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Sneaking is not you attack/enemies not attacking, because they'll fight when they spot you, so it's not so different from for example cocademons not being able to hit you, because you learned how to strafe (a matter of skill).

That brings us unexpectedly to a new idea in videogaming!

you attack/enemies not attacking:
The player character is attacking enemies who are trying to hide/escape/run away, or alternatively just trying to tag them in the kid version.

Really just the oldest kid game on brought into the digital age and so it might just work. Enough varied tools and NPCs that can sneak and not run into walls and you could have a nice challenge.

Good article, I agree that open stealth games such as those are often the best and linearity just destroys the creative impulses that come with the gameplay type.

On a completely unrelated note, your comment on tension in Animal Crossing only makes me think of how Tom Nook, Bookie: The Game would play.

This may have been covered, but I am at work and rushed so consider these to be drive-by-comments.

1) When games have you sneak into a facility to steal data, not kill guards, would this not be considered player not attacking/enemy not attacking? It is not the most common mode of play, but I believe it does exist.

2) Let me see if I have this straight:

Ebert has a point that games are not art because they do not use the classic cinema style of narration.

Games are in fact not using this style because it would not be fun.

Conclusion, games won't be art until they stop doing what they are already not doing.

....What?? I am sorry Yahtzee, I think your logic train took a dirt road at the end.

3) Are paintings not art? They surely do not follow the cinema template.

4) Same questions for pottery, statues or architecture.

I normally love these articles but this one seemed a bit rushed and poorly thought out.

...or maybe I have just been staring at 3D models too long today.

Yahtzee Croshaw:
And consequently that adapting videogame stories to films is as futile as stitching a dog's head onto a horse's body to create a creature that can both fetch the newspaper and win the Grand National.

Unless, of course, that movie is Hitman. That movie did all the above and also found time to woo and bed someone's mum. I'm not saying whose.

But, Yahtzee! you mentioned Beyond Good and Evil being a good game in an early review (alongside cake and belgium and something). Yet it has elements of that bad stealth you've just decried, namely the stealthing being a linear corridor with nooks and crannies whose only purpose is to serve stealth (and house some rats). Although the game does have the flavor of shadowy entity breaking into a stronghold soooo... *thoughts wander off*

*shrug* I know I really liked Beyond Good and Evil.


Veeeeery interesting

Will "Space Game" include the three corners of this triangle?

The Sands of Time trilogy mixed these styles. Not exactly in the theatrical order or anything, but you fought a lot, would switch over to running from the Dahaka, fight some more, run some more, and in the third they even had some stealth aspects.

I even think Beyond Good and Evil did the square thing, not just the triangle. You have the evasion, the stealth, the direct combat, and then all this fiddling around taking pictures, playing games or just exploring to find pearls, with no enemies.

And yes, as was said before, the entire Adventure genre relies greatly on chatting around and thinking through. That's as much a teaparty as you can get. Flower takes the relaxing, nochalant attitude to the extreme.

I'll have to agree with Yahtzee though, the current skew towards attack/attack is huge and denies the creation on interesting gameplay styles and/or inmersion techniques.

Splinter Cell 1 was the most linear game ever in the history of mankind. However, Splinter Cell 3 (Chaos Theory) had independent non-linear levels. I must've played the Bank mission over a dozen times. I'm disappointed taht Conviction is only a little bit non-linear.

But there is something to aerial view stealth, that was the reason Commandos was so awesome.

I was waiting to see if someone would remember Commandos. That's a pretty good example of a game with evasion and stealth, though there wasn't much in the way of direct combat (due to being outnumbered in most levels by, what, thirty to one?) unless you could hijack a tank.

Yahtzee Croshaw:
Extra Punctuation: Stealth

Sometimes stealth games can involve lovely tea parties.

Read Full Article

I liked Art of Theft you made. A half way decent version could no doubtly be made in that Unity 3D engine.

Honestly, it would be great if a game properly employed all 3 elements of conflict. Pure run and gunning gets boring.

Beyond Good and Evil has all 3. There's 2 types of direct combat: on foot and in the hovercraft; although the direct combat in the hovercraft is a bit of a joke until the finale

There are evasion sections, as Yahtzee mentioned; but they're optional. And there are many stealth sections, although the insta-kill-if-discovered bots make them require constant repetition, which isn't fun.

I don't believe the game really suffers overall, for including all three (plus more) gaming styles. It suffers for being the too-short first part in a trilogy that may never be completed... =[

About the "three corners", I think the first two Gothic games use them all to an extent. (EDIT: Yeah, I know, the third game kinda does it too, but it's not as well implemented. And the Orcs are just wimps!).

When you start, you are too weak to take on virtually very enemy you'll come across, and you'll be running away a lot. As you level up, you start being able to single out one enemy from a pack (which involves some stealth to do properly), but if you try to take on the whole pack you'll be mincemeat in no time. Then, as the game nears the end, you are an unstoppable killing machine who can face an entire platoon of Orcs without a single scratch.

And, different from other RPGs I know, the enemies don't get tougher as you level up; they are all around, and you can bump into powerful ones right at the start if you're not careful.

That is one of the reasons why I love those games so much... And that's why I'm enjoying my new acquisition, Risen, so much as well.

Once again you've come up with another interesting article Yahtzee. I applaud you for correctly pointing out that anime is a medium and not a genre. I get the impression that this is something that a sizable number of people don't understand. But even so I don't think that the term "animation style" is the best way to describe it because different anime titles generally have their own distinctive visual styles. Or in other words I think you're using the word "style" in too broad a sense. I think a better term might be "kind of animation", or "form of animation", or something like that.

And if games are all about conflict then how exactly do you explain "The Sims"?

Id REALLY like to play Theif 2... But I cant seem to get the fucker to work on Windows 7

It's interesting that a few (or maybe one) poster has pointed out Metro 2033 as a game which allows you to organically experience all three corners of the triangle, as I was about to point out STALKER a a game where I have performed similar feats of sneak/evade/murderdeathkill.

Actually, Fallout 3 is another example of the genre. I remember evading many enemies through my early levels, getting sneak kills during the mid levels, and pretty much running up to and murdering face on everything at high levels.

Perhaps apocalyptic games tend to display this triangle is because they are designed to be pseudo-realistic - i.e. ammunition is limited, you can't just duck around the corner and heal up in 5 seconds when you get shot, etc.

Splinter Cell Conviction as a a stealth game was alright, what I actually thought about it was that it was more like the "Predator" gameplay of Batman Arkham Asylum and that it wasnt really about sneakinng past everyone but more of determining when to pop out of the shadows to strike and take people down and thats what I really actually liked about Conviction because it was just Arkham Asylum with guns

So basically, the perfect game for Yahtzee is a sandbox stealth survivor horror with platforming elements. And tits.

Sgt. Sykes:
So basically, the perfect game for Yahtzee is a sandbox stealth survivor horror with platforming elements. And tits.

Actually that sounds like a really fucking awesome game

Holy hell I HATE when they throw in unneeded stealth into a game, or force you to use stealth. Snooping and pooping isn't acceptable in every game, and while every game doesn't feature it, there are entirely too many that do, and often without good reason.
Splinter Cell has been a thorn in my left butt cheek for a while because of how it forces you to use stealth, even to the point where you CAN'T EVEN KILL SOMEONE.
Granted, the run 'n gun genre is a bit overdone, but occasionally I prefer to spray 'n pray over having to hide behind a box in the shadows for a half an hour before strangling some dingleberry, then getting noticed by someone across the map! There are plenty of flash games that require you to only use stealth, never kill anybody, and make it to a certain point on a map to continue. If you get noticed, you get bum-rushed by everyone on the map.
I didn't like Arkham Asylum because of the level of stealth that was required. Ok, swooping down from the rafters looked cool in the movies, but totally sucks when you are doing it in real time because of how long you have to wait for just the right conditions before jumping down to break some fool's neck and then quickly zipping away before you get noticed. That sucked for me... mostly because I stunk at it. I always thought I had a good opportunity to snap some spines, but I always got caught by another guy and gunned down in short order. Kinda made me hate Batman for a while.

I don't mind a game with a decent cover system... I don't really see much of that in stealth games. Granted, Splinter Cell does feature this, and it has come in handy. But to combine stealth and cover... it almost blurs the line between which is which sometimes, and can actually make playing the game more complicated when the system can't tell which you are trying to do. I feel there should just be two positions behind a cover: either the left or the right. None of this waiting in the middle crap because it usually takes that half a beat before the system realizes you want to peek over the top to shoot someone, and often that is all it takes for them to run around your cover and shoot you in the head while your character is stuck squatting behind a box looking like a sitting duck.
I like Hitman because at least you can kill anybody and everybody who is or appears to be a threat. You can duck into an alley or a room to avoid them or surprise them when they come looking for you. Why this isn't more of a consistent system is beyond me.

I think in good games, the 3-act system isn't in the plot at all, but the gameplay. You start out in the first act, a completely new player losing constantly. Then you get to know what you're doing and start moving along a little bit faster, and finally by the end you're mopping the floor with challenges that would have destroyed you when you first began. You create the drama, the game shouldn't create it for you through the story. Maybe this is why I love old Megaman and Metroid so much: The story is a bookend, and everything important happens during gameplay.

What happens when the mainstream demands of "accessibility" culminate to a point where the amount of incessant hand holding and (almost) ubiquitous "upgrade systems" create even worse inverse difficulty curves than you described, that start at almost nothing and just spiral downward, effectively cutting away the first two "acts" you describe?

Ideally, people would pitch a bitch and demand those first two "acts" back, but thats not happening. Stupid games make stupider gamers, so with each successive generation prioritizing "accessibility" over all other concerns, gamers are starting to think challenge is frustrating, difficulty is pointless, and easy means fun. They're going back to games they used to utterly dominate, getting their ass' curbstomped, and then think its somehow the older game's fault or they're getting old. Few realize they've been spoiled by newer games's focus on "accessibility."

Ideally a game, like yahtzee describes, faces you with progressively harder challenges, never allowing you to "mop up" anything, as that quickly becomes boring, unless you're really into that type of vicarious masturbation.

I think Farcry and Crysis do a remarkable job of the 3 act thing. You start out running from everything with a gun (less with Crysis than Farcry) then learn to even it out with stealth, then the enemy becomes either mutants or aliens and you move into straight combat.

One game that goes against your idea: Cave Story - If you play through it without prior knowledge you are fighting a losing battle, and the emotion the game invokes from the player is incredible.

I would submit this as a game which is art.

See, I understand where Yahtzee is coming from. The other day I was watching my friend play Splinter Cell: Conviction, and I just realized that it's a terrible stealth game. He spent the whole of the first couple of levels to make sure he killed EVERYONE. And he had this annoying tendancy to shoot out all the lights he could, but that's not the point here.

This was my friend's basic gameplay strategy. Sit outside a window, shoot one guy, another guy walks by and immediately yells,"Where are you Fisher?!" Friend shoots him, no one shows up for another 5 minutes. And sometimes he would break this overwhelming tension by busting in and just shooting everything in sight. Wash, rinse, and repeat until the level is complete. Watching my friend play Conviction, shooting countless henchmen, I realized that Conviction, while upholding some basic stealth ideas, is not a stealth game. If one guy sees another dead guy, shouldn't that set off some kinda alarm all across the base? Like Yahtzee says, true stealth doesn't require having to kill anyone.

But watching this, I had a second thought. Is it possible that the video game industry has produced so many action-oriented, shooty shooty games, that most gamers don't know how to sneak properly anymore? I mean, I personally did my best in my playthrough of Conviction to kill as few people as possible. But I digress. Discuss amongst yourselves, what do you all think? Is stealth a dying genre, slowly being swallowed by the action genre?

I actually saw this article in my head ZP style... that's pretty crazy..

like, you mentioned the 4 possible options of conflict.. and for the 4th option, no attackers, I just saw in my head your ZP avatar and an imp just looking at each other confusedly, shrugging, then going about their day.

I must disagree with your assessment that, just because a videogame doesn't tell a story the same way a film does, it is not art. I mean, a film doesn't tell a story the same way that a painting does, nor painting like music, nor music like sculpture, etc etc ad infinitum. Just because one art form doesn't get its 'artiness' across the same way as another medium doesn't mean it doesn't get its 'artiness' across. Moreover, the rather vague definitions of art make it very hard to say that something is NOT art, especially if it is visually intriguing and gives the person viewing/listening/sensing it strong emotional response.

Splinter Cell isn't really a stealth series, it's a time travel series. You get a long path of obstacles put at specific points with the intention that that spot provides a specific obstacle...of course you don't figure it out, a guard spots you, sounds the alarm, and Lambert yells at you...then you hit your reverse time button and go back to the checkpoint, knowing that obstacle on your next run through that section of the level, shoot the guard before he can spot you, go down a corner and get shot by the next one, warp back. Kill the first guard, shoot the light so the next one won't see you and then wait for him to walk his preset path for you, kabonk him, make it into the next room, get spotted by someone looking through a window, warp back.

That's what kind of bothers me about Splinter Cell stealth, it's less about employing stealth skill than figuring out what the specific obstacle points are and using the specific moves that the game wants you to use to defeat that specific obstacle. PT onward that is, I loved the original game, but that's mostly because I played it with the benefit of Quicksave and Quickload.

Oh, and will people stop blowing what he said about "Ebert was right" out of proportion: he was just making a (extremely cogent and very, very good) point about narrative style using hyperbole...please pop your monocles back in.

I have had more enjoyable hours playing Splinter Cell Conviction than any other "stealth" game.

Thief, and Thief 2 failed miserably as far as I'm concerned. Same for MGS 4, no other title has given me more hours worth of game play than SC Conviction. I fail to see how people choose to run and gun in this game. Try to play it as a stealth game, and you will possibly uncover the fact that the stealth is their if you try for it.

It's like saying Grand Theft Auto is a taxi cab simulator. If that's all you do, then I can see why you would fail to see the other aspects of the game.

I think this all comes down to people complaining, just to complain. It's like people saying something feels hot, because it's temperature is high. Did you really need to touch it and get burned because you didn't already know?

I am obviously ignorant on what stealth is supposed to be. I always figured it had something to do with not being seen. But I guess you all have a different opinion than me. I played Splinter Cell Conviction by not being seen, and I had to restart checkpoints many times to do so. I guess that makes me better at trying to play the game as a stealthy ninja, and you all just quit because it was so difficult. Why use the mark and kill system if you all hate it so much?????

Now that I have made you all mad, you can tell me how wrong I am with my opinions. It doesn't matter much to me tho, since I still enjoy the stealth that you all seem to think isn't there. Maybe that is the most stealthy part of it all! (ok, that last line was a bit a silly, but I hope you can see what I mean)

Tenchu series is second best stealth for me, then Metro 2033.


I agree that it's difficult to properly implement the three-act story telling system in a game. Because indeed the player needs to win and win. But there is possibility to pass a challenge by failing, right? For instance I really enjoyed the plot in GTA IV: you start off at the very bottom, than get things going a little bit, then thugs burn down your house and you start over again, to eventually get back to them.

You know...there are a lot of insightful and good articles on the escapist. It would be interesting to see what kind of game the article writers here would make given enough resources.

I agree with breadbinman and JustinA, I don't think it's the mixing of styles that create the lousy games we know it's the reduction in choice. The developers produce a game and state "Go into that room and kill the 20 enemies before we'll let you through" then in the next room "Don't be seen by any of the guards or it's mission over".

Why can't I sneak past the initial guards and kill the others? Because that's not how the developers want to tell the story. It's possible to play both Thief and Hitman as 'shooters' it just comes with penalties and that's what the developers need to do.

So they want me to kill all 20 enemies so instead of making it a pre-requisite; just have them patrol in awkward ways, keep them in radio contact so I can't just kill one without the others running in. In the next level have them check in with HQ at regular intervals; I can try to kill them but I have to stake out the order in which they report, make sure the others don't find any bodies.

In other words make it easier to just have to kill all 20 in the first room and evade the ones in the next, but don't make me have to do it.

My friend is a massive splinter cell fan, but dislikes Hitman, and I am the opposite. I loved hitman and its sprawling levels and its multiple choices. I cant wait for the next game simply because Blood Money has an ending and I just want to go on and on.

The first seven lines are going straight into my "favourite Quotes" list.

*looks at milk carton in hand* did you know??? O.o

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