Spring already mentioned the problems with AI waking up, and it is very much a programming issue...as much as a mapping issue. In addition to those problems, you're further encouraging the player to kill..because if the AI won't stay down, they're sure as hell not going to dick around with guards they supposedly knocked out and have to knock out repeatedly. The guards who wake up, would likely also bring in backup...so again, the player is slapped in the face for being stealthy. Knocking out guards is supposed to be a gameplay reward, for using stealth...over..murder. It also throws a wrench into the whole 'no kill' objective that crops up in higher difficulties...what if you're in a heavily populated map and the awakening guards make it next to impossible to finish without becoming completely frustrated? Yes, I know that this can come down to mapping as well, but it's pretty obvious that the gameplay would become severely unbalanced with re-awakening guards.
The choice you make...regardless of how miniscule it might seem, is the difference between you being a Thief and a cold blooded killer. Killing AI is louder, more messy and (at least in TDM) more of a hassle...for those who are a little more determined to be a killer, they will just try harder. Blackjacking can still be tricky, but it is encouraged more because it carries moral implications...and the stats will let you know it...or a Failed Mission screen on higher difficulties.
At any rate, we discussed the pros and cons to death within our internal dev forums. It's bad for gameplay.
Sure, the initial waking up might not be hard...but the introduction of such AI behaviour creates a veritable hell storm of 'extra' gameplay issues to balance. It changes the nature of Thief style gameplay more than you might think...and balancing the system we're already familiar with is going to be challenging enough. It's a 'cool' idea, but not necessarily a good idea for what we're trying to accomplish. Maybe for a different type of game, but not for a Thief game.
I get what you are saying, and agree with a fair bit of it, but for me being a stealthy thief means not engaging in any
kind of physical contact with enemy AI, and the choice for the player would be more a matter of deciding how to get past guards without so much as touching them, or if absolutely necessary, they might kill them but then have to deal with the consequences (nasty consequences). I agree it makes balancing gameplay very complex if you introduce the extra variable of guards waking up, but I am more trying to make the point that unconscious AI could be excluded altogether, and maps could be designed so that the optimum path for success involves the avoidance of guards and of killing them especially.
Knocking people out is not really any more thief-like than murdering them, as both would be something that a thief would avoid if they were a master thief who leaves little trace of their existence, other than the absence of the things they steal (since in RL at least there is a very real risk of killing someone you only intended to KO, and most thieves, if they were going to go that far, would probably go the extra inch and kill them if they were to engage at all). I would prefer if the game discourages both killing AND KOing.
I certainly welcome highly complex gameplay - the more variables, the higher the challenge, the better - but I've come to recognise that I am quite abnormal in that regard, and I can't expect anyone else to tag along. So in the interests of simplifying gameplay, my suggestion is to ditch KOing and unconscious guards altogether.
Sparhawk: "No it's not. It's a balancing issue."
I agree, but I was focusing on the technical feasibility of it, not the gameplay ramifications so much. Seems you agree that it is technically feasible, which was my main point.
"And what point would that serve? An AI that is just wandering around, incapable of doing anything, just being there?"
Not much at all, but I suppose a dazed AI wandering around could/would alert other Guards that something was amiss. Other than that, it could add a bit of detail to the game, but I personally wouldn't be that concerned about it.
"You are welcome though to create some pickup animations as they would also be usefull for other purposes."
Alas, animation is not something I'm very good at, so as much as I would like to help in this regard, I'm afraid I'd be pretty useless at it.