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#26 Springheel

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Posted 19 May 2005 - 01:10 PM

Yeah, random spots that make noise with no possible way of knowing ahead of time don't make for good gameplay. It's like putting a death trap in a map and giving no indication that it's there.

We would need something like a decal indicating a squeaky spot, or a wooden floor texture that lets you know the whole area could squeak. Something that allows the player to take appropriate measures.
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#27 oDDity

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Posted 19 May 2005 - 02:14 PM

I'd vote for a certain floor texture that let's you know there will be squeak spots, rather than point them out individually.
The player can then be extra careful. Le'ts say, if he uses his slowest creep, he won't upset the boards.careful.
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#28 Maximius

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Posted 19 May 2005 - 02:23 PM

The points about utterly random events tanking gameplay are correct IMHO, so some sort of clue(s) is in order. Part of the joy of the game is becoming a master of the gameworld, so that you can use odd sounds, visuals, whatever to make crack decisions and win the day. There needs to be some regularization of the Thiefs world.

But one of the drawbacks of the T1/2 games was that some clues were so regularized that they were'nt clues anymore they were hazard beacons. If you heard a certain AI making a certain noise, you knew without a second concern that you could do X, Y, or Z. Or if you saw a certain type of floor material, you knew you could run across it like the wind cause it was silent.

In the discussion of floorboards and squeaks I propose a blend of regularity and irregularity. Say for example there are six kinds of floorboard in a particular section of a map, one squeaks bad, one a little, four not at all. Fine, the Thief can soon learn which to avoid, which to relax on, great.

Now he gets to another part of the map. Same six floorboard, one squeaks bad, TWO squeak a little, three are fine. Not a major, gameplay destroying change, but just a tiny tweak. The thief does his thing fine on the all the floorboards cause he knows which are which, and he's right most of the time but WOOPs, a nice,infrequent, realistic but not overly so, random event bites him in the ass.

Both ends are achieved, the Thief is able to successfully learn from his environment (good gameplay) and enjoys those advantages but sometimes even he gets tripped up (realism.) Or is this inviting disaster in terms of complexity or lots of labor for a smaller return?

#29 FishFace

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Posted 19 May 2005 - 03:15 PM

I think it might be tricky to invent 6 textures that could be differentiated between, without them being too obviously different. Plus perhaps a slight waste of time... Just a thought.
Nice idea in theory, though!
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#30 obscurus

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Posted 19 May 2005 - 04:59 PM

I would prefer a fairly generic sort of clue, and I see something like this happening: you enter the mansion of a rich nobleman, and come across a carpeted, wooden floored halway. You can't see the floorboards because of the carpet, but you know that they are squeaky because the guard patrolling the hallway is making the floorboards underneath the carpetsqueek as s/he walks up and down. So you don't need tacky give away textures. To me these sort of things are a bit too cartoonish.

Part of the joy of the game is becoming a master of the gameworld, so that you can use odd sounds, visuals, whatever to make crack decisions and win the day. There needs to be some regularization of the Thiefs world.


I understand this, but I would prefer to become master of the gameworld through skill, not because there are littele textures everywhere to tell me where to walk ;) I suppose it is not unreasonable that a squeaky floorbord on a naked wooden floor might stick out a bit, so a [I]slightly[I] different texture would be OK

I guess what bothers me is that T1/T2/TDS have gotten too easy for me, and I feel almost godlike playing them, not just masterly ;) (particularly TDS - most of that game was ridiculously easy, even on the maximum difficulty setting, and I know a lot of other people thought so too).

That's why I am so keen to have more difficult, realistic gameplay. I totally understand that many people don't like games that are difficult to play, what I'm suggesting is perhaps features that can be optionaly enabled or disabled according to the players preferences. Or have them only in the maximum difficulty settings.

The thing about completely random events in a game is that they add a lot of replay value to a game - the game never plays the same way twice.

Yeah, random spots that make noise with no possible way of knowing ahead of time don't make for good gameplay.

I don't totally disagree with that, I not saying that you have no clue, just that clues are very subtle (like watching and listening to what happens when guards walk around). And I'm certailnly not suggesting that creaky floorboards will screw you over, just that the AI will go onto a low level of alert if it hears a creak nearby, and if it is really close, the AI will detect you, and you might have to quckly backtrack to evade capture...


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.



What Sparhawk said :)

#31 Drakon

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Posted 19 May 2005 - 05:29 PM

I love the creaky floorboard idea. But, the slower you go on them, the more noticeable the squeak is. It seems a lot less noticeable if you walk faster over them. Visual clues would be up to the designer. You can walk with confidence across a stone floor and know it won't squeak. But why would you expect an old wooden staircase to be quiet? A lot of places that would cause creaking are common sense. Just don't be moving when a person is near.

As for rope arrows, I would prefer a grappling hook. I'd far prefer rope arrows over climbing gloves, though. Ugh, says I.

And, I'd love the ability to go by my own appraisals on looting.

#32 obscurus

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Posted 19 May 2005 - 05:47 PM

Also, climbable textures would be nice. You should be able to climb a rough stone wall even without gloves, any half decent rock climber or cat burgler can do that sort of thing, and I think the ability to climb vine covered walls would be cool (I have never tried climbing a vine covered wall, so it might not be realistc though).

#33 Maximius

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Posted 19 May 2005 - 10:05 PM

I understand this, but I would prefer to become master of the gameworld through skill, not because there are littele textures everywhere to tell me where to walk ;) I suppose it is not unreasonable that a squeaky floorbord on a naked wooden floor might stick out a bit, so a [I]slightly[I] different texture would be OK

I guess what bothers me is that T1/T2/TDS have gotten too easy for me, and I feel almost godlike playing them, not just masterly ;) (particularly TDS - most of that game was ridiculously easy, even on the maximum difficulty setting, and I know a lot of other people thought so too).

That's why I am so keen to have more difficult, realistic gameplay. I totally understand that many people don't like games that are difficult to play, what I'm suggesting is perhaps features that can be optionaly enabled or disabled according to the players preferences. Or have them only in the maximum difficulty settings.

The thing about completely random events in a game is that they add a lot of replay value to a game - the game never plays the same way twice.

I don't totally disagree with that, I not saying that you have no clue, just that clues are very subtle (like watching and listening to what happens when guards walk around). And I'm certailnly not suggesting that creaky floorboards will screw you over, just that the AI will go onto a low level of alert if it hears a creak nearby, and if it is really close, the AI will detect you, and you might have to quckly backtrack to evade capture...





What Sparhawk said :)

Learning from clues in the enviroment ARE skills, by definition, and besides no one is recommending that the only way the Thief navigates the gameworld should be by the color of the carpet. It would only be one of a host of things to look out for.

MOF I'm fine with NO clues for the squeaking floorboards either, as long as squeaking floorboards dont crop up every foot and a half. I only wanted to bring up the possiblity of mixing the ability for the player to learn from the enviroment and the possiblity of a random event tripping him up.

#34 obscurus

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Posted 20 May 2005 - 02:16 AM

Yeah, I think squeaky floorboards, or randomness, like any game device, would fast become annoying if they were overused. The trick is to use devices like that enough to keep the player on their toes, but not so much that they get the shits and switch off their computer to do something else... Hopefully FM mappers out there will have the sense to make use of a variety of surface types within a level, some easy to deal with, some very tricky ones too...
Oh, and I didn't mean to suggest that it isn't a skill to watch out for little clues on the ground, walls whatever, just that if you have clues they should be subtle, rather than a texture that practically screams "don't step here, you'll wake up the guards!", it doesn't require a terribly large amount of skill to deal with... :)

#35 sparhawk

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Posted 20 May 2005 - 03:00 AM

This is where the whole "gameplay vs. realsim" kicks in.  Events that are truly random and screw you over kind've suck.


They were not really random, because the FM author would still have to place them. So once you learned where a ceraking board would be, it doesn't move and you can be sure that it will always be there and not somewhere else the next time.

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.


Adding a distinct visual clue would render them useeless because it would make them quite obvious.

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.


That's the point of it, isn't it? After all, Thief in a foreign house wouldn't be expected to jog around in full speed.

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.


It doesn't need to creak always, after all boards also don't creak always, only most of the time. If you apply pressure to them and step on them again, they tend to creak less afterwards, until they are tensioned again which takes some time. Don't know if you know what I mean with 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.


Of course. But a single creak wouldn't be THAT suspicious because wood creaks sometimes on it's own anway. So if it creaks and you stop, then move back after a shor ttime it would creak again, but this wouldn't cause any problem. That's how you do it in RL at least.

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.


Maybe the grain lines are farhter away because of this. :) I have to check this in my house. But I don't hink that this is the same reason there. It just happens that at this particular bit of floor it seem the boards are not as flat on the ground as on other spots, so there is a small cavern beneath it, which is not visible at all, but enough to cause a creaking when stepped upon.
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#36 Ishtvan

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Posted 20 May 2005 - 05:48 AM

They were not really random, because the FM author would still have to place them. So once you learned where a ceraking board would be, it doesn't move and you can be sure that it will always be there and not somewhere else the next time.


So in other words once you screw up once and reload from a save or replay the FM you'll know where the no-warning squeaky board is? That's still not very fun for me.

I wouldn't think guards would ignore a creak, realistically, they'd probably check it out if it happened very near them. Also as people have said, walking slowly doesn't really help IRL. You only know a board is creaking when you hear it creak, and by then you're already screwed. If you remove weight from it at this point you risk having it creak again, which would really make AI suspicious.

Rather than make people move extra-slowly everywhere, I'd rather have an identifible texture so that if they're paying attention and not moving so fast that they have tunnel vision, they'll see it and steer clear. Otherwise it's just random and frustrating.

#37 sparhawk

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Posted 20 May 2005 - 05:54 AM

So in other words once you screw up once and reload from a save or replay the FM you'll know where the no-warning squeaky board is?  That's still not very fun for me.


You can say the same about any trap or AI placement. If somebody reloads, of course he will know what is waiting for him.

I wouldn't think guards would ignore a creak, realistically, they'd probably check it out if it happened very near them.


That depends on the loudness and frequency. It is the same as footsteps. If a single footstep is heard it may not make the Ai suspicious enough to investigate and the player will have to move more carefull.

Also as people have said, walking slowly doesn't really help IRL.  You only know a board is creaking when you hear it creak, and by then you're already screwed.  If you remove weight from it at this point you risk having it creak again, which would really make AI suspicious.


That's why, in such a sitution, you would usually freeze and wait a bit. Only then you will remove the weight.
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#38 FishFace

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Posted 20 May 2005 - 06:22 AM

Squeaky boards are actually pretty common. Depending on how they creak, they make more or less distincitively "man-made" sounds. Sometimes it's just a series of knocks, sometimes it's a cohesive creak, and sometimes moving faster makes a more obvious noise, sometimes moving slowly sounds so furtive that it's definitely a sneaksie.
The thing about speed is that if a board spontaneously creaks, it probably goes "creak-stop." Stepping slowly goes "cre-e-e-e-eak.."
In addition, it's often an area of floor, not just a single board, that squeaks, and sometimes it's obvious (they're wonky or protruding, e.g.) and others there's no sign.
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#39 obscurus

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Posted 20 May 2005 - 07:06 AM

In RL, you can walk by keeping the weight on one foot, and probing the floor with the other, VERY GRADUALY putting weight on it. If you feel any movement, or start to hear a slight sound, you pull back. While this method works, it is very, very, very slow, requires a lot of practise, a very good sense of balance, and you couldn't really simulate this in a game (unless it is the Holodeck on the Enterprise). It is a technique used by special ops etc for infiltrating buildings stealthily.

Nevertheless, I see no reason why floor creaks should be given away as obviously as a visual marker, you should have to watch guards, see what sounds the floor made as other AI walk over them. It certainly makes no sense to have visual markers for floorboards hidden under carpets or rugs.

And it would take more than one little creak to set the AI on alert - in RL floorboards settle and squeak as the temperature and humidity in a room fluctuates, so a guard might brush of one or two squeaks, but will get suspicious if there are a number of squeaks consistent with a person walking emanating from a nearby hall or room.

#40 Springheel

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Posted 20 May 2005 - 07:53 AM

Nevertheless, I see no reason why floor creaks should be given away as obviously as a visual marker, you should have to watch guards, see what sounds the floor made as other AI walk over them. It certainly makes no sense to have visual markers for floorboards hidden under carpets or rugs.


Watching an AI is fine if they happen to walk right over the squeaky spot. But what if they don't? Then you're left with no way to find the spot until you step on it.

Our guards are going to be pretty alert. If they hear a floorboard squeak, they're going to at least look over in that direction, and may even wander over to check it out if they're close enough.

I'd hate to sit in a dark corner, watching the guard patrols and timing everything perfectly, dart out when the guard's back is turned to grab a piece of loot, only to have an invisible board creak and alert everyone.
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#41 Drakon

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Posted 20 May 2005 - 08:46 AM

You can't have the best of luck in every mission. If you have no idea how much sound you will make when you try to sneak behind a guard, why would you sneak behind him? The mapmaker needs to be aware of this, too. Its sort of frustrating when you are forced to go through place where you can't predict your own noise level.

I.E. You see your target at the end of a large room. The floor is a wooden floor. Creaky or not, you don't know yet. You also see a balcony above, made of solid stone. You could be impatient and run across the boards, chancing the creaky noise, or find a way up to the balcony and go across a more solid, silent terrain.
Creaky boards can easily be used just like the noisy tiles in the originals. This time, you just have a little bit of uncertainty, and hopefully an alternate route. If you are pressed for time, you may just have to risk a little noise.

I'd really like to see the ability to put creaky boards in. It'd be a great tool for mappers.

So in other words once you screw up once and reload from a save or replay the FM you'll know where the no-warning squeaky board is? That's still not very fun for me.


How's this different from screwing up any other way? You might accidentally walk in fron't of a guard coming around a corner. You chanced the corner, and you got caught. Try escaping before you hit reload; escape is always fun. Its what you'd really have to do, anyway. Our lives would be very different if we had reload buttons.

no-warning squeaky board

The fact that is a wooden floor should be the warning. Not a sure sign, but a warning. Avoid the wooden floors if guards are nearby.

Edited by Drakon, 20 May 2005 - 08:58 AM.


#42 New Horizon

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Posted 20 May 2005 - 08:52 AM

Nevertheless, I see no reason why floor creaks should be given away as obviously as a visual marker, you should have to watch guards, see what sounds the floor made as other AI walk over them. It certainly makes no sense to have visual markers for floorboards hidden under carpets or rugs.


It makes complete sense to have a visual marker of some sort. As a game designer, you want to entice the player to play strategically...you can do that by tricking the player or by giving the player visual feedback so they can plan their route more effectively...or choose to take the risk of making a noise. Squeaky floor boards are just another obstacle to get around.

#43 oDDity

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Posted 20 May 2005 - 09:07 AM

As long as it's a VERY subtle decal marker for the squeaky areas it's fine. If it's too obvious, then there's no point doing the whole squeak thing in the first place.
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#44 Maximius

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Posted 20 May 2005 - 09:14 AM

I think the trick to effectively working random events into FMs is to

1. Keep them moderate to rare as heck, depending on the type of FM. Id expect a lot more squeaking floorboards in a rotting old mansion v. a brand new home. Id also expect crak troops to change course, turn around unexpectedly, hell even have unannounced officer inspections of the grounds while the hayseeds in the City Guard are fairly predictable, loafish.

2. Use visual cues in order to allow the Thief to learn from his environment, with the *occasional* tweak for spiciness. Doesnt mean T1T2 style cues, which were pretty ham-fisted, but richer, smaller, subtler cues.

No one wants to play an FM that lacks any predictablity but no one wants to play an FM that uses a billboard to warn of impending danger. Thats why I proposed a mixture of the two, studying your enviroment pays off, as it would in RL, but the cues range from obvious to the sublime and sometimes they are dead wrong. Its all in the editor's implementation of such things.


P.S.This post is for CONSIDERATION, not CONFLAGRATION! :D :D :D

Edited by Maximius, 20 May 2005 - 09:15 AM.


#45 sparhawk

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Posted 20 May 2005 - 10:17 AM

I'd hate to sit in a dark corner, watching the guard patrols and timing everything perfectly, dart out when the guard's back is turned to grab a piece of loot, only to have an invisible board creak and alert everyone.


But such is the risk of a thief anyway. :)
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#46 sparhawk

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Posted 20 May 2005 - 10:26 AM

It makes complete sense to have a visual marker of some sort.


It also makes complete sense to have visual markers for AI as well. After all, if you happen to cross a corridor suddenly an AI might come through a door surprising you. So there should be a warning whenever an AI is about to open a door in your vicinity. I think a big blue arrow pointing at it should be subtle enough.

As a game designer, you want to entice the player to play strategically...you can do that by tricking the player or by giving the player visual feedback so they can plan their route more effectively...or choose to take the risk of making a noise.  Squeaky floor boards are just another obstacle to get around.


Usually I'm not in favour of having things in a game which the player can do nothing about, like teleporting enemies in behind the back. In case of creaking floorboards I think they are ok. After all they ARE happening all the time in RL without a thief knowing about it and as such it is a risk that a Thief has to take.

If we don't want the player to take certain risks, then we should also not implement AI which randomly sweeps the room or looks back. In such a case the player also has no warning and no amount of observation should tell him when the AI will look back the next time becuase this IS a random risk.
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#47 Springheel

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Posted 20 May 2005 - 11:13 AM

Creaking floorboards with no warning basically means that no matter how carefully you plan, no matter how observant you are, you can still "lose" because of something you have no control over.

This is how it is in real life.

But does it make for good gameplay? I don't think so.

Giving guards random actions is not the same. You generally -know- that a guard is there (they give both visual and auditory clues about their presence). If you decide to try to run behind them while their back is turned, you are taking a calculated risk, knowing they may glance in your direction. You get to decide whether to risk it now or wait until the guard is farther away, or distract them, or use some other method.

With unseen floorboards, you don't get to decide whether to take a risk or not. Since you're completely unaware that they're there, you can't really make an informed decision about how to behave.

It would be like setting up a system where at random intervals, without warning, the lights in the room come on.
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#48 Drakon

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Posted 20 May 2005 - 12:52 PM

I still fail to see a problem or hindrance to gameplay.

How the risk of running behind a guard and knowing theres the chance of him turning to look any different from the risk of running behind the guard and knowing the floor could creak? Both lend the same results. Theres two ways the mapper can use this: Have a guard check behind him in well lit rooms, where he would see a thief who's trying to sneak by. Or, if its a dark room, let the guard simply listen for the thief.

In the bright room, you can decide: Take a chance of being caught by sneaking behind the guard, or find another way around. Or kill him, or just run past, get seen, and then run faster.

In the dark room, you can decide: Take a chance of being caught by sneaking behind the guard, or find another way around. You may have just detoured around a floor that wouldn't have creaked at all, but you didn't get caught. Same for above: You may have detoured around a guard that wouldn't have turned around, but oh well.

BTW, I'm more in favor of a "trigger" style creak over each footstep being randomized on the entire floor. I'd love to see a trigger where you can cause different noises from walking over it. (Walk over broken glass, creaky floors, dried up leaves on a sidewalk, etc.)

Edited by Drakon, 20 May 2005 - 12:55 PM.


#49 Maximius

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Posted 20 May 2005 - 01:48 PM

What about random events that don't even impact the Thief but only provide active "wallpaper?" Like a guard spitting into a plant on his route every tenth time, AI taking a wizz, or a ravenous zombie loosing it and briefly trying to eat its own hand and then sobbing? A cat attacks a rat, or three rats attack a cat. A tree beast or its DM alter ego eating a patch of magic mushrooms while the Thief watches in the dark? What if you took every character AI for the Mod, and only added one line of scripting for some random thing that would accentuate each one. Would such a project take a great amount of time? Its a big list Im sure but then each one is only getting one change, so it is something that could be worked on a little bit at a time and you could still enjoy the work immediately. Im going to investigate this when I get to the part of GTKRad school that talks about AIs and scripting.

Edited by Maximius, 20 May 2005 - 01:51 PM.


#50 Ishtvan

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Posted 20 May 2005 - 01:57 PM

How's this different from screwing up any other way? You might accidentally walk in fron't of a guard coming around a corner. You chanced the corner, and you got caught. Try escaping before you hit reload; escape is always fun. Its what you'd really have to do, anyway. Our lives would be very different if we had reload buttons.


Guards you can see, watch their actions and plan your own actions strategically. You know that if you wait for a guard to go around a corner before you move, they can't possibly take a random look back and see you because you're blocked by geometry. It's a situation with a definite optimum solution, you just have to figure out the guard patrols and time it right and you "win" that little situation.

For creaky boards you would have no warning at all to plan around. It's a no win situation, which do occur in real life, but are not fun in a game.

We want to reward the player for calculating risks and choosing a strategy to avoid those risks. Wood floors are a little too common in the game to make them a potential risk without any other warning other than "it's wood" and hope to retain any sort of fun.

What about the T2 missions where the entire floor of most of the building is wood? Would that have been fun if at any place you could conceivably step there would be a sudden creak unless you moved at some new "check each board with your front foot and take 1 step every 20 seconds" speed that's even slower than a crouch-creep?




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