Extra Punctuation: An Invisible Protagonist

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Wow, cool idea. I would like to play a game like this, centered on deception and borderline-voyeurism. I would be even more impressed if such a game opened the way to counter-deception.

Imagine this: around halfway through the game, you, Mr. or Ms. Invisible, are approaching the target of a difficult mission - some sort of object or information. You have crept into a room, but an enemy character is inside too. Until now, the guards have reacted to any sounds you made with confusion and suspicion, but they haven't realized that an invisible enemy is among them. This character, however, knows (but you don't know he knows - not yet, anyway). At first, this character seems particularly thick, since he barely reacts to any noises you make or furniture you jostle. This enemy keeps up a calm facade until you get too close - then he whips around and wrestles your invisible self to the floor.

Maybe the game could be set up to ensure the player survives this (pants-soiling) encounter, but ever after, some of the enemies would feign ignorance when they suspect you, and you'd have to watch closely if you needed to determine whether you were safe or whether they were faking it, and this ambiguity could be incorporated into the story too.

Such mind-fuckery could turn a game from something resembling a spy fantasy into something resembling Philip K. Dick's nightmares (They know. Or do they? Maybe they are just pretending to know? They know I know they know. Which is what they want... maybe? Because there's something worse that I don't know?) No video game can permanently outsmart a human player, but I think it's cool when they try, and pretty amazing when they succeed. A game that is all about trickery would have lots of opportunities for that, I think.

There's actually one level in Alpha Protocol, when you go to bug a CIA safehouse that gives you a reward for completing the entire level without knocking anyone out or being seen. I'm not sure why it's just that level (other than the fact it's designed for it) but it was fairly fun up until it comes time to escape. At that point it's mostly about just running for the door and hoping your invisibility power is leveled up enough to last.

Personally though if I were doing an invisible protagonist game, I'd probably want to make the player into an actual ghost. But my idea would be completely different from a stealth game and more about playing a horror movie antagonist.

There IS one flaw in this idea Yahtzee: If the main character is invisible, then who will we have to clutter-up our American box art?

The main character obviously. A monochrome box will certainly be better than whatever else they would have come up with had he not been invisible ;)

Thats... really good actually.

I love that idea! especially about the "boy who cried wolf" factor.

Dont like the fact your a soldier and all that bull. Perhaps a reverse ghost story?

You as a ghost are trying to reach your beloved husband to tell him that you were murdered. However, each mission has you going through increasingly populated areas, so that the people who you can spot are civilians. If the suspicion-o-meter goes up by too much, then a sort of black-ops neo-ghostbuster squad will be called to see what the trouble is.

Bit crazy, could do some work, but i like it :)

Hey what if Gordon Freeman doesn't even exist. What if everyone has gone insane from the combine oppression and just to get some hopes up, they made up some legendary man to free everyone. And you just play as that ideal. G-Man is also a product of insanity, so that you as a player get a glimpse of what hallucinations other people see.

Yeah that makes sense actually. Freeman is dead since the Black Mesa incident, he got evaporated and now is just a legend.

This is actually a really fascinating idea that I'd love to see done, or at least something new and different in the gameplay arena. I mean, sometimes yes, you do want to just murder tons of dudes, but this gets tedious after a while like everything else.

Dungeons and Dragons Online has a stealth mechanic and some quests do actually have potential stealth objectives (and in many quests you can get bonus XP if you don't kill much stuff), but by and large the stealth objectives are badly implemented or nearly impossible no matter how much you invest in stealth. They've been trying to improve it, but for the most part nobody bothers with the stealth objectives in the game, they just kill everything.

This is a shame, because some of the stealth quests are really quite ingenious and could be improved with only a few simple alterations. Why does interacting with ANYTHING instantly break your stealth? I realize this is a common gameplay mechanic, but it's just plain silly and enforces that stealthy players have to endure some kind of fastest-finger mechanic where they have to be ready to put stealth back up again right away.

Why not have it so that interacting with things only prompts another stealth check with a bonus for you to be spotted? Have it so that if you get spotted/heard, THAT breaks your stealth.

In addition, they have quests where there is an objective to avoid having an alarm be raised, but it's almost impossible to do because there very often is NO way to avoid being noticed by the guards, and said guards IMMEDIATELY charge the nearest alarm. Once they start heading for the alarm, there's nothing short of an instant-death spell that will prevent them from triggering it--they're faster than you and you CANNOT pull them off that alarm until they've triggered it. And often not even that works: I've seen the guards trigger the alarm AFTER THEY WERE DEAD, don't ask me how.

Why not make it so that the guards will only go for the alarm under two circumstances: they hit half health, or they are outnumbered. You can even mix this up a bit by having some groups of guards who are a bit overconfident, and a few who are alarm maniacs because they're by themselves and they're squishy. Also, it takes PC's time to use objects in an MMO. Why not enforce this on NPC's as well? If an NPC hits a PC, it interrupts a "use". This would provide some fairness and also make the stealth quests more doable.

I wouldn't mind playing classic Sam Fisher style again. We need a return to stealthy games that doesn't require you to kill everyone in the room. Getting them fired is even more satisfying.

Getting them fired is even more satisfying.

hahaha yeah totally It's definately that smug feeling you get from stealth games that makes them fun.

This actually sounds like one of the most potentially awesome games ever.

AFK/buying Thief.


As he began to explain the premise of the agent made invisible by the PMC, I immediately thought of the 1970s TV series, The Gemini Man, starring Ben Murphy. [ ... ]

The show ran for two seasons with the final two episodes being mashed together in a dual-plot TV Movie called Riding With Death which appeared as a movie experiment on Mystery Science Theater 3000 in a later season.

"Sam, my patent papers are at a slight angle; what's going on?"

"So, the gun stays perfectly still while he hits him with a six-foot arm."

"Aaaaand, crash."

"I am become death, the destroyer of portable radios."

"Sam, how do you spell patent?"

"He could die and miss the Bicentennial!"

"Well, my brakes are out... Abby's some gal!"

"Hey my favorite number, woo!" "Seventy?" "Yeah, I love seventy!"

That did become one of my favorite MST3K episodes. I could watch that one all the time.

There IS one flaw in this idea Yahtzee: If the main character is invisible, then who will we have to clutter-up our American box art?

Put clothes on the character's invisible body.

Depending on how the invisibility is explained, not everything the character carries or holds is also turned invisible, like it is the case in Crysis. Going down the "genetic manipulation" line might make things uncomfortable since it would mean the person is only invisible if naked, but you could always design a full-body suit that only needs to be switched on once and after that its surface is altered so it gives you invincibility powers. You could also, of course, design the suit and depict it in the mode where it's turned off (which would be the case if a) the character is having a conversation at the home base for a briefing or something or b) it's malfunctioning).

But even if you do something that can't be switched off even if you wanted to, you could still put clothes over it. If you want to go down the complete cliché line, just give the character a brown trenchcoat, fitting hat and shades. Or if you go with the suit variant, show the character half cloaked, half uncloaked, so you can both see him and what he does. You should have the option as long as the game's core mechanic is unlimited invisibility power.


After playing that much TF2 I'm inclined to think however the enemy would catch on to you over time and use weapons with large spread or spraying effect or even go so far as to flood the floor or use a different material that makes your footprints visible or your sneaking more audible, so if the enemy grows smart over time and the difficulty grows, you'd still find that invisibility won't get you that far either if you're notorious and are expected, which could potentially destroy the planned playstyle and experience of the game - or enhance it, depending on how exactly it's implemented.

It's definitely an interesting mechanic to think about and the idea should be popular enough to make it marketable while still experimenting with a new gameplay element. I mean, who didn't want to go nuts with invisibility at one point or another, if only to become a creepy stalker?

This sounds like a fantastic idea for a game.
My main doubt for it ever coming to fruition is that in order to be playable and fun and work properly, it would require incredibly advanced NPC AI. Sadly I don't think much work is going in the the single player AI field these days when most games are going down the easy-money multiplayer route.

I just started playing Crysis 2 (can't understand why anyone thinks it's a good game), and I find the stealth to be too easy. Instead of Crysis, where it lasted a fraction of a second and took longer to recharge, it now lasts forever and recharges very quickly, even in the hard mode. They couldn't have found a middle ground? The whole game feels cheap like that.

good, in ways im sure everyone has already said, so im gonna try and critisize...

how would you make a long enough story out of this mechanic... would this be one single huge mission, sneaking around a facility the size of aperture... or several small objectives?

if there are several small objectives, and no real conflict affecting you directly (except being trapped (lol, locked in a room because the guard didnt notice you :P) i suppose) the only driving force of the story would be a commanding officer presence (how would he contact you without breaking your silence?) ...or perhaps like that national tresure film, where each 'piece of intelligence' leads you to the next objective. perhaps im uncreative, but i cant think of any other ways off the top of my head...

what would be the final challenge?
...i think thats all the criticism i have right now.

something fun id like to add... considering youre a naked, unarmed guy running around a well guarded and secure facility, it think it would be fun if your invisibility failed at some point... (like when you lose your power suit in metroid zero mission) ...and you have to be far far more stealthy... (perhaps, when you finally reach the final 'piece of intelligence' and send it to mr. commanding officer, he decides he doesnt need you anymore, remotely turns it off, and its up to you to escape... that can be your final challenge :O)

This actually sounds really fun. Excellent points. I would buy a game that had these mechanics.

you should make a trilby mod

One thing I always wanted Hitman to include was more freedom to make it look like an accident or even a suicide or something.
Like the first mission in Blood Money, The target sits upstairs playing his Cello, on him he has a revolver, could you not sneak in, press the gun to his head and kill him then leave it in his hand? then before his guards rush in get out the window.
the idea of being completely undetectable is something I would really like to see in a stealth game.

Hitman: Contracts is much better in that regard. You can win the whole game without ever going noticed and make (almost) everything look like an accident. In most Missions, you have many choices on how to kill your target.

I especially loved the last mission, where your have to escape a building that is being stormed by a special weapons unit and then kill your archenemy in plain sight of others.

Sure, its optional, but Hitman is a lot of fun if you try to be a "Silent Assassin" with the lowest brutality rating.

I would buy that game. Sounds both fun and innovative

Also, there was the level "Casing the Joint" in Theif 2, where you were supposed to infiltrate and map out a big mansion before they moved in the objects you needed to steal. You had to do that without any of the guards even seeing you and the more in the level you moved around, the more they began to close in on your location, so the less impact you left, the better. That was my favorite level in the whole game.

That actually... sounds like a pretty good idea.

I can think of at least one reason why publishers wouldn't go for this, though: because the main character is invisible, you can't include a five-cent action figure of him with the "special edition" and charge an extra thirty bucks for it.

Invisible guy in some cool outfit. Done aaand done.

I see his point, and it sounds like a good game, but I would never get it. And thats becuase even though I love stealth games, I suck at them. I never got past that mission in thief two (partly because the game kept crashing ever five minutes) as my whole strategy was knocking people out or just running away from the rooms where the alarm was blaring. And I was playing that on easy. This game would be just too hard for me.

Been there done that.. All I can say is that I love drinking from the wells in ADOM. <3

With enought luck, it can grant your character permanent invisibility if you can make a wish, just wish for "invisibility" :D

It makes the game almost possible to do, too bad that there still exists monsters in that game that can detect invisible players :/

Ghost Trick is a variation on this. You don't get to do things regular humans can do, but you do ALOT of sneaking/eavesdropping.It's a very unique game and I suggest it for everyone.

So basically Ghost Trick.

Have you played it yet, mr. Yahtzee?

Tis quite fun, and probably the only game where amnesia works as a plot device. (Hint: the obvious answer isn't the right one)

I would love to see a game where you play as a ghost...I'm not sure how it would work at all...but it would open up some new gameplay mechanics...

This reminds me of something that actually happened:
Last year I was visiting my ex-girlfriend and we were in the kitchen making tea.
We had just poored some water in a big heavy mug and were talking when the mug all of a sudden tilted over a bit, made a full circle and stood still again.
I took the mug and lifted it to see if maybe the bottom was curved or something like that, but it wasn't.
I looked at my girlfriend and said: "did you see that too?"
"yes!" was the wide eyed response, accompanied by a nervous smile.
Her mother told us later that day she had seen the ghost of a woman in the house.
After reading Yahtzee's take on invisible protagonists I feel it must have been a government experiment. Much easier on the mind.

My biggest problem with Crysis 2 was that even though you were invisible, your shadow was still showing, and it took me out of the game because even if you aren't visible, aren't there tons of other things the guards could have noticed?

Yahtzee Croshaw:
Extra Punctuation: An Invisible Protagonist

Yahtzee wonders what it'd be like to be invisible in a game all the time.

Ugh. All this and you don't bring up Chaos Theory even though it too has great guard conversations and grades you in accordance to how ghost-like you were....so frustrating.

You know Yathzee, you should totally start your own development studio...You'd be like the new Notch!

This concept kinda reminds me of that quest in obilvion where you have to slowly kill everybody trying not to make the others in the house supisious of you.That was so much fun wandering around waiting till one of them walked into a room to do someethen shut the door kill the person then run out fo the room so the others couldnt pin point it was you.

I think it would work really well if done right and as a huge stealth player i would to play it.

Also i had a similar problem with crysis 2 i snuck around alot going from cover to cover in cloak mode abd found myself wander past lots of troops wondering if i was supposed to be doing it

I had a spell in Oblivion that, coupled with my maxed out Willpower, Illusion rank and high magic capacity meant I could cast in enough succession to benefit from successively. I spent a lot of the game invisible from there on, not even just on missions - running around and screwing around with NPCs and such. Sadly, the general puppet-like AI made it far less satisfying than it could have been. (It was a super camoulfage spell BTW, so it didn't disable when I attacked or stole something)

I did a similar thing in Oblivion. I got so good at making myself invisible, I could creep up behind pretty much anyone and chop 'em in the neck from behind.. (insta-kill at my level) it would startle their friends briefly, but then they'd settle back down to their old routine and then I'd do them in the neck too.. it made the combat so BOOORING...

It brings up an interesting point about AI. As a visible player, we expect the AI to chase and attack us because they can see us (actually, they can't ... they can't *see* anything). It's a moderately simple AI task depending on how deep you get into it and it's something that can be done well enough to be believable.
But to have an invisible assailant in the room adds a dimension to AI that's not been required before. It should put the heebyjeebies up anyone who's just seen their friend just die in front of them with no apparent cause. They shouldn't just revert back to their regular patrol saying "Perhaps it was nothing" - WTF, Your fiend just died!. They should freak out or raise the alarm, or try to find you by looking for clues, footprints, listening for breathing, letting off a fire extinguisher in the hope of making part of you visible... such a game would stand out as a Master Class in game AI in much the same way as Half Life stood out for it's scripted set pieces and apparent AI teamwork.

Funny, the cloest to a game of that concept I know of is Geist for the Gamecube.

The trouble with it though is that the bad guys are somewhat already aware that the hero you're play as is a ghost running around their evil lair, but that doesn't stop you from scaring the heck out of people and possessing their bodies.

Or, hey, you could whisper in a guard's ear so he turns round and opens fire at the 'intruder'...only to hit a fellow guard. A means of getting rid of guards without leaving an obvious trail

I'd like to add another hypothetical gameplay mechanic to what could become a rather samey game:

Although invisible, you still have a reflection.

This could allow you to see your character, which could help for characterisation, and could also help to add a kind of puzzle element to it -- working out what the field of vision is for guards as they pass and ensuring you aren't spotted -- could make for a very unique game indeed.

The whole game wouldn't have to be based around this mechanic, but it would be an interesting one to have to pop up occasionally.

Or, hey, you could whisper in a guard's ear so he turns round and opens fire at the 'intruder'...only to hit a fellow guard. A means of getting rid of guards without leaving an obvious trail

Player: "Behind you."

Guard:Wha? *turns* blam blam

Guard 2: "What the hell moron you killed him!"

Guard: "erm... There was a bad guy behind me."

Guard 2: "Give me your gun."

I would like the game the story could be about stealing tech to help improve you so going invisble doesn't hurt so much, cause medical issues, ect. As I am sick of government and evil PMC lets switch those a good PMC fighting a corrupt government by stealing tech to prevent a war and buff their invisible agent.

Sounds like it could get sort of dull. Maybe if it was a short game...

The mechanics for being completely unseen are interesting though. It's a little ridiculous how forgiving some NPCs in some games, especially Metal Gear Solid are. I remember in the first game shooting a man in the chest with my .45. He immediately had a question mark float over his head, went to investigate at a leisurely pace, and upon seeing no one present, he decided that nothing was wrong. Some people are a little too forgiving of specters.

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