Unexpectedly Realistic Gameplay
You must solve a problem by doing the most obvious thing, but you didnt know you could do it.
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(permanent link) added: 2011-10-20 14:54:54 sponsor: KingZeal (last reply: 2013-07-23 20:32:16)

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What happens when the Lord British Postulate collides with a puzzle.

This trope is what happens when a game intentionally averts a Omnipresent Trope or Necessary Weasel, or if the developers assume that players will know that their engine is Like Reality Unless Noted, or that one of the game's rules can be broken by design.

Imagine playing a First-Person Shooter and finding that NOT shooting the bloodthirsty enemies is the expected solution, and merely pointing your gun long enough without firing will scare them away with no body count. Since every shooter is designed to let you shoot enemies, why would you think this time would be different? Alternatively, imagine playing a Stealth Mission where you're supposed to show yourself to the enemy because surrender is the easiest method to get inside the base.

Or how about a Role-Playing Game where there's a Locked Door blocking your path; the expected trope is to run around until you locate a key. It's not common to ask the Axe-Wielding Barbarian or your strongest Fire Mage to chop or burn it down. Sure, most people would do that in Real Life, but how many videogame players would think to?

What? You didn't know any of that would work? How could you not? It's common sense!

The thing is that in Real Life, there are some things which are just obviously common sense. Fire burns. Ice is cold. Night is dark. You can't breathe underwater. Smashing your head on bricks won't produce coins. However, in videogames, the Physics Engine will not be 100% accurate to reality. No matter how realistic it may be, there will always be a few gameplay elements or physics which do not work like they do in Real Life.

This is justified in that building a physics engine requires work and resources, as well as an inherent understanding of how physics and sciences work. (For example, the team behind Red Faction Guerrilla actually studied architectural physics in order to perfect their destructible environments and it became harder to build the structures than to destroy them.) Also, like in other forms of media, the Law of Conservation of Detail is usually in play. After all, why would the player need think about exactly how much a pencil weighs while playing an Adventure Game? Because picking one up will help you weigh just enough to trigger that pressure plate which opens the door.

As always, Tropes Are Not Bad. There are a number of games in which part of the game is figuring out the rules, or in which changing the rules is necessary to win. This type of gameplay is simply not very common, which is why it tends to bamboozle and frustrate some players.

This can very easily crop up in tabletop RPGs if the players and/or GM just aren't thinking clearly enough. The players may come up with a simple solution to something the GM intended to be complex, the opposite may happen, or they both may not realize until afterwards that there could have been a much easier way to solve the problem.

Subtrope of Hidden in Plain Sight. Contrast Moon Logic Puzzle, in which the logic which solves the puzzle is so out there that there's no way it was obvious.

See also Noob Bridge, in which an obscure game mechanic is used suddenly and with no warning to the player. Usually found when The Dev Team Thinks of Everything, but the player doesn't.

Compare Cutting the Knot, Speak Friend and Enter, Boring, but Practical, Mundane Solution, Reality Is Unrealistic, Outside-the-Box Tactic and Stating the Simple Solution. You Didn't Ask. You Can't Get Ye Flask is where you try to do this in a text parser-based game but your syntax isn't what the devs had in mind.

As this is a puzzle solutions trope, there are unmarked spoilers ahead.
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Gaming examples:

[[folder:Adventure Games]]
  • Old Adventure Games (Sierra Era and older) were all about this but their legacy was forgotten by the time games jumped 3D.
  • In Another Code, you have to press two maps together, one on the top screen and one on the bottom screen. To do so, you have to close and open the DS.
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[[folder:Action Adventure]]
  • The Legend of Zelda:
    • In general, swimming. It's fairly simple addition to the series and often taken for granted. However, many games (RPGs in particular) do not allow for this. So, should you find yourself cut off from your intended destination by a body of water, you have to find another way around, or a means to get across. Not so in Zelda. If all that stands between you and point B is a little water, well, what's stopping you? This is particularly noteworthy because in the first three games of the series, Link either took damage or died if he fell into water without a specific item that let him swim; the newer games usually require no such item.
    • In A Link to the Past the entrance to the dungeon in the Village of Outcasts is blocked by a trident held by a statue. There's no switches to open it and none of your items can break it, so how do you get past it? Just pull it off.
    • In The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass, you have to press two maps together--one on the top and one on the bottom screen. To do so, you have to close and open the Nintendo DS.
    • Twilight Princess:
      • In the City in the Sky, at one point Link enters a bottomless room guarded by two lizalfos. Simply take two steps forward into the room (after the door locks behind you) and both leap to their doom while trying to come after you.
      • Another Twilight Princess example is the second jousting match with King Bulblin. The first time, you rode Epona past his boar and swung your sword to knock him off, a la a proper joust. The second time you face him, he's wearing armor on his sides that protects him from sword swings. How do you properly joust him this time? Who said anything about jousting? Just pull out your bow and shoot him a few times in the chest.
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[[folder:Platformers]]
  • In Super Metroid, there's a pit of lava immediately to the left of the long platform where you just fought Crocomire, with a door on the other side of this pit that you must reach. You reach the door by using your newly-acquired Speed Booster to run along the platform and jump to boost your jumping distance. The game never told you beforehand that combining Super Speed and long jumping was possible, so the only way you could know about it is to just take a (literal) leap of faith.
  • In Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles for the NES, there's a gap between two platforms that is about as wide as your character and impossible to jump across, as the ceiling is too low and you end up hitting it and falling. The solution is to simply walk over it.
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[[folder:Role-Playing Games]]
  • In Hunter The Reckoning, the final boss is a Lasombra Vampire. The Lasombra are a clan who specialize in turning darkness and shadows into physically controlled weapons and tendrils, and as a balance are particularly sensitive to bright light and sunlight. The Boss is in the top floor of it's hideout, a boarded up abandoned building that, three levels earlier, you entered during the day. The quick and easy way to defeat the vampire? Don't aim at him, instead aim at the boarded up windows behind him. Shatter the boards, the sun streams in, and he's toast. Possibly lampshaded in that if you aren't a particularly good shot, you might trigger this effect accidentally.
  • The Wild Arms series in general is especially prone to this, and it's why some puzzles can get you stuck. One of the game manuals even advises that if you're stuck that you should look back for different colored tiles (that are actually switches) because the reason you may have not unlocked an area in a dungeon could be that you didn't notice you had to step on them.
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[[folder:Stealth-Based Games]]
  • Metal Gear:
    • In Metal Gear Solid, the fight against Psycho Mantis. He starts controlling Meryl and making her try to blow her brains out. The easiest way to stop her? Just put her in a choke hold to knock her out.
    • Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater has a mad, passionate love affair with this trope.
      • You have to open a locked door. How do you do it? Disguise yourself as a scientist, and knock.
      • The Fear constantly uses up all of his stamina to turn invisible and jump around. He replenishes it by finding food on the battlefield. Thus, Snake can leave his rotten or spoiled food around for The Fear to find and actually poison him with it!
      • The Pain attacks with a swarm of bees in water-filled caverns. And since everyone knows bees hate water, you can actually toss grenades into the water to splash him.
      • You can defeat The End by sniping him the first time he appears in a cutscene, thus skipping his entire boss fight. Barring that, you can also skip the fight entirely by just saving the game and leaving it alone for a few days. Since The End is over 100 years old, he'll actually die waiting for Snake to show up again!
      • You just ingested rotten food and don't have digestive medicine to counteract it, so what do you do? Well, just go to the Medical screen and start spinning Snake around until he gets dizzy and pukes it out!
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[[folder:Text-Based Game]]
  • Giant parts of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy game. You have a headache? Take an aspirin.
  • In += 3: A Logical Adventure, a troll demands three items before he will allow the player to cross a bridge; the player must remove three articles of clothing (which, typically of interactive fiction games where they're not relevant to the plot, are not listed in the player's inventory) and give them to the troll.[[/folder]]

[[folder:Wide Open Sandbox]]
  • In Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas one of your missions as Carl is to date a chick in order to steal her key card to get access to a casino. In a game with some missions that won't even let you destroy your highly non-essential car without failing the mission, this mission has two options: Go on a couple of dates with her. Or just kill her. You won't fail anything, and the key card will be right there in her house.
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Non-video game examples:

[[folder:Newspaper Comics]]
  • Jason from FoxTrot once spent a week trying to defeat the Red Orb Guardian (see pic above). Paige instantly bypasses it by... bypassing it. Jason declares just walking past a menacing, powerful boss to win to be "counterintuitive," to which Paige asks him how many nanoseconds a day he spends in the real world. (See also Lord British Postulate.)
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