There were troubled times on Tomb Raider where we thought we might not hit our goal of fun combat. But we hit it and when that happened, it was realized that our stealth was broken. With ten months to go, I had to lead a cross discipline strike team to fix stealth gameplay and encounter setups.

 

Player Mechanic Work

  • Tuned distances that player actions can be observed by AI through sight and sound

  • Created and implemented player autocrouch rules to ensure the autocrouch pose is used as signal to be sneaky by the player

  • Worked with user research to ensure players feel they move stealthily and use stealth gameplay mechanics

AI Work

  • Designed and led creation of AI reactions and follow up behaviors to player actions

  • Tuned AI sense cones and how they behave when the player is close or in cover

  • Worked with user research to ensure players understand and predict AI's reactions to their actions

Level Design Work

  • Led a group of level designers to go into every stealth setup in the game and fix it to follow our revamped stealth rules

 

All the hard work culminated in a forest level I had to redesign at the last minute and led a team to create.  We turned a boring wolf pelt fetch quest into a Rambo-inspired night hunt for enemies in the dark. The below level, Summit Forest, was the culmination of all the team’s hard work on stealth (jump ahead to 1:00 in the video please).

Stealth Design

Press Quotes:

“While the critical path is mostly linear, stages are large and have plenty of options for shaping gameplay. Like stealth? The game does an admirable job supporting quiet melee kills, enemy distraction, and distant bow shots that send opponents silently tumbling from cliffsides. “ – Matt Miller, Game Informer

“There's stealth, too, and thankfully it feels meaningful rather than tacked on. Brawling or blasting away out in the open is never a path to victory for Lara.” – Evan Narcisse, Kotaku