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View Full Version : Your thoughts on City sandbox gameplay



Sushiglutton
12-19-2013, 03:36 PM
Messing around in the cities a bit and I'm interested to hear what you guys think about it.

For me the experience is kind of unsatisfying tbh. First off the cities are too small and it just doesn't feel right. I understand that this is because there's a huge Caribbean world to explore, so it's fine for this game. I'm just saying that it's very noticable when you run around and that size does matter. The flip side of it is that I think the level design is great with very varied platforming opportunities.

As for enemy interaction, escaping is just way, way, way too easy. You simply hold the run button and the stick in some direction and your clear. It's deeply unsatisfying. Like I said in some other thread I appreciate that they removed notoriety in the cities. But I think they need to ramp up the chase gameplay difficulty significantly. One idea would be to have alarm bells, or similar, spread out through the city so that more guards come after you from several directions.

Another thing that bothers me a ton is the helpful citizens. In a game with super easy escape and combat gameplay, there really is no need at all for helpful citizens. What's worse is that they mess up combat. You can't pick a fight in town without it becoming a mess. It's unrealistic and bad for gameplay reasons. Also it has happen several times that I get spotted by a rooftop guard (I am on the same roof) and instead of attacking me he climbs down to fight citizens. It's pretty dumb.


It feels a bit like a waste to build these amazing cities with tons of opportunities for hiding and exciting platforming sequnces, only to make the gameplay so simple it just doesn't matter.

Farlander1991
12-19-2013, 03:47 PM
Sometimes I like to run around in cities from time to time, but not for long. Parkour in ALL AC games is not that fun to me by itself - the fun comes from the objectvie you're trying to achieve with parkour (get to a certain point, evade certain guards, etc.)

One thing I do like about collectibles like Borgia flags, Animus fragments and Almanac pages/song sheets is that they provide some little parkour objectives all over the place (and there are a bunch which are very cleverly placed). But then they're gone. (and the matter of stuff like the fragments not mattering at all is a different question)

Sushiglutton
12-19-2013, 03:50 PM
Ok now it's fixed and done :).

Shahkulu101
12-19-2013, 04:01 PM
The only thing I really enjoyed in the cities were the Assassin Contracts, which I suppose can be considered sandbox gameplay - I mean there are no cutscenes and it's quite seamless except from the little info window that pops up.

Apart from that, I just grinded for collectables, which got old very fast. Trying some of the Abstergo Challenges was pretty fun too and there were some intricately hidden treasure chests, but no - I didn't have a whole lot of fun messing around in the cities. I suppose it's forgivable given how excellent exploring the Caribbean is - that's one of the best gameplay experiences I've had.

Sushiglutton
12-19-2013, 04:05 PM
I guess what I'm trying to say is that the city sandbox gameplay is another example of when Ubi has made something so incredibly easy that it becomes meaningless.

misterB2001
12-19-2013, 04:07 PM
i think the AI of the NPCs and Guards are top of my list of things that need to be hugely improved.

The killing of a guard in plain sight should make people scream and run, this should then alert Guards in a ripple like pattern. The guards should come and investigate and then spread out searching everywhere.

The chase needs to go back to the Original AC level of difficulty, I just recently completed AC again and the chase really makes you sit on the edge of your seat.

roostersrule2
12-19-2013, 04:11 PM
i think the AI of the NPCs and Guards are top of my list of things that need to be hugely improved.

The killing of a guard in plain sight should make people scream and run, this should then alert Guards in a ripple like pattern. The guards should come and investigate and then spread out searching everywhere.

The chase needs to go back to the Original AC level of difficulty, I just recently completed AC again and the chase really makes you sit on the edge of your seat.Indeed, the trip from killing your target to the Assassin Bureau was the best part of AC1, the music, the bells, the way even after you had hidden the guards still searched for you. It was all perfect.

aL_____eX
12-19-2013, 04:11 PM
i think the AI of the NPCs and Guards are top of my list of things that need to be hugely improved.

The killing of a guard in plain sight should make people scream and run, this should then alert Guards in a ripple like pattern. The guards should come and investigate and then spread out searching everywhere.

The chase needs to go back to the Original AC level of difficulty, I just recently completed AC again and the chase really makes you sit on the edge of your seat.
Correct me if I'm wrong, but this is exactly what happens most of the time. But I agree that the AI needs to be improved because sometimes it's annoying how stupid they are.

Farlander1991
12-19-2013, 04:13 PM
Well, it's not a matter of difficulty really (chases in AC3 can become insane, does that help the sandbox gameplay? Not at all). The thing is, sandbox gameplay requires some very systemic mechanics, and, to be frank, AC mechanics are more objectve-based rather than systemic (even though there are systemic-loops tied into the whole experience). Which is not a bad thing on its own, and, honestly, it's a problem with a lot of story-based open-world games. Games like Sid Meier's Pirates and Space Rangers are a much better example of systemic open-world play, because all the mechanics are based around that, but they're VERY light on narrative and story. It's a balance.

SixKeys
12-19-2013, 04:13 PM
I am fine with chases as they are currently. They only need to be more difficult after a big assassination. It would be annoying if you accidentally stepped one foot in a red zone and suddenly had bells ringing all across the city.

Helpful citizens are a two-edged sword. On the one hand I like the idea as a mechanic, like it worked in AC1. The problem is that in AC4 you have citizens who decide to help you for no reason. YYou don't even need to hire drunken pirates for money, just head in their general direction and they'll fight the guards for you. IMO they should bring back the "save citizen" missions from AC1. There needs to be a reason why ordinary citizens should decide to turn into vigilantes for a hooded criminal. Having that reason arise directly from doing positive things for other citizens works perfectly. Likewise, doing enough notorious activities should create vigilante groups that actually hinder you during chases or combat.

ProletariatPleb
12-19-2013, 04:15 PM
I'm not even sure what Sandbox means anymore.

Sushiglutton
12-19-2013, 04:16 PM
i think the AI of the NPCs and Guards are top of my list of things that need to be hugely improved.

The killing of a guard in plain sight should make people scream and run, this should then alert Guards in a ripple like pattern. The guards should come and investigate and then spread out searching everywhere.

The chase needs to go back to the Original AC level of difficulty, I just recently completed AC again and the chase really makes you sit on the edge of your seat.


Yes, exactly! There needs to be some spreading effect. I appreciate that there's no hive mind in the guarded areas, but there needs to be some way for guards to summon massive reinforcements in the city. I also agree with you that citizens should side with the guards in the sense that they call for more of them. The assassins work in the dark, aka they are not really public heroes. If a random citizen sees some mysterious figure murdering a guard in the street, than they should cry out for help. Maybe they will rebuild the city/eney AI when they go full next gen?


I just feel like there is a much better game hidden somewhere, but Ubi just continues the self sabotage by making everything too damn easy.

Shahkulu101
12-19-2013, 04:17 PM
I'm not even sure what Sandbox means anymore.

A playground for casual peasants.

ProletariatPleb
12-19-2013, 04:19 PM
A playground for casual peasants.
It was a serious question...

Is it emergent gameplay? Then open-world isn't even relevant.

SixKeys
12-19-2013, 04:21 PM
Yes, exactly! There needs to be some spreading effect. I appreciate that there's no hive mind in the guarded areas, but there needs to be some way for guards to summon massive reinforcements in the city. I also agree with you that citizens should side with the guards in the sense that they call for more of them. The assassins work in the dark, aka they are not really public heroes. If a random citizen sees some mysterious figure murdering a guard in the street, than they should cry out for help. Maybe they will rebuild the city/eney AI when they go full next gen?


As much as I would like this, I doubt it'll happen. This feature was already planned back during AC1's development (citizens running to alert the guards who would then hone in on your position) but was scrapped because the devs thought it made the game too difficult. If they thought it was too difficult for the first game, I can't imagine them resurrecting that feature now that they're actively trying to make each game easier than the previous one.

SixKeys
12-19-2013, 04:26 PM
Why take away horses and carts btw? all of that was fine, why remove it???

P.s there are areas where guys call reinforcemens, that's where the bell is that you can sabotage. You watch them ring it and watch them come.


Most of AC4 took place on the open sea with small islands and sandbanks, not much use for horses and carts. Putting that feature in the game for just three cities may have been too much work.

I think Sushi is talking about having bells outside of plantations, in regular areas of the cities that will go off if you cause too much trouble. In AC1 this was automatic after each major assassination.

Sushiglutton
12-19-2013, 04:27 PM
Well, it's not a matter of difficulty really (chases in AC3 can become insane, does that help the sandbox gameplay? Not at all). The thing is, sandbox gameplay requires some very systemic mechanics, and, to be frank, AC mechanics are more objectve-based rather than systemic (even though there are systemic-loops tied into the whole experience). Which is not a bad thing on its own, and, honestly, it's a problem with a lot of story-based open-world games. Games like Sid Meier's Pirates and Space Rangers are a much better example of systemic open-world play, because all the mechanics are based around that, but they're VERY light on narrative and story. It's a balance.

I actually think it does help the sandbox gameplay somewhat in AC3. It's still way too easy though.

GTA has a very similar basic idea as AC. Aka you commit some crime and then it spirals more and more out of control until you either are manage to escape or are killed/caught. At full wanted level it is really tough to stay alive in GTA. So are the millions of GTA players that much more talented gamers than the millions of AC players? I just find that extremely hard to believe.

I don't really get your objective/systemic reasoning in this case. Escaping guards in the city seems like a perfect example of a systemic mechainc (that obv can play a role in missions as well).

aL_____eX
12-19-2013, 04:28 PM
@StilleNachT: Horses have been a game breaker for me in previous games. I'd love to see them again, but please not as they were in Brotherhood. Someone posted this before and it perfectly states what horses were like in AC... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uq3jZ58i8ZI

Sushiglutton
12-19-2013, 04:29 PM
It was a serious question...

Is it emergent gameplay? Then open-world isn't even relevant.

Have no idea what the formal definition is. What I mean is unorganized gameplay. Aka just running around and messing with the systems. I do not count stuff like assassination contracts etc.


I think Sushi is talking about having bells outside of plantations, in regular areas of the cities that will go off if you cause too much trouble. In AC1 this was automatic after each major assassination.

Yes, that's exactly what I meant!


As much as I would like this, I doubt it'll happen. This feature was already planned back during AC1's development (citizens running to alert the guards who would then hone in on your position) but was scrapped because the devs thought it made the game too difficult. If they thought it was too difficult for the first game, I can't imagine them resurrecting that feature now that they're actively trying to make each game easier than the previous one.

I think it would be too much if citizens screamed from just seeing you running to alert guards (or worse tackled/grabbed you). But I think if the ones who see you commit the murder screams for help that would be ok.

ProletariatPleb
12-19-2013, 04:34 PM
Have no idea what the formal definition is. What I mean is unorganized gameplay. Aka just running around and messing with the systems. I do not count stuff like assassination contracts etc.
Ah, fair enough.

In that case there was a time I enjoyed roaming around cities, picking fights with guards, climbing stuff now...I guess I'm just tired of doing the same thing over and over again. AC4 had naval so I went around the sea picking fights, looking for convoys but I just roamed Havana sometimes because of how beautiful it looks lol but otherwise I haven't touched AC4 for a while now, there's nothing sandbox-y that I want. Collectibles aren't my thing.

GTA for example has vehicles. It adds a whole different layer of interaction, a whole new layer of mechanics, etc. So I can go around driving, running over people, crashing into others, performing stunts.

misterB2001
12-19-2013, 04:36 PM
Correct me if I'm wrong, but this is exactly what happens most of the time. But I agree that the AI needs to be improved because sometimes it's annoying how stupid they are.

the guards react if they are close enough and in direct view of the guard that has been killed. there could be a bunch of guards stood literally 20 feet away, but round a corner, who don't react at all. surely they would hear the screams by panicking civilians and investigate? Even then their investigations are pretty poor.

Things like gun shots need to alert guards within ear shot, the full AI needs re-imagining.

SixKeys
12-19-2013, 04:43 PM
Part of the problem may be different expectations. GTA has never appealed to me because I'm not the type of player who just likes to run around causing trouble for no reason. Killing civilians and getting into random fights with guards is boring to me, unless some funny glitches happen. For me to enjoy content in a sandbox game, there needs to be some way I can justify it to myself within the story. IMO these kinds of mechanics is what AC needs: stuff that arises from proper NPC interaction or (the dreaded words) random events. I want to be able to walk around and suddenly notice an NPC pickpocketing another and running away with their money. Then it's up to me to go after them and possibly get rewarded for catching them, or choose to ignore them. (Without annoying pop-ups like AC4's "catch the courier".) I want to be able to get so drunk that the assassin starts doing things that are partly out of my control, like provocatively bumping into people which causes them to fight you or punching a guard in the face.

Sushiglutton
12-19-2013, 04:46 PM
Ah, fair enough.

In that case there was a time I enjoyed roaming around cities, picking fights with guards, climbing stuff now...I guess I'm just tired of doing the same thing over and over again. AC4 had naval so I went around the sea picking fights, looking for convoys but I just roamed Havana sometimes because of how beautiful it looks lol but otherwise I haven't touched AC4 for a while now, there's nothing sandbox-y that I want. Collectibles aren't my thing.

GTA for example has vehicles. It adds a whole different layer of interaction, a whole new layer of mechanics, etc. So I can go around driving, running over people, crashing into others, performing stunts.


It has become fairly stale, I agree. And obv it wasn't a priority for AC4, which is fine, its strengths lied elsewhere.

What GTA also has is difficulty level that responds to you. The harder you push, the harder the game pushes back. That means players of all skill levels can find something to enjoy. AC just doesn't have that, which is a shame imo.



Part of the problem may be different expectations. GTA has never appealed to me because I'm not the type of player who just likes to run around causing trouble for no reason. Killing civilians and getting into random fights with guards is boring to me, unless some funny glitches happen. For me to enjoy content in a sandbox game, there needs to be some way I can justify it to myself within the story. IMO these kinds of mechanics is what AC needs: stuff that arises from proper NPC interaction or (the dreaded words) random events. I want to be able to walk around and suddenly notice an NPC pickpocketing another and running away with their money. Then it's up to me to go after them and possibly get rewarded for catching them, or choose to ignore them. (Without annoying pop-ups like AC4's "catch the courier".) I want to be able to get so drunk that the assassin starts doing things that are partly out of my control, like provocatively bumping into people which causes them to fight you or punching a guard in the face.


Yeah different strokes and all that.

As for random events I think they should avoid really simple police/busywork. It just doesn't make any sense to me that an assassin, who is dealing with life and deaths of civilizations, would bother that much about a pickpocketing. They need to be careful about adding too much trivial stuff imo. I'd prefer if they create assassination setups. Like for example some rich, unpleasent, noble visiting the market with his guards. The hangings in AC4 were also ok (Red Dead Rip-off :p). The couriers really need to be ditched at this point. They are just annoying immersion-breakers at this point.

aL_____eX
12-19-2013, 04:51 PM
Part of the problem may be different expectations. GTA has never appealed to me because I'm not the type of player who just likes to run around causing trouble for no reason. Killing civilians and getting into random fights with guards is boring to me, unless some funny glitches happen. For me to enjoy content in a sandbox game, there needs to be some way I can justify it to myself within the story. IMO these kinds of mechanics is what AC needs: stuff that arises from proper NPC interaction or (the dreaded words) random events. I want to be able to walk around and suddenly notice an NPC pickpocketing another and running away with their money. Then it's up to me to go after them and possibly get rewarded for catching them, or choose to ignore them. (Without annoying pop-ups like AC4's "catch the courier".) I want to be able to get so drunk that the assassin starts doing things that are partly out of my control, like provocatively bumping into people which causes them to fight you or punching a guard in the face.
Who knows, maybe it's the next AC which will be focused on Next Gen consoles I think, that will bring us such things. Because that sound pretty cool. I also hope that the environment will become more natural in the next games and not so forced, like you said with couriers. So that there will be interactions which pop up spontaneously and feel way more integrated to the game and not so placed or whatever to call it.

@Sushiglutton: When I remember the big thing in GTA IV, then you are so wrong. :p It was on the same level as Leonardo's war machines in Brotherhood. What I want to say is, that GTA sometimes is just easy and sometimes it's extremly difficult. Same goes for AC.

Sushiglutton
12-19-2013, 09:52 PM
Who knows, maybe it's the next AC which will be focused on Next Gen consoles I think, that will bring us such things. Because that sound pretty cool. I also hope that the environment will become more natural in the next games and not so forced, like you said with couriers. So that there will be interactions which pop up spontaneously and feel way more integrated to the game and not so placed or whatever to call it.

@Sushiglutton: When I remember the big thing in GTA IV, then you are so wrong. :p It was on the same level as Leonardo's war machines in Brotherhood. What I want to say is, that GTA sometimes is just easy and sometimes it's extremly difficult. Same goes for AC.

When I say that GTA has a higher difficulty ceiling I'm talking strictly about the systemic stuff (the wanted loop). Further, the height of the ceiling says nothing about how low the floor may be ;)!

DarktheMagister
12-19-2013, 10:12 PM
I'm sure we all agree that guard AI needs to be worked on. I'm especially amused that the grenadiers will launch grenades into packs of their own men to try and hit you or that you can get the gunmen to accidentally shoot a guard who you happen to move behind.

I also would like the citizenry to step it up a bit in terms of AI. Personally I think they should scream for help if you do an action kill in front of them, while coming to investigate the body if they witness a stealth kill and then fleeing once they realize the guy is dead. I think they should try and aid the guard BUT the game should also slowly win them over as it progresses or you do more missions to help them. (As a side note...they really need to change the animation of the double guard stealth kill. I mean the one where you approach them from the back and double throat stab them. I mean... that part is fine, its the whole grab them both and HEAD SLAM them into the ground that I don't like... Its not very stealthy.)

On that note Random Encounter missions should be a thing. It makes the world feel alive.

There was one thing I really liked about AC3 cities.... The felt alive, markets were full, people were doing their jobs, and they were bustling with animal life. It felt purposeful and not like people were just walking through streets in crowds. I'm glad they kept that feeling in IV and I'd like it to continue.

SixKeys
12-19-2013, 11:14 PM
As for random events I think they should avoid really simple police/busywork. It just doesn't make any sense to me that an assassin, who is dealing with life and deaths of civilizations, would bother that much about a pickpocketing. They need to be careful about adding too much trivial stuff imo. I'd prefer if they create assassination setups. Like for example some rich, unpleasent, noble visiting the market with his guards. The hangings in AC4 were also ok (Red Dead Rip-off :p). The couriers really need to be ditched at this point. They are just annoying immersion-breakers at this point.

Yeah, the pickpocket was just an example. I only thought of it since it was one of the infamous random events that were supposed to be in AC3. (Some reviewers got to see footage that showed an NPC with a basket full of apples drop one and another NPC just took off with it. For a character like Edward it may not make sense to chase the thief, but it would have been perfect for Connor.) That's why I think the choice to interact or not should be left to the player, without annoying pop-ups. It should be more about surveying your surroundings and noticing potentially interesting stuff. The hangings you mentioned could be another such event, in AC4 they just hardly ever popped up for me because I always had enough crew.

I just really want the world to feel like it exists even when I'm not there, like Red Dead. The random events in RDR would happen whether or not I was there to interact with them. Sometimes I would stumble upon an NPC crying over his fallen friend and then promptly put a bullet in his brain because he didn't want to live anymore. This was the aftermath of the hanging missions if you failed to save the victim on time, but sometimes these events could be missed, so you only got to see the follow-up. It just felt so random and yet somehow real to have this guy commit suicide in front of you for reasons unknown to you. That's how life is: you don't always know why things happen, they just do.

Kagurra
12-20-2013, 01:17 AM
Agree with OP, too lazy right now to read the whole thread.

Chases in AC1 were epic. They haven't really been the same since.

Consus_E
12-20-2013, 01:46 AM
Part of the problem may be different expectations. GTA has never appealed to me...
AC needs: stuff that arises from proper NPC interaction or (the dreaded words) random events. I want to be able to walk around and suddenly notice an NPC pickpocketing another and running away with their money. Then it's up to me to go after them and possibly get rewarded for catching them, or choose to ignore them. (Without annoying pop-ups like AC4's "catch the courier".) I want to be able to get so drunk that the assassin starts doing things that are partly out of my control, like provocatively bumping into people which causes them to fight you or punching a guard in the face.

Fun fact: You can do this in GTA V... Just thought I would inform you, Not trying to antagonize you just pointing out a fact...
It actually works quit well, you can even just take the money after catching the mugger... The character often makes a comment on the irony of being a criminal stopping a criminal...
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I'm hoping they can do something like Watch Dogs with the cities...