Author Topic: Sneaking and Hiding: A complete overhaul  (Read 351 times)

number13

  • Posts: 1023
Sneaking and Hiding: A complete overhaul
« on: June 07, 2019, 03:06:54 AM »
The problem: stealth isn't very exciting in Arm, nor does it fit the narrative.

My own pattern and the pattern I've observed in others is to assume that you are not hidden, not sneaking until you have a high degree of skill in sneak/hide. And once you've achieved that skill level + some gear, it's a safe assumption that you are successfully stealthing pretty much always -- except in edge cases that are difficult to discover.

The infamous case of a hidden character giggling in a room because he knows his hide is pretty much unbreakable -- feels bad. Knowing that you are being shadowed, but not having any chance whatsoever of finding the hidden character feels bad.

On the flipside, using hide at low skill levels feels terrible. It might as well do nothing. Typically, from a gamist standpoint, you're just typing it to practice hiding, and no other real reason. Maybe you're roleplaying your heart out, but you know it isn't having a reliable effect in game.

Plus, there are rooms where it is impossible to hide, and the room descriptions don't always give any clues to this fact. The only way to discover which rooms are impossible to hide in is to have someone come along and say, "You are not hidden here." It's a noob trap.

The solution: An overall overhaul of the system, to make it much more reliable at low levels and less god tier at high levels of mastery, with an emphasis on enabling interesting narrative situations and conflicts.

  • Sneak -- remains as it is, with the exception of sneaking from a hidden position, which is no longer possible. Using a movement command other than Creep (see below) breaks your Hide status.
  • Shadow -- allows you to follow someone while sneaking, but you're not hidden until you type that Hide command. You can Shadow someone while blended into a crowd without losing the blended status.
  • Hide -- always works, if you are above novice skill level. The skill check determines how slow you are at hiding -- quickly darting into the shadows for a high check, slowly fumbling your way under a cardboard box for a bad check.

    Even if you flunk a hide check, you are hidden after a few seconds of delay. Hiding is reliable. However, your character may be very easy for someone scanning or someone who is actively hunting to discover you, to the point where even someone untrained in those skills can easily find a character who flunked a Hide check.

    When hidden, there's a flag to indicate such, which can be displayed on the prompt.

    When attempting to hide in a room where it is impossible to hide, the game reports back a message: "You can't find any good hiding spots here."
  • Blend -- a new skill and a new command that allows you to blend into crowds. It works like Hide, but only in a crowded room. You can sneak while Blended, and keep the blended status reliably, even at low skill levels, but if you sneak into a non-crowded room, you lose the flag.

    Sneak/Hide gear gives you a penalty to blending. Wearing spooky ninja gear is not conducive to blending into a crowd. Wearing high value gear or templar robes or the like should also give you a penalty to blending into a crowd. Best blending gear is rinthi-safe gear that gives no sneak/hide bonus.
  • Hunting (see below) receives a major, major bonus to discovering a blended character, to the point where it's a certainty that an apprentice city Hunter will eventually find a blended character, given enough checks.
  • Creep -- a new command, which stealthily moves your hidden character while maintaining the hidden status into the next room. It has all the same emotive capabilities as a normal move command.

    When hidden you can Creep in a direction instead of using the normal movement commands. This costs MV, and it has a delay timer based on a Hide/Sneak check. It is not always reliable, but when you flunk a Creep roll, you know it. The game reports: "You misstep, and are no longer hidden." Or: "There are no places to hide here!" if hiding is impossible in the new room.

    If you attempt to Creep but are not already hidden, the command fails, and the game informs you as to why: "You must be hidden to move via creeping."

    Missteps should be very rare for a character with journeyman in both Hide and Sneak, but not impossible for a character with master in both Hide and Sneak. There could be a flat 1 in 200 chance that any Creep attempt will fail, regardless of skill.

    C-elves have a greatly reduced MV cost to Creeping while in a city, and perhaps a reduction in the chance to auto-fail a Creep roll.

    The idea here is to enable short bursts of stealth in critical situations. You're sneaking past the guard. You're trying to avoid a templar. You're trying to sneak up on a skittish quarry in the desert. You're trying to get out the back way when get caught kanking Lord Fancypant's favorite aide in the middle of a noble estate.

    You're not slowly creeping through the entire city (or the entire desert), unless perhaps you're a c-elf with a lot of patience, because it's the slowest form of movement by far, and it costs MV.

    Unless you have a damn good reason -- ie, a Wanted flag -- creeping everywhere is a terrible idea. Even then, you're typically better off somehow blending into a crowd instead.

    Ideally, you should be sweating with worry while creeping. Your character is literally sweating, as his MV is reduced.
  • Hunt -- imagine you're following some tracks through the perpetually renewing layer of red dust that coats the Rinth. They lead right up to a point in the shadows and...just disappear. Even though you know the elf who made the tracks is standing right there, you have no way of finding him.

    But you should, and that's something the Hunt command should do. Similarly, if you see an h-emote in a meeting room from a hidden character, it should be possible to turn the place upside down and find the hidden character -- you are hunting someone down, so use the Hunt command.

    Hunt is the "Seek" half of "Hide and Seek".

    When you hunt and there's invisible/hidden/blended characters in a room, your Hunt skill is tested against their degree of hidden-ness. There's a serious bonus to finding characters blended into crowds. The skill delay on Hunt in cities is now longer, to give hidden characters a chance to react.

    If you discover hidden character(s), the game reports this and you temporarily receive a pseudo-Watch on those character(s). This pseudo-Watch behaves exactly like an actual Watch, except it doesn't overwrite your Watch, and it fades after a short delay of 10 to 30 seconds (depending on the degree of success).

    You can use your pseudo-Watch to actually Watch a discovered character.

    In a typical circumstance, if a hidden character sees someone start to Hunt, they will likely want to Creep elsewhere. But hunters may be able to see those tracks, follow the hidden character into the next room.

    Eventually, because of the MV cost of Creep and the possibility of Creep auto-failing, the hidden character will have to break cover to run away from a persistent hunter (or perhaps ambush them with a backstab, or simply walk out and attempt negotiation.)
  • Scan -- works pretty much as it does not, just nowhere near as reliably in the city, and not at all against blended characters. Scan is for scouting for danger, mostly in the wilderness. Hunt will be for seeking out a hidden character.
  • Listen -- works as it does now. A listening character can detect a Creeping character, and if they've recently detected a Creeping character with Listen, they get a bonus to their Hunt and Scan checks against that character.

oggotale

  • Posts: 110
Re: Sneaking and Hiding: A complete overhaul
« Reply #1 on: June 07, 2019, 04:16:22 AM »
Don't think major changes can happen but I'm down with the idea of drastically ramping up the bonus for crowded rooms and heavily penalising penalties in non crowded rooms.

This does damage sneakers doing the more "fiction-esque" actions like hiding in apartments but those seem a bit stupid to me anyway.

Riev

  • Posts: 5427
Re: Sneaking and Hiding: A complete overhaul
« Reply #2 on: June 07, 2019, 10:01:40 AM »
This does damage sneakers doing the more "fiction-esque" actions like hiding in apartments but those seem a bit stupid to me anyway.

If there was a way to be "hidden" from a room away, but as soon as you ENTER the room, you can see them, I'd be down for it.

Someone could be hiding in my kitchen when I come home, and I don't notice them until I walk in. In Arm, people often unlock door;open door;l e;e;close door and if they saw someone in their apartment, they'd haul ass out of there. But if you're hidden UNTIL they're in the room, then you might be able to get the jump on them.

I like the spirit of the suggestion, especially giving 'hunt' a little more oomph.
Masks are the Armageddon equivalent of Ed Hardy shirts.

Synthesis

  • Posts: 9783
Re: Sneaking and Hiding: A complete overhaul
« Reply #3 on: June 07, 2019, 11:20:32 AM »
If blending is for crowds, why would hunting get a bonus to discovering blended PCs?  How are you tracking individual footprints in a crowd?

And scan is already the counter to hide.  I don't know why you feel the need to shift that duty to hunt.
« Last Edit: June 07, 2019, 11:28:56 AM by Synthesis »
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oggotale

  • Posts: 110
Re: Sneaking and Hiding: A complete overhaul
« Reply #4 on: June 07, 2019, 12:04:33 PM »
This does damage sneakers doing the more "fiction-esque" actions like hiding in apartments but those seem a bit stupid to me anyway.

If there was a way to be "hidden" from a room away, but as soon as you ENTER the room, you can see them, I'd be down for it.

Someone could be hiding in my kitchen when I come home, and I don't notice them until I walk in. In Arm, people often unlock door;open door;l e;e;close door and if they saw someone in their apartment, they'd haul ass out of there. But if you're hidden UNTIL they're in the room, then you might be able to get the jump on them.

I like the spirit of the suggestion, especially giving 'hunt' a little more oomph.

IDK man the Arm hide isn't just a "they can't see me" it's a "they can't see me but I can see and hear them", the latter seems largely fictionesque, therefore making it largely non viable makes something fictionesque largely non viable.

This does fuck over the more surreal badass rogue concepts, I have tried my hand at these in the past too and I'm sure you can tell fun stories with them, that being said they're still personally surreal/immersion-breaking, so let these concepts get trashed I say.

Riev

  • Posts: 5427
Re: Sneaking and Hiding: A complete overhaul
« Reply #5 on: June 07, 2019, 12:10:39 PM »
I don't understand your point.

If I'm hiding, it is likely to avoid detection, and slightly less likely that I'm trying to overhear things.

Unless you are whispering or sitting at a table, if I'm hiding in the closet I can probably hear you. Otherwise I need to use my finely-attuned Listen Skill.

And I wasn't clear, my proposal was only for apartments and their like. Not regularly "Oh I'm in the room and can see you now" but more "I'm hiding in your house ready to kill you."
Masks are the Armageddon equivalent of Ed Hardy shirts.

oggotale

  • Posts: 110
Re: Sneaking and Hiding: A complete overhaul
« Reply #6 on: June 07, 2019, 01:29:46 PM »
"I'm hiding in your house ready to kill you."

I was trying to say that in general I feel most hiding in apartment situations shouldn't be condusive to listening as well as is coded or seeing emotes. So throw the whole thing out.

I forgot this use case that you mentioned though, this is pretty important, even at the risk of giving people all those other unimmersive (to me) abilities.

Synthesis

  • Posts: 9783
Re: Sneaking and Hiding: A complete overhaul
« Reply #7 on: June 07, 2019, 02:09:38 PM »
If an apartment is so small you can't hide in it, it should be a no-hide room.

You don't need to take a jackhammer to the entire system just because people are hiding in the middle of a barren chamber.
Quote from: WarriorPoet
I play this game to pretend to chop muthafuckaz up with bone swords.
Quote from: Smuz
I come to the GDB to roleplay being deep and wise.
Quote from: Vanth
Synthesis, you scare me a little bit.

oggotale

  • Posts: 110
Re: Sneaking and Hiding: A complete overhaul
« Reply #8 on: June 07, 2019, 03:17:09 PM »
If an apartment is so small you can't hide in it, it should be a no-hide room.

You don't need to take a jackhammer to the entire system just because people are hiding in the middle of a barren chamber.

My issue wasn't just that small rooms shouldn't be hide-able, of course I agree with that.

I'd say the entire current hide-system outside crowded rooms does a jarring enough emulation that I'd rather have it fully scrapped.
Of course I'm inclined to think this would all but demolish sneaky characters but between a moderate # of "high-fiction" sneaks or close-to-no sneaks I'd choose the latter.
Maybe the use-case of ambushes justifies the current high-fiction code though, anyway my preference of jackhammering most of the sneak code is probably discussed to death.

P.S. On an unrelated note I don't think it would be feasible/easy to change all small-rooms to be non-hideable would it? If it were I'd assume that would be done already.

Brokkr

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Re: Sneaking and Hiding: A complete overhaul
« Reply #9 on: June 07, 2019, 06:15:40 PM »
There are some decent ideas here, but I think it misses the core of the issue that stealth has.

It doesn't address how stealth uses discreet rolls, and because of folk's ability to spam scan with independent results essentially has to become an all or nothing thing to be useful.  As opposed, say, to stealth being a state, with some sort of memory for various checks by any individual against it over some time horizon.

With remembered detection, something like 95% becomes much more viable.

MeTekillot

  • Posts: 10317
Re: Sneaking and Hiding: A complete overhaul
« Reply #10 on: June 07, 2019, 06:49:55 PM »
Look guys, pickpockets aren't that serious.
It's a lot more admirable to be strong in a game where strength comes at enormous risks.

Brytta Léofa

  • Posts: 619
Re: Sneaking and Hiding: A complete overhaul
« Reply #11 on: June 08, 2019, 12:41:41 AM »
As opposed, say, to stealth being a state, with some sort of memory for various checks by any individual against it over some time horizon.

That sounds beneficial and maybe not overly difficult to do.
then the father hen will call his chickens home

Gracchus

  • Posts: 12
Re: Sneaking and Hiding: A complete overhaul
« Reply #12 on: June 08, 2019, 01:15:20 AM »
I don't think we need to bloat the skill list just to a.) force thieves to grind even longer for b). less reward, given all the skill bloat does is force them to use more skills to get caught and killed more often.

Haunt

  • Posts: 20
Re: Sneaking and Hiding: A complete overhaul
« Reply #13 on: June 08, 2019, 10:36:47 AM »
The problem: stealth isn't very exciting in Arm, nor does it fit the narrative.

murder corruption betrayal
Sometimes the shit breaks you

oggotale

  • Posts: 110
Re: Sneaking and Hiding: A complete overhaul
« Reply #14 on: June 08, 2019, 11:13:00 AM »
The problem: stealth isn't very exciting in Arm, nor does it fit the narrative.

murder corruption betrayal

Exactly! I'm also looking forward to them rolling out the sentient yellow stress balls which lure you in with sweet words and transform into Meks upon being touched.

Haunt

  • Posts: 20
Re: Sneaking and Hiding: A complete overhaul
« Reply #15 on: June 08, 2019, 11:55:28 AM »
i would just like the stress balls honestly
Sometimes the shit breaks you

Armaddict

  • Posts: 6186
Re: Sneaking and Hiding: A complete overhaul
« Reply #16 on: June 09, 2019, 12:56:22 AM »
Long been a proponent for stealth revision, with various ideas that have come up over the years.  That said, I think this is overcomplicating things.

I -do- like the idea of hide breaking as you move from room to room, as it was once before. I do not like the idea that 'hiding' and 'blending' are inherently different.  That seems to be overcomplicating.

I do like the idea of 'standing still' hiding being reliable.  I do not like the current state where you can move through the entire city without a single soul noticing you.  Sneak skill can determine a hide-duration reduction or somesuch.  I have also posted ideas about shadowing increasing chances of detection, and determining a follow distance; if I'm shadowing you, I am not right on your ass, there's no way I'm moving into your apartment behind you without your notice.

Make shadow have a follow distance.  Same room, you of course are exposed to the most information and tactical advantage, but you are going to get noticed by people who are decently aware.  1 room behind, you can listen, you can see some information.  2 rooms behind, you are purely on a follow path; you are mostly safe from detection, particularly over short distances, but you can't make immediate power moves or be a spectacular spy from safety.

Tie in 'watch' with these follow distances.  The shadower is not going to be able to be fully aware of their surroundings, scan will end.  They have to focus on their quarry, not the shadows around them.  If they are worried about themselves being shadowed, or traps, they need backup to watch for them.

Make 'follow' while hidden an overt action that removes you from hiding and echos the message.

Edited to add:
There is a very delicate balance here.  You don't want to nerf stealth to oblivion because you're frustrated by it.  Stealth needs to be strong to a certain degree because of how mechanics within the game are set up on a deep, fundamental level.

But you can find ways to keep it strong -and- make it more dynamic while getting rid of some of the more questionable scenarios that depend on it.

Edited again:  Obligatory elf pride; You can also more strongly tie in stealth to agility so that good human agility ain't all that great for stealth.  But good elven agility?  Hellz to the yeah.
« Last Edit: June 09, 2019, 01:16:59 AM by Armaddict »
She wasn't doing a thing that I could see, except standing there leaning on the balcony railing, holding the universe together. --J.D. Salinger