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Challenging lockpicking process

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  1. 1. What do you think of this system ?

    • Very good, I want that !
    • Not bad.
    • Better than nothing.
    • Nothing would be better than that !
    • Don't care.
    • Project Eternity becomes "Lockpicking: The Lockpickening" ? Just no.
  2. 2. Suggestions ?

    • More complexity !
    • Less complexity !
    • More character skill influence !
    • More player intelligence influence !
    • More freedom of action !
    • More guided process !
    • The cake is a lie !

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I came up with a little idea concerning lockpicking, some kind of menu based strategic process. The idea is to give the player more control on how the character should approach a problem, and the statistics of the character would determine if the action is successful or not. In principle, it is about breaking down the process of lockpicking into several stages. I came up with this idea because I don't want to see "one click actions" for non-combat skills, and particularly lockpicking. I want some fun and challenge, something to wrap my head around.


So, here it is :

1) There is not just one skill named "lockpicking", but instead it is divided into several sub-skills which represent the different stages of the process of lockpicking

- a skill to represent the capacity of the character to recognize which type of lock he has to deal with

- a skill to represent the capacity of the character to apply adequate tension with his lockpicking tools

- a skill to represent the capacity of the character to be aware of the sound feedback and interpret it adequately

- a skill to represent the capacity of the character to correctly interpret resistance to his tools

- we can also add skills that are more abstract and general, like timing, patience, etc..


2) In game, there are different types of locks: from very simple to very complex, and in different states : rusty, damaged, badly manufactured, brand new, etc.. So, we could have many different combinations : complex brand new AND badly manufactured, medium damaged, complex rusty, simple rusty AND damaged, etc., and each of those combinations is vulnerable to a certain skill or combination of skills, i.e.: a brand new lock is vulnerable to a good sound feedback skill, while with a rusty lock, a good sound feedback skill becomes less useful because the sound is distorted by the rust on the surface of the metal(more noise) ; a badly manufactured lock is more vulnerable to the tool resistance feedback skill because there are some bumps and holes on the surface of the mechanism's parts which helps, etc..


3) The lockpicking tools come in great variety. They serve to enhance the skills of the character, and they need to be adapted to the type and quality state of the lock, to a certain extent. For example, a certain tool gives more resistance feedback, another one can support more tension, etc.. Some tools should be fairly easy to acquire in game, while certain others should be hard to obtain. "Single ball", "double ball", "snake", "short hook", "long hook", "half diamond", "full diamond", "jiggler" are some of the names given to tools that are used in our real world for lockpicking.



The process :


The player encounters a closed door, or chest. I have imagined the process being displayed in the form of a menu. The goal is to arrive at 100%, at which the lock is open. The process starts at 0%. The player is free to use any combination of tool and action. For example : use his sound feedback skill in combination with a "full diamond", use his tool resistance feedback skill with a "jiggler", apply a certain amount of tension with a "short hook" etc.. Each adequate actions increases the % by a certain number, and inadequate actions decreases it. We can also imagine that the player can definitively jam the lock, by using inadequate actions, in this case the % of process could go in negative numbers, and if it reaches -100%, the lock is jammed.




The player needs to follow a predetermined process divided into several stages. In each of those stages, a limited list of actions (combinations of skills and tools) is presented to him, and he has to make the right choices. He can't go back to a previous stage. At the end of the process, the percentage is given to him, or it can be displayed between each stages.


The challenge for the player is to learn about the different types of locks, the different quality states of those locks, the different tools and their use, and advance and use his skills wisely. The balance between "player brain power" and "character skill influence" can be tweaked by increasing the influence that the character skills have on the % of process. We can also imagine a skill named something like "theoretical knowledge" which would influence the choices given to the player, knowledge acquired in books or with trainers, in a guild of thieves for example.


Some remarks :

The names of the different types of locks like "simple lock", "medium lock", "complex lock", could be replaced by the names of those who have invented those mechanisms in the game world. We can imagine for example 2 different mechanisms thus different inventors and names for each of the lock difficulty, a bit like the names given to magic spells in D&D : Olizuke Special Lock, Helius Inextricable Mechanism, etc.. It depends on the state of technology in the game world, but one should assume that someone has designed and crafted those locks. We can also imagine that it would be possible at one point in the game to meet one of those inventors, could also make a great quest/dialogue.


For those who will say "I want my character to succeed based on his stats and not my personal intelligence", my answer is you should consider that when you are in combat, you personal intelligence matters. A different strategy often means the difference between victory and defeat. What I did with this idea is kind of transposing a combat system into a lockpicking system, nothing more : different weapons/tools, different skills, different enemies/locks.


The idea as it is far from perfect and needs polishing. I am not expecting anything from the devs, maybe just influence them enough :-

Edited by czinczar
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Right, because this game is going to be "Lockpicking: The Lockpickening"


I'd vote against the idea, but there's no such option in your poll (EDIT: My bad. There is one, it's just phrased in an ambiguous way). My opinion on this is: I'm all for realism when it's appropriate and non-intrusive, but this really isn't. In a RPG, I'll gladly have the theory of locksmithing be abstracted from the ruleset.


Then there's also the implications: if you implement something like this, then you have to apply a similar paradigm to virtually every skill or it'll look out of place. Then you're stuck with a tangled web of complexity for a skill system.


Interesting idea in theory, absolutely terrible design choice in practice, methink.

Edited by Fooine
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Interesting idea but too much, this is more like tripping over my own feet....I mean it's not like I have anything better to do with my skill points besides sink them in five categories of lockpicking skills.


Beyond that I think a lockpick spell and just one kind of lockpicking skill will work just fine for me.

Edited by Darth Trethon
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I really do not want a lockpicking simulator. Just like I would prefer it not being a dating simulator or house decorating simulator.

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Ugh, please no or very few mini game type things, and adding so many skills just to do with lockpicking seems like it would just create a lot of clutter.


Personally I'd just like it if any class could open locks, in their own way.


Yes a thief can pick a lock, but why can't a mage melt/burn a lock or freeze it? (maybe the type or level of the spell can match up with the dificulty of the lock the same way a lock picking ability would for a thief) A warrior can bash a lock, but perhaps different weapons would be better or worse for it. I imagine blunt weapons and axes might work pretty well, but swords and daggers may not be as great.

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The comedy poll option should have been "I'd sooner pick my own eyes out". Don't think it would fit even in Thief, which isn't meant to be Locksmith Simulator 2012.




On the other hand, I've always kind of wanted to be able to pick locks in real life..... hmm.

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I'd prefer a simple pass or fail when it comes to lockpicking. I also hope that I can break a lock or force open a door or other locked object.


There's nothing as frustrating as failing to open a lock and not have other options for getting past the darned thing.

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Basically, I ask myself one question:


Is this still going to be fun the 100th time I do it? No.


Do I want something like this in the game then? No.


If you want to have complexity, don't put it on every dang pointless lock in the dang game. Write some interesting dang puzzles instead. Dangit.

Grand Rhetorist of the Obsidian Order

If you appeal to "realism" about a video game feature, you are wrong. Go back and try again.

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Well, too bad for you guys, I was going to start a thread to unveil my next great idea : micromanagement of romance, in which each emotion is represented by a skill, and then there is body language, and also sexual performance and.. tools, but now.. YOU WILL NEVER LAY DOWN YOUR EYES ON IT !



Seriously though, this idea of lockpicking system is less complex than it seems. It looks like it when explained, but in game in would feel more natural, and also there would be a gradual learning curve., different challenges, new stuff, etc..

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Sawyer tried to implement a lock-picking mini game to Jefferson aka The Black Hound but the idea was quite unpopular. A bit confusing thing to me is that Sawyer doesn't seem to like the conversation mini-game in Deus Ex: Human Revolution while I think the design philosophy behind it is basically same with what he suggested in his lock-picking mini-game idea.*


How to implement skills are always an issue especially in party management games since the game-play is mainly the party combat mini game. Implementing other mini-games related non-combat skills feels pretty unnatural compared with something like the Elder Scroll series (Why should the players need to do lock-picking in the first person view while he doesn't do it in combat?). Also, if the designers go for a strict simulation mechanism, the players shouldn't be involved in the details of each activity while the lack of any other challenge outside combat can make the game feel less involved, where the riddles and puzzles fit in the old IE games.


That said, indeed, some skills won't be struck by the oddity tied with the main game-play: Crafting skills in FONV were more or less resource management factor with the crafting UI, which shouldn't be called as a mini-game. This kind of system can be find either FONV or IE style games without problem except that one of the themes of FONV was survival, which is a different topic.


Frankly, I don't know how Sawyer and Can deal with the issue. If they go for Darklands sim style, then, the players are only allowed to choose from given choices for their characters - other options will be blocked (Thus the option for them is done at character building/possible respecing).


Let's see possible implementaion of Stealth Skills on the basis of party management game off the top of my head

  • Making stealth have roles in combat mini-game and/or maneuvering hostile areas.
  • Just offering different routes through lock-picking like Move/Throw Heavy Objects in DXHR.
  • Lock-picking/pick-pocketing to gain quest-related info/items.
  • Spotting useful info/items.

Depending on the map design, the players may be able to divide their parties into stealth team/combat team/negotiation team: Negotiation team buy time, stealth team sabotage, combat team - well kicking some peoples' a$$es. It seems this hugely depends on how the designers design each map since such implementation require each map to be unique. Depending the abilities of each designer, the gap of each map can be too obvious. Even the rushed IWD2 had this problem.


*As for whether implementing a conversation mini-game in PE, though, I agree that, considering the core system of NPC reactions, I'd rather like to see Alpha Protocol style C&C rather than Darklands sim or Deus Ex: Human Revolution mini-game. Indeed, I value the implementation in DXHR, to some extent, since it requires the players to pay attention to the characters of NPCs. However, I have never touched the game after finishing it and I don't think it would be interesting even if I played it again.

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The thing about DXHR's dialogue battles was not related to either its fun factor or balance, but the notion of roleplaying. It's at home in the DX (or AP) setting, but in a genuine roleplaying game, it shifts the gameplay from choosing the option which best fits your character and instead makes it a case of choosing the *right* option. I certainly hope that in a game like Eternity, that I can choose the interesting option instead of some defined "correct" one, aside from a few exceptions like riddles and whatnot. There should be no *right* answer.


Lockpicking on the other hand is about doing it right or doing it wrong, so I can understand where Josh is coming from in that regard. Not that I support making it a minigame; the hacking in DXHR is a large part of why I quit it about 2/3rds through.

Edited by Humanoid


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I like lockpicking, and I hate being able to bypass the whole lockpicking thing by just using brute force. As long as the necessary skills allow you to open a lock then I'm all for it. Ideally only items not essential for progressing through the game are found this way.

"The person who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing that is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself."


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God dammit, please just leave lockpicking to something like either Fallout or KOTOR. We don't need a bloody lockpicking minigame screwing with our flow!

FNV style would be the best i think. at most you can add the need for specific lockpick types for specific lock types but no more than that. let's say 3 diferent types of locks and 3 diferent types of picks if you have the right pick and the skill you can try to open the lock fallout style and that's it.

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Good idea, but too complex for this game. As PsychoBlonde said, would this be fun after the 100th time?

I would like to see a little more complex lockpicking mechanic than the "'Pick Lock' *failed* 'Force Lock' *success*"-type of thing, though. Or, keeping the actual lockpicking process easy and having more subskills in the lockpicking-skill, making your success or outcome dependent on those subskills. But not forcing you to spend all your earned points in that subskill. Maybe the subskills level up independently of your non-combat experience, instead having them level up through the outcome of every lock you pick, making the game more varied in that department for each playthrough and gamer. Of course, spending points in the lockpicking-skill effects these subskills as well, making the overall outcome more in your favour. Would love to see one subskill called "Humour", with a low probability of occurring, making some lockpicking attempts go horrifically wrong in a very funny way.


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- more than one skill - too complex IMO

- mini-game - might be fun but most minigames suck, don't they? i think lockpicking in fallout-vew vegas was boooooring. there was one game which had cool mini-games for this but i can't remember which one. deus ex? system shock?


anyway, if someone has a concept for a fun minigame (which is also fun the 100. time, like PsychoBlonde so aptly put it) i'm for it, if not then it should just be a dice roll.

Edited by Tobi
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I posted this idea for lockpicking on the non-combat skills thread, but think it bears repeating here--I'd like to see a lockpicking mechanic that incorporates risk and the feedback your character would get from the lock. Even if it's only a "you fail this time, would you like to get more aggressive but risk breaking the lock" type dialogue or option when picking, I think this would lend a lot more weightiness to the decision to pick or not to pick. With this kind of mechanic, you're not necessarily screwed if you sneak past a brigade of guards, a wizard, and his pet dragon only to find a chest just outside your lockpick range--you can still try it, but you may end up doing more harm than good.


I liken this kind of option to a player in combat being able to go "all in" and trying to defeat that ogre at 25% health when his party is at 10% health--you can use the skill and take a risk, but the consequences of failure are higher.

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Right. First things first requiring 4+ skills, that have no value on there own or in other context, to do one very specific thing is a very bad idea. It means I'd have to invest 4x the resources on that one activity to be just as good as I could be at any other. That's not really a tactically sound position and I think it would turn most people off lock picking. I think at most you want 3 different skills that would represent different methods of approaching the lock and possibly have different levels of effectiveness on different types of locks.


I think if I'd were to do this I'd go with lock picking, ward breaking, and forcing. Lock picking would be standard lock picking and would probably be equally effective across the board with an exception for wards. Ward breaking would be the magic equivalent; obviously this would be the most effective against wards but you'd have to worry about running into iron or magic resistant normal locks that can drastically lower your effectiveness. Forcing is just breaking the lock out right, which might have a chance of making wards explode and is always loud and irreversible (a picked lock can be re-locked, a smashed one can't). The really nice thing about these skills is that they can be easily expanded to cover other things. For example, lock picking could get rolled in with other thief-ish abilities like pick-pocketing and slight of hand while ward breaking could let you weaken an enemy's mystic defenses or remove curses and forcing could become outright demolition allowing you to sap bridges or make use of breaching charges.


I'm not sure how I'd handle the mini-game portion, but making it menu based seems like it would get really boring really fast.

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