Stealth Game Informational Warfare

Do you think third person stealth games are inherently weaker than first person ones? Even when you get x-ray power in first person games like Dishonored, you still don’t have the same advantage of being able to see all the enemies around you, that a third person camera, inherently brings.

Depends on how important you think the game of information is in stealth games. early MGS and other top down or side-on stealth games don’t really prioritize this aspect at all (such as monaco or mark of the ninja). Though monaco and mark of the ninja (at least in NG+ mode) both hide where out of sight enemies are, only illuminating areas in your field of view (executed surprisingly well in mark of the ninja, not the type of thing you’d expect to work in a 2d game).

I mean, I think MGS3 and Mark of the Ninja are two of the best stealth games ever, with Thief 2 rounding out the top 3.

What about having that extra level of awareness necessarily makes the game weaker? I honestly haven’t really sat down and thought out how informational systems work and should be leveraged best, so I don’t have all the answers here. Usually policy is to disclose as much information as possible, but obviously in the case of stealth games and some others, there’s purpose to hiding some information.

Information warfare in multiplayer games is a double blind type of interaction which I think I have fairly well mapped out (it’s about RPS and shell games) but in single player games the principles are all different. It’s arguably more about attention tax (checking your surroundings, not getting overly focused on the thing in front of you).

Then there’s the question of how limited knowledge of possible enemy positions affects the way you approach encounters, since you don’t know what the terrain will be like, or where enemies will be on it.

There’s the question of what types of risks and rewards are associated with information gathering. Thief has a really clear one there with leaning. You can still be seen when you lean, but you keep the darkness value of the tile you’re standing on, not leaning into. Dishonored just has the upper half of your body be invisible as you lean.

And there’s the question of fairness. If there’s informational warfare, it’s entirely possible that an enemy might be on your back and suddenly you’re shot dead and have no idea where they came from, or sometimes no idea what even killed you. A lot of this might be legitimately fair, but might not feel fair to players due to poor feedback on being killed. They might not have known there was any possible way an enemy could be behind them, they might be killed too suddenly to notice that it was an enemy behind them that killed them, or a ton of other things. So post-death information feedback is important here too.

How should enemies signal their approach behind you? Should they give away their presence intentionally as they’re in threatening ranges? How should they use sound? Should players get a hard-coded second chance for situations like this? I know I wished I got more warning for enemies behind me in Doom 4, and that’s not even a stealth game.

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