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obscurus

Ultra Realism Possibilities?

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Hi, I am new to this so my apologoes if any of this has already been covered...

 

I have been tinkering with various unreal engine editing projects for a while now, and while I consider myself a pretty competent level designer, coding, mods and animation are black arts to me, and the dark mod looks like just the engine I need to get my ideas off the ground.

 

I have been working on ideas for a stealth type game ever since Thief first came out, and I am a big fan of all three. Not a thief clone, rather a realistic stealth game in a vaugely mediaeval setting... However, there are a number of things that have always bugged me, particluarly as they make the game less challenging than it could be:

 

1. Garret seems to be able to carry an infinite amount of loot without the weight slowing him down, or all the trinkets clattering around. For example, on a number of levels, Garret can somehow stuff all manner of paintings, gold plates, coins etc without breaking a sweat or attracting the attention of guards as he walks around. Would it be possible to give the thief a realistic limitation on the weight, size and quantity of loot he/she can carry at any one time, as well as alerting AI if there are lots of jingling coins etc?

 

2. Creaky floorboards. I don't know about you, but the carpet in my house does nothing to facilitate stealth due to the f**king floorboards creaking (one damned good thief if they can walk around my house without waking me up!)- how hard would it be to create hotspots where floorboards creak to boost the challenge a bit?

 

3. While the weapons in Thief are quite fun, they are not all that realistic - a thief might carry a dagger to get himself out of trouble, and something like a blackjack, a grappling hook and rope maybe, but only an assasin would carry a bow (I saw a post discussing the realism of Thief's bow and various arrows, so I wont go on about it...)

 

The climbing gloves in TDS were actually quite good and fairly realistic - Ninjas in feudal Japan used gloves with metal spikes to aid in climbing stone walls, but rope arrows are pretty daft, there is no way you can expect an arrow embedded in wood to bear the weight of a thief, even a light one, which brings me to my next point...

 

4. In the thief series, Garret is generally considered to be quite a featherweight - a bit on the weedy side. Yet he has no trouble picking up a fully armoured guard and dumping the body. Realisticly, guards are usually selected for their occupation on the basis of being large and imposing (think of a typical nightclub bouncer), so lets say your typical guard, unarmoured weighs about 100 kilograms (thats 220 pounds for those who haven't caught up to metric yet ;) Add 40 kgs (88 pounds) of armour and that is one hell of a lot of weight to move - very few people could carry a dead weight of 140 kgs very far, it would be more realistic that the thief drags the guard on the ground, or alternatively, lifting a heavy guard causes health damage. Unless Garret is more like Vin Diesel's character Riddick in Pitch Black, then maybe...

 

 

Other than that, things I am hopeful of seeing in this mod are stuff like realistic time limitations (day/night cycles, ie get your thievin'done before dawn or else), AI responding to silhouettes in doorways, SWIMABLE water, and generally realistic options...

 

I realise the original thief games were not all about realism, and that some compromises between realism and gameplay are inevitable, but then again I am going for something a bit different, and something that is about five times as hard as Thief on the highest difficulty setting.

 

Any thoughts or opinions about this? How capable is the D3 engine of doing what I want? Could anyone be bothered doing the coding etc required?

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Any thoughts or opinions about this? How capable is the D3 engine of doing what I want? Could anyone be bothered doing the coding etc required?

You can do all of that, though the only question that remains is: Do you want to?

 

Swimmable water - done (or almost, still needs tweaking :) )

 

I personally liked the stuff in Thief and in a way you could say that the rope arrow held your weight with magic :P

 

Realism in some areas is good, but bad in others. I liked how thief did'nt restrict things, like the loot weight for example. I made loot weigh you down in Morrowind just as a test, and it sucked.

 

With day/night cycles, easily possible, but that's the mapper's decision, or in my case, Renz's :P

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We've discussed creaky floorboards and I guess it's still up in the air. I think the general consensus is that if we do it, we would want them identifiable via some kind of visible que, like a slightly different texture on the wood. If it's carpet with a squeaky board under it, the visible que would be in the uncovered wood around the sides of the carpet, where you would see the "bad" board going under the carpet.

 

We want to avoid totally random creaking, or a creaking board under carpet with no warning, as that would get rather frustrating when "discovering" it for the first time, especially when an AI is around. That way if you're moving slowly and carefully, you can see a creaky board and avoid it, but if you're running around everywhere you'll probably step on one without seeing it.

 

With regard to limited loot carrying capacity" if you have an idea for a limited loot system that's simple and not too tedious or frustrating, go ahead and post it. We're always open to suggestions.

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I can see the point that many people would find a lot of the more realistic elements I'm talking about frustrating or tedious, but I think that comes down to level design as much as anything. For example, the thief could mask their sound on stone or metal by throwing down their cloak and walkning over it slowly (a heavy enough cloak made of felt or similar material will do this), while making wooden floors more of a challenge (carpeted or not). For example, you can be quieter on wooden floors by walking very slowly, or sticking to the walls where there is usually less movement in the floorboards.

 

Maybe this could be implemented as a difficulty option. Personally, I would not find things like this frustrating, as I guess I have played thief too many times on max difficulty settings to find typical stealth games as challenging.

 

I guess there are two factors for me: 1, realism helps enhance the illusion that you are actually in a castle pilfering some lords goodies, and 2, realism ups the level of challenge closer to what a real thief in the real world would experience.

 

It is too easy to go through a thief level and render every guard and AI unconsious or dead (unless you have the no knockout rules etc enabled).

 

I also want to get away from magical elements to differentiate my game ideas from thief. Actually, I was thinking more along the lines of a game set in ancient rome or babylon, something a bit different than the usual thief setting. Maybe have a game where you can choose between playing a thief or an assassin, and having differnt characteristics etc....

 

Another thing that bugs me is poor level design, where you are blocked from exploring an area for no good reason (obviously, computer power and level building time will restrict the area that can be explored, but invisible barriers are not cool, nor are walls that should be climbable but aren't). Has anyone else been puzzled by the rooftop apartment in the Auldale level in TDS? How the f*** did anyone get furniture in there, when there are no entrances except by climbing?

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In regards to a loot system, you could also simply limit loot to stuff that is a bit more sensible - don't have lots of large loot items - maybe have an inventory system where you have a set amount of space for loot, and you have to make a decision on what types of loot you want to pick up. As in TDS, you could then fence loot and by equipment, upgrades etc (but the fences and stores in TDS could have been implemented better, IMO). If doom 3 allows for much larger level sizes than TDS, then you should, at least on some suitable maps, have a large city level with lots of fences, shops, and of course, masions to rob. This probably wont appeal to loot completists - those who absolutely have to get 100% of the loot, but if done right, it could spice up gameplay a little. If you like you missions faily linear and goal oreiented, I can see why you might not like this idea, and it is heading into RPG territory I know. Some people see Thief as a glorified game of Pacman, I am not one of them, and prefer a bit more depth and intricacy :P

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Stuff

We are currently refining our own new loot system for the campaign we'll be releasing. The player will be able to choose between the new loot system or stick to the old Thief inspired one.

The new system will involve limits on how much loot you can take from a level, you will not magically know the value of the loot you're taking until you end the mission and sell it, so you have to apprasie loot and be judicious about what you steal, and there will be no enforced loot requrements tacked on to the end of the real objectives. (apart from special loot items)

As always with these new ideas some team members are for it and some are against.

 

I made a thread arguing for the broafhead arrows to be removed, since they are simply a ye olde snyper ryfle. THey are no good against undead in this game, so I see no purpose for them. Their main purpose would be to snipe unaware guards while you sit in the shadows.

 

Our thief is small, so I also proposed limits on how long he can carry a body. Rather like the way you can only hold the bow sting drawn for so long before you automatically get tired and let go, the same should be true for carrying bodies. THis will add to gameplay since you'll have to make sure you knock people out near good hiding spots unless you want to spend half an hour picking them up and dropping them again to get there. IF there are no good hiding spots - well you'll eother have to sneak past instead or knock him out and leave him int he open, hoping he isn't spotted. Your choice.

 

We'd be lynched if we left out rope arrows, but I've also proposed grappling hooks. Nearly everyone here hated the climbing gloves in TDS, including myself.

 

I'm generally like realism, but not at any cost. If it can be worked into the game well, then it's always the best option for me. JHowever, realism cannot always be worked into game play very well.

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I found that the only problem with the climbing gloves in TDS was the implementation, not the concept. The problem was not actually being able to access the rooftops, and whenever you could it was obvious that wherever you were accessing had been thought up by the level designers. A great contrast to the Thieve's highway of yore, which just seemed like rooftops. Perhaps because then there was so much more of it, and there were others occupying it.

 

When you used the rope arrows, it was much more like you were discovering something new - somewhere you could go that the designers hadn't thought of. If TDS hadn't restricted your movement so much (e.g. unable to climb over three centimetre outcrops :angry:)

If the level designers were given climbing gloves, able to implement them in the same way as they would rope arrows, I expect it would be far better than TDS - not difficult.

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The player will be able to choose between the new loot system or stick to the old Thief inspired one.

I don't think we've set that type of selection in stone or at least I haven't read it yet. If this were correct, we would have to playtest the entire campaign with two entirely different loot systems and balance the campaign accordingly to work with both. I really don't think that is a wise thing to do. If we're going to take a different direction for the loot system in the campaign, we would be wise to choose either one and balance it. The traditional system will be in the toolset, the campaign is a seperate matter entirely.

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What about having a drop off point for loot in the map? A designated dump where you can return during the game and unload, near your entrance/exit place. Maybe some kind of object could be made that would tally what you dumped into it, call it Garretts Big Ass Velvet Bag. In the storyline, he would'nt grab this until he was ready to flee the premises. It could still be limited in size and weight, just more than he can carry in his kit. The last act of the FM would be Garrett moving this heavier bag, which would limit his actions like carrying a body, out the back window or door.

 

I used to wonder back in t2 about the possiblity of Garrett having to "catch" a BJed AI. Say I sneak up behind him, whack, now I have to grab and drag the body to shadow before it hits the ground. The body would only be frobable for a few seconds while the AI crumples. This way:

 

1. Garrett never has to support a huge guards full weight, and just as importantly never has to dead lift it. And maybe some guards are heavier than others? Maybe some are nearly impossible to carry/drag, while others are like rag-dolls?

 

2. The noise, a regularly garbed man collapsing to the ground will make a noise, an armored one should wake half the castle. (In fact, a year ago I watched an old, old lady collapse on the street here in Philly, her tiny little body and head made a thump that I heard half a block away.)This realistically accounts for that *huge* crash missing in T1/2/DS when an AI was whacked, cause the bodies should never hit the ground. There can still be noise of course, and it should pose a threat.

 

3. It would force Garrett to pick his ambush areas very carefully. You whack the AI, catch him as he falls, then have to quickly drag him to shadow. You can still move a pancaked guard, its just noisy and hard with all that armor dragging across stone.

 

4. It would fine tune balance the gas arrows. They are a pretty powerful weapon, but imagine if you knew that to use it is going to A. make a big noise cause you cant run and catch the dude as he falls and B. make dragging a body away a lot harder, slower, whatever cause you couldnt catch him. You would think twice about firing away with them, or you might have to nock another expensive and rare gas arrow to take out the clowns who come running. Either way it limits their use and utility, a plus in my book.

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WHy would gas arrows make a noise? You can't just give gas arrows a loud noise for no reason other than to balance them.

Gas arrows will be very rare, and that is balance enough.

THe loot sack idea doesn't work, because it's too dependant on the map layout. Any appropriate solution has to be map independant.

While the loot sack would work on a small square mansion type map where you could place is near the main exit and run back and forth to it, it wouldn't work so well for the kind of maps where you start at one end and gradually travel though the map to the other end.

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I used to wonder back in t2 about the possiblity of Garrett having to "catch" a BJed AI. Say I sneak up behind him, whack, now I have to grab and drag the body to shadow before

 

This is something we have already discussed and plan to implement. Guards falling to the ground will make noise, but the player can catch a guard and ease him down gently to avoid this.

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My post was unclear, I dont want the gas arrows to make a new noise themselves, the noise is from the guard falling that you aren't close enough to catch. Im assuming someone who has to use a gas arrow generally needs the range it gives. But increasing the armor crash would make using that arrow a tougher call, methinks.

 

I see your point about the different maps styles, oDDity. Maybe a linear FM could be made where you have to go back every so often to drag your loot sack along, but that would be tedious. I like the idea of just having to pass some stuff up even more.

 

If you guys are already going to implement catching BJ'd guards, I'm going to swoon.

 

ThUmP

 

Ok, I swooned.

Edited by Maximius

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Yes, and guards falling after being knocked out from a gas arrow will make the same nosie as if you had BJed them.

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You know me...I love to butt my nose in...

 

As far as lifting guards (and I'm greatful that the devs chose a small thief instead of opting for a tall and lanky pc), though it would seem at first thought that a smaller framed "person" might have a more difficult time with a bruiser guard than one with more leverage, if you're talking "realism", you have to take into consideration fast and slow twitch muscle:

 

You figure a thief (or anyone, really) that can climb clear up a rope, jump quietly and switfly from rooftop to rooftop, and mantle (essentially a "pull-up") from ground level, or even proceeding a jump from another ledge, would have to have a combination of balance and strength:

 

Fast twitch muscles (which generate more force and intensity, but fatigue easier) would be necessary for quick jumps, rope climbing, mantling, and sprinting.

 

Slow twitch muscles (which generate less force and intensity outright, but facilitate endurance) would be necessary for long periods of crouching, slow crawls, stealthy walking (or stalking), long distance running, and for overall balance (since we don't want our protagonist creeping around getting tired and knocking shit over).

 

All of that said, with this COMBINED advantage our thief would need to facilitate his ability (both fast and slow twitch muscle power), even if he is a smaller built thief, our thief would be exceptionally strong "overall" and would at least be able to "drag" a bruiser even with full war gear. Dragging, I think, is a sensible comprimise between outright lifting a body and not being able to do anything at all.

 

I actually liked that the guard in TDS got tired it made sense to me, not only because of the armour, because you figure with all of the work they did to make themselves huge, they'd neglect any kind of endurance training, and suffer for it.

 

And besides, if you can believe that a wooden stick with a sharp piece of metal at the end cannot only extend a rope at any desired length upon dispatch, but can also support a man's full weight, well then why is it such a stretch to believe that a small man can lift a 280 pound guard?

 

Same premise of disbelief suspension applies to loot, I would think. Though I like oddity's idea of needing to pick and chose what you pilfer. As frustrating as it would appear, I'd love to make a grab for something that looked plenty valuable, only to find after all of my troubles it's worth only pennies. I love options!

 

Which leads me to my next point ( if you can call it that ):

 

Odd made a comment about broadheads being useless, and I disagree. Broadheads are essentially "ye olde sniper rifle" yes, but, more importantly, they give the player another option while playing. I loved the Thief games because you could improvise...with the possible exeption of Far Cry, I really haven't seen a game recently that allowed the player to do that so freely.

 

Besides, I used broadheads all of the time:

 

They made for a great diversionary tactic when I ran out of noisemakers....just point at a stone wall or piece of metal and...voila!

 

 

Hylix.

Edited by Hylix Ulyx

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Personally I hated the guards getting tired in TDS. You should be able to evade a guard just by being slightly faster than him and being able to get around a corner and find a hiding spot. That way you're actually using thief evasion skills instead of just... running far.

 

I have no trouble believing that the armored guards would sprint somewhat slower than an unarmored thief who trains for speed all his life, but a lot of these guards I think of as out of work soldiers who have been fast-marched for miles in their armor and are not going to stop and huff for breath after running 10 feet.

 

And why didn't they at least slow to a jog and keep coming at you, why did they have to stop entirely? Who is hiring and training these guards? I could see this behavior maybe for a very out of shape city guard or low quality private guard but certainly not all guards.

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I want to set up a loot system that gives diminishing returns on loot - the more loot you stuff into your bag, the more likely you are to be noticed, and the slower and noisier you will be. That way the player has to make a choice between getting enough loot to make the mission worthwhile financially, and getting greedy and getting chaught. If you think about crime statistics, most burglaries involve small items that are easisly fenced - jewelery, cash, small electrical goods, cds, dvds and so on, and real thieves don't carry lots of gear around (certainly not a quiver full of sundry magical arrows, a bow, numerous flash bombs, potions etc), that way they can hide in plain sight just as easily as in the shadows. Modern thieves carry things like screwdrivers, lockpicks, maybe a crowbar, pliars and wire cutters (usually a multitool or pocket knife with all of thes attatchments is enough) . they often dress as tradesmen so their toolkit doesn't seem odd.

 

I think random unpredictable things like floorboards creaking unexpectedly add immensly to gameplay, to me having a visual clue is almost cheating - I want the thief to have to adapt to events outside their control. Like I said, I like a challenge, and this might not be for everyone...

 

My point is, I want to play missions where the deciding factor is the skill and cunning of the player in as realistic a world as current computers can create, not the arsenal he/she carries - if you want that play Doom :P

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Yes, and guards falling after being knocked out from a gas arrow will make the same nosie as if you had BJed them.

I agree, it must be changed for both reasons.

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Ishtavan's very good points.

I get where you're coming from Ish, but the guards you face in TDS (and even T1 and T2) weren't from a castle garrison or even military. The impression I always had from the storyline was that the Baron was always away at war, so most of his enlisted men (and most definitely his vets) would be deployed elsewhere.

 

The guards you face through most of the game aren't war-hardened professionals...

 

They were the medievel equivilent of rent-a-cops.

 

You figure even the street guards (the City Watch) were just beat cops.

 

None of the guards you face in TDS would have had the kind of training you're talking about, and even if they had, you figure they must've been pretty useless as soldiers to end up protecting museum relics.

 

But I agree with you in principle: I'd love to see a steatlh game where the guards get progressively more disciplined and harder to shake. Imagine the unfettered frustration of having to steal something from the Barons Keep, guarded by his finest and most battle-hardened Elite.

 

Hylix.

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Certainly the elite mercenary guards (the guards hired by rich nobles) are war hardened veterans looking for easy money and easy time of it.

THose guys would make mince meat of a thief.

There are a wide range of guard types in TDM, ranging from hired thiugs, to city watch that have recived comabt training to hardened mercenary soldiers.

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Concerning creaking floorboard. IMO they should not have a visual clue. If you go into a foreign house you just see a floor. The boards are pretty even usually and there would be no clue which ones of them are creaking. Even in my own house i don't SEE where the creaking boards are (when I try to sneak down not to wake my children after putting them to bed). I only can prevent them because I KNOW where they are and can step around them.

A stranger doesn't have this knowledge. Not even a masterthief would gain this knowledge beforehand in many cases. He would have to interrogate servants and hope that they are describing such spot accurately. So why would we need a visual clue? This is one of the dangers of a thief. If a burglar brakes into my house he can always step on this boards risking to wake us. It would be the responsabillity of the FM author not to overuse such a feature, and it would be the responsibillity of the player to move slowly, so that he can back out when he notices such a board under his feet. So the only concession would be to make the noise dependent on the speed and time. If the player moves fast or stands on such a board for more then 1 second (or less) he didn't detect it and it rightfully creaks. If he notices the creak and backs up, then it should stop and nothing much would happen.

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hylix:"But I agree with you in principle:  I'd love to see a steatlh game where the guards get progressively more disciplined and harder to shake."

Right on. Not only should they get more difficult between consecutive maps, i.e. the guards at the local bumkins lords house dont compare with the archdukes crack troops, they should have ranking within each AI group, with differing levels of "knowledge" and abilities. I just posted this in another thread so I wont go on, but basically privates are dumb, sarge is a little brighter, and its really tough to fool a captain AI.

Edited by Maximius

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Concerning creaking floorboard. IMO they should not have a visual clue.

This is where the whole "gameplay vs. realsim" kicks in. Events that are truly random and screw you over kind've suck. That's why our character doesn't have random brain anneurisms and heart attacks that cause instant death for no apparent reason. So we make some concession that rewards the player for being careful, where if they look carefully at the boards, and boards at the edges of carpets, they will be able to predict which spot will be creaky.

 

Moving slowly might work okay, but then you'd pretty much have to move as slowly as possible when on carpet or wood floor whenever there were any AI around. There would be no more well-timed quiet runs across carpet, because you'd probably make a huge loud creak with no warning if you tried that. Also, IRL even when you're moving very slowly I don't think it's that easy to avoid a creak. Sometimes you put just a little weight on and it creaks, and if you take that weight off, it creaks again.

 

This could be total BS, but I lived in a house with hardwood floors for a while, and it seemed like the boards where the grain lines were farther apart were more likely to creak than the ones where the grain lines are closer together. (There may be a physical reason for this but I can't put together a good argument right now) Also, as people have said, boards near the edge of the wall are probably less likely to creak because the end of the board is supported there.

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