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Thread: "Hub Play" - can it add to the Thief experience?

"Hub Play" - can it add to the Thief experience?

  1. #1

    "Hub Play" - can it add to the Thief experience?

    This is something I'm kind of torn on. On one hand, I didn't like the hub concept in TDS because it was repetitious and tedious. Well, and implemented poorly.

    However, on the other hand, there were some aspects of the hub concept that I liked. I did like the idea of taking on little optional side missions if I wanted to for extra cash or to flesh out the world (and, let's face it, the TDS world needed some fleshing). I liked the concept of being able to fence goods and shop for my inventory rather than just being given what a level designer wanted me to have. There was a bit more of a role-play feel to it, and I think, if it was done right, the hub could work.

    I'm still up in the air on it, because the TDS hub worked so poorly. I certainly wouldn't want to be forced to thread eight "zones" between missions again! But if level sizes returned more to what they were in T2, perhaps a single, true city hub wouldn't be bad?

    Don't know, really. Do you think a mission hub could work, or do you think there were some aspects of the "between mission" concept that could add to, and not detract from, a T4 experience?

  2. #2
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    Between missions there could always (or almost always) be a unique section of City to optionally explore, where you could find different side quests for that area, or some unique mission opportunities for areas or missions you visit in the future. You could also eavesdrop to find out important information about your next mission location, if you can recognize what they're talking about and connect it with what you find in the next mission. The best idea I would like would be that high-value objects that you've stolen could be fenced to special customers, and after a mission you couldn't immediately get rid of them, but you would need to seek out potential customers and perhaps meet them later in their neighborhood of their choice.

    But I don't like the idea of a City-hub where you need to travel to the actual mission location, and travel between the City districts. Because any size of these different City districts combined is too small for the City. If you keep the City districts separate and you just start in each one between mission without traveling to the next, then it preserves the mystery of the actual vastness of the City. There could even be a current-gen remakes of New Market (The district where "Ambush" takes place) and also the district where "Assassins" takes place. If you don't need to travel to the mission location, the missions are not limited to the 500mx500m area that they were limited to in the pathetic excuse for the City we saw in TDS. If you need to travel to the locations, they are all concentrated to that small zone, or the city will look ridiculously small, in fact too small to even fit the in-City mission locations of Thief 1 and Thief 2 combined. Also if you don't need to travel to the locations, some missions could take place outside the City.

    And the cops... damn. Garrett is a wanted individual, but all the cops know about him is his name if even that. The whole thing that forced you to sneak where ever you went in the City in TDS was completely non-canon and only made the City hub more annoying. There are thousands of people in the City, and poor people need to be working late. The district checkpoints are closed after curfew yes, but people are free to move around inside the district at night. Garrett wears a cape, but so does everyone else in a cold night. There's no way the cops could recognize him if he's minding his own business, unless the cops want to search every individual they spot on the street. I think the only reason why Garrett was such a public enemy in TDS was that the hardware limitations of 2003 didn't allow for making a cape for the 3rd person model which made all his burglary equipment visible for all to see.

  3. #3
    I definitely agree on the recognition thing... you should be able to slide through crowds basically unnoticed unless you fail to pick a pocket or steal a purse. Of course there's always the "Thieves Highway" approach as well; threading rooftops between some missions. I like the idea not of a hub so much as a "pre-mission" approach.

    Actually, this is a lot like one of my favorite city crossings of all time, "Life of the Party", where the map is so well made and there is so much to do before you get to Angel Watch you might actually forget that you haven't even started the mission yet! While this wouldn't work all the time as a design, I could see it working most of the time. That, and I loved all the opportunity in that level; windows left open, hidden Keeper caches, and the feeling that the city is truly immense through height and expanse. Wonderfully done.

  4. #4
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  5. #5
    I like the idea a lot, but as Maethius said in DS it had some problems. But for me it's not the guards or that I have to travel to do the optional missions, but the game itself. You are full of loot and you can afford everything, why risking for some more loot that you can't even spent, or if you spend it it'll be useful. I guess you can do it for the feeling of being in the City , at least that's why i did them all.Also the buggy AI that repeats itself makes it one and the same. The lack of more additional passages also is a problem. I mean you aren't in a house to follow somewhat linear path. You should be able to climb more and go to the other zones in multiple passages.As for the City Watch chasing you for passing the thing they should remove is their hearing capabilities. You are in a city and they go jumpy for noise witch is stupid. Seeing you on the other hand should result in chase, but only if you pass too close to them.

    But of course it needs to be better in the fourth game. More houses,bigger city,more gossip, more enemies and victims, better AI and so on.
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  6. #6
    I could settle with in mission hubs. If they put in the right context it could make the missions better. Let's say a mission is at a castle. Instead of starting of at the castle grounds; you start of in a hub outside the castle where you can find people talking about the castle in their houses that you can break in to. You would get information etc. It would be great if you start of the mission without a map and you can find it in the starting hub. The hub could also have shops that are restricted to that mission fot the sace of balance. The hub could also be used to have different aproaches to the castle. Different ways to get in. Let's say that you could find a place at the wall where you could climb up with the rope arrow and some acrobatics. You could also take the sewers and get in from the basement. You could also find a horse pulling a cart that you can hide under and get in if you use timing. All these things and so on, let your imagination free. It woudl really add to the replay value. Sometimes you don't want to spend that much time on finding a map and the most stealth entrence so you would just use the obvious entrance and waste more gear.
    ^This is a part of the core design and a fundamental of Thief!

  7. #7
    I don't like it if I have to revisit a location over and over again and I don't like to traverse the same location over again just to get somewhere. So I'd like to see City districts as parts of missions to visit once or revisit once again to see consequences of my actions. They still can have some 'hub' functionality: additional gear (stolen or bought), loot, information and flavor text. I don't mind if it can be revisited later at any time, just don't make it a necessity more than once. Maybe a player could wait there while the unrest he made somewhere else would settle down, or make a stash/hideout etc. Think Assassins mission and partial location revisit in Lost City.

  8. #8
    Make it a daylight hub where you dont steal, meet enemies or have any missions. Use it instead as a means to advance some story and let the player explore/buy equipement for the next mission.

    Thief could really need this as a way to give the player a break between the dark tension filled missions. The contrast by itself should make the actual missions feel that much darker.

  9. #9
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    The good ol' mission briefings provide the breaks. Please, no grind, no retread, no revisiting the same areas, no endless looting, no filler, no consequence-less total robbery of the same neighborhoods. The hub is entirely unnecessary and adds more of what Thief could do best without entirely.

  10. #10
    I see some things I like here... how about this tweak, based on all of your posts (and thank you all for posting and staying on topic!)

    Hub Concept #1: The Big Donut
    Rather than one hub that could get monotonous with crossing it over and over again, perhaps a hub that you slowly work your way around over the course of the game? That is, imagine the city hub portion of the game as a huge donut... you advance a little further around it with each mission. This reveals a little more of the hub each mission, allowing you to backtrack an area or two if you like to fence goods or gather info from sources where you have been, but it also opens up an area ahead of you as you advance in the game. Choosing to go back and botching a robbery would cause guard runners to spread the word up the hub, making it more difficult for you if you decrease your stealthy activities. This way you always have fresh content and eliminate visiting the same old areas more than one or two times.

    Hub Concept #2: Multi-Minis
    Take the concept of the story evolving by time periods (some parts in hours, some in days, perhaps even a week or more between arcs). One period might involve a single mission and have one or two side missions that would offer a true benefit to your game (info, items you cannot buy, extra cash, etc.), or it might involve a single night with two or three missions to complete that arc. Once an arc is complete, you have your briefing movie and the action moves to the next hub. This would basically mix the play mechanics of T1/T2 (mission/brief-mission/brief) with TDS (mission/brief-mission/brief-hub play-mission/brief).

    The use of hubs also need not be there for it's own sake. You might have 4 missions taking place over several days, then 3 linked missions off of a hub, then another couple stand alones.

    Not that I'm preaching hubs should/shouldn't be used, but I do like the feeling that there is more going on in The City than JUST the main story. It makes the world feel larger and more real, and can give Garrett opportunities to stack the deck a bit more in his favor.

  11. #11
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    The equipment system in Dark Project and Metal Age, where you got a certain collection of preset equipment and then could purchase from a certain other set, with all unused gold disappearing and no equipment carry-over between missions, worked brilliantly. A similar approach should be maintained. Until someone can come up with a good way of including a city hub concept without losing this mechanic, I will always be sceptical.

    The idea of having a large city area in each mission doesn't fill me with much enthusiasm either. Life of the Party was a very fun and popular mission but actually in terms of gameplay isn't all that good: the main draw is the feeling of thiefiness (Deadly Shadows's city hub was similar in this regard). I think if you do that sort of thing too much it'll become familiar and you'll lose that draw, and just get missions with big chunks that aren't really very good.
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  12. #12
    Originally Posted by jtr7
    Pelase, no grind, no retread, no revisiting the same areas, no endless looting, no filler, no consequence-less total robbery of the same neighborhoods.
    As long as it isn't made into a hub system for these reasons to artificially lengthen the game, I'd be fine with it. Semi open world with side quests is usually a good thing, as long as those quests aren't just collect x amount of blank or pointless fetch quests. I do think it would be cool if you had access to the hubs from the start and could steal from anywhere, but with consequence. Loot the out of the city first, then the game is significantly harder due to increased security. On the flip side, if you don't steal at all and just go through the campaign, you wouldn't have enough funds for decent equipment so a balancing act is required.
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  13. #13
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    No hubs, just larger city areas near or around the mission locale, providing plenty of flavor and atmosphere and generous glimpses into the world outside of the thief's lifestyle. Assassins! and Life of the Party are the models to expand on, and Ambush/Trace the Courier is fine as a large district, even if it was too empty, and with Farkus Functionals as the prototypical store. TDS did a horrible job of world-building. It not only felt so much smaller, but was literally very much smaller. City sections that were a mile apart felt immediately adjacent, with all the in between city not even hinted at, except on the map (which was incorrect in more ways than one). TDS made almost zero mention of world beyond The City, and did not mention other city sections we'd never visit, much unlike the older titles.

  14. #14
    Assassins creed does use hubs. If thief should base it's model on that, then you are advocating hubs.
    FACT: I am definitely without a doubt........ the Truest Fan of the Thief franchise.

  15. #15
    I suppose the real answer, then, is to make levels larger as they once were, and simply include "hub-like" features (extras, quests, tools, etc.) that allow you to experience more of The City alongside the plot.

    Now, one thing I wouldn't mind would be a feature after a mission, where appropriate, where you could offload what you stole during the mission. It would be interesting if you could complete the mission but still have to deal with getting completely clear of the area, too. Some missions did this by having you get back to the start, however.

    Perhaps simplification is the best solution. In that case, I would go with my first concept, and hope to see more of the city outside of the immediate objective included in the mission.
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  16. #16
    They could also add challenge to it by making a realistic inventory, one where you can only carry x amount of loot and you have to go sell it off but can revisit old job locations. As long as it doesn't take like 50 trips to get everything, it could lengthen the game in a good way as long as it's not abused.
    FACT: I am definitely without a doubt........ the Truest Fan of the Thief franchise.

  17. #17
    The city needs to be it's own instance. If there are other cities they need to be their own instance. When Entering or leaving a city instead of the blue portal of death. Have a schematic play while the next instance is loading.

    In TDS, the guards if they were chasing you, would stay at the entrances that you left. They should go back to their normal AI callback, But be more on guard. So A bit aggressive when you next enter the zone. Eventually if they don't see you they resume the normal state.
    Attention Dev Team: More levels like The Cradle, The Clocktower, from TDS. The Cathedral. Make note of our suggestions.

  18. #18
    as much as the idea of an open city would be great, I believe that missions should remain separate, and unless the story calls for it (like return to the cathedral) you can't go back to some locations. It seems like it would lose it's purpose if you can just go visit it all the time. Linear is not bad, even though the current gaming trend may think it is.
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  19. #19
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    Originally Posted by BigBoss
    They could also add challenge to it by making a realistic inventory, one where you can only carry x amount of loot and you have to go sell it off but can revisit old job locations. As long as it doesn't take like 50 trips to get everything, it could lengthen the game in a good way as long as it's not abused.
    This would only annoy the player and artificially extend game play time - think of the completionists amongst us who would be forced to drudge through this grind. In a game where there's no need to worry about its effects on other players (like one might worry about in a PvP or MMO game) strict inventory limitations are not necessary or appreciated.
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  20. #20
    Artificially extend it if it's exploited, not if the city had a constantly evolving security detail as previously mentioned. I always like it more in games when you actually have to manage resources in terms of both inventory space and resource scarcity. I find it so strange how people complain about immersion breaking with something as simple as camera perspective, and not give a second thought as to how exactly you can carry a metric ton of loot and gear, without so much as a backpack.

    Edit: Please do not turn this into another camera preference thread
    FACT: I am definitely without a doubt........ the Truest Fan of the Thief franchise.

  21. #21
    Originally Posted by BigBoss
    Assassins creed does use hubs. If thief should base it's model on that, then you are advocating hubs.
    If Thief fan tells "Assassins", it usually means Assassins mission, not an Assassin's Creed game.

  22. #22
    also, I don't want "side quests" in Thief 4. Stick with the linear story, there's nothing wrong with it in this case.
    And my "Side Quests" I mean doing favors or jobs outside of the story, but if it's an optional objective within the mission, like gaining extra loot or special items, that's fine.
    Calls The Serpents To The Heels Of My Foes! Calls The Ravens To Pecks Their Eyes!
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  23. #23
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    Originally Posted by DJ Riff
    If Thief fan tells "Assassins", it usually means Assassins mission, not an Assassin's Creed game.
    Yeah, italicizing, bolding, excluding the word "Creed", and adding the canon exclamation point help separate it for Thief discussion.

    Thief 4 should play into what makes Thief a solid, personal, and singular experience.

  24. #24
    Misread, my bad
    FACT: I am definitely without a doubt........ the Truest Fan of the Thief franchise.

  25. #25
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    Originally Posted by BigBoss
    Artificially extend it if it's exploited, not if the city had a constantly evolving security detail as previously mentioned. I always like it more in games when you actually have to manage resources in terms of both inventory space and resource scarcity. I find it so strange how people complain about immersion breaking with something as simple as camera perspective, and not give a second thought as to how exactly you can carry a metric ton of loot and gear, without so much as a backpack.

    Edit: Please do not turn this into another camera preference thread
    It's far more immersion breaking to be trying to pick something up and momentarily be going "WHY THE HELL ISN'T IT... oh. My inventory is full..." Than it is to pick it up, not give it even a second thought, and continue taffin about. Creating the illusion of immersion isn't about realism, but much more about the game avoiding breaking the user's flow and concentration as much as possible. Having a mantle button not work 4 times is immersion breaking. Needing to jump into your very game like UI to clear up inventory space is immersion breaking. Pausing the game is immersion breaking.

    I think you're confusing immersion with realism and, while there may be some overlap, they are very much two different things.
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