Development Info:

Genre: Third-Person Stealth/Shooter

Engine: Unreal Engine 3 (Gears of War)

Development Time: 100 man-hours

Level Highlights

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

Design Goals

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.

Level Summary

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

Overview Maps:

  • Sting | Complete Overview Map
  • Sting | Area A | Warehouses
  • Sting | Areas B and E | Hub Hallways
  • Sting | Area C | Server Room
  • Sting | Areas D and E | Pipe and Laser Rooms

Sting: Image Walkthrough

  • The level begins with a briefing on the mission's gameplay and objective: sabotage the smugglers' mainframe.
  • Marcus begins around a corner from the first guard, whose patrol path is a straightforward back and forth.
  • Marcus can challenge the first guard or take a side route through a room with another guard but more cover.
  • Marcus must activate control panels throughout the level to open locked doors and make progress toward the mainframe.
  • Being spotted by a spotlight will trigger auto-turrets to fire until the player leaves the area.
  • The level also throws laser traps at the player. They will kill Marcus instantly, so proper timing is essential.
  • Lasers and spotlights double up in this early challenge.
  • The first of two challenging hallways that combine lasers and spotlights for an extended timing challenge.
  • Reaching the panel at the end of the hallway opens the next door and disables the lasers, but a guard still lurks in the area.
  • The server room (Area C) presents the player with an extremely difficult spotlight trap...
  • ...but checking behind a server rack will reveal another way through.
  • The player can get very close to guards, as long as Marcus does not make contact with a sight cone, represented by helmet flashlights.
  • The pipe room (Area D) combines guards and spotlights for the most difficult stealth challenge in the level.
  • Combat is doable, but made harder by the player's limited arsenal.
  • The final room - the laser room (Area E) - is intimidating. The player must take advantage of malfunctioning lasers to progress.
  • Since lasers block the player's path, Marcus has to vault to the other side, being careful to time his movement with moving lasers.
  • The panel at the end of Area E will open up the mainframe room, the level's end.

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.

  • A guard NPC with his attachments and properties.
  • Kismet for guard setup. Sets the guard's AI Controller to a passive one and changes inventory to pistol-only.
  • Guards' patrol paths, using Move to Actor (Latent) and Delay Kismet Nodes.
  • Kismet to make the guards hostile and attack the player, should Marcus hit a trigger box or one of the guards take damage.

Level Highlight: Trap Scripting

There are two kinds of traps in "Sting", spotlights and lasers.

Spotlights:

  • 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:

  • 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.
  • A laser trap and attached objects: dynamic lights and dynamic trigger volume. Also includes a sound node.
  • Kismet for a laser. Includes movement Matinee and Cause Damage Kismet Nodes triggered by a trigger volume around the laser.
  • A robot guard with an attached spotlight and dynamic trigger volume. The volume sets Dummy Fire from the Note on the end of the auto-turret, pictured at right.
  • Kismet for the guard bot's patrol Matinee and the trigger for the Dummy Fire from the auto-turret.

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).

  • Properties for an enemy NPC.

Sting: Full Playthrough