Soft Gate


Soft gates are a method of directing the player's movement in a “soft” manner. Rather than relying on physical blockades or abstract walls such as the environment, invisible barriers, or literal gates, a soft gate exploits the player's expected statistics or abilities. Soft gates often take the form of areas guarded by impossibly difficult monsters for a low-level character. By placing such difficult enemies at end of game areas, the player can be forced to follow a more controlled path through the game.

Another purpose for a soft gate may be to slow down the pace of an RPG to flesh out the storyline by requiring the player to complete sidequests. These types of gates often occur within hubs or cities where there are a lot of opportunities to find story-related quests.

Variables and Affordances

  • Forced vs. Non-forced Interaction: can the player run away from the enemies, or is the encounter forced
  • Protecting Area: the area protected by the soft gate
  • Criteria: what ability or level the player must attain before defeating the soft gate


  • Fallout 3. Areas intended for the end of the game, such as vault 112 (protecting area), are surrounded by difficult enemies rather than physical walls. These encounters are not forced as the player can run away from enemies in the area, although running may be challenging. The player can come back and defeat these monsters at a high enough level (criteria).
  • Unwinnable Fight. Instances where the player is below the intended level of soft gates can turn into unwinnable fights.

Quest-Level Relationship

  • Linear Hub Pattern. Soft gates can turn a diamond superstructure into a linear hub pattern while retaining some emergent qualities and without the designer needing to hard-code quest restrictions. Soft gates instead persuade the player with threat of death to follow a linear path in an open world.


The inspiration for identifying this pattern came from TV Tropes's Beef Gate.

patterns/soft_gate.txt · Last modified: 2011/06/12 01:53 by Gillian Smith Valid CSS Driven by DokuWiki do yourself a favour and use a real browser - get firefox!! Recent changes RSS feed Valid XHTML 1.0