B: Thief: Game of Shadows

I love the Thief series and all stealth games but what really frustrates me in newer games is they make it too action-y and you're capable of fighting your way out of most situations or even dive in guns blazing.

So I'm making a game that ONLY focuses on the stealth aspect of the game; and if you're spotted you're killed and must restart the level! You, the competent thief, are invisible in the shadows and can only be seen in the light. You also make noise if you walk too quickly. Guards can only see you if you're visible in their range of vision (their vision can be blocked by corners) and they can hear noise waves you make within a small radius (about 2 blocks).

Steal all the gold in the level to complete the game.

My prototype is being made in Game Maker 8.1 Lite. Graphics from ORYX under Creative Commons License

Download v6.0

Use the arrow keys to move around.
r = restart

* Keys and doors
* Secret doors and hidden rooms
* Clues


* Changed the thief sprite to be invisible
* Screen centered on thief
* Updated scenery sprites
* Updated graphics
* Built the ground floor and sewers of a castle
* Reduced the guards hearing radius
* Thief makes noise if the player moves to fast
* Changed treasure to coins. Collect all the coins to complete the map
* Teleporters which take the thief to other parts of the map. Look for holes in the ground and stairs.
* Migrated to GM8.1 Lite to use transparencies
* Path pointers for guard so they can travel a route


  • Being chased and killing guards is extra gameplay and has been removed. If you're spotted you're dead; game over. Makes the player really focus on stealth too
  • Updated to version 2 which is a "playable" game. I'm not sure what I'm supposed to do beyond this because anything else feels like adding gameplay...
  • Do I have to register an account to download? It seems to want me to @_@ No public dropbox?

    I get what you're saying though, about adding stuff. I would say that you've now got a mechanic, now if you can use all those elements to build different levels that exercise those mechanics in different way, as many as possible, then you have a game :) Like demanding as many different things from the player as possible, like timing, different movement patterns, multiple guards, etc etc :)

    Then if that starts to get old, add new stuff. Maybe. Only if you're sure if you've explored all the basic stuff :) IMHO :)
  • edited
    Hurgh, sorry, I've stumbled here with weary bloodshot eyes and haven't actually played yet (the download seems inaccessible to me too, and I've got Box anyway, perhaps you need to set your share permissions?), but thought I'd add my 2c to your concerns anyway.

    While I feel the spirit of this competition is hardcore reductionism (and the leading quote is certainly a damn inspiring one), I'm gonna point to another smartymouth who said make everything as simple as you can, but not simpler.

    I feel that there are several key pillars that hold up the stealth genre, and sound is one of them. I reckon that a major problem with so many games since Thief (aside from being too action-oriented and mediocre in every stealth-related way) is their almost complete ignorance of the fact that Thief treated sound like something holy. I still have horrific memories of clunking my way across the UNBELIEVABLY LOUD marble floors of First City Bank And Trust.

    I think you'd be forgiven for implementing a sound mechanic in your game. It's a part of Thief's greatness and is almost surely one of the first-in, last-out features. It needs to be done.

    As simply as possible, yes, but definitely done.

    You could abstract it in a very basic way, I think. Your noise meter is a circle around your character. That circle radius grows steadily bigger while you're performing any noise-generating activities, and shrinks while you're not. Any guard within that circle will be immediately drawn towards you, and as soon as they're in any conceivable LOS while in that circle ye're dead.
  • edited
    Fixed link, you should be able to download now.

    I wanted to do sound but thought it was "yet another" mechanic; but with your blessing I will implement it!
  • Oh and hey, after playing it now: how about making it turn-based? It seems to lend itself towards that, everything is already quite firmly timed and grid-based. :D

    You could have tighter environments overall, and instead of the guards moving at a fixed intervals you just make them take a turn every time you move. That may actually be pretty awesome if you wanna avoid strictly "adding" anything.
  • I thought about making it turn based but then you can't wait for guards to pass.

    And the way I'm doing the noise. I'm timing the gap between button presses; the shorter the time the more noise the move makes.
  • Oooh, okay, now THAT'S good. And a very compelling argument for not making it turn-based.
  • Damn! I installed GameMaker 8.1 Lite to get use the blend mode and it's locked to professional. I'm sorry for the poor quality of art available.
  • edited
    Latest update includes the thief make noise if the player moves too fast!

    Also includes coins which can be collected and "teleporters" which take you to other parts of the map.

    Comments and suggestions welcome!
  • That noise makes it pretty tricky, I thought it was great!

    I wasn't very sure of exactly when the guards would "hear" me though, I presume that it's whenever one of those sound blocks get within a certain range of the guard, but more than once I moved and I saw no sound block (unless my eyes deceive me), but I was found even though I was in darkness :O Maybe the sound block was created and immediately destroyed because I moved at just the right time?

    Also if you're in the light, but the light is completely disconnected from the light in front of a guard, can the guard see you? Does he have to be facing you? (may have been the above case with the sound, but more than once a guard seemed to see me behind him).

    Finally, I love you how can literally stand ON TOP of a guard and they don't notice you :P Maybe increase the light around guards to actually extend to the guard itself (and maybe just to the side of it).
  • The guard have peripheral vision and can see a little bit behind them if you're in light. The sound range is currently his view range but all around him.

    I'm toying between allowing you to take out guards when you stand on them or if they catch you. Either it makes the game easier or harder. Suggestions?
  • edited
    I'd say keep it purist and don't let guards be taken out directly. "Distractions" are a better bet.

    So I see you've implemented sounds as blocks rather than a radius. Interesting idea, but I reckon an important concern at the moment would be making it easier for players to figure out when their noise is going to be trouble for them. I like merciless insta-death, but I'd prefer to get good warning of the threat zone in such cases.

    I'd also add that once you have a simple prototype to your satisfaction and you find yourself twiddling your thumbs, you could always build some more content to showcase a bit of potential fun in action! See how many ways you can explore your idea!
  • v5.0 is up and shows the start of a proper level. I'm keen to know if anyone can get into the "throne" room where there are 3 coins. The upstairs aren't started yet but there's a sewer to access.

    Feedback appreciated.
  • I'm thinking of going rogue-like with a random level generator. Only 3-4 floors with the goal of completing the castle in the shortest time possible. Your thoughts?

    Playing my game last night I found myself speed running the level and it makes sense to see how fast it takes to collect all the treasure in the game.
  • I think if you're trying to really focus on the whole stealth/sneakyness thing then sure it's a bad idea to promote speed running?

    For a stealth game (the likes of which I have limited experience with, but Hitman seems like a good comparison to me, you're just collecting treasure instead of dead bodies) sure it would be better to have a few handmade levels (which, of course rules out random generation) with some treasure that is fairly simple to get and some treasure that is REALLY complicated and challenging to get? That way the player's score is more of a measure of how well they could be stealthy, but showing how many of the obstacles they could overcome without being detected.
  • @D3zmodos what I found after playing a couple of times was I knew where the treasures were for the level and trying to get them as quickly as I could so I could continue testing. Maybe the speedrun is only appropriate for replay.
  • Purdy cool! :D Managed to get into the "throne room" after a couple of tries, it was an interesting part of the challenge.

    One thing I'd suggest is trying to keep the screen fully centred on the character, mebbe, instead of just the partial border rules? I'd like to have a chance to study guard movement from a safe point instead of trial-and-error and starting again and stuff.
  • I like where this is going :D

    Though I'd like to see:
    a) same as Nandrew, the camera more centred on the character.
    b) I'd like to be able to run by holding down the arrow keys.
    c) Maybe make the "sound" block propegate outwards, so i have a better idea when i'm going to be heard?
  • So I played it until I (unintentionally) got the gaurds movement patterns down to muscle memory and I could basically almost do the level without thinking about being silent or hidden. It's quite fun to try and get passed all the gaurds :)

    Something I like about stealth games is trying to hide from enemies instead of just being in the places they can't see you. And also limiting the amount of information the player has about the NPC's. So two suggestions I would like to see:

    1) Create objects where I can hide from NPCs, like in the logs you have somewhere. Obstructing the view they have of you, but also obstructing your view.

    2) Make it so the player can only see NPC that is in line of sight. But add that you can "hear" enemies from 3 tiles away and through walls. That way you can know where they are but not which way they are facing.

    my 2c. :)
  • Thanks for the suggestions, I've started implementing them.

    I'm really liking the speedrun idea and thought about limiting the player's information. Then I remembered a game on iOS that gave a good thief-like experience.
  • I'm not getting the "feeling" and "emotion" I want from my game and I thought I'd try remaking the game as a platformer using the old-Sierra-style I used for the previous Art comp.

    But today I remembered Trilby: The Art of Theft.

    So I think I'm going to go back to the drawing board and figure out what is the mechanic I want and build towards that.
  • Well, good luck :P I thought your first one was going somewhere good enough. If you want a bit more "feeling", I could suggest a couple of things:

    (1) the original Thief's most tense moments were those borderline points where you'd be sitting in a corner and the guard would be walking right past you and you're like OHCRAPOHCRAAAAAP hoping that you're not spotted. The game build that you have is less "analogue" (which is why I'd assume it to be good as a puzzler, perhaps) and the guard's radii are more defined: making their movement paths perhaps sliiiightly random somehow could do stuff?

    (2) You may actually want a "warn / alert and hide" mechanic after all. Guards chasing you or actively hunting you down when they know you're around is a big emotional tug. That "OHSHITRUUUUN!" feel, yeah? So if you change the "hearing" radius from instant death to alertness and an affector of the guard's pathing, you'd be able to do interesting things. Some tricky treasure situations may actually involve "pulling" a guard from a posted position so you can run them a merry mission around somewhere else, then double back and take the loot while they're hunting you down somewhere else

    The only thing you'll need, I think, to implement this slightly dynamic pathing system is an acceptable knowledge of pathing lore in general, which I'm going to assume you already have (if not, there's some dead simple alg approaches I can point out, I use them myself and I have the programming savvy of a chimp*).

    Or you could use GM's built-in system, but uhhhh ... I never figured that out properly myself and it never seemed to give the results I wanted and like I said some algs are so chimp-friendly that it's hardly an effort to write my own.

    But if you wanna drop the top-down stealth approach and go platformer, best of luck. I'd be sad to see this particular approach die though, and I'd probably be inspired to try my own sneak-take if you don't continue. ;)

    *a dead one
  • I don't know why I didn't post v6.0 for the comp (unless I only worked on it after the comp). In any case I've uploaded the latest version I found when I saw the results were posted.
  • CONGRATS :D awesome product of a jam :) will play the latest when i get the chance to...
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