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What stealth means to this  Splinter Cell  dev
What stealth means to this Splinter Cell dev
April 15, 2013 | By Mike Rose

April 15, 2013 | By Mike Rose
More: Console/PC, Design

"Part of the dynamic of stealth games is that you're holding that power of life and death over the NPCs, but electing not to do anything with it."
- Patrick Redding, game director at Ubisoft Toronto, talks about tackling stealth in modern video games.

Discussing the upcoming Splinter Cell: Blacklist with GameSpot, Redding says that the act of keeping silent and remaining unseen by enemies isn't directly what gamers find satisfying in stealth games.

"Stealth -- from a level design perspective -- is not about avoidance," he says. "Instead, it's about building an ecosystem, and [that ecosystem] needs to feel like it has an existence outside of what the player is doing. That's why having a really [dynamic] AI is so important."

In fact, Redding says that in today's stealth games, giving the player lots of different methods for handling each situations always trumps avoidance of detection.

"There's a lot of depth in using gadgets in combination, understanding how sound will attract the AI, knowing where to hide bodies, and so on," he notes. "By giving all these tools to the player, and offering multiple paths in the environment, you're reinforcing that they have the ultimate choice in how this is going to play out."

However, he notes that while giving players the freedom to tackle each situation with multiple possible methods is the key to maximum enjoyment, you don't want to end up confusing them to the point that they have no idea what will happen when they attack from a particular angle.

"For the player, the challenge is surveying the situation, observing the AI, and then putting together a plan," he says. "The fun is then executing that plan and seeing whether it plays out exactly how you thought, went a little differently, or having it all go wrong and needing to [escape]. That's what's satisfying for stealth players."

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David OConnor
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well, Splinter Cell: Conviction was my first introduction to the series... and I still play it, one of my very favorite games.

Marvin Papin
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Why do you like that game ?
I really advise you to redo the three firsts and eventually give us your reaction because, even if i can understand that SC Conviction can be appreciate by a certain kind of players, I need that answer to compare our point of view and react without hurting anybody. I respect your choice but not dev's one, i think they should have moved to a new license.

David OConnor
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I enjoy the movement, the AI, the stealth and action combination, the joystick controls, the cover/move system, the 'last known position' mechanic, the graphics, varied level design, the flexible options available to the player. Sure, it isn't pure stealth, but I like being able to shoot my way out, in a pinch, if I scramble frantically to break line of sight.

I didn't use the 'mark and execute' mechanic at all, too easy imho. I didn't even notice that it had vision through the wall, which I wouldn't have used either.

Marvin Papin
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Like many people, i'm missing the good old Splinter Cell where you find an approach and trying to place your tactic with the right timing and the different parameters which brought difficulty and diversity.

With DOUBLE AGENT, we found first the scale of the levels, without the possibility to have a sight of what will happen. The movement of the player seemed to be restricted and level not that dark. The light indicator came to 3 levels, no longer continuous display but discrete. That make you feel much restricted with less possibilities to "feel" the scene. But this is a whole and it's acceptable since core mechanics are still there.

With CONVICTION, we lost nearly everything that make splinter cell a good game. The visibility of the player is binary (in the darkness or not) and you are always visible on screen, no longer hidden in the darkness. You have optics able to see enemies through walls with nearly no constraints (instead of thermal view). You can kill multiple enemies at once by just moving around, place yourself and pushing a button. The liberty of action and movement seems to have been demolished by simplicity....

I didn't tried "THE NEW ONE", but even if shadows are coming back, giving the player the possibility to do the -not stealthy- and -blow everything silently- actions kills the pleasure in the game. Restrictions are less important thanks to more flexible actions but this is what made splinter cell so good.

Preventing player to shoot while moving could seems to be so restrictive, however, this is that kind of mechanics which gave us a well balanced game and incredibly good multiplayer in the FIRSTS SCs (sorry for the subjectivity). The obligation to prepare the action the right way to move behind the ennemy because from front you need to hit twice...

Thanks to difficulty (mainly the capacity of enemies to blow you out quicker) you are oblige to find a good or better... way to pass the checkpoint.

NOW, you are fast, equipped like a tank, with the ability to kill multiple once, and even if you can choose to not use those mechanics, you must recognize that they are here and you cannot ignore them.

Anyway, i have a dream, and that's play a new splinter cell with the same old gameplay, some new gadget not too abused and finally the possibility to play in online multiplayer. The LAN and few online games i did on SCPT and SCCS were among the best i have done... Nostalgy ;)