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Thread: Nerfing the Blackjack

  1. #1
    Member
    Registered: Jan 2006
    Location: On the tip of your tongue.

    Nerfing the Blackjack

    It's no secret that the blackjack is extremely overpowered and easy to exploit the AI with, so I'm trying to think of ways to make it less of a win button.

    First thing I've done is given it a Weapon > Exposure value of 5. This is half as much light gem effect as the sword so it doesn't light you up like a beacon, but means you can't just run around in the dark next to alert AIs and whack em.

    I'd also like to remove the circle-strafe knockout if possible (i.e. where you just run behind an alerted AI and KO them before they can turn around).

    I tried an AlertResponse to remove the GetsKnockedOut metaproperty when the guard is alert, and also tried the same with an AIWatchObj link to himself, but it doesn't seem to have any effect. Maybe I'm doing it wrong? Ideally what I'd like is for any guard to have their knock-outability removed when they're at level 2 or 3 alertness, and then regain it once they drop back down again.

  2. #2
    Member
    Registered: May 2017
    Location: USA
    I can't help with adjusting alertness-based knockout ability, but another way to nerf it would be helmets! Those can accomplish two things: (1) make it impossible to knock out a guard; and/or (2) make it noisy to knock out a guard. If you don't want to make certain guards impervious, the noise factor could make a big difference. If would force the player to be much more thoughtful about where/when they use their blackjack.

  3. #3
    DromEd Archmage
    Registered: Nov 2010
    Location: Returned to the eternal labor
    That's something interesting !

    About the metaprop, you won't actually be able to remove it because this one is not applied to the objects themselves but to their root.
    The only way to counter the metaprop is adding to the AI a new metaprop that will imune them to KnockOut stim with Alert Response.

    AlertResponse should add to themselves an AIWatchObj link. And this link must be set via AI>utility>AIWatchObjDefault.
    It should remove the imunity once the AI is below Alert3 or 2 level !

    I guess that should do it !

  4. #4
    L'architecte de Rocksbourg
    Registered: Nov 2005
    Location: Narbonne, France
    That could be very interesting.
    I like the idea of a noise which would alert nearby AIs. Not a heavy sound like when you try to KO a guard with helmet, but maybe a softer one which would have a very limited radius.

  5. #5
    Member
    Registered: Aug 2007
    Location: LosAngeles: Between Amusements
    It all sounds like something you can do with squirrel, assuming you don't like patching together existing scripts.

  6. #6
    ZylonBane
    Registered: Sep 2000
    Location: ZylonBane
    Making a noise alert AIs is entirely within the realm of the sound schema.

  7. #7
    Member
    Registered: Jan 2006
    Location: On the tip of your tongue.
    Aha - yeah this can be achieved by adding AI > Utility > Sound Value : Minor Anomaly to the schema bjack_flesh. That causes a level one comment, or you can properly alert em should you wish with a Major Anomaly which is as if you shouted while knocking them out. Minor feels like a nice realistic touch without adding too much unfairness.

    I'll see if I can get the no-knockout additional metaprop working. Thanks for the suggestions!

    Edit - ok the setup works, with the slight strangeness that the guard does a sort of double-take knockout. Not sure why but it seems to be affected by the Reuse/Reset delay. If it's too low, the guard goes into a loop of dancing around being knocked out continually. Here's my setup:

    On the AI:

    AI > Responses > Alert Response
    Alert Level: (2) Moderate
    Priority: Absolute
    Step 1: Add/Remove Metaprop
    Arg 1: Add
    Arg 2: CoshProof
    Step 2: Add Link
    Arg 1: AIWatchObj
    Arg 2: (AInumber)
    Arg 3: (AInumber)

    AI > Utility > Watch: Watch link defaults
    Watch Kind: Self entry
    Priority: Very High
    Radius: 8
    Height: 8
    Req. Awareness: (0) None
    Line Requirement: None
    Min Alertness: (0) None
    Max Alertness: (1) Low
    Exit: Link Kill Option: Don't kill
    Reuse delay: 10000
    Reset delay: 10000
    Response Step 1: Add/Remove Metaprop
    Arg 1: Remove
    Arg 2: CoshProof
    Last edited by nicked; 17th Nov 2017 at 03:42.

  8. #8
    Member
    Registered: Jan 2006
    Location: On the tip of your tongue.
    On the plus side, it's pretty funny...


  9. #9
    Member
    Registered: May 2006
    Location: Russia
    Oh, it's even TOO funny.

  10. #10
    DromEd Archmage
    Registered: Nov 2010
    Location: Returned to the eternal labor
    Haha xD Somebody need to make a remix of it !

    Hmmm.. Ten second should be fine... Tick "Test Once Triggered" and tell us if the problem still happens ?
    If it still happens, it could be your alert response : you have to select very high because Absolute got a higher priority than death event.

  11. #11
    Member
    Registered: Jan 2006
    Location: On the tip of your tongue.
    Of course! Setting to Very High for the Alert Response did the trick and this now works perfectly!

  12. #12
    ZylonBane
    Registered: Sep 2000
    Location: ZylonBane
    Quote Originally Posted by nicked View Post
    Aha - yeah this can be achieved by adding AI > Utility > Sound Value : Minor Anomaly to the schema bjack_flesh.
    That's great until the next time you reload schemas, which will then wipe out any manual tweaks you've made. Do it properly by adding that property to the appropriate SCH file.

  13. #13
    Member
    Registered: Jan 2006
    Location: On the tip of your tongue.
    Actually this property seems to be independent of the schemas. There's nothing about Sound Values in HITS.SCH, and reloading schemas does not remove the property.

  14. #14
    DromEd Archmage
    Registered: Nov 2010
    Location: Returned to the eternal labor
    Indeed ! Sound Value is alas something you should do manualy.

    I'm nevertheless not sure if a reload schema remove it. If it does, you may create a parent archetype with the Sound Value that will contain bjack_flesh to avoid such problem but first test with a reload_schema to see if the property is still there or not.

    reload_schema create archetypes but never delete them. When the property already exist I don't remember if dromed remove and replace it with a new one or if it just modify the sounds properties and schema index, leaving the rest of the properties alone.

  15. #15
    Member
    Registered: Jun 2017
    Location: Germany
    Shame I didn't notice this thread earlier.

    I'm also one of those players that finds the blackjack way too OP (I know there are players that like this aspect and abuse the hell of it to cheese the game)
    Since my years of using Dromed I always wanted a restricted Blackjack and tested around myself a bit. But sadly, we have limited options, if we want to change the original gameplay and original game design as little as possible.
    Here are some snippets what I tried to work on:

    • First, we have the helmet guards:
      As mentioned by trefoilknot we could give all AIs a helmet, but that would make the Blackjack useless, not less effective. It also limits the playstyle for that particular FM and I know that many players like to KO everyone, so I don't want to restrict that freedom completely.
    • The major alert sound on bjack_flesh is definitely a good solution to prevent something like the triple KO on the three-guard patrol in the "First City Bank and Trust". But as far as I know it sets the guards nearby to Alert 3 instead of Alert 2. I wish there was something like a middle ground that only alert guards to level 2. But in the end, I guess it's better than having no sound while blackjacking everyone nearby. Also, a bump on the head is a loud noise, so a major alert is somewhat justified.
    • Next, I tried to play around with the weak point. Robots in T2 have a weak point, where only water arrows in the boiler area count as damage. At first it was a great way to forbid the famous KO through closed doors, KOs while leaning forward or KOs on the arms or the butt. But this system is sadly way to inaccurate. If you select only a close area as a weak point on the back of the head you can miss that even if you try to hit him in that area (but missed) - also you need to adjust the area for smaller humans, larger humans etc. .... ugh.
    • The last thing I tried I also published in my recent FM "Project Hammer - Secret Connections". So far, I guess no one noticed the changes or at least they weren't vocal about it.
      Here I played around with AI Core/Vision description. I will now go into greater detail of what I discovered with this and what I changed.


    After looking closer to what actually triggered the KO on a guard I stumbled over this: Every AI that is naturally KO-able has the "GetsKnockedOutEasily" metaproperty. It allows the AI to get the knockout stim if it collides with the Blackjack. Every servant for example have that, therefore they can be easily knocked out, regardless of the alert level.

    The difference with the guards is, that they have an additional Awareness Filter before the Knockout gets counted. If we look closer to its behavior it is set to "Can't see culprit, Stunned". So, the awareness filter will let the guard get knocked out, if these conditions are true. Therefore, a Flashbomb will always set every guard affected by the stun be KO-able. So, remove "Stunned" for a nice quick fix if you wants to prevent this.

    The other thing is "Can't see culprit".
    The thing about the vision cones defined in AI Core/Vision description is, that if Garrett isn't in these vision cones, the guards can't see the culprit. And if we look closer, the vision cones of AIs in pitch black areas are the following (quick tutorial for those who don't know about vision cones - please notice I explain this all with the Thief Gold vision description, but I'm certain it's not different from Thief 2 one )

    Cone 1 and cone 2 are important here, because of their cone flags "Night vision". First cone is for alert level 2 and 3, because "No alert 0, No alert 1". The standard cone would affect all alert levels. Cone 2 is vice versa.

    Cone Angle is the width of the cone around the AI, cone Z angle is the height of the cone.
    We can see that the cone in high alert (2 and 3) is 170 wide and 170 high. The one for low level alert is only 50 wide and 100 high.
    So, the AI can see more on high alert, but the problem is, they can't see what’s behind their backs. That's on the one hand a good thing, because with that you can knock out a guard in the first place, because they can't see the culprit if they are behind them.
    If we look at Cone 5 which is only present on high alert with the additional flag 'Omni', so only in bright areas, the Angel is 320. This is the reason why no one can knock out a guard from behind if they are on high alert and in bright light AND they will also see you if you attempt to do it.

    The last thing is the Range, which should be self-explanatory. The vision cone will only go so far. So, in night vision mode the cone will only reach 5 DU in front of the guard. That's the reason why you can stand in front of a guard, lean forward and blackjack him, even if they are high alerted. You just need to be out of the 5 range cone, and that' possible with the wide swing and leaning forward.

    So, what did I do? I changed the range to 7 to prevent the leaning forward and also add some width to the high alert vision cones (just enough so you can still knock out alerted guards if you sneak behind them) Then I rearranged the Cones and alert levels so that alert 0 guards are unaffected from this. (I guess that's the case why most players didn't notice anything. The guards behave exactly the same as in the original on alert 0) - but they are much more sensitive on alert 1 and 3 than before. Sadly, we have only 10 vison cones to play with. With an optimal setup I needed 11 cones, but that isn't allowed.
    Here is the final result of my first three new cones - the original cone 3 is now cone 4, original cone 4 is cone 5 and so on:

    --------------------------------------------------------
    Cone 1: Flags - Active, No alert 0, No alert 1, No alert 2, Night vision
    Cone 1: Angle - 260
    Cone 1: Z angle - 170
    Cone 1: Range - 7
    Cone 1: Acuity - 1500
    --------------------------------------------------------
    Cone 2: Flags - Active, No alert 0, No alert 3, Night vision
    Cone 2: Angle - 170
    Cone 2: Z angle - 170
    Cone 2: Range - 7
    Cone 2: Acuity - 1500
    --------------------------------------------------------
    Cone 3: Flags - Active, No alert 1, No alert 2, No alert 3, Night vision
    Cone 3: Angle - 50
    Cone 3: Z angle - 100
    Cone 3: Range - 5
    Cone 3: Acuity - 1500
    --------------------------------------------------------

    I hope that helps someone or give some new ideas.

    But in the end I wish Looking Glass had implemented an additional "combat"-alert mode.
    The AI can switch between alert combat and alert 3 when they chase Garrett or simply search for him. Then we could easily restrict knock outs in a fight and enable knockouts if you sneak behind an alerted guard that don't know you are there.
    Last edited by DarkThief Darek; 4th Dec 2017 at 21:01.

  16. #16
    Desperately dodgy geezer
    Registered: Nov 2001
    Location: The Wailing Keep
    Quote Originally Posted by DarkThief Darek View Post
    Next, I tried to play around with the weak point. Robots in T2 have a weak point, where only water arrows in the boiler area count as damage. At first it was a great way to forbid the famous KO through closed doors, KOs while leaning forward or KOs on the arms or the butt. But this system is sadly way to inaccurate. If you select only a close area as a weak point on the back of the head you can miss that even if you try to hit him in that area (but missed) - also you need to adjust the area for smaller humans, larger humans etc. .... ugh.
    IIRC, way back when (probably 2003-05), DarkArrow figured out a simple gamesys change which limits the blackjack's effectiveness to the head joint only so you could no longer KO an AI by whacking them on the knee. I'll try to find the thread.

  17. #17
    Member
    Registered: May 2017
    Location: USA
    What about a blackjack that turns guards into unconscious guards for a time, then sleeping guards (who would wake, if disturbed) for a while, and eventually back into [alert?] awake guards?

    Realistically speaking, how long would a blackjack leave someone out? Probably a good chunk of time, but not indefinitely. This would make the blackjack a viable option for temporarily dispensing a guard whose patrol was interfering with your plan, but would limit the "let's blackjack everyone and roam freely around the map, forever" problem.

  18. #18
    Desperately dodgy geezer
    Registered: Nov 2001
    Location: The Wailing Keep
    That's been proposed and discussed many times over the years. I'm sure it could be done, but players have to be aware of it in your mission since it is a very deeply rooted part of the gameplay mechanic that KO'd AI don't wake up.

  19. #19
    DromEd Archmage
    Registered: Nov 2010
    Location: Returned to the eternal labor
    I did it already. The waking up unconscious guards. But you must recreate the guy and he could change his voice so wrong idea. You can ressurect the guard too but if the player has taken the body once, the guard will have his legs sunk in the floor when waking up.

    It's possible to set such gameplay but it would be harsh to implement it. The other solution would be to do a script similar to Zombie Possum but again you won't be able to carry the guy without breaking his physics.

  20. #20
    Member
    Registered: Jan 2006
    Location: On the tip of your tongue.
    Quote Originally Posted by FireMage View Post
    But you must recreate the guy and he could change his voice so wrong idea.
    Well that's easily fixed by manually setting each AI to a specific voice rather than the guards pool.

  21. #21
    Member
    Registered: Jan 2012
    Location: Gèrmany
    As Derek said Stunned should be removed. Flashbomb + Club to strong. FunFact: During T2 development the BlackJack caused blindness=>stunned=>Ultimate Weapon.

    •What I really liked was the stack/ammunition option is CoSaS MX you had a 100% chance for a silent knockout but it would cost ammunition and added a strategic element to it. You had to consider its worth and couldn't bash out everyone.

    •Another idea that came to my mind is that with a little script (also possible with NVRelayTrap) you could give the blackjack a success chance. Honestly how does such small Blackjack work so good?
    My scenario would be for example a 40% chance for silent knockout and maybe 20% against alerted AIs. In a 1v1 situation even if the first attempt fails you will knock out that guard without problems (3-5 hits) but in a group/crowded area you would have to take a high risk. As if you fail the rest gets alerted.
    While the chance could be pseudo random to prevent bypassing it via savegames I feel another more psychological problem - while actually more realistic and you actually have a chance for a silent knockout vs groups - I think the player would likely want to know what will happen for sure so would be more willing to accept a 100% alarm instead of a 60% failure resulting in an alarm. So I would dismiss that idea again. How do you feel/think about that?

    Players have to be aware of it in your mission since it is a very deeply rooted part of the gameplay mechanic that KO'd AI don't wake up.
    This is something that we have to keep in mind. Regardless of the specifics! For the wake up option (do we really want to open that discussion here again?) I could also imagine some ammo system like gags and ropes which permanently knock out AIs (could be made with a Key-Lock system) and you would have the chance to explain it in the LoadOut.


    In conclusion I think what Derek summarized
    The major alert sound on bjack_flesh is definitely a good solution to prevent something like the triple KO on the three-guard patrol in the "First City Bank and Trust". But as far as I know it sets the guards nearby to Alert 3 instead of Alert 2. I wish there was something like a middle ground that only alert guards to level 2. But in the end, I guess it's better than having no sound while blackjacking everyone nearby. Also, a bump on the head is a loud noise, so a major alert is somewhat justified.
    is a good approach/basic idea. Currently I don't know the range of that setup (I'm not getting it to work) and if it's to much but I think we can figure out something good from it.
    Last edited by Daraan; 5th Dec 2017 at 08:44.

  22. #22
    Member
    Registered: Jun 2017
    Location: Germany
    Quote Originally Posted by Yandros View Post
    IIRC, way back when (probably 2003-05), DarkArrow figured out a simple gamesys change which limits the blackjack's effectiveness to the head joint only so you could no longer KO an AI by whacking them on the knee. I'll try to find the thread.
    I hope you can find the post. Sounds interesting to play around with it. The only problem I currently can't fix is the KO through closed doors trick. My weak point system prevented it, but as I said, it created tons of new problems.

    I also thought about waking the AI up after a certain amount of "sleeping" time, but either way, it would impact the gameplay too heavily and I think many players don't read the readme files ... so they will rage if they walk into already knocked out AIs.

    Never heard of the stack/ammunition option. Pretty awesome how creative some creators are.
    But I guess it's a more complex system to build into the own system and can be quite confusing for the normal Thief player.

  23. #23
    Member
    Registered: Aug 2007
    Location: LosAngeles: Between Amusements
    ya think?

  24. #24
    Member
    Registered: May 2008
    Location: Southern,California
    after reading some of this post ,the best solution is to put helmets on a.i.

  25. #25
    Member
    Registered: Jul 2014
    Location: Constantine's Mansion
    How about a slightly different approach?

    One of the big problems with a blackjack play-style is that it's very easy to just knock out guards en masse and leave them sprawled there in a dark corridor. Other AIs can walk right past or even on top of the unconscious (or dead) bodies without noticing. If you could force players to take more care with hiding the bodies, to place them in cupboards and rooms out of the way of guard patrols instead of simply leaving them there, it would certainly provide a bit more challenge and inconvenience if they played that way, not to mention adding a bit more realism.

    I know that Island of Iron made some tweaks to AI behaviour such that they could see other AIs more easily (but not see the player any better than in vanilla), although I've not looked in to how this was accomplished. Perhaps you could also set an automatic detection if they come so extremely close to a body that they're practically walking over it, but I'm sure some of the Dromed wizards here know more!

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