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"Jellies? Never seen 'em before, but now that you mention it, they're right out the door!"
Cave Story's entry for this trope

When you boil it down, games are ultimately a series of numbers. All the gameplay and fancy graphics are when it comes to it, a bunch of computer code doing a lot of calculations. So how does the game actually know where you are in the story, what choices you've taken, what characters you've spoken to, and when to make evil monsters appear?

Introducing the Event Flag: a condition in game programming that causes a variable to change. Event Flags are set off when certain events take place — Boss Battles, Cutscenes, leveling up, One Ups — anything that's important to the plot or to your stats. Flags can also trigger anything, from changing a character's status to activating subquests or side-plots to adjusting what sort of Random Encounters show up. How and when they are implemented, and what they do are purely up to the game developers.

It's important to note that there need not be any logical connection between the action and the results. Sometimes there is a relationship, as when the completion of one quest makes you eligible for others, but very often the game programmers just decided to enforce the order of events. If the door to the Black Tower is impenetrably sealed, but spontaneously unlocks itself after you give 10 flowers to a completely unrelated NPC on the other side of the world, an Event Flag is the little chunk of computer code that made it happen.

Setting off certain Event Flags is necessary for the computer to know when you've won most games. (In the case of a game with Multiple Endings, which Event Flags are set off will usually decide what ending you getnote .) Sequence Breaking in the wrong places can make the game Unwinnable if a flag that was supposed to be triggered gets stuck in the wrong state, or if it results in a combination of event flags that normally would not happen, causing the game to crash or behave strangely.

There are different ways games can implement this. The variables might be stored independently, which would usually be done for side quests, or even simple bits of information such as permanently opening a door or having a conversation with an NPC, though this is not always the case. RPGs and some other game types also commonly use a story event flag, represented by a number, to store your progress throughout the game. For instance, if you enter the game's second area for the first time with a value of say "7", the game plays a cutscene and you engage in a Hopeless Boss Fight. Do well, and maybe the game sets the flag to "8" which results in some unique dialogue. Do badly, and maybe it gets set to "12" with some different outcome. When you enter this area again, the game checks the story flag, knows you've already encountered the boss because the value is greater than "7", and won't repeat events. Naturally, these are arbitrary values set by the game designers, though normally these would be expected to increase as you progress since it simplifies things.

Let's also say the Noob Cave is normally permanently inaccessible after completing it due to a locked door, but it somehow is still possible to enter anyway. Enter the area again and the game sets the story state back to "7". As far as the game is concerned, you never encountered the Hopeless Boss Fight and it will play out again. Where this might be a real problem is if you have to cross a bridge that collapses or go through a door that locks, and the game still remembers these obstacles are now impassable, trapping the player.

Generally, a Broken Bridge is "repaired" by an event flag, and an unsolvable puzzle gets its solution from it as well. Event flags are also how a game knows when You Shouldn't Know This Already.

The term is often used for gags in anime and Japanese games, where Genre Savvy characters talk about needing to set off flags for the plot or relationships to move in a favored direction. More commonly, it is a joke about Tempting Fate, where once a certain event has been set off, something inevitable will follow.note  Anybody who talks about what they're going to do after a war, for example, has set a death flag.


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  • A bug in Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin makes the game Unwinnable this way: Death has some dialogue immediately after you beat him, and at the end of the dialogue, his "boss beaten" event flag is set. However, if you skip the cutscene, the flag never gets set, so re-entering the room seals the doors just as if you had a boss battle, but the boss never appears; you are locked in the room until you reset the game. Worse yet, if you went back out of the room to take advantage of the nearby savepoint, you can't get through the room, which is where the rest of the game is, and the only recourse is to restart the file.
  • In one TIE Fighter mission, a different set of enemies would appear depending on the order in which the player destroyed his first two targets.
  • Soulcaster and Soulcaster II make heavy use of event flags for controlling traps, ambushes, monster spawns, and other such triggers.
  • Batman: Arkham City: If you try and sequence break by blowing up the six Titan containers before visiting Bane, you'll find one of them is missing. Only by talking to Bane is the event flag to make it appear set.

  • Metroid:
    • In both the first game and Zero Mission, you have the fights with Ridley and Kraid, which are required to open the way to Tourian and thus the end of the game.
    • In Return of Samus you have to clear a section of the game world of Metroids before the path forward is cleared of purple liquid, allowing you to advance. Samus Returns changes this to collecting Metroid DNA that is automatically collected from among the drops during the Metroids' death scene.
    • In Super Metroid, the large crashed ship is supposed to be entered from the west; a boss fight there triggers an event flag which turns the power on. Through heavy-duty Sequence Breaking, it can also be entered from the east, but it will be completely empty until this flag is triggered. Also, the method of reaching Tourian makes a comeback from the first game, with two additional bosses added.
    • Metroid Fusion:
      • On the whole, what makes this game so much harder to Sequence Break than previous games is that this game's event flags work like a census clicker. Since the game is linear, it doesn't keep track of what items you have like previous games did, but instead keeps track of where you are in the story and grants items accordingly. So pretend you skipped Arachnus and went straight to fight the fake Chozo Statue instead, defeating it would award the Morph Ball instead of the Charge Beam, as that is the next item you should have obtained from the next defeated boss. That said, note we're not saying it's "impossible" to sequence break, because...
      • There is a very obtuse tactic used by Speed Runners to beat the game very quickly. How it exactly works would take far too long to explain, but to put it very simply it involves Power Bombing yourself into a wall in a certain area in Sector 5 and then pushing Samus outside of the game's collision data, which happens to push her into an area of the RAM for File C, and then laying Power Bombs to rewrite parts of it. This not only sets the progress event flag to a glitched state that basically allows you to just board your ship and trigger the end credits, but also moves Samus's spawn point for that file to the hallway right before it. Then all you have to do is die and you appear in the room before the absent final boss, roughly 3 seconds away from your ship that's ready to leave. This tactic so thoroughly broke the speed run records that a new category was created just for it.
    • The Metroid Prime Trilogy Enforces this starting with later releases of the first game, whose updates included measures to prevent Sequence Breaking.
      • A particularly egregious example in the first game are the prevention measures to acquire the Plasma Beam early: A pile of Bendezium was placed in front of the door in the Japanese and PAL versions, and the NTSC Player's Choice version locks the door in addition to the Bendezium pile until you have the Grapple Beam.
      • Echoes, Corruption, as well as Metroid Fusion, all run on a mix of this trope and You Can't Thwart Stage One. For example, in Echoes you can't enter the Dark Temples without acquiring three Keys, most of which require you to acquire the various upgrades in their respective portions of the game, and restoring the Sanctuary Temple is required to get the Light Suit, which opens up most of the Sky Temple Keys.
    • Metroid: Other M has the Authorization system and how it directly leads to the first (and so far only) time an official entry in the series forces travel through extreme temperature areas without the Varia Suit. It is mitigated somewhat by greatly reducing the rate of heat damage in those areas in comparison to the heated areas you're NOT supposed to be in yet.
  • Lampshaded in Flower, Sun and Rain. In Scenario 4, there's a point when you will probably have already figured out the solution to a puzzle, but aren't actually offered the chance to solve it. You first have to talk to Stephen Charbonie, who, as part of his usual bizarre rant will mention that "digital games also need flags" and that he's going to "trigger a flag for you." From then on, he mentions "flags" every time he allows you to progress further.
  • On the Famicom Disk System version of The Legend of Zelda, you can use one of these to infinitely acquire the heartpiece in Eastern Hyrule, the one out at sea that requires the bridge. The game delegates one event flag per screen for a heartpiece, which tells the game whether a heartpiece that has been placed by a developer has been acquired or not, and therefore whether or not it should still appear on that save file. By using the flute so the tornado carries you across that specific heartpiece you will grab it, but the game will set the heartpiece event flag on the screen you are teleporting to rather than the one on this screen. Thus, when you return, the heartpiece will still be there and you can regrab it via this method as many times as you like. When it came time to port the game to the Nintendo Entertainment System, the developers had figured this one out and tweaked the code so you can't grab a heartpiece while in the tornado.
  • The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask:
    • In the Link Trial dungeon of the Moon, playing the Song of Storms in front of the Gossip Stone before the Iron Knuckle room makes the ladder appear automatically, allowing you to skip the puzzle.
    • In the same dungeon playing the same song for the Gossip Stone on the left of the Iron Knuckle room unlocks the door in the next room, allowing you to skip a different puzzle.
    • The Owl Statue Warp Glitch relies on this. It involves triggering an out-of-bounds statue that sets one event flag without setting any othersnote , allowing you to basically warp anywhere and frigging obliterate the sandbox.
    • Approaching the fence to Great Bay will trigger a message from Tatl (the one that tells you a horse could jump it), which oddly also sets the flag to plant a Magic Bean in the soil outside the Astral Observatory. Since it gets you inside the observatory it can be useful if you neglected to write down the Bomber's password and don't feel like chasing the little buggers for a second time.
  • The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker:
    • Partway through the game you're asked to provide a password to get back inside Tetra's pirate ship. However, even if you solve the password riddle perfectly, capital letters and all, the game still won't let you into the ship until you view the correct cutscene where Link overhears the password from two pirates (thus triggering the event flag). It's Hand Waved that there is a very specific and precise way the password needs to be pronounced for it to pass, and that even if Link guessed the word he wouldn't know how to pronounce it until he overheard it from the pirates.
    • Because the game is so linear, any time an item must appear in a cutscene the game simply activates that item's "have" flag, as a fail-safe to ensure the game doesn't crash. Normally you don't notice this, of course, as you should already have the item. However, this can also give you items for free if you're doing a little Sequence Breaking. For example, glitching your way into the battle with Puppet Ganon will give you the fully-charged Master Sword and Mirror Shield.
  • The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess has the "Back In Time" glitch, which is used to bypass swaths of the game by activating event flags earlier than normal. In a nutshell it basically amounts to falling into a void and soft-resetting with frame-perfect timing to gain control of Link on the title screen. Then jump off the cliff, respawn on the bridge, save, and quit, and voila: you now have the Ordon Sword, Hylian Shield, Hero's Tunic, and Epona unlocked on your save file.
    • Its primary use is to bypass the Prolonged Prologue and skip right to when Faron Woods is bathed in Twilight, though another event flag is a problem. When you try to enter the twilight, the game only checks the Wooden Sword and Ordon Shield flags, and so Midna will tell you to "go back and get a sword and shield" even though you already have them. This can be bypassed, albeit with a ton of difficulty, by luring an enemy and jump-attacking him to get over the dialogue trigger.
    • Its secondary use is to skip a swath of the Forest Temple by using it with a different save file to activate the boss flag for that temple. Since the game "knows" that you will have all monkeys freed when the boss flag becomes active, with this flag active and you enter the final room every monkey will magically appear and form a bridge for you. Quite literally all you need to do is a brief sidequest for the Gale Boomerang.
  • Opening the portal to Black Castle in An Untitled Story requires the player to talk to the girl on LongBeach. Aside from this, these two things are otherwise mostly unrelated.
  • In Peasant's Quest, an event flag is triggered by talking to Mendelev at the shooting range. Saying "haldo" to Dongolev before talking to Mendelev will trigger the following response:
    Dongolev: "What'd you read that in the PQ Strategy Guide? Go talk to my brother first."
  • In the AGD Interactive Fan Remake of King's Quest II: Romancing the Throne, at one point the player is supposed to trade a pearl to an unscrupulous merchant for a mermaid's shell comb. However, you have to talk to the merchant first to find out that he's interested in pearls; offering him the pearl straight out will result in the same "No thanks" message he gives if you offer him anything else in your inventory.
  • Averted at one point in Myst. You might expect an event flag preventing you from starting a new game, flipping a couple levers, snagging a book page and toddling off to the library to enter a code and thereby win the entire game in less than two minutes. You would be wrong. The final combination code to beat the game is the same every time. As long as you know what to do, you don't have to solve any other puzzles. (The VR remake adds a game option for randomizing the "code" puzzles of the game. It also happens to make it harder to take or use physical notes.)
  • Riven averts it at one point. The code to the telescope is generated randomly every game this time. However, it's set at the start of the game and there's no actual event flag associated with the events where you learn the code, so there's nothing stopping you from creating a separate save for the game at the start, playing until you learn the code, then reloading that save and inputting the code prematurely. Alternately, if you're really, really bored, you could just sit there and try all 3000+ possible combinations until you brute-force it. The developers accounted for this Sequence Breaking.
  • In Armed & Delirious, the goal is to reach the Rabbit's communications room so Granny can find her recipe book. It is possible to reach that room before the end of the game, but if you do so, the Rabbit will be absent and Granny won't be able to find her recipe book. Once you've "rescued" all the family members, the Rabbit will appear in the room, allowing Granny to interrogate him on the location of the book, ending the game.

    First Person Shooter 
  • The scripting system introduced in Hexen allowed for event flags that affect other maps. The important ones are usually obvious by stating that part of a puzzle is solved by pulling a switch, but there's sometimes less visible ones such as crossing two specific lines in a map to raise a set of stairs in the associated hub's level.
  • In one level of Medal of Honor: Frontline, you have to blow up several trucks. The last truck doesn't appear until you get the deployment roster. Destroying it collapses a girder, creating a ramp over the otherwise insurmountable wall to the next level.
  • Left 4 Dead uses event flags mainly in finales. Until you trigger the button/radio/whatever to start the finale, you are stuck where you are until you start the event. Left 4 Dead 2 has two finales that are triggered by riding an elevator down to the lower floor but sometimes, due to a glitch or lag online, the finale event fails to start, thus the flag is never triggered. However, there's an object that can be "activated" to trigger the finale flag as a failsafe should the first flag fail in triggering.

  • In Prince of Persia, one might expect that picking up the sword in the first level is an event flag (because you can't very well enter a sword fight without it). Turns out that it's not; through trickery, you can enter the second level even without the sword, at which point you'll magically be able to swordfight anyway. One walkthrough, purporting to be a translation of the ancient tale of the protagonist, Hand Waves this by explaining that the story splits into two different versions at this place, and speculating that the Prince might have (in the quick version) found the sword on the stairs.
  • Cave Story:
    • One point in the game has a pretty transparent event flag—there's only critters and bats outside when you first enter Grasstown, but once you've talked to Chaco and she mentions you need to kill a Giant Jelly, the entire place is now magically filled with flying Jellyfish (including several visible from her doorstep). And, of course, it takes an Event Flag to trigger this Event Flag. You need to have gotten the Fireball from Santa first or she asks if you met Santa yet.
    • Also in the Core Chamber: Curly notices something interesting and wants you to come look at it, and the cutscene leading directly to the Boss Fight is triggered when you go talk to her. It's significant because if you don't collect a hidden item in that room before triggering this event flag, you forfeit your chance at getting the good ending.
    • Dr. Booster in the Labyrinth as well. If you talk to him after he falls into a pit, he dies, and the hidden item in the Core Chamber doesn't appear. If you instead leap over the pit, he gets better later on.
  • The first Rayman game plays with the concept a little. First of all, event flags only affect the level in which you are. Secondly, the event that sets the flag is just getting into some area; this may mean anything from collecting a powerup through walking a platform up to leap of faith. Moreover, the effects of flag being set are sometimes visible immediately - the game is not above spawning enemies just behind you, and edutainment spinoffs spawn killing obstacles directly into you when you select a wrong answer - but sometimes the only thing you get to know is that you set a flag, due to a distinctive sound - that is, if you play with sound.
  • If you play Sonic Boom: Rise Of Lyric while using Knuckles' game-shattering infinite jump glitch it's actually hard to not avoid missing event flags. This can have mixed results: you can Speed Run the game in under an hour, dodge entire sections of the game, render it Unintentionally Unwinnable, find yourself lost in a void that failed to load the level textures, or enter 2D or mach-speed sections with the normal camera and controls. Unsurprisingly a lot of the Game Grumps Guide Dang It! confusion during their play of the game came from missing event flags that triggered crucial elements or exposition.
  • In Hollow Knight, the Forgotten Crossroads becomes the Infected Crossroads once you break one of the three seals holding the Infection back. If you take too long to do this, however, the game will get impatient and instead trigger it as soon as you get the Monarch Wings from fighting the Broken Vessel, with no explanation. Myla gradually succumbing to the Infection is arbitrarily conditioned on the player's obtaining Desolate Dive and Crystal Heart.
  • Version 1.00 of Spyro: Year of the Dragon has a horrid Game-Breaking Bug that is caused by one of these. If you enter any of the speedways and get either the Time Trial or Race egg without getting the other, leave the speedway, and then save and quit or power down the console, the egg you didn't get becomes permanently unobtainable which renders getting 100% Completion on that save impossible. What happens is the event flag that marks the egg you didn't get as "obtained" is set, but the flag that marks it as obtained in your atlas is not: now getting the egg won't mark your atlas as complete or add to your egg total since the game thinks you have the egg. The only way to fix it is to restart that entire save and take care to not repeat the glitch, or get your hands on a later version of the game where the glitch was fixed and obtain it on that copy.

  • An infamous bug is found in Ultima VII Part II, Serpent Isle. In a haunted house near a lighthouse you visit early in the game, speaking to certain ghosts shows you dialogue from much, much later in the game. This information is useless at that point and doesn't really make sense yet, but more importantly that conversation sets a few event flags that may cause future areas to become impassable.
  • Rune Factory 2 has only a very few of these. Those it lacks often lead to rather humorous conversations where villagers ask what you think about their Love Interest after you've married her. And you still respond with "i dunno lol".
    • Rune Factory 4 continues this spartan tradition by having NPCs greet you in a way that acknowledges you are in a relationship and/or expecting a child, then following it up with, " have you found anyone special yet?" A few other wallbangers include Dylas asking Frey if she will be his friend when she's his wife and the mother of his child, characters commenting that you're dating Dylas if you trigger the "Smiling Practice" event after tying the knot with another bachelor, and Leon continuing to refer to Frey as his girlfriend even after putting a ring on her finger.
  • The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion is just about run by event flags, ranging from new enemies suddenly appearing based on your level and/or reaching a certain point in a quest all the way to keeping track of what every NPC is supposed to be doing at any given time of in-game day. However, some of these event flags are notoriously prone to glitching, sometimes with disastrous results. By entering a normally inaccessible area, it's also possible to complete the main quest in minutes, because this sets the story event flag to the finale.
    • Fallout 3 upgraded that engine with a more sophisticated AI system, allowing for more flexible scheduling, conditionals and parameters. There's now quadruple redundancy possible, with event flags set by triggers, spell effects, dialog or AI. A dialog can set an AI flag, which will execute and set a Global variable, which will be checked when a door or object is triggered or a spell times out...and many other possible permutations and chained event flags. Unfortunately, this inconsistency makes it easier to break and harder to debug the chain, which a study of the game in the Construction Set shows many designers have done...
    • Fallout 4 has such a sequence trigger only after you progress a certain point in the main quest. Entering Fort Hagen before you track down Kellogg with Dogmeat and Valentine will see the elevator that normally gets you down to the lower levels of the fort blocked by impassible boards.
  • Skies of Arcadia has event flags. This presents a problem if you use a cheat to find all discoveries before going to the ice continent, as the discovery of a city on the continent is an event flag - you cannot progress in the game and have to start over.
  • Phantasy Star relies heavily on event flags, to the point where you won't be able to access a chest that should be in plain sight until a person tells the characters about it.
  • EarthBound (1994) uses event flags to an insane level. Random people you have to talk to to trigger events miles away, state changes that are never obvious...there are so many Guide Dang It! event flags in the game, Nintendo decided to include a guide with the game. Thankfully, the sequel improves massively.
  • Albion's Beloveno Arc depends entirely on event flags, that are set off when talking to certain people in a certain order, a certain amount of times. For example, while collecting information on a plot to assassinate the council president, the player will be prompted to talk to a certain NPC once he discussed the issue with two particular individuals. Talking to the NPC in question, will trigger the assassination. If the president was warned before that happens, the attempt will be thwarted and the player will be rewarded for their service. Othervise, he will be killed.
  • In Septerra Core, Maya's father won't know that Tori is in Outlaw Canyon until you ask Azziz the same question (he answers "I don't know, ask your father.") Lo and behold, Tori shows up in Outlaw Canyon instantly after talking to Maya's father.
  • In Terraria boss fights and some other events happen using these flags. Examples include:
    • Breaking a shadow orb may trigger (possibly with a delay) a landing meteorite or a goblin army, and breaking three shadow orbs summons an Eater of Worlds.
    • You have to reach a certain amount of max HP before blood moons start to appear. Max HP also triggers some boss and NPC appearances.
  • Gen V of Pokémon makes use of these in an attempt to prevent cheating. It's why using a GameShark for things like a Liberty Pass to get Victini will give you the item, but you can't use it. You have to trigger the Wondercard first. Getting the item from Wi-Fi or the Entrelink triggers the Wondercard which will allow the associated event to occur. The Event Flags exist in all the games, but sharking is easier in earlier gens because just getting the item triggers the flag. There's no Wondercard to trigger when getting the item.
  • In Yu-Gi-Oh! Monster Capsule GB, these crop up in-story in the various RPG worlds, signified by a chime.
  • Super Mario Bros.:
  • Undertale has a few interesting ones:
    • Many Boss Battles and other important obstacles may trigger event flags on their completion that remove Random Encounters from preceding areas and add various NPCs standing around for the player to talk with (often the same monsters).
    • There's one that causes the reflections in Waterfall's puddles to show the Fallen Child instead of Frisk. There was a rumor that this would happen after completing the Genocide route and selling your SOUL, but in reality, the flag is Dummied Out and can only be activated through Debug Mode.
    • One of the events on the True Pacifist route is having to pick up a letter from Undyne. Exactly when the player is notified about this may vary depending on which sidequests were previously completed, but it will never happen on a first playthrough.
    • In the initial release of the game, the last flag that can lock you out of the Pacifist Run Golden Ending occurs slightly before the flag that disables the last remaining Random Encounters. This means that, if you time it right, you can engage in a bit of Script Breaking and get the "pacifist" ending after killing monsters in the CORE, or even wiping them out entirely.
  • Nocturne: Rebirth has an interesting one after beating the Wind Guardian. After beating the boss, the next three dungeons become available at the same time. However, the story will progress each time you either complete the first half of a dungeon or defeat a boss. This can lead to a strange situation where the player can complete the first halves of two different dungeons, which will cause them to fight Idith and the Maxwell trio bosses before they fully complete any of the dungeons.
  • Dragon Age: Inquisition has an unusual one in the form of Cullen's romance. While other characters with whom the Inquisitor may choose to have a relationship can be romanced fairly quickly, a romance with Cullen is tied to the actual plot. Any Inquisitor can flirt with him in Haven, although if they're not a female human or elf, that's as far as it will go. After the Inquisition moves to Skyhold, the romance can continue but is forced to move slowly by the events of the plot; completing major events and quests will trigger the event flags to allow the relationship to continue growing.
  • Final Fantasy IV has two great exploits involving event flags, one caused by skipping a flag and the other caused by triggering one earlier than usual:
    • By abusing tents and saving it's possible to walk past Mist and enter from the right, allowing you to skip the destruction of the town and actually explore it much earlier than usual. The shop there sells mid-game items that can be equipped by Rydia, giving the level 1 Summoner twice the raw attack power of the level 10 Cecil and turning her into a walking nuclear bomb for much of the game.
    • Casting Warp immediately after regaining control after defeating Golbez allows you to walk up and "take" the crystal, which triggers the same event flag as taking the next crystal (this is because in the game's code, those two crystals are actually the same object with the same coded properties). With this event flag triggered the Sealed Cave completed event will happen the second you enter, letting you completely avoid one of the game's more annoying dungeons and the infernal Trap Doors that are found throughout.
  • Some early releases of Final Fantasy X had a glitch which allowed for a kind of New Game Plus; by entering an area you can normally only access once around halfway through the game, it would reset the story back to this point, while retaining all skills and equipment you had obtained. As illustrated in the main article, this also has a risk of breaking the game due to it causing unexpected results; Yuna can crash the game due to being present in a battle she would normally be unavailable for, and it's possible to be permanently trapped by being on the wrong side of a locked door if it was already triggered first time around, since this is stored in a separate flag that isn't reset.
  • Persona 3 has a lot of these in regards to the Social Links the player can form throughout the game. One example is that you can't start the Hermit link until you get the copy of "Innocent Sin Online" from Junpei.
  • In RPG Maker, event flags are known as "switches" and are the most basic of all the mechanics one must learn in order to make a functional game. RPG Maker also features a more advanced version of switches called "variables". These are far more versatile as they can be assigned to a pre-determined value i.e characters' stats, items in inventory, money held, play time, etc. Variables are best used along Conditional Branches that grant the game the ability to know if a certain condition is met in order to allow progression.

  • Area 7 of RefleX features ZODIAC Virgo trapping the Phoenix and firing upon it until it's destroyed, causing the Phoenix to transform into ZODIAC Ophiuchus. However, this only happens if you let the Phoenix's shield meter run out first in a last-ditch defense attempt; those who have advance knowledge of the cutscene may be tempted to just not shield at all, only to learn the hard way that not having an empty shield meter when the Phoenix is destroyed results in a Game Over.

    Stealth-Based Games 
  • The Hitman series is basically built around this trope development-wise, especially beginning with Hitman: Absolution where part of the reason Instinct was even a feature is because it helped the developers to keep track of NPC movements, and where to set off the right event flags. Beginning from Hitman (2016), this takes on the form of "Opportunities", a set path with often more obvious event flags that change how NPC characters react to specific things (tampering with the virus in Sapienza will cause one of the targets; Francesca De Santis, to go and find out what's gone wrong).

  • Several of the Total War series games (notably Rome) have their historical progression events driven by the actions of one faction - eliminate that faction and history stands still for everyone else. This is often a lot more noticeable in realism mods like Europa Barborum, if only because a lot more happens on the back of the event flags.
  • Omerta: City of Gangsters uses event flags to level your gangsters. Usually, these happen after a significant battle between your gang and the enemy you're fighting. The stages of the game tell you beforehand if a Level Up event flag is coming.

    Survival Horror 
  • Friday the 13th: The Game has one in reference to one of the ones from most of the movies. Namely, Jason cannot be killed without first being subjected to a Dramatic Unmask (accomplished by hitting him enough times with certain weapons). In the films, Jason's face being revealed was one of these that happened at some point in the climax with a few exceptions.
  • A popular Disk One Nuking tactic in Resident Evil 5 relies on avoiding these. Level 3-1 is a massive sprawling area of islands loaded with treasure and ammo pickups (including a rocket launcher) and there are no enemies unless you trigger one of several event flags that spawn them. It's very easy to memorize where the trigger points are, meaning you can keep loading your save and farming money and ammo unchallenged: within the hour you'll have accumulated enough money to buy every upgrade in the game.
  • Five Nights at Freddy's: Security Breach has a debilitating bug caused by one of these, as shown off here by TetraBit Gaming. The event flag in the security office that triggers the cutscene after you've been captured by Vanessa is never disabled, so if at any time you reenter that office after 2am it will abruptly snap back to 2am. This will cause a veritable potluck of event flags to flip on and off and cause all sorts of crazy things to start happening. Furthermore, it will bork save points and, since the security office is an autosaving checkpoint, you'll go right back there any time you're Jump Scared. Worse still, is without intimate knowledge of other glitches in the game, like how to wriggle through solid walls or use the infamous "Freddy jump glitch", the game is impossible to win at this point as areas you need to reach are barred off when the game thinks it's 2am.
  • Night Cry reinforces a lot of its arbitrary requirements for achieving a happier ending by utilizing somewhat poorly considered event flags to punish the player. Mess up and forget to find a necklace or talk to an NPC to get some other largely irrelevant piece of information or item somewhere? When you stray over a particular tile, your heroine will drop dead, or an antagonist will drop in to kill them. The problem is that you can bypass many of these very readily by simply checking your cellphone, as an error message telling the player they can't use it in a given area also repositions you past the relevant event flag's activation zone.

    Visual Novel 
  • Chiaki Nanami from Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair (who is the Ultimate Gamer and talks in video game metaphors a lot) will sometimes comment that you have "raised the flag" with her if you give her a present that she likes.
  • In the Hatoful Boyfriend sequel, Holiday Star, the protagonist makes several jokes about "raising the flag" when other birds tempt fate. When the inevitable occurs, she'll comment on "flag retrieval."
  • Used in Melody. If the title character is in a relationship with MC by the end of the story, the difference between the Good Ending and Family Ending comes down to whether she is pregnant.
  • Makise Kurisu in Steins;Gate mentions a love flag to Okabe as he gets close to another girl. But tellingly she'll only mention this if you've raised the flags for the Golden Ending, which also serves as her ending.

    Other Media 

Alternative Title(s): Event Flags, Death Flag


Death Flag overload

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Main / EventFlag

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