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How would YOU improve Alpha Protocol?

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Part of me wishes this had been first person, really.


"Alright, I've been thinking. When life gives you lemons, don't make lemonade - make life take the lemons back! Get mad! I don't want your damn lemons, what am I supposed to do with these? Demand to see life's manager. Make life rue the day it thought it could give Cave Johnson lemons. Do you know who I am? I'm the man who's gonna burn your house down! With the lemons. I'm going to to get my engineers to invent a combustible lemon that burns your house down!"

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Edit: shadow operative was fine, how else would a stealth based character stand a chance against hordes of enemies at close range.

Mostly, better environment design, and to some degree better design in enemies the player faces. One of the problems Alpha Protocol has is that it chooses settings which fit into its plot, but not necessary into good gameplay. If you have to tool a game for both stealth and action gameplay, that's fine, and it can work out great, but only if you build things with consideration for that. Alpha Protocol gets it half right, because you can use cover for stealth and for action, but the small levels also mean that the player has few alternate means of handling situations. Disabling security cameras is all well and good, but why can't Mike pull some Sam Fisher moves and climb up pipes and that sort of thing? What about even a few ventilation shafts? Hanging from ledges? Small linear levels mean that there simply aren't the options to accommodate a stealth character; nobody expects it to work as well as Metal Gear Solid or Splinter Cell, but the fact that it's not there in most instances (due to the locations chosen, as I stated) means that stealthy players are left to go through the game in the same direction as soldier types.

 

There are other problems that complicate matters. The biggest issue is that, since it's an action game with a realistic theme, the only way you can really challenge the player in combat is by throwing increasing numbers enemies at him or her, since their modes of attack (shooting bullets) will never fundamentally change. Unfortunately, when compounded with the relatively small levels, with few options for alternate navigation (not many ventilation shafts to crawl through, etc.), it means that stealth players are stuck with having to get past dozens of soldiers, which is pretty much impossible without (wait for it) a contrivance like magic invisibility. This can be mitigated to some degree by having the game scale the challenge (or types of challenges) based on what skills the player has available, but this doesn't necessarily make sense, both in terms of story and in terms of balancing (it's a lot more work to make both stealth/action-based enemy placements in every mission, as well as for every possible character level the player may be).

 

My biggest guess for the reasons why it didn't turn out better? Obsidian were pressured into designing the game more around the action elements by SEGA, and as a result, the stealth, which should have been more the game's focus, ended up being something that was never truly capitalised on, despite the developer's intentions. I can't say for sure, of course, but given the game's espionage theme, I'd expect there was a conflict of interest in what the game ended up becoming, versus what it was intended to be.

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Mostly, better environment design, and to some degree better design in enemies the player faces. One of the problems Alpha Protocol has is that it chooses settings which fit into its plot, but not necessary into good gameplay. If you have to tool a game for both stealth and action gameplay, that's fine, and it can work out great, but only if you build things with consideration for that. Alpha Protocol gets it half right, because you can use cover for stealth and for action, but the small levels also mean that the player has few alternate means of handling situations. Disabling security cameras is all well and good, but why can't Mike pull some Sam Fisher moves and climb up pipes and that sort of thing? What about even a few ventilation shafts? Hanging from ledges? Small linear levels mean that there simply aren't the options to accommodate a stealth character; nobody expects it to work as well as Metal Gear Solid or Splinter Cell, but the fact that it's not there in most instances (due to the locations chosen, as I stated) means that stealthy players are left to go through the game in the same direction as soldier types.

Because the game was left half finished and is a bug factory? :lol:

 

No, what you say would make it exactly like a stealth game. Maybe you could implement the climbing and other forms of alternate approaches into the stealth skill, but like you said you are still left to go through the game in the same way as a soldier. This one of the major problems with the game, it tries to implement too many different types of gameplay and ends up with game mechanics and approaches that have none of the game genres they are trying to emulate.

There are other problems that complicate matters. The biggest issue is that, since it's an action game with a realistic theme, the only way you can really challenge the player in combat is by throwing increasing numbers enemies at him or her, since their modes of attack (shooting bullets) will never fundamentally change. Unfortunately, when compounded with the relatively small levels, with few options for alternate navigation (not many ventilation shafts to crawl through, etc.), it means that stealth players are stuck with having to get past dozens of soldiers, which is pretty much impossible without (wait for it) a contrivance like magic invisibility. This can be mitigated to some degree by having the game scale the challenge (or types of challenges) based on what skills the player has available, but this doesn't necessarily make sense, both in terms of story and in terms of balancing (it's a lot more work to make both stealth/action-based enemy placements in every mission, as well as for every possible character level the player may be).

Also, spies can only fight effectively mid to close quarters which just makes you fodder for gunshots specially since it's the class with the least endurance. The missions usually favor one class over the other, there are missions made for stealth and those that are just combat based. Instead of making all missions class friendly they should have made missions different depending on the player's class. Same location, different mission per class approach. Maybe it would have been more costly but it would had definitely improved the final result.

My biggest guess for the reasons why it didn't turn out better? Obsidian were pressured into designing the game more around the action elements by SEGA, and as a result, the stealth, which should have been more the game's focus, ended up being something that was never truly capitalised on, despite the developer's intentions. I can't say for sure, of course, but given the game's espionage theme, I'd expect there was a conflict of interest in what the game ended up becoming, versus what it was intended to be.

My biggest guess; they didn't know how to make an action-game. The biggest challenge was how to make an action game more RPG, the skills are an attempt to this but most of them fail at actually bridging the gap. A stealth skill tree with an ability to make yourself invisible might have been what they came up with when faced with the question: Which build would a spy class have?


I'd say the answer to that question is kind of like the answer to "who's the sucker in this poker game?"*

 

*If you can't tell, it's you. ;)

village_idiot.gif

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My biggest guess; they didn't know how to make an action-game. The biggest challenge was how to make an action game more RPG, the skills are an attempt to this but most of them fail at actually bridging the gap. A stealth skill tree with an ability to make yourself invisible might have been what they came up with when faced with the question: Which build would a spy class have?

I think it's a combination of ineptitude on the action side, as well as just general contrivance that came out of the push towards action-oriented gameplay. In my mind, a game, even a role-playing game, set in a more or less realistic universe, simply wouldn't have a "press button to turn invisible" without any sort of decent in-universe justification. Hell, I would have swallowed a cloaking device or something, it's not like that sort of technology is that far away. It strikes me more as the kind of thing you'd pull out of your ass in desperation rather than a carefully-considered gameplay element.

 

Also, I'm not sure if you've played Splinter Cell, but it's actually totally possible to play through it as a shooter, except in places where you're forced to be stealthy by the plot, and it generally handles as well as or better than Alpha Protocol. The open-ended level design doesn't get in the way of the shooting, but the linear level design does get in the way of the stealth. Again, it's really hard to figure out why this happened - chicken versus egg problem - but like most things it's probably a combination of less-than-ideal factors in all aspects of the game's development.

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Did you play it on hard? Because most of the time I survived exactly two hits out of cover.

Yep, including hard/ recruit and hard/ no ranged weapons.

 

To be clear though: I did hide behind things, I just didn't use them as formal-spacebar-press cover.

Well sure, I did that a lot too, out of necessity. But you can't do crit shots from cover that way, or see and aim properly sometimes, or in general play the game the way it seems to have been designed.


"Moral indignation is a standard strategy for endowing the idiot with dignity." Marshall McLuhan

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My biggest guess; they didn't know how to make an action-game. The biggest challenge was how to make an action game more RPG, the skills are an attempt to this but most of them fail at actually bridging the gap. A stealth skill tree with an ability to make yourself invisible might have been what they came up with when faced with the question: Which build would a spy class have?

I think it's a combination of ineptitude on the action side, as well as just general contrivance that came out of the push towards action-oriented gameplay. In my mind, a game, even a role-playing game, set in a more or less realistic universe, simply wouldn't have a "press button to turn invisible" without any sort of decent in-universe justification. Hell, I would have swallowed a cloaking device or something, it's not like that sort of technology is that far away. It strikes me more as the kind of thing you'd pull out of your ass in desperation rather than a carefully-considered gameplay element.

 

Also, I'm not sure if you've played Splinter Cell, but it's actually totally possible to play through it as a shooter, except in places where you're forced to be stealthy by the plot, and it generally handles as well as or better than Alpha Protocol. The open-ended level design doesn't get in the way of the shooting, but the linear level design does get in the way of the stealth. Again, it's really hard to figure out why this happened - chicken versus egg problem - but like most things it's probably a combination of less-than-ideal factors in all aspects of the game's development.

The problem with putting too much stealth gameplay is that resources are being spent solely on one approach. From what I see in the game, they tried to balance all classes. So they went with the simple solution to stealth; turning invisible, while all the other solutions needed a drastic gameplay change.

 

I have played Splinter Cell and except for the last entry it can't be played as a pure shooter. Specially the first one, since you got strikes for each alarm.

Edited by Orogun01

I'd say the answer to that question is kind of like the answer to "who's the sucker in this poker game?"*

 

*If you can't tell, it's you. ;)

village_idiot.gif

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I've been thinking about stealth in this game, and after looking at the the way whole game is designed, the way stealth works actually makes sense. Basically, every approach in this game is designed to be a combination of player skill AND character skill. So for example, maxed shotgun skill isn't enough if you don't know how to use it(shot directly at the enemies at close range, wait for a critical hit to form for those in the distance), and the other way around. Or, if your really bad at mini games, you have a bunch of skills that could help you, if you are mediocre at them, you could upgrade sabotage with a couple of action points, or if your really good at them, you may not need any help. Again, a very, very nice mix of player and character skills.

 

So now with stealth, if they just added alternative, empty paths whenever you get to a crowded area, it would be entirely based on player skill, you wouldn't need any character stealth skill. And the way AP is designed, if you want to be stealthy, you need experience with stealth, you know, patience, looking for a window of opportunity in between NPC patrols, but there are also sections where you need the abilities from the stealth line of skills if you want to remain undetected.

 

Now, as far as I'm concerned, I just don't care, I'm fine either way. I LOVE splinter cell, but at the same time, I did enjoy what we got in AP.

 

And really, no, you CAN'T just turn invisible and ghost your way through the whole level. Later levels of shadow operative are overpowered, but they will be unlocked in the last couple of hours of the game, and are overpowered so they could compensate for the fact that the end game is completely action oriented. But for the most part of the game, you either won't have that ability, or will have 6 or 12 second of invisibility while staying crouched, with a looong cool down period.

 

I'm still not a huge fan of the action orientation of the game, but since all the skills are designed with this in mind, its not that bad, once you get used to it.

 

My two cents.

Edited by Spiked

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I've only started the game but two mechanical / game play elements I miss are:

 

1) being able to slide into cover (i.e. hit the cover button when within a certain distance to cover and he'll slide to it, even from a crouched position).

 

2) The ability to climb over chest high walls (especially from cover, ala Gears of Splinter Cell: Conviction). Perhaps I'm just a little dense and this is already in the game (I certainly hope so) but, so far, it doesn't seem like it exists.

 

Stealth seems decent enough, however I'm uncertain whether crouching helps with stealth. Can anybody confirm whether the game confers bonuses to stealth when moving in a crouched position vs. moving at a relatively similar speed whilst standing?

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Yeah, crouching adds like +4 to sound dampening, and obviously, greatly reduces enemies sight range.

 

If you have the best technician armor that has sound dampening of 2, enemies will turn around and see you in the last second when you sneak up on them. And if your wearing the best stealth armor( 6 SD) enemies will turn around in the last second, but this time if you approach them while running un-crouched. So yeah, 6-2=4.

Edited by Spiked

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I always thought that "stealth" statistics only had effect when crouched :sorcerer: And that the 6 in Sound Dampening of the best Stealth Armor was there so that we could put some enhancements that affects it negatively.

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Nope, sound dampening of six is there so you could move around freely without making any noise, unless your directly behind the enemy. But like I said, enemies can see you much easier when your standing instead of crouching, so again, stealth is about balancing all these variables.

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Well, should AP resurface as a "spiritual sequel," here is what I'd like to see.

 

1. Skill points put into weapon skills should enhance damage instead of improving accuracy. Leave the aiming to the player.

 

2. More trade-offs. Not everyone likes playing mini-games so why not allow gadget specialists the perk of being able to "buy their way past" mini-games by letting them spend money on gadgets that will help them achieve mission objectives? (ex. let them bypass hacking with icebreakers or picking locks with skeleton guns.)

 

Then you may have players that might actually be enticed into playing a gadget specialist.

 

3. Better level design to allow different playstyles to succeed. Put in air ducts or something in a level for stealth guys or doors locked with key-card readers for gadget guys. Please don't force me to have to shoot my way through nearly every obstacle. If there is going to be a firefight, please design levels where there is cover and where cover actually provides cover.

 

4. Make Intel more utiltarian. Give me a dossier and floor plans and make me as a player actually have to look at the damned thing before beginning a mission so that it is up to me to figure out the best way to achieve mission goals that suits the playstyle I've chosen.

 

5. Dialogue options for specialization. If I am a stealth guy talking to my handler before a mission, let me chose a "Stealth" dialogue option so that she can suggest the best stealth options for my class and so forth. The DSS seems to be the strongest feature of the game as far as reviews go. Let it serve a purpose other than providing fluff for the plotline.

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