You Want a Little “Yakety Sax” in a Heist Game

So like, to me, it’s one thing to show strangers and acquaintances my game, and quite another to show close friends, but it needs to be done.

DJ: I did have something I wanted to show you though. I’ve been making a game myself. It’s basically PAYDAY but without all the shit I hate about PAYDAY. I’m a little nervous about showing friends ’cause Logan’s been pretty skeptical about it, but that’s understandable. I been tellin’ him I’m gonna make a game for years and he hasn’t seen it yet. But I released what I have done so far and made a little update-y thing like TF2 does for it and the response from more periphery parties has been encouraging so now I’m gettin’ up the balls to show more people.


There is silence for a while.

DJ: Holy shit, you’re playing it! It doesn’t DO anything yet really. It mostly just demonstrates mechanics.

Cyborg: Now I know what the legendary “Spacewar” is.

When I test my game, it tells my Steam friends list that I’m playing Spacewar. Steam’s test appID, 480, lists Spacewar as its title as a reference to one of the earliest videogames.

DJ: It interfaces with Steam. I felt it was important to make sure the infrastructure worked before I got too into it with the feature creep.

Cyborg: It is extremely bare bones, yes.

DJ: It took a long time to get the much, but now that I’m a lot more familiar with Unreal Engine, things will go a mite faster. I’m making 3D models right now though.

Cyborg: I’m skimming through the links and I end up at your website and then I see this. Are you and Simon buying the big ‘ol Hot Topic super pants to play your DDRs?

DJ: No, I like to play in yoga pants personally.

Cyborg: This is super super super super super super super super super early in this game being made so I can’t say much about how it’s going, but I’d be up for trying it. Obviously stuff like animations are still hyper early but if you know what feel and a e s t h e t i c you want for it that’s half the battle.

DJ: Yeah, I know it’s early, but these days, it’s important to start building community way before you get anywhere near release and it gives me an opportunity to set up the story. Most of the people who know about this are interested because they read my clowntown fanfic and are in-fkn-trigued at the idea of a heisting game I wrote. So stories (and mini-games) in the meantime.

Moreover, gotta get used to the mortifying ordeal of being known and shit.

Cyborg: The nice thing tho – as we’re all FRIENDS WITH THE DEV – less “man they should do this”. “DJ, can dis be done?” “No, I’m busy” “ok”

DJ: lol yes. The general direction I’m wanting to go with, re: features, etc. is that it should be much simpler than PAYDAY on the surface so that it’s not hard for new people to pick up and enjoy immediately, even after many updates. But that the underpinnings should be more complex.

But yeah, you will be able to just ask if things can be done and I can be like HMM and then tell you either way.

Cyborg: I’m wondering how you’ll work in a “Rats” or “Framing Frame”-esque map into this game. Would you want Baggage Claim Simulator or want it more like PAYDAY 1 where it was less what you had on you as much as “go here to click on thing so you can go there to click on thing”

DJ: No, I love baggage handling! I know a lot of people hate it, but to me, it makes the game so much more dynamic. Also, how can you ALL THE BAGS if there’s only four? No fun.

Cyborg: You also interested in bringing in a skill-ish tree, or go for class system, or just everyone is the same like in PAYDAY 1?

DJ: Skill “tree”, but instead of making you buy shit you don’t want to get shit you do, just reduce number of active skills you can carry. So a skill totem pole, I guess?

Cyborg: Or it can be an array of skills with different weights. You pick and choose what you want, but it has to fit under a certain limit of skill amounts so to speak. So X is worth 3. Y is worth 2. Z is worth 1. You only got like 4 slots though so you can go Z and X or Z and Y and maybe another thing.

DJ: You know, that’s pretty good. I had been thinking that… like, I really like the idea of not having to buy shit you don’t want to get the skills you want, but I also know that people will just respec for each mission if I keep them to a minimum and I didn’t want that to cost money. Making it so there’s one additional restriction (weight) makes a lot of difference there.

Although I will also say that I really miss PAYDAY 2 had it before the update where it cost a painful amount of money to respec so the player was encouraged to pick skills on a more utilitarian basis. You know, building for an overall character rather than having optimized builds for every specific scenario.

Cyborg: They kinda sorta made money irrelevant. The house money was essentially there like a score, and the actual functional money after you got what you wanted/set up your skill decks was just there to buy additional equipment for missions that were much less of a money-drain. It’s the kind of thing where they put it in as a choice thing but in practice after a while you just bought it every time

DJ: I want to just have one fkn currency that you use for everything. None of this offshore, pocket change, and Continental Coins shit.

Cyborg: Plus possibly… a mask creator… with even more flexibility

DJ: I am not planning any kind of customization beyond skills and weapon builds. I may add cosmetic items later, but I really don’t want to give the player free reign in that area. Like, I know this is snobby, but frankly, most people’s PAYDAY masks were ugly. But more to the point, I think mask customization 1. detracts from each character’s own Look and 2. diverts attention to the content that a game like this is actually about (levels). If I add cosmetics, they’re going to be like TF2 before they opened it to the profligates, where every item was specific to a character and fit their personality.

I also feel like Overkill really relied on masks as content because they were relatively easy, but I think that’s bullshit. Trying to provide a quality experience. Which isn’t to say that I couldn’t have masks and just not be cheap about it like they were, but I’d rather just put the effort I’d have to invest in a building a system like that into making more levels.

Cyborg: Especially since, I imagine you don’t necessarily want them to all end in “brrrrrrrrrrrp!”* In real life heists do actually end in a lot of shooting because they don’t make it out without trouble, but some “Framing Frame” is nice to break it up. Do you know if you’re planning on a FPS or TPS type deal?

* This is the Metal Gear Solid alert noise.

DJ: Both! I made it like Hitman used to be. Because I know that TPS is more comfortable during stealth for a lot of people, while FPS is better for combat.

Cyborg: I was just about to type that exact same thing too.

DJ: But you can switch back and forth as you wish. Later, I’ll add a thing so you can pick which one you start in.

Cyborg: I imagine you might also want it a more controllable camera vs. just a camera locked behind you.

DJ: Possibly? I kind of like that you actually have to physically turn around to see behind you in TPS. Pretty sure Manhunt was like that. I also feel that you shouldn’t be completely omnipotent re: your surroundings in TPS mode.- Actually, no, I remember now. I thing that was very important for me was that when you switch between cameras, your crosshair is still on the exact same thing. That’s not possible with a free-range TPS cam.

I may give you the option to put your character to the side though, like in Fallout: New Vegas.

Cyborg: Hm. This is something I admit I haven’t seen in previous games and it’s also jarring, but what if it were that way for stealth? In games like Hitman or Splinter Cell being able to look around is good and helpful to compensate for not being able to lean or use your eyes/positioning like a normal human. So once the alahm goes off, and it’s mask-equipment time, it transitions into locked camera

I dunno, though. But like in Hitman I always think about scanning and scouting with the camera while in place.

DJ: I think the genre plays a bit of a role here too. Like, the thing that makes a heist thing fun is, in part, when things go awry. Like, a lot of the fun of Ocean’s 11 is watching how they deal with shit coming up, you know? Whereas Hitman and Splinter Cell are more about being this slick-ass motherfucker who never gets caught. And (I’m guessing at least for Splinter Cell but this is very true of Hitman), you’re supposed to be a bit OP by nature of your character. Whereas my crew are just regular bank robbers. Basically, the possibility that a guard may be approaching from behind when you’re not looking creates fun in a heist game where it might not in an assassin game. Also because fallibility is much less likely to result in immediate Fission Mailed so much as hilariousness in a game like clowns than it might in Hitman because you have time to address problems arising whereas Hitman tended to be a lot more tight.

You want a little “Yakety Sax” in a heist game.

Too, you’ll have a lot more control over guard movement so I think it’d balance out. None of that random patrol shit that you can’t influence at all like PAYDAY. The guards move more predictably in my game already and later, you’ll be able to distract and effect their movement.

I feel like the camera was locked to your back in Contracts at least because I remember having to use a mirror to enjoy that jiggle-boned tie action. In the first asylum level, there’s a long hallway with a one-way mirror windows. I remember strafing back and forth, watching the tie in the mirror.

Cyborg: I think it’d be locked behind you when you were running. I do know some games when in place, you could look around and then in movement it locked in

DJ: Hmm. I might could do something like that. Although I also don’t know that makes a lot of difference in TPS because even if you’re looking behind you and something is coming, you’d still have to turn around to address it.

Additionally, I like how in PAYDAY, when you’re engaging with something, you can look around a little bit, but not really enough to be of any use and I think that should be preserved regardless of which camera you’re using.

Also also, it helps a lot to know which way your teammates are looking.

Cyborg: Yeah. The tightness of the camera for combat is also important too. For the Resident Evil’s having a tight camera over the shoulder works with the relatively slow enemies, but against Armadillos and Ice Cream Men, you’d want/need more. Or else it becomes frustrating getting blindsided

DJ: I was thinking more like Fallout where you can adjust how zoomt in your are. Like, off to the side isn’t so vulnerable a position if you’re not zoomed the fuck in like in RE. But you can adjust it to your preference. I’m planning to add a lot of toggles and shit for all kinds of adjustments like that. ADVANCED SETTINGS


DJ: There’d be control settings. And then under that is the “Hey, do you want to look at ALL THIS SPECIFIC BULLSHIT?” button. Then you get the long list of minutiae you can change to your liking.

But yeah, multiplayer changes a lot of those kinds of controls too. ‘Cause yeah, it’s cool to look around like your necks twists like an owl on singleplayer, but in multiplayer, your teammates will probably think it more important if they can just glance at you and know if you’re watching the door. And that shit you may want to look at by doing a Poltergeist? You should probably just have another teammate looking at it.

Now, I can afford that some people play clowns by themselves and so need to be able to look behind them every often, but I think whatever the solution is does need to be the same across SP and MP- Actually, people play clowns SP just fine without being able to look behind them without moving. Like, now that I think about it, giving you the ability to see around your body, even if only in front of you, is already a pretty generous fkn gift. ‘Cause right now, you can’t tell none of you is sticking out beyond the corner you’re hiding behind.

Cyborg: This is a lot for stealth, too, anyway. It does remind me that people would become critical of games for having shallow stealth, but I think that’s because integrating stealth anything requires a heavy investment too. So if you are more concerned about how you want the combat to go, there will be some conflicts possibly.

At least, “good” stealth. So like for games that have stealth as an option but not a focus like the Deus Ex games, it’s essentially “tranq/incapacitate everyone on the way from A to B”. Which is kinda how MGS is also, but they have more “complex” AI and routes for patrol

DJ: My ideal scenario is that every level can be fully stealthed or louded. None of this either or shit. So I am trying to do a lot with stealth, but I’m also planning to really bolster both aspects with more fun uses of RNG. Like, more than anything, I think PAYDAY was a game about managing resources and making decisions. So that’s where a lot of my ideas are.

Like, the whole thing about Pistol Messiah was you had, like, a second and half to decide whether you could get yourself up or if you needed help, and having to weigh pros and cons in that short amount of time is FUN. Way more fun than knowing the drill would break down three times but OMG WHEN.

Cyborg: I can’t wait once you get to the testing phase of gameplay and you put in a machinegun and because you think about game balance you make it a pea shooter Logan’s gonna be BUT THE CALIBER.

DJ: I’ve honestly thought about not letting you have silly-ass shit like that because REALISTICALLY you wouldn’t bring that to a heist, loud or not. But I’m erring on the side of yeah because I’m fun.

Cyborg: Well like in GTA, it’s all about the heist in question. In the same way you had a whatchamacallit… Camo Index based on your equipment. You may want to make stealth something more complex than just “Simon, do it while I eat a pizza and play Advance Wars on my DS” so it requires more team members for some missions. Then instead of just one person stealthing and the other three in the van wearing Juggy suits, you force compromises in equipment/skills so you get more variety in equipment used.

DJ: I do kinda feel like that’s part of the charm of “Framing Frame”.

Cyborg: Oh, you absolutely gotta have one-man stealthable stuff for the solo PAYDAY-ish people, but having some stealth missions require the entire team to be able to go in unnoticeable, but still be combat ready.

DJ: Most clowntown was like that though. Like “Car Shop” and “Shadow Raid” were both WAY better with more people cooperating.

Cyborg:  So that way we don’t just “OK, we’re trying stealth this time if we fail we’ll swap to our combat stuff.”

DJ: Yes, that’s part of why I was kinda : / about the skill trees. ‘Cause I remembered when you had to build a skillset on the assumption that you’d want stealth skills but you’d need combat. But then later they made it so you could just have your stealth build separate and switch to it.

Cyborg: I think that the idea of a heist is, generally, to try and pull it off with the least chance of dying. So obviously we still want the waves of cops combat stuff, but I think maybe you’d want to weave it into it that we’re trying to do it with, say, a 2 Star rating, not a 5 Star.

DJ: Well, I imagine the real measure of success is how much shit you manage to steal. It’s easier but more time consuming to stealth, but much more risky to combat. And if you die, you lose everything.

Not really planning to measure stats and shit ’cause that doesn’t account for Team Pank-esque style.

DID YOU LEAVE WITH ALL THE BAGS? /Y? SUCCESS! You were all downed in the van, but you got out with the dosh? gg!

Cyborg: Of course, when I say 2 vs. 5 star, I just mean the kind of ruckus we’re trying to cause. I guess what I’m saying is that promoting variety in builds can make it more fun and wondering if one way of doing that is making the mission more fluid instead of “are we stealthing y/n”. Or, the setup for the mission. More fluid

Would you want multi-day pre-heists or just a single day heist?

DJ: I like the idea of multi-day heists where it’s like GTA and you have to do setup. Equipment acquisition. ‘Cause my crew do not have a Bain to arrange that shit for them. They are self-employed.

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