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View Full Version : Social stealth, we need to redefine/identify our views/perception of it.



ArabianFrost
12-05-2013, 09:01 PM
Before anything, hiya scallywags, missed this weird place.

Now first of all, what was social stealth supposed to be? Starting from AC1, it was a means of intergrating stealth into non-environmental societies, through an untapped but obvious sheathe- the "crowd"- for the most part at least. It was supposed to simulate what an Assassin roaming a busy city, be it through the roofs or crowds. The concept was basic. You are the investigator and you are the assassin. How do you investigate? You get answers from where any historical assassin with no fancy technology would do. The crowds, espionage, "sources". It was an almost social experience, hence the term "social" stealth. The crowd are your source of information, they are your shroud when you need be as well as representing the "pulse" of the city, be it scared when tales of the assassin looms, or furious when they have had enough with the *insert respective opressive regime here*. A blade in the crowd.

No one can deny that mechanically, social stealth is THE thing that sets AC apart from any other stealth game back then when AC1 was released (and the amazing verticality). However, no one can also deny that it has been diluted near to the realm of non-existence. Actually, it's now just a "enter here to magically, but conspicuously disappear". Blending somewhat made sense (albeit underused) back in AC1, but now it's too broad and nonsensical. It's a cool concept, but we either have to form a more flexible concept of it or forget it. Overhauling crowd systems for an entire city in two years is nigh impossible. Don't expect a revolution, so unless you want to be underwhelmed, we need to see if social stealth should occupy as much yearning as many here possess, especially that it was only ever appropriately considered in the first game, even AC2 pretty much threw into the toilet. It was a mere planned idea that soon fell apart, so some can even consider it an experiment. Not even its original creators intergrated it into the second game...

So social stealth, is it actually relevant even though no dev thus far has cared about it, even the original ones?

Wolfmeister1010
12-05-2013, 09:04 PM
They problem is that I can not think of any more mechanics to add to social stealth. I wish they would have kept that thing from the AC3 demo where Connor covered his face when a guard came near. That at least added some aesthetic charm.

Anyway, excellent thread

ArabianFrost
12-05-2013, 09:16 PM
I'll just add in a response.

Social stealth isn't just hiding in crowds. Social stealth means a living breathing crowd, one which you can inform as well as act to your actions. A prime example of that is Watch Dogs, the modern AC as people call it. They would be VERY VERY correct. Watch Dogs social interactions are everything AC should aspire to be (figures considering how only Watch Dogs has an unfair blessing to do whatever they want with time). The crowd interact to your actions, if you dare raise a gun, they go to the cops (snitches anyone?), if you kill a person, the crowd interacts to that, thry investigate...they "react".

With Watch Dogs teaching us about crowd reactions, we can go somewhere else to teach us discretion and target approach. Some game very very close to AC. The ACMP actually, the more "assassin-y" assassin's creed. Nowhere does ACMP give you a bright red dot on the scren and tell you to follow it with A BIG FAT ICON OVER THE GUY'S HEAD. You're given a picture of your target, just like an assassin would. You're told to visually identify that target then assasinate them. If your target notices you, they run or investigate, just like a real target would. AC targets are atrocious. They don't react at all or even feel more disturbed. Take a page out of Wolfpacks' s book. The targets become disturbed and more weary if you're too reckless, all with different reactions, depending on if they're bold or cowardly. Maybe even targets can have a rating of personality which csn give you an idea of how they would react, eventually forcing you to form a plan even containing a failsafe.

AssassinHMS
12-05-2013, 09:16 PM
Great points. The way I see it, the reason why social stealth has been forgotten has to do with the fact that the whole Assassin's Creed concept has been forgotten.

As for ideas on how to improve social stealth, I'll repost some of my own:

Accessories – cape/cloak that conceal a crossbow or a bow (retractable perhaps), boots where you can place a knife, long sleeves to conceal the hidden blade bracer (like prowler) or a glove (like Ezio’s), a sword concealed as a cane, etc. This way, those who want to carry many weapons, can do so without sacrificing immersion while making use of a more complex social stealth system. Players that have their weapons and armor concealed will be treated as regular civilians by guards while those who unsheathe or display their weapons will cause guards to be more vigilant and more aggressive and will be blamed for any disturbance in the city.
Crowds – Moving inside a crowd is all well and good, but when you see a group of four NPCs every corner, it starts to feel forced and ridiculous. AC1 and AC3 had a better concept of crowd. While in AC1 you were always hidden in the crowd as long as you didn’t perform any high-profile action and didn’t attract attention to yourself (break jars or bum into people), in AC3, you could be hidden in the midst of people or in small groups where you mimicked their actions. However both were flawed and sometimes unreliable or extremely unrealistic.
My idea is to get rid of the four NPC squad (like in AC2 or AC4) and the ability to “vanish” between two NPCs (like in AC3) and add huge crowds (of 10 or more NPCs) in certain locations and “special” NPCs that serve as a social disguise (that work in a similar way to the courtesan in the AC4 CGI trailer).
As for the huge crowds, this would be the general idea: Imagine you’re escaping from some guards when suddenly you listen to the sound of music and of people chatting. You follow the sound only to discover a big group of citizens enjoying some festivities outdoors or inside a building. In order to escape the pursuers you join the people and lose yourself in the condensed crowd. You will eventually break your pursuer’s line of sight and, while they are still lost in the "maze" of NPCs, trying to figure out your location, all you have to do is to walk away casually and vanish into the streets.
So yeah, the point is to make huge crowds in specific locations that make sense for them to exist instead of small groups of NPCs everywhere.

Wolfmeister1010
12-05-2013, 09:21 PM
I'll just add in a response.

Social stealth isn't just hiding in crowds. Social stealth means a living breathing crowd, one which you can inform as well as act to your actions. A prime example of that is Watch Dogs, the modern AC as people call it. They would be VERY VERY correct. Watch Dogs social interactions are everything AC should aspire to be (figures considering how only Watch Dogs has an unfair blessing to do whatever they want with time). The crowd interact to your actions, if you dare raise a gun, they go to the cops (snitches anyone?), if you kill a person, the crowd interacts to that, thry investigate...they "react".

With Watch Dogs teaching us about crowd reactions, we can go somewhere else to teach us discretion and target approach. Some game very very close to AC. The ACMP actually, the more "assassin-y" assassin's creed. Nowhere does ACMP give you a bright red dot on the scren and tell you to follow it with A BIG FAT ICON OVER THE GUY'S HEAD. You're given a picture of your target, just like an assassin would. You're told to visually identify that target then assasinate them. If your target notices you, they run or investigate, just like a real target would. AC targets are atrocious. They don't react at all or even feel more disturbed. Take a page out of Wolfpacks' s book. The targets become disturbed and more weary if you're too reckless, all with different reactions, depending on if they're bold or cowardly. Maybe even targets can have a rating of personality which csn give you an idea of how they would react, eventually forcing you to form a plan even containing a failsafe.

You will be happy to know that ubi said watchdogs will help pave the future of AC

ArabianFrost
12-05-2013, 09:28 PM
Great points. The way I see it, the reason why social stealth has been forgotten has to do with the fact that the whole Assassin's Creed concept has been forgotten.

As for ideas on how to improve social stealth, I'll repost some of my own:

Accessories – cape/cloak that conceal a crossbow or a bow (retractable perhaps), boots where you can place a knife, long sleeves to conceal the hidden blade bracer (like prowler) or a glove (like Ezio’s), a sword concealed as a cane, etc. This way, those who want to carry many weapons, can do so without sacrificing immersion while making use of a more complex social stealth system. Players that have their weapons and armor concealed will be treated as regular civilians by guards while those who unsheathe or display their weapons will cause guards to be more vigilant and more aggressive and will be blamed for any disturbance in the city.
Crowds – Moving inside a crowd is all well and good, but when you see a group of four NPCs every corner, it starts to feel forced and ridiculous. AC1 and AC3 had a better concept of crowd. While in AC1 you were always hidden in the crowd as long as you didn’t perform any high-profile action and didn’t attract attention to yourself (break jars or bum into people), in AC3, you could be hidden in the midst of people or in small groups where you mimicked their actions. However both were flawed and sometimes unreliable or extremely unrealistic.
My idea is to get rid of the four NPC squad (like in AC2 or AC4) and the ability to “vanish” between two NPCs (like in AC3) and add huge crowds (of 10 or more NPCs) in certain locations and “special” NPCs that serve as a social disguise (that work in a similar way to the courtesan in the AC4 CGI trailer).
As for the huge crowds, this would be the general idea: Imagine you’re escaping from some guards when suddenly you listen to the sound of music and of people chatting. You follow the sound only to discover a big group of citizens enjoying some festivities outdoors or inside a building. In order to escape the pursuers you join the people and lose yourself in the condensed crowd. You will eventually break your pursuer’s line of sight and, while they are still lost in the "maze" of NPCs, trying to figure out your location, all you have to do is to walk away casually and vanish into the streets.
So yeah, the point is to make huge crowds in specific locations that make sense for them to exist instead of small groups of NPCs everywhere.

The thing is, it may haven't been abandoned at all to begin with. It may have been just an experiment that didn't go as well as expected, so they kept it in the next games for the sake of novelty, that it's still an "Assassin" game.

Considering cloaks, I'd say it's realistic to the point of nuisance for some considering not many will bother through all of that for a shooty thing.

As for crowds, I wholeheartedly agree. There is no such things as a street chock full of groups of 4. Crowds are dynamic, like in Watch Dogs. They're forever changing and arbitrary. You shouldn't be hidden because you're in the crowd with invisible white lines. You should blend in when you act like the crowd, become one with it obviously by not performing suspicious actions, but maybe the rules for that would be quite complex. I'd still like them to experiment with one big homogeneous crowd.

ArabianFrost
12-05-2013, 09:31 PM
You will be happy to know that ubi said watchdogs will help pave the future of AC

To be honest, I'm sad that the 7 year franchise isn't helping the new comer. The supposed behemoth of gaming that is AC is learning old tricks fr new IP is tear-wrenching, but Watch Dogs is a great game, so at least AC will benefit.

shobhit7777777
12-05-2013, 09:47 PM
Social Stealth in concept is very simple -

Being the "Gray" man

The "Gray" man doesn't stand out. The gray man is just another face in the crowd. The gray man is unremarkable. The gray man is forgotten the moment you lose sight of him. The gray man draws NO attention.
The concept is born out of the whole idea that you use people as camouflage. You do what they do and behave as they do. Fit in and don't stand out.

Assassin's Creed 1 actually has a very fleshed out SS system that was IMO too subtle (or too obtuse?) to be recognized by many gamers.

Think of 'Social Acceptability' - Actions which DRAW attention. In AC1 combat, pushing people around, causing ANY ruckus created a scene and the guards invariably responded to it. The system was designed around the player not doing anything deemed overt or socially unacceptable.

Social Stealth as seen in AC is not just about blending in and hiding behind people - it is about MANAGING ATTENTION.

Play AC1....you'll see. The ENTIRE urbanscape was designed to accomodate it. You had your earthenpot bearing NPCs which would require circumvention - as disturbing them lured in pissed off guards. Causing a fight again attracted the guards. Pushing and running around were overt actions.
The games have become less restrictive in that regard.

The other aspect of social stealth - literally hiding in the crowd - was one that was missing in AC1 but which was implemented in AC2. It is rather mechanical but it suits it just fine.

Social Stealth in the next AC game needs to bring in much more reactive and 'smarter' crowd AI coupled with the whole "Socially Acceptable" SS of AC1. Blending is here to stay and is fine its present form.

Manipulating the crowds, interacting with them in new ways, using people to prevent LOS and being socially acceptable (Not dressing as a warrior-monk for example) should all play into the SS of the franchise.

AssassinHMS
12-05-2013, 09:54 PM
You will be happy to know that ubi said watchdogs will help pave the future of AC
Excellent! Well, after all, they couldn’t hide the miserably underdeveloped core mechanics behind naval forever.



Considering cloaks, I'd say it's realistic to the point of nuisance for some considering not many will bother through all of that for a shooty thing.
Notice however, that it isn't simply for aesthetics' sake. An assassin armed to the teeth that doesn't conceal his weapons won't be able to blend. Enemies will spot them immediately and guards won't even let the player approach them without a warning.
This would solve the problem of unrealistic social stealth while making it more complex and relevant. The clothing accessories could be bought from any tailor and could be mixed in any way the player desires.
However, if the assassin is carrying a crossbow and doesn’t have a cape to conceal it (like Ezio in ACR), in order to be stealthy, the player will have to rely on shadow/light stealth (assuming such mechanic exists), since social stealth is not a viable option anymore.
Anyway, I always found the idea that Connor was able to blend (with a bow on his back and with his mannerisms) preposterous.

MnemonicSyntax
12-05-2013, 09:56 PM
To be honest, I'm sad that the 7 year franchise isn't helping the new comer. The supposed behemoth of gaming that is AC is learning old tricks fr new IP is tear-wrenching, but Watch Dogs is a great game, so at least AC will benefit.

Much of it has to do with Current Gen vs. Next Gen consoles. That's why Watch_Dogs is coming out on top.

Also, Watch_Dogs appears to be a great game. Unless you've played it, you might be getting your hopes up for nothing.

phoenix-force411
12-05-2013, 10:06 PM
I thought ACIV's AI system was pretty good, but social stealth has been absent much since they moved away from the puppeteer concept.

ladyleonhart
12-05-2013, 10:15 PM
Great post, Frost. :D

@ Everyone else: Some really interesting concepts. :)

Well, I have one idea... not sure if it would work... Anyway... before ACIV's release, we saw Edward in various outfits and I believe that we touched upon the concept of disguises. Personally, I would love to be able to disguise the protagonist to fit in with the NPCs of each particular location/city and I think it would add another dimension to blending in with crowds and just wandering around the city without drawing any attention. Perhaps you could even have to learn about the role of NPC you are pretending to be. Thus, if you're actions are out of the ordinary, you would run the risk of being detected... Well, something like that. :p

Sushiglutton
12-05-2013, 10:28 PM
Let's think about social stealth in AC1. What mechanics were there? We could hide by sitting on a bench or blend among an, on rails, group of monks. There were ladies carrying pots and if you ran into them it would cause a disturbance. There were maniacs pushing you to make it harder to navigate the crowds. There were a number of information collecting missions consisting of eavesdropping, beat up, pickpocketing. By saving citizens you could create blockades for (future) persuers.

I think this covers all crowd interaction in AC1. Now let's have a look at AC2.

You can hide by sitting on benches and you can now assassinate from them. You can blend by walking among any group of citizens. There are people carrying boxes. If you run into them you will cause a disturbance. There are troubadours that makes it harder to navigate crowds. You can pickpocket. There are tailing/eaves dropping missions far more fleshed out than what we had in AC1. There are courtesans you can use as either a blendspot you can control, or as a tool to distract guards. There are thieves you can use to lure guards and they can follow you on rooftops. There are mercenaries that can fight guards for you. You can throw money on the ground to manipulate the crowd.

As can be seen the description that AC1 invented social stealth and then AC2 threw it in the toilet, has absolutely no basis in reality. AC2 kept the majority of the social stealth mechanics from AC1, expanded on some of them and added a couple of new ones.

STDlyMcStudpants
12-05-2013, 10:33 PM
I urge Devs to replay AC1 and ACR...
This is what a city in AC should be like...
ACR is my favorite world to play in.
Idc about the roof tops..I care about feeling like im just another face in the crowd.
I don't want to be the star of the show in an Assassin Game.. its an oxymoron
I want a city that feels real and alive, and thats more than just people having convos...
Its people yelling at you for bumping into them..its people running up to you...its knocking something out of someones hands and getting the attention of the guards.
I'm tired of bushes and bush people.
And by bush people i mean obviously placed for you to blend in with.
I mean of course i want opportunities that are placed on purpose for you to blend in with, but i want them to be subtle not tail this guy and follow the zig zag pattern of 3 people the whole way like AC 4 is....

MIA SILENT
12-05-2013, 10:37 PM
Social Stealth in the next AC game needs to bring in much more reactive and 'smarter' crowd AI coupled with the whole "Socially Acceptable" SS of AC1. Blending is here to stay and is fine its present form. .

THIS!

Socially unacceptable actions would get the crowd riled-up and draw the attention of guards. This needs to return.

Sushiglutton
12-05-2013, 10:51 PM
So why has social stealth been so stale since AC2? First off I think it is fairly hard to do well. AI in games is still very primitive. It's tough to program a single guard to act naturally. To design large groups of civilians to feel organic, but at the same time manageable for the player is difficult both technically and design wise (at least I'd imagine it is).

Then there is the problem Shobbit hinted at. SS often centers around doing nothing that stands out. The problem with this is that it's hard to turn into a challenging and interesting gameplay experience. I mean think of real life. How difficult is it to walk down the street without causing mayhem? I would say: not at all. To have the challenge being walking down a street without pushing ladies carrying pots is pretty ridiculous when you think about it. The assassin is super athletic and yet he walks a crowd like a boy going through puberty who has yet to learn to control his limbs. It's just silly.

To counter this apathy approach it's key that SS adds active mechanics and force the player to do none socially acceptable things. AC2 tried to add active mechanics with the money-throwing and the various factions. These are still fairly gamey though. But they are in the right direction. The player needs to be given tools to actively manipulate the citizens in some ways. The second part about the game forcing you to do none socially acceptable things is super important for how to design missions. This is what prevents SS from being about doing nothing. The trick is to do these socially unacceptable things (stealing, killing, following, observing) while still not standing out of the crowd. That is what SS should be about. The tailing/eavesdropping missions are fine examples of this, but there need to be a greater variety in terms of objectives.

So in summary the games should give the player more tools for interact with and manipulate the crowd and at the same time give the player an incentive for doing a greater variety of unacceptable things.

ArabianFrost
12-05-2013, 11:01 PM
Let's think about social stealth in AC1. What mechanics were there? We could hide by sitting on a bench or blend among an, on rails, group of monks. There were ladies carrying pots and if you ran into them it would cause a disturbance. There were maniacs pushing you to make it harder to navigate the crowds. There were a number of information collecting missions consisting of eavesdropping, beat up, pickpocketing. By saving citizens you could create blockades for (future) persuers.

I think this covers all crowd interaction in AC1. Now let's have a look at AC2.

You can hide by sitting on benches and you can now assassinate from them. You can blend by walking among any group of citizens. There are people carrying boxes. If you run into them you will cause a disturbance. There are troubadours that makes it harder to navigate crowds. You can pickpocket. There are tailing/eaves dropping missions far more fleshed out than what we had in AC1. There are courtesans you can use as either a blendspot you can control, or as a tool to distract guards. There are thieves you can use to lure guards and they can follow you on rooftops. There are mercenaries that can fight guards for you. You can throw money on the ground to manipulate the crowd.

As can be seen the description that AC1 invented social stealth and then AC2 threw it in the toilet, has absolutely no basis in reality. AC2 kept the majority of the social stealth mechanics from AC1, expanded on some of them and added a couple of new ones.

I agree, AC2 did have more social stealth mechanics but they felt a bit too arcade-y sometimes. Sure Altaďr's had their game-y moments as well, but overall felt more natural considering you could only blend in tiers of crowds most suited to your attire. That's just me though. Maybe I only noticed AC1's mechanics because nore often than not, I found myself engaging in a great deal of chases in AC1, but even then, AC1's just felt simpler yet more "believable", which is oart of its allure if I'm honest.

ArabianFrost
12-05-2013, 11:04 PM
Great post, Frost. :D

@ Everyone else: Some really interesting concepts. :)

Well, I have one idea... not sure if it would work... Anyway... before ACIV's release, we saw Edward in various outfits and I believe that we touched upon the concept of disguises. Personally, I would love to be able to disguise the protagonist to fit in with the NPCs of each particular location/city and I think it would add another dimension to blending in with crowds and just wandering around the city without drawing any attention. Perhaps you could even have to learn about the role of NPC you are pretending to be. Thus, if you're actions are out of the ordinary, you would run the risk of being detected... Well, something like that. :p

Complex, but could be manageable. I was thinking more along the lines of a disguise under the robe, or maybe assassin hubs around the city with hidden disguises, so in the caae that a chase is initiated, you go into a secluded ally, drop off your assassin robe, or change outfits in the hub, then return to the crowd as if nothing happened.

ladyleonhart
12-05-2013, 11:29 PM
Complex, but could be manageable. I was thinking more along the lines of a disguise under the robe, or maybe assassin hubs around the city with hidden disguises, so in the caae that a chase is initiated, you go into a secluded ally, drop off your assassin robe, or change outfits in the hub, then return to the crowd as if nothing happened.

Lol, I guess it is a bit complicated. :p I was trying to expand upon the idea rather than just saying 'disguises', but I think your suggestion sounds much easier to implement. :) In whatever form, they seem like they really could work. As for your suggestion about having 'Assassin hubs', it reminds me of ACIII: Liberation, so I can't see why it wouldn't work. I'm not sure if you know about it, but at least in the Vita version, some of the shops Aveline renovates allow you to change your persona into one of the following: Slave, Lady or Assassin. Each persona would affect your notoriety in different ways, as well as with some restrictions to which weapons you could use, etc. For example, in the 'Lady' persona, Aveline can't climb and the only way to access higher levels would be by using ladders. Also, you can charm and bribe the guards, and your available weapons are rather limited. Whilst the 'Slave' persona, allows you to pick up crates and blend seamlessly with slaves, servants and other workers. As an 'Assassin', guards notice Aveline a lot more, and of course she can use any weapon available.

I really like your idea of having additional options, aside from hubs, such as dropping your robes in a secluded alley during a chase, and it would make it much more realistic.

SixKeys
12-06-2013, 01:11 AM
Good points, all. What I miss the most about social stealth is crowd reactions. You know, you climb up a wall and someone comments "Has he been drinking?" or "He'll hurt himself!". It's a simple but great way to constantly remind the player they're being watched. In AC1, after a high-profile assassination there would be pandemonium on the streets. Everyone would be running around like headless chickens and screaming. In later games it's maybe one random civilian who spots you and runs away, and of course nobody thinks it's weird that this one civilian is running around screaming bloody murder. In AC2, if you left a dead body in the middle of the street, crowds would stop and stare and all blend groups would disperse. Now they just step over the body like it's no big deal. In later games, there's practically no real crowd interaction. You can do whatever the hell you want and nobody will think it's weird. AC4 kind of gets away with it because pirates, but I want this feature to return.

Watch_Dogs shows some promising ideas about making the citizens feel more alive and unique by giving them different personalities and physical gestures. You can follow someone who's looking around nervously because there's a high chance they're up to no good. You can anticipate someone's reaction by their body language and determine your next step that way. (If you're waving a gun at someone, do they get defensive or do they look like they might bolt?) This is what AC needs. Social stealth isn't necessarily about acting like you're a part of a faceless mass. It's about being individual among other individuals. The Watch_Dogs previews show a world with a greater sense of individuality in the crowd, while still making the player feel special.

LoyalACFan
12-06-2013, 07:21 AM
To be honest, I wouldn't be fussed if they removed blending with walking crowds altogether. It's been increasingly gamey ever since AC1, and even then, it was limited in its effectiveness since the monk groups were on rails. Getting past the guards at the main gate of Damascus was practically the only thing they were good for. I've never been a huge fan of the kind of social stealth AC employs, where you just stand in a group of people who conveniently take no issue to a perfect stranger standing two feet from their face. One thing I liked about AC3 was being able to blend with people who are actually doing stuff, and blend into the commotion of shopping at a vendor or something. It would be cool if you were able to blend only in excited or busy crowds who would be less likely to notice you and harder to scan through as a guard searching for a single individual. AC4 kinda has this (though you can obviously still blend with regular crowds too) in the drunken pirates; Edward stands with them and waves his arms around a bit to make himself look like he's gotten drunk with them. But it's useless as a means of escaping combat, since the pirates will just join the fight automatically even if you don't hire them.

What I really would like, though, is a cover system. It doesn't have to involve a crouch button, but being able to snap to cover seems like a no-brainer for a stealth game.

D.I.D.
12-06-2013, 08:09 AM
Remember how AC2 gave you a first person view, but didn't give you anything to do with it? (It's possible you don't, since it would be quite easy to miss that it was even there!)

I'd like to see that used for social stealth. You could have thick crowds, and it could be a really tense experience: parsing out different threads of overheard conversation, using other people's heads to block line-of-sight from the target(s), slowly shifting your physical location closer to the victim. You could conceivably turn 180 degrees away from your target if they started to get line-of-sight on you, and this would actually be a good thing for gameplay, as you sacrifice knowing where your target is and what they're doing for a few seconds in exchange for a little anonymity. No need for blending - you would feel like you were actually doing that blending-in yourself, through your own actions.

You can't really do any of that in third-person because it doesn't work in a thick crowd, and the player model needs to occupy too much space. If you have to stop still in third-person view, or if you're not moving significantly closer to the goal, you're watching your guy thinking how silly he/she looks. In first-person that could feel entirely different and have you sweating.

I'm not suggesting the complete removal of third-person view, at all. It's great for a lot of things, especially for navigating the grand scale, "broad strokes" world. I'm just suggesting that when it comes to tricky aspects, you need a fine detail approach with a more refined system.

shobhit7777777
12-06-2013, 08:59 AM
I wanted to add to my initial post the following:

Social stealth is a pain in the *** to implement because the primary 'hiding' mechanic is the AI NPCs. The concept is entirely centered around interacting with NPCs and manipulating them. In order for the game to emulate the intricacies of actually blending into a crowd the game systems have to be very sophisticated and the AI needs to be top notch.

Blending into an urban surrounding especially a foreign one raises many questions for the person concerned.

Ethnic demography - whats the racial makeup of the area?
Rich, poor or a middle class area?
Tight knit neighbourhood where every stranger stands out or a dense, public area?
How do people walk here? there can be differences in gait depending on several factors
Cultural differences - is the norm to ignore people or greet them as you walk by?
Language
Clothing - do they dress up or is it casuals all day (A big difference between Delhi and Mumbai)....what the standard clothing here? T-shirt and jeans?

The above is a break down of several things IRL that affect blending in and make it a challenging task.
Imagine transferring that experience into a game world....where not only does it need to be accessible but the rules clearly defined.

There are certain things that are just not desirable in a game. Unpredictability and over-complexity. The above needs to be distilled into something with clearly defined rules and mechanics which can be grasped by the player and played around with.

The AI needs to be expanded seriously to ALLOW the depth that would make SS a fun thing. I say AI because the reactions if logical and apparent (mimicking human behaviour) would be the most easiest of rulesets that can be immediately grasped by the player.

There should be no immersion breaking or obtuse meters governing your stealth - it should be absolutely natural. Natural leads to greater acceptance and understanding based on the principles of logic and consistency. Since the primary interactive element - the core system - is Crowds and NPC in an SS game.....it only becomes obvious where the beefing up should be done

AC1 had a fairly reactive crowd in keeping with the socially acceptable concept...but in AC4...it is laughably toned down.

You need different archetypes in the crowd with varied reactions -

- The snitch - runs away and drops a dime on you for being too aggro
- The panic mongerer - runs away screaming his/her head off...creates panic among others
- The bully - tries to fight you and everyone
- The good samaritan - doesn't run away at the sight of a corpse....checks it out and yells for help...tries to step into fights
- The rubberneckers - cheer at fights, stick around to get a look at the ruckus. Curious lot

All of the above are aimed to provide a crowd that the player needs to be wary of and at the same time can manipulate them

Check it out:

You need to draw away the 3 palace guards. You pick-pocket a 'Bully' and vanish into the crowd. The Bully being a belligerent D-bag immediately grabs the nearest guy and starts punching him. A good samaritan steps in to stop the bully...a fistfight now breaks out. Rubberneckers throng around the fight and this gives you a nice crowd to hide and blend in. The guards hear this commotion and move into the crowd to investigate. You can now pick them off in the crowd or bypass them.

If you do pick them off...move out of there...as the panic mongerers and snitches will make that area a hot zone for you.



socially unacceptable things (stealing, killing, following, observing) while still not standing out of the crowd. That is what SS should be about. The tailing/eavesdropping missions are fine examples of this, but there need to be a greater variety in terms of objectives.
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Very well said. And the above is the exact reason why I love ACR. The implementation of things like distraction devices, poison blades and urban density really added to that feeling. I think you've brought the most important aspect of SS yet.
Doing overt actions but within the shroud of SS.

Again it comes down to the tools and mechanics provided to you.

In AC3 and AC4...I feel they took a MASSIVE leap in that direction by virtue of ONE small thing. The Hidden Blade Stealth Kill animation. Edward now swiftly stabs the guy and moves on...it is a very covert and swift move....and by the time the guy drops...you should have vanished.

This move makes crowd assassinations that much more exciting and engaging. However the drawback is that in order to speed things up from the Ezio trilogy the period between the kill is made and you're incognito....till the body drops and you're wanted (In LOS of other AI) is too short.

Playing AC4 I have orchestrated SEVERAL 'in plain sight' assassinations - using prostitutes as mobile cover, timing movements etc. and this has been the most satisfying aspect of the game TBH.
The thrill of killing a guy in plain sight of his friends and then vanishing into the crowd is unparalleled.