By intel I mean, secrets hidden throughout a game.
What's good about intel:
- Adds replay value (finding things hidden in levels)
- Can add story / context
- Helps justify a $60 price tag
- Can slow / kill game pacing (esp. in high action shooter games)
- Can be boring / uninteresting
- Can pull away from / ruin a game's atmosphere
It comes in the form of ego cap rewards hidden in each level.
I've seen games with interactive environments before. Duke has that. Duke can check himself out in the mirror, play pool, punch the punching bag and so on...
Each of these actions is tallied as a secret to find in a level.
One level might have a cigar you can smoke, a pinball machine you can play...
The cool thing is, once you do an action once? That "secret" is found. In effect, if you didn't find the cigar in one level, you can smoke a cigar in a later level and still "find" that secret. Or if you've been finding a lot of secrets, you may actually start a level later in the game, having found all of that level's secrets already! So you can just blow through the level, not snooping in every corner for secrets.
Secrets reward you with a small boost in max health. It's unusual for a game to reward you for finding secrets, I like that! Some ego rewards are of course more complicated than others. Playing pinball takes some effort: from both the player and the developer, who took the time to create a working pinball machine in game. More complicated ego rewards give a larger boost to your max health.
This whole set up for secrets allows for varied game play too:
One ego reward might really be unique, hard to find, and hidden in a specific level: for example, binoculars that let you check out babes on a pier. Another might be skill based: pinball, pool table. Another might be a puzzle: finding all weights for the weight bench and then lifting it.
I really enjoyed Duke Nukem Forever.
This feature in particular, I thought was very well done!