Friday, September 3, 2010

Ideas for the Heat System

First, some pictures to arouse the eyes. I intend for every weapon, gun or blade, in this game to have a unique sprite. From left to right: 9mm Beretta, .38 revolver, our .44 Magnum, the iconic Desert Eagle (made suitably large), a gladius, a hunting knife, and a claymore. A bit odd to have so many swords, but I had time, so I drew them. On to the topic at hand!

So in this game, the heat system is going to be the main focus. Without a good one, it's going to languish. Nenjin, one of our text writers, made an interesting post about how to set up the heat system using four stats. Following is the post.

"On the heat/evidentiary system. 

This system needs to be complex. It relates directly to the core of the game; breaking the law and not getting caught. Of all the things in game, this needs to make sense, be meaningfully complex, and be balanced. 

I see 4 questions that relate to evidentiary chain/increase of attention from authorities.

1) What are you doing to generate heat?

2) Do the police know who you are?

3) What evidence have you left behind to convict yourself?

4) How does the game "know" when you're being bad?

I propose 4 stats.





Between these 4 stats, I think we can accurately simulate all the aspects of criminal behavior, getting caught and avoiding getting caught.

Heat: How interested authorities are in your activities RIGHT NOW. Higher heat increases the likelihood of police activity near you. This is an important distinction. Notoriety tracks your overall behavior, but heat is a moment-to-moment value. 

Notoriety: Your general reputation in the criminal world and elsewhere. This is essentially the player score. The more they do, the higher it gets. What it does is serves as a MULTIPLIER for heat. The higher your notoriety is, the less it takes for police to become actively interested in you, because they want you BAD for the things you've already done. 

Evidence: Evidence is what allows authority figures to arrest you and is factored into your trial results. It is rated on a scale of 1 to 100. When you commit a crime, you generally leave evidence. DNA. Witnesses. Descriptions of yourself. Footprints. Ect... Better skills or stats would reduce the amount of evidence you generate. Some activities would generate much less evidence than others. Some activities, like attacking a police officer, generate maximum evidence. Some items or behaviors might REDUCE evidence, like changing clothes, wearing disguises ect... NOT doing somethings might increase the rate of evidence gain. Like not wearing a disguise to a bank robbery where there are security cameras.

Identity: If the cops aren't there when you commit crimes, they need to identify you before they arrest you. This stat would govern whether or not police officers try to arrest you on sight. It can be increased by doing or not doing some things, just like evidence gain. DNA and finger prints for example, are as good as as photo ID these days. And identity can be decreased by taking certain actions. The game should store certain things like what the player was wearing, so when they change the identity value drops. 

All these values except notoriety would degrade over time. More later."

More on Identity, Notoriety, Evidence and Heat:

Identity and Evidence: Anyone who sees you commit a crime adds to your identity and evidence score. You can immediately remove those increases by killing that person. But their body too generates some evidence if it's not destroyed (say placed in the dump.) 

Killing anyone creates evidence. Certain items (Chainsaw, certain guns, ect..), certain combat methods (HTH, biting?) or certain deaths will generate more or less than average evidence because they are more or less noticeable. (Modus Operendi) 

When YOU get wounded, it generates more than average evidence, and generates some identity as well. This evidence can only be removed by a time consuming clean up action, and may be based on skill. Something like "Forensics" knowledge should be the primary determiner of how much evidence you leave and identity you generate when you kill and when you clean up.  

At a certain threshold of identity, say 100%, every law enforcement officer that sees you will recognize you. Others may recognize you too.

Other ideas for reducing evidence/identity per crime increase: burning down houses to destroy evidence, changing clothing or appearance, wearing masks and disguises.

Heat and Notoriety: When you complete criminal actions, you generate both heat and notoriety. The action committed determines the extent of both. Heat determines how large of a police response is called to any criminal action, and is factored in with identity to gauge when police forces raid your safe house. 

Notoriety is a long-term modifier that affects all criminal actions, but also dictates a lot of other things that can happen to you. High notoriety may make you the target of other criminals as well. It might serve as a "level" to get access to more connected drug dealers, weapon dealers, fences and the like. 

Long term scales for heat and notoriety:

Heat should have a llllaaaarrrrgeeee scale, and be fractional in increases, because we don't want it giving you 1/100 of heat for every item you steal, or every drug deal you make. There needs to be pacing involved in heat gain, so the increase in police attention is noticable by the player. Heat gained from criminal actions might also be increased under certain circumstances, like performing actions in front of cops. We could approach the situation like in real life...what kinds of behaviors would get police VERY interested in that particular suspect. 

Notoriety likewise needs to have a large scale to accommodate paced game play as well, since it and heat are intrinsically tied. Heat should be able to spike independently of notoriety. Notoriety should probably have the largest scale of all. 

All things, probably even notoriety, should decay over time.
Laying low should really be a benefit. There should be a rest option, of sorts, where the player just has to pay upkeep for their living space and food, so they can bleed off the attention from epic criminal feats.

How does this system sound? Appropriate? Fallible? Problematic? Comments can be left here, or in the Bay12Games thread. Preferably in the thread, since this website is more of a placeholder for ideas.

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