Level: Airship
Level: Blackwall Yard
Level: Embankment
Level: Catacombs

Chapter 5: Agamemnon Rising

Section  1 | 2 | 3 |  4  | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12


Basic Stealth

As Galahad returns through the Operations Center (which he and Lafayette passed through without incident on the way to the cockpit), a guard with a lantern enters the darkened space and goes about his rounds. Galahad dispatches him with ease and uses a lockpick device given to him by Nikola Tesla to bypass a secured door.


Operations Center Flythrough

 
Intent

This is the first "test" of the player's ability to take guards down stealthily. As with the guards in the next section, I made sure the patrol path was complex enough to be somewhat believable, but clearly loops so a patient player can observe the pattern and rely on it to decide when to make his move.

Since our game allows both "from behind" takedowns (like the one in the tutorial space) and "from in cover" takedowns, I planned the guard's path to present a variety of these different options.



Challenge

"Instant fail" stealth is another mechanic that tends to ruffle players' feathers. However, in this game it was somewhat of a necessity: the "believability" of our narrative hinges on not having certain "game-y" tropes like guards in the one room who don't overhear the ruckus happening in the next one over.

Since both levels that feature stealth gameplay follow it immediately by a cinematic with unaware guards, our options were limited.



Intermediate Stealth

Entering this area triggers a conversation sequence between two guards seen just ahead, in the mess hall. They discuss matters which foreshadow the events of a later mission (Blackwall Yard). Galahad may eliminate them or pass them by silently.


Mess Hall Flythrough

As he leaves the mess hall, another pair of guards walk across his view, and he takes cover. Their words imply that they might be undercover Rebels, but he is unable to apprehend them before they pass into a sumptuous-looking room just ahead.


 
Analysis

The "problem" (if there is such a thing) with The Order's stealth gameplay is one of having only a few "verbs" for the player to use.

We, the designers, understood this, of course, but we weren't making a stealth game. The two sections of two levels that used stealth gameplay only merited developing a certain amount of robustness into the system. The later one (the East India House level) benefits a bit from one extra "verb": the player is given a crossbow that can be used to take guards out from a distance or (rarely) lure their attention to a spot away from the player.

The Airship couldn't afford such "luxuries." Not only was the crossbow slated to be used exclusively in the later level, players had to finish the Airship knowing how the basic stealth mechanic works so that knowledge can be built upon in the later level. All the verbs here had to be easy to understand and repeated for retention.

I intended to build and work that understanding like a muscle. Where the first (stationary) encounter taught the minigame, and the second presented a simple challenge, I needed this last sequence to build and challenge the player's mastery.




The first guard has a simple—though not simply rectangular—path down one walkway and back up another. He branches off slightly at a few points and turns after only a few seconds still (a fraught moment for players because they can't reliably predict when it'll happen, and if they're not positioned right, it means getting caught), so players have to move in quickly and play the minigame with some confidence to achieve a takedown. He can also be avoided entirely, though the second playspace is less regular and the guard's movement less predictable, so there's a risk of getting trapped.

The second guard presents the final stealth challenge of the level, so he presents the most complex situation. His patrol initially seems to be a loop, but in actuality is two similar routes through the space which reveal themselves to have very different footprints. I make sure it clearly loops after both routes are complete, however, again to reward patient observation with predictable behavior.

Furthermore, the "mess hall" space can be entered from two directions: one which is safer, but requires passing through the space the guard is patrolling; one which is nearer to the exit, but presents less cover, leaving the player more exposed to the possibility of capture.






Section  1 | 2 | 3 |  4  | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12