Stealth games are typically considered a single-player affair, but Jonathan Dijkstra and the student team at Frambosa are hoping to change that. Sneaksneak introduces the unique idea of co-op stealth, bringing players together for the sake of avoiding detection from giant Spanish conquistador robots known as the Roboquistadores. To learn more about it, Shacknews talked to Dijkstra shortly after his return from GDC.
"Sneaksneak is a 2D cooperative sneaking game focused on teamwork, timing and stealth," said Dijkstra. "It's all about getting each other through levels without being seen by the Roboquistadores. This generally requires you to observe enemy patterns and take swift action at the precise moment. As the game progresses, this can get quite hard, demanding optimal cooperation and communication to complete the challenges."
Sneaksneak's plot helped set the table for the game's stealth element, as the team aimed to purposely have the main characters outmatched by their invaders, not unlike what the indigenous peoples of America faced upon Columbus' arrival in 1492. "When deciding on the premise we thought it would be cool to make a stealth game where the sneakers are not ninjas or some kind of high tech secret agents," Dijkstra added. "We wanted to go a bit in another direction, in a direction people would not really expect a stealth game to go. One of the ways we tried to find different settings for the game was to look at regions on a world map and roughly go through all the historic events that region has had. This way we came across the discovery of America by Columbus and figured this would be an unexpected direction for a stealth game which we could do something cool with."
The other main element in Sneaksneak, aside from stealth, is teamwork. Players will have to work in tandem to avoid being seen, mainly using a launching mechanic, in which teammates can boost each other to high, faraway areas. These high areas often contain helpful items, like crates, that can be then be pushed down to act as a hiding spot for the partner below.
According to Dijkstra, communication is key, especially since there are no direct attacks in the game. If anyone gets caught, they are immediately killed. "The game is all about sneaking," he said. "And yes, in sneaking, timing is very important. Because players play together and often have to be somewhere together to be able to continue, players have to communicate their timing with each other to sync their actions."
To help emphasize the teamwork aspect of Sneaksneak, the team at Frambosa has done intensive research with co-op games to determine what elements work better than others. Dijkstra names Portal 2 and Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory as major influences on the game's co-op design, as well as the Metal Gear Solid series and Commandos 2 for help with designing stealth elements.
Sneaksneak received an honorable mention at this year's Independent Games Festival in the Best Student Game category. While the game is still early in development, he did manage to bring it to GDC and show off a playable version at the nearby INDIGO showcase. Dijkstra does say that much of the game will be changed from what was on display. "The core gameplay will stay intact, but things like level structures will most likely change completely," he explained. "Also, the art will get a complete overhaul. The character designs will stay the way they are, but tiles and backgrounds and all the other stuff will get a major pimpage. The current version also lacks any form of narrative, so this will be woven into it as well. When the game is done you can expect a much larger and fleshed-out version of what we have now, which is basically our graduation project."
Sneaksneak is being built with Unity and the team at Frambosa hope to have it ready for PC by the end of the year.