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Cut-and-Paste Environments

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"What a fascinating place this is. Look at all this wonderful architecture. You could walk all the way around the world and never find its like. Except for this part. I've seen this somewhere else before."
Covetous Shen, lampshading the dungeon design in Diablo III.

Game developers have a limited time to develop their games; some have limitations of budget. Sometimes, though more so in the past than nowadays, they have limitations forced on them by the particular platform they're developing on. And some game developers are just lazy.


Environments for a game require a great deal of effort, particularly modern levels with 3D models, textures, and shaders. These are expensive and time-consuming to make. It's no surprise that a developer that is being particularly economical would want to try to use that 3D environment as much as possible. In some games, they do this by forcing you to backtrack, typically with Action-Adventure games. But in games following this trope, they do it by making a new area that looks very similar if not identical to the other area. This may be done many times. Usually done in places with randomly-generated backgrounds.

Repetitive environments can make navigating the world very confusing. Without having unique landmarks, it is very easy to get lost. And it's very dull to see the same things over and over.


MMORPGs (and other forms of Wide Open Sandboxes for that matter) are big users of this trope, but they mostly do so for reasons of economy. They have a huge world that needs building, and any cost-cutting measures they can find are of value. First-person shooters are also a common victim of this, reusing versions of their single-player maps for multiplayer (or vice-versa, depending on which side the developers are focusing on).

Sometimes called "geomorphic design" after a set of Tabletop RPG dungeon design "tools" sold by TSR in the 1970s and 1980s.

Sub-trope of Fake Longevity. One of the more common forms of Hard Mode Filler. For cut-and-paste Mooks, see Underground Monkey and Palette Swap.



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  • In Lemmings, about a third of the game is reused levels. (Technically, though, most such levels are reused before they're used the first time; this is also a Justified Trope, as typically the earliest version of the level exists to teach you the mechanic you need to use, and further iterations add extra complications and difficulty.)
  • In Granblue Fantasy, the Fate Episodes are guilty of having near-identical background arts. Why would one character stand in the very same spot that another character stood in another episode? Why do some houses have similar interiors? All of these questions came from the usage of this trope.
  • Halo has been infamous for this:
    • Halo: Combat Evolved:
      • The entire second half of the game is basically you going through the first half backwards. Perhaps that's why the level which marks half-way point, "The Library", is basically this trope embodied.
      • "Assault on the Control Room"; besides the outdoor portions, it's all identical rooms and bridges.
      • Penny Arcade made light of this.
    • Halo 2:
      • The game as a whole likes to feature many rooms exactly two times.
      • You also go through at least 3 or 4 large identical bridges.
      • "Sacred Icon", which is basically 2's version of "The Library".
  • Pick a quest in Anarchy Online, ANY QUEST: 150% of the time the rooms will look dead similar, right down to the kitchen sink.
  • It was a running joke among players of the MMORPG City of Heroes that only one architect designed all the buildings in Paragon City, and he was either insane or on serious drugs. Office buildings all had the same basic room and hallway components, and in some cases they weren't even randomized; warehouse interiors were also suspiciously uniform, right down to the big multi-level room at the end of one map branch where you usually found the villain boss for the mission. Similarly, there was a large but limited number of texture maps for building exteriors.
    • Issue 14, which introduced player-created content in the form of the 'Mission Architect' system, did nothing to avert this. Almost any map in the game could be chosen, including the potential for a random pick from a certain size and type, but the maps themselves could not be altered in any way; only the enemies and objectives inside could be edited.
    • Oranbega, the lost city hidden beneath Paragon City, was a confusing magical labyrinth that you would visit frequently. In the Rogue Isles, Oranbega didn't exist. Instead, the ruins of the lost city of Mu are located there. Predictably, they were exactly the same. Some players didn't even distinguish between the two.
  • DICE is infamous for reusing buildings across multiple maps in its Battlefield series.
  • Also by DICE, Mirror's Edge is made of this trope. Every rooftop is made of the same elements in different combinations.
  • This has been an element of both modern 3D Castlevania games.
  • Being a Wide Open Sandbox, this is common practice in the Grand Theft Auto series, albeit not to the degree that it's very glaring to your average player. Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas however is the biggest offender with regards to interiors.
    • Barber shopsnote , fast food joints, weapons shopsnote , and tattoo parlors are all identical and even use the same workers, so it gets a bit jarring to see a guy that sells guns in San Andreas can also pop up in every other county that sells guns.
    • During the burglary missions there are also only a handful of building interiors depending on what kind of building you are breaking into.
    • Even as recently as Grand Theft Auto IV, platform levels of underground subway stations, fast food joints, a clothing chain, two gun stores, bowling alleys, and a multitude of apartment corridors still share common interiors.
  • Happens in the SNES version of The Lord of the Rings Vol. 1. The caves are mostly composed of a set of repeating tiles, resulting in caves looking very much the same. The forests also suffer from this.
  • Games on 8-bit Nintendo systems had to fit huge worlds into tiny cartridges, and they pulled it off by repeating parts of the map.
    • Super Mario Bros. for NES (40 KB) uses repeating patterns three screens wide for decorative backgrounds such as hills and clouds. It also reuses about two models for castle exteriors (small and large). On top of that, 5 entire levels are reused, as well as World 4-4 and 7-4 which will actually loop if the player takes the wrong path, and they use the exact same sprite for the clouds and bushes, the only difference being the clouds are white whereas the bushes are green.
    • Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels has more unique level layouts, except for World C, which is a complete copy-and-paste of World 7.
    • The Legend of Zelda for NES (128 KB) encodes each map screen as a list of 16 vertical columns as tall as the screen, causing some areas to look familiar. The dungeons are comprised of combinations of a very finite number of room layouts, with only the doors, enemies, treasures, and so on being different.
    • The original Metroid (128 KB) has a lot of rooms and areas that look alike, making navigation hell.
      • Super Metroid lampshaded this by having you encounter the starting point of the original Metroid, only with slightly better graphics.
    • Super Mario Land for Game Boy (64 KB) reuses 20 by 16 tile screens of map data mercilessly.
    • Adventure Island uses almost the exact same template for each level: a flatland stage, an athletic stage, a cave stage, and a boss stage. Repeat seven more times for the whole game. Most egregious is the boss stages, which are almost exact clones of each other, save for the positioning of the monsters.
      • Same for Wonder Boy, although the SMS version has a few exclusive stages with different environments, such as a waterfall and a gauntlet of erupting volcanoes.
    • Deadly Towers has every dungeon room looking approximately the same, which is made worse by the dungeons being pointlessly vast.
    • Shatterhand has a somewhat unique example: One of the levels has a part where a player rides up an elevator while avoiding gears, enemies and fire. This section is then repeated without the last two threats as a boss arena. The highest parts of these two shafts have even the same gear positions as well as a item box for you to collect.
  • In Planescape: Torment you can go into an area called the Rubicon where Modrons (beings of pure law) are trying to study dungeon crawls. Because they are beings of law they created a dungeon area of almost completely identical rooms (the only difference being which exits are open and how many creatures are present). The only unique rooms are the control center, a boss fight room and a room where you can pick up a character.
    • The dungeon's pretty much a magnanimous dig at dungeon crawls in general, with the enemies being Card-Carrying Villain constructs that dutifully play their role as opponents and an "Evil Wizard Construct" who spouts stereotypical bad-guy tough talk.
  • Smugglers Run has three settings, one of which is the exact same as an earlier one, but covered in snow.
  • MMORPG World of Warcraft is a big user of this trope; at least with buildings. While the actual geography for most areas is unique, the buildings, caves, and "doodads" that get placed there obviously come from a standardized set of models that get a Palette Swap from one zone to the next.
    • Another interesting thing is that it reuses many of the Warcraft 3 icons for spells and actions.
    • There is one specific environment copy-and-paste that deserves an honorable mention here; the Obsideon Dragon cave in the WOTLK Dragonblight zone. Yes, it's another cave, but it's not just another palette copy you'd see again and again when your roaming around Azeroth like mentioned above. This cave, is a cutout of about half of one of the games freaking DUNGEONS; specificly, Ragefire Chasm. A grapics update to suit the WOTLK standard is the only major difference between the Obsideon cave and Ragefire.
  • Final Fantasy
    • Final Fantasy XIII is especially bad about this during Chapter 10, forcing the player to go through identical looking rooms several times, fight the first boss of the level, then go through even more identical looking rooms before reaching the second boss in the chapter.
    • Final Fantasy XIV has enormous expanses of land that re-use some assets to fill out the space, supposedly due to limitations imposed by the Playstation 3. While all MMOs do this to some extent, much ado has been made about this game's usage of the trope as it sometimes recycled entire topographical features. When the game got rebooted in 2013, almost every single geographical location gotten a makeover and looks unique to each other.
    • Dissidia Final Fantasy: Opera Omnia makes this a minor plot point when various characters from different worlds are surprised at how familiar their new surroundings are. The gods Materia and Spiritus looked at all the worlds they summoned their heroes from and used those as a template for their new world so it would seem more comfortable and familiar—hence all the ruins, shiny cities, and lava caves.
  • The world of Drakengard is composed of bleak landscape after bleak landscape after bleak landscape, with biome differences (forests ARE different from deserts, after all) to tell you where you are. Every building you enter in the game has an annoying tendency to have all its rooms look alike, with some notable exceptions.
    • There's a flying base and an ocean base. They not only use the exact same interior layout, but they have the same exterior model as well.
  • The Elder Scrolls has shifted all around this trope since its inception. To note:
    • Arena and Daggerfall each cover a massive area, but rely exclusively on these (going hand in hand with Randomly Generated Levels) to fill out their absolutely massive game worlds.
    • Morrowind shifts to the opposite end of the spectrum, being entirely hand-built but also being much smaller in scale. That said, cut and pasting is still popular in the dungeons.
    • Oblivion leans back toward it, with areas outside of towns and especially with Oblivion Gates. (There are 90 gates to Oblivion, but only 7 distinct maps. There's slight variation in the layout of the central towers, but not enough to shake the feelings of deja vu.) The regular dungeons are also examples, though less blatant; they were procedurally generated before release.
    • Skyrim skews away from it again, going back to a mostly hand-built world with hand-built (though not necessarily unique) dungeons, much like Morrowind before it. For example, once you've visited one Nordic ruin, you've pretty much visited them all. Only the layout really changes.
  • Fatal Frame III reuses several environments from the previous two games, including the Fish Tank room from Himuro Mansion, and the front of the Osaka house from All God's Village.
  • Sega employs this trope liberally for the post-millennial Phantasy Star games: Phantasy Star Online, Phantasy Star Universe, Phantasy Star Portable and Phantasy Star Zero. Phantasy Star Online is the worst offender, tropewise: The first PSO game told an entire story, with side stories, optional missions and all, in the same four reused maps. (This isn't even counting how many of the enemies encountered were reskins that used the same character "skeleton" and animations!) The addon/sequels to PSO often included reskins of previous content, especially bosses and enemies. Phantasy Star Universe and Portable tried to add variety to layouts of the same area, but it's still based on the same concept—and despite having more content to begin with than the first Phantasy Star Online, it was more or less the same as PSO with all its add-ons (that is to say, it had a lot of reskinned areas, enemies, and bosses—just with different behavior flags).
  • Mass Effect re-uses the same room design for mines, and for planetary outposts. The sole variation is in the placement of crates used for cover. And even then, a lot of outposts have the crates piled in the exact same manner. Even the underground bunkers all share the same orange rock wall colour. The uncharted planets meanwhile are all made up of amazingly similar hilly terrain, the only difference being that each planet has a slightly different color scheme. This is because all the terrain is determined by the height value of points on the terrain; the look of the terrain itself is determined by how steep it is. This leaves very little opportunity to have distinctive environments.
    • Mass Effect 2 is better about this; most of the main story missions are in completely unique environments, except when it makes sense not to be (for instance, the two recruitment missions on Omega obviously share some architectural similarities). Sidequests received somewhat less love but are still dramatically improved, and feel like actual unique missions as opposed to "go here and shoot everyone". Mass Effect 3, having mostly done away with sidequests that feature environments (DLC notwithstanding), has completely unique terrain and architecture in all of its missions. Even the DLC multiplayer maps, 5 out of 7 of which share visual styles with different single-player maps, have unique layouts. (The six multiplayer maps that shipped with the game are identical to the six sidequest maps in singleplayer, but these are explicitly the same locations.)
    • This is not unique to Mass Effect for Bioware games. Neverwinter Nights is built on this; there are innumerable room interiors that are all the same except for some minor set dressing like tables and detritus. Indeed, that's how NWN levels are built; they're like 3D tilemaps. Oddly, Knights of the Old Republic averts this, despite using a modified version of the NWN engine. Interestingly, their earlier Baldur's Gate series games are rather different, with each outdoor environment and the vast majority of the dungeon environments being hand-drawn, with certain stock elements included where necessary (doors and trees in the main). Quite an achievement given the sheer size, number and detail of the maps that had to be created.
      • Oddly enough, the very end of the Omega DLC for the third game revisits the area the player first visits in Mass Effect 2, making this a cross-game example.
  • Dragon Age: Origins is top-notch when it comes to unique one-of-a-kind environments. One place in particular however that copy-and-pastes environments is Denerim when you're clearing out the city's backstreet encounters. There's quite a few backyard encounters when you roam around Denerim, but only two maps are ever used for these fights. One encounter the map will have a thief ambush waiting for your arrival. The next time you return, the map will have a special black vial lying about that summons a powerful Revenant wanting to kill you.
    • Dragon Age: Origins – Awakening had something similar, but its reused environments are the world encounters which Origins beforehand is very good at. So many times in Awakening you'll be fighting your way through the same flaming forest, or clearing out the same farm overrun of Darkspawn.
  • Present to an extreme level in Dragon Age II, where the wastelands around Lothering, the city of Kirkwall, and the final Deep Roads dungeon of Act I are the only areas with a unique map. There is literally no original environment after Dragon Age II's Act I, the closest being Hawk's new hightown estate. Even Sebastian's supposedly unique graveyard cave for his personal Act II quest is just a retextured world mine-shaft cave if you look close enough at its map layout.
    • The two pieces of post-release Downloadable Content both take steps to address this issue, as both are set outside of Kirkwall and feature entirely unique areas.
  • NetHack and other Roguelikes are either a major subversion of this, or the purest example: the entire game is constructed out of ASCII characters. And almost every dungeon level is randomized, giving a ridiculous number of possibilities. You will not play the same game twice. Unless the game decides to fill your Maze of Menace with bones files.
  • Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards does this with the layouts for the first level of Pop Star and the first level of Ripple Star. In this case, the intent is to provide Book-Ends of a sort.
  • Parasite Eve plays this out with its Bonus Dungeon, the Chrysler Building. Although each floor, except every 10th is randomized in layout, every hall and storage room are all identical. Every single floor uses the same exact decor for the walls and floors.
  • Limbo of the Lost offers a very literal interpretation of this trope: Nearly every single one of the game's prerendered background scenes is copied straight from elsewhere, sometimes with some tweaking to try and cover it up, or placement of props that, once again, are reused.
  • In The Godfather, New York City only has a few different types of shops and bars and then repeats the same floor plan over and over again so even if you had never been to a building before you already knew the way around.
  • Hellgate: London was criticised for this: with the exception of several unique levels, most of the game's randomised levels are repetitions of about 10 basic tilesets, with identical sewers/streets/dried-out riverbeds/building basements. Perhaps London really is that boring.
  • The 3D The Legend of Zelda games have all had an enormous Bonus Dungeon with some of the toughest battles in the game. The Gerudo's Training Ground in The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time is a fairly interesting pastiche of other dungeons and their puzzles, but The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker's Savage Labyrinth and The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess Cave of Ordeals consist of fifty nearly identical chambers packed with wave after wave of enemies (even worse, WW requires you to fight through 31 rooms for a mandatory Plot Coupon!). TWW, TP, and OoT also feature a number of caverns with identical chambers full of puzzles.
    • Once you start to explore the Great Sea in Wind Waker, the same interiors start showing up over and over again. The Savage Labyrinth at least has some effort put into it - two other plot coupons from the same quest are found in identical areas, just with a slightly different set of monsters. And are we really expected to believe those identical ship graveyards formed naturally?
    • Hyrule Field and other areas in The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time are filled with holes that lead to identical underground caves.
    • The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
      • The Sheikah Shrines. Each and every one of the entrances is the exact same stone cave with ornamental Tron Lines. Furthermore, the "shrines" themselves are vast underground Magitek puzzle chambers with a minimalist angular architecture. While the layout is different in each shrine (aside from the numerous "tests of strength" which host the exact same battle against the exact same robot in the exact same arena), their walls, railings, platforms, doors, torches, and everything else look exactly alike. This is at least justified by the backstory: the Shrines were built in the distant past using highly advanced Lost Technology, so some degree of industrialized standardization was likely in effect.
      • There are a mind-boggling 900 Korok puzzles in the overworld, but they fall into a relatively small number of categoriesnote  and many of these are identical to others in the same category. Some Koroks aren't even hidden, you just have to run up to the weird glowing thing zooming around and press A, or climb a tree to get to it. This is forgivable, though, since there are, again, 900 of them, and they need to be easy to recognize so that 100% Completion-types have any chance of finding them all.
  • While Miitopia tends to use unique backgrounds for its different regions, it still occasionally uses some recycled environments. The most glaring example is the post-game dungeon Uncharted Galados which reuses the same assets than the Realm of the Fay.
  • The Adaman Sea level towards the end of Tomb Raider: Underworld is a level that is an almost literal copy-paste of a previous level with different weather conditions, people have even noted that the location of many of the enemies is the same (although the fact you have a BFG at this point at least mercifully means you can breeze through it in a few minutes).
  • The PS2 InuYasha RPG pushes this to its illogical limits. Travel through various areas consists of about 12-15 individual 'screens', copy-pasted around each other to create these areas, with a few "unique" screens in some areas. Underground areas and towns were mostly exempt from this, though.
  • Persona 3 falls victim to this in Tartarus dungeon, with each area made up of a small selection of blocks placed in a randomized configuration every time you enter the area.
  • Persona 5: Most of the Mementos dungeon is a set of blocks of warped subway tunnels stuck together by random generation. The rest of the game however, and the bottom of Mementos, is custom made.
  • Crisis Core has 300 side missions and a grand total of about eight or nine actual areas, reused over and over and over again.
  • The Romancing SaGa PS2 Remake uses this for the Assassin's Guild; it is one big intersection in every room, and the only way to find your way around is following white gems on the floor. The south exit will take you back to the entrance no matter where you are, though.
  • Wario Land:
    • In Wario Land II, both Wario's Castle and Syrup's Castle have the same sprite design for their environments, just with different color palettes.
    • Wario Land: Shake It! uses this for the secret levels, often without even a colour change (and those that are have changes such as in one case going from having a dark blue sky to a red sky). Kind of saddening, considering Wario Land 4 used a completely different background per level.
  • Fallout 3: The subways which the player must use to navigate conveniently placed piles of rubble suffer from this. There's also the occasional reuse of building interiors or layouts.
    • Earlier titles in the series use basically the same handful of maps for all random encounters. Almost all caves share the same walls and are only distinguished by their layout.
    • Both Fallout 3 and New Vegas suffer from this trope a lot harder than you think, although Vegas tries harder to subvert it. Almost every interior corridor is yellow/blue or white with dirt marks everywhere, the same filing cabinets and desks are probably used more than any other object, identical metal boxes with nothing in them, doors are almost always wooden with 2 glass panels or the metal lever-opened kind and the wasteland itself.
      • FNV also directly reuses a few building layouts from its predecessor, for example the Securitron Deconstruction Plant, X-2 Transmitter Array, and train tunnels in Old World Blues are near-exact copies of the Robot Repair Center, Satcomm Array NW-05a, and subway/utility tunnels, respectively, the Mysterious Cave's layout is identical to Broc Flower Cave from the FNV base game, and Hidden Valley Bunker reuses architecture from Raven Rock. In the main game, the REPCONN basement appears to copy parts of Vault 101 (such as the GOAT room) and the Jefferson Memorial basement.
  • Rogue Galaxy is a particularly painful sufferer of this - every level is about twice as long as it has any right to be, and only uses two or three kinds of texture.
  • EVE Online follows this trope to the letter. Each race has a handful of different station, stargate and planet designs. Agents assign you to a mission randomly picked from a relatively small pool. Also, several NPC factions use ships from one of the major factions, with the only difference being the paint job.
    • The "Trinity" graphics upgrade made it worse. Prior to Trinity, there were 3 station interiors per race. Afterwards, there was one station interior per race.
  • This is especially noticeable in the very first Mega Man, where rooms and even entire lengthy corridors are copy/pasted with reckless abandon. The worst offender by far is Wily Castle Stage 2, where barring enemy/item placement, the same exact screen layout is reused nine times, and what's worse, in three sets of three consecutive screens!
  • Mega Man Star Force is very guilty of this. Just about every Comp system that doesn't house a major boss or is not in the second scrap yard area will be identical regardless whether the Comp system is designed for a soda machine, a dog house, a statue, etc.
    • Star Force 3 is worse: all the boss areas even look the same.
    • Mega Man Battle Network 1 is horrible about this. The whole Internet looks the same! Every area! Even the "scary" WWW-controlled areas! This makes it rather easy to walk into the Undernet without knowing it until you suddenly get curbstomped by a scary-powerful group of viruses. Later games are better about this.
  • Averted in Star Wars: Empire at War. Each planet has its own terrain, even those that sorta-kinda reuse the same tilesets have their own little quirks that make them unique.
  • The Dark Cloud games manage to do what NetHack does except worse. The 3D sections are identical, but you never play a level with the same layout twice because the levels are randomized.
  • Darius:
    • Every stage in the original Darius, its PC Engine ports, and Darius R.
    • Another Chronicle's Chronicle Mode and Chronicle Saviours's CS Mode have you flying across hundreds or thousands of different star systems, but they just reuse the same 30 or so base stages over and over with occasional variations.
  • Celadon Hotel in Pokémon Red and Blue (and Yellow) is a slightly modified Pokémon Center. You can even stand where the PC would be in a regular Pokémon Center and use it...even though it doesn't exist! Possibly lampshaded when you talk to the receptionist and she says "Pokémon? No, this is a hotel."
    • Averted in FireRed/LeafGreen; the hotel looks the same but the Pokémon centers have a new layout. However, this means that the receptionist's line no longer makes sense.
    • If you try out level editors for the first two generations, you will discover that most houses that look the same in-game are in fact the same map with different objects; the player's house in Red/Blue/Yellow is the same map as Copycat's house.
      • Fridge Brilliance: Of course Copycat's home looks like yours. She's a master at, well, copycatting.
    • Most towns have variations on a just a handful of architectures in the first two Generations, with a few buildings giving some diversity such as Silph Co and the radio towers. In Ruby, Sapphire and Emerald (Generation III), they improved on this. However, this makes the identical interiors and exteriors of Pokémon Centers and Pokémon Marts even more noticeable.
    • The Pokémon series is a big offender when it comes to the buildings' interiors. Here's a list of areas that use all the same map:
      • Pokémon Centers are all identical.
      • The same goes for Poké Marts.
      • Each town has a generic map that is used as the interiors of most of its houses.
      • Guardhouses use one of two maps depending on whether they're horizontal or vertical in relation with the camera.
    • Pokémon X and Y follow the same formula as the previous installments... with the exception of one unique case regarding the Looker Side Quest after completing the game. To explain, Looker's side-story will eventually bring the player to returning to Lysandre Labs underneath Lumiose City, granting the player access to a secret floor of the labs... except that this floor is the exact same layout as the lab's spin-tile floor, even to the point of keeping the same side-room entrances, but blocking them off with poster boards. Why this never got a unique floor is anyone's guess.
  • The first installment of Die Hard Trilogy for the PlayStation. Most of the floors, with the exception of the Garage, Reception, Ballroom, and Vault, are small variations of six basic designs: Office, Construction, Maintenance, Executive, Computer, and Rooftop.
  • Infinity: The Quest for Earth features procedural generation of terrain. On one hand, this means no one spot on any of the billions of realistically-sized planets is perfectly identical. On the other, it means some planets are bound to look very similar to each other.
  • The Conduit plays this trope straight. While many of the earlier levels are repetitive, the player can also use the ASE to show a path to the next waypoint.
  • During development, one of Bungie's promotional points for Oni was that its buildings were designed by real architects for the player to fight through. The game ended up with a lot of Cut And Paste Environments because that's how real architecture works.
  • SimCity takes this to a large-scale level with its building tilesets.
    • Heck, even in SimCity 4, where lots can come in different shapes and positions, you will still have the same buildings (hence why everyone hates Wren Insurance in that game), in fact, it's very common to have two of the same buildings right next to each other.
    • As for the games before SimCity 4, the buildings all face the same direction.
    • SimCity (2013) has a somewhat limited range of building models within the same wealth/density/zone group, and buildings are likely to be clustered within those categories, but they have randomized variations in their texture selection. Consequently, it's not uncommon to see a row of houses that all look the same except for the paint, which in fairness is not uncommon in real life either. A patch added variations in the heights of skyscrapers so that they weren't all at the same level, which looked unrealistic.
  • Some pseudo-random level generators used in a variety of games, from X-COM to Spelunky and even NetHack, use Cut And Paste Level Elements - while the overall shape of the level differs each time, the maps are generated with some sections of level that are always designed in a particular manner:
    • X-COM uses massive tiles which are composites to plant houses and UFOs down, and certain sections of an Alien Base always have the same basic layout.
      • X-COM Apocalypse plays it completely straight way with fully premade levels. For example, every UFO of a given type always crashes into the same landscape regardless of location.
      • XCOM: Enemy Unknown has lots of handmade levels, but they're all loosely based on North American cities, leading to things like a large red suspension bridge in the middle of Birmingham, England and people using large sedans in Japan, which tends toward smaller cars.
    • NetHack features "Special Levels", where the floor is mostly pregenerated and stored in the game's database. Most of these premade levels are either Quest Levels, part of the Sokoban shoutout, or part of the Endgame. Even then, enough random events and monsters make each experience unique.
    • Spelunky uses large blocks of level formations, which are slotted together and adjusted by pathfinding software to prevent/minimise inescapable situations where the player is forced to have bombs or rope on hand. An addition randomising routine makes little changes here and there to keep things interesting, and all items and enemies are always randomly placed, with the exception of Special Level Elements very much like Nethack's.
  • The Diablo series prides itself for its randomly generated dungeons, and apart from a few carefully-constructed areas (boss levels, the last parts of final dungeons, towns etc.) it manages to avoid this trope completely.
    • However, Diablo III constructs each dungeon from a handful of very large architectural complexes, to the point that a veteran player can see a hallway and recognize whether it leads anywhere interesting. The page quote is a lampshade on this. Also, each dungeon has its entrance and exit in the same relative locations.
  • The Baldur's Gate series has a large number of houses you could break into, and most of them use the exact same layout.
  • The revamped version of O Game gives planets in different positions different Palette Swaps, but every planet in an equivalent position has the same background.
  • All the .hack games suffer from this. By trying to simulate an MMO, the games offer you an enormous amount of key word combinations to access new areas, and they will lead you to... not a great variation of areas, mostly a change of enemies.
  • Colossal Cave Adventure: You are in a maze of twisty little passages, all alike.
  • In Shadow the Hedgehog, there are two levels in which Shadow is transported to his memory in the past, The Doom and Lost Impact. Completing certain missions that don't just involve getting to the goal ring, especially in Lost Impact, is arduous as every room looks very similar and there are not quite enough distinctive features in each area.
    • Central City counts as well. There are two parts that look exactly the same, in fact, even the landmarks are the same.
    • Sonic the Hedgehog (2006) abuses this trope not only in the fact that almost every level is part of all three hedgehogs' stories, but that the levels themselves will often reuse certain rooms within them with no changes except very minor ones in enemy placement. Sometimes immediately after you left the room it was copied from, even.
  • The First-Person Shooter Moon very noticeably uses this, but also attempts to justify it. Almost all of the game takes place in alien bases, and since they're all for the same sort of alien and the same purpose, there is no in-game reason for them to vary much. As for the rest of the levels, they're outside—on the Moon, where you can hardly expect varying scenery. One does wonder, though, why the bases have no break rooms, no living quarters, and indeed nothing other than identical machinery, identical checkposts, and the occasional storage unit.
  • Fuel is a great offender, having objects repeated several times in a small area.
  • Ultima VI constructs its "cave" dungeons from geomorphs. This wouldn't be so bad if most of the dungeons weren't part of a single ginormous world-spanning cave, so one wrong turn can leave you unbelievably lost.
  • The tons of abandoned buildings in Wasteland.
  • In Mafia: City of Lost Heaven, buildings repeat textures. While this is not too much distracting with bricks and such, seeing several "Pete's Restaurant" buildings is a big jarring.
  • Done in Crush, Crumble, and Chomp!. Due to the limitations of personal computers at the time, the game heavily reuses standard icons for most spaces (residential home, skyscraper, bridge, etc.). Even with this limitation, the game loosely attempts to duplicate real-world locations with the setup — for example, the Pentagon is a ring of five "skyscraper" tiles.
  • Done even moreso in the original Castle Wolfenstein games; all of the rooms are built from repeated use of a single "wall" tile, a "stairs" tile, and cut-and-pasted furniture.
    • Spiritual Successor Wolfenstein 3D is equally guilty, though with some more variety. There's at least three levels that are entirely made up of or otherwise reuse nearly-identical swastika-shaped mazes.
  • The bonus dungeons in Dragon Quest VI and Dragon Quest VII cut and paste from other dungeons in those games.
  • While playing Alan Wake, you may get tired of seeing trees due to Alan having to trudge through a thick forest at night in almost every level. Yahtzee even remarked on this, saying that the game repeatedly makes up excuses for you to be doing so.
    • Then again, Washington is very thickly forested in places, especially the western half, and opening shots establish Bright Falls as nestled deep in the mountains.
    • Only in the first three levels. The last three involve fighting through clinic grounds, a large farm, urban terrain, a power plant, and a series of highways, junkyards, and mills.
  • In Bayonetta you go through the same town square at least three times. First time it's normal, second time it's covered in lava, third time it's floating in space. The final boss also uses palette-swapped versions of the same terrain for it's fire and ice forms.
  • The Lord of the Rings Online largely avoided this trope. While some building interiors and exteriors were re-used, the environments for the different zones were largely unique. To the point that the snowy mountain environment in the Blue Mountains was distinct from the snowy mountain environment of the Misty Mountains. The wide variety of terrain made exploring the different areas more worthwhile.
  • Hyperdimension Neptunia definitely abuses this trope. You'll see backgrounds from Record of Agarest War, and Trinity Universe and almost every single enemy came from even beyond those series. Luckily, later games actually have a budget, due to somehow outselling the aforementioned games by far.
  • MMORPG Vindictus does this, but in a fairly creative way. All combat is in instanced dungeons, known as "missions," set in specific regions. Each region has a limited number of landscape/room/landmark features. Each time a dungeon is generated, it uses a semi-random selection of available features. Certain missions will invariably have certain features every time, and the boss rooms are always the same for each mission; but there will also be a few randomly-generated features as well. Particularly egregious with The Labyrinth.
    • There are also entire cut-and-paste regions. For example, the Ruins of Sanctity are little more than a Palette Swap of the Perilous Ruins with a few features added. Nearly all higher-level regions are Palette Swap versions of lower-level ones. The only truly unique regions are Ainle, The Sewers, and Ortel Castle.
  • Dead Island has the entire final "dungeon" as this. It's pretty obvious they ran out of time or ideas at the end, and just lopped the same room/hallway combo for the end. There's even the same branching hallways into the same big empty rooms with nothing. Very odd, as the doors to these empty rooms are big and imposing.
  • Saints Row does this for its various shops. Taken to an extreme in The Third, where there are about three unique clothing shops in Steelport - every other one in the city is a Planet Saints.
  • Guild Wars did a decent job avoiding this for most of its run with largely unique zones. However, in Eye of the North dungeon design bested their development team. Rooms were often copied in several dungeons with only a few remaining unique to a single dungeon.
  • SSI Gold Box RPG Secret of the Silver Blades uses this extensively, along with some engine tricks, to create huge, sprawling areas; within a few minutes of exploration a player will see the same basic room layouts over and over again.
  • Super Mario Galaxy has Goldleaf Galaxy, which has a main planet simply being a color-swapped, mirrored Honeyhive Galaxy.
  • Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles has the train and mansion chapters ported directly from the games they appeared in (namely Resident Evil 0 and the 2002 version of Resident Evil), as well as portions of Raccoon City from Resident Evil Outbreak.
  • In Stampede Run, there are several set arrangements of obstacles that are frequently reused.
  • Jak 3: Wastelander is this in the way that Haven City shares almost all of the layout, landmarks, models and textures to its appearance in Jak II, except for the added destruction. Justifiable for the sake of continuity, and doing so makes an actual emotional impact on players as they see a place they are so familiar with in ruins.
  • Left 4 Dead has the finale of The Sacrifice campaign looking exactly like the finale map used in The Passing campaign for Left 4 Dead 2 with some of the back alleys and streets being blocked off in the former.
  • PAYDAY 2 reuses some maps and/or its assets many times. The bank heist has five levels dedicated to it and they all use the exact same layout. The Ukrainian Job is a copied version of Jewelry Store with different assets used to make the level slightly different.
    • The developers responded to the criticisms about the trope being used and are improving on it slowly. Day 1 of Big Oil was just a copy and paste of map used in day 1 of Rats, but it was later changed to have a different outdoor area and the house itself was expanded upon. The Armored Heist has five different levels dedicated to it and they all use assets and areas already present in the game, but they are laid out in a way that makes the levels look and feel like new maps.
    • A peek in the game's files reveal that almost every asset used in the first game is present in the second game, implying that the sequel would have had a LOT more recycled content. While the sequel does reuse some assets from the first game, the majority of the assets are Dummied Out. However, some of the textures used as reflections on certain objects are reflections from levels used in the first game, making them stand out completely.
  • Utilized in Massive Chalice. Most maps only have a few unique pieces with liberal use of rotation, size variation and combination to give the impression of different pieces. One map only has two "hero" pieces, i.e big set pieces making up the border/pants of the level.
  • The Bureau: XCOM Declassified isn't too bad but the team do visit an awful lot of similar looking farms on the side missions for some high contrived reasons (a nuclear missile hidden under a farm comes to mind). Also the alien environments look very similar.
  • First Encounter Assault Recon frequently reuses room layouts, with the only differences being the placement of objects; this can possibly be explained by way of about half or more of the game taking place in an office building. F.E.A.R. 2 in turn reuses only-slightly-modified subway areas from Condemned: Criminal Origins, while the SCU headquarters in one level of Condemned 2: Bloodshot bears more than a passing resemblance to the aforementioned Armacham offices.
  • Something Else: The fourth part of the Space Hideout is based on Forest of Illusion 2, but the enemies are replaced with Thwomps and the water physics have been removed.
  • ICO has two levels entitled "Symmetry (pt. 1)" and "Symmetry (pt. 2)". As the names might suggest, they are the exact same level, with the second flipped symmetrically. And not only that, but "Symmetry (pt. 2)" requires the player to complete the exact same series of puzzles as in "Symmetry (pt. 1)" all over again.
  • The original PlanetSide had only a few base types at release, most of which were visually very similar except for the layout of rooms. At most, the only difference between a base on one continent and the same type of base across the continent or on an entirely different continent is the placement of defensive pillboxes outside and the courtyard's ground texture. Tactics for taking a base almost never varied unless it is in a special position, such as Cyssor's Gunuku Dropship Center, which is isolated on a small island. The Expansion Pack added Ancient Vanu facilities in the caverns which, while limited to only three base designs, had significantly more variety due to the chaotic terrain of the Caverns. Too bad nobody played there.
    • The same issue returns in PlanetSide 2, particularly at release; all bases were copy-pasted and there were only about 5 base types and with less than a half dozen independent building designs. Later updates made bases more unique and with unique rooms, such as the underground bases on Amerish, though surface facilities still frequently suffer from having identical buildings.
  • The Valhalla Plains and the Treant Forest from Tales of Phantasia are constructed from a limited selection of maps that are interconnected to form bigger mazes. Treant Forest in particular has a lake with the same shape appearing in five different locations.
  • Star Ocean (at least the original SFC version) has only two designs for its ports, one that faces west and one that faces east (with Sylvalant port looking like every other east-facing port but with snowfall). A better example is the Seven Star Ruins Bonus Dungeon, which is 30 floors of descending through mostly the same caverns with only differences being in puzzles and treasure.
  • Warframe uses tile-based randomly generated levels (with about a dozen tilesets). It can lead to oddities like walking through what appears to be the same room half a dozen times. Corpus tilesets are the biggest offender; the Corpus Ship and Corpus Outpost tilesets share many identical tiles. Considering the Corpus rely heavily on mass-manufacturing, it does seem to make a certain amount of sense.
  • Elite Dangerous suffers from the only functional differences between solar systems being the type of government and the number of space stations and asteroid belts there are; you have 400 billion Procedural Generation, realistic star systems that are almost all completely identical. However, planetary landing (planned for an Expansion Pack) should avert this, with different planets having different environments and resources.
  • Doom takes advantage of this for the secret level of its third episode. When you enter it, by all means it appears to be an exact copy of the first level of the episode, up until you hit the original exit switch and the walls lower to reveal an open area with a Cyberdemon. You then have to go back through to the start of the level, with walls lowered to reveal new monsters in every room, to find a new hallway in the beginning room leading to the key to exit the level.
  • Quake II reuses every single of their SP levels for multiplayer. This was before the Deathmatch-specific levels even came in. The same deal with Quake. By the time of Quake III: Arena, the focus was entirely on multiplayer, with no SP to talk about, and Quake IV directly averts this by separating the SP and MP components into completely separated games.
  • Many free, open-source FPS take advantage of the already GPLednote  maps:
    • Aggressor, a GPL map originally made for Quake. It can be found in games such as OpenArena, Nexuiz and Xonotic.
    • Thanks to id Software's release in 2006 of the map sources for all of the original Quake's maps, the aforementioned games and some more use them as multiplayer maps. OA uses all of the Deathmatch maps, including the Dummied Out dm7, while Nexuiz uses only dm6.
    • Other examples of GPL maps used in games are cbctf1 (originally for Nexuiz, later used by OpenArena); dm4ish and dm6ish (both third-party maps for Quake, ported to OA); hydronex (originally for Nexuiz, also used in OA); kaos, spirit3 and oa_rpg3dm2 (originally for Quake III, used in OA), pvomit, shine and, shouse (originally for Quake III, later added to OA via a mappack by their authors and then made official).
  • Done on purpose in Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey. Sector Grus is built out of parts of the first four sectors: Antlia, Bootes, Carina, and Delphinus. This is because Maya, the ruler of the sector, is deliberately forcing the team to revisit their worst moments and deepest fears... and since they've spent the entire game in a Death World, those all revolve around the previous areas.
  • This is one common complaint about Mighty No. 9. Many of the levels have the same "industrial" trappings, with some flavor dashed on top of them (such as fire or water sections).
  • Fate/Grand Order often uses these for its Visual Novel-esque cutscenes' backgrounds and battle backgrounds. Why yes, that exact same hallway architecture from 15th-century France also existed in the 1st-century Roman Empire.
  • In Ravensword: Shadowlands, there's quite a few buildings in the game, but only a couple interior designs, meaning that you'll be seeing the same locations a lot when entering buildings (right down to the furniture and the items on them being in the exact same spots).
  • Phantom Doctrine: Storyline missions (e.g. the raid on the restaurant in Hong Kong) have unique building models, but non-story missions take place in a relatively small number of buildings, with minor variations in enemy and loot placement.
  • Knuckles Chaotix features five acts in each zone unlike how other Sonic games have two or three. Nearly every act in a zone features the same general structure, with few changes in layout and object design. For example, you'll always find the hidden corridors in Botanic Base and the miniboss in Amazing Arena in the same region of each act; and Titanic Tower's whole point is that every level is the same building under construction. Add to that the lack of interesting setpieces, gadgets, and hazards to play around with and the result is a game often criticized for being repetitive. Of note is that the level order is decided on a roulette, in an attempt to mask this trope.

    Comic Books 
  • The "shops in sandbox games/RPG's all with the same interior" variety is referenced in Scott Pilgrim. The title character wanders into a Second Cup coffee shop, expecting to find there his sister, who works in one, but is confused when he finds another person (his ex-girlfriend, kinda) attending it instead, then a caption says "Scott suddenly realized for the first time that all Second Cup exteriors do not lead to the same Second Cup interior".

  • Done in Cube. Justified since the film takes place in a labyrinth of identical cubes, but the filmmakers only had the budget to build one set with five out of the six surfaces. The only difference between each room is the colour and varying traps.
  • In Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, toward the beginning of the movie, just after the robots attack Manhattan, Sky Captain lands at his base and drives his plane into a huge hangar. At the top of the doors of the hangar are these huge windows of 8x10 panes. In every window, some of the panes are broken. In every window, it's exactly the same panes that are broken.
  • Early in Inception, Ariadne and Cobb test out the creation of a dreamworld, at one point folding several city blocks like a sheet of paper. It soon becomes apparent that the dream city consists mostly of the same building copied over and over over again.
    • One of the key concepts for an Architect in the dream world is to make the entire environment closed and repetitive, but in such a way as to not arouse suspicion. This is so that the dreamer will believe he or she is still awake and will feel like they're free to wander around, despite being in a closed environment.

  • In Trent's Last Case, Trent jokes that all English hotels have the same sitting-room:
    Have you ever been in this room before, Cupples? I have, hundreds of times. It has pursued me all over England for years. I should feel lost without it if, in some fantastic, far-off hotel, they were to give me some other sitting-room. Look at this table-cover; there is the ink I spilt on it when I had this room in Halifax. I burnt that hole in the carpet when I had it in Ipswich. But I see they have mended the glass over the picture of “Silent Sympathy”, which I threw a boot at in Banbury.

    Live Action TV 
  • A rare Live Action TV example occurs in Caprica. As Zoe-A and Philomon travel in the Virtual World, Zoe-A makes note of the repeated objects and discusses the possibilities of a generative software to independently create environments and objects. The idea is that a program that takes the basic pattern of an object (a tree in this example) but build over it would prevent Cut and Paste environments.
  • Due to the limited flexibility in sets, most levels and rooms of starships/bases/etc are the same set lit differently or filmed from another angle.
    • Very noticeable in Star Trek, especially Voyager - their science/robotics/engineering labs are all the same set. They're also the sickbay with no beds and blue lighting panels instead of yellow.
    • There is also the fact that away missions, regardless of series or time period, seem to have an inordinate fixation on exploring familiar looking grey caves/tunnels.
    • Red Dwarf uses this a fair bit due to the limited budget:
      • The Red Dwarf Back To Earth special creates corridors by shooting in the quarters and turning the camera to the wall.
      • The quarantine quarters in the episode, erm, "Quarantine", is the normal bunk room with green panels over the top bunk and Holly monitor.
      • The Season VIII opener, "Back in the Red", goes out of its way to invoke this by accurately replicating the original bunk room from the first two series, right down to the awful painted wood look... for a scene that couldn't have lasted more than five minutes!
      • Several episodes feature alternate, duplicated or otherwise parallel versions of familiar locations, allowing for the same sets to be given extra dressings for what is essentially the same location. Notable examples of this are in the "Parallel Universe", "Demons and Angels" and "Only the Good..." episodes.
  • Power Rangers does this, but most of the time it's just recycling Super Sentai footage.
  • Speaking of Super Sentai, many locations across different seasons are reused and some appear in Kamen Rider. This includes the park scenes that are filmed in Hikarigoaka Park. Mountain Iwafune's mountains and valleys surrounded by green forests are used for the large location action scenes, and with gouges so the multiple actions scenes and explosions can be utilized more, although Super Sentai uses it far more than Kamen Rider, especially in their team-up specials. Saitama Super Arena's interior and exterior is frequently used in Kamen Rider productions, mostly notably in Kamen Rider Double's first episode, and in the two part beginning of Kamen Rider Ryuki.
  • In the Doctor Who serial The Invasion, the same set is used for two different offices belonging to Tobias Vaughn, the only difference being the view out of the window. Lampshaded by the Doctor.
    • Whenever the Doctor and friends are traveling through the TARDIS' corridors (especially during the '80s era), it's the Console Room's walls rearranged.
  • A lot Dom Com and Sitcom shows generally has rooms designed where characters can be seen entering from a door/stairway/etc from the side (stage left/right) or from behind (up stage). Most shows rarely have characters entering from the hidden 4th wall (the down stage area where most of the cameras are fixated and lacks an actual wall) due to most of the cameras and other equipment being there and hidden from normal view. Because of all the above, many rooms tend to look similar where, in most cases, the entrance door is always on the side, the television is off camera, any form of stairs are always in the rear, etc.
  • Blackadder Goes Forth has a French chateau being used as General Melchett's headquarters. We see a court room, a classroom for a flying school, the general's office and a dining hall. They all have the same large round painting above a wide fireplace, though oddly the fireplace frame itself appears to sometimes change colour. Furthermore, the whole set is probably a redress of the Prince Regent's bedroom from the third series.

    Web Animation 
  • DSBT InsaniT and Dreamscape: A lot of backgrounds are reused between episodes, or just have small alterations made to them.

    Real Life 
  • More recentlly built subdivisions can tend to look like this, often having only 2 or 3 house designs repeated throughout the entire area.
  • In theory, Roman military encampments were supposed to follow a single design pattern, resulting in the same fort built thousands of times all over Europe. In practice, the design was usually modified to suit local requirements.
  • Some people argue that this is happening to Manhattan thanks to the proliferation of chains like 7-Eleven and Duane Reade and bank storefronts.
  • It's also a common complaint that the high streets of England consist of exactly the same chain stores and restaurants these days. If there are any independent stores selling the same stuff, they are usually in trouble. Slowly becoming a subversion as internet shopping kills off the big chain stores the way they killed off their smaller competitors in the 80s, although there are other problems with the new status quo.
  • Almost every newly-constructed (mid-2000's and up) suburban district in Sweden ever. They all consist of shoebox apartment buildings that all look alike, with no outstanding detail whatsoever except slightly slanted roofs in some cases.
  • Ever go to an office high-rise? Endless cubicles like they were a texture in MS Paint, plus the fact that the floors of most skyscrapers tend to have identical floor plans. And look at the buildings themselves. Once people figured out that glass boxes with a central core are both sturdy and roomy, they started turning up everywhere.
  • Russian city districts built in the Soviet period, from the Khruschev times onwards, often look like this, showing little to no variation even between different cities. This is because they were built according to standardized plans out of the same identical cheap, mass-produced panels made on the same state-owned factories. From The '90s onwards, new Russian buildings feature increasingly more variety in architecture.
  • On a related note, British public housing in the immediate aftermath of the Second World War was built this way, particularly large tower blocks. Re-using the same building plan and placing bulk orders of the materials saved time and money, neither of which the newly-formed Ministry of Works had in abundance with the country almost bankrupt and a lot of returning veterans and their families needing a roof over their heads before winter arrived.
  • Number 14 of this Cracked list shows a Brazilian housing development consisting of square houses of the exact same dimension giving the impression that it's something out of SimCity. To complete the look they've coloured whole sections differently; presumably to help people find their house.
  • One of the better known routines of German comedian Dieter Nuhr spoofs this. He describes a meeting with a friend thusly: "I had an appointment with a friend at an Italian restaurant in Koblenz. I followed the directions to a T: turn right at the Schlecker drug store, opposite of perfume store Douglas left past the Sun Point tanning salon, at computer store Vobis enter the mall, then Citi Bank, Apollo Optik, H&M, and diagonally across from Eduscho there's the Ristorante Veneziano. So I was waiting for an hour, but my friend didn't come. Until I realized: I'm still in Augsburg."
  • This is on purpose in some communities in which control-freak local politicians use zoning and business permitting to impose a single aesthetic vision on the entire community.

Alternative Title(s): Copy And Paste Environments


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