Planning the perfect “Heist”
So today I wanted to talk about our upcoming game Heist and how it sort of became to be.
When Atomizer formed in 2012, Wilksy, Jared and myself (Travers) were throwing around some ideas of what we wanted to make, It was an important decision to choose a game that was bold but not too difficult to develop within the time we would have at AIE’s Incubator course.
Around this time I picked up Dishonoured on PC and was enjoying every aspect of it, but I started to question certain elements which I soon realised spoke to the stealth game genre.
I was curious as to why killing seemed to be an inherent part of stealth usually as a core objective, “Go here, kill him, get out, don’t be seen”. Dishonoured did have a binary choice when it came dealing with problems though, you could get through the entire game without killing and this included when completing the main objectives on each mission.
But I thought, why give the player a violent means to begin with? And how it would affect the players decisions and playstyle when they are restricted?
This is where the initial ideas of Heist were born.
I started thinking about the concept of playing as a cat burglar, as the interactions of the player would never require any direct or violent means. I began to explore the idea of complex and unpredictable AI to keep the game challenging, however when pitching this initial idea to Wilksy and Jared it didn’t seem it was going in the right direction, so the idea was benched.
Over time I toyed with the cat burglar angle more and looked closely at the player making choices that affected how they would perform the ‘Heist’, essentially giving them more control over the planning. I also realised that the AI in stealth games needed to be somewhat predictable as it allows the players to overcome them by learning their patterns.
I pitched the refined idea to Wilksy and Jared and this time it took.
And so, with the core pillars in mind; A non-violent means and the ‘cat burglar experience’, development of Heist began.