Stealth

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I would like a game structured around, the "Conflict Triangle". Sounds like it could work if done right.

I not it's a futile hope, but I'd really like to see Yahtzee review crazy russian Art Game "The Void" one of these days.

It's almost on the fourth peg of the triangle- almost. You play in this strange afterlife where everything is desolate and barren. You're told that "Color", a type of quasi-magical soul-juice that feeds everything, used to be plentiful here- but now, everything is starving. You're given tiny, tiny amounts of this Color, which acts as health AND the way you do basically everything, including attack, and you have to manage it to survive.

It's... complicated. Basically, though, It'd be nice if more games strayed from the "Kill the guys who want to kill you" conflict. There's so many other ways to do it.

Like other recreational activities, video games vary from person to person.

psychodynamica:
"Stealth games need to focus on psychological warfare."

I agree with this statement, when it comes to psychologically based recreational activities (games in particular) they have to be tailor made for each specific person in order to push their buttons in the perfect manner. If you see a game that will claim to psychologically assess the player and then adapt to push their buttons (Silent Hill: Shattered Memories for example) usually the result is more than lacking.

This is why there is such a smaller industry in the psychological area, usually they resort to the basic fight or flight since they apply to every human beign that hasn't gotten the idea of runing in shooting bullets everywhere with my invincible armor and giant cock is a fool-proof perfectly respectable plan of action.

This is why most games tend to just have the 'scare' or death, since thats the only identifyable trait within all gamers that aren't teary eyed heroics waiting to jump infront of a bullet to impress a girl. Slightly pleasing the masses is more economically rewarding than pleasing a small cult of followers that consists of 4-5 people.

Most developers produce to gain not to please.

mrsketchy:
they have to be tailor made for each specific person in order to push their buttons in the perfect manner.

Yet in the same series we had Silent Hill 2 which produced different endings depending on how you played the game as well as which events you might trigger.

But yes people do find different things scary which is why it the theme of stick the player in the dark and make things jump out of them is so prevalent. It takes time and effort to craft a convincing psychological storyline so why bother when the developer can just produce some linear levels and point the player along them with a hearty cry of "There be the enemy".

Interesting bringing the 3-Act structure out into the light in video games. I had a think, something I try to avoid for fear of cranial hemorrhaging, of what games (if any) fit into the 3-Act structure. Here's one that I may have discovered;

Metroid (Super and all the iterations thereafter) - They expose you to a huge world after, you spend the most of the time powering up, you are still in harms way with stupidly overpowered final boss. But then (at least in Super Metroid) you are given powers by a Metroid itself and suddenly comes the climactic denouement.

This got me thinking again (getting dizzy now) games don't fit into the 3-act story arc because of how we experience them. Not all of us go through Half-Life 2 in one long playthrough, because it is much much longer than a 'normal' film, or television series. Which brings me to Alan Wake. Alan Wake hasn't been out yet so I have yet to see if this format works, but the episodic content and the use of chapters gives (should give) each chapter an arc, and by doing this letting us step away from the game as we would a book. The the game should also have an overarc as well, like any good television series. (well... that's a debate for another forum)

I always thought Fallout 3 had a sort of film like character progression. I spent the first half of the game literally running away from most creatures because I hadn't had enough chance to stomp on radroachs to level up my character, so while my inclination to explore the vast environment was strong, I was reluctant because everywhere interesting was full of big spiky monsters.

It was only until I'd levelled up enough and found big guns that I was stomping around killing everything that i'd become the inevitable bad-ass at the end of the film, except this film didn't end and i kept wandering the wastelands

And once again Deus Ex proves to be a perfect game, with all 3 points on the triangle and all are at the discretion of the player. Not much evasion but enough to make it memorable.

Oblivion/Fallout 3 have stealth but it is ignorable and not mandatory. The sneak attacks in Oblivion become useless after a few levels unless you use mods.

As for story games that is why STALKER is perfect. There is a cursory narrative but the real star of the story is the Zone. The weird mutants, the bandit gangs, the ruins, the guys at the camp who bust out their guitar occasionally.

Great stuff Mr. Croshaw. As per usual. I think you bring up the whole "games and movies are different and we shouldn't be trying to make them the same" point in a nice blunt well formulated way. Maybe people will get it this time...maybe I'm a dreamer.

It's an interesting point well made, if done in an extremely blunt way. My point would be that maybe a freedom fighter game would be possible. Whereby evasion and stealth are your starting focus, by dwindling numbers of the evil power (clichéd I know) and eventually getting enough support to start taking groups on directly. Although having reread the beginning of my second sentence trying to get that idea to fly in the current 'War on Terror' is about as likely as me being locked in a room with whoever though Wii Music was a good idea.

The down right corner box were neither are attacking if concidering games, how about the Harvest Moon searies? or did I misunderstand something when it came to the box/triangel?

Alright, people, listen. I don't think anyone's talked about the one three-act game that I can think of--Homeworld!
Think about it. The first bunch of missions are you fleeing the Taiidan's overwhelming forces. But even as you're doing that, you're very slowly and painstakingly building frigates and bomber wings (or Defender screens). Throughout this, your main goal is to get to your homeworld, while not dying. In fact, plenty of 'win' conditions are actually "escape the battlefield with as many intact ships as possible". It's a survival RTS.
Then, as soon as you have a balanced (albeit small) fleet, Act II begins, and you're taking out Taiidan outposts like the Supernova Station or entering the derelict graveyard. This is the stealth part of the game--it's not really stealth, but the enemy AI won't trigger until it sees you, and taking it head on is suicide. The Supernova Station is particularly good at this--there are plenty of paths, but you absolutely have to find the weak point and you absolutely should keep your forces hidden until you're in a strategically advantageous position. Again, you have a fleet, but if that Taiidan fleet came right at you, you're dead.
But then, several missions and a lot of salvage corvettes later, you have a large fleet. This starts with that level where there is a sphere of around 250 ion frigates for you to destroy/steal, and all levels after that. This is Act III. I've had trouble explaining to people who haven't played the game why Homeworld is so satisfying, and now I know why. It's definitely because it adheres to this tight, well-proven plot structure. It doesn't give you the tools to fight an obnoxious enemy until the last third, but when it does, you know exactly what to do. And the fights have more purpose than any other RTS I've played--those Taiidan have been after me the whole game, but now finally I have a chance to throw a punch (and then some).
Since I first played it back in the day, I've felt that Homeworld told the best story of any video game, and I think now I know why.

Where does Portal fit into the conflict triangle? Also doesn't Portal's story fit quite neatly into the three-act framework?

When reading your description of a three act game, one that came to mind that fits is Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth. Early on you have to sneak (and sometimes run for your life) while at other times you can go in guns blazing.

Only stealth game I ever really liked was In Cold Blood. It's sort of half an adventure game - I think it's creator was one of the ones behind the Broken Sword series - and there's a healthy emphasis on having to think, rather than blast your way out of situations. It also had good writing, which is a rare enough quality in video games to be worth mentioning at every available opportunity.

I would really like to see more whole games based around the "evasion" part of it.

You know, like Mirror's Edge, except they don't make you want to cut yourself.

But in my perfect evasion game, it would be about 75% running, and 25% "you just got lucky there's only one guy in this room time to kick his ass" gameplay.

That way you could make a more realistic game (not that that's particular important, but it'd be a nice breath of fresh air) where your character CAN'T take on ten machine gun toting guys at once (IMAGINE THAT!) but would have to flee.

It could be a game where you would be rewarded for using the environment around you, but it wouldn't be required, for example, you just ran through a door, it's a waiting room with a receptionist desk, and another hallway leading out, if you think fast, you can push the desk in front of the door and buy yourself a 10-15 second lead on the guys behind you while they bust through, but again not required.

Spacelord:
Where does Portal fit into the conflict triangle? Also doesn't Portal's story fit quite neatly into the three-act framework?

Portal fit's into the "enemy causing conflict you not causing conflict" corner, until the end where it becomes direct "I want Glados dead she wants me dead" showdown.

Remember, the attack doesn't necessarily have to be combat, and the thing in the box doesn't ALWAYS apply (IE Portal isn't stealth)

I would like to see a game use all 3 corners

I agree about splinter cell from a conceptual perspective: it's too damn linear. Half the fun in a stealth game is figuring out all the different ways to navigate around the enemy, and approach your objective. Hitman had it, Thief had it, and to a slightly lesser extent Metal Gear had it. Even Arkham Asylum has it more than Splinter Cell.

On the other hand, I thought splinter cell's control scheme and stealth game-mechanics were top notch and executed more smoothly and intuitively than any other stealth game I've played. If those could be combined with the openness factor, it would be great.

Onyx Oblivion:
Oddly, some of the best stealth I ever saw was in a game that didn't force you to use it...

This is basically what I've come to acknowledge for myself as well, as soon as I have to do it, it's like it stops being as fun as opposed to if I chose it.

This is why I love the Hitman series, I can be a psychotic maniac, or a ghost, and both are equally fun to experience.

Did you enjoy the first two Tenchu games on the PSone? The stealth element was pretty good for its time. You were truly rewarded for performing a kill quietly. (I never used the extra crap. OK, so maybe I tossed a few poisoned rice balls.)

In a way, I feel a game that involved all three "corners" and made them work really well together was Oddworld: Abe's Oddysee (and also its follower Abe's Exoddus, but not so much due to the added quicksave-option). The enemies from the beginning didn't get stronger, the situations just got trickier, and they always kept that same ominous feel about them. You got to sneak right behind them, hide in the shadows, and sometimes if you were up for it, you could also lure them to follow you with a blatant "Hello" and the running away like mad. It's quite old and was only 2D and all but it was pretty intense in that respect. Had a good sense of humor too.

Hitman had it right. You are a bald guy who no one really likes and you need to kill for money, but how did Splinter Cell Conviction mess it up. I haven't played it and I will get it but it doesn't look like its going to grab me.

psychodynamica:
Stealth games need to focus on psychological warfare. not that it hasn't been attempted. a game in which you sneak around tearing out throats shooting some dudes and disappear into a shadow until you find more of your other victims buddies to brutally kill. now what if every time they saw a body they would instead of uttering "There is a body here, I'll be cautious from now on." but instead reacted with a bit of shock and fear. I want to see a game where you can kill someone leaving blood spattered up the walls and then take the body and hide it in the rafters. I'd like to have an enemy arrive and see blood and lack of a body and move in closer to investigate, then while he searches to drop the body behind him. he would react as we all would and run away screaming and blubbering.
this may say more about me than it does about gaming but I promise I am not a serial killer of and shape sort or description.

This guy right here.

What you've described there is an idea for a game I'd personally love to play, where you can use fear an intimidation in lieu of direct combat.

I think this approach would work well for the Alien missions in Aliens VS Predator but any other inhuman, unarmed monster it would be fine too. It would also be better in that same first person view but in a sandbox environment, even scarier if it was a recognizable place like a well-known city. A vampire on the streets of Paris being an obvious example.

OT: If Yahtzee likes stealth then I'd be surprised if he gave Naughty Bear a miss, it's basically Hitman with teddy bears, it looks hilarious but a little clunky there's lots of stuff there to rip on; it's pretty much cannon fodder.

you said mixing game styles would be rubbish. well AC2 does it. you sneak around with your hidden blade. then there are fighting gaurd moments. and escaping gaurd moments. all 3 combined. and it generally scored highly. you can even do nothing (tea party).

My favorite stealth game moments were in the first Rogue Spear game. I hated the main mission set-up and deploy portions of the game, but the stealth missions where you had to sneak into a location, turn off security, get some important document, and get out without being seen or killing anyone were top-notch, in my opinion.

I had moments of running into a house, ducking into a room, and then closing myself off in a room, only to have the guard hear the noise, open the door to the room I was in, and have a looksy while I hid behind the opened door. Good fun.

"But conflict can be more than just two knuckleheads taking pot shots at each from either side of a disused warehouse."

But Richard Nixon: A Crisis in Cuba isn't due out for another ten years.

I have to (completely) disagree with your belief about the Splinter Cell Series as a whole. While yes, this (and arguably the last as well), have been watered down into shoot guys in head, move, you don't have to play it that way, and the games before it were even stealthier. In Chaos theory, you were almost exclusively told to go complete stealth or use hand to hand less than lethal moves, and so much as killing someone would lower your score. I still remember, on the third level of Chaos Theory, when I finally got through it with no guards alerted, or even disabled, and still got 100% complete on the mission. It made you use stealth and cunning, and while it didn't force you to do it, and you could run and gun, it was much more satisfying to use shadows, ambient noise and distractions to go past as many guards as you could non-violently. And that idea of working harder for the (personal) achievement (that's right, just because you don't get a new bit of text showing off what you did doesn't mean that you shouldn't do it) even carries over to Conviction. Try going through a level without mark and execute (when there are two guards that are talking you can do a manual M&E if you're fast enough, or get close and do a shoot and melee), or even try going through it without using your gun at all (best on Kobin's mansion, as if you don't take out your gun you get to see some awesome melee kills that you wouldn't see otherwise, and it's even possible on Realistic difficulty).

Hopeless Bastard:

Nateman742:
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.

Well, I wasn't talking about making the game overall easier as it goes on. The developer definitely needs to introduce new challenges, but the point is that the player feels confident in their own ability to eventually work through those challenges with the skills they've acquired. Take Ninja Gaiden for instance. At the start of the game, you're faced with those damned ninjas in the training camp. You die over and over again, a hopeless case. By the end of the game, though, you've progressed so much as a player that you wouldn't even have to try to defeat those same enemies.

You know, I have always wondered what the most effective way for a game to tell a story would be... I have a general idea, but, it is hard to put into words.

Kungfu_Teddybear:
...stealth games are much better when you sneak into some place your not to be keeping deaths to a minimum and sneaking out without being seen...you can't do that on Splinter Cell.

Why the fuck does everyone try to make Splinter Cell Conviction equal the entire Splinter Cell series? At least half the people here are lying about playing a Splinter Cell game other than Conviction.

[quote="hawk533" post="6.194101.6176178"]It's been a while since I played it, but I thought that Starcraft did a pretty good job of using all three corners of the triangle. I remember several missions where all you're supposed to do is not die long enough for help to come. I also remember sneaking into facilities to rescue allies.

Good point. Ground Control 2 did something similar. in Starcraft, the avoiding and stealth bits made sense. in the stealth bits, we know that there's nowhere to set up a base, or the enemy heavily outnumbers us and would destroy us before we had a chance to prepare. that, and it's explained (or at least insinuated) early on that the Raiders actually have very little in the way of men and materiel that they keep with them. as for avoiding/surviving, the whole running from the wall of fire was interesting, though the secret mission really conveyed a sense of "Holy shit we're gonna die!"

Yahtzee Croshaw:
Ideally, a game with a three-act plot would use all three corners of the triangle - start out with evasion when you're vulnerable, use stealth in the middle to redress the balance guerrilla-style, then gain sufficient strength to sort everything out with violence in the end. But that's mixing gameplay styles, which is almost inevitably rubbish.

I'd really suggest taking a look into the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. series (well.... maybe skip Clear Sky). The beginning starts you with pretty crappy equipment, so you're gonna rather stay away from conflict until you either get better equipment, or are pretty good and can stand whatever gun you are using to actually hit more than the broad side of a mountain (or save so often that when something goes wrong you reload the game (cheater)). You can use just about any way to tackle various missions, although several of them do involve needing to kill whatever else is in the way, but there are ways around this if you are creative.

Even if you are using the best equipment in the game on a sufficiently hard enough difficulty, you still aren't going to want to run in guns blazing. Yes, there is health regeneration, but unless you feel like spending 10 minutes waiting on a small chunk of your health to come back, it might as well not exist. Try taking on just 2 guys and you might find yourself hard pressed to go wailing on them unless you actually have the skill to do so... or a lot of med kits and bandages.

TL;DR S.T.A.L.K.E.R. series does mix all three and I suggest maybe reviewing one of them when you have downtime between major releases or something. Maybe some other people would like this as well?

Your three-act scenario described my experience with Fallout 3 fairly closely. In the beginning, I had crappy armor and pretty limited ammo. As the game progressed, I built my character to be "stealthy", focusing on sneaking around and ambushing enemies, but I had enough ammo and stimpacks to pull out on top if things got too hairy. By the end of the game, I had more ammo and stimpacks than every NPC in the game combined. I would just jump into any battle, hook up my stimpack i.v. and let the minigun, laser, nukes roll.

While Splinter Cell lacked the mind bogglingly variety of games such as Thief or Hitman it had its own charm in my eyes. It allowed players to be a predator. You decided whether the poorly trained loud-mouthed terrorist in front of you lived or died. Whereas in games like Thief and Hitman your primary objective was usually very specific and the goal was to cause as few waves as possible in your execution of your primary goal. Whereas a game like Splinter Cell is less of a perfectly planned out OP and more of dumping Sam Fisher in a baddie base and telling him to fuck with their shit. Splinter Cell did something very good with its game Chaos Theory by incorporating secondary and object of opportunity objectives. It promoted a sense of being part of a sprawling spy network that was constantly bringing in new data being relayed to you by your handlers. Of course I may just like seeing the startled faces of terrorists when I sneak up behind them and give them a wedgie that even their unborn children felt. As a closing note Chaos Theory, while still quite linear, did allow the player to pick their route to the objective and even though they all lead to the same place there was usually at least 2 or 3 routes to pick from. Of course this is all my opinion and is in no way more correct than anyone else's opinion as the above paragraph is just my personal recollection of a game I enjoyed.

i agree. i'm going to use an ironic example to make two points: the bank mission in chaos theory

1) it is totally fun and rewarding to have nobody notice you at all thus not interrupting the natural order of things in a pre existing area (as you just communicated) i guess this is why that was my favorite mission in the whole series.

2) i guess splinter cell isn't all that bad because that isn't the only mission.

so yeah i guess i agree with you, but what you said splinter cell didn't have is exactly what i loved about a lot of those missions. god i wish they would make more decent stealth games.

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