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Plutonia

Idea for movement in narrow passages

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Although the Dark Mod has already expanded the movement possibilities of the Thief games significantly, why couldn't there be more still? I actually got this idea from the atrocious poorly disguised loading screens that constantly hinder your progress in NuThief. I'm absolutely certain that a bunch of modders could program a better system than those so-called professionals in Canada, who were eager to sacrifice any amount of gameplay or control freedom, if it allowed them to implement body animations with even less effort.

 

Usually in games, the player character has a cylindrical collider. Meaning that if he can't fit through something facing straight, he can't fit through at all. But what it we could simulate the character turning his body but facing forward with his head, seamlessly without any interference in the player's input or the character's movement?

 

The idea is basically that if you come to a narrow passage, the game checks which side of the passage your view is pointed at. Either left or right. It's almost impossible to face 0° away from the surface normal, so your facing will fall under the category for left, or the one for right. When the player moves into the passage, the game orients the character's virtual body accordingly, and restricts the player's ability to turn the head based on which way the character is oriented in the passage. The player is also unable to crouch because that would take more horizontal space for the body. Now, when in this narrow passage, facing up and pressing forward would allow the player to slowly climb up the passage by leaning against the walls. The controls would be identical to climbing vines on a wall. If there is a window or ledge up there, the player could use the standard mantling key to climb up the wall that he's facing.

 

The problem I could see with a system like this would be that players would have a hard time recognizing the possibility to do this kind of navigation in the levels. There isn't a ladder, or a piece of wood for a rope arrow. Just two walls close to one another.

dfelpt.jpg

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It's called chimneying, and I have gotten to spots in missions I realistically think I should be able to do it more than once. Although contrary to your setting, you actually need fairly wide parallel walls to chimney up, as you have to be able to get your back against one, and the flat of your feet (with legs bent at the knees) against the other. If the walls are too close, you can't get enough opposing pressure to climb (or even stay up in place).

 

Map makers can currently allow for chimneying, without the head restriction you mention, of course when actually climbing in such locations in reality, you are free to look about as you please.

 

Of course most players, unless they have experience rock climbing or caving probably wouldn't expect to be able to do it at all, and if they found they could climb up such an area (although it takes less skill and effort to chimney up, than climb a ladder) would probably report it as a bug.


"The measure of a man's character is what he would do if he knew he never would be found out."

- Baron Thomas Babington Macauley

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It's a well-thought-out idea, but it has the potential to break existing maps, by allowing players to access areas they weren't able to when the map was created.

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Yes, for design reasons a mapper should design for it with a hidden ladder.

I'd be ok with seeing parkourish things like this in maps, not as a default, but for individual maps it adds variety.


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 like the idea, as long as no one thinks it's a good idea to force the player to look at the wall and not be able to look at the way out, as I've seen done somewhere I can't remember (Outlast?), which is just stupid, unless the character has a problem with his neck...

Edited by Skaruts

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Yeah, that's a problem with "cinematic" games. It's not about the realism of body movement. It's about the game forcing the player to look into a certain direction so that it could show off something instead of letting players see it on their own. The restriction that I proposed is about the body not having room to rotate, and the head only being able to rotate a realistic amount in relation to the body.

Edited by Plutonia

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The really like first part of the idea, about squeezing into narrow passages by turning sideways. It would add new kinds of areas for the player to explore, the kinds of narrow spaces they'd be able to access with a real body rather than a simple collider shape. Just being able to access these areas, and in addition, the sense of space they'd get from having to turn sideways and inch along, would make them feel more involved with the physical environment, more present in the game world. I've often thought it would be a lot of fun to explore these kind of claustrophobic spaces, everything from narrow alleyways to cracks between rocks in caves.

 

The squeeze would work even better if it had a horizontal version as well. That is, the ability to lay down and inch along on your stomach. You could crawl through small sewer pipes and wormhole-like passageways in caves. Unlike "going prone" in most games, I think the stomach-crawl would work better in TDM if you didn't have to start with your feet on the ground at the same level as the floor of the space you're crawling into. For example, if you find a hole at eye-level in the wall of a building, you can just squirm through. In other words, when you mantle, the space you're moving into doesn't have to be able to fit you while standing or crouching - if it will only fit you while prone, you'll automatically be put in the prone state as you go.

 

I'm wondering how squeezing sideways, the original idea, would be implemented. I've seen this as a context-sensitive prompt in the environment (like in Outlast), and I didn't like it. The fact you know that this action can only happen in certain specific areas set out by the mapper really kills the sense of organic exploration. Of course, there's no need to have a visible prompt - the sideways turn/collider-squeeze could happens automatically when you enter certain areas. Determining which areas trigger the squeeze effect might be tricky, though - it's not necessarily 2 flat, vertical walls, it could be uneven, organic barriers with lots of polygons at different angles, like cave walls. Or maybe you're in between a pair of fences made of horizontal rungs, or vertical bars. Or inching between 2 giant spheres. The mapper could manually lay out the squeeze-trigger areas, but I think I have a better idea:

 

Make the ability to squeeze manual (just like the ability to go prone.) When you're in this state, you can only move in 2 directions. Your movement rate is greatly decreased, and you're freelook is constrained as Plutonia says. The squeeze would be useful not only for getting into small spaces, but hugging walls to avoid nearby guards. Even with the bug, I found the wall-hugging in Thief 3 added to the experience, and in TDM you could do it in a more natural way than Thief 3 - you don't need to be near a wall to enter the squeeze state.

 

One of the things I liked about the dark, shadowy environments in Doom 3 were all the cracks and irregular spaces in the walls. Instead of solid metal, there was always a narrow space between 2 bulkheads, a hole in the floor or ceiling, an indistinct nook or cranny, which a monster could crawl out of at any moment. How much cooler it would be if you could explore all those little creepy, claustrophobic spaces yourself, find secret passages, etc...

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I'm wondering how squeezing sideways, the original idea, would be implemented. I've seen this as a context-sensitive prompt in the environment (like in Outlast), and I didn't like it. The fact you know that this action can only happen in certain specific areas set out by the mapper really kills the sense of organic exploration.

 

Prompts and scripted movement modes that lock the player onto a position or a rail are unacceptable in any game that tries to be immersive. Every action needs to be based on unambiguous standard movement controls. Squeezing into narrow passages should be done with a seamless collider analyzing system, that simply restricts the player's turning and crouching controls based on the angle of approach when entering a passage. It needs zero transitional effects in a game that has no body awareness animations. And even a game that has those should compromise the animations before breaking the flow of seamless interactions. Not being able to see your legs moving realistically is more immersive and realistic than being able to, but not having control over them.

 

 

Off topic, but ALL HAIL THE PLUTONIA EXPERIMENT.

 

No. Taff the Plutonia Experiment. That's the only Doom game I've never been able to beat.

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I see. Physics would get us most of the way to what you're talking about. Use a squashed-cylinder for a collider, and restrict the horizontal range of your freelook direction to within 100 degrees or so on either side of a vector sticking out of one of the two flattened sides. When you turn, the collider turns with you, so your freelook direction always stays right in the center of the range, unless the collider is obstructed.

 

The sticky part is how you decide when to disable crouch and reduce movement speed. You can't do it whenever the collider is colliding with something, because then your movement is reduced any time you slightly brush up against a wall. Also, in my experience, physics is jittery (usually, when it tries to resolve collider penetration.) If a wall has bumps and protrusions (lamps, door frames, etc.), you're likely to get collisions starting and ending, off and on, over and over again as the collider bounces and skips along the wall. For similar reasons, you can't reduce movement whenever you have more than 1 collision (when you're wedged between 2 walls), because again if a wall is rough, you can get multiple collisions with a single wall.

 

What do you think would be a good way to implement this? Of course, the idea is NOT to have special trigger areas laid out in the map.

Edited by eigenface

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Actually this already can be done in maps simply by having the two sides be non-solid, or the top/bottom be non-solid, with a surrounding unseen solid that matches the crouching dimensions. That way the view is within the narrow confines.

 

This is done in maps that have round holes you crawl out of smaller than regularly possible to fit through. The critters walk on their own monsterclip to match the perceived floor you are belly crawling on. (Or if they are always in such an environment, you can alter their floating height, but then can't have them chase the player out or they'll be that far off the ground/floor.)


"The measure of a man's character is what he would do if he knew he never would be found out."

- Baron Thomas Babington Macauley

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