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Conspicuously Selective Perception
A cousin of The Guards Must Be Crazy
. In many games, particularly those involving stealth
, enemies will often be overly sensitive towards noises that are made by the player character directly, such as footsteps, but pay no attention to noises made by Non Player Characters
or by machinery the player has set in motion. In addition, NPCs will often pay no attention to alterations made to the game world by the player, such as things not being in their place or a patrolling guard suddenly not walking by a sentry's post anymore.
If the player can disguise himself
or otherwise be unknown to the enemies so as to be allowed to pass, they will instantly know that it's the player as soon as he does something vaguely suspicious. And by "suspicious", we mean anything the developers want to hinder the player with
, such as running or having a weapon in hand. The guards will happily ignore all the NPCs running around like headless chickens but if the player does it, he might as well have "spy" tattooed to his forehead.
While there are certainly technical considerations (dealing with the large range of triggers, responses, responses to responses, etc)
that can cause this, there is also the simple question of whether it would be fun
. After all, a Stealth-Based Game
lives on predictability, and dying because a random NPC happened to walk along and screw up the guard's pattern isn't fun.
If this trope is overused in a game, it becomes blatantly obvious to the player that the game world revolves solely around their character
and their actions. That the enemies know who you are, where you are and what you're doing, and are just waiting for some excuse to attack so that you'd hopefully be less likely to notice their All Seeing AI
The worst examples of this are when you can shoot an enemy from a distance and they do not react; you're outside their designated sight/hearing range so they just keep taking hits until they die...then a few minutes later another guard comes by, takes one look at the corpse, and suddenly alarms are screaming and every guard in the level is shooting you on sight, because they just know
it was you.
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- Variant on ignoring sounds not made by the protagonist: in an episode of Batman Beyond, villain Shriek has a suit whose abilities include nullifying sound in the surrounding area. When Batman turns on the machines in a factory in order to mask his own movements, Shriek uses his suit to block out the sounds, followed by another adjustment so that he can still hear Batman moving around.
- So, Dexter has made a friend. Good for you, Dex. But perhaps you would prefer not to talk about murdering people in a crowded area in broad daylight? Just a thought.
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer has the entire student body of Sunnydale High to be extremely ignorant to what Buffy, Willow, Xander, Giles, Cordelia and Oz are talking about. Occasionally the Scoobies will stop talking when someone enters the library, but more often than not they are discussing the Monster of the Week right in the hallway while students and teachers are bustling around. Though this also applies to most of the people in Sunnydale about anything supernatural.
Blatant lack of awareness
- Ground Control 2: You're meant to be sneaking past the guards but one of the guys you are controlling (Rho) keeps shooting at people, unless you get in range of their weapons nobody notices their comrades dying.
- You can also shoot infantry with scout drones without them noticing.
- Fire Emblem enemies, at least in FE 7,9,10, often seem to be a bit more comfortable with their current spot then they should, considering the situation. A common tactic against these guys is to sneak until you get a few units just outside detection range, then let a heavy defender (Knight/General) enter, lure the guy out (finally) and let him get the crap beaten out of him. Despite the low movement range of the heavy defenders, you will have plenty of time to set this up.
- In one of the missions in Golden Eye 1997, there is a point from which you can shoot at the head of a guard who is wearing a steel helmet without him seeing you. Because of the steel helmet, the headshot is not fatal and it takes several shots to kill him this way, with his head jerking backwards with each hit. Because he can't see you, he completely ignores this and remains at his post until he dies.
- Happens a lot in WarCraft 2: melee units will just sit and get shot repeatedly without making any move to attack the unit that's not even THREE FRIGGIN' FEET AWAY!
- This was common to almost all older real-time strategy games. Eventually it became more common for units to react to being shot at, either by closing in and retaliating or, if they can't see or can't hit the enemy, running. This came at different times for different series: Starcraft prominently used this aversion (since it was unusual at the time), whereas Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3, many years later, continues to not.
- In Halo the Covenant will do almost nothing while you snipe a them from across the map. The Xbox 360 remake of the first game has an Achievement for sniping all the mooks in the beginning of a certain level without them noticing anything. Apparently, walking around the corpses of their buddies doesn't count as noticing.
- In Disgaea enemy units won't move towards your characters unless they're in range and they'll never (in my experience) move away. As a result it's possible to kill some enemies with a gun (the weapons class with the longest range) or magic (which can reach the other side of the map at high levels) without any reaction on their part.
- The Raiders in Fallout 3 can sometimes be incredibly oblivious, it is frequently possible to blow off the head of a person they are standing right next to without them noticing. In addition, you can sneak around a building, knocking around shopping carts and other junk, but they're never notice. Justified by the fact that they are high 99% of the time that they aren't stealing drugs.
- A particularly odd example, or possibly subversion, comes from Nexus Prince Shaffar and his guards in World of Warcraft. He has a room full of groups of five or so guards who you kill one group at a time as you work your way up to him. The kicker is that he greets you when you enter the room. He clearly knows you're there and has shouted it out in front of everyone, yet his guards stand there waiting to be slaughtered one group at a time.
- City of Heroes, and presumably other MMORPGs, will sometimes have an NPC you are attacking break and run, generally toward a nearby group of oblivious NPCs. You can continue attacking the runner with ranged attacks, and can defeat the runner so that they fall down right in the middle of the other group, and they pay no attention to the body lying at their feet. NPCs will also ignore things like eye-searing bolts of fire passing through their group to hit targets beyond them.
- Laura Bow: The Daggar of Amon Ra has a minor but interesting case. In the armory room there is a large tapestry in the far left of the screen. To collect evidence, Laura can use this tapestry to hide behind it to surprise or remain undetected while other NPCs are dropping important clues at particular time intervals. You can use it from listening to a conversation to leaping out and scaring the hell out of another suspicious party, nobody will suspect anything (although one conversation with Wolf and Olympia lampshades this). However, in Act 5 when Laura is chased by the killer a character, I might add, you could NOT use this trick against prior, hiding behind the tapestry regardless of how well it worked before (or the fact you blocked off all possible ways or indication the killer could've seen her hide there during the chase) will cause the killer to instantly know she's there and smack her with their spiked club of doom through the tapestry.
- Both played straight and averted in Gothic. All enemies have a specific sight range, and will not react to anything outside it — so you can startle one monster of the group, pull it away, and kill it without others noticing. However, averted with most humanoids (humans, orcs and lizardmen) and some animals (wolves, rats, scavengers, and some others) — startling one of them also startles everyone in its vicinity (which, in turn, can startle everyone in their vicinity, and so on), leading to the whole group taking off after you.
- While sneaking into the Gerudo fortress in The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, the guards pay no mind to seeing one of their fellow guards lying on the ground unconscious, with an arrow sticking out of their skull. They also can't be bothered to look up at the ceiling, no matter how much noise Link is making with his hookshot.
- The enemies in Final Fantasy XIII have a detection zone. If you're standing outside of it, they can't see you even if they're almost close enough to touch you. But if you're in their zone, they can see you even through walls. They will chase you until you get out of their zone, at which point they decide It's Probably Nothing, even if you're stading right there in front of them, waiting for them to turn their backs and walk back to where they were so you could attack from behind.
- The enemies in Hotline Miami are admittedly capable of hearing the player's gunshots and seeing him... sometimes. Apart from that, they are curiously inept, to the point where they'll completely ignore corpses of their buddies, and won't react at all when the guy in front of them is suddenly shot and killed.
- Ghost Recon: Future Soldier features a mission in which an enemy gunship is hovering overhead and the player and his team are expected to sneak past it without alerting it. While it will near-instantly go on alert if it spots the player, you can tell your teammates to shoot an enemy right underneath it and it will not care.
- Compounding on this, during sections in which enemies are not yet aware of the player's presence, the AI-controlled Ghosts are totally invisible to them. This can be handwaved by the active camouflage you get from the second mission onwards, but even when they're running at full tilt without camo active they are still totally undetectable. Notably, this also applies to temporary escorts - one can, after rescuing the Russian President, have him walk right into a patrolling guard without that guard noticing.
Blind and deaf, but with a powerful sixth sense
- In Hitman: Absolution, if you're in an area that's off limits to you, the sound of your footsteps will alert guards and cause them to become suspicious, unless you are wearing an appropriate disguise. Apparently, they know the difference between their footsteps and yours.