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Lying, Cheating and Deceiving [Aug. 20th, 2009|08:29 pm]
Orphaned Pixels

orphanedpixels

[breibrei]
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I had a big long preamble for this, but it wasn't particularly interesting, so:
This is an idea for a "stealth"/strategy game where the gameplay primarily comes collecting and using information to deceive and evade NPCs that (for once) aren't as thick as two short planks. This was inspired by a section in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (the 1987 point-and-click adventure game) where you could talk your way past the guards in different ways depending on the uniform you were wearing, but you had to make sure not to let them see you in a different uniform later or they would realise that you were an intruder.

The game would consist of a number of short missions. There would presumably be a context for these missions, but that's not really part of the idea.

Missions have two phases: planning and execution. In the planning stage you have various resources, to use for acquiring information that will be useful to completing your mission. These resources can consist of many things - people, money, CPU time, favours, etc.
For example, on a certain mission, acquiring blueprints of the building may take one person working for two days and cost £100.

Generally speaking, the more your plan progresses the more specific you can be about what information you want, but in order for your plan to progress, you have to acquire information. This will result in a lot of resource balancing; for example, if you wanted background checks on all, lets say 40 people, who worked in the building then that may take 4 days and cost £1,000, whereas if getting the list of who will be working on the day you're planning for may cut this down to 10 people, 1 day and £250, but only be possible from the Monday beforehand. And it may cost you time and money to even find out that the list will be available then in the first place, so you have to weigh up your options.

How in-depth the planning stage goes is an implementation issue, but it should be able to provide you with plenty of information about the place you're going into and - more importantly of course - the people that are there.

So on to the good stuff: the execution stage. Generally each step of a plan will follow one of three approaches: evasion, deception or elimination.

Evasion requires learning who will be where and when. Maybe you researched their routine (and if you're really thorough, checked their schedule to make sure nothing was going to interfere with it today). Maybe you know that they have to go to their office to take calls and you've worked out what type of call would get you put through to them and keep them busy for at least 5 minutes. There's plenty of options.

Deceptions requires enough knowledge of people to know who you can fool with what. Maybe in this building there's a lot of maintenance people and so most people won't bother you if you have the right outfit, but not all. Maybe there's a lot of contract workers and if you say you've been brought in for the Icarus project they'll assume it's fine. Unless they're *on* the Icarus project of course, so you'll need to be careful.

Elimination - typically the easiest route in most stealth games - is still possible, but will almost always be the hardest route. If people go missing, other people notice. If you want to take someone out, you better make sure no-one's going to be expecting them any time soon. And that no-one will have any reason to go wherever you dump the body until you're long gone. Putting an 'out of order' sign on a toilet may work, but sooner or later someone is going to complain to maintenance that it's not been fixed, and of course people's toilet trips are notoriously unpredictable, so that will be harder to plan around. Maybe picking a day when one of the managers is out of the office would be better? Just make sure it's not the one in the office with the big glass windows.

During the execution stage you'll still have instant access to all the information acquired in the planning stage, plus any information gained during the mission. So for example, if you need a key from someone you might be able to bring up what their schedule is, any conversations you had with them (or overheard) earlier, where you last saw them (including where security cameras last saw them if you have hacked the security system at some point), and so on.


Obviously there's a lot to expand on in the way of specifics here, but I think the overall idea is quite interesting.
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