PROJECT EXHIBITED

GAME DESCRIPTION

Project Exhibited is a first person stealth game created in UE4. 

 

The player is a theif tasked with stealing a priceless artifact from a highly secure palazzo in Malta.

The player must utilize gadgets to overcome security personnel and escape the palazzo.

PROJECT DETAILS

Language: C++ & Blueprints

Engine: Unreal engine 4

Genre: First person stealth

Developer: Team Thieves

Platforms: PC

Team size: 30+ members
Development time: 8 months 

ROLE AND CONTRIBUTIONS

Roles

  • AI design (Main role)

  • Concept, gameplay design (only during concepting and preproduction phase)

  • Narrative design

AI Guard 

I was the deticated AI designer, responsible to design the AI types, behaviour, abilities etc.

Design goals

  • Our main design goal was  to create a sophisticated AI that responds logically and somewhat predictably (behaviour wise).

  • We set out to achieve this goal by creating multiple states for the AI to behave differently to various events.

  • I also wanted to make the AI feel threatening to the player.

  • Give enough feedback to the player about the AI's actions to ensure the player understands the what the AI is doing. 

  • Incorporate the AI with the level macroloop.

AI Guard

AI-Guard States

The AI has seven states. Three of which are represented in-game with a diamond icon.

These icons fill up like a bar when the vision of the AI is triggered by the player.

  1. Idle: AI is patrolling a set path.

  2. Stunned: Disabled for X seconds by the player's attack.

  3. Suspicious: Looks towards point of interest. 

  4. Suspicious two: Moves towards a point of interest.

  5. Searching: Searches a set area to find the player. The state is triggered after losing sight of the player after chasing the player or after finding a stunned guard.

  6. Chasing: Triggers after seeing the player and then proceeds to chase the player.

  7. Alerted: Same as idle state but with changed patrol paths, different animation and higher movement speed. Triggers after the player steals the main objective and perminantly replaces the idle state.

Suspicious State

Suspicious State Two

Chasing State

If the player enters the outer vision layer then this icon appears above the AI's head and gradually fill up so long as the player is in the outervision layer.

 

If the icon fills up completely then the AI will trigger a voice line, stop moving and looks at the point of interest.

The suspicious state 2 is a follow up to the suscpicious state. The icon gradually increases 

so long as the the player is in the outervision layer. 

If the icon fills up completely then the AI will trigger a voice line and move towards the point of interest to investigate.

The chase state can be a follow up to the suspicous state 2. The icon gradually fills up so long as the player is in the outer vision layer.

If the icon fills up completely then the AI will trigger a voice line and chase the player.

This state is also triggered immediatly if the player enters the inner vision layer.

AI Guard Senses

The AI has the ability to see and to hear.

I designed the AI vision shape and how the sight in overall should work.

The AI has 2 vision layers (the outer and inner layers)

The outer vision layer allows the AI to gradually increase in detection if the player enters it and behave according to the states that I will explain above.

The inner layer immediatly triggers the AI chase state if the player enters it. 

The AI vision shape is not the classical/typical cone that you might see in other games. I learned through the making of this game that a cone shaped vision is not realistic and makes the AI seem dumb and unresponsive.

Instead I opted to create the vision shape that gives a greater peripheral vision to the AI but with distance vision being narrower (as you can see in the figure to the right).

The vision shape is wide in the beginning but  narrower as it expands in order to simulates a more realistic vision that meets player expectations amd plays more fairly.

The detection speed also varies based on the distance between the player and the AI. The closer the player the faster the detection speed and vice versa.

Guard vision shape showing two vision layers (outer and inner vision layers)

AI Sentry Camera 

Design goals

I wanted to create a variety of enemies to oppose the player to create different experiences and challenges.

In game AI-Sentry Camera

AI-Sentry Camera States

The sentry camera has 4 states in total.

The states are represented by the color of the camera's lens and spot light. 

1) Idle (Green lens / light): Camera rotates between two angles or no rotation (has one fixed angle).

2) Suspicious (Yellow lens / light): Fixates its look direction on the player.

3) Alerted (Red lens / light): Triggers a noise alarm which alerts nearby guards to the presence and location of the player.

4) Disabled (No color / light): Disabled for X seconds by the player.

1/1

AI-Sentry Camera Senses

The camera only has the ability to see but with a reduced range in comparison to the gaurd.

If the player collides with the vision shape of the Sentry Camera then it will transition from Idle to Suspicious state and if the player remains in within vision for X seconds then the camera transitions to the Alerted state until the player exits the vision shape.

Sentry Camera vision shape

Voice Script

I wrote the majority of the voice lines uttered by the AI guards and the player character.

Voice lines purpose:

1) The voice lines were designed to inform the player what the AI is about to do, that way the player can formulate a plan to execute and to generally react properly.

2) They were also designed for extra juice to give life to the game and AI and help with the AI to appear more intelligent and sophiticated.

3) The lines were also designed to make specific lines give feedback to the player about certain events.

4) The voice lines are also used to warn the player about the presence of a nearby enemy AI.

5) The voice lines also help with adding juice to the game.

Gameplay/Concept Design

I also worked on brainstorming ideas and designing the gameplay, mechanics, gadgets and general concept of the game during the concepting phase and preproduction.

  • Player character 

  • Player Mechanics

  • Gadgets

Design goals

1) The design team and I wanted to create a protaganist that is physically weaker than the enemy AI in order to create a state of vulnerability and push the player towards stealth tactics.
 

* Design approach:
   -We achieved this goal by not giving the player combat abilities and instead use gadgets to stealthily attack or distract guards.

   -Prohibiting face to face controntation. The player can only attack a guard stealthily and only from        behind/sides.

-Although the player is physically weaker than the guard, the player is more agile in order to create a more forgiving gameplay that allows 

2) We wanted to create a shift in the game's pacing.
 

* Design approach: If the palyer is spotted by the guards then the player will be chased down by the guards and be defeated (game over) if the player is caught by any of the guards. This chasign dynamics shifts the game slow paced gameplay into an intense and fast paced gameplay.

3) We also wanted to avoid  using markers for the main objective and instead wanted the player to search and find the main objective using alternative methods.

*Design approach: I came up with the idea to use polaroids that highlight paths that lead to the main objective.

These paths have distinct aesthetics or contain landmarks to make it easy for the player to recognize the areas. The player can access these polaroids any time during the game session.

In-game polaroids that lead to the main objective.

Gadgets

I designed one of the gadgets (The X-Specs) and worked on its technical.

This gadget allows the player to see enemies and collectibles through obstacles within a certain range and thus acquire a huge advantage to assist with stealth and combat.

Each game element is represented with a distinct color:

1) Guards are red

2) Sentry cameras and their power boxes are blue.

3) Money collectibles are yellow.

4) Narrative pickups are white.

The X-Specs Gadget

I designed one of the gadgets (the X-Specs) and worked on its technical side using blueprints and shaders.

This gadget allows the player to see enemies through obstacles within a certain range.

Narrative Design

Despite Project Exhibited being not a story driven game I did not want to write a simple watered down story. I took the story seriously and attempted to create a full story that adheres to a structure. 

I was responsible for writing the story of the game.

I approached the story by structuring the story using Dan Harmon's story circle and applied lessons I learned from John Truby's book (The anatomy of story) to create character arcs, character motivations and plot.

Story summary

Before the end of the second world war, Nazi Germany created a contingency plan to rise again in the future by imprinting codes that lead to their top technological secrets onto stolen historical artifacts and distributed them to their elites around the world. 

The story takes place in October of 1962 during the cuban missile crisis. The USA and the USSR are in peak conflict and are looking for an edge to defeat one another. It is known by their intelligence agencies that Nazi Germany had developed a secret weapon that far surpasses theirs own and hid it somewhere around the world. The location of this secret technology had been imprinted as codes on some of the stolen artifacts that still remain missing. 

In comes an international guild of thieves that have figured out the location of these stolen artifacts and are auctioning off the information to the highest bidder (between the USA & the USSR).

Dana (the protagonist) is tasked with stealing one of these artefacts from a wealthy man in Malta. However, upon stealing the artifact Dana becomes conflicted about delivering the artifact due to new compelling information surrounding the dangerous data encrypted onto these artifacts. If fallen into the wrong hands, the world could fall into deep peril. 
 

Dana must decide to either deliver the artifact and put the world in grave danger or betray her team, destroy the artifact and risk being hunted down.

Story structure

  1. You (Zone of comfort): Dana is a professional thief who utilizes gadgets to break into areas & swipe her targets clean.
     

  2. Need: Dana needs to put others before herself to have a clean conscience and live life properly.
    Want: Dana wants to start a new life, a clean slate by escaping to a new country to live in.
     

  3. Go (Unfamiliar situation): Dana reaches out to her old guild and accepts one final assignment to steal an artefact from a palazzo in Malta. This puts her in the same paths that has led her to a guilt ridden life. After accepting the mission, Dana learns that the artifact holds dangerous information that could lead the world into WW3.
     

  4. Search (Adapt): Dana arrives to Malta but reieves new information about the true nature of her mission and learns that the artifact holds dangerous information that could lead the world into WW3 if fallen into the wrong hands.
     

  5. Find (Get what they want): Dana breaks into the palazzo and steals the main objective.
     

  6. Take (Pay a heavy price): After stealing the objective an alarm is triggered and the palazzo goes on lock down and security increases, putting her life at greater risk.
     

  7. Return (To a familiar situation): Dana escapes the palazzo with the artefact in hand.
     

  8. Change (In character): Dana betrays her guild and destroys the artefact in order to prevent a new global war. Dana becomes a target by her own guild on top of being a wanted criminal but learns to put others before herself in order life a more fulfilling life.

Story structure

(Dan Harmon's story structure)

IN GAME SCREENSHOTS

© 2020 by Adham El Berjawi