The MDA Framework Staggered Alcoves, Patrol Paths Carefully Timed Moving and Waiting Slow, thoughtful pacing
Common Stealth Game Mechanics Guards Patrol Routes Light / Darkness Sound and hearing Sneaking up on guys
Common Stealth Aesthetic Create the illusion of a securely guarded area that the player can sneak through by virtue of leveraging their unique abilities and tools to create and exploit security flaws
Common Stealth Aesthetic Success Stealth makes player powerful Someone less stealthy would get caught Creating/exploiting security flaws Failure Stealth is unnecessary Area isn’t well guarded A non-stealthy solution is easier and/or more fun Stealth doesn’t work Get caught too often
Challenge of the Aesthetic Goal “Create the illusion of a securely guarded area that the player can sneak through” Make the player feel like they are special enough to do the impossible
Combat = High Threshold For Failure You get shot repeatedly but don’t fail
Stealth = Low Threshold for Failure If guards see you, you get caught quickly
Implications for Level Building In a combat game, it’s valid to create a challenging room and assume all players will experience some degree of failure. To support stealth gameplay, you can’t assume players will fail.
The Balancing Act For every stealth encounter, you must… Provide a means for the player to experience little or no failure
The Balancing Act For every stealth encounter, you must… Provide a means for the player to experience little or no failure “zero failure”
The Balancing Act For every stealth encounter, you must… Provide a means for the player to experience zero failure Communicate those means
The Balancing Act For every stealth encounter, you must… Provide a means for the player to experience zero failure Communicate those means Don’t be too obvious about it
The Balancing Act Not enough help, Player feels incapable Too much help, Player doesn’t feel stealthy
Design Tools Mechanics you add to the level to manage the player’s experience EG - Shadowy Alcove Dynamics you understand to predict the player’s experience EG - Players are drawn to shadowy alcoves
Useful for Managing Challenge Level Guards Loud Flooring Dead Ends Scouting Locations Connectivity Shadows
Manage the Experience Towards Other Goals, Too “Players are drawn to shadowy alcoves” tool for controlling pacing
But obviously there’s more going on here Balancing Advantages vs. Challenges is over- simplified Let’s analyze that example
Closer Look at Balancing Act Imagine you’re the player What can you see from the scouting spot? How do you feel? What is your plan? So what might the player do? What is the effect of the guard’s patrol?
Some observations What is meant by Advantage? Anything that makes it easier to succeed at stealth What is meant by Disadvantage? Anything that makes it easier to fail at stealth
Some observations Some things are both Advantages and Challenges, depending Patrol path Hard cover
Some observations Player Psychology Understanding the “on-the-ground” experience Guard out of sight at far end of patrol path Predicting how player will behave
Environments only, don’t worry about enemies for now Stealth Unfriendly More environmental challenges Stealth Friendly More environmental advantages
Macro vs. Micro Application of Stealth Friendly / Unfriendly We’ve already been discussing the Macro level If stealth unfriendly… Add environmental advantages Or don’t put guards here Or recognize its impact on player experience
Micro Application of Stealth Friendly / Unfriendly Let’s revisit this example
Micro Application of Stealth Friendly / Unfriendly
Environmental Tool Scouting Location Player can observe upcoming challenges from a position of safety
Player Psychology Scouting Avoiding the pitfall of thinking like yourself The player doesn’t know if danger is coming up
Scouting Scouting Locations Player can observe upcoming challenges from a position of safety Safety = Stealth Friendly Observe = Good sight lines, things worth seeing Examples Dark crossroads / alcoves Balconies / Rafters / Hills
Uses For Scouting Locations Learn Existence of challenges Location / behavior of challenges Formulate and execute plans Relax
Now Consider Enemy Placement We know the player’s path, so where do we place enemies?
Enemy Placement Use the Friendly / Unfriendly metric Enemy power is relative to their environment One guard in a Stealth Unfriendly area might be too much What territory does the guard control?
Been Caught Combat See elsewhere Fleeing
Fleeing Player Goals Get away Reset the experience Does the environment support this?
Environmental Tools Connectivity Enemy can’t follow Balconies Reset Areas Such as Scouting Locations Obstructions Dead Ends
Props for Scouting Locations Learn about challenges Formulate plans Cycle of tension and relaxation Reset spots
Dynamic Tool Out of the Frying Pan, Into The Fire
Summary Low Threshold For Failure Create Zero Failure Player Paths Predict Player Paths Stealth Friendly / Stealth Unfriendly Tune Player Paths Environmental Tools Enemy Placement and Territory Phases of Gameplay Player Psychology
Q & A Slides and Questions: Randy@RoninGameDeveloper.com
Design Tools Soft Cover Scouting Locations Connectivity Ring Around The Rosy Hard Cover Static Enemies Dynamic Enemies Blind Corners Loud Surfaces Unpredictable Enemy Behavior Obstructions Dead Ends Out of the Frying Pan, Into The Fire