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Harmless identity

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It seems to be a big deal in most games to look as tough and powerful as possible. Are there any good implementations of concepts to look weak or harmless on purpose as a tool for misdirection? For example, one purpose for your attire could purposely lead hostile enemies to underestimate your combat abilities. They may show their hand (their fullest abilities) through arrogance, to rub in the oncoming defeat, or to make demands, giving you an edge to win. Another possibility would be to act as a lure. If you look harmless while strolling down a back alley street, you'll probably attract gang members or mobs looking for muggings, allowing you to turn it around and mug them instead. Another purpose might be to achieve an inconspicuous persona. Security guards or henchmen would likely pay less attention to someone in a white dress shirt and glasses than someone in black leather and trenchcoat. Yet another could be to sway interactions with random characters in another direction. For example, chatting with characters as a nerdy scientist might harness a different attitude from them than chatting with them as a warrior strapped with weapons. On the other hand, it would also be harder to push your weight around to get what you want. Anyone have other ideas for the purpose of harmless looking attire? Or possibly some examples of where it's been used before? If done well enough, could one consider the "harmlessness" of a suit or armor to be part of its balancing traits?

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This would be really cool to see or implement in a game. Especially so if it could be used as a game play mechanic instead of a staged event which, unfortunately, many ideas fall into. An example of what I mean is the ease dropping mission set in Assassins Creed.

The mission idea sounds cool, listen in on private conversations throughout the city, to gather information that will further your main goal. Sounds cool. Unfortunately, it is not so in game. There are maybe four specific conversations you have to listen in on, which are clearly labeled on your map. There is no ambiguous information collection, just four side missions.

In the scope of your idea, it would be cool if you could dress up and act weak, then walk around a town to see what trouble you can find. Making you have to search the alleys for thugs to trick, and then making it so instead of pressing A to activate the mission, you will get attacked strictly if they see you.

I know none of that really applies to your post, it is just something that has bugged me for a while.

Anyway, the only main stream example of this that I can think of is in fables, Japanese lore, and Snow White (how the Sorceress disguised herself as a beggar woman to test the Prince's compassion).

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Quote:
Original post by FartherThanLife
In the scope of your idea, it would be cool if you could dress up and act weak, then walk around a town to see what trouble you can find. Making you have to search the alleys for thugs to trick, and then making it so instead of pressing A to activate the mission, you will get attacked strictly if they see you.

I know none of that really applies to your post, it is just something that has bugged me for a while.

Actually, that was what got me thinking about it. I was goofing around with the XML files for Civilization IV, and tried to play a game where the AI couldn't measure other civ's military power. I had a massive army, but it wasn't possible for anyone to measure its destructive capabilities.

Some civs would make demands, then easily convince other civs to go to war with them against me when I refused. I once had about 10 out of 12 countries raging against me at once. It was a good fight, but I eventually absorbed their territory into my own. I can't say I've ever had more fun than that while playing the game.

Something about being seriously underestimated makes winning feel more valuable. Beating up a dark knight as a holy paladin with dual swords is okay. Beating up a dark knight as a townsman with a rake is spectacular. Get out of my village.

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Reminds of the old game Messiah. You played as a cherub/angel and gameplay involved possessing various people to control.

There were a number of sections where you needed to have control of certain people or factions so as not to arouse interest, and I remember civilians in long coats that allowed you to conceal a weapon underneath to get past police areas or catch people by surprise, etc.

Its definately a cool mechanic. I think you can treat it as a balance factor in comparison to NPCs quite easily, or you could consider it as a combination of challenge and environment modifier (you are challenged to aquire the harmless look, which then acts like an environment modifier - giving certain effects when you are in certain areas).

When comparing to other PCs, though, you may have some trouble in that if certain outfits have the capability the players will eventually learn which are which and be able to know "Ah, theyll have a hidden weapon". Perhaps the best method would be a combination of actual outfit, relating to NPCs and their reaction, and special items such as concealable weapon holsters which can be added to a variety of outfits, relating to tricking fellow PCs.

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One way to promote the strategy would be to employ plentiful environment weapons. Poles attached to stairwells that can be ripped off and used as staves. Pens in cups on desks that can be picked up and tossed like throwing knives. Complex ranged weaponry could be fixed into the environment as steam valves and laser cutters in industrial areas, to be ripped off and wielded like a gun.

If plentiful enough, a player could walk into a hostile environment, completely unarmed, and still confident that they can handle just about anything that might be thrown at them after their cover is blown.

One more way to boost it would be to allow the player to snatch holstered weapons off of other characters. Things looking sketchy? Just inch a little closer to that security patrolman. While we're at it, we might as well implement an action to strip weapons from the hands of hostiles during the combat itself.

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I've thought something like this would be a good method to give some purpose to specialising in weapons such as staves, daggers or unarmed fighting. Most people would act alarmed or at least slightly on edge around an unknown mercanary adventurer armed with a large sword or gun.

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If done well enough, could one consider the "harmlessness" of a suit or armor to be part of its balancing traits?

Sounds like a idea worth thinking about. I can't tell if it's good right off the bat, but it's got potential if done right.

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First, let me specify that I'll be talking from the single-player game perspective with AI interactions below.

One thing you absolutely have to consider is that players *need* to be aware of the fact that their appearance plays a role in a game. In most SP games today, your *apperance* has absolutely no value in the game world. It affects nothing. Sometimes it's a side-effect of your stats, so if you're wearing good items that give you good stats, you will probably look tougher. However, this is usually done for the *player's* satisfaction only, as it still has no impact in the game world.

So, yeah, you will need to make sure the player knows that it's different in your game very clear up front.

Quote:
For example, one purpose for your attire could purposely lead hostile enemies to underestimate your combat abilities. They may show their hand (their fullest abilities) through arrogance, to rub in the oncoming defeat, or to make demands, giving you an edge to win.

You've gotta be a little careful with this. When I read that paragraph, I immediately thought of the MGS1/2 cinematics where Solid Snake was up against various enemies. You can't count how often you would hear Liquid or Ocelot tell Solid Snake "You're going DOWN!" or similar phrases of underestimation. Yet, Solid is far from a wimpy looking guy.

So again, this shows that the mentality of your apperances in-game not having *ANY* effect on the game world is solidified withing the minds of most players, so you will have to shake them up and let them know your game is different if you want this mechanic to be successfull. You will have to exaggurate the effect, else it might go unnoticed.

Now you don't necessarily have to rub it into the player's face as a rule of playing your game, but rather at least create a mandatory situation which will show the player that his appearance does play a role within your game world. Perhaps a contrast between the two opposites (tough looking appearance vs. weak and harmless).

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Now, I just want to quickly cover the other end of the boat that there is - multiplayer games!

In MMORPGs or such, this mechanic already plays a small role between the players. It's not a major element of MMOs, but you certainly often have to decide how powerful the other guy is by mostly looking at his apparel.

Of course, it's not how tough the actual appearance of the armour/weapons you're gonna be judging, but rather their stats (unless you don't know anything about this MMO's stats, then you can only rely on actual appearance, which might be horribly misleading sometimes). So the two get married together, with stats being the decider of the appearances 'toughness-looking'. High end armour/weapons will get associated with 'tough' over time with players, and vice versa. No matter how tough a low-end armour might look like, if you know it's actually a lvl 3 armour, it will *appear* to be weak in your eyes.

Of course, after some time people tend to know everyone who is high lvl on a given server, so the need to estimate people's PvP ability based on looks detiriorates over time, but it's still there.

Some players also like to grief by wearing an alternate set of armour/weapon that makes them look very weak, acting like bait for others just to switch to their true high-lvl equipment when they're attacked (and thus can kill the other guy safely now, due to the Karma system). This is usually looked down upon, though. And it's usually pretty hard to be successful as bait, as other players learn quickly when someone is pretending to be a lowbie and rarely fall for it.

I think if the said MMO world was not completely overridden by currency exchange (assuring everyone only has the best stuff, no one goes for the slightly-worse but much cheaper equipment), this effect could be made to play a larger, more interesting role perhaps.

Sorry for a long post, I might've gotten carried away heh. =/

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In multiplayer games like Halo 3, Call of Duty 4, and other such shooters, this mechanic will not work. At all. Simply because the only people on the map are either bad guys or good guys. And they are not going to discriminate against weak looking people, since everyone has equal power.

Most closely resembling this Metal Gear Solid Online. The stealth features are still in the game, but they are more often than not pointless against sentient players.

Any ideas on how feigning weakness could be applicable in multiplayer games? (Aside from MMO's, since shurcool covered that very nicely)

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"You cheated!"
"Pirate."


For me, the trouble would be getting the feeling that I'd actually tricked the NPC. I think this could easily get too mechanical. I think balancing it with the obvious disadvantages could help a lot here. For instance:

Quote:
Original post by Trapper Zoid
I've thought something like this would be a good method to give some purpose to specialising in weapons such as staves, daggers or unarmed fighting. Most people would act alarmed or at least slightly on edge around an unknown mercanary adventurer armed with a large sword or gun.


There's a reason most people would act at least slightly on edge around a mercenary with a gun instead of one with a staff: it takes less skill to be equally lethal with a gun than a staff. Or, put another way, the man with the sword will probably win against the man with a knife, all other things being, in some sense, "equal".

Also, would the player ever find themselves in a position where they'd underestimate an NPC? Maybe the player is expecting some gentlemanly fisticuffs when his opponent pulls a gun and shoots him?

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