Here's the second half of our exclusive interview with Uncharted: Among Thieves game director Bruce Straley.
He reveals the intricacies and improvements of the new "stealth-action" gameplay, gives his take on the importance of stories in games, and his take on Lara Croft.
You can check out the first half of the interview here, if you haven't already. You naughty boy.
How does the new stealth mechanic work and how does it improve on the game's pacing?
Bruce Straley: Pacing is one of the keys elements we want to retain from Uncharted to Uncharted 2. We strive to achieve movie-like pacing to our games. We want the players to get into a flow and feel like they can't wait to see what happens next, which means avoiding those difficulty spikes that make players put the controller down and walk away from the game.
Action-stealth is meant to simply flesh out our enemy AI - we're not suddenly creating a stealth game as we've seen misinterpreted. "Action" representing the idea that we're trying to keep the pace up and "stealth" representing what we all know as taking out enemies unnoticed.
We don't want to introduce the frustration of being forced to move at the game's (presumably slower) pace by replaying and replaying a set-up due to failing a stealth-heavy situation.
We feel that providing the option of action-stealth improves upon the pacing by allowing the player the choice to get more invested in the set-ups and get to know more about the environments than a straight gunfight would allow. It also allows us to embed more narrative and story into the game play.
By showing what enemies are doing before you're engaged in combat and by overhearing some light conversations, you'll be able to see more of the story in context to the environment or situation. It also reinforces the story needs by allowing us to make set-ups more appropriate to the tone of the story.
Is Drake infiltrating an area? Are the enemies already in defensive positions? Whatever the story needs, we can have the enemies parallel that feeling now.
Choice is the other key word here. We've implemented the new action-stealth mechanics with the knowledge that not everyone likes stealth game play. We think it's fun, and it adds a lot to our ability to reinforce the story, but you should play the way you want. We're just giving the player the choices.
As a result of expanding our gameplay to account for action-stealth, there are two new behaviours added to enemies, "investigate" and "hunt." With "investigate" the enemies have peripheral vision just like humans.
When Drake enters this peripheral vision the enemies will look over in the direction they think they saw him in and depending on how long he was in this vision cone, they may just look or they may walk over and check out what they think they saw. Of course, that's why we've called it "investigate."
With the "hunt" behaviour the enemies have already spotted Drake and are in combat with him. While in combat the enemies make certain assumptions on where Drake is based on his last known location.
If they lose eye contact with Drake for a few seconds, one or more enemies will start hunting around the area, starting with his last known location, and then spread their search out if he's not found. So, our battles can be switched up from straight forward gun fights to an action-stealth battle midway through, picking off each enemy one by one as they separate hunting for Drake. This just further reinforces our focus on creating player choice in Uncharted 2.