Alpha Protocol Interview

IGN brings us some more details on Alpha Protocol in a new three-page interview with SEGA’s Tim Ernest and Obsidian Entertainment’s Matthew Rorie.

IGNPC: What types of skills will the player be able to use to overcome the obstacles in the game? Are you looking to provide options for players to switch freely between combat, stealth, and charm as the situation warrants? Can you give us an example of a problem that can be solved in a variety of ways?

Matthew Rorie: We want the player to specialize in the different skills and choose how they solve a specific situation. You cannot max out all of Thorton’s skills. During any level, you can go in through the front door with your guns blazing and combat armor equipped. If you do, you’d also want to increase your toughness for more hit points.

Alternatively, you could find alternative paths to sneak around the situation and take people out silently. An emphasis on stealth skills will make this easier for you. If you want to play stealthy, you will want to level up your stealth to increase your evasion passive skill, and use your silenced pistol with chain shot, so you can slow down time and take out up to 3 enemies without anyone noticing. You could also have leveled up your martial arts instead of your pistol as your hand to hand combat is the most silent (and you will have some more abilities to take those enemies out).

Or, of course, you could try to use a bit of both skill sets, or try to use the many gadgets in the game to make your course through the level that much easier – you can stun enemies, or use noisemakers to distract them, or incendiary grenades to take out a group of them, etc. We really want to put an emphasis on freedom for the player while he or she attempts to tackle a challenge.

IGNPC: Developers of shooter-based RPGs like Deus Ex and Fallout have always had to strike a balance between character stats and player performance. Where do you draw the line between the player’s abilities and their characters skills?

Matthew Rorie: Obviously this is a tricky balance to strike, perhaps especially in an action RPG – you have to ensure that the skills a player invests in are meaningful to the gameplay experience, but at the same time you have to avoid the randomness of dice rolls and probabilities that can sometimes frustrate even experienced RPG players. It’s important to keep in mind that while Michael Thorton is an inexperienced agent at the start of the game, he’s been very well-trained in the weapons and technology that he’s using. So if you line up a critical hit with your pistol on an enemy, you’re not suddenly going to miss due to a dice roll.

On the other hand, Mike will gain more experience with his weapons as he travels the world. Adding skill points to weapons will allow you to deal more damage and aim more quickly, and will also unlock new special abilities for the weapon (such as Chainshot for the pistol, which was mentioned previously). Without any points in martial arts, you’ll still be able to hit dudes in the face, but if you level it up, you’ll gain some impressive maneuvers that will let you drop fools that much more quickly. This helps to ensure that the player feels empowered by their choices without completely eliminating their ability to use skills they haven’t invested in quite as heavily.

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