alternatives to the key/door problem, the better. :brain::grinning:

  • You have agoraphobia and need counseling, hypnotism, or medictation before you can proceed.
  • You are playing freeze tag with your friends and are waiting to be unfrozen.

I’ve been unclear again :tired_face:. Your examples were exactly the kind of thing I was looking for :smiley: :+1:.

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Before you can bring yourself to enter the woods, you’ll need to finally make peace with what happened on that fateful day, long ago…

The phone rings.
Voice: “Hi sweetie, it’s Mom. Your father and I think you should go into the woods again.”
Adventurer: “All right.”


Not directly an outdoor idea, but gating nonetheless! :grinning:

I vividly remember a pen & paper RPG where we had to get a book from the library, but a spell always returned the book to its shelf when we tried to leave the library.

We were able to confuse the spell and keep the book by walking backwards through the spell barrier! :slightly_smiling_face:


I don’t want to spoil this, but…if you’ve played Scroll Thief, what did you think of the reshelving room puzzle? (Southwest from the Antechamber.)

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Just started it now! :slightly_smiling_face: