This one’s inspired by Alpha Protocol, though to be fair, it could be from any game with security cameras. Recently I’ve been playing a lot of older games, except for the couple of days that I spent devouring Mass Effect 3. I didn’t play far into AP yet, but I played enough to know two things: it has some great ideas and it’s buggy. A combination all too familiar to Obsidian’s games.
Security cameras (and other devices) in games is what I wanted to talk about this time. In AP they have the smallest coverage areas that I’ve yet seen in a game. I don’t demand realism from games, but they could at least make some effort to make sense. Camera placement in AP does not. It takes more effort to hit them than evade them, and they often seem to be guarding odd places. Player is of course supposed to make it past the cameras in these games, so they can’t be placed too efficiently. But do they then really serve any purpose? Couldn’t they block the player for real, making him find alternative routes? I think most games put them in as mood makers, without further considering the actual mechanics.
If you never played Uplink, you should do it now. It’s a game where you play a hacker, obviously hacking stuff. What makes it interesting and how it’s related to this, is that you need to cover your tracks in the game. In addition to active tracing, there is slower passive tracing through log files, which you need to manipulate to avoid being captured eventually.
Could this kind of mechanic be used with the cameras, I ask. As far as I know there are two types of security cameras. Those that someone is actively watching, in which case it makes sense to have some spotting delay, and those that are recording. The next espionage game could implement both of those, and the player would not know which one it is. Each level should then have a security booth or a server room or something from which the player could delete recordings. I don’t know how the thing exactly worked in Uplink, but there were different levels of software for deleting logs. The cheaper ones left traces of deleting, and the better ones altered them or erased all signs of entry. It created an excellent feeling of anxiety and paranoia. Are they onto me?