Heists and Holdups

This is where I feign surprised that I missed a month of updates: “Oh my, where does the time go?” In fact, the time went into converting the entire project to run on Unity, which isn’t something I had planned to do until it suddenly became necessary. On the downside, we lost between 3-4 weeks of progress converting everything over. On the plus side, the game’s on Unity, which means more tools, support and built-in features.

But worry not! We’re done now, and everything’s working just fine. In fact, we’ve made a solid month of progress.


The majority of the work has been on heists. These are the the most active part of Killers and Thieves where you control multiple thieves to steal as much loot as possible for your guild while dodging the city watch.

Click to enlarge

And read on for more details and screenshots!

Heists can be started anywhere you want in the city. Individual buildings change in value over time (and based on rival thieves actions), and may be more or less dangerous depending on how much guard coverage there is. Send scouts on stakeouts to find out the most valuable areas. We’ll go into more detail on this topic in the next update.

Once you’ve chosen a street to start a heist on, you can take up to four of your thieves to start looting. As always keep in mind this is pre-alpha work: for example, characters aren’t yet animated.

Building Generation

Room generation is completely functional. A normal street generates around 6 buildings, and each building is created via procedural generation from roughly 200 different room types with different backgrounds and sizes. It’ll create completely random layouts from whatever parameters we input. The size and shape of buildings will be generated based on the wealth of the district you’re in. We’ve just now replaced all the placeholder building art with final versions (background art still to come).

Doors and windows work, rooms fade in smoothly. You can easily move the character around by clicking any area of a room. You can manually open (or close) doors or click through rooms to run past them automatically. It all works pretty seamlessly.


Furniture generation has been hooked up. Each room is randomly populated with furniture, and large pieces of furniture (like tables) can contain their own random furniture, like cups or plates, leading to an enormous amount of variations. Some items are lootable- this is what your thieves will be looking for. Once you loot an item it has a “looted” appearance. Right now I’ve only made a handful of furniture but with the system in place adding new items is easy. Next up is light sources and lots of furniture variation to bring more color into the scene.

The visibility is now fully functional. Visibility is vital to gameplay: thieves can only see guards or other NPCs in rooms with line of sight. Unvisited rooms remain black, and visited but currently unseen rooms are dimmed, showing their contents but not enemy characters. This makes it important to use scouts to keep an eye on guard movement. In the below screenshot the thief in the upper left room is able to look through open windows on the adjacent building to make sure things are clear for the thief in the right building, waiting in the stairwell.

heist02Click to enlarge

To keep things fun and quick-paced, line-of-sight is fairly simple. You can see up and down staircases, and all the way down hallways, as long as doors or windows are open. If you’re looking across buildings you’ve got more of a cone of visibility. You can, of course, close any doors or windows you want to block sight to. There are even some abilities that will let you reveal a larger area around the thief than he could normally see.

Camera controls are a simple mouse drag, and you can zoom out to overview some enormous buildings.

heist04Click to enlarge

Actions and Abilities

Our first set of actions and abilities are almost complete. Mobility is key in Killers and Thieves, and many of the available actions are based on this.

Every thief can peek through keyholes to reveal adjacent rooms without exposing themselves, and loot containers (how much loot they can carry depends on their stats). Thieves can leap between buildings if they’re close enough. It was extremely important to keep mobility high in this game to avoid the feeling that you’re stuck and there’s nothing you could do about it. It should feel more like you’re toying with the guards than constantly running in dread fear of them. We solve a few problems by making movement between buildings fairly common. On top of that, the building generation algorithm accounts well for multiple paths up or down the same building, and thieves are able to hop across rooftops.

heist03Click to enlarge: you can see the contextual option for the thief to hop across buildings through the open windows.

On that topic, some thieves have the ability to climb, letting them scale outer walls of a building and enter or exit through windows.

In most buildings, many containers and doors are locked. Thieves can learn the pick locks ability, which takes a little time to open. Depending on the thieves’ stats they may not get it the first try. With guards patrolling the halls, taking a long time to open a door could mean the end of a heist.

Thief actions and abilities have all been designed to compliment each other, and most of them take time to complete. While you may be able to do pretty well with a single thief, you’ll need to manipulate multiple characters working together to effectively navigate a heist- opening locks, scouting out enemies, carrying large amounts of loot and making a getaway without being captured.

Next time

Everything already working in heists took a lot of hard work, but it’s actually coming together at blazing fast speed. Now we’ve got a solid foundation to build on, next up on heists we’ll be adding character animations, guard AI and combat. That’s when things should get really interesting. On the next devlog we’ll be talking about some exciting (to me, anyway) revisions to map gameplay that I think a lot of people are going to be interested in.

Heists and Holdups

4 thoughts on “Heists and Holdups

  1. Really glad to see thsi is stilla ctive and going forward, seems liek you are really finding the fun in this.

    Quick suggestion, would it be possible to add a few frames to the animated gif so we acn see the “looted” appearance of the item?

    Do you intend to have one-way passages, like trap doors?

    When a thief jumps across uildings, does it need to be to the same height, or can I land at alower floor?

    Do youitend to have placew where a cahracter can hide statiscally? (e.g.: inside a closet?)


    1. Lots of design in-flux right now! I’ve been busily working out how easy/hard it should be to maneuver around guards. Right now they’ve been rather Terminator-like, quickly and efficiently crushing all thieves in their way.

      Currently thieves can only jump across horizontally, though some will have the ability to climb to other floors. We’ve also just added dropping down from a window to ground floor, and jumping across rooftops will let you hop downward as well as across.

      Hiding is an important aspect we’re looking at. I’ve been holding off on a standard “hidden” state, but it’s looking more and more like being able to hide from guards as they pass by (as opposed to always trying to go around them) is going to be the more enjoyable way to play.

      There’s a key element called “Suspicion” we’ll talk about more in future updates, where each thief’s stealth stat plays into how quickly they’re found out.


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