|Catching Terrorists and the Ninjing Gauge
||[Jul. 8th, 2007|06:16 pm]
This is an idea I had years ago, inspired by rewatching Prey Alone very many times (I believe overall I'm currently up to around 25 viewings now). If you haven't seen Prey Alone, it can be downloaded for free from the makers here. Its in no way necessary to have seen it to understand the idea (its "inspired by", not "based on"), but its a really awesome short film.
Looking back at the history of video games the majority of them have been based on the premise of one person/creature facing hoards of enemies. And we know who wins that fight, because we've seen it a thousand times before; if you're that one guy facing those hoards of enemies, you know that despite the supposed odds, he's going to win. It may take you a few reloads and retries, but eventually you're going to manage it.
But what if you're not that guy? What if you're the hoards?
A group of terrorists are planning an attack against your country and you're the guy in charge of taking them down before they can do any damage. The trouble is, like most terrorists, they aren't listed in the Yellow Pages, so its going to take a little bit more effort to find them.
This game would potentially have several different areas of play, which could be implemented to a level from 'minor mini-game' to 'major game component'. These could include:
- some kind of resource management area, where you have to deploy your spies and use your contacts to obtain information about the location of the terrorist
- some kind of interrogation area, where you attempt to extract information from the people your agents have brought in.
Essentially however, the main bulk of the game-play will be as follows. You know from the information you've received that one of the members of the terrorist group is in a particular building (or possibly a group of buildings, particularly if they're warehouses), so you deploy your units in the surrounding area and storm the building. Now at this point you'd think that logically that one guy wouldn't stand a chance, which of course means that he's going to win. The reason he's going to win, at least at this stage, is because he has a special gauge, which for the purposes of this description will be referred to as the ninjing gauge.
The ninjing gauge (which may or may not be visible to the players), basically represents the enemy's ability to do all the stuff that players can normally do in that situation, like reloading save games. Obviously we can't have the player replay the last five minutes of the game because the terrorist just reloaded, but what we can do is have the terrorist play multiple games at once.
For example, lets say you've identified that the terrorist is hiding in a hotel. Now he has plenty of escape routes from this position; he could take the fire escape, one of the sets of stairs, or the elevators, or he could climb the elevator shaft, he could get out the front door, the back door, he might have a helicopter on the roof, or there might be a secret tunnel in the basement, and the list goes on and on. So, as you storm the building, the terrorist does all of these things simultaneously, and when you check each of them, for example if you put men on the back door it costs the terrorist a certain amount from his ninjing gauge for that not to have been the route he chose.
When the ninjing gauge gets too low for the terrorist to avoid you, or if he decides the odds are still in his favour, the ninjing gauge can also be used for taking out your guys. The cost of taking out a group of soldiers increases based on how skilled those soldiers are, and how many of them there are. Extra points from the ninja gauge can also be spent on things like making sure the soldiers are taken down (or their radios get shot out) before they can radio in an alert (in which case you may not be aware that they've been taken out until you next check for a status report).
If the terrorist is seen, this obviously finalises his route up to that point, however he will still generate more future paths from that point onwards. This also counts for evidence of the terrorists interaction with the environment; for example, if you get to see the window and the terrorist has a potential path where he jumped out out of that window, then he may either spend points from the ninja gauge to have chosen a different path, or decide that he did jump out the window, in which case the glass would be broken. If he did jump out of the window then obviously all his potential paths that didn't involve him jumping out of the window are now invalid, however if he has multiple routes spanning out from after the point where he jumped through the window (which he should) then these are still valid.
Other things that should exhaust the ninjing gauge:
- dodging traffic (spending more points makes it harder for your pursuit to keep up, running out of points results in a crash)
- smashing through a barricade
- Dukes of Hazzards (etc.) style stunts
- anything that could be considered "luck" (e.g. a train blocking a level crossing at just the right time to stop pursuit)
Obviously one of the most important factors in making this idea work would be correctly weighting the cost of everything on the ninjing gauge. This would be rather hard, given that there will often be multiple factors to consider (how many soldiers, how many other routes does the terrorist have, how unlikely would that be, etc.)
Given that you're essentially playing as a government agent, accountability could be a very important factor of game-play. So, for example, blowing up a bridge to cut off an escape route may be a perfectly sensible way of getting the job done, but the public is unlikely to be best pleased about it.
Occasionally you may even want to be making under-the-table payments to people in order to do the things that you can't, or possibly even in extreme cases to perform terrorist acts under the guise of the group you're trying to catch in order to gain public support for using harsher measures against them (although you'll need to be pretty damn careful to cover your tracks if you want to try that one).