Giant Bomb News

100 Comments

Stealth Games Don't Have to Be So Niche

Mark of the Ninja technical designer Nels Anderson knows what makes stealth games tick, and why most of them turn people off.

I have a love-and-hate relationship with stealth games, a notion I promptly explained to Mark of the Ninja technical designer and Thief superfan Nels Anderson when I sat down to see his own stealth game at PAX East back in April.

Truly, I want to like them. I love intersecting game systems, which stealth games have in spades. Hitman: Blood Money has been a recent treat, even if that one often underscored my predominant issues with the genre. Too often, I don’t feel as though I have enough readily accessible information to make decisive, meaningful actions in stealth games, unless I spent an inordinate amount of time trial-and-errroring through a space in search of the optimal path.

Prior to joining Klei, Anderson worked as a programmer on the DeathSpank games.

Our conversation at PAX East wasn’t recorded, so we reconvened on Skype recently, and I laid out my hand-wringing again. Anderson is a connoisseur of the genre but one who's quick to criticize it, too.

“The thing that maybe I love most about stealth game is the broad gameplay flow is all about pull,” he said. “In most games, it’s all about push. The game is sending this encounters onto you and you have to react to them. All you do is react."

In Thief or Hitman, it's the opposite. You're biding your time.

"That delayed gratification can be pretty satisfying," he said. "How much you need to invest to get that and how tolerant people are of that can vary pretty dramatically. I’m totally happy to spend 30, 45 minutes trying to concoct some crazy ass situation in Hitman.”

Mark of the Ninja is a stealth game where you can truly look, feel and act like a stealthy bad ass. The game is constantly feeding you a steady flow kind of environmental information a stealthy bad ass (someone you'd assume is pretty smart) would know and use. When you cause noise, like smacking a gong with a shuriken from way across the room, the sound actually produces a noise cone on-screen, so you know what effect your actions have.

“As we were building the thing and iterating on it," he said, we kind of discovered the more information people had, the more enjoyable it was for them to play the game.”

These are the kinds of granular details that could be gathered by the player if they spent enough time experimenting, but Klei (and I’m with them here) would rather see the player spend that time employing their ideas--and succeeding.

“Sometimes [stealth] gameplay ends up being ‘well, I’m going to probe into the black box and see how that system works and poke at this thing here and poke at that thing there’ and start to build a mental model of how these guys work,’ said Anderson. “It can be fun, but that’s totally pitched on this knifes edge, where it’s really, really easy to fall on one side or the other, where it’s way too transparent and you’re just playing the mini-map and that’s boring.”

And before you ask, if you’re a hardcore stealth nut who feels design choices like this are simply to accommodate pansies like yours truly, the game will sport a New Game Plus mode where these systems are turned off.

Part of the reason Mark of the Ninja can show more information to the player is because it’s 2D--it's simpler. There just aren’t very many 2D stealth games, though. Does the Oddworld series count? The only one Anderson could come up with was Trilby: The Art of the Theft, which was made by none other than Ben “Yahtzee” Croshaw. Without other games to look towards, Klei was forced to invent solutions to problems no one else had encountered.

“From the outset, it was definitely not clear that would be a thing that would work,” he said. “It’s good that, ultimately, we figured out enough to put those pieces together...I hope.”

While every developer will tell you they want to break new ground, it’s always nice to have other games to look at for reference, even if it’s only to reaffirm you don't want to head in that direction.

Figuring out what was and wasn't working requires fresh bodies, so Anderson's been recruiting local playtesters in Vancouver through Craigslist. Every week, Anderson posts a message on the service promising $20 and the chance to play an unreleased video game--and a few people show up.

Assassin's Creed is a series hugely influenced by stealth games, despite its action elements.

Anderson's goal has been to find people who don’t self-identify as genre fans. A player who loves Assassin’s Creed is probably a fan of stealth mechanics, even if they don’t really know it.

“If it’s not playing towards those people, it’s probably not going to play to people who aren’t inclined to those games, either,” he said.

I’m still not sure how companies like Valve manage to recruit playtesters over and over again and keep them all quiet.

Around this time, we went down a deep rabbit hole about the similarities between most modern horror and stealth games. Both genres fall prey to their most ardent fans. Fans are fans for a reason, however, and have a higher tolerance for bullshit. As someone who plays most horror games, even junk like the recent Silent Hill: Downpour, I’m constantly forced to explain why it’s worth playing an otherwise terrible game for the few bright spots. Downpour was like that.

But flaws and all, stealth and horror represent emotionally charged experiences removed from most games.

“Those are the two styles that are really, basically, the only types of games that aren’t just about being powerful,” he said. “That’s something that I find super interesting. So many games are all about all the balls to all the walls--power fantasy type stuff. [...] Being the most bad ass who’s ever bad assed doesn’t really say a lot of interesting things to me anymore. I think that territory is pretty well understood.”

It's why Anderson plays every stealth game and I play every horror game: a different experience.

A shared problem in each genre is combat. Combat tends to flat-out suck in both, or at least be clunky to the point you wish the developer had just taken it out. Climax successfully experimented with this in Silent Hill: Shattered Memories, and Frictional Games knocked it out of the park in the nightmarish ride Amnesia: The Dark Descent.

When you introduce combat, a mechanic people are intimately familiar with, expectations go up. Having developed Shank and Shank 2, Klei has proven the ability to develop a fast, robust combat system, and while Mark of the Ninja is hardly a combat-focused game, when the player does find themselves in a fight, it feels good.

How to implement combat proved problematic, though. Klei is developing a stealth game, and early on, the more combat that went into Mark of the Ninja, the more people relied on the combat in every presented scenario.

“This is the weird thing about how human brains work,” he said. “If you provide people with a very un-fun but ultimately successful means of doing something, even if you have other, far more interesting but slightly less obvious or successful or repeatable means of accomplishing the same goal, tons of people will gravitate towards the more reliable but totally boring god damn thing!”

I don’t think Anderson is arguing Mark of the Ninja’s combat is un-fun (it’s not, I’ve played it) but the point about player behavior stands. I’ve seen myself slip into similar habits in games of all stripes, stealth or otherwise.

Mark of the Ninja hopes to strike a delicate balance.

You’ll get to play Mark of the Ninja soon. It’s one of the many games slated for “summer” on Xbox Live Arcade.

Patrick Klepek on Google+
100 Comments
  • 100 results
  • 1
  • 2
Posted by patrickklepek

I have a love-and-hate relationship with stealth games, a notion I promptly explained to Mark of the Ninja technical designer and Thief superfan Nels Anderson when I sat down to see his own stealth game at PAX East back in April.

Truly, I want to like them. I love intersecting game systems, which stealth games have in spades. Hitman: Blood Money has been a recent treat, even if that one often underscored my predominant issues with the genre. Too often, I don’t feel as though I have enough readily accessible information to make decisive, meaningful actions in stealth games, unless I spent an inordinate amount of time trial-and-errroring through a space in search of the optimal path.

Prior to joining Klei, Anderson worked as a programmer on the DeathSpank games.

Our conversation at PAX East wasn’t recorded, so we reconvened on Skype recently, and I laid out my hand-wringing again. Anderson is a connoisseur of the genre but one who's quick to criticize it, too.

“The thing that maybe I love most about stealth game is the broad gameplay flow is all about pull,” he said. “In most games, it’s all about push. The game is sending this encounters onto you and you have to react to them. All you do is react."

In Thief or Hitman, it's the opposite. You're biding your time.

"That delayed gratification can be pretty satisfying," he said. "How much you need to invest to get that and how tolerant people are of that can vary pretty dramatically. I’m totally happy to spend 30, 45 minutes trying to concoct some crazy ass situation in Hitman.”

Mark of the Ninja is a stealth game where you can truly look, feel and act like a stealthy bad ass. The game is constantly feeding you a steady flow kind of environmental information a stealthy bad ass (someone you'd assume is pretty smart) would know and use. When you cause noise, like smacking a gong with a shuriken from way across the room, the sound actually produces a noise cone on-screen, so you know what effect your actions have.

“As we were building the thing and iterating on it," he said, we kind of discovered the more information people had, the more enjoyable it was for them to play the game.”

These are the kinds of granular details that could be gathered by the player if they spent enough time experimenting, but Klei (and I’m with them here) would rather see the player spend that time employing their ideas--and succeeding.

“Sometimes [stealth] gameplay ends up being ‘well, I’m going to probe into the black box and see how that system works and poke at this thing here and poke at that thing there’ and start to build a mental model of how these guys work,’ said Anderson. “It can be fun, but that’s totally pitched on this knifes edge, where it’s really, really easy to fall on one side or the other, where it’s way too transparent and you’re just playing the mini-map and that’s boring.”

And before you ask, if you’re a hardcore stealth nut who feels design choices like this are simply to accommodate pansies like yours truly, the game will sport a New Game Plus mode where these systems are turned off.

Part of the reason Mark of the Ninja can show more information to the player is because it’s 2D--it's simpler. There just aren’t very many 2D stealth games, though. Does the Oddworld series count? The only one Anderson could come up with was Trilby: The Art of the Theft, which was made by none other than Ben “Yahtzee” Croshaw. Without other games to look towards, Klei was forced to invent solutions to problems no one else had encountered.

“From the outset, it was definitely not clear that would be a thing that would work,” he said. “It’s good that, ultimately, we figured out enough to put those pieces together...I hope.”

While every developer will tell you they want to break new ground, it’s always nice to have other games to look at for reference, even if it’s only to reaffirm you don't want to head in that direction.

Figuring out what was and wasn't working requires fresh bodies, so Anderson's been recruiting local playtesters in Vancouver through Craigslist. Every week, Anderson posts a message on the service promising $20 and the chance to play an unreleased video game--and a few people show up.

Assassin's Creed is a series hugely influenced by stealth games, despite its action elements.

Anderson's goal has been to find people who don’t self-identify as genre fans. A player who loves Assassin’s Creed is probably a fan of stealth mechanics, even if they don’t really know it.

“If it’s not playing towards those people, it’s probably not going to play to people who aren’t inclined to those games, either,” he said.

I’m still not sure how companies like Valve manage to recruit playtesters over and over again and keep them all quiet.

Around this time, we went down a deep rabbit hole about the similarities between most modern horror and stealth games. Both genres fall prey to their most ardent fans. Fans are fans for a reason, however, and have a higher tolerance for bullshit. As someone who plays most horror games, even junk like the recent Silent Hill: Downpour, I’m constantly forced to explain why it’s worth playing an otherwise terrible game for the few bright spots. Downpour was like that.

But flaws and all, stealth and horror represent emotionally charged experiences removed from most games.

“Those are the two styles that are really, basically, the only types of games that aren’t just about being powerful,” he said. “That’s something that I find super interesting. So many games are all about all the balls to all the walls--power fantasy type stuff. [...] Being the most bad ass who’s ever bad assed doesn’t really say a lot of interesting things to me anymore. I think that territory is pretty well understood.”

It's why Anderson plays every stealth game and I play every horror game: a different experience.

A shared problem in each genre is combat. Combat tends to flat-out suck in both, or at least be clunky to the point you wish the developer had just taken it out. Climax successfully experimented with this in Silent Hill: Shattered Memories, and Frictional Games knocked it out of the park in the nightmarish ride Amnesia: The Dark Descent.

When you introduce combat, a mechanic people are intimately familiar with, expectations go up. Having developed Shank and Shank 2, Klei has proven the ability to develop a fast, robust combat system, and while Mark of the Ninja is hardly a combat-focused game, when the player does find themselves in a fight, it feels good.

How to implement combat proved problematic, though. Klei is developing a stealth game, and early on, the more combat that went into Mark of the Ninja, the more people relied on the combat in every presented scenario.

“This is the weird thing about how human brains work,” he said. “If you provide people with a very un-fun but ultimately successful means of doing something, even if you have other, far more interesting but slightly less obvious or successful or repeatable means of accomplishing the same goal, tons of people will gravitate towards the more reliable but totally boring god damn thing!”

I don’t think Anderson is arguing Mark of the Ninja’s combat is un-fun (it’s not, I’ve played it) but the point about player behavior stands. I’ve seen myself slip into similar habits in games of all stripes, stealth or otherwise.

Mark of the Ninja hopes to strike a delicate balance.

You’ll get to play Mark of the Ninja soon. It’s one of the many games slated for “summer” on Xbox Live Arcade.

Posted by Morningstar

Or do they?

Posted by fatalflame

Stealth attack!

Posted by flasaltine

They dont have to be niche, but when developers try to appeal to the masses you get shit like Conviction and Absolution.

Posted by RenMcKormack

Stealth glamour shot of Nels snuck its way into my mind.

Posted by fusrodah

Who turned out the lights?

Posted by Seb

Good read. Thanks Patrick.

Edited by Flip175

I don't know if I'm the only one, but Patrick's concerns for the genre are kind of lost on me. The trial and error of stealth is one of the reasons I like it so much; it's fun taking different approaches in trying to achieve your goal. I've never thought the lack of "readily accessible information" to necessarily be a problem, it raises the tension and I find it fun to go with your gut and have that either pay off or fail horribly.

Posted by Wholemeal

@Flacracker: Loved how in Conviction they would project the feelings of Fisher onto the walls. Like when he was angry, it'd flash ANGRY everywhere. It was cool, but it also felt cheesy cause they couldn't portray the feelings through the character.

Posted by Droop

@Flacracker said:

They dont have to be niche, but when developers try to appeal to the masses you get shit like Conviction and Absolution.

Oh you've played Hitman Absolution? 6 months before its out? You have no idea what that game is yet.

Posted by RuthLoose

The upcoming Retro City Rampage is another great example of a game that isn't afraid to mix it up with some stealth elements every once and a while.

Like film, games need tension and there is no better way to do it than shimmying through an air duct.

Posted by TentPole

Can't say I care for this article.

Posted by dk3691

Anyone find the link for Toronto playtesters? I'd definitely do it if I could find the ad.

Posted by leejunfan83

I love Shank 2

Posted by Humanity

Not liking a genre isn't a love-hate relationship.

Posted by AhmadMetallic

I fucking love your articles, Patrick. I'm gonna enjoy reading this shit.

Posted by emilknievel

@TentPole said:

Can't say I care for this article.

Can't say I don't care for this article.

Edited by Brodehouse

I find it completely baffling that someone can like the first three Silent Hill games and think Downpour is junk. It's Silent Hill to a fault. Combat is clumsy, you run from most enemies and try to isolate the ones you do want to kill for safety. The puzzles actually make more sense now. If you hated the old games I would completely understand disliking Downpour. I think you might have some nostalgia or maybe you want to like the old games more than you actually liked playing them.

My main problem with stealth games is feeling like the prey when the story tells me I'm the predator. If Sam Fisher or the Hitman are supposed to be the most dangerous men in the world, how come they can lose a straight gunfight against common thugs? Solid Snake is the worst example, he's less effective with a gun or his fists than the common henchmen he's supposed to be superior to. Batman and Assassin's Creed nailed it, in that you're a predator who is using stealth because it's tactically efficient, not because you're clumsy and useless. Stealth should be a fun way to gain an advantage, not an arduous and annoying necessity to maintain.

If the game was actually about me being weak and incapable and having to hide just in order to stay alive, I would understand. That could be fun on its own, if it controlled well and you were shifting through hiding spots quick and clean. But they always try to make it intentionally clumsy and I hate that.

Posted by rmanthorp

The Batman 'Arkham' games are my favourite example of modern stealth games done right. I love how rewarding it is and how creative you can get. The detective vision is obviously a bit OP but I actively try and not use it all the time. It's also great having ways of getting the fuck out when shit goes bad.

Moderator
Posted by Inquisitor_Sif

The concept of stealth in gaming has never been the problem. The problem here is how do you imply stealth in the game. Just take MGS 2 or 3 for example. You can go assassin or gun-ho, whichever is fine as long as it suits your style.

Posted by popmasterruler

"Assassin's Creed is a series hugely influenced by stealth games, despite its action elements."

Oh Patrick,AC1 was the only game in the series with stealth.Everything since AC II has been action games,which is why the series hasn't been as good since AC II.

Posted by paulunga

@Droop said:

@Flacracker said:

They dont have to be niche, but when developers try to appeal to the masses you get shit like Conviction and Absolution.

Oh you've played Hitman Absolution? 6 months before its out? You have no idea what that game is yet.

Posted by Kaiserreich

Well Patrick not every genre needs to be homogenized into nothing in order to appeal to a wider audience. You don't like hardcore stealth games, well some people do.

Posted by SenatorSpacer

Excellent article, Patrick. I have the same issues with stealth games, trial and error in anything bugs the shit out of me, so it's nice to hear that a developer knows this and is addressing it. Looking forward to seeing if Mark of the Ninja can pull it off.

Posted by JackSukeru

As for other 2D stealth games, Stealth Bastard was pretty cool, also free.

Posted by JazGalaxy

It's interesting that you don't put Tenchu: Stelth Assasins in the article, Patrick. It's head and shoulders above any other stelth game that has ever been released, including it's sequels.

THe key element to the game is that you CAN brute force your way through, if you want. If you have enough items and weapons, you can just murder your way to your objective. But it's very, very, very hard. That's important because people who like stealth like it because they like to feel as though they are using their heads to avoid hardship. Most games don't get that and MAKE you do stelth, which is completely unrewarding to people who like that style of gameplay.

Edited by Tennmuerti

@Brodehouse said:

My main problem with stealth games is feeling like the prey when the story tells me I'm the predator. If Sam Fisher or the Hitman are supposed to be the most dangerous men in the world, how come they can lose a straight gunfight against common thugs? Solid Snake is the worst example, he's less effective with a gun or his fists than the common henchmen he's supposed to be superior to. Batman and Assassin's Creed nailed it, in that you're a predator who is using stealth because it's tactically efficient, not because you're clumsy and useless. Stealth should be a fun way to gain an advantage, not an arduous and annoying necessity to maintain.

If the game was actually about me being weak and incapable and having to hide just in order to stay alive, I would understand. That could be fun on its own, if it controlled well and you were shifting through hiding spots quick and clean. But they always try to make it intentionally clumsy and I hate that.

While I agree with your overall sentiment. I disagree with putting Hitman in that list of games.

Agent 47 could easily take out and go toe to toe with henchmen, you could even finish most of the missions straight up running around and murdering everybody.

What 47 can't do is survive against a huge number of enemies, which imo is quite realistic. It doesn't matter how badass and well trained or deadly you are, enough people shooting bullets in your general direction you are going to die, you just aren't Superman that can instantly heal wounds and absorb bullets. A HUGE part of being (somewhat realisticly) deadly is being smart, standing in the open tring to gun down a dozen dudes is not smart, it's cartoonish/videogamey/holywood badassery not deadliness.

Now say Adam Jensen is a better example imo, despite being hugely cybernetic having military grade hardware and wearing integrated body armor he still goes down like a sack of flower in seconds when in direct firefight.

Posted by Jimbo
"A player who loves Assassin’s Creed is probably a fan of stealth mechanics, even if they don’t really know it."
 
That's quite a leap of logic there...
 
"How to implement combat proved problematic, though. Klei is developing a stealth game, and early on, the more combat that went into Mark of the Ninja, the more people relied on the combat in every presented scenario." 
 
... for exactly that reason.  Combat is a silver bullet in Assassin's Creed, so loving that game really says nothing about whether you are inclined to like stealth mechanics or not.
 
It's true what he's saying about players taking the pragmatic approach rather than the fun approach, but you can't blame them for that - that's how you would expect an immersed player to behave.  If you've designed your game well, they should be inclined to behave how their character would behave in a given situation (ie. take the easy option).  The solution to this isn't to undermine the combat in order to make it a comparatively less appealing option, but to properly incentivise the more difficult (but hopefully more rewarding) stealth option to the character.  Give the immersed player a legit in-game reason as to why they would choose to take the more difficult approach to something. In other words, you don't make Stealth and Combat different ways of achieving the same goal, you make them different ways of achieving different goals.
 
The '100% Sync' mechanic introduced in AC: Brotherhood (iirc) is a decent example of this, where you had optional objectives (don't get spotted, don't touch the floor, whatever) to encourage you to play 'like IRL Ezio did it', which is to say more like an assassin and less like Rambo.  This was incentivised by having it unlock additional story content, but imo it probably should have been incentivised even further.  There's nothing wrong with Ramboing through AC if that's how you want to play it, but it can be a far more satisfying experience if you play it 'properly', and for most people (including me) to choose to play that way it has to be sufficiently incentivised to both the player and the character.
Posted by Brodehouse

@Tennmuerti said:

@Brodehouse said:

My main problem with stealth games is feeling like the prey when the story tells me I'm the predator. If Sam Fisher or the Hitman are supposed to be the most dangerous men in the world, how come they can lose a straight gunfight against common thugs? Solid Snake is the worst example, he's less effective with a gun or his fists than the common henchmen he's supposed to be superior to. Batman and Assassin's Creed nailed it, in that you're a predator who is using stealth because it's tactically efficient, not because you're clumsy and useless. Stealth should be a fun way to gain an advantage, not an arduous and annoying necessity to maintain.

If the game was actually about me being weak and incapable and having to hide just in order to stay alive, I would understand. That could be fun on its own, if it controlled well and you were shifting through hiding spots quick and clean. But they always try to make it intentionally clumsy and I hate that.

While I agree with your overall sentiment. I disagree with putting Hitman in that list of games.

Agent 47 could easily take out and go toe to toe with henchmen, you could even finish most of the missions straight up running around and murdering everybody.

What 47 can't do is survive against a huge number of enemies, which imo is quite realistic. It doesn't matter how badass and well trained or deadly you are, enough people shooting bullets in your general direction you are going to die, you just aren't Superman that can instantly heal wounds and absorb bullets. A HUGE part of being (somewhat realisticly) deadly is being smart, standing in the open tring to gun down a dozen dudes is not smart, it's cartoonish/videogamey/holywood badassery not deadliness.

Now say Adam Jensen is a better example imo, despite being hugely cybernetic having military grade hardware and wearing integrated body armor he still goes down like a sack of flower in seconds when in direct firefight.

Agreed on Jensen. Guy can hardly aim a gun and can only punch men when he has enough electricity. Feels super weird.

For what it's worth, I thought Conviction actually married Guy Who Can Shoot Men with Guy Who Hides reasonably well. If you were spotted you could fall back and try to get lost, or risk a firefight (which you usually will lose).

I think the main thing I liked was that you could get lost. Sick of games where enemies can track me like I'm wearing a GPS. It turns every encounter into a binary affair of invisible or retry. If you F up on the stealth you should be able to 'try again' in the moment rather than pull up the start menu.

Edited by Alorithin

I don't like the word hardcore being used so lightly. Water arrows, bludgeoning people, and pouring ether on panties isn't hardcore. These are game systems that were purposefully made difficult but solvable for players.

Hardcore is luring the CIA informant out into the street and getting him hit with the reinforcement FBI van.

Hardcore isn't roleplaying a pacifist in Deus Ex HR. Hardcore is not using weapons or takedowns at all.

Posted by RageExpressive

@Inquisitor_Sif: Yeah, but the game definately rewards players more if they chose the stealth option to the game with the end ranking system..

Posted by yeah_write

The developer wrote a fantastic article about this game for the Penny Arcade Report a couple of weeks ago http://penny-arcade.com/report/editorial-article/the-art-of-stealth-mark-of-the-ninja-and-2d-stealth-design

Definitely worth reading. I love what they're trying to do. The best stealth game for me was Batman, because of three very important things:

1. Batman controlled perfectly. You never second guessed your button presses. Metal Gear Solid always ties a bunch of stuff to the circle button, which makes doing what you want harder.

2. You had all the information you needed. The detective vision helped you understand your opposition, how they were armed and what their status was (calm, searching, or alert). The enemy color coding and x-ray vision made it easy to determine location and behavior without having to meticulously study routes.

3. Botching the stealth didn't end the game. As Batman you had the tools to deal with a situation if things went south. You could flee or fight. The smart player could make either tactic work.

said it best below:

Batman and Assassin's Creed nailed it, in that you're a predator who is using stealth because it's tactically efficient, not because you're clumsy and useless. Stealth should be a fun way to gain an advantage, not an arduous and annoying necessity to maintain.

In both Batman and Assassin's Creed stealth is often optional. It's also actually fun because of the reasons above. I think both games have shown that giving the player more information doesn't break the fun of stealthy action. It just changes the challenge.

Stealth games are currently like approaching a carpentry project with only a vague idea of how the tools you need to build a something actually work. You can figure it out as you go, but your shelf might be wobbly. Batman and the AC games show you how the tools work. No matter what you build, it's going to be cool.

Edited by djaoni

There are no recent or upcoming stealth games.

Hilarious that people think the AC games are anything but action games. Soon people will say that Mass Effect 3 is a RPG and Dead Space 2 is survival horror.

Edited by Alorithin

@yeah_write: Neither batman AA or AC are stealth games. They are better for it too. Gargoyle diving and rooftop running is empowerment. Stealth games should always be about the underdog or neurotic. Your "clumsy and useless" is my "immersion".

Posted by TentPole

@Brodehouse said:

I find it completely baffling that someone can like the first three Silent Hill games and think Downpour is junk. It's Silent Hill to a fault. Combat is clumsy, you run from most enemies and try to isolate the ones you do want to kill for safety. The puzzles actually make more sense now. If you hated the old games I would completely understand disliking Downpour. I think you might have some nostalgia or maybe you want to like the old games more than you actually liked playing them.

But it isn't hip to hate the old games and it is even less cool to like the new ones.

Edited by firecracker22

I'm the minority when it comes to this subject, really. Have always loved stealth games. The concept of opening up for more people has always seemed like a good idea to me, too. I was really happy to see that MGS4, for example, could be played as a shooter or give me the chance to straight up ghost it.

Posted by Hitchenson

@Alorithin said:

Hardcore is luring the CIA informant out into the street and getting him hit with the reinforcement FBI van.

That's pretty great actually. Surely you wouldn't get Silent Assassin though, still, pretty sick.

Posted by prestonhedges

@TentPole said:

@Brodehouse said:

I find it completely baffling that someone can like the first three Silent Hill games and think Downpour is junk. It's Silent Hill to a fault. Combat is clumsy, you run from most enemies and try to isolate the ones you do want to kill for safety. The puzzles actually make more sense now. If you hated the old games I would completely understand disliking Downpour. I think you might have some nostalgia or maybe you want to like the old games more than you actually liked playing them.

But it isn't hip to hate the old games and it is even less cool to like the new ones.

There's nothing cool about liking any video game over another.

You're either looking for "trendy" or "elitist," not "hipster."

Posted by firecracker22

@popmasterruler: There were some heavy stealth missions in all the AC games, which I think is what he meant.

There are missions that require absolute stealth, because you get desynchronized for being seen and have to restart from the last checkpoint.

Really, AC is the only series that seems to do that anymore. The requisite stealth mission was something every game did for a while. AC's crowd blending is also a stealth tactic.

Posted by Veektarius

I disagree with the argument that players will not use stealth if combat works. Players who didn't really want to play a stealth game will not use stealth if combat works. Players who want to play a stealth game will use stealth so long as it isn't broken. Take, for example, Elder Scrolls games. Stealth has always been an option, and some people have always used it, despite the fact it's not perfectly effective. Enemies can 'hear' you even at your stealthiest if your skill check fails, regardless of whether you were going as slowly as possible and staying in the darkness.

Then take a game like Deus Ex: HR. This is a game with a very functional stealth system and a better-than-average combat system. It was optimized for stealth, though, and a person like me, who's willing to dabble in stealth, can get through the game pretty easily, occasionally breaking it in some levels like the Montreal that just have too many enemies. But one of the primary criticisms of the game that I saw was people who had no patience for stealth whatsoever complaining about how the game punished them for trying to run and gun.

If you want the broadest audience for your game, not just the shooters and not just the stealthers, both parts need to be playable.

Posted by BlueWolverine

@Flacracker: @Flacracker said:

They dont have to be niche, but when developers try to appeal to the masses you get shit like Conviction and Absolution.

When did you play Absolution?

Posted by BlueWolverine

Assassins Creed is NOT a stealth game, at least not the single-player.

Posted by deerokus

I've never really classed the Hitman games as stealth games. They're hiding-in-plain-sight/puzzle games.

Posted by TentPole

@gladspooky said:

@TentPole said:

But it isn't hip to hate the old games and it is even less cool to like the new ones.

There's nothing cool about liking any video game over another.

You're either looking for "trendy" or "elitist," not "hipster."

Sigh...

Posted by Sunjammer

I don't get it man. There's this constant urge to knock the stealth genre, while the genre has brilliant standouts. I never thought of Hitman as a stealth game. I thought of it as a The Incredible Machine spinoff. The games simply penalize moment to moment missteps too harshly to fully integrate the stealth into the gameplay.

So many of the misgivings about stealth games tend to be about binary fail states. No, I dunno why they do those either. Play some Thief, ffs. Did you play Thief 2 Patrick? Totally analog fail state. There's not a moment of Thief you can't get out of if you're quick on your toes. What's this "trial and error" of which you speak? I never once felt the need to restart a mission in any of the Thief titles. The worst that can happen is you bungle it up and feel like a shitty thief.

The sucky entries are too often allowed to define the genre. Stealth games are the bomb.

Posted by firecracker22

@Sunjammer: I think what ended up getting this massive "we hate" stealth games vibe was how other games, that weren't stealth games and were not marketed as such either, kept implementing one long and badly done stealth level into that action game. So you wound up with a game that wasn't a stealth game, having stealth sections that were badly done, and played by people who weren't looking for a stealth game to begin with.

I think that had alot to do with it. To the point where Stealth is no longer even a genre anymore. I remember I used to be able to look for games in the stealth genre, and now I've got to go through the action/third person adventure genre if I'm looking for a stealth game that isn't Metal Gear Solid or Splinter Cell.

Posted by nmarchan

@popmasterruler said:

"Assassin's Creed is a series hugely influenced by stealth games, despite its action elements."

Oh Patrick,AC1 was the only game in the series with stealth.Everything since AC II has been action games,which is why the series hasn't been as good since AC II.

Really? Is that why such a large percentage of the missions want you to assassinate someone without being detected? Because it's NOT a stealth game?

Posted by jakkblades

@Sunjammer said:

I don't get it man. There's this constant urge to knock the stealth genre, while the genre has brilliant standouts. I never thought of Hitman as a stealth game. I thought of it as a The Incredible Machine spinoff. The games simply penalize moment to moment missteps too harshly to fully integrate the stealth into the gameplay.

So many of the misgivings about stealth games tend to be about binary fail states. No, I dunno why they do those either. Play some Thief, ffs. Did you play Thief 2 Patrick? Totally analog fail state. There's not a moment of Thief you can't get out of if you're quick on your toes. What's this "trial and error" of which you speak? I never once felt the need to restart a mission in any of the Thief titles. The worst that can happen is you bungle it up and feel like a shitty thief.

The sucky entries are too often allowed to define the genre. Stealth games are the bomb.

Dude, there are a lot of stealth games with binary fail states. And even more incarnations of stealth being handled this way in games that aren't primarily stealth focused. I don't really see the need for a big revamp of the stealth genre or anything like that, but the Thief example is much rarer than dumb variations like the forgetful enemy syndrome or the countdown alarm or the "guess I'm icing these fools" moments. That's actually my favorite of the three all told. So long as I hide the bodies, I should be cool to kill and keep moving.

Posted by probablytuna

The thing about Assassin's Creed that always bugged me was that as an assassin, I don't have the ability to sneak around or go into cover (other than jumping into haystacks) at will. It took away the feeling that I was someone who goes to great lengths to assassinate someone from the shadows without anyone noticing.

Posted by deerokus

@Sunjammer: YES! I've always been baffled by this too.

  • 100 results
  • 1
  • 2