Genre: Third-Person Stealth/Shooter
Engine: Unreal Engine 3 (Gears of War)
Development Time: 100 man-hours
Stealth Gameplay: "Sting" is a different take on Gears of War gameplay, sending Marcus on a sneaking mission into a den of COG imulsion smugglers
Deadly Traps: In addition to sneaking past guards, Marcus must avoid patrol robots, auto-turrets, and laser traps
Human Foes: Marcus is pitted against mankind, not the Locust, in this level
Two Ways to Play: The player can choose to run and gun in the usual Gears style, or make it a pacifist run.
Gameplay Pacing: "Sting" is an exercise in pacing out encounters, alternating between guards - where stealth is prudent - and timing puzzles.
Night Mission Environment: The level takes place at night, and a goal was to get the aesthetics and feel of a night mission.
In "Sting", the player takes Gears of War frontman Marcus Fenix on a different kind of mission: a stealth assignment. "Sting" takes place before the coming of the Locust in the Gears universe, and Marcus is under orders to infiltrate a group of smugglers within the COG. The mission follows the protagonist as the player guides him through the obstacles he encounters on his way to sabotage the smugglers' mainframe. While the player can certainly bust in shooting, in this level that is the more difficult path. Marcus is only equipped with a pistol, and ammo is in limited supply. The emphasis in this level is on sneaking past guards, who will attack if the player enters their cones of sight.
At A Glance
- Enemies do not begin aggressive, and attack only if the player enters their cones of sight or 'hears' gunfire
- Enemies follow set patrol paths around the level
- The player must find control panels around the level to progress through locked doors
- The player begins only with a pistol, making direct combat difficult
- Entering a spotlight will trigger fire from auto-turrets in the area
- Moving laser traps serve as lethal timing puzzles to vary gameplay
Level Highlight: Stealth Gameplay Scripting
"Sting" uses custom-scripted guards who stick to set patrol paths unless Marcus enters their sight cones.
- The guards' AI Controllers are set to the passive Engine.AIController. This kills their normally rambunctious AI.
- While in this passive state, the guards are set to patrol routes via Notes, the Move To Actor (Latent), and Delay Kismet Nodes. Boolean variables check if the guards are in combat or not. Guards are also forced into walking with the Set Walking Kismet Node while out of combat.
- Trigger boxes are hard-attached to the guards' upper bodies. When Marcus enters one, the AI Controllers of guards in the area are set back to the aggressive WarfareGame.WarAI_Locust, and stops the guards' walking and patrolling.
To encourage stealth over direct combat, the player and every NPC in the level have had their inventories replaced with Give Inventory Kismet Nodes. Checkpoints replace these default inventories as well.
Level Highlight: Trap Scripting
There are two kinds of traps in "Sting", spotlights and lasers.
- Spotlights use spotlight actors - attached either to a robot or the ceiling - on a looping matinee.
- Attached to these spotlights are dynamic trigger volumes.
- If the player touches one, this activates Dummy Fire at the player from the location of that room's designated auto-turret.
- Lasers consist of Hammer of Dawn beam meshes with attached dynamic lights, a sound node, and dynamic trigger volume.
- Touching the dynamic trigger volume activates a Cause Damage Kismet Node that deals deadly force to the player or the NPC that triggered it.
Level Highlight: Human Foes
In "Sting", the player fights COG renegades, not the locust. To accomplish this, each guard NPC uses a Locust Grunt as a base, but has his model altered in his properties and an attached COG helmet (no collision, because that screws up the physics on death).