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PaizoCon 2014!

Curious: Stealth Mechanics


Pathfinder Online

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Goblin Squad Member

I am curious what the Goblinworks development team has in mind for implementation of stealth mechanics. Also curious to hear player input.

Players hiding from NPCs?

Players hiding from players?

Hiding when being observed?

Hiding with help of invisibility or similar spells?

I know these things are pretty straightforward in PnP, but my experience with MMOs, as well as other RPG, even D&D video games has shown that actual implementation is rarely so straightforward.

Not to mention the idea of being able to hide player built structures (hideouts).

Goblin Squad Member

I hope there is a stealth mechanic, perhaps once you learn stealth (general tree) you can use it; environmental effects should play in. Of course, these environmental effects should go both ways:
- Darkness and deep forest should provide bonuses
- daylight and wasteland should provide negatives.

Movement speed should have a negative effect. Ideally the effect would be a competition between the perceivers Perception, and the hiders Stealth. Hidden players would not be visible on the UI.

Archetypes such as rogue should offer additional skills which give bonuses to stealth.

Certain gear should be able to give bonuses/negative in certain situations (for example):
- Plate will always give a negative to stealth.
- Ninja suits should give a small general bonus and a bigger bonus in darkness.
- Big shields and big weapons are an obvious minus.

Invisibility and related effects should only give a huge bonus to stealth. There is after all the possibility even an invisible character can step on a stick or have their imprints on the ground seen.

Goblin Squad Member

I like the house rule I've seen of invis adding a +20 bonus.

Goblin Squad Member

Blaeringr wrote:
I like the house rule I've seen of invis adding a +20 bonus.

I have never seen that house rule...I too like it.

Goblin Squad Member

Blaeringr wrote:

I am curious what the Goblinworks development team has in mind for implementation of stealth mechanics. Also curious to hear player input.

Players hiding from NPCs?

Players hiding from players?

Hiding when being observed?

Hiding with help of invisibility or similar spells?

I know these things are pretty straightforward in PnP, but my experience with MMOs, as well as other RPG, even D&D video games has shown that actual implementation is rarely so straightforward.

Not to mention the idea of being able to hide player built structures (hideouts).

No idea on the depth or level of hiding from players, whether it will be possible while observed etc... I would say the NPC guards that were talked about, hiding from should be near imposible, as they have been described as having perfect tracking etc... I'm fairly certain that in the lawful NPC towns, that pulling a fast one on the NPCs is intended to be impossible.

Elsewhere though in player defended cities, and if players are able to hire NPCs, I have no vague guesses on how they will do stealth. I do hope they can pull off something similar to DDO in it being sensitive to facing direction, darkness cover etc... Though I have no idea how complicated that would be in player related areas.

Goblin Squad Member

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Forencith wrote:
Blaeringr wrote:
I like the house rule I've seen of invis adding a +20 bonus.
I have never seen that house rule...I too like it.

that is actually not a house rule, that is core pathfinder

PRD wrote:

If a check is required, a stationary invisible creature has a +40 bonus on its Stealth checks. This bonus is reduced to +20 if the creature is moving.

Goblin Squad Member

Stealth in DDO is a lot better than I've seen in most MMOs, aside from the facts that you can't hide from players at all, and re-hiding from monsters was very poorly designed. They tried to write it in, but it looks like they gave up half way through.

If you agro a monster in DDO, then try to lose it, the devs have tried to write something that makes sense where it looks like the monster is searching for you. The problem is that the AI still knows exactly where you are, it just pretends not to by going to your exact location on a slight delay, do an attack, delay, move to where you were five seconds ago, and so on.

I once posted a video on the results of exploiting that poorly written mechanic. You merely had to move outside of a monster's normal agro range, and it continued to pretend not to know where you are at the same time as not actually knowing where you are anymore. So if you go back into range, it won't attack you anymore, even if you attack it. The video I posted was of all the giants in Redwillow Ruins standing around and ignoring me while I beat on them. Completely shut off all aggressive AI in the quest.

Most players didn't know about that bug, so they took a REALLLLLLY long time to do a poor job of fixing it. It actually made it possible to shut off the AI of raid bosses and make them stand around like a training dummy while you solo'd the Shroud. Kept that pretty hush hush though.

Goblin Squad Member

Onishi wrote:
Forencith wrote:
Blaeringr wrote:
I like the house rule I've seen of invis adding a +20 bonus.
I have never seen that house rule...I too like it.

that is actually not a house rule, that is core pathfinder

PRD wrote:

If a check is required, a stationary invisible creature has a +40 bonus on its Stealth checks. This bonus is reduced to +20 if the creature is moving.

Ah, well that is why I like PF...I like their rules. Anyway, I play a low fantasy, dark, gritty custom campaign and I don't remember anyone ever using invisibility (and if they did the GM probably customized the effects). Good to know though, thanks.

Goblinworks Executive Founder

I've never seen an AI that handled stealth properly. Lots of them recognize when they lost the player, but I've never seen them search intelligently. I also can't describe how to determine where something might be, based on its last known location, time elapsed, and areas already searched.

Goblin Squad Member

Copied this over from the other related thread:

Forencith wrote:
Forencith wrote:
DeciusBrutus wrote:
I think that defensive stealth should be implemented in some way, but stealth should not be available in combat to regular characters.

I would say no character without some serious distractions involved (this may range from a special distraction ability or even the combatant focusing on a different opponent for a moment). But, as long as a player is focused on another player...stealthing should be seriously inhibited.

Oh, and stealth is not a condition, it is an adjective; you walk stealthily, the only way you walk in stealth is if someone names their city such. So, hiding gives you a certain hide score, everyone who has a higher perception than your hide score should be able to perceive you, anyone who does not, should not.

Goblin Squad Member

DeciusBrutus wrote:

I've never seen an AI that handled stealth properly. Lots of them recognize when they lost the player, but I've never seen them search intelligently. I also can't describe how to determine where something might be, based on its last known location, time elapsed, and areas already searched.

DDO does pretty good, they run around looking in the areas where they saw you last, you also can partially trip up in your sneaking (it's 3.5 rules so hide and move silently are seperate skills). If you slip up in a move silently check, they will run to the area they heard a sound, but not be able to tell exactly where you are unless they bump into you or you fail a hide check. Also there were tricks like bluff and noisemaker traps that rogues could plant that would cause enemies to search the wrong areas.

It did also work well both ways, enemies hiding had the same traits, if they are hiding and you had high spot you could see them, or in some cases you could hear them and not see them (it would flash sort of red waves from the ground in the area you heard the noise).

There were still flaws in it, and it was 100% unimplemented for PVP (probably because the devs had no real intention of ever catering any of the game for PVP)

Goblin Squad Member

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@Onishi They don't look where they last saw you, the follow you on a slightly delayed intermittent timer. It's kind of like pinging you with a radar but the signal the radar gets is about 5 seconds behind your actual position.

For most players it works, although it's kinda odd how they keep following you.

For a really really observant player, it is HUGELY exploitable. Understanding it completely is like knowing where the off switch is for hostile monsters: go in, turn off the raid boss's brain, kill him solo without any healing. Very broken, but almost nobody knows how to do it. Almost.

Goblin Squad Member

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I just want to see stealth handled logically for a change

If you want to 'hide' you need a place to 'hide'

Only magic can make you invisible

if you are on a dirt plane, unless magic is involved, or you have a pre-dug hole with a false entrance; you can't disappear from sight. And seeing you go into your false entrance would give away it's position to those who saw you.

Goblin Squad Member

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Remember:

If your client knows where my character is, even if your client is told not to show you, enough people will cheat that being hidden is meaningless - and in fact the non-cheaters then play at a significant disadvantage.

Reasons your client might need to know where my character is:

* I have magical effects on me that affect you.
* You have magical effects on you that affect me.
* You run in to me and collide (or vice-versa).
* A pet you control can sense me (blindsight, scent, tremorsense, etc.)

Even stranger case: If there is a 3rd party involved who can see me, then that information can be passed to you and you will be able to know where I am as well. So being "hidden" needs to apply to every potential observer in the space, not just a subset.

You would have to know when I opened a door or triggered a trap, or attacked or was attacked by a PvE entity; all of which reveal my location.

In general, being "hidden" is an all-or-nothing proposition, where the server does not communicate any information about my position to your client, period. And when my "hidden" state ends, every client can access that information. Thus, as a game mechanic, its less than ideal and doesn't work the way people wish it would.

Goblinworks Executive Founder

I don't have a problem with "If any enemy detects me, all enemies detect me." That's how I run PnP games- if any player knows where an enemy is, all of them do. If any enemy knows where a player is, all of them do. You still get some benefits for being invisible/unseen, but not being on the map isn't one of them.

Also, client side collision detection is not needed, if cheaters removing features is a reason not to include them. Same with client-side anything.

Goblin Squad Member

Ryan Dancey wrote:

Remember:

If your client knows where my character is, even if your client is told not to show you, enough people will cheat that being hidden is meaningless - and in fact the non-cheaters then play at a significant disadvantage.

Reasons your client might need to know where my character is:

* I have magical effects on me that affect you.
* You have magical effects on you that affect me.
* You run in to me and collide (or vice-versa).
* A pet you control can sense me (blindsight, scent, tremorsense, etc.)

Even stranger case: If there is a 3rd party involved who can see me, then that information can be passed to you and you will be able to know where I am as well. So being "hidden" needs to apply to every potential observer in the space, not just a subset.

You would have to know when I opened a door or triggered a trap, or attacked or was attacked by a PvE entity; all of which reveal my location.

In general, being "hidden" is an all-or-nothing proposition, where the server does not communicate any information about my position to your client, period. And when my "hidden" state ends, every client can access that information. Thus, as a game mechanic, its less than ideal and doesn't work the way people wish it would.

I was actually expecting this post. I suppose I am not sure why the client is being sent information if the server determines you should not be able to see an agent. As for collision, the server should still determine two objects can't occupy the same space...and if you collide with a hidden object I imagine you would get a huge bonus to your perception skill...if you still do not surpass the hiders stealth skill, then the server should not let you move forward.

And...I am not convinced about all or nothing. Seems when my client queries the server, if I do not have the necessary rights as dictated by my perception skill, then I should not get a response concerning the hidden character. Another player might. I see no problem with someone next to me being able to see an animal in the distance that I cannot...in fact, this happens all the time IRL. If I cannot see it, I cannot target it...but my ally who can see it can shoot it, and when it bounds out of hiding to get away, then I will see it too.

But...then we just bring the debate full circle, returning to the discussion about darkness.

Goblin Squad Member

DeciusBrutus wrote:

I don't have a problem with "If any enemy detects me, all enemies detect me." That's how I run PnP games- if any player knows where an enemy is, all of them do. If any enemy knows where a player is, all of them do. You still get some benefits for being invisible/unseen, but not being on the map isn't one of them.

Also, client side collision detection is not needed, if cheaters removing features is a reason not to include them. Same with client-side anything.

Well that is kind of why there is almost nothing done client side. Movement/positioning, is managed by the server, cooldowns etc... also managed by the server. Inventory/loot, managed by the server... Clients are intended to be more or less dumb terminals that do little more then tell the server what commands you want to send, and translate what the server says into polygons. It is a rule in IT security, whatever goes into the hands of the end user, may as well already be compromised. So in general if anything the client knows can give a significant unfair advantage, then that is a bad idea.

That being said I actually am not sure on individual stealth. For darkness I understood it because of the quanity of characters that would be hidden in darkness. For invisibility/stealth that was not available to every class or character, it actually might be plausible

Quote:


* I have magical effects on me that affect you.

Trying to think of any persistant magic aoes that would be a factor. That being said you guys may have entirely different spells then the P&P game that we are all unaware of, so I half conceed to this point. However it could be worked around by the server knowing, and applying those effects on me when I get in range, without need to inform you. Or you could rule that the instant I am in range of an effect my stealth is broken.

Quote:


* You have magical effects on you that affect me.

You could flat out disallow aoe magic effects while in stealth

Quote:


* You run in to me and collide (or vice-versa).

Collisions are more likely then not handled server side (otherwise people would create walk through anyone server hacks. colliding could break stealth.

Quote:


* A pet you control can sense me (blindsight, scent, tremorsense, etc.)

since a pet may more or less be a part of a character, and most pets are at least somewhat "Linked" to their owners (IE familiars/animal companions), you could consider the person visible at that point. Otherwise it could bark/growl just as a warning that something is near and depending on the temperment, attack it, without the owner knowing what it's fighting

Quote:


Even stranger case: If there is a 3rd party involved who can see me, then that information can be passed to you and you will be able to know where I am as well. So being "hidden" needs to apply to every potential observer in the space, not just a subset.

Well this in P&P if one person sees an invisble thing and another can't, I allow them to relay the direction, but not the exact square. Same could be said for chat, someone can yell "lookout rogue behind you", but that wouldn't tell me the rogues exact location and IMO it shouldn't quite.

Quote:


You would have to know when I opened a door or triggered a trap, or attacked or was attacked by a PvE entity; all of which reveal my location.

traps might be fickle, but I'm not sure why a door can't seem to mysteriously open, or a trap appear to explode/go off for a reason I can't see.

Quote:


In general, being "hidden" is an all-or-nothing proposition, where the server does not communicate any information about my position to your client, period. And when my "hidden" state ends, every client can access that information. Thus, as a game mechanic, its less than ideal and doesn't work the way people wish it would.

You may be right, the coding may just be too much to be worth the work... To me what I think is actually the biggest technical issue (asside from whether an engine can handle other effects without telling a client), is the issue of rendering, Stealth and invisibility should both break the second an attack is made, but odds are it will take at least 3 seconds for the server to tell the client to go from Completely unaware, to drawing ___'s character, name etc... which is 3+ seconds more then one should be penalized after already being caught off gaurd and blindsided.

how the heck does this topic keep coming back to life. how can we kill it? That's it I'm casting magic missile on the darkness thread

Goblin Squad Member

Onishi wrote:
Quote:
You would have to know when I opened a door or triggered a trap, or attacked or was attacked by a PvE entity; all of which reveal my location.
traps might be fickle, but I'm not sure why a door can't seem to mysteriously open, or a trap appear to explode/go off for a reason I can't see.

Very true...doors blow open or shut all the time and we do not attribute it to invisible people. I would have environmental effects/impacts like this give a huge bonus to perception. If you still do not beat their hide score, you do not see them. You may act wary, or even go investigate the cause of the disturbance, maybe even getting close enough to more easily perceive the hidden character, but this is something the hider must factor in before acting on the environment.

Goblin Squad Member

Stealth check can be made to open a door silently. As long as nobody is looking at the door while it is being opened, there is no reason to suspect anything.

Even though using doors or levers breaks invisibility in DDO (counter to PnP rules) there is still a way around being spotted while doing so: stop sneaking (ie moving silently) and run a few steps, then begin sneaking again. When monsters move towards the sound to investigate, creep around behind them, open the door, re-cast invisibility on yourself, and begin sneaking again.


I believe stealth should be implemented provided it can be done without holes for cheaters. Even some other mechanics can be sacrifices to do this.
Basically, if a couple of spells interfere with stealth, it is better to scrap the spells than scrap stealth. The reason for this is simple: even without a couple of spells, magic in general will still work. But if you sacrifice stealth for a couple of spells, then you lose a whole game mechanics.

Ryan Dancey wrote:

Reasons your client might need to know where my character is:

* I have magical effects on me that affect you.
* You have magical effects on you that affect me.
* You run in to me and collide (or vice-versa).
* A pet you control can sense me (blindsight, scent, tremorsense, etc.)

From this list, only the third point may be a real problem. I don't know how loading it is for the server to detect possible collisions, but if it requires too much resources, then it *might* be a legitimate reason to give up on stealth. But then again, in this case cheaters can bypass collision detection and ruin some other mechanics.

As for magical effect, you can make the aoe effects' centers separate entities, bound to characters' position but not the characters themselves. Players will learn to not use them when in stealth, to avoid detection.

Pets are not a problem at all. If a pet detects a hidden character, it can either give its owner a sign or just reveal the sneak - both variants are viable - at least they don't destroy stealth as a whole.

Such game-breaking things as blindsense should either not be allowed to a MMO at all or have counters.

Ryan Dancey wrote:
Even stranger case: If there is a 3rd party involved who can see me, then that information can be passed to you and you will be able to know where I am as well. So being "hidden" needs to apply to every potential observer in the space, not just a subset.

Not a problem either, it's the same IRL or in P&P.

Ryan Dancey wrote:
You would have to know when I opened a door or triggered a trap, or attacked or was attacked by a PvE entity; all of which reveal my location.

Again, it is this way in real life and P&P. An opening door with no-one standing nearby is a giveaway sign as it is.

Ryan Dancey wrote:
In general, being "hidden" is an all-or-nothing proposition, where the server does not communicate any information about my position to your client, period. And when my "hidden" state ends, every client can access that information.

But why should it be this way? The server already filters the information it gives to individual clients based on the distance. Why can't it use one more filter based on stealth values and perception checks?

Goblin Squad Member

You could potentialy impliment a pseudo-stealth mechanic, which means you don't worry about hiding the presence of the character from the client... so it avoids all the rendering hack complications... instead the system just limits how you can interact with "stealthed" characters (i.e. no targeting, trading with them, etc) and how they can interact with you...since that's something the server CAN keep track of without caring what the client tries to tell it....plus the server is likely to have to do some logical checks on objects you try to interact with anyway, at the time of interaction...so just one additional logic check to determine if the stealthed object has been "spotted" by your character yet or not.

All you'd need to do rendering wise then is put some sort of visual cue on the object to indicate to the client that it is "hidden" from that character... so the player knows whether it can be interacted with or not. No advantage for cheaters there.

The other thing you can do, as I've suggested previously, is limit the amount of information available on "stealthed" objects. All the client really needs to know that is time sensitive is how to render the object... it doesn't neccessarly need to know other details about the object such as might be provided by a typical /CON command. So you know there is something that looks like an Orc hidden over there...but you don't know whether it's a level 1 orc scrub or a 20th level orc warlord.

Goblin Squad Member

Fra Antonius wrote:


Ryan Dancey wrote:
In general, being "hidden" is an all-or-nothing proposition, where the server does not communicate any information about my position to your client, period. And when my "hidden" state ends, every client can access that information.
But why should it be this way? The server already filters the information it gives to individual clients based on the distance. Why can't it use one more filter based on stealth values and perception checks?

Because you're running a program that intercepts the packets sent between the client & the server and decrypts them. It then maps the location of all objects in the game space to a 3D visualization that is displayed on your 2nd monitor, giving you a "god's eye" view of the whole area. That same tool also transmits this information to everyone in your guild, updating their maps in real-time, so that they see everything you see, and vice versa. Anything known to any one of your team is therefore known by every member of your team.

Like this:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ShowEQ

Oh - you're not using these tools? That sucks, because the people you're playing against are and that gives them an advantage you don't have.

RyanD


Ryan Dancey wrote:

Because you're running a program that intercepts the packets sent between the client & the server and decrypts them. It then maps the location of all objects in the game space to a 3D visualization that is displayed on your 2nd monitor, giving you a "god's eye" view of the whole area. That same tool also transmits this information to everyone in your guild, updating their maps in real-time, so that they see everything you see, and vice versa. Anything known to any one of your team is therefore known by every member of your team.

Like this:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ShowEQ

Oh - you're not using these tools? That sucks, because the people you're playing against are and that gives them an advantage you don't have.

RyanD

Wow, I never imagined how far those cheaters could go...

That really sucks, but pseudo-stealth ideas by GrumpyMel are actually quite good and could still work, maybe even combined with standard stealth. Like if no-one sees the stealthed character, even its "shadow" is not displayed. Though this would probably be an unnecessary complication.
Those damn cheaters...

Goblin Squad Member

A non-exploitable stealth system is what you add to the game once you have paid off all your investors and you are bringing in a surplus of money that can be used to beef up the game servers.

Goblinworks Executive Founder

Why does the server need to communicate the location of a hidden character to the client? By all means, send all the other information (height, weight, name, equipment...) so that the client can have all the right texture information cached. In fact, send all the basic information to the client for several stealthy characters, just to keep cheaters on their toes. When a character breaks stealth, such as when an enemy walks into them, provide the location and clear the stealth flag.

Please, don't let theoretical cheaters gut features that should be core.

Goblin Squad Member

@Decius, imagine the amount of work the server would have to do to loop through every character online to see who detects whom. Now realize the number of different factors relevant to each character which might modify that calculation.

I'm not positive, but I would imagine the server sends key information about each character that comes in range, and updates as little information as possible with each pulse of data, and lets the client figure out whether you can see the characters nearby.

Goblinworks Executive Founder

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The server only needs to check each character who is stealthy to see if they meet conditions which break stealth. The only conditions which break stealth would be increasing your detection threshold over your stealth value, by being in the vicinity of other players long enough. That's just keeping track of one number on each stealthy creature, scales N for N players and N monsters.

Any -action- which ends stealth would end stealth as part of resolving the action, or maybe just increase detection. Entering stealth is normally impossible in any condition where you are gaining detection for any reason.

Goblin Squad Member

But your actually saving bandwidth by not sending information on stealthed characters. You could walk past an entire army in stealth and if your character cannot perceive it, there is no reason to clutter your client or bandwidth with data on anything.

As for cheat tools such as ShowEQ, so what if your buddy says there is a guy stealthed next to you (which is what this is basically doing)...if your client cannot see it, you cannot target it, and you cannot meaningfully respond to it (short of taking up a defensive stance where you "think" the character is stealthed). This is even RP'able. I don't see how it breaks stealth or the game.

It is the same solution we suggested for darkness...in darkness everyone is essentially stealthed. But, as I have said before, I don't program games, and I am sure I just don't understand some important aspect that must be considered.

Goblin Squad Member

@Decius, it's not really true that the "server only needs to check each character who is stealthy to see if they meet conditions which break stealth". If the server is going to be checking these kinds of things then it's going to be checking whether I "detect" the non-stealthed person behind me, and whether I "detect" the person standing around the corner. Basically, the server would have to be constantly analyzing a ton of information on every possible relation between any two characters.

@Forencith, I'm not really an expert either, although I do have a lot of experience programming in general. The bandwidth issue is kind of "six of one, half-dozen of the other" because of the problem in suddenly trying to send all of the other character information if I suddenly cast Detect Invisibility. I remember many times teleporting into Dalaran and having significant lag while all the other players were gradually painted in. It's probably much more efficient to transmit the basic character info when that character first enters some range, and then update it sparsely as that character moves or changes states.

Don't get me wrong. I very much want there to be effective stealth and darkness. I also am not 100% clear on why they couldn't use Virtual Private Network (VPN) technology to secure the communication and keep a middle-man from decoding the packets. But even then, I know very well how easy it is to read the memory directly, and I can't imagine it being at all efficient to encrypt or obfuscate the data in-memory.

Paizo Employee Chief Technical Officer

Nihimon wrote:

I also am not 100% clear on why they couldn't use Virtual Private Network (VPN) technology to secure the communication and keep a middle-man from decoding the packets. But even then, I know very well how easy it is to read the memory directly, and I can't imagine it being at all efficient to encrypt or obfuscate the data in-memory.

From the wiki article Ryan linked:

wiki wrote:

SOE has used a number of encryption techniques to defeat ShowEQ, but because of the enormous bandwidth and latency demands placed on their servers, there is a point of diminishing returns with respect to strong encryption of the EverQuest protocol.

Because of this, it has been easy enough through most of ShowEQ's existence to simply crack the session key in use by the client that ShowEQ is watching in real-time.
However, for a brief period around the release of The Planes of Power expansion, SOE did go to a stronger encryption scheme (actually, stronger key selection). During this time a number of tools were written to recover the key directly from the client computer's memory and share it with ShowEQ, thus circumventing the need to crack the key in the first place.

Goblin Squad Member

Vic Wertz wrote:
Nihimon wrote:
... I know very well how easy it is to read the memory directly...
wiki wrote:
... During this time a number of tools were written to recover the key directly from the client computer's memory and share it with ShowEQ...

Yep, that's the part I totally understand.

And now that you mention it, that pretty clearly explains why VPN wouldn't work. It's one thing to keep a secure connection when both sides are trying, it's a totally different thing when one side is actively trying to undermine it.

Goblin Squad Member

Client hacking isn't a "man in the middle" type of attack. It is much more like an ettin fighting over which head gets to eat a drumstick. The one willing to fight dirtiest wins.

Goblin Squad Member

Nihimon wrote:
@Decius, it's not really true that the "server only needs to check each character who is stealthy to see if they meet conditions which break stealth". If the server is going to be checking these kinds of things then it's going to be checking whether I "detect" the non-stealthed person behind me, and whether I "detect" the person standing around the corner. Basically, the server would have to be constantly analyzing a ton of information on every possible relation between any two characters.

This is not necessarily true, actually it only needs to check numbers when there is a status change or when certain conditions denoting a status change occur. I realize in some programming paradigms that means resources used to "actively watch" for these conditions. That is why I previously advocated an actor model system, using message passing this can be made a moot point. But, my intent was not really to advocate this type of programming, rather to show that there are solutions.

Nihimon wrote:
@Forencith, I'm not really an expert either, although I do have a lot of experience programming in general. The bandwidth issue is kind of "six of one, half-dozen of the other" because of the problem in suddenly trying to send all of the other character information if I suddenly cast Detect Invisibility. I remember many times teleporting into Dalaran and having significant lag while all the other players were gradually painted in. It's probably much more efficient to transmit the basic character info when that character first enters some range, and then update it sparsely as that character moves or changes states.

If this were the case, then I still don't see the problem. Send all the information on every character in the hex if that will help...all the information except x, y, z, id. Things like target of target and target of target of target...well, I would prefer to have better stealth and darkness.

Nihimon wrote:
Don't get me wrong. I very much want there to be effective stealth and darkness. I also am not 100% clear on why they couldn't use Virtual Private Network (VPN) technology to secure the communication and keep a middle-man from decoding the packets. But even then, I know very well how easy it is to read the memory directly, and I can't imagine it being at all efficient to encrypt or obfuscate the data in-memory.

Yep, I understand this...I am sure you are right. I just have one of those "there's always a solution...and usually a better solution if one can think outside the cube" attitudes. So when I hear that a problem is insurmountable, I 1) want to help solve it...just because, and 2) get frustrated by the proliferation of "can't-ness". But, as I have said many times before, I do not know what GW has available and cannot see their global picture. So, in the face of disagreement, I will defer to them...and let them build their game.

Goblin Squad Member

*nods at Forencith*

There is a clearly defined, well-understood solution. It just requires massive computation on the server, rather than on the client. That means the costs for those resources will also be massive.

Anything that runs on the client can be hacked if the human being with access to the client is complicit.


Still, the main problem for me is the advantage cheat programs give. I just don't like the idea of having to use them to stand a fair chance against others.
So, whatever mechanics they implement, I'd like them to include possible cheats.
I mean, if a cheat program would allow me to see an character if my ally sees it, I want the client itself to allow me do the same - just to nullify the advantage of cheating, so there is no reason to cheat anymore.

Goblin Squad Member

After all these conversations I must conclude that the only difference between the EQ mechanics and PFO...is the EQ ones were known enough to be hacked...and PFO is not yet. The way I see it is that no matter how many features they remove from game because someone might hack it...there will always be some people who find new ways to get unintended advantages due to hacks or third party software. Meanwhile, the group of my friends who would not use that crap are being penalize by the lack of features in PvE as well as honest PvP. I suppose I would rather the occasional gank from some jerk who is hacking and can hence see me in the dark (and kill me without me knowing) opposed to not being able to enjoy the challenge of darkness in all other instances.

It is just really frustrating, I have played MMOs for 8 years and never played with people who did this stuff. Guess I just surround myself with a different type of people.

kk, I am done with the topic. I trust GW. You build me a game and I will pay to play. That much I know I can handle.

Goblin Squad Member

I would love to see stealth in this game. I understand the difficulties with keeping cheats out. But I would rather enjoy the chance of getting a sneak attack against some one. Stealth would have to work differently than invisibility. Invisible can only be seen by "See Invisible". Stealth can be seen by who every has line of sight and perception high enough to detect them. So in reality, the server would have to send out a queery to every one in line of sight of them every time they did some thing might cause them to be noticed. If your characters information is server side, there is no need to transmit anything to the client side unless you detect the stealth character. So bandwidth would be less, but the work load of the server is increased. But I believe the investment would be worth it. With out it, you are taking away a core mechanic for those people who like to play scout/infiltraitor types. Most MMOs now a days have stealth in them and people still pay to play.

Goblin Squad Member

Ryan Dancey wrote:
Fra Antonius wrote:


Ryan Dancey wrote:
In general, being "hidden" is an all-or-nothing proposition, where the server does not communicate any information about my position to your client, period. And when my "hidden" state ends, every client can access that information.
But why should it be this way? The server already filters the information it gives to individual clients based on the distance. Why can't it use one more filter based on stealth values and perception checks?

Because you're running a program that intercepts the packets sent between the client & the server and decrypts them. It then maps the location of all objects in the game space to a 3D visualization that is displayed on your 2nd monitor, giving you a "god's eye" view of the whole area. That same tool also transmits this information to everyone in your guild, updating their maps in real-time, so that they see everything you see, and vice versa. Anything known to any one of your team is therefore known by every member of your team.

Like this:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ShowEQ

Oh - you're not using these tools? That sucks, because the people you're playing against are and that gives them an advantage you don't have.

RyanD

Ryan,

So that's a pretty clear explanation of why selectively filtering the disclosure of an object is easly exploitable.

Without being too forward, what about the possibility of a mechanism like the "pseudo-stealth" suggestion I mentioned where stealth rather then being a function of whether the existance of an object is revealed selectively to end users determines how the stealthed object can be interacted with?

For example, Player A is "stealthed", Players B & C are in the area and want to attack Player A with thier bows. Both players are aware of the existance of Player A, but thier characters haven't "spotted" Players A's character yet. They fire off a "Spot Check" (you could make this an active ability, so the server isn't constantly getting banged with requests from every player to see if they can "spot" every stealthed object in the area....impliment it like you would a debuff). Player B's check succeeds, the Server adds Player A to Player B's list of availble targets. Player C's check fails, so the server doesn't.

When B goes to shoot his bow at Player A, the Server does a check to make sure that Player A is on B's list of eligable targets, since it is...the attack proceeds.

Even if C's client was hacked so that it allowed C to target Player A, when C's client went to the Server to request it to resolve the bow attack against A, the Server would check it's record of C's eligable targets and know that Player A wasn't on there and therfore invalidate the request.

Goblin Squad Member

GrumpyMel wrote:
Even if C's client was hacked so that it allowed C to target Player A, when C's client went to the Server to request it to resolve the bow attack against A, the Server would check it's record of C's eligable targets and know that Player A wasn't on there and therfore invalidate the request.

Or at least give a full cover benefit to the stealthed characters defense...this allows the shooter to "shoot in a direction guided by the buddy" with a very small chance at succeeding, yet a company of archers shooting where a "stealthed" character is (even if they cannot spot it)...would likely hit them.

Goblin Squad Member

First of all, a bit disappointed with what I'm hearing from GW's end that they don't see it as a very plausible goal.

Secondly, it makes me wonder how truly hidden a hideout can be if locations can be shared like this.

Some games have failed to prevent exploits like this, have any succeeded? Most of my experience with stealth comes from games where it only involves keeping me hidden from NPCs or monsters, not other players.

Goblin Squad Member

FOr those just joining the discussion, They did not say stealth is not possible...I think they fully intend to have stealth. Some of us were just asking for stealth that is better done than every other MMO out there. Specifically, I think we were discussing stealth not being an all or nothing thing...they argue it needs to be.

To illustrate, I as a high-experienced rogue/assassin type want to stealth into position among a group of enemies. I and others here argue that if anyone can see me, they alone should be able to act against me, Ryan argued that since 3rd party tools/hacks will just be used to "see" what anyone in your party can see...they should just make stealth so once it is broken, it is broken for all. I think this is how it is handled in WoW, stealth is a buff, being seen by anyone ends that buff. We would like to see stealth implemented as a contest between stealthers and perceivers.

That is my take on the current discussion anyways.

Goblin Squad Member

Thank you for the clarification, it makes a lot more sense to me now.

Goblin Squad Member

Forencith wrote:

FOr those just joining the discussion, They did not say stealth is not possible...I think they fully intend to have stealth. Some of us were just asking for stealth that is better done than every other MMO out there. Specifically, I think we were discussing stealth not being an all or nothing thing...they argue it needs to be.

To illustrate, I as a high-experienced rogue/assassin type want to stealth into position among a group of enemies. I and others here argue that if anyone can see me, they alone should be able to act against me, Ryan argued that since 3rd party tools/hacks will just be used to "see" what anyone in your party can see...they should just make stealth so once it is broken, it is broken for all. I think this is how it is handled in WoW, stealth is a buff, being seen by anyone ends that buff. We would like to see stealth implemented as a contest between stealthers and perceivers.

That is my take on the current discussion anyways.

Well that part way makes some sense, but it still does not resolve most of the reasons ryan had against it

IE opening doors, setting off traps, and most importantly, aoe magic effects etc... At least from the way I am interpreting what ryan is saying, I mean I suppose you can rule out that walking into a sanctuary spell, or being grazed by a fireball, or simply walking within 40' of a druid with a dire bat etc... automatically breaks stealth. As well as opening a door, setting off a trap etc...

of course as that list keeps going on, it eventually reaches the point of why even bother with stealth, when more or less if there are more then 1-2 people, the odds of one of them having something on them detecting stealth rapidly gets as close to 100% as one can go.

Ryan Dancey wrote:


Reasons your client might need to know where my character is:

* I have magical effects on me that affect you.
* You have magical effects on you that affect me.
* You run in to me and collide (or vice-versa).
* A pet you control can sense me (blindsight, scent, tremorsense, etc.)

Maybe I'm off in my interpretation, but when I read that, it seems to me to sound like it is saying, the client MUST know where someone is to function, and the developers must assume the players know everything the client knows.

Goblin Squad Member

True, but as been previously mentioned by others, stealth will probably be much more common than:

Ryan Dancey wrote:

* I have magical effects on me that affect you.

* You have magical effects on you that affect me.

so I would prefer it take priority in being mechanically sound. And:

Ryan Dancey wrote:
* You run in to me and collide (or vice-versa).

should operate like opening doors, setting off traps, and most importantly, aoe magic effects...or anything else, it should either give the observer a bonus to their perception, or decrease my stealth rating, depending on the circumstance. Either way the effect is the same, the contest continues between my stealth and your party's perception. Oh, and:

Ryan Dancey wrote:
* A pet you control can sense me (blindsight, scent, tremorsense, etc.)

is part of your party.

Finally, I agree this:

Onishi wrote:
...the client MUST know where someone is to function, and the developers must assume the players know everything the client knows.

Is what it sounds like. But since the game has not even begun to be coded...we are arguing with the logic of designing in such limitations.

How for instance do they intend to allow invisibility and true-seeing, both staples magic of any/every fantasy world. Will every spell/potion be party based? Even just invisibility runs into the problems listed by Ryan. For instance, what if I run into an invisible character?

Using our proposed system, invisibility could be be handled with the stealth mechanic, but with an outrageous bonus to stealth.

Goblin Squad Member

Forencith wrote:

True, but as been previously mentioned by others, stealth will probably be much more common than:

Ryan Dancey wrote:

* I have magical effects on me that affect you.

* You have magical effects on you that affect me.

so I would prefer it take priority in being mechanically sound. And:

Ryan Dancey wrote:
* You run in to me and collide (or vice-versa).

I'm not quite understanding you in which "it" take priority, are you meaning stealth or the effects? Are you saying a stealthed character should not be effected by area spells or that area spells should break stealth?

If it is the prior I can't say I like that idea. Basically turning stealth into a globe of invulnerability, particularly if a group is specifically casting things to make an area difficult to pass through.

Quote:


Ryan Dancey wrote:

* You run in to me and collide (or vice-versa).

should operate like opening doors, setting off traps, and most importantly, aoe magic effects...or anything else, it should either give the observer a bonus to their perception, or decrease my stealth rating, depending on the circumstance. Either way the effect is the same, the contest continues between my stealth and your party's perception.

But there lies a problem, in P&P you can assume someone dosn't notice a door opening, but in an online game, the door has to physically open... that means a notification to the client, which however subtley animated it shows, will turn into bells wistles or whatever other method a program would like to inform you with, and would instantly be followed with a barage of fireballs or whatever area attacks or a summoning of a pet that would auto-notice, or whatever counter for stealth is available.

Quote:


How for instance do they intend to allow invisibility and true-seeing, both staples magic of any/every fantasy world. Will every spell/potion be party based? Even just invisibility runs into the problems listed by Ryan. For instance, what if I run into an invisible character?

I believe invisibility was fully within the same field as stealth entirely, which may or may not be implimented at all. As a staple of magic, there is quite a long list of staples that will most probably not be implimented, while we don't know the full details about fast travel, we do know that players have a chance to intercept it with hideouts. That means it is not instantanious, so we can reasonably assume teleportation spells will not be available to players. (though we do have implications that there will be gates that take you to specific locations).

Just because something is common in fantasy worlds, does not confirm that it will be present.

Quote:


Is what it sounds like. But since the game has not even begun to be coded...we are arguing with the logic of designing in such limitations.

Well the logic is more or less just the level of limitations, or advancedness stealth will have to have to be technically feasable. The client will have to know if someone passes through say a stinking cloud spell. Or a sanctuary etc... In the end we either wind up with a stealth that is borderline invincibility until detected, or a stealth that is so easy to detect that it essentially is useless.

Goblin Squad Member

No, I am all for AoEs causing damage and stealthed characters having to do some sort of concentration or just a straight penalty to their stealth based upon the amount and type of damage. Massive amounts of damage probably will cause me to perform my stealth so poorly that I will be seen...but then again, my potential observer might be hit by the same effect and miss their opportunity.

As for doors, I think being very near a stealthed character should give bonuses to perception, you see a door open and close by itself, you walk over and check it out...this increases the chance you will see a hidden character...but it does not make it automatic.

Goblin Squad Member

Should the ability to toggle the visibility of an avatar not be available, there is always the tried and trued method out in the real world; using line of sight with terrain, features, trees, other traditional methods of concealment. Without knowing the density and capacity for the game to generate such features, one can't know if this is an option, but I most certainly hope so.

It might also be worthwhile to discuss the entire purpose of stealth mechanics, and that's essentially to avoid contact with a potential enemy until a time/place of one's choosing. If there were abilities that enabled one to do so, but avoided the technically challenging aspects of visibility, would it suffice? What abilities could be implemented to this end?

Goblin Squad Member

That is very true Gruffling. It is my understanding that the stealth mechanic is used as a substitute when the things you mentioned are underdeveloped.

I would definitely prefer the real thing. Thank you.

Goblin Squad Member

Forencith wrote:

No, I am all for AoEs causing damage and stealthed characters having to do some sort of concentration or just a straight penalty to their stealth based upon the amount and type of damage. Massive amounts of damage probably will cause me to perform my stealth so poorly that I will be seen...but then again, my potential observer might be hit by the same effect and miss their opportunity.

As for doors, I think being very near a stealthed character should give bonuses to perception, you see a door open and close by itself, you walk over and check it out...this increases the chance you will see a hidden character...but it does not make it automatic.

Right but what I'm saying is it becomes automatic by definition. You can't not notice the door opening, because the client has to be informed of the door opening, consequently a player (or any program a player is running) is instantly informed. a player isn't just going to casually walk over and pretend to look around, a player is going to lob fireballs, spin a whirlwind or whatever at his arsenal will damage without needing to target like crazy. It shouldn't be automatic, but in reality it is. Any mundane change client side that has no real cause, would automatically alert any 3rd party program, and instantly allow the defender automatic detection.

I'm not 100% sure on the damage side as to whether a client has to know if something has been damaged or effected by any attack for that side of things, logically IMO it shouldn't, but the implications of the devs seem to imply that it does. To me logically you are right the server can note the attack, and the server can know who was in the area, the client dosn't necessarally need that information, but it isn't really a guarantee.

A bigger issue I can imagine though, is the friend/foe determination for some of it. IE 2 parties meet, one wants to send it's rogue into stealth to find out what's ahead... since party 2 is in the same area, is rogue 1 unable to stealth unless party 1 leaves the hex first. The game has no real way to determine who is on who's side appart from party, which leads to some very immersion breaking flaws.


Gruffling wrote:

Should the ability to toggle the visibility of an avatar not be available, there is always the tried and trued method out in the real world; using line of sight with terrain, features, trees, other traditional methods of concealment. Without knowing the density and capacity for the game to generate such features, one can't know if this is an option, but I most certainly hope so.

It might also be worthwhile to discuss the entire purpose of stealth mechanics, and that's essentially to avoid contact with a potential enemy until a time/place of one's choosing. If there were abilities that enabled one to do so, but avoided the technically challenging aspects of visibility, would it suffice? What abilities could be implemented to this end?

Yes, such a system would be great if the engine they choose could handle it. But I think tracking lines of sight of all characters is even more loading on the server. And it still wouldn't solve the problem of third-party "mind link" programs, though it would keep hiding characters farther from potential enemies most of the time.

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