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Wavinator

Alerts / alarms that never go away

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Shutting off code-red isn''t just throwing a switch anymore... In every game I''ve ever played where there was an alert level / alarm, either the game ended when you triggered the alarm or you could run over to some switch and shut it off. Games as old as Crusader: No Remorse and as new as Return to Castle Wolfenstein and Grand Theft Auto 3 use this mechanism. In others, you simply waited out the alert (Thief 2 and System Shock 2, for example) What if the alert level never went down once you triggered it? The board would be swarming with hyper-aware, trigger happy enemies as a result of failing to successfully sneak your way through. Enemies would mass at you in wave after wave if your position was known, set up reinforce barricades, and try to seal your path so they could bottleneck you through deadly ambushes. Gameplay would likely turn into fight-run-hide cycles until the player either escaped or accomplished their task and then escaped. I''m not entirely sure that I like this idea, as it would severely wratchet up the difficultly level of any board. I''m not sure how much adrenaline pumping a player could tolerate, even if they got themselves into the situation by either trying to be Rambo or failing to sneak. But I''ve been thinking about this kind of response as a result of extreme player actions, such as assassinating a leader, robbing a bank, or breaking into a military base. While it might be realistic and even giddily frenetic for awhile, I can also see it getting frustrating really quickly. This may be a case where realism needs to be sacrificed to the needs of gameplay. What do you think? Should you be able to cut the alarm? -------------------- Just waiting for the mothership...

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Ever played that ship level in SOF2 (it''s in the demo; no need to buy)? Basically you glide in on a tether behind some boxes on the rear of a large shipping vessel and listen to some deck conversation. Then you proceed to search the ship for some xyzzy, mowing down every crew member in sight. The unfortunate thing is, I''ve only seen a couple of alarm activators around the ship, but *as soon* as you shoot the first crew member, the ship-wide alarm goes on, and stays on for eternity. I personally hate this setup. I mean, there are no visible ways to kill the alarm, and there are no activators near where you shoot your first target, so that totally breaks realism. When the level starts, it''s pouring rain, and there''s no way anyone outside a very small radius could hear the shots. I certainly didn''t want to use a silenced weapon, because of the lack of power, and I doubt it would make much difference. It was just a cheap tool to get swarms of enemies headed in my direction, and I didn''t much appreciate it.

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When I played No One Lives Forever for the first time, the alarms almost always went off. The first few times, sure it was exciting, but it got to be troublesome and ANNOYING listening to that sound. It''s like I thought to myself, "Okay, okay, I set off the alarm, for crying out loud, be quiet!"

The second time I played through, I put myself through to trouble of trying to be fully stealthy, which required many, many reloads. It''s almost another form of dying and then hitting the quickload button.

I think we become desensitized to the urgency of the alarm if it happens too often. We know it''s meant to be a big deal, but it just turns annoying if it happens too much and too often.

This is assuming that the level sends a lot more enemies after you if the alarm goes off, and you have to spend however many minutes pushing throught he level, firing your weapons, listening to the alarm, busting through the next door hoping the end of the level is close.

However, if it were more along the lines of running around a lab, and if the alarm goes off, this gigantic mechanized robot comes busting through the wall to absolutely waste you, then maybe the alarm might serve a more entertaining purpose. I guess variety there is the key.

To answer your question, cutting the alarm can have a strategic application (it makes the AI think there is no longer a problem), but then you have to be worried about setting it off again. If a player didn''t want to have to worry about that, maybe there could be an option in the game where if the alarm goes off, it only plays for a few seconds and fades away, but blinking red lights are at various points to remind the player that the alarm is still active.

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I tried to post once already but it killed my message with a server error. This is the abridged versions since I don''t feel like rewriting it all.

Basically, enemies go into a state of alarm based on how aware of your presence you are. For example, if they think they heard something, they should look around, and then shrug and go back to what they were doing. If you just chucked a grade into the ammo dump, they should hunt you down. Since you just did a lot of damage and there is obviously somebody sneaking around. In the interest of playability however, say you shoot sombody in the arm, and they set off the alarm because you had to reload. So you kill they guy and hide. His buddies come looking see him dead and have a good look around. Upon not finding anything, bucause you hid behind a little crate, they return to regular guarding. However, since one of their buddies is dead they are a little more alert and a little more trigger happy. The more times the alarm goes off, and the more times people see, hear or sense you, they should get more and more alert. This creates a balance between being stealthy and going Rambo style, since yes it''s good to be stealthy, but if there''s no other way to raid the armory, then you go in guns blazing. Also, enemies who are relaxed, should see something and go and calmly check it out. Enemies who are at he other end of the scale, practically paranoid, should shoot on sight, and immediately sound the alarm.

Also, I think abushes and such are very effective, especially if the enemy is only a little worried. Just put the guys guarding the valuable item on alert, not the whole base.

tj963

tj963

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I think it makes sense to have alarms that never go off. If you start a gunfight in a building they''re not going to calm down until they have definite proof you''re either dead or gone, and the time scale in games is usually way too small for opponents to assume the player has left. I think there should also be escalating alarm levels before the final, no magic-off-switch alert. Without intermediate levels it would probably lead to constant quicksave-reload gameplay, aka boring gameplay.

The way I picture it is sort of like Thief. If you make a bit too much noise near a guard he becomes suspicious and maybe goes to investigate. If he doesn''t find anything he goes back to his ordinary activity. If there''s suspicious activity detected, such as an unconscious body or an open door that should be locked, the alert level is heightened and more guards patrol for an extended time, maybe returning to normal conditions later. If there''s evidence of a hostile intruder (sounds of gunfire, you''re seen in a secure area, a dead body is found riddled with bullets, etc) then the final alarm which can''t be disabled goes off. This is when they start setting up barricades and hunting you down.

An aside: I think it''s important that the player be aware of some cause for the raised alarm - if it seems arbitrary the player will get frustrated. Examples: rather than a guard spotting the player causing an alarm, the guard should have to perform some action, preferrably one which can be interrupted by the player, to get help. This could be using a radio, yelling, or pushing a button. Whatever makes sense in the setting (of course it could make sense that simply seeing the player is cause for alarm - maybe the guard is a robot with a wireless connection to a central computer).

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quote:
Original post by Dobbs
An aside: I think it''s important that the player be aware of some cause for the raised alarm - if it seems arbitrary the player will get frustrated. Examples: rather than a guard spotting the player causing an alarm, the guard should have to perform some action, preferrably one which can be interrupted by the player, to get help. This could be using a radio, yelling, or pushing a button. Whatever makes sense in the setting (of course it could make sense that simply seeing the player is cause for alarm - maybe the guard is a robot with a wireless connection to a central computer).


Deus Ex managed this quite well - guards have to run over and hit a red pad on the wall before anything happens, and you can usually pick them off before they do so. Of course, if a security camera spots you, you''re still toast...

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quote:
Original post by Dobbs
The way I picture it is sort of like Thief. If you make a bit too much noise near a guard he becomes suspicious and maybe goes to investigate. If he doesn''t find anything he goes back to his ordinary activity. If there''s suspicious activity detected, such as an unconscious body or an open door that should be locked, the alert level is heightened and more guards patrol for an extended time, maybe returning to normal conditions later. If there''s evidence of a hostile intruder (sounds of gunfire, you''re seen in a secure area, a dead body is found riddled with bullets, etc) then the final alarm which can''t be disabled goes off. This is when they start setting up barricades and hunting you down.


Yes, I agree. Theif did this very well. Also, just a guard running and yelling would not trigger an alarm. He either would have to get to the switch or another guard would have to hear him. Also, the number of guards was fixed from the start, so you could only be swarmed for so long.

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quote:
Original post by Dobbs
An aside: I think it''s important that the player be aware of some cause for the raised alarm - if it seems arbitrary the player will get frustrated. Examples: rather than a guard spotting the player causing an alarm, the guard should have to perform some action, preferrably one which can be interrupted by the player, to get help. This could be using a radio, yelling, or pushing a button. Whatever makes sense in the setting (of course it could make sense that simply seeing the player is cause for alarm - maybe the guard is a robot with a wireless connection to a central computer).


i think no one lives forever handled that pretty well too (except for some levels, were if you are spotted, then the guard will run and hit a button to sound the alarm. or if the gaurd sees someone next to him fall and die, he will hit the alarm. or if a camera sees a dead body or you, then the alarm will sound. i liked the way no one lives forever did the alarms, i never really had to quick reload that much (except one level were it was practically impossible for the camera *not* to see a dead body)



Sam Johnston (Samith)

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