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Fenrir
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« on: October 14, 2014, 04:15:48 AM »



STEAL is a 2D stealth game where your only weapons are planification, discretion and mobility, you play a thief which is not here to kill but to steal its target without being detected, and you’ll use your skills and equipments to achieve it by luring guards, hacking the environment and sticking to the shadows.












We're currently 2 developers from France working on the project, it started almost one year ago, and we finally decided to start to communicate about it. So we're creating this devlog to share with you its progress, ask for feedbacks, expose some of our gamedesign ideas or anything else!

About the technical side, it's developed with LOVE, every single line of code is in LUA!
Don't hesitate if you have any questions or comments!



Devlogs:

1 - STATUS
2 - VISIBILITY
3 - MULTIPLAYER
« Last Edit: March 23, 2015, 07:33:34 AM by Fenrir » Logged

MereMonkey
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« Reply #1 on: October 14, 2014, 04:50:24 AM »

Looking great guys, I can easily see myself having a fun time with it!
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« Reply #2 on: October 14, 2014, 04:58:55 AM »

Wait, is that realtime scarf physics!? My Word!
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Fenrir
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« Reply #3 on: October 14, 2014, 05:01:22 AM »

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Wait, is that realtime scarf physics!?
Yep, actually is there any private club for physically simulated scarves lovers? I would like to apply.
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Fenrir
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« Reply #4 on: October 14, 2014, 07:44:49 AM »

Devlog #1 (you can find it on our blog here)

For this first devlog I’ll try to summarize what have been done on the project so far and what are the plans for the near future. But first let’s start with some background.

Background
I started to work on the game almost one year ago (November 2013 to be precise), soon after playing Mark of the Ninja and Monaco. I’m a huge fan of stealth game, and in each of them I always try to take the silent and non-lethal route. I really loved Mark of the Ninja, but I’ve been a bit disapointed by Monaco, actually it’s a great arcade and co-op game, but the stealth part is not what I’ve been expecting, I found it really hard in solo to play as a “shadow”, and most of the time the only solution you have is to run as fast as possible with multiple opponents behind you to reach the exit. But I was really impressed by the line of sight system, and as a developer, I was curious to see how it worked, and as a player I saw lot of potential left in it for top down stealth games. And that’s how the project started, the idea was to try to mix the great stealth mechanisms and high mobility of Mark of the Ninja with a top down view and a realistic line of sight system.

Another important feature (or non-feature actually) of the game is that you can’t kill your opponents (guards or other players in multiplayer), we know that most of the people enjoy the action side of a stealth game and I even enjoyed it myself a lot in Mark of the Ninja. But we have several reasons for it:

  • The prime idea behind the project is to provide a “pure” stealth experience, we want to concentrate all our efforts on this aspect of the game, we’re a small team (2 developers currently), and we prefer working on new ways to escape after behing detected than adding weapons to the game.
  • One of my references when starting the project was immediately Cat’s Eye, it came far from my childhood and I can’t let it go, I want to play a thief and not a killer stealing art pieces from museums or from bad guys collections.
  • Another aspect we want to explore with this project is mixing stealth and multiplayer, Monaco is doing it very well for co-op, but we also want to try competitive modes. And when you have 2 thiefs (or 2 teams) trying to be the first to steal the objective, we think it will be a lot more fun to try to lure the guards making them catch the other player than just killing them and soon being in an empty level without anymore challenge.

Status
So let’s come back to the current state of the game. As I said, there’s almost one year of work done on the project, but unfortunately we can only work on it in our spare time, we still need another job to be able to feed our families (or pets), and I’ve been alone on the project for some time, the second developer started around April 2014. So what have been done so far?

First of all, we’re using an existing engine for the game, LOVE, it’s really great and I’ll probably make a whole devlog about it and why I picked it, but it can’t be compared to something like Unity or UE4, it doesn’t provide for instance built-in pathfinding or lighting systems, even if we can’t say that it only provides low level features, it’s not so far from it. So I spent some significant time working on basic features like navigation mesh generation, scene graph creation, media management, pathfinding system, collisions, animations, etc… And of course it took me some time to implement and optimize the line of sight and lighting system, which actually is not working at all like the one in Monaco.


A navigation mesh

Another big part of the game we’ve been working on since the beginning is the level editor. LOVE is just an engine, and is not editor driven like Unity for instance, so to be able to test the game, one of the first thing to do was to create the editor. It’s completely integrated, you can access it any time while playing to modify something and then resume the game. Of course the main idea here is to provide it with the finished game allowing everybody to create their levels and share them.


In-game editor view

Something else we worked on almost from the beginning is the multiplayer support, as it’s a lot easier to start to implement everything with the multiplayer constraint in mind than adding it once everything is already done. And I must admit that I’m quiet happy with the whole network system we’ve setup, it’s flexible and it can support dedicated servers if needed.


2 players in co-op

And finally we already worked a lot on game mechanisms like equipments support (lures, EMP grenades, Blink, etc… We’ll talk further about it on another post), players movements (with keyboard/mouse and gamepad support), visibility management, guards AI, cameras, lasers, level interactions, etc…


Aiming before throwing a sound lure

So, what’s missing? Well, a lot of course… We need to do a lot of polishing, we have no sounds or musics yet, we still have a lot of ideas to make the game better and more fun, we have a whole solo campaign to create as well as multiplayer maps. To summarize, it’s still far from being finished but we’ve already built solid basis.

Actually, our current plan is to have a first playable demo in the next couple of months including a “clean” user experience with some tutorial missions acting as a mini solo campaign and some multiplayer maps to start to organize playtesting sessions. Once this version is done, we’ll see how it’s received and start to plan the full game production.

Meanwhile, you can expect from us updates on the game status and other devlogs about technical topics, gameplay discussions or anything else.
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Christian
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« Reply #5 on: October 14, 2014, 10:51:18 AM »

This is already looking great! Keep up the good work!
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Fenrir
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« Reply #6 on: October 16, 2014, 12:53:18 AM »

Thanks Christian, we'll try!

Here is a new devlog:

Devlog #2 - VISIBILITY (you can find it on our blog here)

This devlog will be about something quite important in a stealth game: visibility. In other words, when are you visible by guards or hidden in shadows?

So we're currently using a simple binary system: visible or not. It's not progressive at all, if you're illuminated you can be spotted by a guard, if you're out of any lights you're safe.


Visible


Not visible

But now let's talk a bit more about the lights. In STEAL, you have 2 kinds of lights, upper ones which are typically on the ceiling, and illuminates a whole room without any trouble (they're only blocked by walls or pillars for instance), and lower ones which are the lights carried by guards (their flashlights). These lower lights can't go through furnitures like a desk or a sofa. But as the player line of sight can see above furnitures, it actually allows you to see guards without being seen (and without leaning at a walls corner for instance).


Spotted


Not spotted

This system definitely gives an advantage to the player compared to guards but hey, you're a professional thief! But it can still be improved as currently all furnitures in a room block lower lights (to make it simple, all objects blocking the player movements are currently also blocking the lower lights), so you can even hide behind a coffee table. Ideally we'll need to handle different types of furnitures, but it means using more navigation meshes as currently, to compute if the player is illuminated or not, we're using the same data structure than for the pathfinding system (I'll come back to it in another devlog). But it raises some questions, if we don't know if a light will go through a furniture before seeing it, will it be less intuitive (as with a top down view it may be hard to distinguish a coffee table from a classic table)? But at least we'll be able to handle windows, so we'll definitely need to improve this system by allowing to create objects blocking the pathfinding resolution, but allowing all lights to go through.


Navigation mesh used to compute lower lights propagation and pathfinding

Now a last thing I would like to mention and ideally have some feedbacks on it. Currently, a guard and its flashlights have different "field of view", typically a flashlight will spread its light on 60 degrees but a guard FOV is more something like 90 degrees. So in an illuminated room, you'll be spotted by a guard even if you're not in its flashlight FOV. Is it a behavior you'll expect? Or will you assume that the light represents the guards FOV?


Spotted by a guard without being illuminated by its flashlight
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quixotic
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« Reply #7 on: October 16, 2014, 02:12:59 AM »

Hey, this looks great. I love the fact that you're focussing completely on stealth and removing the option to kill enemies. It bothers me a bit that too many stealth games try to accomodate all kinds of player types instead of focussing on the central stealth mechanic.

I have to say I was immediately confused when I saw your game title and clicked into the post, because I was expecting another game. There is a super small indie developer from Finnland called No More Pie, which is/was also working on a game called "Project: STEAL". Their website is.. http://projectsteal.com/ and they also have twitter handle @ProjectSteal

I don't know if you already knew about them, but your domain http://steal-project.com seems very similar, to the point where you will have to compete with them in regards of google search. I would strongly consider switching to a different name to avoid confusion.

Regarding the flash light I would definetely assume that it represent the view cone of the guard. If his actual view cone is actually bigger I would probably find that a bit confusing and frustating, even when it is more realistic.
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Fenrir
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« Reply #8 on: October 16, 2014, 03:54:06 AM »

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Hey, this looks great.

Thanks!

Quote
I have to say I was immediately confused when I saw your game title and clicked into the post, because I was expecting another game. There is a super small indie developer from Finnland called No More Pie, which is/was also working on a game called "Project: STEAL". Their website is.. http://projectsteal.com/ and they also have twitter handle @ProjectSteal

I don't know if you already knew about them, but your domain http://steal-project.com seems very similar, to the point where you will have to compete with them in regards of google search. I would strongly consider switching to a different name to avoid confusion.

Erf that's what happens when you do no background check before creating everything...  Sad But actually "STEAL" is a codename (and steal-project the only domain available we found without starting to be too long), we have still no idea how to call the game (apart that I would like to keep the word "steal" in it). We'll start to seriously tackle this problem when our prototype will be finished and start the full game production, and we'll definitely change the name.

Quote
Regarding the flash light I would definetely assume that it represent the view cone of the guard. If his actual view cone is actually bigger I would probably find that a bit confusing and frustating, even when it is more realistic.

Thanks for the feedback. So in this situation:


Does it feel natural to be spotted? We're also not illuminated by the flashlight directly.
Maybe we should visualize the view cone of the guard in a different way like that?


Any thought?
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Patomkin
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« Reply #9 on: October 16, 2014, 05:59:03 AM »

Personally I think that only flashlight FOV should see me, even if I am technically in the guards view. And it is more realistic too, since if you point flashlight in the dark - you can't see a thing around it. Maybe you will notice some movement, but you still need to point flashlight there. So if room is dark I would expect guard only to see me in flashlight FOV. But I guess it can confuse players, since I also have some sort of light source too, so guard should see me here, because Technically I am in the light and in front of enemy:

Probably if you can turn off players light and keep him in the dark all the time, then it should be clear that guards see only in flashlight FOV.
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Fenrir
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« Reply #10 on: October 16, 2014, 07:27:44 AM »

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Probably if you can turn off players light and keep him in the dark all the time, then it should be clear that guards see only in flashlight FOV.

Well actually players don't cast any light... Smiley The darker part is what is not in the player field of view, and you can't see any activity on this part, just the static objects.

Now we assume that players can see guards even if the guard is not illumated as long as he's in the player FOV, but the opposite is not true, a guard can't see the player if it's dark. Does it make any sense?  Huh?
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Patomkin
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« Reply #11 on: October 16, 2014, 07:58:00 AM »

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Probably if you can turn off players light and keep him in the dark all the time, then it should be clear that guards see only in flashlight FOV.

Well actually players don't cast any light... Smiley The darker part is what is not in the player field of view, and you can't see any activity on this part, just the static objects.

I understand that. But from the picture maybe exactly this can cause some confusions about where guard see and where not:
"Player is in the light and in front of enemy - enemy should see me". If you make Players FOV with different style - it will be clear what enemy see, because there is only his light - flashlight.
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quixotic
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« Reply #12 on: October 16, 2014, 08:07:29 AM »

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Regarding the flash light I would definetely assume that it represent the view cone of the guard. If his actual view cone is actually bigger I would probably find that a bit confusing and frustating, even when it is more realistic.

Thanks for the feedback. So in this situation:


Does it feel natural to be spotted? We're also not illuminated by the flashlight directly.
Maybe we should visualize the view cone of the guard in a different way like that?


Any thought?

I think adding a second view cone that you draw on the screen would work too and might maybe even be better. As long as you only draw one cone I will assume it to be the sight cone though, no matter if its actually a flashlight or something else. There are just too many games that have teached me this behavior.
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Fenrir
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« Reply #13 on: October 17, 2014, 12:56:26 AM »

Thanks for the feedbacks!

Quote
There are just too many games that have teached me this behavior.

Yep it's so true, I'll make some tests about cone views, I think I can come out with something not too intrusive (what I don't want actually is to be able to see a guards cone view without directly seeing the guard, it should not be a way to detect more easily guards).
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Fenrir
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« Reply #14 on: October 17, 2014, 06:29:47 AM »

Here is a quick video showing guards behavior:


To escape from the guard, the player uses a Blink, but it's still in an early state, no fancy effect yet, we'll talk about it another time!
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Fenrir
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« Reply #15 on: October 22, 2014, 12:00:46 AM »

Hi guys,

A quick update showing some progress on the multiplayer map I'm currently working on:


It's for 2 players in versus (or maybe 2 teams of 2 players). The idea is to start in the lower part, then go steal the target in the upper part and finally escape in the part in the right. Don't hesitate if you have any comment or feedback!

After mostly working on the technical side, I'm discovering how hard is it to be a gamedesigner...
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HellaciousPuppy
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« Reply #16 on: October 23, 2014, 07:20:42 AM »

Looking really great.
When will you have a demo ready?
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Fenrir
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« Reply #17 on: October 23, 2014, 07:39:59 AM »

Thanks!

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When will you have a demo ready?

Tough question...We hope to have a clean prototype before the end of the year to start to setup some playtesting sessions (sort of closed beta), and then it'll depend on the feedbacks we have, if they're good we'll probably open this beta to more people but if it's bad it'll take more time.

Anyway I'll come back to you if we're looking for testers!
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« Reply #18 on: October 23, 2014, 04:49:40 PM »

Anyway I'll come back to you if we're looking for testers!

Yeah definitely. It has a real creepy cartoony atmosphere. Love it!
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Fenrir
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« Reply #19 on: October 24, 2014, 06:51:02 AM »

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Yeah definitely. It has a real creepy cartoony atmosphere. Love it!

Well I don't know if it's really a compliment but thanks! Smiley The graphic style is still subject to change though, it's still in an early stage.

Here is the progress I made on the multiplayer map I'm working on:



It's almost ready for some testing.
Have a nice week-end guys!
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