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Ubisoft: Complexity Holding Back Splinter Cell

Eurogamer has comments on Splinter Cell: Blacklist from Ubisoft Toronto's Jade Raymond, who discusses how the series has "stayed with the most pure approach to that stealth experience" over the years. Though she doesn't come out and say the game is being simplified for its upcoming installment, she does comment that there is a feeling among the executives at Ubisoft (surely hardcore gamers) that the Splinter Cell video games could be more popular but for their complexity: "One of the things that held it back is despite all of the changes that have happened over the years, it's still one of the more complex and difficult games to play," she tells them. "Even though we do have core fans who are like, 'Oh, I want to have more of this experience,' when you play any other game that has stealth elements, they're all a lot more forgiving than Splinter Cell." She goes on to talk of a "broader" experience which can allow for more of an action/game experience:

"We brought back the purest hardcore version, which is, you want to ghost through the level and get through it without killing a single person. Every single thing you want to do you can do in a non-lethal way. That requires the most planning and being the most strategic.

"You can even play that in Perfectionist Mode, which means if you want you don't have any of the added things, such as Mark and Execute, that make it easier.

"That's for those who want to plan it out and feel really smart, and, 'I'm going to use the Sticky Cam with the Sleeping Gas and them I'm going to whistle and the guy's going to come,' and do the full set-up."

By default, though, Splinter Cell: Blacklist offers a more "fluid, modern play-style", Raymond explained, which helps Fisher navigate the 3D environments without the need for as much interaction on the part of the player.

"You can climb up, do 3D navigation and jump over things without thinking too much or pressing buttons," Raymond said.

"Sam does it automatically. The Killing in Motion, being able to Mark and Execute while moving through the map, makes it much more accessible to more of an action gamer."

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37. Re: Ubisoft: Complexity Holding Back Splinter Cell Apr 25, 2013, 00:11 Jerykk
 
As I mentioned before, combat was a viable option in the previous Hitman and Splinter Cell games. If you got into trouble, you'd just pull out your gun and kill people. The combat AI is pretty terrible in every stealth game and it's a simple matter to draw them into chokepoints and mow them down one by one. The combat AI in Conviction and Absolution is actually an improvement over the previous games. It's just the addition of crap like Mark & Execute (completely optional) that makes combat easier.

As for Dishonored, I avoided all combat and found the stealth gameplay very compelling. I primarily used Blink and avoided Possession and Bend Time due to their overpowered nature, but there were occasions where the only way to achieve my personal goals was to use them. The level design didn't change regardless of what powers you used, so I'm not sure why you think the game became more linear when all the levels were inherently open-ended.

If you think sneaking around and avoiding combat is boring, I'm not sure why you're complaining about the increased viability of combat in modern stealth games.

Once again, if you find a certain mechanic or gameplay style enjoyable, then go for it. Don't concern yourself with what ending you'll get or other arbitrary nonsense. Do what you enjoy. I enjoy ghosting so that's what I do. If I think a weapon or ability is overpowered enough to ruin the game, I just don't use it. Simple stuff, really.
 
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36. Re: Ubisoft: Complexity Holding Back Splinter Cell Apr 24, 2013, 14:38 Quinn
 
Verno wrote on Apr 24, 2013, 09:00:
I find stealthy combat can be just as engaging as pure avoidance personally, sometimes more so. Finding a balance is really difficult though.

And the above comment is what you're not getting from my earlier post, Jerykk.

I understand that if I want Dishonored or whatever other game to be more challenging, an option to make it so is to completely disregard some of the key aspects of the game. I can make Saints Row more challenging by stop using weapons, ffs. I know that's an oversimplified example, but I guess that's what it takes to get my point across.

Like I said before, there's a grave unbalance in "stealthy" games lately.

"You can't have it both ways" is what you've got to say to the developers today, who want to put both Die Hard action and sneaky stealth into games. If you got into "trouble" in Dishonored, you coujld completely eviscerate the enemy. Yet if you remove all the action and unbalanced aspects from Dishonored, you get an extremely linear and boring gaming experience. And if you don't agree with that, that's fine.. but fuck me if the new Thief is going to be as boring. It'll be the end of me ffs.

PS: And yes, Blink was a fun skill. But that's beside the point. A naked Jessica Biel running into your house is fun as well, but she broke the front door and ruined your movie night with your wife.
 
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35. Re: Ubisoft: Complexity Holding Back Splinter Cell Apr 24, 2013, 09:00 Verno
 
I find stealthy combat can be just as engaging as pure avoidance personally, sometimes more so. Finding a balance is really difficult though.  
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34. Re: Ubisoft: Complexity Holding Back Splinter Cell Apr 24, 2013, 04:54 Jerykk
 
Wait, you complain that blink makes the game too easy but then say that it's the only thing that makes the game interesting..? You can't have it both ways. Blink is a teleportation ability. Teleportation, by it's very nature, isn't fair and gives you a pretty distinct advantage. In Dishonored, it lets you move about environments very quickly and reach areas that NPCs cannot. This is satisfying but obviously unfair to the NPCs. I'm not sure how you would resolve this because the ability's most appealing benefits are also the most unbalanced. If you want a challenge, don't abuse unbalanced mechanics. And please stop with the nonsense about the most interesting abilities only being combat-centric. That's bullshit. Blink, Bend Time and Possession are the most interesting abilities in the game and they are all very useful for stealthy players. And if you want a "visceral" experience, why are you trying to be stealthy? Stealth is slow and methodical. It's the exact opposite of visceral.

As I said before, stealth has always been a matter of self-restraint. In every Splinter Cell, shooting everyone has always been a viable approach if your aim is good enough. In every Hitman, shooting everyone has always been a viable approach because the combat AI has always been terrible. Newer games make combat even easier, yes, but it doesn't change the fact that combat was perfectly viable in the previous games too.

If you want to play stealthy, play stealthy. If you don't, don't. If you want to play stealthy but the game forces you into combat (like in Conviction or DX:HR), then you have valid grounds for complaint. Otherwise, you're just being silly.

For what it's worth, I ghosted my way through Absolution on the highest difficulty and I only had to wear a disguise in two missions. Trust me when I say that wearing disguises makes the game significantly easier, even if they are severely nerfed compared to the previous games.

This comment was edited on Apr 24, 2013, 05:00.
 
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33. Re: Ubisoft: Complexity Holding Back Splinter Cell Apr 24, 2013, 03:20 Quinn
 
Don't use blink!? Are you kidding me, Jerykk? How far does your loyalty for the game go to come up with that retort? Blink was about the only thing in Dishonored that made the bland gameplay a bit interesting. I already gave up on all the visceral Outsider skills because they implies having to kill, which I didn't want to do -- just like I gave up on disguises in Absolution because it was a broken feature, but that kinda defeated the idea of the hitman franchise. You telling me I also had to give up on blink, and maybe even the higher jump too. Hell why touch the skills upgrade system at all?

In this way we can make every easy game "hard". But if it means you have to skip gameplay content for it, it's simply unbalanced and or way too much "balanced" toward the broad audience. And THAT is the exact problem with stealth games these days: they want to make it interesting for the trigger-happy action oriented gamers as well. It's why Hitman's balance was fucked up, why the last SC was fucked up and why most probably the next SC will be fucked up as well.
 
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32. Re: Ubisoft: Complexity Holding Back Splinter Cell Apr 24, 2013, 02:27 Unknown Soldier
 
Jedi Master wrote on Apr 23, 2013, 11:05:
but it wasn't really "Splinter Cell" any more than you could make a Command and Conquer FPS game.

OK. I'll bite.
 
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31. Re: Ubisoft: Complexity Holding Back Splinter Cell Apr 24, 2013, 00:03 Jerykk
 
siapnar wrote on Apr 23, 2013, 17:12:
Speaking of stealth and simplicity, the new Hitman game's AI is pathetic. I played some of it on expert and had baddies standing over bodies and saying "what happened here" or something like that, then BAM they're dead.. fiber wire dead.
Then their pals show up and do pretty much the same thing.

And even when they were aware of my presence, they all bundled up together and missed shooting at me while I popped heads.
On a couple occasions they just kept firing into a wall 12 feet from me.

If I hadn't killed anyone but someone was confronting me, they wouldn't fire upon me unless I shot them, even if I had unholstered my gun and aimed it at their head.
In one instance the head of security (it was evident) caught me crouching behind him with a knife and said "that's not a toy you're holding, you know".
I proceeded to put it into his face. Fuckin idiot.

I was really surprised at how shitty the AI is.

On a positive note, the graphics were gorgeous, level design pretty sharp and ragdolls much improved from the ridiculous ones of the past games.

But seriously, WHEN are developers going to put effort into AI???
Graphics now are good enough for christ's sake

Absolution's AI did have some problems but it was impressive in many ways. For example, if you shoot a bullet near an enemy's head, he'll recognize that a bullet just whizzed past his head and react appropriately instead of just turning around and staring at the bullet hole. Also, when a group of NPCs hear a suspicious noise, the one closest to the noise will go over and investigate while the others hold their ground. Of course, there were some arbitrary limitations to this. Thrown objects could only distract two NPCs at a time, even if more than two were within the sound radius. Bullet impacts could distract three. Explosions would distract everyone and send them into a permanent alert state with random patrols.

Absolution's AI was by no means perfect but it was definitely a step up from most other games. Giving AI actual memories and a way to understand context is the next big step. NOLF2 had some of this, with NPCs noticing when things weren't in their default state, like doors being left open or lights being turned on/off. I think Chaos Theory had some of that too, with NPCs noticing broken locks and such. Instead of focusing on making stealth games more visceral and cinematic, they should focus on making NPCs smarter.

Stealth doesn't have to mean no combat. Rainbow 6(Ravenshield and before) was all about stealth... until you had to execute your carefully orchestrated plan to complete the mission. You spent most of the time tactically and stealthily advancing to good positions so you could even attempt to beat the level.

As far as ghost, you can ghost the vast majority of Metal Gear Solid, but there are certain combats you must encounter, though you can finish them by non-lethal means. I would call MGS a ghost capable game, regardless.

The R6 games mainly required stealth because if alarms were sounded, hostages would be killed or bombs would explode. As such, getting into a firefight usually resulted in mission failure. The combat was limited to quickly and quietly dispatching enemies before they could fire a shot.

As for MGS, I assume you're talking about the first PSX one. You could ghost through most of that, except for the boss fights and Meryl rescue sequence. The later games had more unavoidable confrontations and action sequences.

The most retardedly simplified and easy "stealth" game of the last few years gotta be the over-credited Dishonored.

"Huh who's that?"
*blink*
"Oh guess I'm just seeing things haha! :D"

Don't use blink? There's only one section in the entire game that requires blink. If you think it's overpowered, don't use it. Stealth has always been about self-restraint. Even in Thief, it's not hard to incapacitate every guard you see. That said, if you try to ghost your way through Dishonored and steal every piece of loot, the challenge feels sufficient on the highest difficulty (which gives the AI faster detection times). If you played through Dishonored on normal difficulty, incapacitated every guard you saw and used blink all the time, you really aren't in any position to complain about difficulty.

This comment was edited on Apr 24, 2013, 00:14.
 
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30. Re: Ubisoft: Complexity Holding Back Splinter Cell Apr 23, 2013, 21:03 Quinn
 
It should simply be like the old Thief games: get caught and you better RUN! Or die trying to fight your way out..  
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29. Re: Ubisoft: Complexity Holding Back Splinter Cell Apr 23, 2013, 19:56 bhcompy
 
Jerykk wrote on Apr 23, 2013, 12:31:
combat should never be a viable option in any stealth game but these days

Stealth doesn't have to mean no combat. Rainbow 6(Ravenshield and before) was all about stealth... until you had to execute your carefully orchestrated plan to complete the mission. You spent most of the time tactically and stealthily advancing to good positions so you could even attempt to beat the level.

As far as ghost, you can ghost the vast majority of Metal Gear Solid, but there are certain combats you must encounter, though you can finish them by non-lethal means. I would call MGS a ghost capable game, regardless.
 
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28. Re: Ubisoft: Complexity Holding Back Splinter Cell Apr 23, 2013, 19:40 NegaDeath
 
Prez wrote on Apr 23, 2013, 19:05:
Gamers (yes, even console gamers) are more sophisticated than publishers will ever give them credit for. Games that are more complicated don't need to be simplified. In fact, evidence is suggesting that over-simplification turns gamers off more than complexity does (Dragon Age Origins outsold the sequel by a fair margin as an example). A game system only needs simplification if it is over complicated. Splinter Cell has never been over complicated and needs no simplification for its appeal.

Which also plays into the death, or near death, of multiple genres that weren't "mass market" enough in publishers eyes to justify funding development.
 
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27. Re: Ubisoft: Complexity Holding Back Splinter Cell Apr 23, 2013, 19:07 Beamer
 
Prez wrote on Apr 23, 2013, 19:05:
Gamers (yes, even console gamers) are more sophisticated than publishers will ever give them credit for. Games that are more complicated don't need to be simplified. In fact, evidence is suggesting that over-simplification turns gamers off more than complexity does (Dragon Age Origins outsold the sequel by a fair margin as an example). A game system only needs simplification if it is over complicated. Splinter Cell has never been over complicated and needs no simplification for its appeal.

Yup.

So, in shooting for everyone with half a brain, they miss a huge chunk of those with a full brain, and those with half a brain often just follow what those with a full brain say, anyway, and sales drop.
 
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26. Re: Ubisoft: Complexity Holding Back Splinter Cell Apr 23, 2013, 19:05 Prez
 
Gamers (yes, even console gamers) are more sophisticated than publishers will ever give them credit for. Games that are more complicated don't need to be simplified. In fact, evidence is suggesting that over-simplification turns gamers off more than complexity does (Dragon Age Origins outsold the sequel by a fair margin as an example). A game system only needs simplification if it is over complicated. Splinter Cell has never been over complicated and needs no simplification for its appeal.  
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25. Re: Ubisoft: Complexity Holding Back Splinter Cell Apr 23, 2013, 18:21 Quinn
 
The most retardedly simplified and easy "stealth" game of the last few years gotta be the over-credited Dishonored.

"Huh who's that?"
*blink*
"Oh guess I'm just seeing things haha! :D"
 
Avatar 57334
 
"Moo," she said.
And I trembled.
Reply Quote Edit Delete Report
 
24. Re: Ubisoft: Complexity Holding Back Splinter Cell Apr 23, 2013, 17:12 siapnar
 
Speaking of stealth and simplicity, the new Hitman game's AI is pathetic. I played some of it on expert and had baddies standing over bodies and saying "what happened here" or something like that, then BAM they're dead.. fiber wire dead.
Then their pals show up and do pretty much the same thing.

And even when they were aware of my presence, they all bundled up together and missed shooting at me while I popped heads.
On a couple occasions they just kept firing into a wall 12 feet from me.

If I hadn't killed anyone but someone was confronting me, they wouldn't fire upon me unless I shot them, even if I had unholstered my gun and aimed it at their head.
In one instance the head of security (it was evident) caught me crouching behind him with a knife and said "that's not a toy you're holding, you know".
I proceeded to put it into his face. Fuckin idiot.

I was really surprised at how shitty the AI is.

On a positive note, the graphics were gorgeous, level design pretty sharp and ragdolls much improved from the ridiculous ones of the past games.

But seriously, WHEN are developers going to put effort into AI???
Graphics now are good enough for christ's sake
 
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23. Re: Ubisoft: Complexity Holding Back Splinter Cell Apr 23, 2013, 16:21 Beamer
 
I mean, I'll openly admit to just not being a stealth game fan. This doesn't mean I dislike stealth in games - my builds in games like Deus Ex and Dishonored, games I loved, are very stealth heavy, but these are not true stealth games.

Especially Dishonored, which I think had massive flaws but was still a game I loved.
 
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22. Re: Ubisoft: Complexity Holding Back Splinter Cell Apr 23, 2013, 16:03 FU
 
Pussification of video games today continues.
 
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21. Re: Ubisoft: Complexity Holding Back Splinter Cell Apr 23, 2013, 15:55 Jerykk
 
Beamer wrote on Apr 23, 2013, 14:05:
Jerykk wrote on Apr 23, 2013, 12:31:
combat should never be a viable option in any stealth game

And that's why I hate stealth games. I like screwing up and having that "holy crap holy crap holy crap" adrenaline chaos of blowing off heads and running for some ductwork and praying that the shots I'm firing land and they shots they aren't don't.

And then I get annoyed that I can just hide in a duct and wait. In better games I can't, so I pop out of the duct on the opposite side of the room and resume taking people out.

But I hate most stealth games. They always feel more like quicksave adventures than other games, and most stealth games are less about doing things right and more about doing them how the level designer hoped you would. Sure, you can go through a level a dozen ways, but a dozen ways that were programmed. This elevator works but that doesn't. Stuff like that. Thief games didn't do this, but man, the Splinter Cell and Hitman games I played certainly did.

The levels in Thief are just as designed as the levels in SC and Hitman, though I guess it depends on which iterations you played. SC: Chaos Theory and Hitman: Blood Money had the most open-ended levels of their respective series.

To me, the appeal of stealth games is perfectionism. Figuring out how to get through a level undetected and leaving no trace behind is tremendously satisfying if the levels are open-ended and AI reactive enough. It essentially becomes a puzzle game that requires a deep understanding of level layouts and AI systems. If I'm detected, I consider that a fail state, even if I'm technically able to recover and progress. Engaging in combat isn't even an option in my mind. If I wanted to fight, I'd play an action game.
 
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20. Re: Ubisoft: Complexity Holding Back Splinter Cell Apr 23, 2013, 14:32 Verno
 
jdreyer wrote on Apr 23, 2013, 14:16:
Translation: AAA games are expensive and resource consuming, and when you try to allow multiple was of accomplishing goals, it's even more expensive and resource consuming.

Also Splinter Cell isn't exactly a new IP, there is probably some audience exhaustion going on that they want to offset with BroGamer bux.
 
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19. Re: Ubisoft: Complexity Holding Back Splinter Cell Apr 23, 2013, 14:16 jdreyer
 
Translation: AAA games are expensive and resource consuming, and when you try to allow multiple was of accomplishing goals, it's even more expensive and resource consuming.  
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18. Re: Ubisoft: Complexity Holding Back Splinter Cell Apr 23, 2013, 14:13 jacobvandy
 
Maybe he means that ignoring stealth completely and just running around guns blazing shouldn't be an option? Combat is always in option when you're trying to be stealthy, that's why Sam Fisher carries a pistol... It's just not an ideal situation, as the reason you're trying to be stealthy is because you don't want them to know you're there and/or there would be too much resistance to a frontal assault. So Cell of Duty: Splinter Warfare wouldn't be a stealth game, if pure obtuse action is a feasible way to progress. It would just be a shooter where you can use stealth to your advantage, like Deus Ex.  
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