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Stealth Games Continued: With a Playable DemoPosted by Linkage on 10 September, 2011 at 9:45am
Those of you who read my last post on stealth games and repetition would be aware that I’m interested in investigating the possibilities of more varied enemy placements/patrols in stealth games- and to this end, I figure one of the best approaches beyond all the potential theorising I could do here is to create a demo demonstrating this very concept.
And so without further ado shall I go ahead and present StealthDemo- my attempt to see how pseudo-random enemy movement might affect a basic 2D stealth game. Naturally this is just a demo and I’ve hardly poured any ridiculous amount of time into it, but I believe it’s at least a starting point for investigating this sort of concept.
Well, this is StealthDemo
The premise for StealthDemo is simple- you make your way through each room to the yellow-coloured exit, avoiding the sight of red enemies or yellow cameras. If you get seen, you get sent back to the start of the room. Currently there are 7 rooms in the game- and I’m certainly no master level designer- but I’ve done what I can to make things at least a little interesting.
The first two rooms are dead simple and from there I try to get a little more creative. At the end it just loops back to the start. The demo certainly has some imperfections- mainly in the graphics department- but that’s why it’s called a demo after all (and if anyone finds an actual important-ish gameplay bug, let me know about that also).
The “random” movement of the enemies is also quite simply designed- each enemy is given a rectangular area to patrol, within which it will move to random points after waiting a random-ish amount of time- but nonetheless I think it starts to highlight some potential upsides/downsides to such a system.
To start with the upsides, it’s certainly true that having more random behaviour does add tension to the game. A simple 2D rendition like this is certainly not the most immersive/intense stealth experience, but I like to think that being unsure about exactly how the enemies will move or how long each window of opportunity is creates at least some manner of tension compared to how the game would play if it were strictly waypoint-driven.
Secondly, this behaviour encourages the player to be a little more proactive with their movement too. Sitting around and watching enemies for a long time is largely pointless, save for observing briefly to get some idea of where a certain enemy is most likely to go. The small penalty for failure in this demo also gives the player the chance to go ahead and take a chance here and there to try make a run for cover even if they’re not sure they’ll make it.
On the other hand though, the fact that enemy behaviour is undetermined causes some problems the more complex the room is or the more numerous the enemies. With random movement, there’s technically no guarantee that there’ll be an opening for the player to move in, or there’s the possibility they will have to wait a long time for any decent chance to crop up. This problem presents itself in the demo even if it’s not a glaring issue, and off the top of my head there might be a few ways to combat this.
The first solution may be to try and design your maps in such a way that reduces the likelihood of this happening- which may or may not quite work out. The second would be giving the player more ways to influence their surroundings and create openings for themselves, e.g. stun grenades/distractions and more- such features are relatively par for the course in most stealth games but for the sake of simplicity I’ve kept these out of the demo. Thirdly, perhaps some manner of system could be worked in to make the AI arrange themselves in such a way to avoid this, but that could also be an overly complex solution.
Of course, all these conclusions are based more or less entirely off my own experience playing the demo, which mightn’t be the best indicator. Anyone with thoughts on the matter should feel free to chime in and let me know what they think.
Despite being just a demo, I’ve quite enjoyed working on this in what time I have, both from a programming and a game perspective. It’s quite nice to make something that in some way or another resembles the various stealth games I’ve been playing recently (currently on Thief 2), and for a demo it’s one of the better things I think I’ve made.
That in mind I can imagine myself trying to do some more work on this in the near future- there are various features I could try add in to the demo and see how they affect the game or bring it any step closer to a more fully-featured game. And of course more chances to explore the creation of stealth gameplay wouldn’t be unwelcome.
Comments on Stealth Games Continued: With a Playable Demo
kemistry said at 2011-09-11 16:21:47
I get an error, missing MSVCR100D.dll file.
Linkage said at 2011-09-11 16:39:50
Odd; other people seem to have been able to run it fine so far.
kemistry said at 2011-09-13 14:52:46
New version works!
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