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BadSpock's Logical Conclusions.

My random thoughts about MMORPGs. A bit of critique, suggestion, debate, and insanity. Enjoy.

Author: BadSpock

True Stealth

Posted by BadSpock Thursday January 24 2008 at 1:21PM
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I believe it's about time we see a MMO with "next generation" stealth.

In a MMO, there is no way you could do stealth like Splinter Cell or Riddick... you simply can't have that level of lighting technology in a MMO at this point. At least, from what I understand, it is way to intensive of an operation for the engine/lighting system to work in a MMO environment.

But you CAN control the distance at which the game client renders near by objects into a player view. In many/most MMOs, controlling the distance at which the game client renders near by objects is a graphical option.. used to give better performance or visual quality.

But what if it could be used to create a realistic stealth system for a MMO? How?

Let me explain my idea.

Make a stealth system where your character's skill/level of stealthiness determines the distance at which the game client renders that player to others. Make this affected by the day/night cycle (distance is much shorter at night and much longer during the day)

Make it so moving increases the range in which you are rendered to others, the faster you are moving the more likely to be detected.

Make it so if you are in the frontal 180 degree arc of another player the rendering distance goes up, and of course if you are in the rear 180 degree arc of another player the rendering distance drops off very sharply.

If the stealther has already been targetting/spotted, you have no magical vanishing back into thin air.

Make a "Vanish" ability work realistically. You throw a small bit of flash powder at the ground, blinding your opponents to your presence for a few seconds. I.E. 2-3 seconds where no one can see you, where no nearby player's game client renders your character as part of the scene...  after that time is up, you reappear... just enough time to start running away, maybe dash around a corner, jump off a ledge.. etc. but NOT disappear completely.

True stealth.

Give stealth characters the ability to "gather" material from their environment to construct a camo suit (much like real life snipers do, but I can't remember what they call it) Make this camo suit effect the distance at which the game client renders them to others. If the player moves while in the suit, this as an effect on their render distance as well. If they stay low and move slowly, their chance to be detected is much lower.

True camouflage.

This way, a stealthy player can hide and lie in waiting much easier, and would also be very useful for scouting.. but sneaking up and ambushing another player/NPC would be difficult to do and require a great deal of skill and luck on the part of the player.

No magic stealth. Realistic stealth.

Like the camouflage system, a player who dresses in very dark clothing at night has a lower chance of being detected....

You have to think outside the box a bit.

I'm not talking about turning invisible. You'd NEVER turn invisable to the naked eye. It's just that through a combination of these factors, the distance at which the other player's game client rendered your character on their screen would change. From far away to not at all.

For NPC's and mob's it'd be much easier. Instead of changing the rendering distance, it changes the aggro distance.

If you are running full speed wearing shiny silver plate mail directly at an NPC in broad daylight and the NPC is looking directly at you, the aggro distance will be very, very large.

If you are slowly crawling along the grass wearing a camo suit made of leaves and grass and trees from local vegatation and doing so approaching the NPC/mob from behind at night time... the aggro distance will be so small they won't aggro you until your blade is already in them.

What do you think?

1. Is it possible to control rendering / aggro distance in that way?

2. If it IS possible, would you like to see a stealth system like this?

Mallic writes:

Its a Ghillie Suit.


Good Ideas... but would make it a kind of a pain in the butt...

Good idea tho.. like the way its realistic.

Thu Jan 24 2008 2:52PM Report
BadSpock writes:

Ghillie Suit!

Thank you.

I don't think it'd be a pain in the butt.

Creating the Ghillie Suit could be a single button click. Have a little cast bar go across "Gathering" for 10-20 seconds. Boom. You  have a Ghillie Suit with X number of uses. The devs would have to program one suit per zone/area. Not TOO much work or too unimaginable.

Sneaking up on NPC's would only not be a pain in the butt if they actually had realistic pathing. Not simply the "Walk forward 10 yards, turn 45 degrees, walk forward 10 yards" craptastic pathing we see today.

This would be a lot more work for the devs, obviously. Stationary mobs/NPCs would make sense if it was done in a believable way. Bandits sitting around a campfire, for instance.

Stalking players and sneaking up on them would actually be a lot easier then you think. Players ALWAYS try to run the shortest distance between point A and B. Either that, or they stick to the "safe" paths the game world provides. It wouldn't be too hard to create your Ghillie suit, find a well traveled path, and hide yourself in a bush.

Then when some body comes along, jump out and ambush them. NPC's may be able to react and aggro you nearly instantly, most humans can't.

Could you follow someone? Yes. Dart from tree to tree. Rock to rock when they are not looking... waiting for the perfect time to strike... Remember that your character's skill/level in Stealth would of course be a factor.

The slightly more clumsy lower level/skilled Assassin/Rogue might snap a twig or not get fully behind cover, alerting you (and your game engine's decision to render that player character)

I think it'd work...

The element of surprise is a VERY powerful tactic. It's shouldn't be too easy.

At the same time, even someone without the skill/levels etc. in stealth could use this system to their advantage. I may be wearing big shiny plate mail, but I should be able to hide behind a huge tree or rock and get the jump on someone.

Thu Jan 24 2008 3:35PM Report
Deivos writes:

Erm...why not do something like lay down zones where light is? Instead of using real time lighting you just map out trigger zones that when lights are on it affects your visibility. Hell even DDO has that...


You can use that in a real time fashion, making it so you have a visibility level dependent on how well what toy wear matches into nearby things as well as how covered and silent you are.


I'm more for a game where people don't outright disappear ever. Dropping the render distance kind of seems odd because you would have to be dropping the other information as well as the rendered image if it were to act like a stealth and people don't detect you, and with that ya might as well be invisible.


I'm thinking more that if the system is made to it can sample it's environment every so often as well as check npc FOV and hearing in comparison to your location and movements, it should more depend on how well you can stay silent as you creep up on people. The light/dark effects from the trigger zones tied to lights would alter your visibility, but like everything else won't outright signal your approach and depending on your camo, might help.

Thu Jan 24 2008 5:41PM Report
Hexxeity writes:

(cross posted from the same forum as the blog entry)

I have to disagree.  If you are not rendering the avatar, you have already strayed into "magical" stealth territory, no matter how next-gen you think your ideas are.


If you want realistic hiding, hide behind a tree or in a shadow.  If you want realistic camouflage, wear green/gray/brown armor.  If you want flash powder, fine, fill my client with blinding smoke and sparks.

(And for the record, I think you are underestimating what can be done with lighting in an MMO.)

But there is absolutely nothing realistic about not rendering the avatar.  You can't choose not to render yourself in real life, can you?

Thu Jan 24 2008 6:48PM Report
Davod writes:

Just typed to say, I really liked your idéa! That is something that would be nice to find in the next generation of MMOG.

Thu Jan 24 2008 7:23PM Report
ElRenmazuo writes:

And actualy have quest and missions where it would actualy be required or at least be very strategic to the mission.

Thu Jan 24 2008 7:51PM Report
vajuras writes:

I think Stealth, like classes/levels, has kinda been abused to the max somewhat. Nice blog. If we must have stealth, then realistic stealth is preferred

Thu Jan 24 2008 7:52PM Report
vazzaroth writes:

This sounds exactly like what most (Yes, WoW) MMOs have. The only new thing I read was the Ghilly suit, but I don't see a way a game can implement that creativly and still be an MMORPG, and not just COD w/ more RPG stuff or something.

Thu Jan 24 2008 11:51PM Report
InnateWrath writes:

What a lot of people seem to forget is that a lot of realism we would like to have stealth be viable, would also be very easy to abuse on the client side. Such as adjusting your gamma so that you essentially have full-bright. Or simply having an archaic computer can throw realistic balancing out the window, because what techniques you would use to hide a player would simply not be possible on such a machine.

This is where Heerobya's idea comes into play, because MMOs are supposed are supposed to reflect a D&D type of system, removing a player from your characters vision is much more effective. As it reflects the skills of the players and all other factors, while allowing the person on the low end machine to have the same gameplay expierence as the one on the high end machine.

Fri Jan 25 2008 1:05AM Report
Davod writes:

Vazzaroth, then you did not understand this article. Improve your english or read through it more carefully next time.

Fri Jan 25 2008 2:24PM Report
TeflonEddie writes:

Tabula Rasa sort of has the glimmerings of this system, at least in PvE.

Snipers/Spies get "Stealth" armour that reduces the distance from which NPC enemies can see/attack them. Higher skill in the armour increases it to the level whereby you can safely get around 25 metres from an NPC's view (assumed to be around 180 degrees frontal) or sneak right up to melee range from behind.

In PvP, stealth armour prevents you from appearing on the enemy player's minimap, however he can still "see" and attack you up to the maximum draw distance (60m+). I'd love for it to have the same effect in PvP as it does in PvE (invisibility scaled on skill to a maximum of 25m distance).

Tue Feb 12 2008 4:37AM Report writes:
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