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Farlander1991
02-22-2014, 05:35 PM
Okay, so, a few threads and points that were brought up over time (by me included) has made me wonder. What's freedom in AC? How much freedom should there be? How much freedom is okay to sacrifice, and for what point and purpose? Now, mind you, I'm speaking of just the main design here, not any of the optional objectives thing (which I personally think should go by different design principles altogether). And more and more I see posts about lack of freedom in AC4, and that... just baffles me, honestly.

Okay, let's take AC1. Always hailed as the advocate of freedom in AC as it should be. Assassination missions are very open-ended, even though there are a few more heavily scripted, okay, there's no arguing that.

But then we've got:
Interrogation - Fail if we get too far away from the target, also fail if we start a fight with guards. And while I've never actually done it, but I presume it will be a fail if we assassinate the guy before acquiring info.
Pickpocketing - Again, essentially a tailing mission, fail if too far away, fail if detected by guards or an unsuccessful stealing.
Archer and Soldier Assassination missions - fail if detected. More than that, they were on timers, so in a bunch of cases if you don't assassinate them in certain order, you fail.
Flag Collecting - a linear race mission where the path is laid out by flags. You can argue that it's not linear because if you don't get a flag you can come back for it later, but that's still like missing a checkpoint in a racing game.

Not to mention that you had to at least perform 3 investigation missions before getting to an assassination one, because at least some kind of story is told that way (pretty much what we have in other games is mandatory but more heavily integrated investigation missions).

So having all that in mind, hearing something like tailing missions (among some other things) go against the nature of AC because they're restrictive and set on a certain path, I just get baffled. Why is it restrictive and against nature of AC? Because there's a goal that involves not doing whatever the hell we want? That if we get too far away or kill the target that we fail? (which, btw, AC1 has got that sort of stuff) Because there's information to be gathered or a certain goal that the main character wants to achieve for story purposes? I've completed the 'Travelling Salesman' mission in a bunch of different ways, ranging from not touching the ground to only staying on the ground to mixing it as I please, killing soldiers on the way, not killing soldiers on the way, and once I managed to get into a little brawl before having to catch up with the targets, how is that not freedom in completing the goal and how is that restrictive? Is the existence of a fail state other than death (when that fail state makes sense) is already a crime against humanity?

Now, there are some things like in the first Tulum mission, if we get detected by assassins or kill any one of them, we fail. That I can call restrictive, I can get that. But then again, without that, we could have such a story inconsistency, "oh sure, we'll not kill you after you killed a bunch of us right here on the spot". Granted, Edward doesn't know much about Assassins at that point yet, but...

Anyway, the purpose of creating this thread is to talk about FREEDOM!!!!!!!!!! As I mentioned earlier, how much is acceptable. How much you think can be sacrificed, what is linear to you, what is not, etc.

Sushiglutton
02-22-2014, 06:42 PM
The core mission type in AC for me is the ones in which you infiltrate some kind of open area freely using the various techniques at your disposal. The parkour/verticality and the city/social aspects of these missions is what seperates AC from other stealth game. To me it's important that there are a fair number of such missions. In AC4 there were more than enough, both in the campaign and on the side, which is one of the reasons I liked the game so much.

But that doesn't mean that other types of missions are disqualified. When it comes to eavesdropping I think that there's nothing wrong with them in principal. It's a type of thing an assassin would likely do and like you said tailing someone is inherently a restricted experience in the sense that you follow someone elses lead. However even if this is fine in principal in practice it is kind of a problem.

If we take the Traveling Salesman mission as an example it is more scripted than you acknowledge imo. The mission has been laid out in a way that it's sort of clear which route the designers had in mind. To communicate this to the player they use James Kidd, special mechanics like the lift/running through building/leap of faith and the sharpshooters as breadcrumbs. This creates a feeling of being lead. That said there's still an element of trial and error to these missions. I think playing without a HUD hurt me more here than anywhere else, but sometimes it can be tough to, under time pressure, figure out which way you are supposed to go. If you do it wrong it's restart from checkpoint time.

The visual presentation is also kind of lacking. The way the enemies clearly signals that they are about to turn around (why are they even doing it?), the way they stand and scratch their heads if they saw you, the circle you are supposed to stay inside. It's just such a gamey experience that doesn't feel immersive the slightest. Since there is no gameplay benefit of actually hearing the conversation the missions feel more like "try to stay inside circle" rather than actually eavesdropping.



So to summarixe the issue with eavesdropping/tailing is no that they are non-AC-like because they are restricted. It's that they are not particulary fun and immersive in their own right. And this has something to do with their inherent restrictiveness and thus is hard to fix. For that reason I think they should significantly reduce the number of such missions.

Fatal-Feit
02-22-2014, 07:53 PM
Let's all face it. Despite its constant mission restraints, AC:IV have given players the most freedom by far. :p

Hans684
02-22-2014, 08:24 PM
Let's all face it. Despite its constant mission restraints, AC:IV have given players the most freedom by far. :p

At least we didn't cry for it.

STDlyMcStudpants
02-22-2014, 08:44 PM
I just want to be able to kill citizens again.....
And children...not because i like to be a killing machine, but just because when you press a button and nothing happens, it breaks immersion,

Farlander1991
02-22-2014, 10:03 PM
If we take the Traveling Salesman mission as an example it is more scripted than you acknowledge imo. The mission has been laid out in a way that it's sort of clear which route the designers had in mind. To communicate this to the player they use James Kidd, special mechanics like the lift/running through building/leap of faith and the sharpshooters as breadcrumbs. This creates a feeling of being lead.

I can see where you're going with this, but I disagree. :p

First, regarding breadcrumbs. Breadcrumbs are not necessarily a sign of bad design. Heck, in fact, breadcrumbs are a sign of GOOD design, otherwise, in case of Travelling Salesman, you're left with a high intensity situation where you need to quickly choose routes and don't know where to go (plus, all the free-running paths were always based on the 'breadcrumb' technique, where you'd find where you want to go via the world design signs and then navigate your way through there, and quickly change route when necessary/desired). However. I would agree with you had there been a single breadcrumb trail (akin to a tomb). But there's not. And there's no one single planned out route through that mission, without taking optional objectives in mind.

You mentioned sharpshooters, and this is why I think you had the feeling of being led: the optional objective. I don't know if you tried following it, but I presume you at least have seen it (I might be wrong, don't know if optional objectives messages are deactivated with the hud, or maybe you might've somehow unintentionally seen it and it stuck in your head, which is why I feel the optional objective design philosophy should REALLY be reworked). James Kidd pathway takes you close to said sharpshooters, and when you try to complete the objective you're compelled to do it that precise way, not to mention that the targets themselves at times pass through said sharpshooters.

HOWEVER. If you think just about keeping the target you tail in sight, then you will notice that on the rooftops at any given time there's at the least two to three free running paths through different points to do so successfully (and, btw, choosing routes that avoid all sharpshooters is entirely viable and, I would say, even more comfortable to copmlete the mission). Not to mention the ground routes with crowds, bushes, fences and haystacks. Yes, there is Kidd who goes through a combination of ground and roof in his own scripted manner, but the choice to stick with Kidd is entirely up to you and it's never reinforced (something, btw, that I feel AC3 might've done in this situation, given how you can't even get off horse or stop following the patriot in the beginning of the Bunker Hill assassination mission). Which is why I don't agree with your sentiment that the mission is linear and forces the player up a certain path, it's entirely within the design principles of AC - there's a goal, there's all the different possibilities in the world that help you, do it as you please.


The way the enemies clearly signals that they are about to turn around (why are they even doing it?), the way they stand and scratch their heads if they saw you

Okay, you may argue about the design of the tailing/eavesdropping mechanic, but this is just unreasonable :p If mechanically speaking (especially with the ability to play the game without HUD elements) the targets you tail can turn around and, well, see you, then there should be a visualization when they're about to turn around and when they actually see you :p Otherwise they just do it, and that's bad design. They could've made different animations I suppose, but there still has to be some kind of clear visual recognizable action. Eavesdropping is another matter entirely, and in that particular mission it always felt weird to me because you could hear the dudes talking just fine and then suddenly you have to eavesdrop them O_o


So to summarixe the issue with eavesdropping/tailing is no that they are non-AC-like because they are restricted. It's that they are not particulary fun and immersive in their own right. And this has something to do with their inherent restrictiveness and thus is hard to fix. For that reason I think they should significantly reduce the number of such missions.

I just want to say that it wasn't my intention to make this thread solely about tailing/eavesdropping missions/mechanics, btw :p But, anyway, overall I think Travelling Salesman is a VERY well designed mission, one of my favourite tailing missions in the whole series, actually. There are tons of ways to tail your target and keep it in sight, and I don't feel that the circle in the eavesdropping part is that restrictive because it's quite large. And I'm not saying this just because 'OMG I LOVE TAILING MISSIONS', I just appreciate good design, and ACIV has got examples of AWFUL tailing mission design... well, Freedom Cry at the least (since that's what first comes to mind). When you have to eavesdrop two dudes in the 'AC1 investigation-style' mission, that part was just, just, just, horrible.


Let's all face it. Despite its constant mission restraints, AC:IV have given players the most freedom by far. :p

This is what I'm talking about. What the hell is freedom and how to define it? :p In terms of pure freedom, I still think that AC1 has got more. But AC1 has also got a very different narrative structure, and the way the story is told (which I don't feel like it can work forever, the AC2 and further style of things allows for more diverse and rich storytelling). But this more rich style of storytelling also puts some additional restraints (even if ever so little), because, really, when it comes to freedom and narrative, you can't have total freedom and a cohesive narrative at the same time (and that concerns non-linear RPG games as well), it's a balancing act which depends on the design goals.

frodrigues55
02-22-2014, 10:08 PM
The visual presentation is also kind of lacking. The way the enemies clearly signals that they are about to turn around (why are they even doing it?), the way they stand and scratch their heads if they saw you, the circle you are supposed to stay inside. It's just such a gamey experience that doesn't feel immersive the slightest. Since there is no gameplay benefit of actually hearing the conversation the missions feel more like "try to stay inside circle" rather than actually eavesdropping.



Couldn't agree more, that was very well explained!

Besides, I think a lot of the lack of freedom sense comes from the extreme hand holding. I remember the times where I had to read the game manuals to know the controls and the rest was all me. In AC4, the main objectives are always telling you even the stupidest things - "find the jungle exit" comes to mind.

It was just one command after the other - all the time. It was even worse - those yellow dots were basically laying down the path to teach me how to reach the jungle exit. It felt strict. It would be way better if the game threw me inside the jungle and left me there to find out what and how to do by myself. You have a beautiful world designed but it is always scared that you will get lost.

The game does that all the time. Even when confined within that opera house in AC3, the game marked ledge by ledge your way to backstage. It didn't need that, it's robotic and kinda of defeats the gameplay and the sense of discovery. You don't always have freedom to find your own path because the game is telling you where to go.

AssassinHMS
02-22-2014, 11:18 PM
I think AC needs more freedom but also less freedom. I think it’s really about this balance that is meant to make the experience customizable and flexible but also grounded.
For example:
The freedom to choose the Assassin’s equipment, clothes, hood up or down is a basic freedom that adds a lot to the experience and doesn’t hurt it in any way.

On the other hand, AC already provides some freedom on how to complete a mission, whether with mindless action (head on) or by planning a strategy and executing it.
Thing is, this kind of freedom does hurt the experience. As far as I can see, it shouldn’t be a choice between using or not our brain, every approach should require the player’s full attention and commitment in order to work properly. What the game should provide instead, is the choice between a more combat oriented approach and more stealthy one. The player should have the option to complete a mission without having to kill a single person apart from the main target (keep the blade from the flesh of an innocent), to use a mix of stealth and combat or to fight his way to the target. However, none of these approaches should be a piece of cake or else it becomes a matter of feeling like using the brain or not and that hurts the experience. If the player wants to fight his way, he will have to plan before he strikes, he will have to pay attention to the environment (spot objects that can be used as a distraction, as a way to eliminate many targets at once or that may stun nearby enemies), he will have to think beforehand (kill the archers first with the bow so that he can face the others without the fear of being sniped). However, if the player wants to fight his way through but doesn’t plan a strategy and goes blindly into the battlefield, he should be punished. The game should encourage thought and skill so that every option (stealth, combat or a mix of the two) is balanced and minimally realistic.

The freedom to play the game without using our brain damages the experience and is not worth having. However, the freedom to approach a mission anyway we want adds replay value, respects different tastes and does not harm the experience.


The point is, as long as the power of being able to choose doesn’t make the player feel overpowered, the experience shouldn’t be spoiled for any kind of gamer. That is why I think the freedom to be a one-man-army overpowers the player, makes him feel above the experience (instead of being immersed in it), makes the core completely unbalanced and ruins immersion.
The only thing I can think of is a cheat that turns the Assassin into “Hulk” for those that want to feel above the experience. That way, the experience won’t be ruined for those who want to immerse themselves in the world and feel like a natural part of it. I would’ve suggested difficulty options but I have come to the conclusion that I don’t like them and that AC is better off without them as long as the core is balanced and fleshed out.

I would also suggest that AC gave up on other small freedoms in favor of immersion and a little realism as well as fun. For example:
-The player is no longer allowed to blend if he stands out too much (carry a crossbow, a bow or other notorious weapons). In order to bypass this, the player can buy clothing accessories that conceal these weapons, or he could simply rely more on the hidden blade.

-The player should not be allowed to carry every weapon available and still be able to sprint, climb or swim. Weapon management should be taken into consideration as the player should choose the equipment that fits his play style and store away that which he doesn’t consider essential. This should also encourage the player to use the environment as a weapon (throw rocks to trick guards, cut the ropes that sustain a chandelier or other objects in order to knock out enemies, etc.).

-The player should not be able to use the map or other markers in order to track down targets or find the next objective. The world itself should lead the player to it. AC already uses this when it places eagles flying in circles around potential viewpoints so that the player only has to look out for them instead of having to bring up the map. But I think AC should further encourage the player to use his senses and knowledge of the world to find his objective. No more mission markers, if the player wants to find a location he needs to explore the city, ask people for information or pay certain NPCs to lead him or tell what they know about his target. This way the experience feels more intuitive (less gamey or artificial) and the act of exploring feels more like a puzzle and less like a chore or a waste of time.


As for failing in tailing or eavesdropping missions, I think they should get away from the “desynch thing”. If the player loses sight of his targets, he should still have the option to find them before they disappear. For example, by getting to a viewpoint the targets could be highlighted allowing the player to spot them and get back to tailing them or, by asking courtesans for directions in case they saw them or paying thieves (who are as nimble as the assassin), they could find the targets for the player. As for the eavesdropping, perhaps they could make it optional in the sense that none of the information is essential to the story but more of an insight on what the player will have to face. The targets could also give hints on what kind of enemies and obstacles the player should be aware of. Either this or stop mixing eavesdrop with tailing missions.

All in all, it’s about what each freedom brings and not just “more freedom equals better”.

Sushiglutton
02-22-2014, 11:28 PM
First off, I don't know if you have heard of the Traveling Salesman Problem? I just thought I should mention it because it's kind of a funny reference by good ol´ Ubi (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Travelling_salesman_problem) :).


I can see where you're going with this, but I disagree. :p

First, regarding breadcrumbs. Breadcrumbs are not necessarily a sign of bad design. Heck, in fact, breadcrumbs are a sign of GOOD design, otherwise, in case of Travelling Salesman, you're left with a high intensity situation where you need to quickly choose routes and don't know where to go (plus, all the free-running paths were always based on the 'breadcrumb' technique, where you'd find where you want to go via the world design signs and then navigate your way through there, and quickly change route when necessary/desired). However. I would agree with you had there been a single breadcrumb trail (akin to a tomb). But there's not. And there's no one single planned out route through that mission, without taking optional objectives in mind.

You mentioned sharpshooters, and this is why I think you had the feeling of being led: the optional objective. I don't know if you tried following it, but I presume you at least have seen it (I might be wrong, don't know if optional objectives messages are deactivated with the hud, or maybe you might've somehow unintentionally seen it and it stuck in your head, which is why I feel the optional objective design philosophy should REALLY be reworked). James Kidd pathway takes you close to said sharpshooters, and when you try to complete the objective you're compelled to do it that precise way, not to mention that the targets themselves at times pass through said sharpshooters.

HOWEVER. If you think just about keeping the target you tail in sight, then you will notice that on the rooftops at any given time there's at the least two to three free running paths through different points to do so successfully (and, btw, choosing routes that avoid all sharpshooters is entirely viable and, I would say, even more comfortable to copmlete the mission). Not to mention the ground routes with crowds, bushes, fences and haystacks. Yes, there is Kidd who goes through a combination of ground and roof in his own scripted manner, but the choice to stick with Kidd is entirely up to you and it's never reinforced (something, btw, that I feel AC3 might've done in this situation, given how you can't even get off horse or stop following the patriot in the beginning of the Bunker Hill assassination mission). Which is why I don't agree with your sentiment that the mission is linear and forces the player up a certain path, it's entirely within the design principles of AC - there's a goal, there's all the different possibilities in the world that help you, do it as you please.


On my first playthrough I was unaware of the optional objectives and since I didn't have a mini-map it was hard to no where the red zones (and guards in general) were, which led to some failures on tailing/eavesdropping, which didn't exactly made me more fond of them lol. Anyway when I replayed them I noticed most of them had this breadcrumb design using various guard archetypes. I'm not saying it's bad design per se, but it is a form of handholding.

I wish I could draw the path I think they had in mind on Traveling Salesman :p. It's starts with following Kidd to the church, then take the lift up, tree parkour, take out the first sharpshooter ... fast forward to the end (forgot the rest) where you are supposed to run up the stairs through the building, jump a couple of trees to reach the final sharpshooter, than jump down in the hay etc. Anyway point being I think they have designed ONE path and then there are several others because the mission takes place in the city. When replaying some of the other missions like "Do Not Go Gently" it's also clear that they have designed ONE path they want the player to take. Since that mission takes place in a linear level there are very limited options for how to complete it.

I do agree that in principal the mission type is ok as it is a simple goal with natural restrictions. Problem is that these natural restrictions are still kind of annoying. Stealth with a time limit is uncomfortable to me and I bet many other players as well. Typically in a stealth section you start by finding a safe hiding spot, observe guard patterns and form a plan. You can't do this in eavesdropping missions as you are constantly pushed forward. To compensate they have to add various form of handholding which breaks immersion and just isn't that fun.

I'm not saying these missions are poorly designed, given their nature they are typically well designed. It's just that this type of mission isn't that appealing to me.





Okay, you may argue about the design of the tailing/eavesdropping mechanic, but this is just unreasonable :p If mechanically speaking (especially with the ability to play the game without HUD elements) the targets you tail can turn around and, well, see you, then there should be a visualization when they're about to turn around and when they actually see you :p Otherwise they just do it, and that's bad design.

Completely agree. What I'm saying is that this turning around move shouldn't happen at all. It looks very silly and gamey. But ofc if they are gonna keep it there must be some indication otherwise it would feel very unfair.


Edit: Sorry for focusing so much on eavesdropping, will try to address freedom in general tomorrow :).




Couldn't agree more, that was very well explained!

Besides, I think a lot of the lack of freedom sense comes from the extreme hand holding. I remember the times where I had to read the game manuals to know the controls and the rest was all me. In AC4, the main objectives are always telling you even the stupidest things - "find the jungle exit" comes to mind.

It was just one command after the other - all the time. It was even worse - those yellow dots were basically laying down the path to teach me how to reach the jungle exit. It felt strict. It would be way better if the game threw me inside the jungle and left me there to find out what and how to do by myself. You have a beautiful world designed but it is always scared that you will get lost.

The game does that all the time. Even when confined within that opera house in AC3, the game marked ledge by ledge your way to backstage. It didn't need that, it's robotic and kinda of defeats the gameplay and the sense of discovery. You don't always have freedom to find your own path because the game is telling you where to go.

Completely agree with this, AC often feels insulting. I wish they at least could follow the example from the new Thief and have more generous HUD customization options. It annoyed me so much that the objectives couldn't be turned off from the HUD in any way.

Farlander1991
02-23-2014, 12:02 AM
First off, I don't know if you have heard of the Traveling Salesman Problem? I just thought I should mention it because it's kind of a funny reference by good ol´ Ubi (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Travell...lesman_problem (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Travelling_salesman_problem)) http://static5.cdn.ubi.com/u/ubiforums/20130918.419/images/smilies/smile.png.

I did not know that :) But then again, AC4 is choke-full of references in mission names and dialog and whatnot (my favourite are the Monkey Island references :D )


I wish I could draw the path I think they had in mind on Traveling Salesman http://static5.cdn.ubi.com/u/ubiforums/20130918.419/images/smilies/tongue.png. It's starts with following Kidd to the church, then take the lift up, tree parkour, take out the first sharpshooter ... fast forward to the end (forgot the rest) where you are supposed to run up the stairs through the building, jump a couple of trees to reach the final sharpshooter, than jump down in the hay etc. Anyway point being I think they have designed ONE path and then there are several others because the mission takes place in the city. When replaying some of the other missions like "Do Not Go Gently" it's also clear that they have designed ONE path they want the player to take. Since that mission takes place in a linear level there are very limited options for how to complete it.


The description of 'this one certain path they had in mind' sounds to me like a misunderstanding of how open-world mission design works. You don't create a world, and then just put a mission like this with a straight line for the target and a straight line for the tailing path and have all else happen by accident because hopefully it happens. World design and mission design in the world goes hand in hand. Presence of linear locations doesn't change that, because as AC2/ACB tombs have shown, in general players like to have from time to time tailored linear experiences (and even then, they did add a few variations in the level). Also, one-off locations are usually more linear because they're, well, one-off locations, not as much focus on them (plus players usually don't expect the same range of possibilities in one-off locations as they do in the game world itself).

The basic design of TS would have started with one path - that being the path of the target. Of course it starts with just one, it has to start with something. The city would most likely be only in its basic shape when that happens. But then things would get added on to it and added on over time.

To make my point visual, what you're saying is that the mission was DESIGNED like the pic to the left (yellow the target path and green the player path), and everything happened by accident, what I'm saying is that it was just a part of the phase, and the design was built up to be like the pic in the right (with blue being the ally path). And only after that there are things that just happen by accident (which lead to even more possibilities, though, to be honest, not quite effective - all the numerous designed paths for the mission are more potent and effective, but other possibilities are still there, and, hey, every mission is designed with a range of effective possibilities even in AC1, you can't think of everything) because the world naturally gets more detailed as production goes on, but that's just the cherry on the topping so to speak.

http://i58.tinypic.com/35aorph.png
Case in point, btw I played Travelling Salesman like 5-6 times. I didn't notice the run-through the building (I think you're talking about the one when we eavesdrop not too far from the final destination) until the last time. And I still don't know what lift you're talking about, because I have never taken one in all my playthroughs of the level and don't remember seeing one on my way through the level. Which shouldn't have happened if they had one clear path in mind. But they haven't :p

I know that this kind of missions is not your cup of tea, but I think you're undervaluing the design work that has went into it.

Sushiglutton
02-23-2014, 12:38 AM
I wish I could do a YT-vid of the path I have in mind :p. Basically you start by following Kidd to the tower. There you wait while he assassinates one of the guards from a haystack. Then he runs and hides behind a building on the left. On the side of this building is a lift. Take it to the roof and jump through the trees to the first sharpshooter. Jump through another set of trees to the second shaprshooter. Now it becomes a bit more complicated but there is a path through trees and rooftops (you will reach the third sharpshooter here) that eventually leads to a leap from a tree into hay with a guard to kill at the point where Prins and Torres lose the third guy. A brute is waiting close to a stalking zone. Shortly after is the stairs to the roofs again and a forth sharpshooter. Then dive into the hay and take out a guard. The final breadcrumb is close to another stalking zone.

Farlander1991
02-23-2014, 12:48 AM
I'm not denying the existence of breadcrumbs, mate :p What I'm saying is that they form a grid rather than a path (of course when playing it we see a natural path that first comes to mind, doesn't mean there aren't others natural and sometimes even more effective possibilities).

Sushiglutton
02-23-2014, 12:57 AM
IT'S A PATH :mad:!!!

ok I admit I'm dead tired now lol :rolleyes:

Farlander1991
02-23-2014, 01:09 AM
IT'S A PATH :mad:!!!


Case in point, btw, I found the lift you're talking about in the previous post (near the beginning of the level). I never took it. Know why?

My first playthrough when I followed Kidd to the church, I climbed from the shack on the tree (and I climbed on the second level of the tree to stay out of sight), from there I ran forward through the beams that stick from the church onto a building until a tree, which if you keep running straight it will bring you down to the ground level, but I climbed the V-shape and onto it on the building to the left (which is past the building with the lift) with the sharpshooter. I played with HUD and wanted to take care of optional objectives from the get go if they were on my way or if I didn't mind, so maybe if it weren't for the sharpshooter icon I'd go on the ground (which is why I feel the optional objective design philosophy should be changed anyway, I don't think I would have cared about specifically getting to them at all if it weren't for that).

My all other playthroughs (with the exception of when I wanted to be only on the ground, and I think I didn't notice it then because in my mind I filtered out everything that's related to free-running/climbing/rooftop access) the very first path that I take is to the left of the church - there's a tilted wooden plank at the side of the building that starts a free-running path that leads straight to the roofs of the buildings parallel to the church, so when I'd get to the building which you climb with the lift I were already on top of it.

So I always managed to avoid the thing.

Because it's not a path :p

jdowny
02-23-2014, 02:12 AM
Good God, sorry for the wall of text, but a great idea for a topic and some excellent arguments here - I think it's about time these were brought to the forefront of forum discussion. Ubisoft should be paying attention.

If you don't mind me going back to the first AC game - I was immediately hooked because it provided unparalleled freedom. Where other games limit players to linear paths, AC gives unprecedented access to every single facet of a game. So naturally the confliction and frustration arises when we are restricted. AC1 isn't perfect, but it still stands as the game in which I felt the most free, and it’s important to analyse why that is.

A large part of it is down to the lack of restrictions. Off the top of my head we now have optional objectives, eavesdropping missions, tailing missions, linear paths, poor movement controls, punishments for being seen, desynchronizations, distance limits, line of sight limits, the list goes on. So in terms of gameplay, I'm entirely on the side of more freedom. I don't like to say it, but for me the AC games aren't challenging. I don't mean that in an obnoxious way - I just don't play them for the challenge. Instead I play them so I can race across the rooftops in 15th century Florence or Venice, for the thrill and excitement of being an assassin, it's as simple as that.


So having all that in mind, hearing something like tailing missions (among some other things) go against the nature of AC because they're restrictive and set on a certain path, I just get baffled. Why is it restrictive and against nature of AC?

I don’t think there’s anything inherently wrong with these missions – instead I think it’s just a reaction against being restricted after so much freedom. There’s going to be some resistance against it.

However, I do think these missions can be rethought and reworked.


The core mission type in AC for me is the ones in which you infiltrate some kind of open area freely using the various techniques at your disposal. The parkour/verticality and the city/social aspects of these missions is what seperates AC from other stealth game.

I entirely agree. This to me is the essence of AC. An excellent example is the fortress in Acre in AC1, where you kill William de Montferrat. Not only was there more than one way inside, but several routes available to the player once they were in. They were free to kill as many or as few guards as they wanted and weren’t penalised for being caught. There’s no reason then, that this sort of large scale level design can’t work in the rest of the game.

So let’s list some of the worst aspects of the game that limit player freedom:

- Tailing. It’s been in every single AC game since the beginning, and it’s been problematic since its inception. I think my main annoyance is how controlled it is – I can understand why getting too close would make them suspicious, but too far away? Why should I be punished for not having them in sight? Surely I as a player should decide that for myself? If I lose them, it’s my own fault. But to have a timer appear as soon as they go out of sight is frustrating. That, and as Sushiglutton said, it feels especially gamey when they stop, pause, then look around. If we’re going to rethink these problems, then we can start with this one.

The most frustrating thing about tailing for me is that I want to be able to go along the rooftops but either the houses are too far apart or there are too many guards. This was a particular problem in AC3 and 4. I understand you want a challenge for the player, but those snipers are just a damn nuisance. Going across rooftops is one of the icons of AC, and this is ruined by shouts from guards telling me to get down. I’m entirely fine with soldiers being on roofs of forts and castles, but on civilian houses? Nope. As I said, I don’t think the appeal of AC lies in its challenge – it’s the thrill of being an assassin, someone who’s invisible and tailing these people without them realising.

- Eavesdropping. This goes hand in hand with tailing in many ways, but for me this is much worse, especially since the restrictions enforced in AC 3 and having to stay within the circle. If I can hear the conversation, why is the game punishing me? Also, who plots conspiracies in broad daylight and in public whilst they’re walking around?

Considering that AC1’s assassinations are some of the best moments of the series, why not approach tailing in a way that resembles them? If we go down this route, our target should be located in a specific spot located somewhere inside a large perimeter – a room or courtyard located within a mansion, fort or ship perhaps. If we know this specific location, the challenge will be getting there. If we don’t, then there could be NPC conversations that direct us. (Ideally I’d love it if these clues didn’t appear as waypoints on our HUD but left for the player to work out.) The player then, perhaps through a cutscene, is able to eavesdrop from a safe spot. The mission in AC II where you go down into the crypt in Florence is an excellent example of this.

- Linear design, by which I mean physical restrictions as well as the checkpoints the player has to go through. For me, these are some of the most frustrating things about AC. Linear design in my opinion should have no place in a game with so much freedom. It goes against the grain, as does the use of checkpoints. They’re getting better at it, but I still can’t help but feel like a child or a dog when I’m led through these sorts of hoops. The constant ‘Go to A, pick up B, go to C’ makes me as a player feel pretty stupid. If we go back to AC1 assassinations and take Garnier de’Naplouse as a good example. Even before the assassination itself the player is picking up clues as to how he will approach the kill through side missions. These provide snippets of information that give the player choices – does he go through the main entrance or up the scaffolding, and down through the roof? The player is thinking, preparing, observing and planning. This makes it all the more satisfying when your plan works. Even if it doesn’t, the player’s ability to think on their feet and make decisions such as how to escape are still satisfying when pulled off. Perhaps even more so because it’s unexpected.

- Optional objectives. Yeah, they’re optional, but still a form of punishment for not doing things a specific way. By not getting them, we’re given a low percentage and barred from achieving 100% completion. I’m all for a challenge, but there must be so many ways to challenge players that complement their playing style, not limit it.

There are so many other factors involved in this question so it’s always going to be a big one. One of the bigger factors is also how powerful the player is. Combat is laughably easy in this game. Even a beginner would still be able to kill dozens of guards without much of a challenge. All the sneaking around doesn’t make much sense when it’s often easier and a lot more satisfying simply to kill everyone. Making combat harder would be a big step in the right direction. And, I hate to say it again, but AC1’s combat was great. Sure, the enemies took it in turns to attack you, but combat felt brutal, visceral and savage. You remember how hard it was to counter with the hidden blade? There were times I felt nervous around several heavily armed guards and fleeing once caught was often necessary to survive.

shobhit7777777
02-23-2014, 02:11 PM
Sushi's posts are the only reason why I keep coming back to the AC forums.


I just wanted to talk about the eavesdropping and tailing missions.


The thing is that the two mission types above are the best way to emphasize and showcase 2 of the 3 core pillars of AC gameplay - Social Stealth and Freedom of Traversal. Unfortunately Ubi haven't been able to nail down their design.

I too felt that the Tailing missions were largely unengaging and rigid due to the trial and error elements and the insta-fails.

I've experimented and played around a LOT with social stealth elements in the franchise and there is a surprising amount of depth in them. I would tail eye-witnesses and their bodyguards and try to get rid of them in creative ways.
Naturally there were no insta fails or rigid, immersion breaking pause/stops where the AI looks around to check for tails in a painfully obvious manner. I simply had to use the crowd to remain incognito, get in close and quietly (Poison blade FTW) get rid of the dude.

In my "experiments" I came to appreciate the range and depth of options available to a player who is willing to put the time/effort/creativity in.....and it was magnificent.

I would use the crowds to tail the target
I would use the urban landscape to figure out an intercept course
I would climb up and over buildings or duck through alleys to get ahead of the target
I would then move in, create a minor distraction and kill the target

The above sequence had many permutations and it was all absolutely terrific. In these moments Assassin's Creed reached gameplay heights of Farcry, Splinter Cell and other systemic games.

The Social Stealth elements are simply not being exploited in the franchise well enough.

The tailing and evesdropping missions can be so engaging and fun if they go for a more three strike system instead of insta-fails. Where each strike leads to an escalation of the target's behaviour and suspicious. Where the system doesn't instantly fail you, but is more organic and flexible.

The stealth mechanics themselves need more ways to manipulate the crowd and allow the player to truly mess around with the AI.

Dome500
02-23-2014, 06:30 PM
I agree on a lot which is said here in this particular thread.
What bothers me the most about tailing and eavesdropping missions (or some other mission types as well) is the non-systemic, scripted nature of them.

As an example of (not much but slightly) better missions regarding eavesdropping let's go back to AC2.

The NPC's in AC2 for example (partially) reacted a lot more natural, or at least showed hints of which reasons and behaviors would make the whole experience less scripted.
Take the eavesdropping of the Templar meeting in Venice for example. What I always liked about that is that the targets were not turning around in an unnatural way and that the area of eavesdropping was not so restricted.

You could follow them and they didn't turn around in a strange way. The way they conveyed the "you could get detected" feeling was by letting new partners of the meeting arrive and interfere with your eavesdropping. One target came from a different direction and was therefore "naturally" looking towards you.

Also, there were enemies guarding the area.
To many enemies to be honest to you, it was kind of an overkill. But reduce the number of guarded areas and spread them in here and there without exaggerating it (including rooftop guards) and you have another obstacle to get around without letting your target turn around.

Another variable in the equation was Dante, the bodyguard. While the Templar leaders were talking too each other Dante was mentioning he feels "eyes on us" and if I am not wrong it at least seemed as if he was looking around once in a while.

What I also liked was that they were stopping here and there if they were in a serious argument or waiting for another member (the latter not in this particular mission, but in others) of the meeting. One of them would turn around and face the other, or they would stop and face each other if they were walking just right next too each other. That way their Line of Sight changed and automatically posed as a thread for your Stealth.

Things like that give you obstacles without letting it seem unrealistic.

Now to the desynchronizations.
I agree that they should move away from them as well. If you have more of a tolerance zone for them you do not make it easier necessarily. You just make it more realistic.
Imagine you are detected during a tailing or eavesdropping mission. The target would probably not scream "AN ASSASSIN" and run away. At least not in all the cases. But maybe he would say "I think this guy is watching us. Lets loose him and meet at another place". That would not end your game, but make it more time-consuming to get the information you want. Because that way you might have to interrogate someone, steal a note or go to the place the person lives and follow him again from there.
(Not all of those mentioned thing to make that clear, only 1 or 2 depending on the mission).

Or if you tail them and loose your target(s) you could climb the next viewpoint and find him/them again. Or imagine they just say that they will loose you and meet at the point. So you would have to find out where that meeting location is.

In case of the eavesdropping the targets would continue with the conversation where they stopped once you find them again.
In case of the tailing you would have to find the meeting place differently.
This would allow for mistakes which do not necessarily lead to game overs. But you would have to put more time into progressing.

But I wouldn't let the second "alternative" way to gather information go to waste for everyone.
I think these can be used better.
Imagine having 2 options how to tackle a certain mission.

Of course not EVERY mission in the game.
But my idea is that missions which are leading up to an assassination or are about important information gathering in the main story could have 2 or 3 (2 is enough) ways to gather the information you can choose from.
If you fail in 1 of those ways to gather the information you could try the other one.

Freedom Cry had that interesting concept that reminded me a little bit of Assassins Creed 1. You had to complete 3 of 5 information gathering missions to continue.
I would not do that in the main missions of the next AC game though.
But the concept brought me onto something.

What if, you can choose which way of information gathering you want to use and the alternative would serve as a "fallback" mission. So if you fail the protagonist says something like "damn, I lost them. But I have other leads to follow. Let's see what I can find out there".

Regarding a specific ability/element, I would design those 2 "alternative" missions in a way like AC1 did it with it's missions: I would enable the player to do BOTH missions if he WANT to (like you could do 6 instead of 3 (required) investigations in AC1).
That way the players who are "bored" only have to do 1 of those missions. While other players who want immersion and as much content as possible would do both missions to acquire information.

Another idea I had in terms of the BIG assassinations was to be able to do some OPTIONAL missions before the assassination. Those would be on the same level as simple "side activities" in AC4. You could sabotage the defensive weapons of the targets fort, gather additional information (stationary eavesdropping, stealing a letter) which would give you a hint regarding alternative paths to your target and ways to escape. Something like that. Nothing scripted (because scripted would be too much developer work for a simple "side activity"), just something like "Steal the letter of this courier" or "eavesdrop people in town". You might get the information WHERE to find those activities by talking to a member of the Assassins within the city you are in. And like I said, those "activities" - like all side activities in an AC game - are merely OPTIONAL and only serve your personal immersion and you will get to know your targets more (how evil are they? do they maybe also have a good side? what weaknesses do they have? what behavior do they have? => basically partially tactical information, partially information about the personality of the target). The activities are easy and not scripted.

I also agree on what people here said about the freedom of playstyle. That a majority of the missions (80% - 90%) should allow for a FULL viable stealth approach where you can spare most enemies except of the targets and where stealth is THOUGHT OF (intended and supported) as OPTIONAL (not forced, unless the story requires it) approach.
Also being able to combine killing and Stealth as well as being able to go all out into open combat. And I agree that the combat should be more difficult to make it a challenge and not a "no-brain/skill" approach. Not too hard, sure, but not as easy as it is at the moment.

What I think we need if you more flexibility in approach of tailing/eavesdropping (do I climb over that building to intercept the targets, do I use the street and social stealth, do I use the rooftops and follow them close behind above them, etc), less obvious ways of people detecting you while tailing/eavesdropping, more flexibility in approach of other missions (kill all guards, K.O. all guards, distract and sneak past all guards, go all out into open combat?) and less hand-holding (being able to deactivate objective markers in the settings, more missions where we get an APPROXIMATE location ("near the X church" , shown on the map by big "green zones") and have to go there and either identify the target ourselves or use eagle vision to do so or 1 or 2 missions where you have to find out where you have to go (by listening to a conversation (stationary if possible) or stealing a letter or interrogating someone who has the information), etc).

In and open world game (IMO) the next step in AC should be to make the mission more flexible and believable and to separate the "hand-holding" features from the "normal gameplay" and to start letting the player (at least sometimes) find the location himself. And also to make it less frustrating to fail an objective but more "mildly punishing" (which ties into flexibility).

Having multiple options in both approach (path you take) and playstyle (silent/stealthy or aggressive) would make the game a lot more replayable and also serve the idea of a more open world design.

Of course making everything too non-linear would let the story loose it's focus. But I think the things I mentioned are within the frame of the possible both in terms of development work to be done and also in terms of immersion and gameplay.

jdowny
02-23-2014, 07:53 PM
@Dome500 - couldn't agree more.


The above sequence had many permutations and it was all absolutely terrific. In these moments Assassin's Creed reached gameplay heights of Farcry, Splinter Cell and other systemic games.

The Social Stealth elements are simply not being exploited in the franchise well enough..

I'm not sure I've ever agreed with so many people so much in one topic.

I'm interested in the idea of AC's social stealth but I've always found it too unpredictable and unreliable to be of any use. I always found it so much easier simply to go on the roofs and kill any guards up there than to try and blend with the crowds. It might help if there was a lot more movement and variety on the streets - not just groups of people wandering aimlessly. In real life it's rare to find such large groups of people travelling together, just as it's rare to find two people sitting on a bench, groups of courtesans and drunkards, thieves and mercenaries or conveniently placed tall grass Yes these games are set hundreds of years ago, but these strike me as particularly arbitrary game design mechanics. Why should I suddenly become invisible when moving with two people?

It would be nice if the player didn't have to rely on big groups of people to blend in, but perhaps instead there could be context-sensitive actions. In AC III and IV there were market stalls with people that you could join where you look at fruit - but how about get rid of the need for people and just have the character blend in by doing the same action on his own? Then fill the street with dozens of similar actions, or even just walking less conspicuously.

We might be veering off the idea of freedom in the game and focusing too much on social stealth and tailing, but these to me are vital problems that need addressing if the game is to regain that sense of freedom.

SixKeys
02-23-2014, 08:51 PM
I'm interested in the idea of AC's social stealth but I've always found it too unpredictable and unreliable to be of any use. I always found it so much easier simply to go on the roofs and kill any guards up there than to try and blend with the crowds. It might help if there was a lot more movement and variety on the streets - not just groups of people wandering aimlessly. In real life it's rare to find such large groups of people travelling together, just as it's rare to find two people sitting on a bench, groups of courtesans and drunkards, thieves and mercenaries or conveniently placed tall grass Yes these games are set hundreds of years ago, but these strike me as particularly arbitrary game design mechanics. Why should I suddenly become invisible when moving with two people?


AC3 devs made a big deal about AnvilNext being able to generate over 2,000 NPCs on the screen, but we only ever saw this in a couple of story-related missions that required huge crowds. AC3 had a more natural idea for blending, it just didn't always work well in practice. They should get rid of blend group of 4-5 people and instead focus on perfecting the AC3 blending mechanic, then fill the streets with people. I mean huge crowds where the player can really lose themselves in. Eavesdropping missions could be so much better if we had a good blend of the AC2 and AC3 systems, where the player knows when they are successfully blending, and where it actually looks natural.

I will forever think of that one scene in the AC live action movie with Giovanni Auditore (forgot the title), where he's tailing Rodrigo Borgia on a crowded street, Rodrigo turns around and Giovanni just disappears into the mass of people. That's what social stealth in AC should be like. The player shouldn't have to look for specific groups that look specifically created for one purpose. They should be able to smoothly move through hundreds of people and remain undetected as long as they're not doing anything out of the ordinary.

Dome500
02-23-2014, 09:18 PM
It would be nice if the player didn't have to rely on big groups of people to blend in, but perhaps instead there could be context-sensitive actions. In AC III and IV there were market stalls with people that you could join where you look at fruit - but how about get rid of the need for people and just have the character blend in by doing the same action on his own? Then fill the street with dozens of similar actions, or even just walking less conspicuously.


What I would like to see in this regard in terms of social stealth improvements is a deeper system usage. I think this can be achieved with some additional elements.

You brought up a good point regarding the hiding spots. I'm thinking of something like Hitman Absolution (bare with me here). In H:A there were certain places where you could hide in plain sight by doing a special activity (like looking at a menu, standing in the market somewhere, etc.). This can be added in addition to the usual haystacks, benches, etc.
I think these spots would make for a more natural feeling.

Also, another thing that would help would be to maybe let the NPC's on the street pair up an separate once in a while so you have a more dynamic crowd.

The detection would then be based on line of sight. If you are walking behind at least 2 NPC's you are not seen, if you walk in front of them you are seen. If you walk a fair distance behind them (but still enough to block the LOS between you and your enemies, then you are hidden as well). Of course this would require a separate simulation of the LOS of all enemies, but Hitman Absolution proved this is possible and with next gen I think this will be no problem.

That way you would have a dynamic system, which is actually based on the NPC's blocking the Line of Sight (LoS) between you and your enemies instead of a "save" system that works very in-dynamic. On the one hand it is more difficult, because you have to make sure that NPC's block the line of sight to all enemies who could detect you (walking between 2 NPC's in front and 2 NPC's behind you would ensure this for example (the system needs a tolerance zone of course)), on the other hand it would be more dynamic and easier, because you do not necessarily have to directly stand within those groups (you can also fall back and walk slightly behind those groups) to block the LoS.

Another advantage is you can dynamically change your position if your targets or enemies go around a corner or change position, or even move back in your direction. The detection arc would of course still be forgiving, like in most AC games. I think the A.I. is too stupid at the moment, and that they should make them a little bit more smarter. But even if they do that there is enough time to go out of sight before they actually "detect" you. The detection system would be the exact same as it always was, just the LoS mechanic would be slightly different (and IMO improved and more dynamic).

And in case you would be almost detected you can still "hide in plain sight" by going towards a bench or market stand or another stationary hiding spot.

BTW: I just wanted to say (FYI) that there should NOT be an actual system that calculates how much of your body is within the LoS of an enemy, that would only be overly complicated and lead to a lot of frustrating system mistakes/misunderstandings and fails. I think that a certain number of NPC bodies (the perfect number would have to be tested) in front or behind you (based on where the enemy is) should GUARANTEE that he does not see you.


What I also think should be included is the option to put on/pull off your hood. Like many people said over and over again, it can be very suspicious to have a hood. And while this might be useful when doing LOS stealth (hiding in bushes, sneaking in restricted areas in the night, etc.) or wanting to hide you identity, why not make you only hidden in the crowd if you DON'T wear your hood. That way you seem more natural and don't stick out that much, even with your assassin clothes. But that's only an idea. I think the hood on/off is a MUST HAVE, but the social stealth feature is just a loose idea I had and it might restrict the freedom of the player too much and reduce the feeling of being "badass" and "cool", so it's okay if the hood on/off is without a real effect as long as it is there.

Another form of Social Stealth might be disguises. But I think this is too "Hitman style" and that Ubisoft would have to do a lot of testing to find out how it fits into the franchise. So this is rather something to explore over time an subtly include it once in a while in 1 or 2 missions to see how people react before making it a viable option with a real system.


I mean huge crowds where the player can really lose themselves in. Eavesdropping missions could be so much better if we had a good blend of the AC2 and AC3 systems, where the player knows when they are successfully blending, and where it actually looks natural.

Yeah.

But I think the main problem here was the setting.

In Europe the streets were very populated at all times (except night maybe), but in the colonies (US) and the Caribbean Sea the towns and cities were so small that the population was not high enough to have such places. That is the main problem with huge crowds, they can only be in some games because the settings sometimes don't allow for it.

jdowny
02-23-2014, 10:37 PM
In Europe the streets were very populated at all times (except night maybe), but in the colonies (US) and the Caribbean Sea the towns and cities were so small that the population was not high enough to have such places. That is the main problem with huge crowds, they can only be in some games because the settings sometimes don't allow for it.

I don't know - somewhere like Boston or New York was easily big enough in terms of scale to warrant such large numbers - I'm thinking particularly of the main street in Boston as soon as you get off the ship (Haytham). It would be easy to blend in if there were more NPCs on screen and less exasperating to try and find somewhere to blend if we were to try and eavesdrop or pickpocket.


they should get rid of blend group of 4-5 people and instead focus on perfecting the AC3 blending mechanic, then fill the streets with people. I mean huge crowds where the player can really lose themselves in. Eavesdropping missions could be so much better if we had a good blend of the AC2 and AC3 systems, where the player knows when they are successfully blending, and where it actually looks natural.

That's exactly what I'm thinking - and that scene in Lineage was in my mind as well. The problem is that the hundreds of soldiers we saw in the battles were essentially animated robots - you get all sorts of problems when you have hundreds of NPCs all trying to pathfind simultaneously. If it's possible to get say 100 NPCs all going about their daily activities at random without slowing anything down, then great.

Of course this would only be in the biggest spaces. The back alleys should be quieter, dirtier and more dangerous from a tailing point of view. And this is where it would be nice to go from the hustle and bustle of busy streets, tailing your target unseen from a crowd, to quietly stalking them from the rooftops when they disappear behind the houses. Only I still think they should get rid of 90% of the guards on the rooftops and limit them to towers and forts. It really ruins the fun when you're tailing someone and they shout at you to get down.

Dome500
02-23-2014, 11:23 PM
I don't know - somewhere like Boston or New York was easily big enough in terms of scale to warrant such large numbers - I'm thinking particularly of the main street in Boston as soon as you get off the ship (Haytham). It would be easy to blend in if there were more NPCs on screen and less exasperating to try and find somewhere to blend if we were to try and eavesdrop or pickpocket.

Yeah, I was only mentioning this because in MOST situations in AC3/4 this was the case, and the colonies (especially the cities in comparison to Europe at that time) did INDEED not have that big of a population at that time. Europe had a much higher population, which you can also clearly see by looking at the big places/locations in Renaissance Italy.


Only I still think they should get rid of 90% of the guards on the rooftops and limit them to towers and forts

I have to disagree here.

I think the guards on the rooftops were okay. Especially in AC2 (+B/R) and 4. (In AC3 there were too many in one place and they "automatically" alarmed the guards on the street :rolleyes: ) I think it is a challenge to keep up to the target while silently killing or K.O.ing the rooftop soldiers. I just wished there would be a distraction tool we could use. That way you wouldn't have to always knock them out, and it would help to dynamically determine direction of their LoS and manipulate it easier in a way to either get past them or k.o/kill them from behind.

SixKeys
02-24-2014, 12:37 AM
That's exactly what I'm thinking - and that scene in Lineage was in my mind as well. The problem is that the hundreds of soldiers we saw in the battles were essentially animated robots - you get all sorts of problems when you have hundreds of NPCs all trying to pathfind simultaneously. If it's possible to get say 100 NPCs all going about their daily activities at random without slowing anything down, then great.

That's true, of course, but maybe next-gen will allow them to do more. Maybe it's just nostalgia goggles, but I have the idea that AC1 had more crowded streets sometimes, at least in Damascus. Maybe it's just an illusion they were able to create, because the streets were narrow and you often had to literally push your way through the crowd. In AC2 the streets were wider and emptier. I don't think it's too unrealistic to have a high population of NPCs even in places where historically there weren't a lot of people. They already use the Animus to explain away a lot of inconsistencies and anachronisms that are in the games purely to make the experience more immersive. If they can do it technically, then they should.


Of course this would only be in the biggest spaces. The back alleys should be quieter, dirtier and more dangerous from a tailing point of view. And this is where it would be nice to go from the hustle and bustle of busy streets, tailing your target unseen from a crowd, to quietly stalking them from the rooftops when they disappear behind the houses. Only I still think they should get rid of 90% of the guards on the rooftops and limit them to towers and forts. It really ruins the fun when you're tailing someone and they shout at you to get down.

The only game where the amount of rooftop guards has really bothered me is AC3. It's been fine in the other games, especially since the AI is so forgiving. If there was no penalty at all for using the rooftops, then all tailing missions would be too easy.

Dome500
02-24-2014, 02:21 AM
I don't think it's too unrealistic to have a high population of NPCs even in places where historically there weren't a lot of people.

That is something I can personally not support. I like to have it more according to how it really was. Of course one can adjust the number a little bit. But when playing you should realize that the population in Florence in the Renaissance was higher than the population of New York in it's beginnings as a Colony.

For those sort of inconsistencies we have other element to counter the lack of a specific element in a game, like the big naval part in AC4 or, to a degree, the animals in AC3 (although that did not work THAT well....)


They already use the Animus to explain away a lot of inconsistencies and anachronisms that are in the games purely to make the experience more immersive. If they can do it technically, then they should.

I have to disagree.

Most other inconsistencies can be explained very well, but some of them still bother me and destroy parts of my immersion.
IMO increasing the population of a city to an (for it's time) unbelievable level would not do the period justice.
The mark of a good gaming series is that it can compensate for such a lack/deficit in a certain area ( in this case by using an advantage of said time period)

adventurewomen
02-24-2014, 02:25 AM
the animals in AC3 (although that did not work THAT well....)
Disagree respectfully, the Animals was one of the elements that worked extremely well in AC3 and AC4 animals were disappointing compared to the range of animals seen in AC3.

Dome500
02-24-2014, 04:52 AM
Disagree respectfully, the Animals was one of the elements that worked extremely well in AC3 and AC4 animals were disappointing compared to the range of animals seen in AC3.

I liked the animals as well.

I only said that the animals didn't really work well as replacement for the crowds in the city. For me at least.
They were a nice feature of themselves, but they kind of really make up for the lack of population, although the developers intended them to (source: dev diaries).

Farlander1991
02-24-2014, 10:30 AM
A large part of it is down to the lack of restrictions. Off the top of my head we now have optional objectives, eavesdropping missions, tailing missions, linear paths, poor movement controls, punishments for being seen, desynchronizations, distance limits, line of sight limits, the list goes on.

But the point I was making in my first post is that we had all that in AC1 as well (only desynchronizations manifested not by restart but by mission cancel), albeit in some cases (like distance limit) it was a bit more lenient. Those things are not new to AC2 or later games.


This to me is the essence of AC. An excellent example is the fortress in Acre in AC1, where you kill William de Montferrat. Not only was there more than one way inside, but several routes available to the player once they were in. They were free to kill as many or as few guards as they wanted and weren’t penalised for being caught.

Which is another thing, whenever people mention AC1 freedom, they always mention the assassination missions. They don't mention all the investigations which are chock-full of restrictions, ranging from time limits to detection fail to fail if you killed the target (in case of interrogation).


There’s no reason then, that this sort of large scale level design can’t work in the rest of the game.

Total freedom can't be applied to everything, though. It's (relatively) easily applied to assassination missions because the goal is to get in and assassinate and get out. But when you have other goals, additional conditions should be applied otherwise it's a mess.


Why should I be punished for not having them in sight? Surely I as a player should decide that for myself?

While I full-heartedly agree that social stealth mechanics in the AC series for a long time need to be reworked (because they are very systemic for a long while now, and while it's good for a clear set of rules and worked for a while, it's not good for the feeling of social stealth), to me, at least as a long-time gamer and Game Designer, those questions are baffling. Every game, regardless of how much amount of freedom it gives, still has rules. They have to be easily recognizable and player should be able to work them out. While the 'not having in line of sight' rule is not necessarily be the best one (I do think that there are better ways to do tailing), if we go on a very 'meh' side of things when the goal is to tail a specific person/people (with a possibility to get a specific information, especially if they're talking while we're tailing them), then things can get really messed up.


The most frustrating thing about tailing for me is that I want to be able to go along the rooftops but either the houses are too far apart or there are too many guards. This was a particular problem in AC3 and 4. I understand you want a challenge for the player, but those snipers are just a damn nuisance. Going across rooftops is one of the icons of AC, and this is ruined by shouts from guards telling me to get down. I’m entirely fine with soldiers being on roofs of forts and castles, but on civilian houses?

The problem with AC3 was not the rooftop guards themselves, but their immaculate, ranging to almost psychic, very precise and very far-distanced Line of Sight. I agree that rooftops guards shouldn't be everywhere, but if you don't have them then tailing somebody from the rooftops becomes a dominant strategy with absolutely no drawbacks, and good games rely on risk/reward systems. Tailing on the ground - more risky to get noticed, but you have more blending spots and abilities to hide, tailing on rooftops - not risky to be noticed, but you have to deal with a few rooftop guards.



Considering that AC1’s assassinations are some of the best moments of the series, why not approach tailing in a way that resembles them? If we go down this route, our target should be located in a specific spot located somewhere inside a large perimeter – a room or courtyard located within a mansion, fort or ship perhaps. If we know this specific location, the challenge will be getting there.


If something's good doesn't mean that it should be applied to everything. If we apply AC1 assassination principles to every mission and every type of mission than there's no variation or gameplay.



- Optional objectives. Yeah, they’re optional, but still a form of punishment for not doing things a specific way. By not getting them, we’re given a low percentage and barred from achieving 100% completion. I’m all for a challenge, but there must be so many ways to challenge players that complement their playing style, not limit it.


Oh, optional objectives... They're a mess. I always say that optional objectives should be additional goals rather than a particular way to do something. The worst optional objectives in my opinion are 'air assassinate' or 'assassinate from a bench' and things like that. With the worst one, IMO, being 'air assassinate a grenadier' in AC3. Not only do you have to assassinate a specific random target, you have to assassinate him in a certain way.


Then again, AC3 also has some cool optional objectives. Like disabling cannons as Haytham. Or saving hostages/civilians while on the run during Lexington and Monmouth missions. Things that make sense. The 'what' rather than the 'how'.



And, I hate to say it again, but AC1’s combat was great. Sure, the enemies took it in turns to attack you, but combat felt brutal, visceral and savage.


While I agree that AC1 combat was great in its design principles, the counter system breaks it. Yeah, hidden blade did have a really low counter window. Other weapons did not. Which led to countering being a dominant strategy in the game (and dominant strategies are bad), so it's not that much harder than any of the other AC battle systems.


---------------------------------------



Sushi's posts are the only reason why I keep coming back to the AC forums.



Aw, no love for me? :( :p



The Social Stealth elements are simply not being exploited in the franchise well enough.


Indeed they aren't.


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I also agree on what people here said about the freedom of playstyle. That a majority of the missions (80% - 90%) should allow for a FULL viable stealth approach where you can spare most enemies except of the targets and where stealth is THOUGHT OF (intended and supported) as OPTIONAL (not forced, unless the story requires it) approach.

Speaking of which, I once made a thread where I calculated in how many missions from the games' main campaign stealth is viable approach (without differentiation if it's forced or if it's optional, though). With AC1 investigation missions counting as main campaign (since the main campaign missions in other games are essentially those with more flair there and there). It's not an exact nature, obviously, and the leader is AC1, obviously. Where stealth was viable only for 60% of the campaign. The stats are as follows:


AC1: 60%
AC2: 44%
ACB: 39%
ACR: 40%
AC3: 43%
AC4: 56%


I think it's going to be really hard to go beyond AC1's 60%, and, honestly, not sure if necessary in a game like AC.

jdowny
02-24-2014, 02:59 PM
But the point I was making in my first post is that we had all that in AC1 as well (only desynchronizations manifested not by restart but by mission cancel), albeit in some cases (like distance limit) it was a bit more lenient. Those things are not new to AC2 or later games.

And my point was that these were bad parts of AC1 as well. Don't get me wrong, AC1 had some big flaws. But these secondary missions took up a tiny percentage of my time when playing them.


Total freedom can't be applied to everything, though. It's (relatively) easily applied to assassination missions because the goal is to get in and assassinate and get out. But when you have other goals, additional conditions should be applied otherwise it's a mess.

It depends what you mean by total freedom. I would disagree with you there though, I think it can and should be applied to everything. Perhaps not total freedom (but what is this exactly?) but certainly less restrictions than are present. If the mission doesn't work without this sense of freedom, then redesign it. Often it's as simple as providing two alternate routes, one stealthy and one not so. Being able to complete missions without killing anyone except the target should be a viable strategy.



While I full-heartedly agree that social stealth mechanics in the AC series for a long time need to be reworked (because they are very systemic for a long while now, and while it's good for a clear set of rules and worked for a while, it's not good for the feeling of social stealth), to me, at least as a long-time gamer and Game Designer, those questions are baffling. Every game, regardless of how much amount of freedom it gives, still has rules. They have to be easily recognizable and player should be able to work them out. While the 'not having in line of sight' rule is not necessarily be the best one (I do think that there are better ways to do tailing), if we go on a very 'meh' side of things when the goal is to tail a specific person/people (with a possibility to get a specific information, especially if they're talking while we're tailing them), then things can get really messed up.

I'm not saying get rid of all the rules, I'm saying stop punishing the player for doing things their way. Freedom isn't so much about getting rid of rules, that's anarchy - but instead it's freedom of expression. If I want to play a certain way, then I should be allowed to. But perhaps you could be more specific when you say things can get really messed up?

If I were to redo the tailing missions, I see nothing wrong with an objective popping up on screen telling us to follow the target. If the player gets too close, the target could turn around and potentially spot us. If he does, then a message telling us we're too close is fine. But too far away? If I feel I'm in control of the situation, I don't want the game telling me I'm not. The story might be slightly different if we're talking about eavesdropping though. I'd be interested to hear your ideas though.


The problem with AC3 was not the rooftop guards themselves, but their immaculate, ranging to almost psychic, very precise and very far-distanced Line of Sight. I agree that rooftops guards shouldn't be everywhere, but if you don't have them then tailing somebody from the rooftops becomes a dominant strategy with absolutely no drawbacks, and good games rely on risk/reward systems. Tailing on the ground - more risky to get noticed, but you have more blending spots and abilities to hide, tailing on rooftops - not risky to be noticed, but you have to deal with a few rooftop guards.

Fair enough, I agree there should be some challenge when going on the roofs. I think in my head I've got AC III's level of roof guards which really was too many. Something like AC 2 had fewer, and as you say their range of vision was more limited. But AC IV had a similar number of roof guards to AC III (slightly less) but the problem again was these snipers. If they spot the player before the player has a chance to spot them, then it feels unfair. I play with the HUD off so it's even harder, especially as there's no indication of direction when you hear the warning sound. (I think AC's HUD should be severely minimalised anyway, but that's another matter)



If something's good doesn't mean that it should be applied to everything. If we apply AC1 assassination principles to every mission and every type of mission than there's no variation or gameplay.


I agree in principle, but I'm not saying we should make exact replicas of AC1 assassinations, just look at what makes them so fun to play. I'm sure it doesn't take an entire team to come up with enough variations to make it exciting.



Oh, optional objectives... They're a mess. I always say that optional objectives should be additional goals rather than a particular way to do something. The worst optional objectives in my opinion are 'air assassinate' or 'assassinate from a bench' and things like that. With the worst one, IMO, being 'air assassinate a grenadier' in AC3. Not only do you have to assassinate a specific random target, you have to assassinate him in a certain way.

Oh that bloody grenadier!! That was hands down the most frustrating moment in AC III by far. It's genuinely hard to judge the success of the AC missions when the optional objectives are so blatant. I start to forget about the mission itself and only remember the frustration of doing these objectives. And I'd say more than half of them were getting me to do things that I wouldn't have done otherwise. Like air assassinate a grenadier. As you say, they'd work much better as additional objectives that provide extra challenges, a couple of lines of dialogue, some reward that makes the extra effort worth it.



While I agree that AC1 combat was great in its design principles, the counter system breaks it. Yeah, hidden blade did have a really low counter window. Other weapons did not. Which led to countering being a dominant strategy in the game (and dominant strategies are bad), so it's not that much harder than any of the other AC battle systems.

But again I'm not saying we copy AC1 combat exactly but take inspiration from it. Yes, it had flaws, but do I prefer it to AC IV? Absolutely. And you talk about dominant strategies? How about chain-kills in every single AC game since Brotherhood? It's faster and allows the player to kill more enemies, but the challenge has long since been lost. That is a broken system. There are brutes, grenadiers and scouts, but even these could still be chain-killed with the right keys. Only captains provided any real challenge, but again, they're stupidly easy to kill once you know the system.

AC 1's combat was a lot more varied than I suspect people remember. There were the pawns which could be counter-killed, but then there were the elites, and there were many more of them than there were in later games. These could not be instantly counter-killed but had more health, requiring the player to go on the offensive. Countering these elites meant that you took damage. At the same time, they had attacks which knocked your sword away and destroyed your defense, meaning that the player was forced to dodge their follow-up attack. Enemies also attempted to grab the player. It was a system which employed every combat skill the player had learned. Fights were brutal and lasted for a long time. The countering window was often small so the player had to be on the ball. This was expanded in AC II, and while traces could be found in all the follow-up AC games up until Revelations (remember the fights with the Ottoman Janissaries?), it seems to have disappeared in III and IV (the Jagers are the only possible exception to this rule, I can't recall how easy or challenging they were).

I've got a viable solution in my head, but I think we'd be getting off topic. My point is that combat needs to be more challenging to make stealth a viable and safer option.


AC1: 60%
AC2: 44%
ACB: 39%
ACR: 40%
AC3: 43%
AC4: 56%

Huh, that's actually pretty interesting! But this is the thing - stealth should be there as an option, not a requirement. Just as action should be there as an option not a requirement. It's about offering the player more than one way of playing, and not punishing him if he takes the 'wrong' one.

Farlander1991
02-24-2014, 03:51 PM
And my point was that these were bad parts of AC1 as well. Don't get me wrong, AC1 had some big flaws. But these secondary missions took up a tiny percentage of my time when playing them.

That wasn't my experience personally. An AC1 assassination mission gets completed in 3 to 5 minutes (if you don't count getting back to the bureau as being complete, just getting away from the guards that are present on the assassination), and I played every secondary mission (because I wanted to know everything there was to know), which also took 1 to 5 minutes to complete, so secondary missions definitely took most of my time.


Perhaps not total freedom (but what is this exactly?)

Well, this is the point of this thread, isn't it? :p


If the mission doesn't work without this sense of freedom, then redesign it. Often it's as simple as providing two alternate routes, one stealthy and one not so. Being able to complete missions without killing anyone except the target should be a viable strategy.

You're thinking only in sense of a mission where the goal is to kill somebody. That's just one type of actions. There are a lot of others that an assassin does and AC tries to implement. Follow. Steal. Plant something. Intimidate. Protect. Save. And lots of others. With a few exceptions, these goals require additional conditions.

Speaking of routes, in an open-world game that's not enough. I've already mentioned the Traveling Salesman mission, where, if you don't mind the optional objectives, there are a lot of ways to follow the target both on ground and rooftops, it's like a wide grid that was built around the path that eases navigation. Even if considered linear, there's still a lot of choices to be made there. But that's digressing.

Another thing to note is the narrative. AC1 and other ACs have different narrative structures, and, honestly, I prefer the later AC ones, with AC4 so far being the best one in combining said narrative structure with the principles from AC1.


If the player gets too close, the target could turn around and potentially spot us. If he does, then a message telling us we're too close is fine. But too far away? If I feel I'm in control of the situation, I don't want the game telling me I'm not.

One of the things you're not taking here in consideration is the technical aspect. The 'far away' meter is usually very lenient in AC games (not showing up until you're actually pretty far away, unless there's 'eavesdropping in the circle' involved, not sure how that changes things), but you have to keep in mind that, when we're far away, the targets we're following still have to be processed. Where they're going, what they're doing. Along with the escort that they have, if they've got one. Along with whoever they meet, if there is somebody they should meet (who might not be even loaded yet because we never got close enough). In a territory that most likely doesn't have a lot of smaller objects loaded yet since the player's too far away from them and there's no need to keep them in memory (so things are different than they are when player is close). Alongside everything that in the player's vicinity has to be processed. All that can lead to ****tons of problems. And should be taken into consideration whenever designing the mechanics of the game. With the alternative being having the tailing target to walk in a small circle in a small area, alone. Which, IMO, is not good.


And you talk about dominant strategies? How about chain-kills in every single AC game since Brotherhood? It's faster and allows the player to kill more enemies, but the challenge has long since been lost. That is a broken system.Kill streak in ACB and ACR is horrible. Mash a button and it's dead body galore. It's not horrible in AC3 and AC4, though, because there are archetypes that are immune to it (Grenadiers, Jagers in AC3 and captains in AC4 and I think there was one other). It would've been broken if you could keep doing it like in ACB/ACR, just mash attack and kill everybody, but you can't. You have to break defense against some and not do it at all against some others. Is it hard? Nope (at least for me). Is it deep? Not really. Would I like it to be more challenging? Yes. But is it a dominant strategy? No. AC3/AC4 focuses on group fighting rather than one-on-one fighting, it handles it in a basic way, but not in a broken way.
EDIT: Well... truth be told, that's just in comparison to other AC games. Taken stand-alone it's still broken-ish. I just think given how AC combat system got more broken with each consecutive game, AC3/AC4 feel the least broken to me in comparison.


AC 1's combat was a lot more varied than I suspect people remember.

I played AC1 a lot of times and replayed some of it just this month, its combat system is fresh in my mind.


These could not be instantly counter-killed but had more health, requiring the player to go on the offensive.

No they don't, you could as easily counter them the required amount of times (because usually while they get up after a non-lethal counter there's somebody else who attacks you, and you keep doing that until you get lethal counters).


At the same time, they had attacks which knocked your sword away and destroyed your defense, meaning that the player was forced to dodge their follow-up attack.

A lot of times defense break is not followed up by an attack, though.


Countering these elites meant that you took damage.

You don't take damage when you counter, you take damage when somebody counters you (and there's no indication on when they're to do it) which actually supports the 'keep countering' dominant strategy since there's no way to avoid that using your skill.


Enemies also attempted to grab the player.

In my mind I equate counter-grab to a counter-attack, but, yes, at least that's a second action. But, again, the action doesn't happen that often.


Fights were brutal and lasted for a long time. The countering window was often small so the player had to be on the ball.

The counter window for the sword is insanely big. I think AC1 combat system is best in the memory sequence before you get the counter. Go attack a single Templar then and it's awesome. But with counter? No-no. Counter just breaks everything so much.


This was expanded in AC II,

Disagree with this statement. ACII was the beginning of the 'bigger decline', so to speak, where instead of fixing things they started making them worse. Hidden Blade counter window became really large (with the exception when against heavy weapons, where it was smaller), but you could counter absolutely anything with it (as a result you really didn't need anything else). Even more dominant was the counter with fists, where you just disarm everybody (which is the same button press as counter attack) and kill them with their own weapons. So countering still was a dominant strategy.


(remember the fights with the Ottoman Janissaries?)

Ottoman Janissaries were the cheapest way one could go fixing the mess of the combat that evolved in AC2/ACB/ACR, I kinda hate them :D

Dome500
02-24-2014, 05:49 PM
Oh that bloody grenadier!! That was hands down the most frustrating moment in AC III by far. It's genuinely hard to judge the success of the AC missions when the optional objectives are so blatant. I start to forget about the mission itself and only remember the frustration of doing these objectives. And I'd say more than half of them were getting me to do things that I wouldn't have done otherwise. Like air assassinate a grenadier. As you say, they'd work much better as additional objectives that provide extra challenges, a couple of lines of dialogue, some reward that makes the extra effort worth it.

Agree with both of you on this one.

1. There shouldn'T be a 100% sync rating for this stuff or similar things. That already annoyed me in AC2
2. I think those "optional objectives" should stay, but they should rather evolve around things like "don't be detected", "don't kill anyone", "collect all loot in the area", "sabotage the weapons", etc. Those things are things that help the character in the story. They make sense in the right context. But if it is now important to "air assassinate a grenadier"? No, not really. That has no usefulness whatsoever. Such tasks should not be optional objectives.


AC 1's combat was a lot more varied than I suspect people remember.

AC2 combat as well.

Again, it had it's flaws (you had to attack too many times and just mash on an enemy until he died), but the good things were the classes. There was the super-fast lightweight guy who could dodge all your attacks. You had to counter him to kill him. That was good.
AC1 had those crusaders which were only kill-able by making evading them and striking back.

It had a lot of complexity (both of them) besides both having weaknesses, which all got lost over time. I agree.

There are also complex elements in AC3/4, sure, but I think they are all not enough. The combat should definitely be worked on within the next games.


All that can lead to ****tons of problems.

A possible solution would be my suggestion. It's kind of a mix of my own idea and the concept AC1 had.
You are warned if you are too far away. And if you loose the target (if it is actually entering an area that is not yet loaded) then you "lost" the target.
You will then have 2 options:

1. That was an idea of mine. If there is an ALTERNATE WAY of finding out where the target is headed. My idea was to either provide you with 2 missions to choose from, and when you fail 1 mission you can do the other. Or to provide you with only 1 mission and if you fail you can do another mission as "fallback" plan
2. And that can be possible with or without NR. 1 => If you fail the mission you can go to the next viewpoint and the mission marker will appear somewhere further down the road. Your character will say "there they are, maybe I can catch them before they arrive". A "green zone" will appear on you map and you would have to search for the targets (with eagle vision) in that zone.

Both good ways to make the mission not an instant fail.
Of course, if there is a special mission where there is only 1 way to find something out, you would still have an insta-fail.
But the goal is here to reduce the overly restrictive mission and increase the replayable, variable and dynamic ones.

I think it's going to be really hard to go beyond AC1's 60%, and, honestly, not sure if necessary in a game like AC.

I don't think it's hard at all.

The difference is AC1 was about HAVING to use stealth often. Of course there was no game over when not using it (something the future games should continue, since AC2 - 4 did often have "game over/desync when seen" parts) but it was often required to do things right.

Now I do not say that Stealth should be the BEST option in 90% of the game. What I am saying is that they should make it POSSIBLE in 90%. 80% are okay 2. What I want however is the POSSIBILITY of Stealth.

Not only in the main campaign mind you, but also in the side activities.
For example take the Forts, the Ship Boardings and several other "side activities". I think with a slightly better stealth system, 1 or 2 tools more and a better A.I. most missions could be viable for Stealth. I for example thought it was a huge waste of potential to not be able to infiltrate a military fort, deactivate the defenses, kill or "capture" the leader of the fort and then let your crew attack and fight down any additional resistance. It could have been a viable Stealth option.

Same goes for boarding ships. With a slightly better Stealth system and a viable option (I am sure they could have invented a plausible mechanic for that) to somehow get on an enemy ship Edward could have killed the crew and claimed the ship that way.

Same goes for freedom of approach.

I agree that there are certain missions, especially if they involve a special plot twist or something in the story that dictates that a combat is happening or that you would have to do something in a specific way is unavoidable for storytelling purposes.

But there are SO MANY missions and side activities which could have been more variety by giving you choices.

Like ship boarding for example. What if the game would give you the choice to do 2 of those 4 things:

- Kill the Captain(s) (number based on size of ship)
- Kill percentage (%) of the crew.
- Cut down the Flag
- Shoot all fire barrels on deck

That would have made for more variety based on what you are in the mood to do and how you want to perform something. The outcome would be exactly the same!

Same goes fore missions where you have to acquire information. Why not give you 2 or 3 ways to acquire it? Sure, there can still be missions where there is only 1 way to do it. I don't say that we get rid of them completely. Maybe there is a story reason for it, or the developers just wanted you to do exactly this in this situation, for atmosphere or similar reasons. I don't mind.

All I am saying is that freedom can be achieved very easy by several things.

I don't think that adding 1 "stealing-a-letter" or "interrogating-a-guard" option alongside of the option to eavesdrop a meeting would be that hard and that much work.
Like I said, it does not have to be that way EVERY time, but if you give the player the choice sometimes that's not all that bad.

And if you give him more freedom in how he wants to do things, may it be a decision like "Avoiding Enemies, Stealthy Killing or Combat?" or a decision like "Killing the Captain + Cutting the Flag or Killing % of the crew + Shooting barrels, or even killing the captain and shooting the barrels or Cutting the Flag and killing % of the crew (2/4 required)", what's the problem? It adds variety, the feeling (maybe partially the illusion, but that's okay) of freedom and replay value.

Same counts for missions before assassinations.

Give me 5 things to do but say that it is okay if I do 2/5 or 3/6 mission (but am able to do all if I want) or something like that (small missions of course, nothing big).

I know, I know, you will now say that this was a problem in AC1. But I don't see it that way.

1. AC1 had ONLY assassinations, while the AC games nowadays have maybe 4 - 6 assassinations and a lot of other missions alongside them. It's not solely assasinations anymore

2. And that's an important point. I think the reason why those "investigations" in AC1 were so boring was that they all were EXACTLY THE SAME, did happen in about the same time, you always had to do 1 simple monotone task and that became boring after 3 times or so. In the next AC games, especially regarding all those different kinds of missions which can be possible and which were discovered in the newer AC games (like sabotaging the enemies weapons/defenses, taking over ships (no matter if it's ship-to-ship AC4 style or man-to-ship AC3 style (with stationary ships)), stealing letters, eavesdropping, tailing, interrogating, killing an associate of the main target, doing a favor for someone who shares information with you, sabotaging the targets operations (like liberating a plantation, destroying a warehouse, stealing a uniform to disguise as one of the targets men, historical period specific tasks, etc, etc) I think this will be no problem since the variety is here and the ideas are enough to make the tasks variable every time.

Hell, it doesn't have to be 3/6 missions before a big assassination. You can go ahead and say "there are 3 missions you CAN do, you only have to do 1 of them." That's enough.

Just a little bit more freedom, variety, choice and support of a Stealthy way to do things in places/missions where it is possible. It adds a lot IMO.

jdowny
02-24-2014, 09:40 PM
We might be getting bogged down in semantics here.


That wasn't my experience personally. An AC1 assassination mission gets completed in 3 to 5 minutes (if you don't count getting back to the bureau as being complete, just getting away from the guards that are present on the assassination), and I played every secondary mission (because I wanted to know everything there was to know), which also took 1 to 5 minutes to complete, so secondary missions definitely took most of my time.

I meant in terms of gameplay overall - these side missions were quick any painless compared to the vast amounts of time spent otherwise exploring cities, saving citizens, collecting flags etc.

But hang on - 3 to 5 minutes? Not sure what you're talking about with that one. The mission should be from start to finish - so from entering the Bureau to heading to the assassination and back to the Bureau again. We're talking a minute of expo, a couple of minutes of travel time, a 2 minute intro speech, 2/3 minutes to do the assassination, a minute of post-assassin speech then 3/5 minutes to fight or escape. We're talking a nice, decent length, and that's if you're quick.


Well, this is the point of this thread, isn't it?

We've discussed what freedom means in a game, but not what you meant by total freedom.


You're thinking only in sense of a mission where the goal is to kill somebody. That's just one type of actions. There are a lot of others that an assassin does and AC tries to implement. Follow. Steal. Plant something. Intimidate. Protect. Save. And lots of others. With a few exceptions, these goals require additional conditions.

I should have clarified by saying approaches rather than routes. I don't mean just in terms of killing but in every aspect of the game. I think there might have been some misunderstanding here though - we seem to be coming from opposite ends. I'm not saying that you should be free to kill a target you're meant to be following, or to run off and do something else. Of course games need conditions. But these conditions need to be reasonable. Such as this LoS required in tailing missions we keep coming back to, or having the mission fail as soon as someone spots us even if there's no way for them to sound the alarm. Little things like this.


Speaking of routes, in an open-world game that's not enough. I've already mentioned the Traveling Salesman mission, where, if you don't mind the optional objectives, there are a lot of ways to follow the target both on ground and rooftops, it's like a wide grid that was built around the path that eases navigation. Even if considered linear, there's still a lot of choices to be made there. But that's digressing.

I agree with you, I thought Travelling Salesman was fine, more or less. It wasn't great, but at least it didn't require the player to stay within an eavesdropping circle.


One of the things you're not taking here in consideration is the technical aspect. The 'far away' meter is usually very lenient in AC games (not showing up until you're actually pretty far away, unless there's 'eavesdropping in the circle' involved, not sure how that changes things), but you have to keep in mind that, when we're far away, the targets we're following still have to be processed.

It's not only the distance meter that's frustrating but the countdown timer when the target isn't on the screen, as though if we're scouting around us for too long they'll suddenly disappear. And it's not always to do with tailing. In AC III when the player first arrives to New York, the game forces you into a mission without giving you any time to explore. You're forced on horseback down a linear path companion under penalty of desynching, before you're forced to start another mission with desynching penalties. It was the same with the Battle of Bunker Hill. It's even the same with AC IV. As soon as we've killed du Casse on Great Inague, the game forces us into a mission. We're to meet up with Kidd, but there are still desynch penalties for going too far away. This isn't a technical issue - these characters aren't far away and they're not moving. Yeah, I get it, they're saving all the exploring for this mission with Kidd, but that is restricting us right there. Why not allow time for the player to explore the island on his own? If you wanted to, you could lock the house from the inside and block up the passageway to save it for later, but don't force me to do something.

And ok, there might be technical limitations involved, but this topic is asking us to discuss freedom in AC. Well this is one area where I don't feel free. If a technical limitation is also limiting the player's sense of freedom, then it needs rethinking frankly.


Kill streak in ACB and ACR is horrible. Mash a button and it's dead body galore. It's not horrible in AC3 and AC4, though, because there are archetypes that are immune to it.

You're forgetting the Janissaries and Swiss guards in Brotherhood and Revelations. Whichever way you look at it, in every single AC game since II there are archetypes that are immune to some attacks. But it boils down to what you mean by dominant strategy. If you mean an unvarying strategy the player can rely on to defeat his enemies, then I would count kill streaks as one. Yes, a couple of challenges are thrown in there with brutes and captains, but these are rare and hardly confined to AC 3 and 4.


No they don't, you could as easily counter them the required amount of times (because usually while they get up after a non-lethal counter there's somebody else who attacks you, and you keep doing that until you get lethal counters).

You're right, I was thinking of the enemy countering your attacks, not the other way around.

I think at this point we're arguing over personal preferences. You prefer AC IV, I prefer AC. We do however, seem to both agree that AC combat is a bit broken, and needs improving.

Farlander1991
02-24-2014, 10:09 PM
I think at this point we're arguing over personal preferences. You prefer AC IV, I prefer AC. We do however, seem to both agree that AC combat is a bit broken, and needs improving.

I will reply to your post in full later, if you don't mind, for now I'll just address this. I just want to say that ever since 2007 and until 2013, AC1 was my top-favourite AC game. I really do love the game. And I do indeed prefer ACIV overall (which is my top-favourite now), and that's because I feel that it has gathered all the best from all the previous AC games and combined it in a very well-done and cohesive manner (and to me there's A LOT of AC1 in AC4). However, being the best of AC, it doesn't mean that it fixes flaws that I feel were present in the series ever since the first game (and a bunch of others that were added with other games, like the stay close to the person who you need to follow who you're just talking too that you've mentioned, I've always felt that they should've just put an objective mark and have that person go alongside you rather than you go alongside them and lose when far away, but this stuff happened ever since AC2 and was not exactly fixed in AC4, among some other things), plus it's got some flaws of its own, but doesn't detract my enjoyment from it.

jdowny
02-24-2014, 11:30 PM
Oh don't get me wrong, I've absolutely loved AC IV. I'm only critical of it when it comes to missions, and even these criticisms are mainly directed at the optional objectives. I'm not sure I've enjoyed an AC game so much since 2.

I'm kind of curious to know where you see AC 1 in AC 4 though. I believe you and I'm sure you're right, but I haven't really been seeing connections.

Farlander1991
02-25-2014, 10:10 AM
The mission should be from start to finish - so from entering the Bureau to heading to the assassination and back to the Bureau again.

I don't consider entering the Bureau to be actually the start of the mission. It's more like an activator 'this mission is open now'. The mission doesn't actually start until the cutscene, the way to it, in further AC terms, is just getting to the mission start marker as you would.


We've discussed what freedom means in a game, but not what you meant by total freedom.

Total freedom is essentially to be allowed to do everything you want in the context of the designed mechanics and theme, with the only failure state being death (or none at all). A game like Sims, Dwarf Fortress and Sid Meier's Pirates would fit to that, I think. The more abstract the narrative, the easier it is to achieve that.


I think there might have been some misunderstanding here though - we seem to be coming from opposite ends. I'm not saying that you should be free to kill a target you're meant to be following, or to run off and do something else.

Okay. It's just the way some of your statements are constructed, it feels like you're saying precisely that should be able to happen.


It wasn't great, but at least it didn't require the player to stay within an eavesdropping circle.

Actually there was on the second half of the tailing, but it was quite large.


In AC III when the player first arrives to New York, the game forces you into a mission without giving you any time to explore. You're forced on horseback down a linear path companion under penalty of desynching, before you're forced to start another mission with desynching penalties.AC3 is full of stuff like that, sadly. My saddest moment was that I couldn't run around Charelstown as I wanted because the game wouldn't let me go far away from my horse and force to stay near a random patriot who's going to the objective that's marked on the map anyway. >_<


You're forgetting the Janissaries and Swiss guards in Brotherhood and Revelations.

Neither are immune to kill streaks, though. Swiss guards (I suppose you mean Papal Guards?) are killed in one hit, while Janissaries are killed in 3 kill streak hits. And they don't necessarily break the kill streak chain, so you can just switch between Janissaries in a kill-streak and kill them all like that (I have done it, although the game would not always allow to do that, which is really frustrating because to me that is just cheap - there's no indication when or why Janissaries break or don't break kill streaks). In comparison, the archetypes that can't be killed by kill streaks in AC3/AC4 can't be killed with them at all.


If you mean an unvarying strategy the player can rely on to defeat his enemies, then I would count kill streaks as one.

I would definitely count it as one in ACB/ACR, not in AC3/AC4.

AC1 and AC3/AC4 combat are different in principle (neither is better than the other, they're just different). AC1 is focused on one on one battles, where you and the opponent can do absolutely the same things, and there's an action and reaction to everything. AC3/AC4 are focused on group fighting where the opponents are really archetypal so you deal with them by quick visual identification and performing appropriate actions while switching from one to another.

The difference between the implementation of AC1 and AC3/AC4 to me, is that I think AC1 is broken, and AC3/AC4 is basic.

AC1 combat does what it has set up to do very well. With one exception. The appearance of counters throws everything the combat is about out of the window. There's nothing in AC3/AC4 combat system that does something like that. But it's very basic, so as soon as you figure out how to deal with said archetypes, there's no additional depth to it.

And ACB and ACR which try to combine the two styles are just an abomination in combat department to me.


I'm kind of curious to know where you see AC 1 in AC 4 though. I believe you and I'm sure you're right, but I haven't really been seeing connections.

I guess you'll be laughing, given what you think of AC4 missions, but... in the missions. :D Yes, there are optional objectives and some restrictions on Great Inagua, and the tailing mechanics are not necessarily the best (though I do think they're the best we had since AC2, even if they can look robotic/gamey), but, as a general principle most of the time, AC4 like AC1 provides freedom in the context of the mechanics and the goals it gives.

If we take Du Casse's assassination, and you consider the start of the assassination mission when you exit the jungle (just as in terms of AC1 I consider the assassination mission start when we get to the assassination location itself rather than the Bureau), then you'll note that you're allowed everything (not taking optional objectives into account, but those aren't related to mission design directly). It's just that in terms of comparing AC1 and AC4, btw, to me an AC4 mission is usually like 2-3 AC1 missions together rather than just one, because AC1 missions always have got only one objective, AC4's don't. Travelling Salesman, in the context of the tailing mechanics you can tail Torres and Prins whichever way you like (even from being in front of them), everything's set up there for a lot of different paths and possibilities.

Infiltration into Nassau and Havana fortresses in different missions. Do it whichever way you want. Getting gunpowder on Nassau? Whichever way you want. Heck, the very first mission starts with us free to go around the island as we please as we try to find Duncan. Chasing the Sage or James Kidd? Tons of different pathways to try and cut them off (and also much more exciting than chasing Talal over Jerusalem to me). Infiltration in and out of the Jamaican prison (btw, do you know that you can leave Mary's body just lying and get to the boat and it will end the level?) And we are very fixed on Du Casse's assassination (mainly the path towards the assassination area), but his assassination, as well as ones of Prins, Commodore, Burgess and Cockram, Hornigold, Torres decoy, and pretty much almost everybody are VERY open-ended and in line with AC1. Most of AC4 is like that, really.

With a few exceptions like Woodes Rogers. That one was crap. First I really hate dressing up as smb. else (if it's not part of the game mechanics) unless it's REALLY necessary, I'd rather suspend my disbelief in wearing Assassin robes. Second, you get desynched when noticed, which goes against the very fiber of AC1 assassinations, as well as other AC4 missions where that's all fine.

Yes, there are things that could've been better. The person you have to follow to show stuff around thing. The optional objectives being better designed and not subtracting from the main mission experience. The detection fails in some levels that could do without them. And some other things. But given that AC1 itself didn't figure out how to do things outside of assassination parts (as I already said a few times, AC1 has quite a lot of restrictions in its non-assassination missions), and that the legacy of four other games (AC2 to AC3, all of which have introduced some of the more annoying restrictions in my opinion, though AC3 is the biggest manifestation of that) can be sometimes hard to throw out, I'm willing to look past that, because the spirit of AC1 and what it tries to do is clearly there.

shobhit7777777
02-25-2014, 02:02 PM
I'm interested in the idea of AC's social stealth but I've always found it too unpredictable and unreliable to be of any use. I always found it so much easier simply to go on the roofs and kill any guards up there than to try and blend with the crowds. It might help if there was a lot more movement and variety on the streets - not just groups of people wandering aimlessly. In real life it's rare to find such large groups of people travelling together, just as it's rare to find two people sitting on a bench, groups of courtesans and drunkards, thieves and mercenaries or conveniently placed tall grass Yes these games are set hundreds of years ago, but these strike me as particularly arbitrary game design mechanics. Why should I suddenly become invisible when moving with two people?

It would be nice if the player didn't have to rely on big groups of people to blend in, but perhaps instead there could be context-sensitive actions. In AC III and IV there were market stalls with people that you could join where you look at fruit - but how about get rid of the need for people and just have the character blend in by doing the same action on his own? Then fill the street with dozens of similar actions, or even just walking less conspicuously.

We might be veering off the idea of freedom in the game and focusing too much on social stealth and tailing, but these to me are vital problems that need addressing if the game is to regain that sense of freedom.

I'd like to address this

The reason behind the group blending is because of the (IMO) following factors:

1. Clear Concise Rules - Social Stealth is a largely muddy concept - a gameplay concept -due to the fact that it tries to emulate blending into an urban environment - this naturally has so many variables that can't be simulated in a digital environment. The AI just cannot behave like real humans and the nuances of being a "Blade in the crowd" just can't be captured.

Things like the way you walk, your gait, your general behaviour right down to your facial expressions would - In real life - play a role in you being part of the crowd. This degree of control over physicality is simply not possible...nay...desired in a game. It would become tedious and confusing.

Therefore, the player needs simple, intuitive and robust rules to social stealth to make it achievable within the context of a game.

That is why you have groups of people moving around because it clearly communicates to the player - Look a hiding spot..you can get in there.
Because it is a group of people the player's suspension of disbelief is easier because logic dictates that 5 people around will obscure you enough to let you pass by unnoticed


2. Inability to Simulate Lifelike Numbers - Large urban centers are heavily populated and dense. While you may not find a bunch of people walking about, you'll certainly find enough that you can easily be lost in one - unless you happen to be wearing an orange jumpsuit. Simulating that level of density would be a pain in the ***. Having a hive minded mobile AI cluster as a hiding spot makes more sense and also adds to the illusion of density


3, Plausibility - The Assassins are very distinct looking dudes....and apart from Ezio in revelations (thanks to his beautiful robes and the NPCs being colourful buggers) they all would easily stand out. A group of people however would be a great hiding spot and the Assassin would only be seen as a face, a part of a hand or a boot.

Its simply easier to digest that our hooded hero passed by guards because he was another guy in the crowd. While having him pretend looking at fruit would be a nice touch, fact is that if he does it outside of a crowd, he will stand out as its easier for observers to pick up details...and hence breaches immersion


I feel that AC3/4 has a nice blend of AI groups and blend time. Basically you walk by calmy between two guys and for that period you're just another mook on the way to his office.....its when you move out of the crowd in your hood, your weapons and distinctive robes that you start getting noticed and the blend effect wears off.

I personally feel that they should have ACR/ACB/ACII like groups as well because it looked more plausible as a blend group and at the same time bring in the social blending animations from AC3.

The only place I feel that AC4 ****ed up was the lack of blending animations...and it REALLY negatively impacts the overall experience.




@Farlander

xxooxoxoxoxo

jdowny
02-25-2014, 02:04 PM
I don't consider entering the Bureau to be actually the start of the mission. It's more like an activator 'this mission is open now'. The mission doesn't actually start until the cutscene, the way to it, in further AC terms, is just getting to the mission start marker as you would.

Okay, we disagree on that.


Total freedom is essentially to be allowed to do everything you want in the context of the designed mechanics and theme, with the only failure state being death (or none at all). A game like Sims, Dwarf Fortress and Sid Meier's Pirates would fit to that, I think. The more abstract the narrative, the easier it is to achieve that.

And I agree, AC shouldn't be about total freedom. But as I and many others have said, it's about freedom of expression and choice. This touches upon one of my previous comments - that it's hard to judge these recent games without the optional objectives. I genuinely think that without them, half these missions would be absolutely fine, but the problem is for me that they're such a blight on the games that I can't effectively judge the success of the missions. It's that bad.


AC3 is full of stuff like that, sadly. My saddest moment was that I couldn't run around Charelstown as I wanted because the game wouldn't let me go far away from my horse and force to stay near a random patriot who's going to the objective that's marked on the map anyway. >_<

I know!! The Battle of Bunker Hill was the worst mission in AC III bar none for me.



AC1 combat does what it has set up to do very well. With one exception. The appearance of counters throws everything the combat is about out of the window.

This is where I feel you're being harsh. Enemies in AC1 employed tactics such as grabbing, knocking your defense away and strong attacks to deliberately disrupt the flow and the reliance on countering, and these happen more often than I think you given them credit for, particularly with the elites. And there's no single method to dealing with these elites like there is with the archetypes of III and IV, which can be taken down in two or three moves if you know what you're doing. And countering them in AC1 wasn't an insta-kill but damaged them, meaning fights lasted longer and felt more realistic. The counter window was large for the sword (not for the hidden blade or short sword), but if it's large in AC1, it's gargantuan in the rest of the games.

To dismiss this system as broken seem unfair.


The difference between the implementation of AC1 and AC3/AC4 to me, is that I think AC1 is broken, and AC3/AC4 is basic.

Okay, our opinion differ on this.


I guess you'll be laughing, given what you think of AC4 missions, but... in the missions. :D Yes, there are optional objectives and some restrictions on Great Inagua, and the tailing mechanics are not necessarily the best (though I do think they're the best we had since AC2, even if they can look robotic/gamey), but, as a general principle most of the time, AC4 like AC1 provides freedom in the context of the mechanics and the goals it gives.

Yeah, I see where you're coming from. Disregarding optional objectives and in terms of scale and choice, AC IV provides a lot of freedom. And as I've said, it's probably my favourite AC game since 2, so I'm not stubbornly opposed to it or anything. I just hate to see my enjoyment of it marred by (in my opinion) poor stealth, combat and tailing mechanics.

So I guess from this (rather lengthy) discussion, it boils down to the fact that, for me, AC IV's level design is superb. In fact I'd say it's one of the best of the entire series. From a strictly level design point of view, it provides freedom and beauty, I can see that now. It's the game mechanics that let it down for me. Stealth, eavesdropping, combat and navigation are all in need of desperate work in my view. But that's just me.

jdowny
02-25-2014, 03:17 PM
1. Clear Concise Rules - Social Stealth is a largely muddy concept - a gameplay concept -due to the fact that it tries to emulate blending into an urban environment - this naturally has so many variables that can't be simulated in a digital environment. The AI just cannot behave like real humans and the nuances of being a "Blade in the crowd" just can't be captured.

Therefore, the player needs simple, intuitive and robust rules to social stealth to make it achievable within the context of a game.

I entirely agree, but for me social stealth needs a lot of work to be both plausible and fun. As a concept, at least for me, social stealth doesn't play a strong part in many of the later AC games, if at all. 95% of the time if I was tailing someone I'd use the rooftops, hide behind cover or head into the bushes. Likewise, when being chased, I'll either run on the rooftops, find a haybale or again head into the bushes. I wouldn't try and find a moving crowd or a bench because they're either too hard to find or unreliable.

When tailing someone for instance, I tried to use the crowd to follow them but they just went in a big circle, forcing me to follow them. Just because they're moving in one direction doesn't mean they'll continue in that direction. Another time, a group of soldiers marched straight into the crowd I was moving with, disrupting them and causing me to be seen.

Now, I'm not saying I have a solution, but it is a big problem that needs addressing.


Its simply easier to digest that our hooded hero passed by guards because he was another guy in the crowd. While having him pretend looking at fruit would be a nice touch, fact is that if he does it outside of a crowd, he will stand out as its easier for observers to pick up details...and hence breaches immersion

I think a lot of this comes down to whether or not we are choosing to ignore the fact that the Assassin outfits are pretty conspicuous. Personally I'm choosing to ignore it, since even in a crowd, the man in white and wearing a hood stands out like a sore thumb. I'm willing to suspend my disbelief if you can make a social stealth mechanic that works. 'The man in the white hood sitting on a bench being invisible to all the city guards' has never been a problem before now, I don't think we should make it one.

But see, as a player I feel the large crowds moving in circles is a greater breach of immersion. I rarely seen that in real life. If I joined a group of girls in the street for instance, I'd be hounded pretty quickly and from a plausibility standpoint, these actions are actually more likely to get you noticed.

I'm only saying this if it's possible because I don't know, but a more free-flowing crowd of ones and twos spread out more thinly instead of bunched together in groups of 4 as they are would work better. And instead of a blending animation, the player could use a control to walk less conspicuously (with his head bent low, walking slowly, hunched shoulders), like the fast-walk control only with the opposite effect. This might not fool your target for long if they happened to turn around, but it would give the player the opportunity to move to a location where they are less conspicuous. This also gives the player a greater sense of control of the situation.

And speaking from a plausibility standpoint, yes - if the assassin happens to be alone at a fruit stall looking at fruit, they'll stand out. But fill the scene with dynamic NPCs on their own and in pairs doing all kinds of activities, and suddenly the assassin looking at fruit doesn't seem so out of place. As far as I can tell, most NPCs in AC have acted like props. This led to awkward moments if the player bumped into a man reading a book, when he would suddenly drop his book and wander off like he's forgotten what it was he was doing. Just make sure that there are enough NPCs that the player is never alone and thus never stands out.

So imagine if you will, a new system, where each NPC is individual and dynamic instead of doing the same activity indefinitely or doomed to wander around in a circle like an extra in a scene. So in the Boston marketplace, a man could be making his rounds buying vegetables before heading to the town crier before heading to the clock before heading to the pub, all on a dynamic basis instead of a closed circuit. Now multiply this by a hundred and these 'extras' start to feel like real people. The player probably won't notice this, but if he's there and joining other NPCs at the market, by the town crier, by the clock tower or at the pub, he won't stand out nearly as much. And these are just four activities off the top of my head - there could be dozens. So perhaps instead of forcing the player to blend with crowds of NPCs, he could instead simply concentrate on heading to areas where he would plausibly fit in. And this doesn't have to be limited to crowds of people but just to behaviour that is socially acceptable, such as buying a newspaper or chatting with a vendor.

I guess the problem comes with how you'd communicate this to the player, but to me this is a better and more lifelike system than people sat on benches or large groups of people. Perhaps there could be some sort of control that points the player to the nearest social stealth spot? Maybe.

Farlander1991
02-26-2014, 09:49 AM
@Farlander

xxooxoxoxoxo

^_^


This touches upon one of my previous comments - that it's hard to judge these recent games without the optional objectives. I genuinely think that without them, half these missions would be absolutely fine, but the problem is for me that they're such a blight on the games that I can't effectively judge the success of the missions. It's that bad.

I agree that optional objectives need an absolute overhaul. But I think I know why they were added to ACB. I mean, this is speculation mainly, but it makes sense to me :D The Brotherhood mechanic, even though it feels very good to call on your Assassins, is THE dominant strategy. Out of everything. Period. Why bother using social stealth to get close to the target when you can just lock on and call somebody to assassinate? Why bother trying to get rid of the guards when you call an assassin to get rid of them? They don't even mess with detection, so when you're in a tough spot, just call an assassin and a detection desynch is avoided. So when you've got 60% of the game beatable with nothing but a press of a button, what do you do? You add 100% objectives so players wouldn't use the assassin call as the go-to button every time.

And it kinda snowballed from there into what we've got in AC3 and AC4...


To dismiss this system as broken seem unfair.

There's a difference between calling something broken and dismissing it as broken. I don't do the latter. The latter would imply that I don't appreciate everything else that the combat system does or tries to do, or think that it doesn't have any worth. And that's not true.


It's the game mechanics that let it down for me. Stealth, eavesdropping, combat and navigation are all in need of desperate work in my view. But that's just me.

Yeah, I really think that the core gameplay mechanics of AC should be reworked and polished. I don't think any of the AC games has really nailed the core pillars they were going for, and every consecutive game was adding and/or removing things without necessarily adding additional actual polish (and I would argue that quite a lot of times they would add something really good but then break it with some other addition that makes it pointless). Which is fine for one or two games, but when you get to five, it can get on a side of 'eeeeeeeeeeeh, it's about time now'. Which is why I'm really hoping that the supposed leak of the press-release where it says that the next AC title has been in development for three years and has got fully revamped stealth and combat is true. AC4 is a 'best of AC' collection to me. A good place to stop using the outdated mechanics and add the long-needed improvements and polish to the core.

shobhit7777777
02-26-2014, 01:02 PM
I entirely agree, but for me social stealth needs a lot of work to be both plausible and fun. As a concept, at least for me, social stealth doesn't play a strong part in many of the later AC games, if at all. 95% of the time if I was tailing someone I'd use the rooftops, hide behind cover or head into the bushes. Likewise, when being chased, I'll either run on the rooftops, find a haybale or again head into the bushes. I wouldn't try and find a moving crowd or a bench because they're either too hard to find or unreliable. .

Yeah, I know what you mean.

Not many missions incorporate or encourage social stealth in the games post ACR. Take Black Flags for example, I recall only ONE main assassination mission where you need to infiltrate a party and kill your target.

The majority of missions involve jungle staking or infiltrating crowd less restricted areas. This is why I've raised the concern several times that AC doesn't really know what kind of stealth it wants to pursue - all major additions are to the realm of classic LOS based stealth....and consequentially a stealth mission or approach in AC becomes an exercise in Splinter Celling around.

There are no missions based around crowd manipulation and social stealth....largely because the mechanics still need to be nailed down. As a result we see AC adopting a different style of stealth...more missions in the jungle. Its a vicious cycle now.


The proof of concept or the blueprint for solid social stealth oriented missions is in the Templar Dens which were introduced in ACR. Enemy stronghold with dense crowds.

The Templar Dens were fun because unlike a restrictive tailing mission the playground was larger. You could move about using the crowd and recce the Den and locate the Captain and be completely agile in your approach.


I'm only saying this if it's possible because I don't know, but a more free-flowing crowd of ones and twos spread out more thinly instead of bunched together in groups of 4 as they are would work better

Like I said - Crowd Density is a big problem.

Groups are there to provide mobile blend spots and also add to the density....but they do feel a bit off. Then again populating the world with 100s of NPCs would be taxing on the hardware.

Furthermore, how do you communicate to the player that he/she is hidden? What are the parameters? How does the player know that he/she CAN hide here? With a blend group its super clear - get in the midst of them and you're hidden...if you have the dynamic NPC system you've effectively removed a reliable and plausible way to hide for the player.

Case in point: AC4/3 doesn't have blend groups but you are magically hidden from sight when between two NPCs....because there are no reliable (keyword - reliable) ways to hide this becomes an issue. I use 'reliable' simply because the two NPCs are NOT part of a pack and will split up...leaving you in the lurch at a crucial moment.

Game mechanics need consistency and clarity....the blend groups provide both.

However, I do realize how immersion breaking it can be. Therefore a middle ground would be acceptable where the blend groups are of 3 people (like in AC4 IIRC) and spread out...but still moving in pack and recognizable enough that the player can capitalize on them.

All that said, I largely agree with you - Social Stealth needs to be more engaging and interactive by way of new mechanics and abilities. More natural reactions, a button which controls your gait (I smiled when you brought that up...I'd been mulling over such a system since AC1 came out :D) and acts like a blend button yet at the same time uses the left analogue stick to govern your speed and posture.

We also need a much more sophisticated AI for the crowds and the enemy. AC has veered away from the concept of social acceptability - reckless actions now have no consequences. New ways to manipulate the crowd would be a god send.
All of this without turning the current system into an incomprehensible and inaccessible one


Sorry for the long post...I just love this subject.

jdowny
02-26-2014, 07:32 PM
So when you've got 60% of the game beatable with nothing but a press of a button, what do you do? You add 100% objectives so players wouldn't use the assassin call as the go-to button every time

That sounds plausible. The Brotherhood idea was an odd one for me - really cool on paper, but it tended to feel like they were taking the glory away from the player. As a result I hardly used them, and even forgot about them for huge portions of the game. Not to mention they were a lot of faces with no personalities. Incidentally, this was one aspect (out of many I should add) I felt that AC III was a great improvement over Ezio's trilogy.

I'm curious to know what the community thinks about optional objectives. Has anyone done a poll?


There's a difference between calling something broken and dismissing it as broken. I don't do the latter. The latter would imply that I don't appreciate everything else that the combat system does or tries to do, or think that it doesn't have any worth. And that's not true.

Dismiss does have more than one definition, but the one I was referring to doesn't imply that. It implies you're using broken as a blanket term to say that from your point of view the combat has ceased to work. That's a strong statement and one I'd disagree with for reasons I've stated.


Which is fine for one or two games, but when you get to five, it can get on a side of 'eeeeeeeeeeeh, it's about time now'. Which is why I'm really hoping that the supposed leak of the press-release where it says that the next AC title has been in development for three years and has got fully revamped stealth and combat is true. AC4 is a 'best of AC' collection to me. A good place to stop using the outdated mechanics and add the long-needed improvements and polish to the core.

I'm with you on that. I sort of felt that AC III actually got half way there. I loved the detail of the underground passageways beneath Boston and New York, which felt plausible and a strong improvement over the secret passageways used in Brotherhood and Revelations. The Brotherhood was also overhauled to great effect. Then there were all the little details like animals, pub interiors, gangs of kids, minigames, homestead characters - glimpses of authentic historical and everyday life. It screwed this up with the player navigation and missions in my opinion, both of which are pretty important aspects.




Groups are there to provide mobile blend spots and also add to the density....but they do feel a bit off. Then again populating the world with 100s of NPCs would be taxing on the hardware.

Technology is always improving so it's not an impossible feat by any stretch, just challenging. I'm pretty sure that the area around the main Boston marketplace isn't far off 100 NPCs. I'm just saying, if the technology's there then you may as well use it to its potential.


Furthermore, how do you communicate to the player that he/she is hidden? What are the parameters? How does the player know that he/she CAN hide here? With a blend group its super clear - get in the midst of them and you're hidden...if you have the dynamic NPC system you've effectively removed a reliable and plausible way to hide for the player.


I wouldn't exactly call crowds of moving people either plausible or reliable. And how does the player know that they can hide in crowds anyway? The games are pretty good at explaining these things. But I agree - getting rid of blending might be taking things too far, so having the current 'fade when you're blended' is fine.

I'm saying get rid of one (in my opinion) implausible and unreliable way to hide the player, yes, but replace it with a dozen others that are better. So crowds gathered by a town crier, at the marketplace, by the pub, having a chat in the street, saying goodbye to people on a ship - the possibilities are huge - but make it so that they're not just actors standing there forever. It needs to be dynamic. So people would leave and others would join. Many of these are already present in the games, but it's about making them more realistic, fluid and easier to spot - aim for the crowd, not the gap in between two people.

Moving throughout all of these separate activities would be dozens and dozens of people scattered in the streets, travelling in pairs or on their own. It's about recreating life which allows for social stealth, not creating social stealth mechanics that imitate life. But even if the player ignores these things and chooses to tail from a rooftop, you've still managed to create a lifelike, fluid and beautiful AI system that should greatly improve the atmosphere of the game.

And the idea about having a control to make you walk less conspicuously should add to the plausibility of the whole thing, because an assassin strutting around anywhere is always going to be easy to spot. That, and it's a greater degree of control so if you are left in the lurch, you've still got control of the situation.


All that said, I largely agree with you - Social Stealth needs to be more engaging and interactive by way of new mechanics and abilities. More natural reactions, a button which controls your gait (I smiled when you brought that up...I'd been mulling over such a system since AC1 came out http://static5.cdn.ubi.com/u/ubiforums/20130918.419/images/smilies/biggrin.png) and acts like a blend button yet at the same time uses the left analogue stick to govern your speed and posture.

Ha, I think I probably got the idea from AC1. The problem there was that Altair moved far too slowly and it became boring. He was imitating a monk, but it was a lot more exciting to either run or fight. And as you say, it was hard for the player to know if he was blended or not.


We also need a much more sophisticated AI for the crowds and the enemy. AC has veered away from the concept of social acceptability - reckless actions now have no consequences. New ways to manipulate the crowd would be a god send.
All of this without turning the current system into an incomprehensible and inaccessible one

I'm intrigued by that! How do you mean, manipulate the crowd?



Sorry for the long post...I just love this subject.

No worries at all. I love it too!

Farlander1991
02-26-2014, 08:25 PM
but it tended to feel like they were taking the glory away from the player. As a result I hardly used them, and even forgot about them for huge portions of the game.

One of the best experiences with the Brotherhood mechanic that I had in, uhm, Brotherhood, btw, that gave me the most awesome feelings and chills, was during the infiltration of the Castello at the end of the game when you're after the apple. I would climb on the wall and call an assassin on a guard and he would take care of him, then someone would notice me and I would call an assassin and he would take care of them, and then I was climbing the Castello itself and the guard that was like on the wall far away from me has noticed me, but it's ok, I have a bud who took care of him. And even though all the Assassins are faceless (and I do prefer AC3 in that regard as well), I've coloured their clothes and spent a lot of time training them, so I would still recognize them in a way. It was an awesome team feeling.

Sadly, though, I'm not sure how to make a mechanic like in Brotherhood not broken (and I'm using the word broken again here. And I'll just explain why in a sec, while quoting a different part of your post :) ). Maybe if some sort of pre-planning is involved, like, saying 'you'll be hiding here' instead of them all automatically appearing out of the closest best spot... not sure. But I think AC4 was better off without it.


It implies you're using broken as a blanket term to say that from your point of view the combat has ceased to work. That's a strong statement and one I'd disagree with for reasons I've stated.

Broken also has different meanings and I think this shows why game design discussions need a bit more specific vocabulary. When talking about mechanics, broken has two meanings. One is the actual functional one, that what was designed is not functioning properly (ceases to work). This is not the case here, because there's another meaning, which all devs (at least in my experience, which is why it became a part of my lexicon that I don't even think why I use it when I use it and don't think that it can be potentially misinterpreted) use when discussing the actual game design, which essentially means that the design itself is really noticeably very flawed, be it because of a dominant strategy, or some aspect that makes another aspect irrelevant (as an example, crossbow from ACB is broken design - it makes both the hidden pistols and throwing knives irrelevant due to combining both of their best aspects without any flaws to balance it out), or because of some other big (and it has to be big) reason.

So when I say that counter breaks AC1 combat, I'm not being as harsh as you think. I'm essentially saying that counter introduces an incredibly dominant strategy that, even if we're to agree that you still have to break grabs and dodge attacks frequently (though I found that frequency to be low, but that may be just the way it was in my latest playthrough), it still makes offensive play irrelevant (not only you're at a danger of getting countered if you attack, you're also at a danger that the enemy will dodge your attack and get back at you, and getting a successful combo requires more effort and skill than a successful counter, especially with a sword, and does not always pay off while a counter is a sure thing, even if it doesn't one hit kill,and that doesn't have any of said dangers). Though it still may sound harsh, it's not dismissing the rest of the design of the combat which I think is really great, because I already said that battles when counter is simply not available is the greatest fun I had in AC combat so far (especially against Templars).

So, yeah, sorry for any possible confusions I caused in the discussion of AC1 combat.

shobhit7777777
02-26-2014, 08:43 PM
Technology is always improving so it's not an impossible feat by any stretch, just challenging. I'm pretty sure that the area around the main Boston marketplace isn't far off 100 NPCs. I'm just saying, if the technology's there then you may as well use it to its potential.


Indeed. If the tech permits go for it - within the reasons of solid game design. However, I doubt 100 active NPCs at one time is a possibility.

Put 12 people in a large room...thats a lot of people. 100 is a massive number. More so from a virtual perspective. We all agree that we need smarter, more reactive crowd AI...100 NPCs with great AI is a pretty significant toll on any hardware.

Lets see what the next gen unlocks for the franchise


I wouldn't exactly call crowds of moving people either plausible or reliable. And how does the player know that they can hide in crowds anyway? The games are pretty good at explaining these things. But I agree - getting rid of blending might be taking things too far, so having the current 'fade when you're blended' is fine.

Plausible - because a bunch of people moving around isn't that far removed from reality and the simple fact that moving as part of a large group is significantly more 'stealthier' than moving alone from a social stealth perspective. People may not be so bunched up...but in crowded and dense areas you can place them in packs. If you're willing to suspend disbelief when it comes to an Assassin's robes...its not that big a stretch here

Reliable - Its an obvious visual cue that the player can recognize and then act upon. It also is reliable in the sense that once in the blend group you're essentially invisible


I'm saying get rid of one (in my opinion) implausible and unreliable way to hide the player, yes, but replace it with a dozen others that are better. So crowds gathered by a town crier, at the marketplace, by the pub, having a chat in the street, saying goodbye to people on a ship - the possibilities are huge - but make it so that they're not just actors standing there forever. It needs to be dynamic. So people would leave and others would join. Many of these are already present in the games, but it's about making them more realistic, fluid and easier to spot - aim for the crowd, not the gap in between two people.

Moving throughout all of these separate activities would be dozens and dozens of people scattered in the streets, travelling in pairs or on their own. It's about recreating life which allows for social stealth, not creating social stealth mechanics that imitate life. But even if the player ignores these things and chooses to tail from a rooftop, you've still managed to create a lifelike, fluid and beautiful AI system that should greatly improve the atmosphere of the game.

A livelier crowd would be nice. At the end of the day, social stealth in AC is about mobile and stationary hiding spots....a greater variety would be appreciated. However, the AC crowd blending is a unique mechanic and makes a lot of sense, I'd personally keep it yet make certain changes to group behaviour and density to make it more immersive.


And the idea about having a control to make you walk less conspicuously should add to the plausibility of the whole thing, because an assassin strutting around anywhere is always going to be easy to spot. That, and it's a greater degree of control so if you are left in the lurch, you've still got control of the situation.

True

if we want to move away from the current system to one where player engagement is greater, we need more comprehensive control over the character's social stealth abilities. Blending in one spot is a passive act...I enjoy it...but lets add some active elements as well.

Crowd and spot blending could be the passive, observation oriented stealth elements, whereas gait control and movement speed could be the active elements which the player could use OUT of those passive spots. Suppose you're tailing a target. The target ducks into an alley with no crowds....you can't blend here can you? BUT if we allow the player to control the Assassin's gait and effectively behave like a drunken sailor, then we can have a slightly more engaging and CONSISTENT social stealth system

Your blend button could be contextual...in an alley you're a drunk, in a market your Assassin looks around at the wares and walks in a more ponderous manner....in an open street, your Assassin simply walks faster and keeps his head down and out of sight and away from the target. Of course there will be issues if we introduce such a system...a ripple effect...but all that can be sorted out.

BTW I have an interesting read for you ;)
It was a concept closely related to this current subject.....I had proposed this on the Splinter Cell forums.

Check PM


I'm intrigued by that! How do you mean, manipulate the crowd?

By manipulation I mean having a crowd which can be used as another tool in the Assassin's arsenal

There are instances in the Ezio trilogy which allow greater crowd control - pyrite coin bombs, throwing money, distraction bombs etc.

The idea is to have the crowd react realistically and logically to a player's actions thereby allowing the player to capitalize on said reactions.

Some examples:

1. The player drops a bomb, it goes off the crowd scatters...a large dense stampede which the player can use as either for blending OR simply as a barrier for enemies giving chase

2. The player can incite fights between two NPCs by stealing their wallets - this again draws a large crowd....perfect blending spot

3. Player hires a band of Gypsies or a snake charmer or other such faction troupe and can pay them to put on a show - Crowd gathers offering you a large, blend zone and a distraction

4. Crowd gatherings should attract the attention of nearby guards, allowing you an opportunity to make some incognito kills

There can be even more imaginative and creative possibilities when it comes to playing around with the crowd IMO...the above is just stuff off the top of my head.

Sushiglutton
02-26-2014, 09:01 PM
Had this social stealth idea a while back that I'm now just gonna sneak into this thread :).

Basically I was thinking about whatever social gadgets you could have besides gold (aka throwing coins) and I thought about the other major social currency alcohol. This was my idea:


You could steal/buy a bottle of whine from bars.
You could give it to a group of guards. This would transform them into a group you could blend with.
If an officer sees them they will transform back to their normal state after he has yelled at them.
You can put the bottle down on the ground in a hostile zone to atract a guard to a certain position.
You could pour poison into the bottle, which would lead to different results than described above....
You could give a bottle to a group of citizens who would then start to party which would block guards and cause a distraction.
You could give it to courtesans for some special services (haven't really come up with what that would be yet)



That's as far as I came. Then I started to think that putting this much emphasis on booze was perhaps not something Ubi wanted to do lol. But the basic idea that alcohol is a timeless social tool is kind of ok.

Dome500
02-26-2014, 09:29 PM
By manipulation I mean having a crowd which can be used as another tool in the Assassin's arsenal

There are instances in the Ezio trilogy which allow greater crowd control - pyrite coin bombs, throwing money, distraction bombs etc.

The idea is to have the crowd react realistically and logically to a player's actions thereby allowing the player to capitalize on said reactions.

Some examples:

1. The player drops a bomb, it goes off the crowd scatters...a large dense stampede which the player can use as either for blending OR simply as a barrier for enemies giving chase

2. The player can incite fights between two NPCs by stealing their wallets - this again draws a large crowd....perfect blending spot

3. Player hires a band of Gypsies or a snake charmer or other such faction troupe and can pay them to put on a show - Crowd gathers offering you a large, blend zone and a distraction

4. Crowd gatherings should attract the attention of nearby guards, allowing you an opportunity to make some incognito kills

There can be even more imaginative and creative possibilities when it comes to playing around with the crowd IMO...the above is just stuff off the top of my head.

Agreed.

Distraction tools that lure the enemies to a specific point were an element I really missed in AC4 and it is something to continue.
More variable crowd control = new ways to do things, sneak, distract, silently kill

A big must.




You could steal/buy a bottle of whine from bars.
You could give it to a group of guards. This would transform them into a group you could blend with.
If an officer sees them they will transform back to their normal state after he has yelled at them.
You can put the bottle down on the ground in a hostile zone to atract a guard to a certain position.
You could pour poison into the bottle, which would lead to different results than described above....
You could give a bottle to a group of citizens who would then start to party which would block guards and cause a distraction.
You could give it to courtesans for some special services (haven't really come up with what that would be yet)



Interesting ideas.

I also liked the distraction bombs in Revelations and the Firecrackers in Freedom Cry.
As well as the "starting a revolt" in AC3.

Expansion of distraction types with different scenarios and effects should definitely be a thing to experiment with in future AC games.

shobhit7777777
02-27-2014, 08:08 AM
Had this social stealth idea a while back that I'm now just gonna sneak into this thread :).

Basically I was thinking about whatever social gadgets you could have besides gold (aka throwing coins) and I thought about the other major social currency alcohol. This was my idea:


You could steal/buy a bottle of whine from bars.
You could give it to a group of guards. This would transform them into a group you could blend with.
If an officer sees them they will transform back to their normal state after he has yelled at them.
You can put the bottle down on the ground in a hostile zone to atract a guard to a certain position.
You could pour poison into the bottle, which would lead to different results than described above....
You could give a bottle to a group of citizens who would then start to party which would block guards and cause a distraction.
You could give it to courtesans for some special services (haven't really come up with what that would be yet)



That's as far as I came. Then I started to think that putting this much emphasis on booze was perhaps not something Ubi wanted to do lol. But the basic idea that alcohol is a timeless social tool is kind of ok.

Hell yeah

The bottle could be a multipurpose prop....if you have it equipped when blending, Your assassin goes into drunk hobo mode.


Agreed.
Distraction tools that lure the enemies to a specific point were an element I really missed in AC4 and it is something to continue.
More variable crowd control = new ways to do things, sneak, distract, silently kill
A big must.
Interesting ideas.
I also liked the distraction bombs in Revelations and the Firecrackers in Freedom Cry.
As well as the "starting a revolt" in AC3.
Expansion of distraction types with different scenarios and effects should definitely be a thing to experiment with in future AC games.

The franchise has an annoying habit of dropping elements that add to the experience

Bombs and devices for example. The brotherhood element which was really well done in AC3....gone in AC4...sure the narrative didn't have much space for it...but still.

In defence of the Brotherhood element - The feature wasn't designed as a tool in the arsenal...you're looking at it wrong. Its an empowerment tool to fulfill player fantasy - Ezio being a BAMF mentor.

Apex/Dominant strategies don't apply in Creed because the game is concerned with empowerment and fantasy fulfilment.

Challenge should be in conceiving a creative attack plan...not in the actual groundwork of stabbing and killing guards. The Brotherhood mechanic opens new opportunities for the player in both the narrative and gameplay context.

Farlander's example is a beautiful one:


One of the best experiences with the Brotherhood mechanic that I had in, uhm, Brotherhood, btw, that gave me the most awesome feelings and chills, was during the infiltration of the Castello at the end of the game when you're after the apple. I would climb on the wall and call an assassin on a guard and he would take care of him, then someone would notice me and I would call an assassin and he would take care of them, and then I was climbing the Castello itself and the guard that was like on the wall far away from me has noticed me, but it's ok, I have a bud who took care of him. And even though all the Assassins are faceless (and I do prefer AC3 in that regard as well), I've coloured their clothes and spent a lot of time training them, so I would still recognize them in a way. It was an awesome team feeling.

I've had several similar experiences

The Brotherhood was a versatile empowerment tool. I absolutely LOVED...moving around at ground leve while infiltrating dens...and as I crept about on the ground, I would use my Assassin's to clean up the rooftops.....this allowed me access to the roof, which was absolutely clean...enabling a kick *** aerial assassination

Now the question of challenge comes in - "It was so easy"

I could've gone up myself and stabbed them myself...thats one approach. But I'm not concerned with that. Anybody could have done that. The key point here is expressing YOURself via your playstyle and tactics...to me it felt believable, badass and immersive.

Challenge - In my PERSONAL opinon - in games like Splinter Cell Blacklist, AC, FC, Dishonored etc. doesn't come from the simple, mechanical acts...but in the way you plan and execute your approach.

These games offer us so many versatile ways to deal a situation and I think they should be treated like fun sandboxes to be populated by the player's creativity and imagination for a unique experience.

Dome500
02-27-2014, 02:44 PM
The franchise has an annoying habit of dropping elements that add to the experience

You nailed it.


I've had several similar experiences

Same goes for me. You really felt like the Mentor of an underground network of Assassins.


I could've gone up myself and stabbed them myself...thats one approach. But I'm not concerned with that. Anybody could have done that. The key point here is expressing YOURself via your playstyle and tactics...to me it felt believable, badass and immersive.

Agreed.

It gave you a variety of tools which opened up a variety of ways to do things.
Of course not that much, but I thought that could be tweaked (too many Assassisn at your disposal in Brotherhood IMO and the system with 2 of them coming was kinda problematic... anyway) and improved and you could add new things in the next installments. Which kind of didn't happen.


These games offer us so many versatile ways to deal a situation and I think they should be treated like fun sandboxes to be populated by the player's creativity and imagination for a unique experience.

Agreed.

Increased restrictiveness in mission and auto-fails when not following instructions directly enough paired with optional objectives and less tools at your disposal have reduced the variety of ways to approach a situation and/or mission and made the path you (basically have to) go very linear, stellar and uninteresting. Replay value is reduced and monotony increased.

That should be changed in the next AC games.

Farlander1991
02-28-2014, 10:31 AM
Interesting note, in the Majd Addin assassination we will start losing health/synchronization until we die/desynchronize if the Assassin gets executed (with assassinating Majd Addin the only way to stop that). So even AC1 assassinations have got fail states in a way.

Dome500
02-28-2014, 02:59 PM
Interesting note, in the Majd Addin assassination we will start losing health/synchronization until we die/desynchronize if the Assassin gets executed (with assassinating Majd Addin the only way to stop that). So even AC1 assassinations have got fail states in a way.

But not that many.

Besides, I never said they were free of them, I just wished they'd move away from that concept. It kills creativity.

dex3108
02-28-2014, 08:27 PM
I would love to see Hard Core mode where we only have name of target and everything else is up to us. How to find him, how to approach and how to assassinate target.

But that won't happen :D

jdowny
03-01-2014, 12:13 AM
So, yeah, sorry for any possible confusions I caused in the discussion of AC1 combat.

Me too. No harm done.





You could steal/buy a bottle of whine from bars.
You could give it to a group of guards. This would transform them into a group you could blend with.
If an officer sees them they will transform back to their normal state after he has yelled at them.
You can put the bottle down on the ground in a hostile zone to atract a guard to a certain position.
You could pour poison into the bottle, which would lead to different results than described above....
You could give a bottle to a group of citizens who would then start to party which would block guards and cause a distraction.
You could give it to courtesans for some special services (haven't really come up with what that would be yet)



I think the inherent problem with this is that no guard would accept alcohol from a stranger - it's just odd, not to mention that guards getting drunk on the job would be grounds for dismissal in most parts of the world. It just doesn't happen.


The Brotherhood was a versatile empowerment tool. I absolutely LOVED...moving around at ground leve while infiltrating dens...and as I crept about on the ground, I would use my Assassin's to clean up the rooftops.....this allowed me access to the roof, which was absolutely clean...enabling a kick *** aerial assassination

Now the question of challenge comes in - "It was so easy"

I could've gone up myself and stabbed them myself...thats one approach. But I'm not concerned with that. Anybody could have done that. The key point here is expressing YOURself via your playstyle and tactics...to me it felt believable, badass and immersive.

Sure, I get where you're coming from. Maybe it was because I felt I didn't need them - I managed to get in and out of the Castello fine without ever feeling that I required their help enough to ask for it. But, each to their own. Thanks for the PM by the way, it was a good read.


By manipulation I mean having a crowd which can be used as another tool in the Assassin's arsenal

There are instances in the Ezio trilogy which allow greater crowd control - pyrite coin bombs, throwing money, distraction bombs etc.

The idea is to have the crowd react realistically and logically to a player's actions thereby allowing the player to capitalize on said reactions.

Some examples:

1. The player drops a bomb, it goes off the crowd scatters...a large dense stampede which the player can use as either for blending OR simply as a barrier for enemies giving chase

2. The player can incite fights between two NPCs by stealing their wallets - this again draws a large crowd....perfect blending spot

3. Player hires a band of Gypsies or a snake charmer or other such faction troupe and can pay them to put on a show - Crowd gathers offering you a large, blend zone and a distraction

4. Crowd gatherings should attract the attention of nearby guards, allowing you an opportunity to make some incognito kills

There can be even more imaginative and creative possibilities when it comes to playing around with the crowd IMO...the above is just stuff off the top of my head.

I actually love all of these ideas. This is the epitome of the 'blade in the crowd' idea that so far hasn't quite materialised in the series, at least not satisfactorily. So far our tactics have revolved mainly around the guards - using thieves, mercenaries, drunkards and couesans to distract or kill guards. There hasn't been much in any of these games that focus on the crowd. These ideas work because they give us an element of control over the crowd, not just using them as hiding spots but as tools to manipulate. I'd love it if these were included in AC.

I'm reminded of an assassin contract in AC 4 I completed not too long ago. The target lay in a red zone by the beach in Havana - I hired some courtesans and walked in without a hitch. The plan was to get close to the target in the cover of the courtesans, kill him and escape undetected. It worked - until I killed the target. As soon as that happened, guards came over to take a look and the courtesans annoyingly moved toward them to distract them, leaving me exposed.

What I'd like to happen is more along the lines of what shobhit said - being able to dynamically influence the crowd as another tool. So being able to make a large crowd, get in close, kill the target and escape unseen, this last part being the most critical.

The ideal and what I feel it should be like is Haytham's assassination contract at the Opera House. He gets in unseen, commits the murder, but even though he's almost caught, he manages to get out. Why? Because he walks out instead of running. Though the game makes some distinction of the two, it's not much - even if you walk, you're immediately noticed, it just takes longer for the meter to fill. So in the case of my botched assassination in Havana, I was immediately pounced upon when I should have been able to walk out of there unimpeded.


I would love to see Hard Core mode where we only have name of target and everything else is up to us. How to find him, how to approach and how to assassinate target.

But that won't happen :D

I'd love that too. I think Alex Hutchison, the creative director of AC III said that easy modes destroyed the appeal of many games, or something like that. I'd disagree, because to me AC as it stands is the easy mode. I feel it's trying to cater to a wide audience so it's being forced to dumb itself down with hand-holding mechanics and objectives instead of leaving a lot of this stuff open to the player.

SixKeys
03-01-2014, 05:57 AM
Had this social stealth idea a while back that I'm now just gonna sneak into this thread :).

Basically I was thinking about whatever social gadgets you could have besides gold (aka throwing coins) and I thought about the other major social currency alcohol. This was my idea:


You could steal/buy a bottle of whine from bars.
You could give it to a group of guards. This would transform them into a group you could blend with.
If an officer sees them they will transform back to their normal state after he has yelled at them.
You can put the bottle down on the ground in a hostile zone to atract a guard to a certain position.
You could pour poison into the bottle, which would lead to different results than described above....
You could give a bottle to a group of citizens who would then start to party which would block guards and cause a distraction.
You could give it to courtesans for some special services (haven't really come up with what that would be yet)




This is a great idea. What you describe sounds similar to The Last of Us where you can pick up a bottle and either throw it to create a distraction or fill it with gasoline and make a Molotov. Instead of just one object to be used in multiple ways, they could have several. Like maybe 5 small, everyday objects with 3-4 different functions each (to be used as a tool for distraction, weapon or blending)