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What Would You Want to See in a Stealth Game?


Alkalide
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So, I'm working on a stealth game prototype in Unreal Engine 4, and I although I have a pretty solid idea of the gameplay mechanics I want to implement in it, I'm curious what other people might want to see in their 'ideal' stealth game.


Currently, I have the following somewhat-extensive list of features in mind, aside from the obvious light measurement system:


  • Manual movement speed and stance adjustment via mouse wheel scroll. (See Splinter Cell 1)
  • Increasing movement speed increases the noise you make.
  • Analog leaning via a modifier key and mouse movement. (See Joe Wintergreen's stealth game prototype)
  • Analog door, handle, switch, latch, window and lid manipulation via a modifier key and mouse movement. (See the Penumbra Trilogy)
  • Size and weight-based inventory, where the more items you carry, the louder you are when you move.
  • True first-person perspective, where you can see your character's body.
  • All inventory items are physically represented on your character, and collide with the environment.
  • The ability to climb, mantle, vault, shimmy, hang from and drop down from just about anything you could in real life (all the way down to ledges approximately 2-5 cm deep.)
  • Realistic knock-outs, where the victim is only unconscious for a few seconds to a minute.
  • The ability to tie up (and possibly gag) an unconscious victim.
  • Body dragging and carrying.
  • AI that will search under furniture, in containers and above their heads to try to locate the player.
  • A toggle-able free-look, where the player's view is independent from where their body is facing.
  • Fit through any reasonably-sized gap in fences, gates, railings, etc.
  • Regulate object throw type and throw strength via left or right mouse button and button hold time.
  • A static map and a compass as usable inventory items.
  • Simulated or semi-simulated lock picking.
  • Leaning against thin doors and walls allows you to hear what's on the other side.
Obviously, a lot of these features are subject to change based on how clunky they turn out to be in practice. But now that I've put out my list of ideas, I'd like to hear from you all what you'd want to see in a new stealth game. I'm open to any and all suggestions, comments and criticisms, since I'm only just now beginning to prototype the game.

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Hobbyist game developer, 3D artist, and electronic music producer. Fan of action-adventure and stealth games.

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VR headset support and high dynamic range (HDR) color support could be interesting. An HDR screen could do lighting and shadows justice. I have neither a VR headset nor an HDR screen though so take this with a heap of salt.

 

Your weight/inventory/noise idea would make it more difficult to ghost a mission while collecting ALL the loot, which could be a nice challenge. One way this could factor into gameplay would be to implement a "loot zone", usually where you would start or exit a mission. The player could make multiple trips to move bulkier and clunkier loot to the loot zone, drop it there, and go back for more without being overburdened. The downside could be that if the mission has to be completed within a time limit, you have to move fast or make fewer trips. Also remember missions like Thief 2's Shipping and Receiving. The starting/finishing area behind the stack of boxes would be a good place to drop loot because AI could not see any of it. There was also an optional objective that had you put a new shipping label on a crate to redirect it. So you could imagine that some missions would have special locations and crates for you to drop specific pieces of loot.

 

Is a few seconds to a minute a "realistic" knock out? Obviously that happens to people, but if you have been hit with a blunt object, I'm thinking you might be down for 15 minutes. Or just dead. If it was 1-3 minutes, that would make sense for forcing the player to spend some time tying up and gagging an NPC before they can drag them away. Blackjacked NPCs waking up is an idea the TDM team discarded a long time ago, but it could help cut down on gratuitous blackjacking without requiring a "you may not blackjack more than 3 people" objective.

 

In TDM, AI can use elevators and stairs, but using ladders or ropes was too difficult to implement, and they instead throw bottles and rocks at the player (or shoot arrows) if they see them in an accessible area. If you are aiming to make your AI really capable, maybe they should pursue players up ladders and ropes, or even gain the ability to jump.

 

While not entirely necessary, I think a lot of people liked the map highlighting from the original Thief games that indicated the room or general area that the player is currently in, as well as visited areas. This can eliminate a lot of player confusion, and makes it easier to satisfy objectives like "explore 80% of the mansion".

 

TDM gives mappers a choice of whether to give the player certain weapons and tools. So the player might not start out with a lantern on darkness themed missions, or may not have any weapons at all. The player can obtain weapons and tools during the mission.

Edited by jaxa
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While not entirely necessary, I think a lot of people liked the map highlighting from the original Thief games that indicated the room or general area that the player is currently in, as well as visited areas. This can eliminate a lot of player confusion, and makes it easier to satisfy objectives like "explore 80% of the mansion".

 

This would definitely would be the way to go. I wish more TDM missions had this, as well!

 

Not everyone has great spatial orientation... so, something to help with that, would be appreciated!

 

As for other suggestions... it seems like you are aiming for a very realistic stealth simulator. Personally, that's not really my thing. I think you need a good balance between realism and game design, etc.

 

Sounds like a cool project, though

Edited by CarltonTroisi
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VR headset support and high dynamic range (HDR) color support could be interesting. [...] The player can obtain weapons and tools during the mission.

The 'loot zone' is a good idea to compensate for the fact that inventory items can make noise as you move.

 

I've done a bit of research on the severity of knockouts, and it seems that any period of unconsciousness longer than a few minutes is indicative of a traumatic brain injury and permanent brain damage. Given the system to hold down the mouse button and release it to regulate throw power, I'd extend that to a blackjack, where a light hit would alert the guard, a medium hit would knock them out for a length of time proportional to the power of the swing, and a heavy hit would potentially kill them.

 

Having the AI able to use ladders and ropes is another good idea, and totally do-able in Unreal. Basically, anything navigation ability I can give to the player (crouching, climbing, mantling, etc) I can give to the AI, given some adjustment. Having the AI throw things at the player if they can't reach them is also a neat idea.

 

I'll definitely look into different location tracking systems (I'm certainly not going to use a mini-map and objective markers, though). I'm considering setting the game in a modern/contemporary setting, so the player could have some kind of GPS-like system that marks the player's location with an marker on a static map.

 

I'm also planning on including options for what equipment you take with you at the start of a mission, as well as placing equipment in the level for the player to pick up if they choose.

As for other suggestions... it seems like you are aiming for a very realistic stealth simulator. Personally, that's not really my thing. I think you need a good balance between realism and game design, etc.

Yeah, I'm kind of a sucker for simulation games. I like the challenge, I guess. I'll most definitely be balancing the game so it's fun though, even if that means sacrificing some simulation aspects to improve the fluidity and satisfaction of gameplay.

 

If it's not fun, it's not a game, it's a chore.

Edited by Alkalide
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Hobbyist game developer, 3D artist, and electronic music producer. Fan of action-adventure and stealth games.

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Is the prototype a tech demo to bolster your portfolio, or do you intend to create a complete game, perhaps with a Kickstarter to turn the beta version into a full version?

 

Is it intended to be a single campaign made by you or have the capability for anyone to make a mission?

 

If you decide to go with a medieval setting, then should this be considered a TDM competitor? If you decide to go with a modern/contemporary setting, is this a Hitman/AssCreed/Deus Ex/etc. competitor (maybe someone can think of a less violent contemporary stealth game)?

 

Here's another stealth prototype you should check out: http://www.indiedb.com/games/upversive

I thought upversive was on TDM forums as well but I don't see a user account.

Edited by jaxa
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Is the prototype a tech demo to bolster your portfolio, or do you intend to create a complete game, perhaps with a Kickstarter to turn the beta version into a full version?

 

Is it intended to be a single campaign made by you or have the capability for anyone to make a mission?

 

If you decide to go with a medieval setting, then should this be considered a TDM competitor? If you decide to go with a modern/contemporary setting, is this a Hitman/AssCreed/Deus Ex/etc. competitor (maybe someone can think of a less violent contemporary stealth game)?

 

Here's another stealth prototype you should check out: http://www.indiedb.com/games/upversive

I thought upversive was on TDM forums as well but I don't see a user account.

The prototype is just a personal project/tech demo right now, but it might become something for my portfolio later on down the line. I doubt it'll ever make it to market, but I'm considering distributing it for free online when I feel it's ready for testing and official release. I wouldn't consider it a TDM or triple-A competitor by any significant measure, since my knowledge, talent and resources are limited to what I can do on my own for free, but I can't foresee how many people might take a liking to it and/or want to help improve or expand it.

 

I'm currently developing it with a single-mission campaign in mind, but I'm toying with the idea of leaving it open for people to make their own missions for it, using Unreal Engine 4. In that sense, it could be a TDM competitor, but I don't know how likely that is.

 

Right now, I'm calling the project Unreal Shadows, just to give it a codename/working title.

Hobbyist game developer, 3D artist, and electronic music producer. Fan of action-adventure and stealth games.

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I'm a direct person and don't mean to cause offence.
Apologies if any is taken - it's not the intent.

 

 

 

IMHO, stealth genre is becoming over-saturated of late and is slowly becoming an off-shoot of action / predator type games.

 

The best stealth games out there, for me, are games such as Farcry 2 or ARMA or Rainbow 6, because these games require almost military level planning and execution, as well as "ohshititwentwrongwhatdoido?".

I like co-op stealth games. I like the parts where we've scanned the maps, briefed, agreed on our routes and execution and then a mistake is made, a random encounter perhaps, and someone says, "light 'em up" (shoot them all) as it's the only option if we don't want everyone knowing we're there.

Point by point:

  • Manual movement speed and stance adjustment via mouse wheel scroll. (See Splinter Cell 1)
  • Increasing movement speed increases the noise you make.

    These are the same thing and are useful - stance and footfall are important in moving quickly and quietly. A slow target is an easy one to spot (don't creep round corners, you'll get shot).
  • Analog leaning via a modifier key and mouse movement. (See Joe Wintergreen's stealth game prototype)

Leaning or peeking round corners at a height is not "stealthy". When peeking a corner, generally we'd go prone and peek from ground level, as most eyes would be at head-height.

  • Analog door, handle, switch, latch, window and lid manipulation via a modifier key and mouse movement. (See the Penumbra Trilogy)

    Same as splintercell, huh?
  • Size and weight-based inventory, where the more items you carry, the louder you are when you move.

This is not necessarily true. It depends upon how the items are strapped or carried on the body, or packed. My briefcase filled with papers and pens, running for the bus, makes more sound than my bergen, walking a pathway.

  • True first-person perspective, where you can see your character's body.

I like to see my feet, but I don't like to see them hovering either side of a narrow beam.

  • All inventory items are physically represented on your character, and collide with the environment.

This would require set positions for the items or a lot of work on how various "appendages" would interact with environment or get snagged or whatever... lots of work.

  • The ability to climb, mantle, vault, shimmy, hang from and drop down from just about anything you could in real life (all the way down to ledges approximately 2-5 cm deep.)

Most older games that weren't stuck in a square enix or nubisoft corridor were this way. Good luck pathing all of this.

  • Realistic knock-outs, where the victim is only unconscious for a few seconds to a minute.

I used to fight a lot - if someone didn't wake up after a "KO" after a few seconds, the medics would be there. Longer than a few mins and they'd be at risk of several kinds of trauma or death... Last time I was knocked out was in a fast car smash and when I woke up my bones were almost healed and the world was a different place. I was the lucky one. If you hit someone in the head - it's generally not because you want them to wake up.

[destructive] Incapacitations, not knock-outs, were best. Remember - it's a "non-lethal" game mechanic... people wake up when discovered by an awake person...

  • The ability to tie up (and possibly gag) an unconscious victim.
  • Body dragging and carrying.

Hojojutsu is taught, using a rope (or whatever) in order to tie up an assailant / target, in order to restrain and/or incapacitate. I've never seen this in a game before.

  • AI that will search under furniture, in containers and above their heads to try to locate the player.

Like in Assassin's Creed, huh? Or Farcry, where the soldiers would shoot bushes or grenade last known locations..? Cones of vision, pan and tilt.

  • A toggle-able free-look, where the player's view is independent from where their body is facing.

Unless involved in an action that requires forward facing (eg, working with hands, lock / mag / etc...), there is no difference between this and silent footstep on pivot, unless running. I have strafe keys.

  • Fit through any reasonably-sized gap in fences, gates, railings, etc.

"interact with vent" SC.

  • Regulate object throw type and throw strength via left or right mouse button and button hold time.

This is also standard, even in TDM, some games (eg, ACIII) have ghost sights to help players know where it's gonna land cos they don't know physics.

  • A static map and a compass as usable inventory items.

I like ARMA and ARMA2 Dayz because it helps me practise my Russian and build psychogeography. I also like to annotate my maps (as in T2), so I know where I've been and to jot down codes, etc...

  • Simulated or semi-simulated lock picking.

    Ever heard of a bump key? Sometimes mini-games can add a little tension and distraction - esp. under pressure - turning off the visual indicators for lockpicking in T4 and relying on tactile feedback from the controller can make it more fun.
  • Leaning against thin doors and walls allows you to hear what's on the other side.

This is kinda standard.

 

 

 

Some things I've learned by working with indie devs:

 

  • Don't ask for feedback - don't ask for opinion. Do it, then fix from the feedback and patch in features that improve the UI (eg, turmoil, mousewheel instead of having to click 100000 times).
  • Follow your own vision and work hard to realise it as both the game and yourself evolve.
  • Make it how you want your ideal game to be and don't compromise unless it's due to lack of knowledge, skill or whatever (which you can acquire).
  • Steal ideas, don't copy them. It's not "inspired by this" or "like this" or "has elements of this" - that's for other people to say.
  • That's how it used to work, in the good'ol'days - and you don't hear of many new games being called "classics".
  • All FPS games used to be "doom clones".
  • Don't QA it yourself - it's usually someone else who notices you've something stuck between your teeth.

 

My favourite "stealth" games, other than TDM and T2 are (no order):

Farcry 2, ARMA, Mark of the Ninja, Batman/AC series, Dying Light, Sniper Elite #1, Monaco, Sid Meiers' Covert Action, MGSV (fulton simulator), DX (not new one), AvP, Shadow Tactics and Splinter Cell (and Crysis til the alien bits).

 

These all require observation, planning, execution of plan, speed, "boring periods" that require attention, strategy, puzzles and - relying on a team-mate to do what you can't. Plus living with the consequences if stealth fails and you have to go loud.

Out of all these games, Farcry 2, Mark of the Ninja, and ARMA are probably my favourite stealth games, because I can toy or terrorise the people who know something's not right, blend with environment or "crowds" - it's more real life. If people are scared to enter an area, then they won't go in... I must plan and adapt and react to the situation - if I can't escape under, I have to respond in kind and neutralise the situation.

If my character is discovered during a stealth insertion - there's 3 options: die, kill or run away and hope not to die. IF there's any violence involved, it's either to remove an obstacle permanently or because it's self-defence (as in, if they aren't dead, I will be).

Farcry 2 was slated for being "too realistic", but the long periods of boredom and very short encouters (very tense if you managed to do a mission without firing a shot, perhaps lobbing a distraction molotov if it looked like it was gonna go south) - but that is how it is. Long periods of attentive boredom coupled with a few seconds of action.

Same with ARMA - it's not conducive for computer games, I think... I like it, but I've probably got brain damage and don't know what I'm talking about. But I sure do like free running, like Faith in Mirror's Edge, over hordes of zombies, slathering myself in filth and then slowly working my way through a group of zeds, breaking all their necks when I don't feel like sneaking or hiding in a drainpipe until sunrise... But I also like hiding and remaining unseen in bushes and doorways and shadows and leaving no trace...

It's duplicitous and - idk what anyone else thinks but - some days I just want to get out the silverballers and mow down everyone in the level, perhaps see what rating I can get in Hitman for killing everyone wearing the clown costume and silently pruning everyone (except the dog, who counts as a witness...) with the hedge trimmers (mad gardener).

This is why I say - don't ask opinions, don't ask for feedback.
Ask for bug reports.

Make your game how you want it.

That's only my opinion, though.

 

Thinking of Covert Action - I've been playing that since the 90's and still not finished it 100%.
I think it's time to have a game.

I don't think that MPS asked for feedback from the internet or opinions or drew inspiration from other games...

 

Slightly crass but:

Opinions are like assholes. Everyone has one and every one stinks.
Get too many and all you'll be wondering is why you're sitting on a pile of shit.

 

 

Clandestine was very close to being a very good co-op stealth game, but it screwed up because the team stopped caring about it once they were paid.

Smallest team I ever worked with was 4. I know 1 guy who made commercial success with a decent game, but that guy was a dick (and still is).

 

TDM remains my favourite First Person Sneaker, but there are many other First/Third Person Stealth games that I enjoy very much - many of which aren't technically "stealth" games (like OFP).

 

I like narrative and story in games such as these. Sometimes, I think the story and dialogue is the most important part of a stealth game, especially since many feel the same these days.

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I'm a direct person and don't mean to cause offence.

Apologies if any is taken - it's not the intent.

 

 

 

 

IMHO, stealth genre is becoming over-saturated of late and is slowly becoming an off-shoot of action / predator type games.

 

The best stealth games out there, for me, are games such as Farcry 2 or ARMA or Rainbow 6, because these games require almost military level planning and execution, as well as "ohshititwentwrongwhatdoido?".

I like co-op stealth games. I like the parts where we've scanned the maps, briefed, agreed on our routes and execution and then a mistake is made, a random encounter perhaps, and someone says, "light 'em up" (shoot them all) as it's the only option if we don't want everyone knowing we're there.

 

Point by point:

 

  • Manual movement speed and stance adjustment via mouse wheel scroll. (See Splinter Cell 1)
  • Increasing movement speed increases the noise you make.

     

    These are the same thing and are useful - stance and footfall are important in moving quickly and quietly. A slow target is an easy one to spot (don't creep round corners, you'll get shot).

  • Analog leaning via a modifier key and mouse movement. (See Joe Wintergreen's stealth game prototype)

Leaning or peeking round corners at a height is not "stealthy". When peeking a corner, generally we'd go prone and peek from ground level, as most eyes would be at head-height.

  • Analog door, handle, switch, latch, window and lid manipulation via a modifier key and mouse movement. (See the Penumbra Trilogy)

     

    Same as splintercell, huh?

  • Size and weight-based inventory, where the more items you carry, the louder you are when you move.

This is not necessarily true. It depends upon how the items are strapped or carried on the body, or packed. My briefcase filled with papers and pens, running for the bus, makes more sound than my bergen, walking a pathway.

  • True first-person perspective, where you can see your character's body.

I like to see my feet, but I don't like to see them hovering either side of a narrow beam.

  • All inventory items are physically represented on your character, and collide with the environment.

This would require set positions for the items or a lot of work on how various "appendages" would interact with environment or get snagged or whatever... lots of work.

  • The ability to climb, mantle, vault, shimmy, hang from and drop down from just about anything you could in real life (all the way down to ledges approximately 2-5 cm deep.)

Most older games that weren't stuck in a square enix or nubisoft corridor were this way. Good luck pathing all of this.

  • Realistic knock-outs, where the victim is only unconscious for a few seconds to a minute.

I used to fight a lot - if someone didn't wake up after a "KO" after a few seconds, the medics would be there. Longer than a few mins and they'd be at risk of several kinds of trauma or death... Last time I was knocked out was in a fast car smash and when I woke up my bones were almost healed and the world was a different place. I was the lucky one. If you hit someone in the head - it's generally not because you want them to wake up.

[destructive] Incapacitations, not knock-outs, were best. Remember - it's a "non-lethal" game mechanic... people wake up when discovered by an awake person...

  • The ability to tie up (and possibly gag) an unconscious victim.
  • Body dragging and carrying.

Hojojutsu is taught, using a rope (or whatever) in order to tie up an assailant / target, in order to restrain and/or incapacitate. I've never seen this in a game before.

  • AI that will search under furniture, in containers and above their heads to try to locate the player.

Like in Assassin's Creed, huh? Or Farcry, where the soldiers would shoot bushes or grenade last known locations..? Cones of vision, pan and tilt.

  • A toggle-able free-look, where the player's view is independent from where their body is facing.

Unless involved in an action that requires forward facing (eg, working with hands, lock / mag / etc...), there is no difference between this and silent footstep on pivot, unless running. I have strafe keys.

  • Fit through any reasonably-sized gap in fences, gates, railings, etc.

"interact with vent" SC.

  • Regulate object throw type and throw strength via left or right mouse button and button hold time.

This is also standard, even in TDM, some games (eg, ACIII) have ghost sights to help players know where it's gonna land cos they don't know physics.

  • A static map and a compass as usable inventory items.

I like ARMA and ARMA2 Dayz because it helps me practise my Russian and build psychogeography. I also like to annotate my maps (as in T2), so I know where I've been and to jot down codes, etc...

  • Simulated or semi-simulated lock picking.

     

    Ever heard of a bump key? Sometimes mini-games can add a little tension and distraction - esp. under pressure - turning off the visual indicators for lockpicking in T4 and relying on tactile feedback from the controller can make it more fun.

  • Leaning against thin doors and walls allows you to hear what's on the other side.

This is kinda standard.

 

 

 

Some things I've learned by working with indie devs:

 

  • Don't ask for feedback - don't ask for opinion. Do it, then fix from the feedback and patch in features that improve the UI (eg, turmoil, mousewheel instead of having to click 100000 times).
  • Follow your own vision and work hard to realise it as both the game and yourself evolve.
  • Make it how you want your ideal game to be and don't compromise unless it's due to lack of knowledge, skill or whatever (which you can acquire).
  • Steal ideas, don't copy them. It's not "inspired by this" or "like this" or "has elements of this" - that's for other people to say.
  • That's how it used to work, in the good'ol'days - and you don't hear of many new games being called "classics".
  • All FPS games used to be "doom clones".
  • Don't QA it yourself - it's usually someone else who notices you've something stuck between your teeth.

 

My favourite "stealth" games, other than TDM and T2 are (no order):

 

Farcry 2, ARMA, Mark of the Ninja, Batman/AC series, Dying Light, Sniper Elite #1, Monaco, Sid Meiers' Covert Action, MGSV (fulton simulator), DX (not new one), AvP, Shadow Tactics and Splinter Cell (and Crysis til the alien bits).

 

These all require observation, planning, execution of plan, speed, "boring periods" that require attention, strategy, puzzles and - relying on a team-mate to do what you can't. Plus living with the consequences if stealth fails and you have to go loud.

 

Out of all these games, Farcry 2, Mark of the Ninja, and ARMA are probably my favourite stealth games, because I can toy or terrorise the people who know something's not right, blend with environment or "crowds" - it's more real life. If people are scared to enter an area, then they won't go in... I must plan and adapt and react to the situation - if I can't escape under, I have to respond in kind and neutralise the situation.

If my character is discovered during a stealth insertion - there's 3 options: die, kill or run away and hope not to die. IF there's any violence involved, it's either to remove an obstacle permanently or because it's self-defence (as in, if they aren't dead, I will be).

 

Farcry 2 was slated for being "too realistic", but the long periods of boredom and very short encouters (very tense if you managed to do a mission without firing a shot, perhaps lobbing a distraction molotov if it looked like it was gonna go south) - but that is how it is. Long periods of attentive boredom coupled with a few seconds of action.

 

Same with ARMA - it's not conducive for computer games, I think... I like it, but I've probably got brain damage and don't know what I'm talking about. But I sure do like free running, like Faith in Mirror's Edge, over hordes of zombies, slathering myself in filth and then slowly working my way through a group of zeds, breaking all their necks when I don't feel like sneaking or hiding in a drainpipe until sunrise... But I also like hiding and remaining unseen in bushes and doorways and shadows and leaving no trace...

 

It's duplicitous and - idk what anyone else thinks but - some days I just want to get out the silverballers and mow down everyone in the level, perhaps see what rating I can get in Hitman for killing everyone wearing the clown costume and silently pruning everyone (except the dog, who counts as a witness...) with the hedge trimmers (mad gardener).

 

This is why I say - don't ask opinions, don't ask for feedback.

Ask for bug reports.

Make your game how you want it.

 

That's only my opinion, though.

 

Thinking of Covert Action - I've been playing that since the 90's and still not finished it 100%.

I think it's time to have a game.

 

I don't think that MPS asked for feedback from the internet or opinions or drew inspiration from other games...

 

Slightly crass but:

 

Opinions are like assholes. Everyone has one and every one stinks.

Get too many and all you'll be wondering is why you're sitting on a pile of shit.

 

 

 

 

Clandestine was very close to being a very good co-op stealth game, but it screwed up because the team stopped caring about it once they were paid.

Smallest team I ever worked with was 4. I know 1 guy who made commercial success with a decent game, but that guy was a dick (and still is).

 

TDM remains my favourite First Person Sneaker, but there are many other First/Third Person Stealth games that I enjoy very much - many of which aren't technically "stealth" games (like OFP).

 

I like narrative and story in games such as these. Sometimes, I think the story and dialogue is the most important part of a stealth game, especially since many feel the same these days.

You make good points and comparisons there; a few things that now that I think about them, would be good to change or more clearly define early on.

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Hobbyist game developer, 3D artist, and electronic music producer. Fan of action-adventure and stealth games.

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For your information, our engine is open source and because we're not corporate whores we actually encourage other developers to use our engine as a base to build a new game on as a fork project, as long as it isn't commercial & you publish your own sourcecode. So you would get all of our stealth AI, leaning, light gem, etc., etc., for free and could go from there with your own mechanics and assets. Think about it at least.

 

But if you're happy with your tech demo so far and doing your own work that's cool & I can respect that.

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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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For your information, our engine is open source and because we're not corporate whores we actually encourage other developers to use our engine as a base to build a new game on as a fork project, as long as it isn't commercial & you publish your own sourcecode. So you would get all of our stealth AI, leaning, light gem, etc., etc., for free and could go from there with your own mechanics and assets. Think about it at least.

 

But if you're happy with your tech demo so far and doing your own work that's cool & I can respect that.

To be perfectly honest, I'm using Unreal because I can't code to save my life, and the UE4's blueprint system lets me get around that with ease. That's the main reason I'm using it. That, and it's really well documented and supported, and I already understand it's import/export system.

  • Like 1

Hobbyist game developer, 3D artist, and electronic music producer. Fan of action-adventure and stealth games.

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In TDM, AI can use elevators and stairs, but using ladders or ropes was too difficult to implement, and they instead throw bottles and rocks at the player (or shoot arrows) if they see them in an accessible area. If you are aiming to make your AI really capable, maybe they should pursue players up ladders and ropes, or even gain the ability to jump.

Do you know, why it was too complicated? I know that we miss the animations for ladder climbing, but apart from that, it should be possible to handle them similar to elevators, unless I am missing something (which I likely do).

 

The loot zone and bulky loot reminded me a bit of "Klepto"; a VR theft simulator available on steam. It is still early access and I have not played myself as I don't have a VR headset, yet, but you might want to have a look at it for inspiration. It also offers a demo, that can be played without a VR headset, but it was very clunky when I tried it. You definitely feel, that it is meant to be played with VR.

 

 

 

While not entirely necessary, I think a lot of people liked the map highlighting from the original Thief games that indicated the room or general area that the player is currently in, as well as visited areas. This can eliminate a lot of player confusion, and makes it easier to satisfy objectives like "explore 80% of the mansion".

This would definitely would be the way to go. I wish more TDM missions had this, as well!

This feature is possible in TDM, but not very prominent as it requires some work to set up. @Alkalide: If you want to include somthing like that in your game, here is the Wiki page for that to give you an idea how it works (I don't know what you have to do to get into UE4, but maybe it helps, anyway): http://wiki.thedarkmod.com/index.php?title=Creating_Automaps

If you want to make AI more realistic, I think it would be good if at least one of them would do a (more or less thorough, depending on difficulty?) sweep of the whole area after being alerted. I mean, if I saw a person in my home -even if I think the person fled-, I would check if he is really gone and would see if anything is missing. In games the reaction of the AI is: look for a couple of minutes, mostly in the direct surrounding of the place they spotted the intruder, and go back to what they were doing before. But I know that implementing this behaviour is a huge amount of work and can be tiresome for the player, which is most likely the reason that it is handeld as it is right now. Again you have to balance realism and enjoyable gameplay...

But it sounds like a nice project! I would definitely give it a try, when it is in a playable state :)

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Do you know, why it was too complicated? I know that we miss the animations for ladder climbing, but apart from that, it should be possible to handle them similar to elevators

 

 

There are several things that make this difficult:

 

1. Animations. Not only do we not have any, but even if we did, how do you get them to sync up with any conceivable ladder a mapper might use in a way that doesn't look silly?

 

2. Getting on/off. While the player can jump or mantle off ladders in any direction to get off, this would be very difficult to code for AI.

 

3. AI behaviour while on ladders. What do alerted AI do while they're climbing? Do they have their weapons out? If not, what happens if the player just stands on the ladder and the AI bumps into them? If yes, how does combat work on a ladder?

 

Those were just some of the technical hurdles.

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There are several things that make this difficult:

 

1. Animations. Not only do we not have any, but even if we did, how do you get them to sync up with any conceivable ladder a mapper might use in a way that doesn't look silly?

 

2. Getting on/off. While the player can jump or mantle off ladders in any direction to get off, this would be very difficult to code for AI.

 

3. AI behaviour while on ladders. What do alerted AI do while they're climbing? Do they have their weapons out? If not, what happens if the player just stands on the ladder and the AI bumps into them? If yes, how does combat work on a ladder?

 

Those were just some of the technical hurdles.

 

2 and 3 can be solved by not allowing AI to climb ladders. Just as in TDS and most games.

 

At any rate good animations not only for climbing but during the walk/run cycles is key if the third person view idea has any viability (it's been rolled here for years but I think it never received a warm welcome due to the lack of animators).

"I really perceive that vanity about which most men merely prate — the vanity of the human or temporal life. I live continually in a reverie of the future. I have no faith in human perfectibility. I think that human exertion will have no appreciable effect upon humanity. Man is now only more active — not more happy — nor more wise, than he was 6000 years ago. The result will never vary — and to suppose that it will, is to suppose that the foregone man has lived in vain — that the foregone time is but the rudiment of the future — that the myriads who have perished have not been upon equal footing with ourselves — nor are we with our posterity. I cannot agree to lose sight of man the individual, in man the mass."...

- 2 July 1844 letter to James Russell Lowell from Edgar Allan Poe.

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There are several things that make this difficult:

 

1. Animations. Not only do we not have any, but even if we did, how do you get them to sync up with any conceivable ladder a mapper might use in a way that doesn't look silly?

 

2. Getting on/off. While the player can jump or mantle off ladders in any direction to get off, this would be very difficult to code for AI.

 

3. AI behaviour while on ladders. What do alerted AI do while they're climbing? Do they have their weapons out? If not, what happens if the player just stands on the ladder and the AI bumps into them? If yes, how does combat work on a ladder?

 

Those were just some of the technical hurdles.

1. TDM doesn't have (or could it be coded in?) full-body IK support, does it? An FBIK solver would take care of that pretty well, if done right.

 

2. I don't know how TDM handles AI navigation, but in Unreal, ladder navigation is usually handled by a trigger volume that changes the character's movement mode, and constraining it to the Z-axis for the length of the ladder. Getting on or off a ladder just involves interpolating the character between 2 points while playing an animation (or using root motion.) There's more to it than that, but that's the general principle.

 

3. The Dark Souls series handled this pretty well. Alerted enemies would follow the player up a ladder, and when they got close enough to the player, played an on-ladder attack animation to damage the player. Same thing with the player: if they were trying to attack on a ladder, a special attack animation would play (either swinging or punching up or swinging or kicking down at the enemy, while still holding the ladder) and the enemy would take damage if they were hit by it. During each attack, combatants remained stationary on the ladder.

Hobbyist game developer, 3D artist, and electronic music producer. Fan of action-adventure and stealth games.

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1. TDM doesn't have (or could it be coded in?) full-body IK support, does it? An FBIK solver would take care of that pretty well, if done right.

 

2. I don't know how TDM handles AI navigation, but in Unreal, ladder navigation is usually handled by a trigger volume that changes the character's movement mode, and constraining it to the Z-axis for the length of the ladder. Getting on or off a ladder just involves interpolating the character between 2 points while playing an animation (or using root motion.) There's more to it than that, but that's the general principle.

 

3. The Dark Souls series handled this pretty well. Alerted enemies would follow the player up a ladder, and when they got close enough to the player, played an on-ladder attack animation to damage the player. Same thing with the player: if they were trying to attack on a ladder, a special attack animation would play (either swinging or punching up or swinging or kicking down at the enemy, while still holding the ladder) and the enemy would take damage if they were hit by it. During each attack, combatants remained stationary on the ladder.

 

1. No, it doesn't. There is leg IK, and I think the potential exists for arm IK, but the latter has never been implemented. Even so, IK doesn't necessarily solve the "looking silly" problem...our AI use IK to navigate stairs, and sometimes it looks okay and sometimes it doesn't.

 

2. "Getting on or off a ladder just involves interpolating the character between 2 points" But you need to know what those two points are. Every ladder is potentially different. Sometimes you get off facing forwards, sometimes facing backwards. Sometimes you can get off half-way up. Sometimes you can climb all the way up onto the top floor, and sometimes you have to mantle to get up.

 

You could solve issues 1&2 by putting strict limits on how ladders are used, but that doesn't work so well for a game like ours, where we don't control how missions are made.

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2. "Getting on or off a ladder just involves interpolating the character between 2 points" But you need to know what those two points are. Every ladder is potentially different. Sometimes you get off facing forwards, sometimes facing backwards. Sometimes you can get off half-way up. Sometimes you can climb all the way up onto the top floor, and sometimes you have to mantle to get up.

I can think of a couple of different ways to safeguard against weird transitions, but they mostly involve line traces. I admit, I have no experience with idTech 4, except for the hour or so I've spent scanning through the source code, and the few hours I've spent already working with Dark Radiant on a test mission. So I don't know what it's capable of on its own, or how difficult/complicated it would be to build new features into it or anything. I'm not ignorant of the challenges of using any engine, but some engines are easier to work with than others (which is why I'm using Unreal in the first place.)

 

On a side note, I have about a dozen hours logged working with ShockEd (System Shock 2's editor) and hundreds hours (nearly 800, I think) logged using Half-Life 2's Hammer editor. Coming from Hammer, I'm finding Dark Radiant and ShockEd incredibly clunky, but I am still getting used to them.

Hobbyist game developer, 3D artist, and electronic music producer. Fan of action-adventure and stealth games.

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It's like stepping back in time:)

 

 



However, the more familiar with DR and the functions available - the more appears possible if, rather than thinking in code and confine, breaking stuff and using things as they were not designed to be used can often solve problems.
A ball cannot bounce outside of a box or unless it hits a wall.

There are a lot of functions possible in DR/TDM that I do not believe are well explained and assume prior knowledge of the game's architecture (from level design perspective).
Sometimes, when attempting to write a script for mapping - following modern python convetion will not work... so it requires stepping back in time to research how it would have been done a decade ago.

TDM mapping and stuff is really similar to old-school mapping where it's difficult to leave it for a while and pick up again, because - even after using something simple like adobe for a quick illustration job - I find myself instinctively pressing spacebar to drag a view, which ends up with multiple copies of a cluster of objects.... and every time I have to look at this screen:

http://wiki.thedarkmod.com/index.php?title=TDM_Script_Reference

it's necessary to do at least 30 push-ups to release the aggression... because I'm sick of buying new monitors.

Only yesterday, I had to refer to the A-Z because I forgot how to set ambientworld lighting... idk how many times I've done that... but totally forgot it.

I think I've hit >1000 hours in DR now and still not produced anything I am happy with and still don't know the texture or entity directory structures to find stuff fast.

Modelling, level design, AI pathing, cutscenes, blahblahblah, fine, internal dialogue boxes (except the damn readables editor), fine - scripting... idk if to use "while1" / "whiletrue" / "for", etc.. for a loop. So it requires more hours reading over how others have done it (if at all) in order to glean an understanding, because using stuff like,

for x in range (0, 3):

//do stuff

x = 1

//do stuff

x += 1
while true
//do stuff
for x in xrange (3)

//do last stuff and then

if x == 1

break

It don't work, when all I want to do is something simple. Then, I discover that there's an easier way to do this - mechanically in DR - with simple script, using DR triggers (eg, player steps on tile on which triggeronce is placed, tile drops, plays sound (simple mover), a bunch of arrows fly (firemissileattarget doesn't appear to work), but a script spline with an arrow and damage works) or a few spikey DR movers (simple script) shoot out with attached entity damage (DR), give them a whack for not noticing that this tile was covered in blood when the rest of the floor was clean.

I like the confines of TDM and DR - they are spacious enough for me. It's the searching for the assets that is a pain. Unless you know where they are, you can be looking through a long list for a long time...

If there's a feature that appears to need to be part of basegame (such as NOT being crushed by a damn lift when you're sitting under it and it descends on you ¬¬ *ahem*), then it's simple to figure out a way to make it this way by adding damagecrush entity.

It's all there. It's merely hidden (like the loot in the game).

I came from UE, Unity, Anvil and RAGE and stuff and going back to DR was like being a teenager and making quake levels for null-modem parties with my mates - not used anything similar for a long time.

 

If there were no other obligations, I would be working on my campaign full-time - every conscious moment I had (excluding bathroom breaks). But I do enjoy breaking people's games and painting stuff... so... maybe "most-of-the-time".

Stick with it, Alkalide - understanding this stuff has really helped me gain an appreciation of level design as well as improved wording my resumé wrt QC and support - even artwork (since it's now possible to understand how assets are used by these newer engines) because I understand more the foundations of all the new shiny things where we simply push a button that does it all for us.

I'm finding more possibilities inside the confines of DR and TDM than only what is taught within more modern engines.
Plus, I don't have to share an office with a guy who closes the blinds whenever I step out the room, or turn up to work at 0900 for something I don't care about or disagree with (eg nubisoft's continual plan to destroy tom clancey and farcry).

 

 

 

Screw ShockEd - focus on DR and TDM instead. It's better. And chicks dig it more than Shodan.

Edited by teh_saccade
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It's like stepping back in time:)

 

 

 

 

However, the more familiar with DR and the functions available - the more appears possible if, rather than thinking in code and confine, breaking stuff and using things as they were not designed to be used can often solve problems.

A ball cannot bounce outside of a box or unless it hits a wall.

 

There are a lot of functions possible in DR/TDM that I do not believe are well explained and assume prior knowledge of the game's architecture (from level design perspective).

Sometimes, when attempting to write a script for mapping - following modern python convetion will not work... so it requires stepping back in time to research how it would have been done a decade ago.

 

TDM mapping and stuff is really similar to old-school mapping where it's difficult to leave it for a while and pick up again, because - even after using something simple like adobe for a quick illustration job - I find myself instinctively pressing spacebar to drag a view, which ends up with multiple copies of a cluster of objects.... and every time I have to look at this screen:

 

http://wiki.thedarkmod.com/index.php?title=TDM_Script_Reference

 

it's necessary to do at least 30 push-ups to release the aggression... because I'm sick of buying new monitors.

Only yesterday, I had to refer to the A-Z because I forgot how to set ambientworld lighting... idk how many times I've done that... but totally forgot it.

 

I think I've hit >1000 hours in DR now and still not produced anything I am happy with and still don't know the texture or entity directory structures to find stuff fast.

 

Modelling, level design, AI pathing, cutscenes, blahblahblah, fine, internal dialogue boxes (except the damn readables editor), fine - scripting... idk if to use "while1" / "whiletrue" / "for", etc.. for a loop. So it requires more hours reading over how others have done it (if at all) in order to glean an understanding, because using stuff like,

 

for x in range (0, 3):

//do stuff

x = 1

//do stuff

x += 1

while true

//do stuff

for x in xrange (3)

//do last stuff and then

if x == 1

break

 

It don't work, when all I want to do is something simple. Then, I discover that there's an easier way to do this - mechanically in DR - with simple script, using DR triggers (eg, player steps on tile on which triggeronce is placed, tile drops, plays sound (simple mover), a bunch of arrows fly (firemissileattarget doesn't appear to work), but a script spline with an arrow and damage works) or a few spikey DR movers (simple script) shoot out with attached entity damage (DR), give them a whack for not noticing that this tile was covered in blood when the rest of the floor was clean.

 

I like the confines of TDM and DR - they are spacious enough for me. It's the searching for the assets that is a pain. Unless you know where they are, you can be looking through a long list for a long time...

 

If there's a feature that appears to need to be part of basegame (such as NOT being crushed by a damn lift when you're sitting under it and it descends on you ¬¬ *ahem*), then it's simple to figure out a way to make it this way by adding damagecrush entity.

 

It's all there. It's merely hidden (like the loot in the game).

 

I came from UE, Unity, Anvil and RAGE and stuff and going back to DR was like being a teenager and making quake levels for null-modem parties with my mates - not used anything similar for a long time.

 

If there were no other obligations, I would be working on my campaign full-time - every conscious moment I had (excluding bathroom breaks). But I do enjoy breaking people's games and painting stuff... so... maybe "most-of-the-time".

 

Stick with it, Alkalide - understanding this stuff has really helped me gain an appreciation of level design as well as improved wording my resumé wrt QC and support - even artwork (since it's now possible to understand how assets are used by these newer engines) because I understand more the foundations of all the new shiny things where we simply push a button that does it all for us.

 

I'm finding more possibilities inside the confines of DR and TDM than only what is taught within more modern engines.

Plus, I don't have to share an office with a guy who closes the blinds whenever I step out the room, or turn up to work at 0900 for something I don't care about or disagree with (eg nubisoft's continual plan to destroy tom clancey and farcry).

 

 

 

Screw ShockEd - focus on DR and TDM instead. It's better. And chicks dig it more than Shodan.

Thanks for the anecdote and encouragement. If Dark Radiant combined Hammer's texturing and level design tools with UE4's Blueprint visual scripting, I'd be absolutely thrilled (and be much father along with my test mission.) But as it stands, I'm constantly referencing the documentation for how to do something or where to find something that would be comparatively obvious and easy in either of the aforementioned editors.

Hobbyist game developer, 3D artist, and electronic music producer. Fan of action-adventure and stealth games.

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I would like to see common sense. Make it in a way people can trust the mechanics. Just like TDM. The awereness is gradual, and works great. You can KO people with a heavy object. Hurt them realistically. Fighting is tactical and a handful, as it should be. Movement and fluidity is excellent. Damage levels are what you would expect in a grounded game. Everything feels reasonable, and it is a great plataform to build your own adventure on. Its mostly a matter of how much time you can invest in it, but the assets are done in a way that you can get a very coherent gameplay world even if you dont have time for anything other than mapping, because the style, the mecahnics, the art direction, its all there for you, the foundations are set. You can build from there. Definitely, make it an anarchic environment. By that I mean, make it open, inviting, and design the framework such as to allow for people to come in and create with you and make it their own. The collaborative aproach. This will allow your project to grow. You cannot make it on your own. This is a certainty. So, from the get go, design and build such as to allow and inspire others to build upon your work. As a foundation. Its possible to unite people around your vision if its strong enough, enciting enough. But its much cooler to actually provide tools for people to create their own visions, with their individual take. This is coolest aspect of TDM, and what keeps the community alive.

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Solid level design and a sense of doing some stuff that nobody else has really toyed with.

Fire a flare in the sky and make me use the changing shadows as cover.

Try some really experimental shit with portals.

Do stuff nobody else has.

 

Oh and please let me enter the level naked.

Nothing like on site procurement of resource for extra challenge.

 

Avoid having unlocks at all, nobody appreciates locked off content in this day and age, just have cheat codes for people who suck too much and have the player find everything else within playthrough.

Edited by V-Man339

I like to record difficult stealth games, and right now you wonderful people are the only ones delivering on that front.

Click here for the crappy channel where that happens.

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That's what I try to do, V-Man... but pretty much every time I get anything I've not encountered in TDM's mission list working (that I want to include in my stories) - there's an update and it no longer works... 2-3 times this has happened now, so I no longer cry about it.

TDM moves faster than I can learn to create/realise content I wish to produce. I construe this as "I'm not good enough to keep up" and it is discouraging to the point where I have recently shelved "the campaign" and simply make smaller missions and contraptions and stuff for my own enjoyment.

No sooner is a prototype ready and waiting to be imported into a mission - suddenly something changes or a new shader or update or pathing and whatever and - bam, 100 hours down the drain.
Some things remain the same, but by the time I get back to them - the textures have changed, the entity functions in a different way, I have to spend days re-learning stuff I barely understood in the first place and - because these things are not common in TDM missions - it seems there are few places to seek answers.

It is very frustrating and I often want to quit entirely (like today).

 

This is regrettable as it is one of my favourite games and I am sick of working with corridor-clones or open-world bullshit.

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It sure can feel that way when you are first encountering those problems, but once you understand things and have some finished work under your belt, you'll be freed from this feeling of confusion and will be able to create things in a much more confident way. Just stick with it, and perhaps scale down your ambitions to a point where you can produce something to be proud of but at the same time, wont demand excessive amounts of energy. Imposing yourself a clear limit is a good way to go. For me, for example, it was a time limit and a choice of not doing anything the mod itself couldnt achieve internally (without coding), and using only stock assets (I put a couple new models in there for a revised bugfixing version, but only for decoration, and after the release). This allowed me to focus solely on mapping and the flow of the gameplay. Believe me, making through all stages of a finished, game-ready mission (briefing, new art for title screens, mapping, plataforming, mood, lighting, AI, triggers, writting, sound, playtesting, revising, packaging, releasing) is a handful as it is. Once youve done it once, you'll be able to get back to it and go further much more easily. Not that I have (made another mission). But its only a matter of time and ideas.

Edited by RPGista
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  • 1 month later...

Give the player a map, a compass, and a briefing and leave him to solve each level. Don't hand hold me, don't have floating markers

go here, pick up that. How brain dead do they think people are?

I have an eclectic YouTube channel making videos on a variety of games. Come and have look here:

https://www.youtube.com/c/NeonsStyleHD

 

Dark Mod Missions: Briarwood Manor - available here or in game

http://forums.thedarkmod.com/topic/18980-fan-mission-briarwood-manor-by-neonsstyle-first-mission-6082017-update-16/

 

 

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Player shadow, and the ability of the AI to react on it, would be pretty awesome. So that the gameplay also requires that you get a consciousness where light sources are, and how to avoid the AI spotting your shadow. Of course, what would also be great is that the AI doesn't immediately act on your shadow as a hostile act, rather that the AI is alerted in a "Huh! WTH is that??" way. Speaking of that, it would also be great if the sound of footsteps wouldn't immediately alert an AI, because, basically, a AI wouldn't know if it is your, or another guards footsteps. Unless you're walking in an area where there isn't someone supposed to walk around, of course. I know, this gets tricky, and complicated, but, frankly, i never thought it was very realistic that an AI immediately reacts hostile on the sound of footsteps.

 

BTW, the points in the OP already sound pretty awesome. Very interested, if at least the majority of these are getting implemented. :)

Edited by chakkman
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