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Please note that this document was created for an old version of the game (actually, the version in the first blog post). Some parts (The Lobby, Firing Range, etc.) have been scrapped entirely, and others (Pedestrian system) redesigned considerably. I leave it here only to answer some of the questions I've had, and so that I can begin the task of rewriting it.

The Hit

Alternate Titles

Murder Incorporated

Kill Inc.

The Hit

The Hit is a multiplayer stealth-shooter, set in an open-world city. Kill your target as quickly and cleanly as possible, before other players get there first. Try to stay incognito, or photograph other players and take out hits on them,

The game will support mouse & keyboard, handheld controllers and Oculus Rift.

Game Flow

Start game

Before the game begins, the server will ask the player to log in to their account. If it is the first time they have played, they will be tagged as an “agency rookie” until they have completed their first successful multiplayer hit.

Lobby and Practice Room

After starting the game, players will be placed in the lobby, a small, intermediate section where they can practice some of the game mechanics before they enter the city proper. In the weapon area, they can select, purchase and test out weapons, check out the available contracts, and play with the stealth & disguise mechanics.

Firing Range(s)

The player will be able to try out the available weapons, or take a marksmanship test. Test results will be recorded, and shared on daily/weekly scoreboards

Reception Area

Walking around the reception area with a weapon out will alert the security and put the area into lockdown

City Spawning

The nearest city sections will be spawned while the player is still in the lobby

Entering the City

On exiting the start area, the player will automatically receive their first target, if they haven't chosen one from the lobby. If it is their first play, they will only have the option of choosing an easy, non-competitive assassination.

There are two options for where the player enters the city: Either they could exit the building at a randomly designated location, or the Agency headquarters could be fixed. If fixed, there will need to be a constant stream of pedestrians walking in and out of the building, otherwise enemy players could camp the building’s entrance with a sniper rifle, and kill emerging players. Making the location fixed also gives us the option of adding surveillance missions to the game later on.

Travel to target

Taxis are spawned all over the roads. If hailed and entered, it will automatically take the player to the general area of the target. Players can also use their mobile phones to call a taxi, as well as call the police or an ambulance to their location.

Locate target

The target will likely be surrounded by civilians, police and/or bodyguards, and potentially other players. First of all, the player will need to identify who the target is, by examining the photograph on the contract, and searching for them in the area. [Where's Wally type mechanic]

Targets will be randomised from a pool of types, including politicians, journalists, businesspersons, criminals, artists etc. and the location and support determined based on the type chosen. A politician may have a police escort, and an artist may be surrounded by an entourage that includes bodyguards, while a journalist might be unaccompanied, or meeting with someone.

Some missions will have the target on the move, either on foot or in a car, or the target may be sequestered inside a building, or travelling at a set time, which will give agents time to set up a sniping point, coordinate resources or surveil the area..

Complete contract

Once the target is dead, the contact is complete, and the player must call the agency to register the kill. The player may also photograph the target’s corpse for an additional bonus, though they may be too busy fleeing the scene to do so.

Look out for other players

Other agents may be present on an assignment, and players may be able to identify them from their behaviour. Once identified, they may choose to kill them (for no reward), distract them (by reporting them to the police, killing a nearby civilian or any other way the player can devise), photograph them and either sell the photograph or take out a hit on them, or simply ignore them.

Contracts will list the number of agents who have accepted the mission, as long as the player has sufficient security clearance.

Take photographs

Each player has a smartphone, which they can use to take photographs

During a mission, research can be carried out on the target by taking additional photographs and following/tailing the target to learn their routine. Information gained from such surveillance can be sold, depending on its importance, or acquiring it could be a mission requirement. A photograph of an assassination in progress could even be worth more than the contract itself.

Call hits on other players

If the player identifies another player during the contract, they can take a photograph of him/her and issue an immediate hit on that player. This hit is broadcast to all other players in the area, creating a heightened “cat and mouse” gameplay.

A player who issues a hit on another player must have sufficient funds to create a contract, but may choose to offer a small or large reward in addition to the minimum.

Don't get caught

Police are spawned randomly, so any area could have one or more police present. If they see you performing an illegal act, they will draw their guns and attempt to arrest you

Notoriety, Morality & Professionalism

During play, the game will constantly be tracking a set of metrics, such as the number of bullets fired subsequent to the completion of a contract, the number of civilians and police killed or injured by the player, and the amount of time they spend performing suspicious activities. (eg. constantly running, jumping and crawling, or walking around with a weapon unholstered). Based on this data, they will be categorised as ‘professional’, 'aggressive’, 'cautious' or 'douche-bag' and will be matched with players with similar play-styles.

Respect (xp) and promotions are gained in the Agency by completing contracts, faster progress being made by those who complete the highest risk assignments, and who cause the minimum amount of chaos.

Chaotic players, or those who prefer to play the game as a traditional FPS will be matched with other chaotic players, on missions which require a forceful approach. They may be facing a building full of bodyguards or an armed police escort. In these missions, players may be informed that all agents present are from their own agency.

The same metrics will effect a ‘Social Awareness’ meter, which will not be visible to the player, but may be inferred by the reactions of nearby civilians, who will keep their distance from the player, stop to photograph them, post a message on social media, phone the police or run away/cower if they are in danger. If they are jaywalking, cars will honk their horns and attract further attention to the player.

Playthrough

Hero (player-character) begins life as an inexperienced hit-man. They find themselves in the agency HQ. Pictures on the wall depict actions in the game (hailing a cab, talking to a policeman, standing over a target, etc.) A door leading to the lobby is closed. They must obtain equipment (knife, pistol, sniper-rifle) before the door will open, from a shielded window.

Their first mission is to assassinate someone walking along near-deserted streets. A police-officer will be walking the other way, so the player will need to make sure their weapon is holstered.

They locate the target, who will be walking along the street, at some distance from the police, so the player will have no interference from them, and carry out the assassination. Nearby citizens will be alarmed, and a few will take out mobile phones and call the police (note: none will attempt to photograph the player, although they may assume that’s what’s happening. We don’t want to introduce any more complications at this point).

The hit takes place in a part of the city with multiple avenues for escape, so the player will have no trouble evading the police (who will take their time arriving).

Following the hit, the game will continue in multi-player mode. If the player performs poorly in multiplayer, the game will re-run this easy mission, with variations, so the player cannot tell it isn’t a standard mission. We don’t want players giving up because they never win, and this is a simple way to give them an occasional success.

An individual play session has no definite end, as new targets are assigned constantly.

Building Generation

Exterior building generation will be handled using Jasper Stocker's BuildR package, which will be adapted to include doorways and facade detail. Large, open interiors, such as split-level shopping centres, hospitals, multi-storey car parks, etc. will be serve as interesting locations for assassinations. Hotels are another obvious choice for target locales, offering open foyers, confined spaces (corridors, stairwells and lifts), as well as opportunities for instigation

Player Actions

Movement

Movement is first-person, player is always in control of the movement.

Weapons/Tools

Player can rotate the mouse wheel to cycle weapons, or hold down the middle mouse button to display a silhouette of your character, with whatever weapons or tools they’re carrying. The holstered pistol will be selected initially

Additional weapons may include:

Knife. For close-up and stealthy assassinations.

Sniper Rifle. Carried in a large and obvious briefcase, and requires assembly before it can be used, but the ultimate weapon for an assassin.

Suitcase bomb. To use the bomb, the agent will need to kneel down to activate the device, then attach it to a surface and use their phone to trigger it. Comes in explosive/incendiary/smoke variants.

Use Camera Phone

With the phone selected, the player can hold the camera up (RMB) and take a photograph (LMB). The player may also shoot from the hip; this is less accurate, but is a less obvious action.

Use the keypad to control the phone/camera, press any key on the keypad to raise phone and use it, or select it from the inventory screen.

Use Special Equipment

As the player progresses through the game, additional equipment will become available. This may include:

‘Agent locator’ phone app, which will show the approximate location of any known enemy agents, and whatever information is known about them (number of confirmed hits, aggression level, the weapons & tools they prefer). Players using the app may be detected by enemy agents.

Electronic bypass device. May be a separate device, or built into the agent’s phone. Can be used to open doorways with electronic locks, safes, and an upgraded version may also be used to disarm explosives. Using the device can take over a minute, depending on the player's level and whether the device has been upgraded.

Ride in Taxi

Players can hail a taxi by facing the oncoming traffic and signalling. The taxi will automatically take them to vicinity of their current target.

Player Damage

Hit locations could be communicated to the player with image overlays, depicting the damaged area, with blood spatter or bullet paths overlaid.

If the player takes enough damage, their movement will be impaired. They may be unable to run, or only be able to crawl, or stagger slowly. If only lightly Injured, and winded or stunned, they may recover.

Pedestrians

Pedestrians are simple objects. They will move to next waypoint, face in direction of travel, and perform actions at random intervals. Pedestrians are generated locally, and not shared over the network, so each player will experience a slightly different city. Pedestrian and traffic density will be shared, however, so a street which is densely populated in one player's game will appear similarly crowded to the other players.

Targets

Targets will behave as pedestrians, though the specific scenario may restrict their movement. Their position and current action will be shared across the network, and their appearance synched so that each player will see the same target.

Records of each hit will be stored on the player’s profile along with the target’s photo, and can be accessed once the player has the required security clearance.

Agencies

Respect (xp) and promotions are gained in the Agency by completing contracts, faster progress being made by those who complete the highest risk assignments, and who cause the minimum amount of chaos.

As players complete hits and gain promotions, they will also gain security clearance levels. Higher levels will give them access to specialised equipment, and access to Agency databases, so players will be able to see details of lower-ranked agents and coordinate assignments. At higher levels still, information on other agencies will be available, which will open the game up to inter-agency conflict and espionage.

Ranks/Security Clearance

Kills Security Clearance

0 Pistol and knife

1+ Promotion, Access to own profile

3+ Sniper Rifle

5+ Promotion, vehicle (computer access restricted due to hacking attack)

6+ Access to profiles of lower-ranked agents

10+ Promotion: Able to create and coordinate missions

15+ Future development: Create and coordinate inter-agency missions

Enemy agents the player encounters will be assumed to belong to rival agencies, unless the mission involves a team of agents, in which case they will be presented to the player as belonging to their own agency, or a friendly agency. This will give a deeper experience which can be catered to individual players, while not losing the benefits of multiplayer gaming.

Missions from other agencies, or from government ‘black-ops’ organisations, will become available during play. These will generally be high-risk assignments on well-protected targets. The rewards from these missions may give access to specialised equipment or information, or may even lead to the player being able to defect, or to infiltrate other agencies as a double-agent.

Look & Feel

City

Unlit, mostly flat colours, but using gradients for large surfaces and a single dark colour for detail

UI

Clean, simple, white

Audio

The audio design for the game will consist of background ambience, spot effects and music loops. Different music loops will play depending on the Player's situation. If an enemy is aiming a weapon at the player, a 'tension' layer will be introduced to the music playing. If they react to the tension theme, by looking around or attempting evasive manoeuvres, the enemy will know the player is not an AI, and either seek to complete the kill, or try to photograph the player so they can call a hit on them. If the player continues to blend-in with the AI-controlled characters, the enemy may move on to another target, thinking the player to be an AI themselves.

Ambient Audio

Crowds, traffic, animals (where appropriate), wind, weather, Spot Effects, Music

Game Modes

Each of the standard modes can have variants, where one or more of the players has a different objective from the others.

Hit (standard)

Each player must attempt to take out the target before the other players can.

Protect

Instead of killing the target, the player must protect them from the other players.

Moving Target

Similar to protect, but the target must reach a safe-house. While the journey can be made on-foot, success is much more likely if the defending player uses a vehicle.

[TBC: Will this mode require drivable vehicles?]

Interception

One or more of the players is secretly assigned another player as a target

Surveillance

The player is required to gather information. This will be an easy mission option designed for players who are having trouble completing contracts. The reward will be low, but the chance of success high.

Courier

The player must protect a package, which may be something small enough to be carried in a briefcase, or something that requires a vehicle to transport. Depending on the player’s skill level, courier missions could be easy or difficult.

Asset List

City

Buildings

Streets and street-furniture

Hospital model with interior

Multi-story car-park model

Hotel model with interior?

Park

NPCS

Civilian body parts

Most body parts can be instantiated from prefabs, but heads should be generated procedurally when the character is spawned. General variables: Height, build Head, torso, arms, legs will be instantiated from prefabs and scaled

Head

The character's head will be generated and textured procedurally, based on the general variables (height, build, etc.)

Policeman model

Policewoman model?

Animals?

Vehicles

Cars

Bikes

Taxi

Train?

AI

Vehicle AI

Vehicles will steer from one waypoint to the next, until they reach a junction

Vehicles can stop, and pull in to the kerb

Vehicles will store the amount of waypoints passed since last stopped, so cars aren't travelling short distances.

Taxis will behave like cars, but will pull over when hailed.

Pedestrian AI

NPCs will move from one waypoint to the next. Sequential waypoints are chosen by interrogating the target waypoint for connections, being mindful not to backtrack.

Guards inherit from pedestrian, aim at anyone carrying a weapon, shoot if attacked.

NPCs can perform actions at random intervals, like taking photographs, or using a mobile phone.

A possibility: pre-generated movement

Pre-calculation of pedestrian movement would allow the bulk of the pedestrian AI to be removed from the realtime calculations, and then only local player positions would need to be exchanged to accurately replicate the movement of thousands of NPCs across the network. Routines like leaving for/from work, school, pub etc. could also more easily be built into a data-based system than a run-time one.

Complex pathfinding could be done without the need for it to run in realtime. Small deviations, such as moving to avoid the player, could be handled by deforming the path locally, though larger deviations would have to be calculated using runtime AI.

AI agents who deviate completely from their paths due to player interference will attempt to rejoin their assigned path, moving slightly faster until they either catch up or leave the game’s active area.

Actions

Run

Cower (crouch and take cover)

Crouch

Threaten

Attack ( police, guards and civilians will have different violence thresholds)

Radio for backup

Use mobile phone (To call police, or order a hit on a character)

Take photograph (zoomed)

Take photograph (unzoomed) NPCs will rarely do this

take hostage

fall over

Animations

Radio for backup

Use mobile phone (To call police, or order a hit on a character)

Take photograph (zoomed)

Take photograph (unzoomed) NPCs will rarely do this

take hostage

fall over

Draw/Holster weapon. Pistol, knife, shotgun, sniper rifle.

Aim gun/attack with weapon

Assemble sniper rifle

Hail Taxi

Walk, run, idle

Use phone (text, menu)

Use phone (take photo)

Use phone (speak on phone)

Use phone (set callback)

Cower (crouch and take cover)

Crouch

Threaten

EQUIPMENT

body armour,

clothes

Data Structure

Photographs

Photos could either be stored and shared across the network in the form of a 2D texture, or as a set of data from which the image (or a close-enough approximation thereof) can be reconstructed.

The 2D image method would allow hits to be recorded and posted online, as part of the player profile, while the data method is easier, faster, consumes less bandwidth and is much more versatile.

Easter Eggs

An assassination target with a bald head, black suit and red tie.

Future Development

City Features

Hotel

Supermarket

Apartment building

Museum

Gallery

Body Disposal

This one mechanic could open up a range of potential missions and play-styles.

The player could be tasked with reaching a location, finding a body and taking it to a safe disposal site.

The player could begin a mission immediately after a kill, and have to get away with murder. The body could be hid, the player could run. Police could be distant, or already looking for the player.

A murder could take place within the Agency, or inside an enemy agency HQ. Again, the player may have to hide the body and escape before it is found and the agency locked down.

Bodies could be wrapped in plastic, hidden in the trunks of cars, dropped from bridges into cargo containers, etc.

Real-time Procedural Generation

If the city is generated at runtime, then very different types of environment could be generated, without the need for them to occupy the same map. While the player takes a taxi to their next job, the game could be generating a city center, a business district, with skyscrapers and office blocks, a residential area, and industrial area, the outskirts of town, or any type of environment that assets could be sourced for.

Players across the network could easily share the same seeds, and therefore the same maps. This would make it easier to confine groups of players with similar play-styles, or to create solo or team-based missions.

Procedural Generation Resources

http://vterrain.org/ The goal of VTP is to foster the creation of tools for easily constructing any part of the real world in interactive, 3D digital form.

http://pcg.wikidot.com/ The PCG Wiki is a central knowledge-base for everything related to Procedural Content Generation, as well as a detailed directory of games using Procedural Content Generation.

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Page last modified on April 17, 2014, at 09:16 PM