Tacticular Cancer: We'll have your balls

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Improvments over Fallouts Thiefing/Sneaking System

Discussion in 'What Remains' started by Surf Solar, Jan 25, 2012.

  1. Surf Solargender: ⚧ cannot into womynz

    Surf Solar
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    ... is what I want to establish in this thread.

    I have to shamefully admit that I never really play stealthy approaches in cRPG or other games - it doesn't really suit my playing style. This shouldn't mean that this playstyle should be rendered useless in my game - that's why I opened the thread. If you played through the game (Fallout1/2) with a high sneak skill, did you think it was worth to invest in this skill? If you played a Thief, what did annoy you, what can be improved upon?

    The obvious fixes would be being more careful to setup Team Flags (they determine wether one NPC helps the other NPC in a town for example if he gets attacked) - so not the whole town is after you when you are caught stealing from someone. The next "fix" would be to give context sensitive thief/sneak only choices in Dialogs/Interactions with the envoriment. What, if you like to play such characters, would you like to see changed in the game?

    Thanks in advance!
     
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  2. Omicrongender: ⚧ Scholar

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    I must admit that I never played stealth characters in both Fallout 1 and 2, but I do have a few ideas/suggestions.

    One (obvious) way to improve stealth characters would to design quests (or ways to solve them) either specifically for stealth characters or at least while keeping them in mind. Stuff like slipping into the local casino and getting out with phat lewt, with logical consequences like rich people starting to increase security, if you were seen options to bribe witnesses, and if that fails getting in serious trouble with the local organisations, with stuff like getting kicked out of town, powerful people wanting you dead, nobody giving a shit except for your victim, the sheriff trying to arrest you (with options to bribe your way out, paying a fine to your victims, getting into jail and possibly breaking out.

    For a less scripted(?) way to add to stealth I think the system would have to be almost completely overhauled. Maybe some sort of turn based system could work, where everyone gets only a few AP a turn (non-sneaking/patrolling charters moving parallel in order to counter ridiculous turn-wait-time-stuff). Giving each hex their own sound generation while moving to another hex and light generation while standing an hex would also be nice, line of sigth for NPC's (depending on the direction they are facing) could work to but I don't know ho difficult it would be to program such stuff. A system like this would also offer some perk potential, like 15% less sound generation while moving slowly and the like.

    As for stealing/pickpocketing I can't exactly remember if the steal skill also allowed you to steal stuff from containers NPC's considered theirs and if light affected that in any way but I think that this could enhance the stealth gameplay as well.
     
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  3. Make America Great Again Rogueygender: ⚧ Arcane Sawyerite Sawyerist Sawyer's Bride No Fun Allowed

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    Sneaking was useful when it came to stealing things from owned containers, but it was too flimsy when it came to sneaking past enemies. No matter how high it was there was always the chance it would break through no fault of your own (leading to reloading if you have no or not enough combat skills). Ideally there would also be things like more enemies with patrol routes and a state of awareness between "unaware" and "combat time" with clear feedback, and perhaps the ability to throw objects on the ground as a distraction, but that's likely outside the scope of what you're doing.

    I hated how much of a reload-fest stealing was because you had no idea what your chances were. If you can see what your chances are for hitting an enemy, you should be able to see them for removing items from a person. It'd also be nice if there were other consequences to getting caught other than kill owner/be killed.
     
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  4. Make America Great Again Average Manateegender: ⚧ Prestigious Gentleman Arcane

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    I'm having trouble trying to think of a single RPG where I found stealth to be a satisfying game mechanic. Either it works all the time, leading to it being an I-Win button, it works none of the time, being useless, or it works half the time, being an I-Win button that makes you Quicksave every 20s to keep using it. I certainly can't think of a way to make it worthwhile in FO 1/2, at best you could make it maybe 5% less shitty.
     
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  5. Stasgardgender: ⚧ Scholar

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    I think this is the root of the problem in regards to RPGs and the Thief/Stealth classes. The default system that comes with most RPG's is naturally one based heavily on dice and skill based resolution which leads to stealth itself, not lockpicking or stealing, being in a position of being an almost completely passive playstyle. Without a LOT of work to implement a complete subsystem just for this one playstyle like Omicron reccomended you end up with a class/skill/role that basically amounts to clicking the "sneak" button and praying the dice go your way. Which, naturally, isn't the most compelling gameplay experience.

    I would say that going for the heavily designed multiple approaches route that focuses less on the stealth skill is probably the way to go. Having ways to objectives through locked doors, targets that can be pickpocketed for items/papers/keys that you need, traps to disarm if such a skill makes it into your game (forgive my lack of recollection on the Fallouts and what you are adding). There are skills in the system that lend itself to a rogue/thief playstyle other then the Sneak skill itself, it's just a matter of designing encounters and areas with them in mind.

    As a (poor) example, say you have a quest to get into a building to retrive some item. Obviously soldier types could just brute force their way in, talky types could convince the guards they are there to move item X to a more secure location, you could bribe the guards to let you in: All ovious stuff you've probably heard. But you could make said encounter very Thief friendly just by adding a backdoor to the building that can be picked and perhaps traps in the back way that need to be avoided or disarmed (it's unguarded physically, they need something there) and you could add a key to a guard(s) that would allow you to walk straight in the front way.

    Basically, I don't feel that the act of sneaking itself is the most important part of the Thief playstyle, and it is certainly not one of the easiest to design for. Naturally, if you can you SHOULD do it, and I am sure people will give suggesstions on how to make it work, but I think designing encounters and areas in such a way as to be able to avoid confrontation by avoiding people entirely through skill use would lead to a very Thief-y game experience. Also, this would probably require scripting work, or again just designing areas differently, but you could take a page from Arcanum and make it so that stores can actually be broken into and robbed. At the very least, Thieves should have a monetary advantage over others builds, no?
     
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  6. seagender: ⚧ Prestigious Gentleman inXile Entertainment Developer

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    Excellent post by Stasgard above. I also just want to add that stealth can be used as a supplementary "assassin" skill, where rather than allowing to bypass combat entirely, instead it can serve as a critical hit modifier, or a way of losing enemy attention after acting. The "win button" side of it is hard to work in so I think it'd be better to look at stealth more as a supplementary skill, in the same way speech and science are - there to allow for a few extra possibilities, but not as a main solution to solving objectives.
     
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  7. villain of the storygender: ⚧ Unwanted

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    Just copy paste the sneaking from JA2.
     
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  8. seagender: ⚧ Prestigious Gentleman inXile Entertainment Developer

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    Also, forgot to mention and can't edit:

    Fallout made stealth pretty viable compared to most RPGs. It was a good way to avoid fights and if you raised it early on you could bypass most of the combat in the game. In fact, I feel that stealth has quite possibly one of the biggest return on investments of any skill, if you account for simply not having to contend with enemies as a bonus rather than a negative (due to lack of XP etc.). However, stealth progressively gets worse and worse the longer you play - enemies can kind of just see you no matter what, making you reliant on Stealth Boys (which any type of character can use more or less just as effectively), and there are also a few parts in the game that are triggered to occur regardless of whether you're stealthed or not. If you're able to fix the issues in the late game and don't have any forced cutscenes/triggers for the player that can't be avoided with stealth, then that goes a long way.

    Stealing also had its uses, but like in most RPGs it was sort of just a "get extra items" skill, which wasn't bad, but the value sort of wore off with repeat plays, and with enough save scumming you could get any item. A few possible solutions include setting a minimum skill value to steal an item, create more quests where theft is an option, and allowing it to be used offensively (such as planting poisons in the Elder Scrolls games, or a more reasonable version of the Super Stimpak overdose trick).
     
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  9. Make America Great Again Average Manateegender: ⚧ Prestigious Gentleman Arcane

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    The problem with making it rely on traps/lockpicking/stealing stuff is that then 1 thief per party automatically "wins" those areas. Assuming that we have a maximum party size of 6-10 characters (less is stupid consoletard design), having just one character automatically able to bypass a large number of encounters is bad in terms of gameplay tradeoffs. Arguably, the same comparison can be made with speech skills in most games. Both Speech and thief abilities aren't checks of the party composition or design, but merely a binary "do you have a character for talking/thievery?" question. If playing the "thief" route of a game is as easy as taking a single thief in the party to open backdoors then you have eliminated any C&C options in the game, and may as well delete the front door because only an idiot would take it.

    "get extra items" is generally a hard thing to make work well. It relies on having an economy that actually works and treading a very fine line between finding getting lots of extra useless junk and getting gamebreakingly powerful stuff. Plus, its not a very interesting way to play a character.

    The thing is, JA2 doesn't have a "sneak" skill. Instead of relying on the character's sneaking ability its all about the player ordering them around correctly. That's fine and dandy, but RPGs are supposed to be about character abilities, not player abilities.


    I very much dislike making stealth characters as a "like warriors but..." character. It really adds little to the game. Getting random in-combat bonuses should not be what they rely on.

    Integrating it along with speech/science/etc is a good idea though. Say, in a conversation about to go sour the assassin, already positioned away from the group in a way such that they aren't being watched, subtly works his way up around the enemies focused on the rest of the party. A decent assassin might have two pistols ready to eliminate 2 enemies the instant battle begins (and the added confusion could allot them an extra initiative round). A master assassin would sneak up behind the enemy leader before combat even starts and either kill him instantly or take him hostage to protect the party.

    This does make it more of a non-combat skill, and though I already mentioned that I don't like Speech for a few reasons, Stealth/Assassin characters could probably be integrated very fluidly into the mechanics so that multiple assassin-trained characters and their relative skill all contribute to more and more effectiveness, rather than Speech's binary win/lose problems. Ideally you could even combine the two, with a high speech character orating long and hard as a distraction while the assassins get into position.
     
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  10. Stasgardgender: ⚧ Scholar

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    I don't think there is any question that the sort of design I proposed would be god awful in a true party based system, but I wasn't putting it forth under those circumstances. Maybe this is me being ignorant of What Remains' design, but but from what I've gathered I figured it would be pretty much the same as Fallout: Single Player Character, Recruitable NPC's. As such I figured, much like Fallout, that it would only be the PC itself that would be making the skill checks, or most of them. The design of having multiple paths that can be "won" by building a certain way I don't personally see as a flaw in this kind of RPG. In fact, I would say it is preferable. The game is mostly ABOUT your build and then using it to accomplish your objectives. Thus, designing multiple paths with specific archtypes in mind would suit the gameplay, at least in my opinion.

    You touched on the fact that the skill checks, much like Dialog checks are fairly binary and, again, I have to concede that you are correct. However, what is there to really be done about it? Out of combat skill checks are always going to end up being binary anyways. If it is a dice roll system, if you can't succeed the outcome is obvious. If you can, it is matter of rolling high enough, obviously. However then you hit the issue of failure penalties. No Penalty? Roll forever until you succeed. Can no longer try again? If this stops you from reaching your objective, then a reload is the obvious answer, much like you would reload in an action game if you screwed up and stopped yourself form being able to proceed. Now obviously, you can have save/load restrictions to avoid this but that is a totally other discussion, so I shall just presume a free save/load.

    Effectively, out of combat skill checks are going to end up being binary without major restrictions outside of the check itself. So, I do think a take 20 Succeed/Failure is appropriate here, at least for the checks I proposed, which do come down to said results. The problem here is the one I mentioned in my previous post, the nature of the RPG. All of these checks by sheer neccessity HAVE to come down to the player deciding what to do and the Skill/Dice deciding it. So, I will say I think it boils down to in the situation I described (Single Character) that designing the multiple approaches that are limited by build is the way to go. You clearly don't think such an environment is of particularly high quality: "stupid consoletard design", but would you still have the same oppossition to this design strategy in such a game?
     
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  11. Grim Monkgender: ⚧ Arcane

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    A few minor points...

    Sneaking Penalties for Clothing/Armor like in FO Tactics.
    Being inconspicuous should be significantly harder if one's wearing Power Armor.

    A Weight/Encumbrance Penalty System.
    Sensible people don't haul around tons of stuff when trying to be stealthy.
     
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  12. villain of the storygender: ⚧ Unwanted

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    :retarded:
     
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  13. villain of the storygender: ⚧ Unwanted

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    [​IMG]

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    Not only does it have properly implemented skills that come with two levels and are governed by attributes, including stealth the success of which is governed by Agility, fatigue, worn equipment and how much you are carrying, but the game also has many exclusive functionalities for skills. The game interface is built to accommodate stealth. You get textual and visual feedback on voices and noises in the environment. You can sneak-crawl/crouch/walk/run and whether any of it works at all depends on those factors. Also, the surface also matters. Oh yeah, that also means that your mercs make noises and can be heard by AI.

    And the success isn't so fickle as in Fallout or other games. You can expect to keep a fairly consistent performance of sneaking on the level your merc is capable of, without the "YOU FAIL YOUR ROLL EVERYONE SEES YOU TROLOLOLO" situation. Stealth in JA2 puts practically every single RPG out there to shame.

    I'm amazed that someone who got to play JA2 could be so clueless about this. Even more amazed that some would have the audacity to even mention JA2 and player skill over character in the same sentence. WTF man? WTF?
     
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  14. Kalingender: ⚧ Arcane

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    One thing I really enjoyed in Planescape: Torment was its dialogue-based stealth actions. With sufficient stats, you could attempt to pickpocket people in conversation, subdue them and snap their necks (oh yeah!), reach through the bars and pin a gate guard's arm to force him to let you through, steal important items without anyone noticing and so forth.

    By transferring many of the more complex situations involving stealth and dexterity to the dialogue interface, you would be able to benefit from colourful descriptions and a much improved atmosphere.
     
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  15. CrustyBotgender: ⚧ Prophet Patron

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    I don't know whether it'd be feasible (or even possible) to do, but in regards to having contextual dialogue based stealing/thievery/etc feel less like arbitrary skill checks, you could alter and tie their success rate through the use of other skill checks, or through dialog options.

    For example, if the objective is to enter building X and one of the ways you could accomplish that is by getting the keys from the guard (you could simply force your way in, bribe your way in, convince them to let you in, etc). You could start by having "Steal his keys" become one of the basic options, then you could lay out a Perception check (one option amongst many) telling him he needs to check his gun because it's broken or something, followed by a Big Guns check which then gets him to check his gun for any problems. "Steal his keys" then becomes an option again, but has a boosted chance of success. You could also integrate this (without too much trouble) into other playstyles, like say a Barter check after passing the Perception check saying that you can "pay for any repairs" or something which leads to the Bribery option.

    Essentially, you want to put in these options deep enough that they require both a high level of character skill and enough player skill which places the Mark in a desired situation for maximum success. On the flip side, you'd need to add consequences for either failed checks or simply bad dialog choices. Another approach would be to verbally distract the guard with a Speech check ("hey, look over there! A Deathclaw!"), increasing the chance for a successful Steal check by a larger amount than the previous example (since the Guard turns around) while also giving a new Agility check to run past him and a Strength check to bum rush the Guard. Failing the Speech check would then take away all those options to get past the Guard, meaning that you need another way to get past him (Perception check related options, etc)

    Of course, ultimately, it's still based on dice rolls. But if you mix up the dialog/context and require players to actually pick options which make sense for a particular approach and have negative consequences for those who aren't able to play according to character build and an approach which correlates with that build, then I think you'd be able to make it feel less arbitrary.

    To be honest, I'd imagine that the dialogue trees would get horribly unmanageable over time if you did what I suggested. Oh well. Good luck with your project nonetheless, I'm loving what I've seen of it so far and I'd really like to see it get released someday.
     
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  16. CrustyBotgender: ⚧ Prophet Patron

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    Oh, since I can't edit my previous post(past 30 minutes), I'll also add that it was dealing more in generalities than specific Thief archetype characters. To be more on topic, I can definitely get behind the idea of setting up quests and levels which place specific challenges that take the priority off sneaking and puts it more on utility and infiltration.

    There is overlap, but whereas stealth will mostly have Sneak as a relevant skill, you could provide many different contexts for the use of other skills that are Thief-y either through dialogue situations, or through the quest/level design. Traps, Stealing, Throwing, Lockpick, even Charisma or Speech for con artist type characters. Having items and mechanics that add to the system help too (poisoning NPCs, use of mines to blow up obstacles/distract NPCs, etc).

    Also, did the FO games have equipped items affect Sneaking? I don't remember. You could add modifiers to the Sneak rate depending on what you wear/use. Grim Monk up above suggested this, and it's a good idea.
     
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