Stealth Game Idea

Posted by Mush on Sept. 30, 2011, 4:38 p.m.

Overview

The game is a stealth-based side-scrolling platformer that requires strategy, combat, and simple puzzle solving in order to progress through the game's various levels.

Environmental factors such as light, sound, and smell affects the player's level of 'stealthiness'. For example, if the player stands near a lamp, steps on broken glass, or smokes a cigarette to increase his health, the player will become more detectable to the enemies around him. Thus, strategy and puzzle solving comes into play when the player must decide the best way to avoid being detected. In some situations, flipping a light-switch may be the best way to get passed a guard, but in another situation, killing the guard will be safer.

The game will include equipable items to help the player with different obstacles. A gun will help with shooting out lights and killing enemies, a flashlight will improve visibility and illuminate traps, a knife will allow the player to cut interactive ropes and wires, and etc.

The HUD would include such stats as health, stealthiness, and equipped item/ammo.

Setting

I envision this game to be set in the 1930s or 40s in a large city like New York or Chicago. The art style would resemble that of Edward Hopper link. (his art emphasizes themes of light and dark, interior and exterior, and lonely urban environments.) I have been working with this idea for a few months and have already created some 'concept art':

Different environments could include urban (night and day), indoors (office, casino, theater, etc.), Central Park, and sewers.

Story

I have not fleshed out a story, but here are two possible premises:

-The character is an agent trying to stop an evil madman

-The character is a thief trying to steal a precious gem.

Suggestions/comments are appreciated!

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I'm really digging this idea! Here are some questions/comments that may help refine this idea further.

Mechanics

Is there only one path through each level, or are there multiple ways to get through each level depending on play style? Is there some penalty for killing enemies?

Using smell as a detection mechanic: are cigarettes the only things that will cause the player to smell? Does the smell take a while to wear off? Maybe the player can hide in those big garbage bins which makes him impossible to detect by guards but he has a smell that doesn't wear off for a while. I would question the wisdom of including a smell mechanic if there were only a few situations where it would affect gameplay, but if you can make it integral to the game, it's a really neat idea.

Setting

I like the setting, but I feel like in a game like this, I'd like to see a teeny bit more noir to it (not full on black and white but maybe a bit more moody). I think the art style would pop more if there was even more light/dark contrast.

Story

There are a number of things you could do with a story for this game, here are a few more ideas!

- The player is an escaped convict or mental patient on the run from the law

- The player is a person with no recollection of their past, and who wakes up at the scene of a murder

- The player has been wronged and is out for revenge

- The player is a cabbie that witnessed something they shouldn't have

- The player is in the mob (and wants out!)

I like the idea of the player being an agent as well, or they could even be a beat cop. As far as the thieving thing goes, you might want to take a look at Monaco and The Swindle before you go down that route.

Hope that helped!

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Thanks for the reply, it definitely helped.

Quote:
Mechanics

Is there only one path through each level, or are there multiple ways to get through each level depending on play style? Is there some penalty for killing enemies?
Since the game is side-scrolling, it inherently linear (though there are some side-scrollers that are nonlinear.) However, the player would be able to pick different paths to get to the same objective. For example, if the player finds an AC duct, he would be able to crawl through the duct and potentially avoid enemies and other obstacles below. Also, the player may need to backtrack to enter a lock combination he just found.

As far as play style, I think the game should allow for multiple approaches. If the player wants to predominantly use his gun, then there will be some challenges, but ultimately doable. On the other hand, if the player decides to play the "passive" role, his challenges would be different: instead of requiring good aim, the player would need to be good at performing evasive maneuvers. I think, however, most players would adopt a hybridization of both approaches using different styles for different situations.

Penalties for killing an enemy again depends on the situation. If you see a group of 3 guards, obviously it would not be wise to try and eliminate them. Or if you see a guard next to an alarm switch and you know your gun takes 2 shot to kill him, there is a possibility that he will flip the switch before dying. Another possible penalty (which ties into your point about role of smell) is that other enemies could be alerted by the smell of a decaying body. If you kill an enemy and do not dispose of the body, other guards will be attracted to the smell (though this is only dangerous if backtracking is required).

Quote:
Using smell as a detection mechanic: are cigarettes the only things that will cause the player to smell? Does the smell take a while to wear off? Maybe the player can hide in those big garbage bins which makes him impossible to detect by guards but he has a smell that doesn't wear off for a while. I would question the wisdom of including a smell mechanic if there were only a few situations where it would affect gameplay, but if you can make it integral to the game, it's a really neat idea.
Definitely agree that smell should be integral to the game (or at least as important as light and sound). I think it's only a matter of coming up with ideas that would fit in the game. That garbage idea is great, by the way.

Quote:
Setting

I like the setting, but I feel like in a game like this, I'd like to see a teeny bit more noir to it (not full on black and white but maybe a bit more moody). I think the art style would pop more if there was even more light/dark contrast.
Yes, 'noir' was the word I was looking for. I agree about the contrast (good examples: one two three.) The piece I posted was a copy of this.

Quote:
Story

There are a number of things you could do with a story for this game, here are a few more ideas!
You are much better at coming up with story ideas than I am :)

About the thieving: I just remembered Sly Cooper, so yeah, it's been done before XD

Comments

Cesque 12 years, 9 months ago

Where is this exchange copied over from? Either way, I totally love the idea and hope to see something coming out of it.

Mush 12 years, 9 months ago

It was on a forum for my university's Video Game Development Club.

http://vgdc.ucsd.edu/

Toast 12 years, 9 months ago

I think it would be a shame to have such a realist setting, and then implant an utterly cliche fantasised story and protagonist into that world…

There's more to storytelling than action movies - I don't think alot of game designers fully take advantage of that and it's a shame.

What's more, your gameplay isn't even based around shooting things, so that should be an opportunity to breath fresh air. Your character doesn't need to be the moody mysterious wronged loner out for revenge.

From what I understand from a few minutes of Wikipedia, this Edward Hopper fellow was out to capture the real world and the real people in it - I'm not even sure how you can do that in a game without compromises. But that's not like Film Noir at all. It's the polar opposite. Film Noir exaggerates and romanticises, it is compelling but ultimately dishonest. Both use alot of contrast but for different reasons - there are the interesting physical qualities of light and there is the symbolism. I think you need to review the style you're going for some more - realistic or dramatic.

Carlos508 12 years, 9 months ago

Whoa this def sounds interesting

Mush 12 years, 9 months ago

I'm pitching this idea to the club tomorrow. Hopefully I don't fuck it up.

Quietus 12 years, 9 months ago

wow, beautiful mock-ups. we need more atmospheric "noir" games anyway.

maybe passive role could imply having to negotiate with people rather than just "hey let's not get shot" lol. i really like the idea of integrating smells, but of course i'm a pothead so i'm always having to mask my scent XD

Raphael the Raven 12 years, 9 months ago

Soo… How did the game pitch go?