Monday, May 12, 2008

Toilet seat toggling

Another update about ThiefRL, my attempt to stuff the soul of Thief into the body of Rogue.

I'm continuing to tune guard behavior and finish up their ability to sense environmental changes wrought by the player. In general, giving the player more ways to alter or control the environment is a good thing, and guard senses is unexpectedly one of those ways. You leave a door open; a guard comes along and shuts it, though not without complaining. Bam! You've got a relationship.

This week I also added a ship captain who functions as both a sort of “trainer guard” and as a way to end the level. The thief has booked passage on the captain's ship, which will set sail at dawn. The captain patrols the deck and his cabin, and when he first sees the thief he reacts as any guard would. However, when he gets close enough to recognize his passenger he returns to patrol. After not seeing the thief for a while he will revert to normal, suspicious guard behavior. My hope is that this will give the player an opportunity to study guard senses and behavior up close in a benign environment.

Once all the loot in the city has been collected, talking to the ship captain will end the game (eventually, the level). I've got a simple end-game screen now so it's actually possible to win the game! I must say, this makes it feel much more game-like.

Adding a set of things for each guard to look after in the environment has made the game much more challenging, (hopefully) in a good way. The environment now tends to reset so you can't just go around turning off all the lights and have the run of the place.


Worthstream said...

You're shaping up a good game :)

I'm hoping for a sneak peek to be released ;)

Anyway, do keep in mind that in the original thief one of the funniest things to do was knoning unconsious every guard, then have a free run through the level that really felt like a "winning lap" ;)

James McNeill said...


I've given the game to another couple of testers but haven't released it widely yet. You only get one chance to make a first impression.

I played Thief the same way: knocking out as many of the guards as I could. That said, I am still undecided about whether knockouts will go into my game. From a gameplay perspective they are not very different from killing the guards, and killing suffers from a positive-feedback difficulty curve: the game tends to get easier as you go since there are fewer enemies around. This is why killing-based games often have to resort to spawning in new enemies.

The addition of pickpocketing should supply the fun of sneaking up behind guards. I've also thought about how bodies might be dragged around, and it could be fun. We'll have to see.