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Design Fundamentals of Stealth Gameplay in the Thief series. Randy Smith rsmith@ionstorm.com. Disclaimers. I didn’t design Thief’s gameplay Doug Church Marc LeBlanc Tom Leonard Paul Neurath

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design fundamentals of stealth gameplay in the thief series

Design Fundamentalsof Stealth Gameplayin the Thief series

Randy Smith

rsmith@ionstorm.com

Design Fundamentals of Stealth Gameplay in the Thief Series, rsmith@ionstorm.com

disclaimers
Disclaimers
  • I didn’t design Thief’s gameplay
    • Doug Church
    • Marc LeBlanc
    • Tom Leonard
    • Paul Neurath
  • This is about open-ended stealth gameplay. Other games mentioned are being evaluated by this standard only.
  • Tim Stellmach
  • Greg LoPicollo
  • Dorian Hart
  • etc.

Design Fundamentals of Stealth Gameplay in the Thief Series, rsmith@ionstorm.com

what is stealth in thief
What is stealth in Thief ?
  • Goal = move through space
    • Steal
    • Blackjack
    • etc.
  • Failure = AI state becomes “alert”
    • Combat
    • Fleeing
  • Pick lock
  • Pick pocket

Design Fundamentals of Stealth Gameplay in the Thief Series, rsmith@ionstorm.com

how does the ai become alert
How does the AI become alert?
  • The player has detectability
    • Visibility (light gem = feedback)
    • Audibility
  • The AI has senses
    • Seeing
    • Hearing
  • The overlap between player detectability and AI senses…
    • …is where the AI becomes alert or not
    • …is where stealth happens

Design Fundamentals of Stealth Gameplay in the Thief Series, rsmith@ionstorm.com

what is this lecture about
What is this lecture about?
  • It is about stealth gameplay
    • Player movement through space
    • Player detectability
    • AI Senses
    • AI State
  • It is not about:
    • Goals (such as stealing)
    • Consequences (such as combat)

Design Fundamentals of Stealth Gameplay in the Thief Series, rsmith@ionstorm.com

let s design a stealth game
Let’s design a stealth game!

You are a thief in a medieval city. There is a mansion in the distance, full of loot. A wall separates you from the mansion, and a guard patrols in front of the gate. A torch nearby spills light across the area.

Do you:

A) Wait until the guard has his back turned and run through the gate.

B) Put out the torch with a water arrow.

C) Sneak up on the guard through the shadows and blackjack him.

Design Fundamentals of Stealth Gameplay in the Thief Series, rsmith@ionstorm.com

more stuff this lecture is about
More stuff this lecture is about:
  • It is not about:
    • Stealth flavoredgameplay
    • How gameplay is qualified (what makes stealth gameplay stealth gameplay??)
    • What is the definition of “open-ended” gameplay?
    • Discrete interaction
  • It is about:
    • Player expression
    • Analog interaction

Design Fundamentals of Stealth Gameplay in the Thief Series, rsmith@ionstorm.com

major concepts for this lecture
Major concepts for this lecture
  • Discrete Interaction Structures
    • Exemplified by Choose-Your-Own-Adventure books
  • Analog Interaction Structures
    • Exemplified (for the sake of this presentation) by Quake or other FPS

Design Fundamentals of Stealth Gameplay in the Thief Series, rsmith@ionstorm.com

qualities of discrete interaction structures
Qualities of Discrete Interaction Structures
  • Finite, enumerable choices offered to the player.
  • Player must choose one of the available options, not something in-between, not invent their own thing.
  • Designer must explicitly create all interaction for the player.
  • Should be called “Choose Someone Else’s Adventure”

Design Fundamentals of Stealth Gameplay in the Thief Series, rsmith@ionstorm.com

what are analog interaction structures
What are Analog Interaction Structures?
  • Rough Definition: A collection of player-influenced, interacting game systems
  • An abstract design tool for (de)constructing open-ended gameplay and analyzing relevant data
  • A “unified theory” of existing thought:
    • Simulation vs. Emulation
    • Player Tools
    • Partial Failure
  • Feedback
  • etc.

Design Fundamentals of Stealth Gameplay in the Thief Series, rsmith@ionstorm.com

what are analog interaction structures not
What are analog interaction structures NOT ?
  • The only way to think about, construct, or deconstruct any type of gameplay
  • Necessarily the most useful tool for the job
  • A ton of brand new thought

Design Fundamentals of Stealth Gameplay in the Thief Series, rsmith@ionstorm.com

a useful metric
A Useful Metric
  • To what extent can the designer predict the player’s experiences?
    • A lot, the player can not take any action the designer did not explicitly implement and intent Discrete Interaction
    • Not much, really, the player has near-infinite ways to overcome the game’s challenges  Analog Interaction

Design Fundamentals of Stealth Gameplay in the Thief Series, rsmith@ionstorm.com

analog expression player movement in quake
Analog Expression: Player Movement in Quake
  • Data relating to player movement:
    • Player location (X,Y,Z)
    • Player orientation (H, P)
    • Player velocity vector
    • Player acceleration vector
  • Player expression:
    • Accelerate in various directions
    • Look right, left, up, down, or combo
    • Some fancy movement (jump, duck, etc.)

Design Fundamentals of Stealth Gameplay in the Thief Series, rsmith@ionstorm.com

what makes it analog
What makes it “analog”?
  • Hey, yea! There aren’t analog variables – so theoretically, all possible states are enumerable.
  • ...but the player cannot “choose” their movement data. There is no “choice”.
  • Instead, the player uses movement tools to set or “express” their desired movement data.

Design Fundamentals of Stealth Gameplay in the Thief Series, rsmith@ionstorm.com

player movement is relevant to quake s core gameplay
Player movement is relevant to Quake’s core gameplay
  • Player movement data is critical to resolving combat from moment to moment:
    • Orientation is how you aim weapons
    • Movement is how you dodge, take cover, charge, etc.
    • These are examples of the player expressing “higher order concepts”

Design Fundamentals of Stealth Gameplay in the Thief Series, rsmith@ionstorm.com

what else does quake have
What else does Quake have?
  • For both Player and Enemies:
    • Movement
    • Weapons that fire projectiles
    • Damage model (hit points)
  • Projectiles
  • A game world with physics simulation.
    • Collisions between player, terrain, projectiles.

Design Fundamentals of Stealth Gameplay in the Thief Series, rsmith@ionstorm.com

components to analog interaction structures
Components to Analog Interaction Structures
  • A game world that hosts interactions dictated by simulations (in Quake, physics in the 3D world)
  • Analog player expression (in Quake, player movement)
  • Analog/partial failure (in Quake, hit points)
  • Player tools to take arbitrary actions (in Quake, weapons that fire projectiles)

Design Fundamentals of Stealth Gameplay in the Thief Series, rsmith@ionstorm.com

let s talk about thief already
Let’s talk about Thief already
  • Game world that hosts interactions dictated by simulations = 3D world, similar to Quake
    • Physics
    • Line-of-sight (LOS)
    • Lighting, light sources
    • Sound propagation, noisy surfaces

Design Fundamentals of Stealth Gameplay in the Thief Series, rsmith@ionstorm.com

analog expression in thief
Analog Expression in Thief
  • Player movement
    • Player location (X,Y,Z)
    • Player orientation (H, P)
    • Player velocity vector
    • Player acceleration vector
  • Player movement expression
    • Accelerate in various directions
    • Look right, left, up, down, combo
    • Some fancy movement (jump, climb, etc.)

Design Fundamentals of Stealth Gameplay in the Thief Series, rsmith@ionstorm.com

higher order concepts in expressing stealth
Higher Order Concepts in Expressing Stealth
  • Hide in shadows = move into a dark part of the world
  • Move silently = avoid moving over loud surfaces, move slowly

Design Fundamentals of Stealth Gameplay in the Thief Series, rsmith@ionstorm.com

quake with only 1 hit point
Quake with only 1 hit point
  • No partial / analog failure
  • A lot of the data becomes much less relevant to resolving combat:
    • How damaging weapons are
    • Player’s emergent combat tactics when they are weak versus when they are healthy

Design Fundamentals of Stealth Gameplay in the Thief Series, rsmith@ionstorm.com

stealth related tools in thief
Stealth-related tools in Thief
  • Potions
    • Invisibility
    • Speed
  • Thrown tools
    • Flashbomb
  • Arrows
    • Water arrow
    • Moss arrow
    • Noisemaker arrow

Design Fundamentals of Stealth Gameplay in the Thief Series, rsmith@ionstorm.com

analog interaction structure chart a data analysis tool
Analog Interaction Structure chart = a data analysis tool
  • Useful for thinking about data:
    • What data the player has input into
    • How data flows from system to system and eventually leads to success or failure
  • Drawing the chart is as much art as science
    • Which data boxes?
    • How many arrows?
    • Draw the chart differently to analyze the data differently

Design Fundamentals of Stealth Gameplay in the Thief Series, rsmith@ionstorm.com

feedback in thief
Feedback in Thief
  • AI State and AI Senses
    • Broadcast speech
    • Animations
    • Behavior
  • Player Visibility / Audibility
    • Light gem
    • Listening
  • AI Movement
    • Player senses

Design Fundamentals of Stealth Gameplay in the Thief Series, rsmith@ionstorm.com

level building for analog interaction
Level-building for Analog Interaction
  • Don’t create “scripts”
    • Don’t plan the player’s experiences for them.
  • Create “possibility spaces”
    • Populate the world with challenges
    • Populate the world with things that interact with the player’s tools, the simulations, manipulate the data flow
    • Avoid absolutes, embrace gradients

Design Fundamentals of Stealth Gameplay in the Thief Series, rsmith@ionstorm.com

design new types of analog gameplay
Design new types of analog gameplay!
  • A game world that hosts interactions dictated by simulations
  • Analog player expression
  • Analog failure
  • Player tools to take arbitrary actions

Design Fundamentals of Stealth Gameplay in the Thief Series, rsmith@ionstorm.com