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Week 3: Stealth Design

by James Morgan on 03/28/13 01:19:00 am

The following blog post, unless otherwise noted, was written by a member of Gamasutra’s community.
The thoughts and opinions expressed are those of the writer and not Gamasutra or its parent company.


The name of my Game

One of the highlights of working on a new title like this is that I get to learn how to make new things. I’ve never worked on a stealth game before; in fact I’ve never worked on a game remotely like this before so it gives me a great opportunity to learn about better practices. Designing around so many unknowns can be a huge challenge so I’ve simplified the design by trying to base the game around the simple idea of having the player feels smart. In order to do this we have designed much of the game around giving the player opportunities to do smart things. This means allowing the player to make intellegent choices by giving them only the relevent data needed to choose the best approach.

Evasion - the core of any stealth game. Avoiding the enemy or seeking ways to distract them is important so you can accomplish your goal. This means the player must move past obstacles in order to accomplish their goal. But movement is primarily a reaction based task (think racing games or shooting[moving your sights to an enemy]). Split second reaction is not a task usually attributed to pre-planning, tactics, or strategy. So evasion plays a role in our game of pushing the player to the next objective. It adds a reaction based challenge that keeps the player on their toes. However, movement is the obstacle the player must overcome to get from point A to point B. All obstacles/enemies in the game are focused on slowing down the player’s progress. So planning comes from understanding the limitations of the player’s ship and how they might overcome issues faced by moving that ship around the map.

Planning - like any good strategy game, be it fast paced or not, requires a great deal of fore sight. Predicting things that have a high chance of happening is important for winning. So to make the player feel smart we needed to make the player think about how they will accomplish goals beyond simply reacting to enemies as they encounter them. We designed the levels to be more like puzzle challenges then actual stealth games. Getting the player to think more about how to accomplish something than simply trying to get better and better at the mechanics and brute force is the way to maneuversuccessfully through levels. The evasion of the game is based on pre-planning and not second to secondreactions making the player feel a sense of accomplishment when they predict the movements of anenemy.

Reaction - if you beat a totally new player at chess would you feel satisfaction? Would your level ofsatisfaction be the same if you beat a pro? The game reacts to the player’s decisions dependent on the degree of stealth used such as flanking the player or changing tactics to root out the player. So when the player fails the task of being stealthy they are not simply smacked and told to try again but instead faced with a different set of challenges that they have to overcome. The goals remain the same but the world responds to the player making the world feel cleverer. However, the AI is designed to leave simple puzzles that the player can solve in order to retain that clever feeling we want them to have. Flank a player around a rock but leave an opening to a safer zone around the corner is just one example. This leaves the player in control of reacting to the games challenges but always planning ways to over come them. The idea here is to leave the player with as much information as possible for them to make decisions best choice.

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