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Headshots (and insta-kills by extension)


snatcher
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1 hour ago, OrbWeaver said:

There seem to be two major causes behind the difficulty of blackjacking:

  1. The implementation is based on physics (tracking the exact motion of the blackjack model and calculating what point on the victim's head it lands), which adds absolutely no gameplay value but results in numerous failure conditions which are completely opaque to newcomers and seasoned players alike. The idea of being "too close to blackjack" is abject nonsense — if anyone has a gameplay explanation for why such a mechanic would be fun, I'm dying to hear it

 

Just want to point out that the blackjacking in Thief 1 and 2 kinda worked the same way. You can miss by being too far away, or slightly off from target, but the blackjack succeeded no matter where you hit them if they were unalerted. Which led to weird situations where you could KO guards as they walked by by hitting them in the foot.

 

EDIT: Or do you prefer the Thief 3 mechanic where when you execute the blackjack attack, guard is rotated perfectly for the player and a canned animation is presented?

I always assumed I'd taste like boot leather.

 

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1 hour ago, OrbWeaver said:

have to work around the issue by quicksaving before every blackjack attempt because it might as well be a coin flip whether it works or not. To which the response is... let's restrict saving so you can't do this!

As the one introducing the feature of savegame restrictions:

That was never the reason on why I did it. And for the last fucking time: Increasing difficulty was neither!!!

Besides that I agree with you.

 

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43 minutes ago, AluminumHaste said:

Just want to point out that the blackjacking in Thief 1 and 2 kinda worked the same way. You can miss by being too far away, or slightly off from target, but the blackjack succeeded no matter where you hit them if they were unalerted. Which led to weird situations where you could KO guards as they walked by by hitting them in the foot.

 

EDIT: Or do you prefer the Thief 3 mechanic where when you execute the blackjack attack, guard is rotated perfectly for the player and a canned animation is presented?

 

Making the collision area for blackjacking slightly larger and the surrounding non-solid for the blackjack if an ai is directly in front of the player would be an option. Also a subtle arm raise indicating you are close enough could help.

IIRC you are using a relatively large monitor. Many of us may not. Maybe that makes a difference in perception, too, considering that, as stated correctly, blackjacking success depends on depth perception.

Personally I don't have such an issue with blackjacking either. But it depends on my mood and in TDM it is definetely harder then it was in thief, which is something I am not sure is intentional.

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20 minutes ago, Obsttorte said:

Also a subtle arm raise indicating you are close enough could help.

That sounds like a great idea! Can the mod calculate the distance and give the player a hint?

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22 minutes ago, Obsttorte said:

 

Making the collision area for blackjacking slightly larger and the surrounding non-solid for the blackjack if an ai is directly in front of the player would be an option. Also a subtle arm raise indicating you are close enough could help.

IIRC you are using a relatively large monitor. Many of us may not. Maybe that makes a difference in perception, too, considering that, as stated correctly, blackjacking success depends on depth perception.

Personally I don't have such an issue with blackjacking either. But it depends on my mood and in TDM it is definetely harder then it was in thief, which is something I am not sure is intentional.

There was discussion about increasing the blackjack size on the AI and maybe doing a trace from the player POV instead of the physics collision of the arm and head, but I'm not sure what came of that.

I started playing TDM on a laptop, and used that for...10 years I think? It was a 17 inch laptop, so not a small monitor.

I'm now using 24" screens, I don't want to go larger, I sit too close for that.
BUT! I also use a wide FOV of 120 degrees, which makes distance perception more difficult. But I'm used to it, I started playing with higher FOV's in the late 90s with Quake 3.

Yeah TDM is definitely harder than in Thief, no one arguing that for sure. The issue I take with the posts about it being harder, is that a lot of the posters are coming from Thief and complaining that the blackjacking isn't the same. Yeah, TDM inspired by, not direct copy/ripoff of Thief, so things do work differently. Also, limitations of the engine I guess and the coders at the time with what they had access to.

 

I always assumed I'd taste like boot leather.

 

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Just to correct a few things:

 

Quote

One issue is of course that if you don't hit the right spot the first time, the guard gets alerted and is immedieately completely immune,

Only guards with helmets become completely immune to blackjacking after being alerted (which happens if you hit them incorrectly with the blackjack, but not if you miss).

Quote

Any suggestions to improve the mechanic or make it more forgiving are largely shot down by the "muh realism!" crowd

There has been a plan to improve the blackjacking mechanic for half a decade.  The team proposed  replacing the current physics-based system with a simple distance and orientation check to remove the problem of getting too close or hitting things above the player's head.  It's been on the bugtracker since 2016:  https://bugs.thedarkmod.com/view.php?id=4289 and as far as I know has not been shot down by anyone.  In fact, I had a vague recollection that someone was actually working it recently, though I could be wrong about that.

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28 minutes ago, Obsttorte said:

 

Also a subtle arm raise indicating you are close enough could help.

 

Think you could throw something together for this? It could almost be a helper like the bow attached aimer (which should be on by default), that players could turn off if they don't need it.

I always assumed I'd taste like boot leather.

 

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A guy with a helmet signals: (this guy is tough and) no blackjacking. I have never attempted to KO a guy with a helmet because I perceived the game was telling me do not even try.

Well, it turns I actually can blackjack guys with helmets for some reason (I just found out). If the point of this mechanic is that "there must always be a way of blackjacking everyone" for some particular design aspect, then the game would have done a better job if, in example, guys with helmets from time to time remove their helmets to scratch their heads or something.

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16 minutes ago, snatcher said:

A guy with a helmet signals: (this guy is tough and) no blackjacking. I have never attempted to KO a guy with a helmet because I perceived the game was telling me do not even try.

Well, it turns I actually can blackjack guys with helmets for some reason (I just found out). If the point of this mechanic is that "there must always be a way of blackjacking everyone" for some particular design aspect, then the game would have done a better job if, in example, guys with helmets from time to time remove their helmets to scratch their heads or something.

Example of someone who ignored the training mission out of hubris

I always assumed I'd taste like boot leather.

 

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1 hour ago, Obsttorte said:

Also a subtle arm raise indicating you are close enough could help.

I always liked this in TDS - which had also had a rather finicky blackjack feel (though it very satisfying when it worked) - being able to disable it like the frob helper seems like a great way to add a little more confidence to those who need it without messing with the core mechanic too much (which I would still advocate as necessary tbh, but is likely to result in something more divisive than a toggleable setting).

48 minutes ago, Springheel said:

Only guards with helmets become completely immune to blackjacking after being alerted (which happens if you hit them incorrectly with the blackjack, but not if you miss).

On the player level I could see why this distinction is a bit opaque - since the point of impact of the blackjack is so important your chances of landing a second hit if you fouled it the first time can be slim and obviously helmeted guards are quite prevalent in the setting. I imagine players can just internalize the distinction as “well sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t” across all the AI lending into this feeling of inconsistency around the mechanic. 

As you mention though every time I have brought up the blackjack (which is perhaps too often) I have always gotten a response from a dev that it’s being worked on and it actually seems like it is an area where there is broader agreement some improvement could be made. I look forward to seeing what that looks like!

1 hour ago, Obsttorte said:

As the one introducing the feature of savegame restrictions:

That was never the reason on why I did it. And for the last fucking time: Increasing difficulty was neither!!!

I would point out as an aside from someone who really liked this mechanic, one of the reasons why it was so successful in HP is that the mission makes the blackjack pretty much irrelevant removing that layer of inconsistency which makes leveraging quick saves so important. It is much harder for me to imagine pulling this off as successfully with the typical human AI, but perhaps I am wrong there and would still be interested to try something like that.  

Either way I just think there should be more tolerance for the player to make and correct their mistakes. Even if this margin more in favor of the player which exists in Thief, with things like flashbomb and visibility interrupts, is the result of “a bug” it is in my opinion a fortuitous one as it adds to enduring feeling of those games.

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2 hours ago, AluminumHaste said:

Just want to point out that the blackjacking in Thief 1 and 2 kinda worked the same way. You can miss by being too far away, or slightly off from target,

That's fine, and sensible. But that doesn't require physically-correct blackjack tracking, just sizing the "target cone" appropriately so that the guard's head is within the appropriate range and angle.

2 hours ago, AluminumHaste said:

but the blackjack succeeded no matter where you hit them if they were unalerted. Which led to weird situations where you could KO guards as they walked by by hitting them in the foot.

That's dumb, and easily solved by ensuring that the head is within the target cone, not any other part of the body.

2 hours ago, AluminumHaste said:

EDIT: Or do you prefer the Thief 3 mechanic where when you execute the blackjack attack, guard is rotated perfectly for the player and a canned animation is presented?

No. Nor do I want the ridiculous Thief 4 blackjack animation where you kick the guard in the balls then run out of the shadow to take them down (alerting any nearby enemy in the process).

Just the T1/T2 behaviour with an additional "head-only" check would be fine for me, and I would guess 99% of players.

1 hour ago, Springheel said:

There has been a plan to improve the blackjacking mechanic for half a decade.  The team proposed  replacing the current physics-based system with a simple distance and orientation check to remove the problem of getting too close or hitting things above the player's head.  It's been on the bugtracker since 2016:  https://bugs.thedarkmod.com/view.php?id=4289 and as far as I know has not been shot down by anyone.  In fact, I had a vague recollection that someone was actually working it recently, though I could be wrong about that.

Good to know it's still on the radar. I'd even offer to look at it myself but I'm not really a maths guy and would probably break more than I fixed if I tried to dive into core game mechanics like this.

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2 hours ago, Springheel said:

Just to correct a few things:

 

Only guards with helmets become completely immune to blackjacking after being alerted (which happens if you hit them incorrectly with the blackjack, but not if you miss).

That makes even less sense (that only helmeted guards show this behavior). 😄

Edited by chakkman
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5 hours ago, OrbWeaver said:

There seem to be two major causes behind the difficulty of blackjacking:

  1. The implementation is based on physics (tracking the exact motion of the blackjack model and calculating what point on the victim's head it lands), which adds absolutely no gameplay value but results in numerous failure conditions which are completely opaque to newcomers and seasoned players alike. The idea of being "too close to blackjack" is abject nonsense — if anyone has a gameplay explanation for why such a mechanic would be fun, I'm dying to hear it.
  2. Any suggestions to improve the mechanic or make it more forgiving are largely shot down by the "muh realism!" crowd. But...but...but... we need all these silly secret rules and failure conditions! Players should do 8 hours of blackjack training before playing this game! More difficulty means more fun, always and forever! Git gud, scrub! 🤦‍♂️

The end result of this is: players endlessly complain about blackjack difficulty, and have to work around the issue by quicksaving before every blackjack attempt because it might as well be a coin flip whether it works or not. To which the response is... let's restrict saving so you can't do this! Moooooooooar difficulty! Moooooooar fun!!!

This sums up what I think about the blackjacking system, just in better words and with more knowledge that I could provide. 

I quicksave every minute in TDM, because, as someone who blackjacks literally the whole map, there's always something happening with blackjacking.

What I did find out the last days though is that blackjacking seems to be more reliable when I do it from the side. For whatever reason. I just don't get this complicated POS of a system.

Edited by chakkman
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3 hours ago, AluminumHaste said:

Think you could throw something together for this? It could almost be a helper like the bow attached aimer (which should be on by default), that players could turn off if they don't need it.

Yeah, I guess. I could probably utilize the blackjack animation and restrict it to the first few frames or so. I see that I get a prototype done which we can discuss further.

Regarding the bugtracker: I have the feeling that some filed entrees are beeing worked on although not assigned in the bugtracker (like the subtitle for A New Job, iirc, at least I think I've read someone worked on it).

3 hours ago, AluminumHaste said:

I'm now using 24" screens, I don't want to go larger, I sit too close for that.

I am on a 17" now, but used 15" for most of my life (at least the part I've spent in front of a monitor :D ). I would guess that even for games 24" is already pretty large.

And yes, there have been several discussions about improving the blackjacking system, however, mostly internal. So it is no surprise this comes up again from time to time. Maybe it would be worthwhile if we had a behind the scene thread that give non team members an idea what has been discussed or worked on in the early past, that gets updated every few months or so and where noone can reply, to keep it short. Basically like the news on the website.

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1 hour ago, chakkman said:

That makes even less sense (that only helmeted guards show this behavior). 😄

How does it make "even less sense" that it's easier to KO guards that aren't wearing helmets?

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Maybe he means that the effect of the helmet is a bit inconsistent. If it doesn't protect an unalerted guard from getting knocked out, why does it do so for an alerted one? Either the helmet protects him or not.

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2 hours ago, Springheel said:

How does it make "even less sense" that it's easier to KO guards that aren't wearing helmets?

It makes even less sense that helmeted guards cannot be KO'd when they're alerted.

According to your explanation, alerted guards dodge arrows and blackjacks. Why do alerted helmeted guards dodge arrows and blackjacks better than guards without a helmet?

Edited by chakkman
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1 hour ago, Obsttorte said:

Maybe he means that the effect of the helmet is a bit inconsistent. If it doesn't protect an unalerted guard from getting knocked out, why does it do so for an alerted one? Either the helmet protects him or not.

Exactly.

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Until a better solution has been found, removing the alert-ko-immunity for everbody except for the elite guards, who are ko-immune from the start on purpose, works fine in my opinion as it gives you the chance to retry if you fail until the enemy has his sword out and can block you.

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4 hours ago, chakkman said:

It makes even less sense that helmeted guards cannot be KO'd when they're alerted.

According to your explanation, alerted guards dodge arrows and blackjacks. Why do alerted helmeted guards dodge arrows and blackjacks better than guards without a helmet?

 No one said alerted helmeted guards dodge arrows better.  A helmet blocks an arrow regardless of alert state.

There are 2 basic rules regarding KOs:

1. AI wearing a helmet are, regardless of alert state, harder to KO with a blow to the head than AI without a helmet. 

2. AI who are relaxed and not expecting an attack are easier to KO than one who is alert and ready to react.

 

As far as I can see, both of these rules are simple, logically consistent, and are well established game concepts.  If we were doing it over again, I would probably have suggested AI with helmets are immune to blackjacking entirely, but that was a concession to our art design--most citywatch and guard heads had helmets at the time, and we didn't want to make things too difficult for the player.





 

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@SpringheelYou are right, both rules you state are simple and logically consistent, but ...

You write about them beeing harder or easier to ko. But that is not the representation in game. This is nothing continuos reaching from un-ko-able to ko-able, but a binary system, in which the ai can either be knocked out or not. So as logical as those rules are, the current system simple isn't based on it.

I mean, there is nothing wrong with the current concept in general. It is a gameplay decision in the end. But it might simple be unclear how the average helmeted guard fits in their. I personally wasn't all too aware of that either, and I know the mod for quiet some time now.

It makes sense if guards with helmets are mainly used in areas where there isn't much of a necessity to take them out, for example outdoor areas with lots of dark corners whereas in indoor areas unhelmeted guards are used (which would make more sense anyways: Who wears a helmet inside a building all night?). However, this is not really reflected in current fms. Builder guards don't wear helmets afaik but often patrol outside, and there are enough missions with helmeted guards patroling manor corridors. This tells me that most mappers may not be aware of this, either.

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10 hours ago, Springheel said:

There are 2 basic rules regarding KOs:

1. AI wearing a helmet are, regardless of alert state, harder to KO with a blow to the head than AI without a helmet. 
...

Harder to KO in which way exactly?

I played the Fiasco at Fauchard Street mission yesterday, and, while I was easily able to knock out the first few helmeted guards, I wasn't at all able to knock out the guy standing in front of the Lendermann estate. I tried everything, side, back, front (although that would alert him immediately). As far as I could tell, he wasn't alerted at all, just guarding the mansion. No luck. I tried it 20 times, and then simply let him stand there.

As far as I'm concerned, TDM blackjacking is a matter of luck in most cases. It doesn't even conform to the general rules stated here: https://wiki.thedarkmod.com/index.php?title=The_Dark_Mod_Gameplay#Blackjacking

Quote

You can successfully knock out:

1. Unarmed civilian AI from any direction, any time.

No, you can't.

Quote

3. Helmeted guards from behind when relaxed (helmeted guards cannot be knocked out when alert and/or when their weapon is out).

No, you can't.

Even after 14 years of playing, the system is just not straight forward.

I made my peace with it by quicksaving a lot (I quicksaved 172 times in that mission), but, satisfiable is something else.

The archery, sword fighting and item handling are excellent in comparison.

Edited by chakkman
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