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Stealth Class

The idea of stealth:

One of the most loved styles of play in any game tends to revolve around characters or classes that can become stealthed to overcome obstacles. We see this in all kinds of games, and generally has numerous problems with being considered fair, leading to situations where such characters or classes are improperly balanced and end up either grossly overpowered or disgustingly underpowered. As such, it seems extremely important to stress the concepts of counterplay with regards to stealth classes.

Over the years of playing a variety of MMOs, MOBAs, and even FPS games, any in which an all purpose stealth was available found classes that were incredibly strong or overly weak to "balance" that power. In recent years, we have begun to see some game developers realize this and start making visual cues that alert players of enemies in stealth. I propose a slightly altered version of this, which I have done on many occasions in the past to various game developers. Essentially, a true stealth mode that relies on shadows and fields of vision.

To make this work in a game environment, these "shadow fields" can be generated through a combination of targeted skills, ground targeted AoE fields, line skill shot, flight time delayed effects, or point blank AoE "shadow field" generation abilities. Then the stealth class plays within these fields and has a few ways to move from one field to another. Effectively, learning how to rely on both their class made shadows and those that are a part of the general game design (like near buildings, trees, or bushes). Other modes of moving between stealth fields could include camouflaging that allows movement from one shadow field to another. Through a combination of these and bonuses to damage done when coming out of these effects, the balance can then be mostly retained. Counterplay options include providing opposing classes with the ability to reveal the enemy with similarly delayed skills that have flight time and disperse shadows (like fire spells or effects that momentarily light up an area).

The most important element in keeping this fair seems to be around allowing an engagement between the different players and classes that allows them to interact. Various common themes in other games have involved stuns and other effects that were instant and able to be applied from stealth or invisibility, but this is a grossly overpowered effect that usually means the only way to comfortably interact with the enemy is by outright surviving or using various cooldowns that make things much more binary in response. Instead, all such control effects should be tightly reined in to having very strong visual tells that require aiming or timing to ensure they connect, and furthermore be short enough to not keep overlaps of crowd controlling abilities that completely deny interaction.

Counterplay, is always the key to balancing such design considerations. As an introduction to this concept I shall stop here, but after looking through the game design further will try to build on how this could be implemented into Ashes of Creation to create a truly unique experience that is both fun and intuitive, while being balanced around that idea of interaction. Thanks for reading, and I hope to be able to update this with more thoughts in the near future. Looking forward to seeing AoC in a more finished state and playing it myself in the near future.

- Delofasht
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Comments

  • FuryBladeborneFuryBladeborne Member, Braver of Worlds, Kickstarter, Alpha One
    edited September 2020
    Stealth causes you to become transparent. You can still be seen at a distance by any class, particularly while your moving. Testing in Apocalypse showed that stealth is easy to see in melee range. Some classes should have bonuses to see stealthed characters. Only rouges will have access to stealth. Polymorph into objects such as crates or bushes (you cannot move while polymorphed) will exist although I don't know what class will have it.

    https://ashesofcreation.wiki/Stealth

    I don't feel like searching through videos of Ashes of Creation: Apocalypse, but if you do you should be able to find some footage of stealth being used. Any character could pick up the required armor used in the test mode.

    BTW, shadows are one of the things that put the most load on a GPU and are frequently turned off to improve frame rates. It would be hard to make your hide in shadows system work when players don't see shadows.
  • GruntagGruntag Member, Alpha One, Adventurer
    How about we see how it works as is in the Alpha 1 and 2, before we come up with ‘solutions’ or ‘suggestions’ on how stealth ‘should work’.
  • Hurf DerfmanHurf Derfman Member
    edited September 2020
    Stealth is more like active cammo ala Predator v.s. whatever this wall of text is worried about and hypothetical what if's and should be.
  • VhaeyneVhaeyne Member, Alpha One, Adventurer
    RYa5xtX.jpg

    Here is a screenshot of a MMO without stealth classes.
    TVMenSP.png
    If I had more time, I would write a shorter post.
  • arsnnarsnn Member, Intrepid Pack, Alpha One
    Your design idea is actually very intriguing!
    It seems to have a good trade-off, but im not sure how hard its gonna be to implement it and it might be a bit too complicated in the context of mmos.
    An other option would be to make the silhouette less transparent or entirely visible once you entered a character close proximity. This would make the assassins want to constantly try to keep their distance and wait for a good timing to engage on isolated targets, creating but clenching moments where assassin’s have to use dashes and such in order to prevent getting uncovered by the enemy. I specifically have a scenario in my head where the assasin will steal a node‘s relic and the whole node is trying find him :smile:
  • DamoklesDamokles Member, Alpha One, Adventurer
    Vhaeyne wrote: »
    RYa5xtX.jpg

    Here is a screenshot of a MMO without stealth classes.

    Rogues be like:
    CScxEbHUYAAJ81i.jpg
    roaaztC.gif
  • AtamaAtama Member, Braver of Worlds, Kickstarter, Alpha One
    This will be stealth in AoC:

    ninjahedge.jpg
     
    Hhak63P.png
  • Some interesting concerns were brought up, one of GPU load, a genuine concern that would be relevant if we were talking about real time shadows, but what is proposed is really just a field in which the rogue class can be in stealth. Statics fields could exist throughout the world around objects, while dynamic locations could be created by spell and ability effects. These do not need to be rendered as real time shadows, but merely darkened circles around objects based on their shape, literally a discolor effect offset on the ground that can be removed by other abilities that “light” up that area. This is not complex programming, merely location detection of the resulting effect and appropriate offset of abilities, all of these things are a few bits of data and the game then renders players inside those effects as either visible or not. Nothing too complex with lighting is really required and checks only need be done on the ability resolution.

    Now, as for everyone else proposing that the currently proposed “normal” stealth seen in other games is appropriate to AOC, we must recognize that if we simply want more of the same as is found in other games, why would we ever really be interested in this one. If we are truly discussing this new game here, and what they should consider, then we need to make sure that what they aim for is both new and intuitive, while also being more counter play centric. No comment so far really seems to recognize the importance of the counter play, while the entire development videos constantly discuss the concept of making sure the game feels good to play. Balancing that is the important aspect of the game, and if they just make another clone of existing games, they will fail to provide the experience that has ever made me interested in the game. They need to do more than just what has already been done, not just provide better graphics and new stories... that too has already been done. What is needed here is a very strong gameplay focused game where the feel of the archetypes, classes, or characters are designed around how it will be to play them and interact with them (interacting with stealth NPCs with adaptive AI is an important aspect, where the game rises to challenge players seeking to engage on them.

    Avoidance of the binary, “can see it, kill it” or “not able to see, die to it” is no fun. Games need to feel interactive, and not like a coin flip. Stealth needs to be fun.
  • Of note, my “wall of text” is an entire proposal for why they should be seeking to differentiate the game from others on the market, with a bit of how to do so in ways that should be fairly easy to program. Regarding arguments for basic optical visualization, this will not work with a tab targeting system, where once within range a command to target can be given with 100% reliability. Lastly, a wait and see approach removes any agency of the player base from the development process which means we either like what they provide or not, and if I want that, then I can just go play World of Warcraft... they do that every couple years.
  • bloodprophetbloodprophet Member, Braver of Worlds, Kickstarter, Alpha One
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ehx6mQ-EiW4

    1:18 for what they have shown us about stealth.
    Most people never listen. They are just waiting on you to quit making noise so they can.
  • https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ehx6mQ-EiW4

    1:18 for what they have shown us about stealth.

    Looks pretty good to me.
  • KhronusKhronus Member, Alpha One, Adventurer
    I plan to use whatever ground slam ability I will have to find all those squishy's. Hoping I can hook players in stealth as well.
  • Just play the game Thief, and imagine implementing how stealth works from that into an MMO environment. That is what I am envisioning, the video is just cinematic and old now... if the devs want to do something different, my proposition is how they could do it.
  • Personally, I would prefer there to be no stealth, especially when the game includes tab targeted abilities as stealth would mean you can't be attacked by them. Even when stealth isn't paired with massive burst or crowd control, it's still toxic to play against and in the open world, you can keep an eye out and have good spatial awareness and still get ganked out of nowhere. Stealth is a massive advantage in both attack and defense than not much else can compare to.
  • The video looked good.

    Adding some elements from what OP is talking about would only improve it. It would make sense for that stealth (shown in the video) to benefit from shadows and be less potent when in brightly light, open places.

    It would also add more depth to the game, because then guilds who want to implement rogues as a key role into their siege strategies will prefer to set the siege to be during the night and the opposing guild will want to invest in torches and anti-stealth constructs, items and defenses.

    Other guilds who are going to be attacking with more warriors and mages will prefer to siege in the day and the defending team will want to perhaps invest into stealth-boosting constructs and defenses if they want a heavy rogue defense in some specific place of their castle.

  • Birthday, thanks for the extra color on the applicability of this concept. Outside of these forums, I a, really uncertain how else to go about getting this idea in front of the eyes of the developer. Is there a suggestions forum, box, or email address I should consider reaching out to them with?
  • @Delofasht
    Strictly no. This will never be worth introducing for the downsides of it.

    Introducing such mechanics is in my opinion a utopia, because players will change graphic settings in order to gain an ingame advantage to spot enemy players. This will be extremely hurtful for the health for the game, especially when many of the game footage on the internet of the best players is going to look extremely ugly with contrast amped up for better visibility of stealthed characters.

    Do you honestly want the best highlight reels on youtube to look so ugly your eyes are going to be hurt? Game visuals should never provide ingame advantage. This is known for many years in the gaming industry and thus you always see only true invisibility as visible/invisible and/or with range indicators
    “Ignorance, the root and stem of all evil.”

    ― Plato
  • Tragnar wrote: »
    @Delofasht
    Strictly no. This will never be worth introducing for the downsides of it.

    Introducing such mechanics is in my opinion a utopia, because players will change graphic settings in order to gain an ingame advantage to spot enemy players. This will be extremely hurtful for the health for the game, especially when many of the game footage on the internet of the best players is going to look extremely ugly with contrast amped up for better visibility of stealthed characters.

    Do you honestly want the best highlight reels on youtube to look so ugly your eyes are going to be hurt? Game visuals should never provide ingame advantage. This is known for many years in the gaming industry and thus you always see only true invisibility as visible/invisible and/or with range indicators

    It seems you may not have read my suggestion at all.

    - Shadow fields would be static to buildings, or created by players, with a direct on/off toggle of visibility (not some sort of visual distortion effect like Heroes of the Storm... which is as you indicated a poor execution).
    - Limitations of being able to only use existing world fields or ones that the player (not other players but self only) create to hide in allows for interesting interactions between the person in stealth and the other players who are trying to find them.
    - Short term invisibility (with cooldowns) to allow for movement between the shadow fields could allow for excellent ways of creating interactions between players.

    The conceptual idea here is to create a gameplay that revolves around either superior positioning (usages of terrain to their advantage), or superior tactics (usage of shadow fields to distract or deceive), in order to overcome the opposition. The advantage should be significant, but not necessarily game breaking. Current MMO stealth designs have been poorly implemented permanent or cooldown based effects that do not encourage interaction between the individuals. My proposition attempts to resolve that by creating interactions between the parties in a way that is more fair and the solutions being much more varied than that of "in range" or "not in range". Variety of interactions is important, and the power of the shadow fields could be varied based on the development of the character.

    For interior fights, perhaps restricting my concept to within a certain range of "walls" would be an alternative to "buildings". This actually applies outside as well, since technically buildings have borders that are considered walls, and shadow fields can easily be linked to those "walls" (regardless of whether there is an actual wall, it could be a wall created by a shadow from a tent or hut acting the same way... just simplicity for conceptual understanding).
  • I read it before and I read it now again, but I suppose I should not have assumed that you are talking about giving players visual cues from any distance.

    To be able to use stealth only within environmental/skill created areas is pretty immersive mechanic that could be explored. It just depends on how useless you want stealth to be, because we know that there will be stealth cancelling aoe spells
    “Ignorance, the root and stem of all evil.”

    ― Plato
  • Tragnar wrote: »
    I read it before and I read it now again, but I suppose I should not have assumed that you are talking about giving players visual cues from any distance.

    To be able to use stealth only within environmental/skill created areas is pretty immersive mechanic that could be explored. It just depends on how useless you want stealth to be, because we know that there will be stealth cancelling aoe spells

    Visual cues are not *necessarily* bad, but the problem is when they are the main and *only* way of spotting a stealth unit. It is logical that if a stealth effect is being used in broad daylight, that there would be some some of visual disturbance. However, if an individual is in shadows, then such a visual cue is extremely unlikely to be noted by the human optical system in real life, and similarly reflected in game by not being able to be noticed at all. If they wanted to keep visual cues for stealth effects (like a cooldown) that allows stealth in broad daylight, it would be fine, but that should be irrelevant to the core of a stealth system that relies mostly on static and skill created areas for being in stealth. With such a system established, a visual cue would not break stealth because the majority of it would be immune to its existence by the very design of the proposed core stealth system.

    Personally, I want to see stealth be extremely useful, but the understanding of *what* useful is may need defining. In terms of PVP, I see useful as being:

    able to acquire or reacquire superior positioning
    disengage from a compromised position
    extend encounters
    manipulate enemy positioning

    The capability of acquiring superior positioning is among the most important in games where the action abilities that might hit require some kind of aiming, timing, or predictive capability. Being able to choose when to engage or disengage an enemy is extremely powerful, but being able to do it anywhere at any time removes the agency of those unable to do so. Extending fights is one of the most powerful abilities in games where finishing a specific thing is reliant on a certain time frame, being unable to safely maneuver through a specific area due to shadow fields can make for multiple interesting encounter designs for between groups. Which brings us to a point where we see that shadow fields could be used to funnel enemies into a kill zone, where they are in broad daylight and exposed to the dangers of being forced into the shadows by AoE damage effects (or environmentally created threats like npc units).
  • AtamaAtama Member, Braver of Worlds, Kickstarter, Alpha One
    Delofasht wrote: »
    Just play the game Thief, and imagine implementing how stealth works from that into an MMO environment. That is what I am envisioning, the video is just cinematic and old now... if the devs want to do something different, my proposition is how they could do it.
    Those kinds of mechanics worked because you were avoiding detection from NPCs. You can't just plop a system like what Thief had in an MMO and expect it to work in a PvP environment.

    I like the idea of what Star Wars: The Old Republic did with their cover system. You could take cover behind certain environmental features, like a low wall, vehicle, or box. You then get a massive defense bonus. Maybe AoC can do something similar but with shadows or other concealing parts of the environment. You then get a bonus to your ability to be undetected, and would appear invisible to other players unless they got close to you and/or had a high enough perception skill.
     
    Hhak63P.png
  • TyrantorTyrantor Member
    edited October 2020
    The game is being designed around ability trees and skill points. The effectiveness of the stealth should correspond with a players contribution to their ability and amount of skill points they spend on it. This way it balances the character organically by limiting their ability to excel in other aspects of the build. If someone wants to play a full invisible rogue - let them, but that will cost them the ability to max out other abilities.

    If stealth is not going to have the option for full invisibility at max skill point contribution then, it should come with other passives such as "Ignore one spell every 60 seconds" or some other function to keep stealth active on a character should the ability to see a moving stealth target always be present.
    Tyrantor
    Master Assassin
    (Yes same Tyrantor from Shadowbane)
    Book suggestions:
    Galaxy Outlaws books 1-16.5, Metagamer Chronicles, The Land litrpg series, Ready Player One, Zen in the Martial Arts
  • This sounds like a coding nightmare not to mention the potential resource drain it could have on the game.
  • TyrantorTyrantor Member
    edited October 2020
    Vashramire wrote: »
    This sounds like a coding nightmare not to mention the potential resource drain it could have on the game.

    Not sure if this was in response to my post but if it was then I would say that the level of stealth scaling could be based on a specific number of points allocated to it instead of just like +1 = +slight variation but rather +20% = +20% = etc.

    In regards to the spell mitigation that was just a suggestion based on some items/trinkets from other games, the alternative could be that the casters spell has to have as many points in the ability as the rogues stealth to break stealth. For example if a rogue maxes their stealth and a caster tries to AoE them out with a spell that they've spent the minimum points on as an example this wouldn't break the rogues stealth.
    Tyrantor
    Master Assassin
    (Yes same Tyrantor from Shadowbane)
    Book suggestions:
    Galaxy Outlaws books 1-16.5, Metagamer Chronicles, The Land litrpg series, Ready Player One, Zen in the Martial Arts
  • I definitely think that baseline stealth should be somewhat weak, but if you can invest skill points into it then you should have pretty strong iteration of stealth, because you just did not invest into other skills.
    “Ignorance, the root and stem of all evil.”

    ― Plato
  • Tyrantor wrote: »
    Vashramire wrote: »
    This sounds like a coding nightmare not to mention the potential resource drain it could have on the game.

    Not sure if this was in response to my post but if it was then I would say that the level of stealth scaling could be based on a specific number of points allocated to it instead of just like +1 = +slight variation but rather +20% = +20% = etc.

    In regards to the spell mitigation that was just a suggestion based on some items/trinkets from other games, the alternative could be that the casters spell has to have as many points in the ability as the rogues stealth to break stealth. For example if a rogue maxes their stealth and a caster tries to AoE them out with a spell that they've spent the minimum points on as an example this wouldn't break the rogues stealth.

    No I'm taking in general about most of the posts that want to adjust stealth based on shadows and real world geometry to hide around in an active day/night cycle with weather. There shouldn't be a whole layer of the game like that for just 1 class.
  • Vashramire wrote: »
    There shouldn't be a whole layer of the game like that for just 1 class.

    Every class could get ways to interact with such a layer. There is nothing stopping them from using the same mapping for many kinds explosion type AoE effects where structures like walls, buildings, trees or rocks formations are checked for physics based debris damage to nearby units. The same exact layer can be checked for that kind of activity since they are using similar structures. Basically, it is already programmed into most games anyhow, for collision detection, just expanding its uses for other purposes with a simple "key" check in the code and link it to unit range.
  • Delofasht wrote: »

    Every class could get ways to interact with such a layer. There is nothing stopping them from using the same mapping for many kinds explosion type AoE effects where structures like walls, buildings, trees or rocks formations are checked for physics based debris damage to nearby units. The same exact layer can be checked for that kind of activity since they are using similar structures. Basically, it is already programmed into most games anyhow, for collision detection, just expanding its uses for other purposes with a simple "key" check in the code and link it to unit range.

    I'm not sure the rogue needs to play like a FPS spec ops character especially if it's going to make one or multiple abilities useless in areas where "shade" and cover are limited or unavailable. If you think that is acceptable then all characters should have their abilities limited in random environmental situations. For a game that doesn't sound like much fun right? I mean it's unrealistic for a mage to cast a fire spell under water or for anyone to even swim wearing armor if you're going to suggest ultra realistic game mechanics for one class you should suggest them across the board.

    Tyrantor
    Master Assassin
    (Yes same Tyrantor from Shadowbane)
    Book suggestions:
    Galaxy Outlaws books 1-16.5, Metagamer Chronicles, The Land litrpg series, Ready Player One, Zen in the Martial Arts
  • Tyrantor wrote: »
    I'm not sure the rogue needs to play like a FPS spec ops character especially if it's going to make one or multiple abilities useless in areas where "shade" and cover are limited or unavailable. If you think that is acceptable then all characters should have their abilities limited in random environmental situations. For a game that doesn't sound like much fun right? I mean it's unrealistic for a mage to cast a fire spell under water or for anyone to even swim wearing armor if you're going to suggest ultra realistic game mechanics for one class you should suggest them across the board.

    Walls and structures exist in every competitive arena style gameplay ever, and coupled with player created shadow fields, one should have fields unless they play poorly or are outmaneuvered or outplayed.
  • Delofasht wrote: »

    Walls and structures exist in every competitive arena style gameplay ever, and coupled with player created shadow fields, one should have fields unless they play poorly or are outmaneuvered or outplayed.

    You may want to look into the game Arenas will not be the only location for PvP,

    Tyrantor
    Master Assassin
    (Yes same Tyrantor from Shadowbane)
    Book suggestions:
    Galaxy Outlaws books 1-16.5, Metagamer Chronicles, The Land litrpg series, Ready Player One, Zen in the Martial Arts
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