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someboddy

Stealthy NPCs

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There are games where the player can use stealth against NPCs, like sneaking behind them, picking their pockets, or using stealth kills on them. I was thinking - what if NPCs could do the same thing to the player? There will be areas in the game where it is safe to walk, and areas where you could get your pocket picked any time. This will help with the atmosphere, as the player won't be able to walk thru the bad areas of the town like he is in his home. He will have to be more careful. But how will this work? On pure stats based RPGs, it will be very simple - a roll of the dice determines if the player notices the NPC sneaking behind him. On games that involve skill, there should be some kind of an minigame. But we can't pop up a minigame every time someone is using stealth ofcourse! That will tell the player someone is sneaking by! So I was thinking on some kind of animated pattern, always showing in a small area in the corner of the screen. The pattern is always moving, but when something is wrong, it is disturbed. If the player notices the disturbance, he can tell something is wrong and check out around him. That way, the player will be more tensed when he is walking at the thieves quarter, and constantly check out that pattern, while he will be more calm while walking on the main street. So what do you guys think?

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I know NPC's in Oblivion can commit crime, but can they do it on the PC? That'd be an interesting experiment. Unfortunately, though, Players almost always run everywhere, so picking a pocket is diffcult.

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well if running aroused suspicion the player wouldnt run everywhere. But it might get kind of tiresome walking everywhere.
But then, how many people actually get pick pocketed successfully while walking?

usually it happens when your in a club or at a restaurant. If you leave your jacket on a chair you could get pick pocketed.

Or in a large crowded street.

I dont think players should be able to pick pocket willy nilly like in oblivion.
The npc should have to be in a certain situation like i mentioned above.
taking a sword of someone in a street without them noticing isnt very plausable

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Pick-pockets wait until the mark is distracted, or create a diversion. For instance, look at the tavern games in Fable. Every so often, the player takes a few moments to sit down at a table and play a game with another guy. What if your pocket was picked while you're playing a mini-game, and your character isn't actually occupying a fifth of the screen? Tougher to detect, and more interesting. You don't go to bad parts of town, because you can't take the twenty seconds it takes to buy something from a merchant for fear of having your purse cut.

Kill or maim a few criminals, get a reputation for noticing that sort of thing and exacting revenge, and the thieves will think twice before trying their luck on you.

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Mmmmm...

What if we put a similar detection system for other things? For example, such a system to find out if the merchant is trying to deceive the player? That way, the player will have to pay attention to both the merchant and the pickpockets when you buy something at the bad parts of town.

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If you succeed in the dice roll draw the thief.
If you fail the dice roll don't draw the thief.

Have a nice little blend function that brings the thief from transparent to opaque.

You need to do something like that to make it stats driven otherwise it's going to be a conglomeration of stats driven and human awareness. What if they pass the dice roll but don't notice the little box? That means it's no longer a stats driven game, it's now skill + stats. Maybe that's ok. Maybe it's not.

-me

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A good way to do it in a game that didn't have RPG-style "spot" and "hide" skill points might be to allow the player to go into a "Search" mode as well as "Stealth" mode, which would slow him down and be annoying to leave on all the time. I like the idea of having an icon in the corner representing your "sixth sense" that lights up more when someone in Stealth mode gets too close, and would be a hint to turn on your Search mode.

In a sci-fi game, it could easily be done with Stealth mode being a predator-like invisibility cloak that causes you to move more slowly when it's turned on, and Search mode being an infrared or electromagnetic scanner that also causes you to move more slowly or lose weapon accuracy against non-cloaked targets while it's on. It gets a little more difficult to make the balance convincing in a more realistic setting where it's supposed to be someone just hiding in the shadows and you looking for them. But then again, in that case you might be better just using a Doom 3 style, where you can hide in the shadows and people won't see you because that part of their screen is dark, but there's no game mechanic representing stealth and perception. This is ok but also prone to client hacking like turning all the shadows off in Doom.

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Maybe when the player enters search mode, the detection system gives bigger signals.
There should totally be a game called Sense. Maybe it's about a superhero. Maybe about a gifted mage. Whatever.

There would be an indicator at the bottom that's green when there is obviously no danger, gray when there's a possibility of danger (in a crowd, for example) and red when your pocket is being picked. And then there are shades. As you approach a town the green slowly turns to gray. If people bump into you too much the gray turns more and more to red. But you can also be fooled. If you're standing in a stable and a horse nuzzles your back, the indicator could jump to red until you turn around and see that there is no threat. BUT, if you're Observation sense/skill is high enough, you may realize that it wasn't the horse that nudged you but a mage shrouded with a cloak of invisibility. In this case the red starts flashing and the hunt is on! Maybe you start seeing footsteps where there can't be any (like on clean stone). Or hear whispers said far away. Or, like a spidersense, you can see a stab in the dark coming a few seconds early. The possibilities are ... fun. (Though I'm sure some of this was done before.)

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If the bar is simple to read, the player won't have to pay attention to it.
True. But that also reflects the obviousness of the situation. If someone's in front of you, clearly digging into your pocket, why shouldn't the situation be simple to read? Why would you be staring at a pattern trying to figure out if it really moved the wrong way like you thought you saw? Same goes for being alone in the middle of nowhere. The fun part are the shades. Is that gray a little too red for your liking? Maybe someone in the crowd is going for your wallet.

I do agree with you though in part. If you're an amateur, it shouldn't be so obvious. Maybe there is a smaller range of colors (grays at most just influenced by red and green). But when you're a pro, it should be clear. Just like a godly warrior slaying most monsters without effort. Doesn't mean that there aren't challening monsters out there (or good thieves in our case) but your efforts/practice should be rewarded.

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As far as detecting if something is wrong... if your game includes the standard 'picture of the characters face near the health bar', then perhaps when somebody is sneaking behind you or out of the players view you could have the character look curious as if he has a feeling he's being followed. Or just have little question marks appear over their head.

So your walking along in town and suddenly there are way more NPCs around than usual wich makes you get boxed in. One of the NPCs is a pickpocket and starts to make his move. He makes a 'pickpocket' check against your 'notice things' check and the better he does the less time you have to react.

When he starts, your character gets little question marks over his head and you have a chance to react to it (I'm playing Kingdom Hearts 2 right now and I'm thinking something like if you press the generic 'dodge' or 'reaction' button then it stops the thief) depending on the result of the checks you have a certain amount of time to prevent getting pickpocketed. If you don't react, then you just get a "Somebody pickpocketed you for 10 silver" message.

Depending on your reaction, you might get to evade the pickpocket, retaliate againt them (He sticks a hand in your pocket... you stick a dagger in his arm) or you find out who it is and get to chase him down if you react too slow to stop it completely.

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Quote:
Original post by someboddy
If the bar is simple to read, the player won't have to pay attention to it.
True. But that also reflects the obviousness of the situation. If someone's in front of you, clearly digging into your pocket, why shouldn't the situation be simple to read? Why would you be staring at a pattern trying to figure out if it really moved the wrong way like you thought you saw? Same goes for being alone in the middle of nowhere. The fun part are the shades. Is that gray a little too red for your liking? Maybe someone in the crowd is going for your wallet.

I do agree with you though in part. If you're an amateur, it shouldn't be so obvious. Maybe there is a smaller range of colors (grays at most just influenced by red and green). But when you're a pro, it should be clear. Just like a godly warrior slaying most monsters without effort. Doesn't mean that there aren't challening monsters out there (or good thieves in our case) but your efforts/practice should be rewarded.


The human eye can notice a change, even a slight one, between one static situation to another.

But maybe if that bar will constantly swing, it will be hard enought to notice small changes...

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Definitely if you want to have some kind of "intrusion meter" or something, it should be a pattern that's continually in motion. You'd need to come up with "calm" movement patterns and "agitated" movement patterns and ways to flow from one to another. In fact, your best bet for drawing this might just be some kind of simple fluid dynamics. When nothing's possibly going wrong, you get the equivalent of a flat body of water or still air. When you're certain something's wrong, you get large waves, whirlwinds, and the like. There's a wide range of gradations in between, especially if you allow color changes, and the meter would convey information without making it too easy to tell precisely that something is wrong except in extreme cases.

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stealthy NPCs ?

Im thinking XCOM and Alien versus Predator...

Are you thinking of RPGs only?

I remember in SWG, there were animals, like big cats, that would try to track and hunt you. If you looked at them, they would crouch or wander away. As soon as you turned your back, they would try to approach you. I remember thinking "wow. Thats like the only cool thing in that game."

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Original post by Derakon
Definitely if you want to have some kind of "intrusion meter" or something, it should be a pattern that's continually in motion. You'd need to come up with "calm" movement patterns and "agitated" movement patterns and ways to flow from one to another. In fact, your best bet for drawing this might just be some kind of simple fluid dynamics. When nothing's possibly going wrong, you get the equivalent of a flat body of water or still air. When you're certain something's wrong, you get large waves, whirlwinds, and the like. There's a wide range of gradations in between, especially if you allow color changes, and the meter would convey information without making it too easy to tell precisely that something is wrong except in extreme cases.


That bar\pattern should always be in movement. However, if for example the player is in a haunted castle or something like that, the bar can not move when it's quiet to build up the atmosphere.

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The human eye can notice a change, even a slight one, between one static situation to another.

But maybe if that bar will constantly swing, it will be hard enought to notice small changes...
It's not a big deal. Really, either indicator is flexible. It would probably just get to me if there was some constantly moving animation on the screen at all times. Actually, now that I think of it, what game has any moving thing on the screen at all, besides the action? Anything moving is always something that demands your attention: health/mana/energy bars going up or down, ammo being depleted, etc. Signs of change. Something that would continuously move on the screen would be distracting. I think that's my problem with it. But maybe it would work. The human eye can ignore things too... but then it contradicts the player's need to keep tabs on it. Hmmm. Now I'm curious if it would work. I guess I'll leave it at that.

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