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Do you expect vines, pipes, or chains to be climbable?


Professor Paul1290
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How do you expect possible climbable objects to behave?  

41 members have voted

  1. 1. Do you expect vines to be climbable?

  2. 2. Do you expect pipes to be climbable?

  3. 3. Do you expect chains to be climbable?



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This is something that has sort of bugged me for quite some time.

 

Do you guys expect vines, pipes, or chains to be climbable before you actually get to try them?

 

Do you always at least try to climb them if you see them or are their only certain circumstances where you would?

If you don't, have you ever gotten stuck in an FM because due to not considering climbing these things an option?

 

Do you believe any of these should always be climbable for consistency?

 

Personally, I often at least try to climb these objects if they are available.

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I think the main punchline of this thread is that these things aren't traditionally always climbable, so the mapper should signal the player that they might be, either special lighting or some telling placement or a readable alludes to it, or even put it in the readme the player reads before the FM starts (some FMs have actually done that before; GatI did that for the pipes).

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What do you see when you turn out the light? I can't tell you but I know that it's mine.

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Sometimes. A thick wall of vines tells me it is climbable, a few stray stalks usually don't (I might try nevertheless). Pipes are the least clear cut, although I'd allow it unless they were too thick. Chains, well, there are some which are too thin, but a moderately thick chain is almost like a ladder.

 

But generally, it is good if a mission author pays attention to little things like that. It is cool to climb a bunch of vines up to a balcony, then swing across a chasm to a rooftop. This game benefits from mobility.

Come the time of peril, did the ground gape, and did the dead rest unquiet 'gainst us. Our bands of iron and hammers of stone prevailed not, and some did doubt the Builder's plan. But the seals held strong, and the few did triumph, and the doubters were lain into the foundations of the new sanctum. -- Collected letters of the Smith-in-Exile, Civitas Approved

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I say no no no.

 

Vines, pipes and chains are the staple of filling a steampunk city scene. You have to add something so it doesn't look bare. These are good choices for those elements. They should be consistent: if you climb one pipe you should climb all pipes. However, having all those things climbable might break the map flow. And it is a gread burden to remember to put ladder on all pipes/wines/chains. Putting a lot of climbable things into your map will break the map difficulty and challenge: the AI cannot climb and if there are climbable things everywhere, escaping the AI is so trivial there is no point in avoiding the AI.

 

So I never make vines/pipes and chains climbable. If the player has to climb, the mapper could easily just give him rope arrows and design wood surfaces so that clever players can climb where they want. The 'sometimes' option is the worst of the bunch! It feels weird on some maps that some surfaces are climbable and some are not: it's confusing for the player and bad design. Also the inconsistency between different maps is confusing, some guidelines should be given, so that the system is similar overall all TDM missions, I thinks.

 

Suggestion: if something is climbable the mapper should give a clue. A vine -> not climbable. A vine with have a ladder-lookig trellis -> climbable.

It is very easy to make custom entitydefs; why wouldn't the mapper give the player a new player tool to hint that in this mission you can climb vines. Hook-tip climbing shoes. If you have that in your inventory, then you can climb vines, otherwise you can't. That might actually add gameplay: some players might want to buy such items from the shop, some might not. It might be a good objective too: get the shoes so you can climb the vine to princess' tower.

 

But yeah, the difficulty breakage due to easy AI escaping still applies. Mappers! Please be careful with your climbing surfaces and think it over thoroughly. The player needs to know what they can climb with a glance and the mission must be consistent in the climbing behavior. The mapper also needs scene-filling stuff and detail objects, which vines, pipes and chains indeed are for a steampunk setting

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Clipper

-The mapper's best friend.

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I voted yes, yes, yes but then I read sotha's post and well he has some good points there but all the games go now towards making all stuff climable(AC for example). I won't mind if something is not climable but I'll gladly try to climb every each.

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Sotha: I voted maybe/maybe/maybe because I thought it should be up to the author. If maybe is a bad answer, though - then my position becomes a solid yes/yes/yes. ;)

Come the time of peril, did the ground gape, and did the dead rest unquiet 'gainst us. Our bands of iron and hammers of stone prevailed not, and some did doubt the Builder's plan. But the seals held strong, and the few did triumph, and the doubters were lain into the foundations of the new sanctum. -- Collected letters of the Smith-in-Exile, Civitas Approved

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Semi seriously, I'm pleasantly surprised that it hasn't been an actual problem. I don't think that I've been irked by climbables being inconsistent between missions. The likes of 'Return to the City' did a good job of making climbable vines look like they might be a way up to somewhere interesting and worth trying. That was sufficient.

 

But it's an interesting point - how a game builds up a vocabulary and how that intermingles with player expectations.

 

It's a bit like sinks and basins. I always check them for water arrows because a couple of missions from the original Thief games had them there. But it doesn't bother me if they're not. Yet some things I do expect to be consistent. If a ladder wasn't climbable it would probably make me grumpy for the rest of the day.

 

Sotha's trellis idea maybe has some merit. I can't remember how the vines are in the training mission - but that should probably be the standard - if there is such a thing as standard in TDM. Mostly when I play I think that big, expansive vines that look like they go somewhere are worth trying. That seems to be enough.

 

The worst thing, I think, would be climbables that don't go anywhere. Once I embark on a climb - I do expect some kind of possibility for progress given sufficient derring-do or a shiny reward.

 

--edit--

 

Actually, I say I've never found it a problem, but I was irked by a climbing section during 'In Remembrance of Him' which required a heroic leap to a drain pipe - but it never occurred to me that the drain pipe would be a thing you could heroically leap to - so I guess drain pipes aren't in my TDM vocabulary of climbable things.

Edited by jay pettitt
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I tell you what. Slightly related, I do expect doors to be doors. I think if TDM authors started getting in the habit of making non-doors identifiable from the real thing by maybe the absence of a door handle it would help with my anger management issues.

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Semi seriously, I'm pleasantly surprised that it hasn't been an actual problem. I don't think that I've been irked by climbables being inconsistent between missions. The likes of 'Return to the City' did a good job of making climbable vines look like they might be a way up to somewhere interesting and worth trying. That was sufficient.

 

But it's an interesting point - how a game builds up a vocabulary and how that intermingles with player expectations.

 

It's a bit like sinks and basins. I always check them for water arrows because a couple of missions from the original Thief games had them there. But it doesn't bother me if they're not. Yet some things I do expect to be consistent. If a ladder wasn't climbable it would probably make me grumpy for the rest of the day.

 

Sotha's trellis idea maybe has some merit. I can't remember how the vines are in the training mission - but that should probably be the standard - if there is such a thing as standard in TDM. Mostly when I play I think that big, expansive vines that look like they go somewhere are worth trying. That seems to be enough.

 

The worst thing, I think, would be climbables that don't go anywhere. Once I embark on a climb - I do expect some kind of possibility for progress given sufficient derring-do or a shiny reward.

 

--edit--

 

Actually, I say I've never found it a problem, but I was irked by a climbing section during 'In Remembrance of Him' which required a heroic leap to a drain pipe - but it never occurred to me that the drain pipe would be a thing you could heroically leap to - so I guess drain pipes aren't in my TDM vocabulary of climbable things.

 

I can't agree more with the bold part. I really think some things should not be up to the mapper, and this is one of them: what is climbable and what is not.

 

The main point is that each map is not a complete game. I don't know the mapper's universe, or vocabulary, as Jay puts it, so we rely on every FM being based on the same foundations. TDM foundations are a bit blurry at the moment, it's like thief but not quite.

 

I'm not criticizing, just stating the obvious :P The TDM foundations are still being defined by the all you mappers and that's the point of this thread, I suppose. I didn't vote on anything because I can't make up my mind.

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I don't have a problem with it varying from map to map. In real life, you'd have to tug on a vine to see if it would hold your wait, or test a pipe to see if you could climb it, so I'm okay with testing things on a case by case basis. It's a bit peeving when there is one of the three that clearly looks like it goes somewhere (a chain hanging right beside a balcony) but it isn't climbable. The only time it's a serious problem is when there is no way to test it without dying, like a chain hanging over a long drop that can only be reached by jumping.

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Vines, pipes and chains are the staple of filling a steampunk city scene. You have to add something so it doesn't look bare. These are good choices for those elements. They should be consistent: if you climb one pipe you should climb all pipes. However, having all those things climbable might break the map flow. And it is a gread burden to remember to put ladder on all pipes/wines/chains. Putting a lot of climbable things into your map will break the map difficulty and challenge: the AI cannot climb and if there are climbable things everywhere, escaping the AI is so trivial there is no point in avoiding the AI.

 

So I never make vines/pipes and chains climbable. If the player has to climb, the mapper could easily just give him rope arrows and design wood surfaces so that clever players can climb where they want. The 'sometimes' option is the worst of the bunch! It feels weird on some maps that some surfaces are climbable and some are not: it's confusing for the player and bad design. Also the inconsistency between different maps is confusing, some guidelines should be given, so that the system is similar overall all TDM missions, I thinks.

 

That is a very good point. Escaping from AI does become rather trivial when you are able to climb everywhere.

 

I question how big of a problem this would be in practice however. The AI are capable of ranged attacks, as archers can shoot arrows while other guards can throw rocks. Also, escaping AI is different from being able to ignore them.

So far from what I've seen in FMs with a lot of climbables they do sometimes make escaping from the AI relatively easy, but most items of value tend to be in places the AI can reach so you're forced to confront them eventually anyway. We don't really have an easily reusable long distance way of knocking out guards (gas arrows are expensive and usually very limited), and the best option of neutralizing guards from a safe spot are broadheads, which are a bit too easy anyway if you choose to go that route.

 

I do agree that Rope Arrows are the better climbable in most cases though. They're more obvious, consistent, better understood by most players, and they have an extra element interactivity compared to vines or pipes. About the only downside I can think of is that the player may misplace or misuse them, but you could provide them during the mission if they are absolutely needed.

 

I also think that having some kind of "standard" would be nice, as it's the inconstency of this that can be jarring. There are a couple FMs that rely on some of these being climbable that are likely to confuse a lot of new players. I know there is at least one FM that requires climbing a chain, though I can't remember which one it was.

 

As for the "sometimes" option, that's probably poor choice of words on my part as I didn't really mean sometimes climbable within an FM. I probably should have called it "other (explain)".

 

 

The worst thing, I think, would be climbables that don't go anywhere. Once I embark on a climb - I do expect some kind of possibility for progress given sufficient derring-do or a shiny reward.

 

--edit--

 

Actually, I say I've never found it a problem, but I was irked by a climbing section during 'In Remembrance of Him' which required a heroic leap to a drain pipe - but it never occurred to me that the drain pipe would be a thing you could heroically leap to - so I guess drain pipes aren't in my TDM vocabulary of climbable things.

 

The pipe from "In Remembrance of Him" was actually what I was thinking of when I started the topic. That actually got me stuck for a while.

 

Though I do find it interesting that you would find it disappointing if one of these were climbable but they didn't go anywhere. I was thinking that these could be used as decoration and could be made always climbable for the sake of consistency, but that would result in a lot of climbable vines that don't go anywhere.

 

It's a bit peeving when there is one of the three that clearly looks like it goes somewhere (a chain hanging right beside a balcony) but it isn't climbable.

 

This feels sort of like the opposite of the above, and I kind of agree.

 

I feel this does kind of go back to the inconsistency that makes this somewhat confusing. If there were no such thing as climbable chains this scenario wouldn't be an issue at all, but the fact that there are means a chain that would be very useful if climbable but isn't could be rather jarring.

Edited by Professor Paul1290
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Clearly the best case scenario is when the mission and the player have a shared vocab and are speaking the same gameplay language. Mission authors probably need to be conscious of this and consider making sure players are up to speed as being part of their craft.

 

That's perhaps especially acute as we can't guarantee that players are long standing thief fans, or have even played much Dark Mod before. Any TDM mission could be a player's first.

 

Which is a bit of an arse, come to think of it.

 

Anyway, while I don't particularly mind that some vines are climbable and some ain't - I don't think it actually benefits TDM in any way having that sort of inconsistency. If it was accepted that big, substantial looking vines should be climbable and it was widely adopted as a kind of de-facto standard by mappers, then I don't think it would do any harm.

 

Mayhaps it falls to the Training Mission and the up-comming in-house campaign to establish some basic norms.

Edited by jay pettitt
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I tell you what. Slightly related, I do expect doors to be doors. I think if TDM authors started getting in the habit of making non-doors identifiable from the real thing by maybe the absence of a door handle it would help with my anger management issues.

Some us already do this, for example I made up a FS patch prefab that covers the keyhole and replaced the stock moveable handle model with the stock fixed one.

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I was just writing about "communicating gameplay" in my wiki article. I'm fine with giving authors some leeway to vary gameplay details like that according to their own tastes, and then we begin to know their personal style as they make more maps. So I wouldn't police a strict "gameplay vocabulary" they all have to strictly follow -- except that mappers should be aware of what the gameplay norms are for most players, what things they can change and what things they better do the "usual way" to make players' lives easier, or if they do change they should make it very explicit, like a readable that basically explains it.

 

But aside from that, what I think would be good is to think in terms of a meta-vocabulary. What I mean is, different authors should be free to choose whether they want climbable vines or not IMO, but authors should be aware of communicating which way they're going for their map that players will understand (that's what I mean by a meta-vocabulary, like lighting special things differently or things like that, so players understand this does some special thing). E.g., with climbable vines, in my experience it's usually obvious (if it wasn't already mentioned in the readme) because the vines will go up a wall very ladder-like to something like a balcony, and it will just be visually apparent that's a way to go. I think mappers should have a lot of leeway with some gameplay things, but they should also be be attune to communicating to the player what they're doing with their own gameplay in ways that players are receptive to understanding.

What do you see when you turn out the light? I can't tell you but I know that it's mine.

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I don't have a problem with it varying from map to map. In real life, you'd have to tug on a vine to see if it would hold your wait, or test a pipe to see if you could climb it, so I'm okay with testing things on a case by case basis. It's a bit peeving when there is one of the three that clearly looks like it goes somewhere (a chain hanging right beside a balcony) but it isn't climbable. The only time it's a serious problem is when there is no way to test it without dying, like a chain hanging over a long drop that can only be reached by jumping.

 

Exactly, I wouldn't mind testing if it doesn't involve quick loading.

 

But in general I wouldn't use real life as a parameter. In the case being discussed we can, to some extent, use RL as a paramter (taking the precautions aforementioned). As a counter example (it might be hard for long time thief/TDM players to notice this) in real life we really can't hide in plain sight like we do here lol. We play based on our knowledge of the game rules, not real life.

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Depends on if it looks like there is anything worth exploring up there. If I need to clearly get on a ledge and there is no rope arrows/mantle point/etc, I sit there and think "if this were real life, I would just climb that pipe."

 

Otherwise, if they're just pipes leading to nowhere, I don't really stop and give it a thought.

--- War does not decide who is right, war decides who is left.

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