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Thread: No-Kill Objectives.. yay or nay?

  1. #1
    Master Builder 2018
    Registered: Jan 2008
    Location: The lovers the dreamers and me

    No-Kill Objectives.. yay or nay?

    How do you feel about no-kill objectives?

    Personally, I think making that an actual objective has become redundant, as it's not going to get you far if someone plays Thief in that style, and never has, but I am curious about what the community thinks.

    I wonder if it has become a filler objective. There are specific cases per mission (depending on the story - like don't kill Mister X who is intregal to progressing your goals) but in general, I want to know if there are players out there who still give a valid reason for authors to include this objective.

    If there are some players out there who do like to play Doom Thief-style, well.. I don't see the harm.. they probably won't do well to complete these missions, but why force it?

    Look forward to hearing your thoughts.
    Last edited by pukey brunster; 30th May 2019 at 20:47.

  2. #2
    Registered: Oct 2018
    In my experience, having the freedom to kill NPCs makes areas designed to be challenging trivially easy.

    Say you have a stationary guard outside a doorway, and too much light to easily sneak past. If you can't kill him, you have to come up with some way to distract him -- maybe a flashbomb or a noisemaker arrow, but maybe you don't have any. Even if you do use one, you still have to find an opportunity to blackjack him or sneak out of his range, otherwise you've just made a guard alert for a while and not actually dealt with the problem.

    If you can kill NPCs, you can just shoot him in the head with a broadhead (usually very plentiful), or a fire arrow, or a mine, from the shadows.

    However, I think players should have the option to play Thief in either of these ways. I believe this is the reason that many OMs and FMs have no restriction on killing on Normal difficulty, and No-Kill objectives on Hard and/or Expert. It prevents players of higher levels from allowing themselves an easy way out in harder moments, but if players want the latitude to kill NPCs, that choice is still available to them on Normal. I think this gives the player the optimal amount of choice.

  3. #3
    Master Builder 2018
    Registered: Jan 2008
    Location: The lovers the dreamers and me
    Quote Originally Posted by DirkBogan View Post
    In my experience, having the freedom to kill NPCs makes areas designed to be challenging trivially easy.
    Except that it is trivially easier to just bonk em on the head with a blackjack with zero alerts to enemies?

    Just trying to understand.

    But, yes, I agree that giving players to choose their own way is a better way to go.
    Last edited by pukey brunster; 30th May 2019 at 21:40. Reason: darned wifi

  4. #4
    Registered: Oct 2018
    I think blackjacking enemies comes with more stealth-based restrictions than killing. In most cases, when you engage a guard, you have to be stealthy the whole time for blackjacking to work. You can't just run out into the light making as much noise as you want, because then they won't KO when you hit them, and at certain alert levels even hitting them from behind doesn't work. The game is much more lenient with the ways that you can successfully kill NPCs.

    I do agree that blackjacking is often just as easy, but I don't think it's intentional. In a well-designed level, there probably shouldn't be massive windows of opportunity to blackguard lots of guards who are by themselves in the dark. Choosing to blackjack a guard should come with some risk to the player, whether they're in earshot of other guards, or somewhere along intersecting patrol routes. Some of my favourite Thief moments have involved picking up an unconscious guard right as another one comes into view, almost spotting me.

  5. #5
    Registered: Jun 2009
    Location: Argentina
    If a "non-kill" objective is attached to certain characters or group of NPCs that are relevant to the story, or killing them would make things worse for the plot, then it makes sense.

  6. #6
    Registered: Apr 2016
    Usually, no-kill objective is only there on Expert and, apart from gameplay purposes, it also helps immersion. It sells the idea that Garrett is a professional. The only time I'd think about ditching it is when there are already so many objectives that they hardly fit the screen.

    That said, the other two difficulties don't have it, and authors sometimes do cool stuff there. In Gems of Provenance, Hard is replaced with Overkill, which requires killing everyone. This way, doom-style playstyle becomes meaningful.

  7. #7
    Registered: May 2015
    Location: Hungary
    Hi, I think i am not competent in this question, but i almost never "kill" in missions, only if it is 'necessary' for free moving. Only for free moving. But i really hate killing humans or human-like ai-s. No blackjacking / ghosting: well, this is what i really hate, no killing object is much easier for me. Balkcjacking is easier, cleaner, quiet - just simplier.
    Huh, how should i translate it...
    I find that no killing object is only useful when there is a no KOable AI, f.e iron helmeted guard whom i can't inherently KO just kill in order to make a free way for me but i shouldn't do that for some reason. Connected to a story of revenge f.e.. No KO object is a tougher restriction for me. Or "maximum x ko" objectives.
    DarkMax has written what i think when is this objective useful.
    But... I would welcome such special objectives, someone to eliminate in a special way - please no simply swording them into death, rather finding a special device or a way to make it complete. Na, it would be really challenging. Or, on the contrary, no kill or even no KO objective on a certain AI, when it is an important character for the story. To protect somebody. (Even a haunt, but please don't take it seriously, i would really hate 'haunting' between haunts.) I exactly mean Rose Garden mission, i KO-ed that poor guy coming out from archive (i think) so he never reached bell tower or what and i had to restart my mission.

  8. #8
    I don't like killing in the first place; it's noisy and feels cheap. Also, it alerts everyone and makes it extremely difficult to sneak, KO, or kill anyone else, so yeah. I guess I'm hypocritical cause I KO guards all the time but for some reason that doesn't feel as cheap to me. But even then, I don't like to use exploits like standing in shadow, jumping up and down, and then KOing the guys from the front when they wander up. That feels equally cheap to me and I would only do such things if I was extremely pissed off at the mission and felt it wasn't playing fair by me. I guess I feel like KOing people is "part of a gameplay scenario", while killing or doing cheap things with the engine "breaks the scenario". If that makes sense. The thing I most want to avoid when playing any mission is to bring guards away from their set-up positions and routes, as I feel like that breaks what is probably a meticulously hand-crafted scenario and removes what could have been a cool and interesting experience from that area. That's just me though.

    Anyway, though, I barely register no-kill objectives when I read them, it almost feels more like tradition to have them than anything else to me. Due to my above-stated aversion to killing, the only time a no-kill objective might bother me is when the mission is purposely trying to be outrageously aggravating by spamming a bunch of a helmeted guards around, making me wait ten hours for pure random chance to give me an opening just to walk across the street and then not even letting me kill anyone to at least thin the ranks out. (I'm lookin' at you, TROTB2 "The Forgotten Kingdom". Yeah, there's no no-kill objective, and it's "hard-to-deal-with undead" rather than "helmeted guards", but the general idea still applies. Yikes.)

    Speaking of TROTB2 though, the fact that it never (I think?) gives you a no-kill objective was a godsend during times when it decided to get brutal with the AIs, and I had the option of at least killing them if they were getting too annoying. So... I'm mostly pretty disciplined with not killing, I'm not gonna do it if I feel like there's an even slightly sane way to do otherwise. So to me, if the mission is reasonably fair, a no-kill objective or the lack of one isn't going to make much practical difference to me.
    Last edited by FenPhoenix; 31st May 2019 at 02:23. Reason: typo

  9. #9
    Registered: Aug 2006
    Location: France (Saint-Gobain)
    personally i like the freedom to kill everything except civilians at least in "normal" difficult, but "no kill" objective is also challenging and interesting for "Expert" difficulty.

  10. #10
    Registered: May 2008
    Location: Southern,California
    i like no kill objectives,but if they cant be knocked out from blackjack hit or killed if hit with black jack,makes it harder,then you have to ghost,then you mine as well have "don't be seen" objective ,bypassing killing anyone

  11. #11
    Registered: Jun 2015
    Location: Hungary
    Personally, I prefer a "blackjack everything what moves" playstyle, unless I'm willingly ghosting which is uncommon.
    I only kill stuff which are not covered by this objective and cannot be knocked out, though (sorry haunts) - also sometimes when I get really mad, I whack someone with my sword or create a mayhem straightaway, but I reload a game if I commit such a thing
    Thus no kill objectives don't bother me too much.
    Sometimes I also spare spiders if they can be sneaked past, because I love them (and gas arrows are too rare and have better uses)

    Anyways if there's no no-kill objective, any named character who can be killed this way could not reappear 100% legit imo.
    On the other hand, if we are talking about Garrett's personality, he most likely has a strict no-kill policy. Canonically the only time he killed a human (other than by directly saving the world by doing so) was poor Lotus, but we can't blame Garrett doing that.
    Gamewise, the only opportunity to kill people legitly (lack of no-kill) appears in the Thief Gold version of Lost City, despite the fact that it's swarmed by mages. Soulforge has no restrictions either, but I don't consider masked mech things too much of a human.
    Of course there are some cheesy ways circumventing the no-kill objective:
    frogbeast eggs;
    hammers - according to my opinion, they are one of the most powerful weapons in the game; thrown at standing enemy won't alert it and killing does not fail the objective; thrown onto an unconscious body fails the objective though
    mines(?) *at least in Patriot mission "Enemy" I blew up a nobleman with a mine out of fun and the objective didn't fail, but also it could've been due to a different objective mechanic
    And probably a few others I don't know.

  12. #12
    Master Builder 2018
    Registered: Jul 2008
    My sense of things is pretty much in keeping with most of the folks who replied already. I generally don't kill anyway, so for me the objective is superfluous, and while I hadn't thought of it in these terms until Fen mentioned it, I think I too tend to view it as more a tradition than a relevant objective these days. Also, while I have no evidence to support this, I suspect that is true for most Thief players. Thief has always been about stealth and immersing oneself in the role of Garrett, the master thief. And our beloved hero, while not above killing if the fate of the world is at stake, is simply not a killer. I suppose it might be in his character to kill for revenge, but I can't see him killing for hire, or just convenience.

    And as others have already noted, killing is noisy and alerts others, so not only is it not in keeping with the spirit of Thief, it generally creates more problems for you as a player than it solves. And frankly, I always feel a little bit like a failure if I have to resort to killing. I feel like I should be better than that, both as a Thief player, and somehow morally as the character I'm playing. That may sound silly, but to me that's all part of an immersive experience.

    There are exceptions of course, as others have mentioned, but for me that usually takes the form of authors making it impossible to proceed without unreasonably long periods of waiting for a break in no-KO guard patrols in rooms full of tile, or some such situation. At that point the gameplay has become too tedious to be fun, and I'll take out a guard in order to proceed. But that has been a very rare occurrence in my experience.

    So I guess for me, the presence or absence of a no kill objective is pretty irrelevant. I'm not going to kill anyway, whether it's allowed or not.

  13. #13
    Registered: Oct 2017
    My only issue with the whole matter is authors often forget to apply it to undead, which I guess makes sense because who cares if you take out something that's already been lost/dead for a long time.

  14. #14
    Registered: Feb 2004
    well.. I prefer to not kill.... first off, its not very stealthy... they make a noise that can alert other nearby guards or servants.

    but then again.. when faced with guards with those taffin, trickster-loving, KO-proof helmets... *ARGH* (hits head against wall several times..)
    unless I can stock several gas arrows or mines... its something I just love to hate....

  15. #15
    Registered: Feb 2004
    Quote Originally Posted by Psych0sis View Post
    My only issue with the whole matter is authors often forget to apply it to undead, which I guess makes sense because who cares if you take out something that's already been lost/dead for a long time.
    well.. theres a difference I've seen with undead... taking down a zombie is still dangerous since they can get right back up unless you dowse them with holy water...
    but in the case of a Haunt.. well, I prefer them... when you take one down, they STAY down.

  16. #16
    Master Builder 2018
    Registered: Jan 2008
    Location: The lovers the dreamers and me
    Thanks for your detailed replies! I really enjoyed reading them and hearing your thoughts.

    They strengthen my suspicion that the majority of Thief players have, for lack of a better term, a kind of 'honor code' not to kill, whether or not it is a required objective. And perhaps this honor code is not for moral reasons, so much as viewing it as a personal fail. After all, Garrett is the most skilled Thief that ever lived.. he is one with the shadows. He is an artist. As Fen said "I barely register no-kill objectives when I read them, it almost feels more like tradition to have them than anything else" which reflects how I have viewed these.
    Killing AI (at least human AI) is a break-in-case-of-emergency situation.

    Of course.. there's always my way..

    But, nevermind that.

    I haven't included no-kill objectives yet in FM's, except to exclude specific AI that are needed to progress the mission or story, and will probably keep it that way for now. I'd rather keep it open to all styles of gameplay, than narrow the playing field.

    Thanks again Taffers
    Last edited by pukey brunster; 7th Jun 2019 at 12:22.

  17. #17
    Registered: Sep 2011
    One shot killing guards from a distance is satisfying though.

  18. #18
    Registered: Jan 2011
    Location: Planet Crazy Pants
    Quote Originally Posted by zajazd View Post
    One shot killing guards from a distance is satisfying though.
    ^--- This right up here ---^

    An interesting question because the answer, from anyone, depends on how they view Garrett. An oft unspoken draw to Thief is that it's not really Garrett - it's you.

    There are typically no detailed maps if any and YOU have to figure it out, not Garrett. Getting up to the roof is not something that Garrett does a la Ezio - YOU have to figure it out. And what's more, it's not the Hammers/Mechs/beasts/undead etc we have to anticipate - it's the author's style and thinking. I don't wonder where Garrett would have put the switch to the secret stash - I wonder where Pukey would have put it.

    All that said, I am sure there are some missions I've skipped or not finished, let alone enjoyed, because I didn't feel like dealing with a no kill or detected restriction that day - I vote nay to nokill and yay to the real Garrett, us, playing how we like.

    "Yeah, but your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could, they didn't stop to think if they should." - Dr Ian Malcolm

  19. #19
    Registered: Apr 2002
    Location: Rockwell, NC
    In my opinion, I believe it's based on choice and difficulty level. Normally, Expert would have no kills, and sometimes, no blackjack knockouts, which are very challenging. I've played several modes. Usually, I start a mission on easy/lowest difficulty and learn the mission, then if I really like it, which I mostly do, then go medium or expert. Most of the time, I can't make it through expert, due to hard areas to enter/exit, or if the gold objective is too high and can't find enough. Of course I'm getting off-track here... lol.... I'd build FMs w/ both options, and make it easily recognizable in the main objective screen for no-kill/no KO.

  20. #20
    Registered: Jun 2010
    Location: A Former Forest
    If the "no kill" objective makes sense, such as you do not want to alert anyone to any nefarious action on your part, then OK. No KOs are much harder for me, since I usually go for the black jack in difficult situations, such as too many patrols and the need to unlock a brightly lit door quickly - with no decent shadows nearby and lots of marble floors + no available moss arrows. Cruel and/or novice authors like to do that routine

  21. #21
    Registered: Jul 2008
    Location: British Columbia
    I have an absolute no kill policy no matter what difficulty level I choose (unless it is a stated objective, of course).

    But sometimes, when my objectives are done, I just like to leave every guard unconscious except for one (Benny, if he's one of the guards), who I imagine would be horribly embarrassed the next morning when the robbery comes to light and he's left to explain it all.

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