Psi Ops was a game I thoroughly enjoyed playing, I felt I was playing a Metal Gear game with psychic power. This is a slight stretch but I honestly played some games thinking that I was playing another.
Which brings me to what I loved most about this game, mixing stealth and psychic powers. Imagine if you could play a game like Splinter Cell or Metal Gear with the added mechanic that you have psychic powers at your disposal.
This is the element of the game I enjoyed the most, using psychic powers to get through a section of the game without being detected.
How do I envision playing the game? Well there are multiple different ways I would design it but I feel that the best fit for this game is a mission centric game where the developer can concentrate in providing a controlled hub with multiple ways to complete the mission using the tools available. So let’s dive into how the game would look if I was directing the game development.
I was never a big fan of the original story, although it had its high moments. I would stray off from the original story and create either a pre-quel or a story within the same world which emphasizes the creation and recruitment of the original Psi Ops special project. I wouldn’t focus on
Nick Scryer’s story but I wouldn’t be opposed in using him as part of the story. The player will be accepting missions to continue progressing their psychic abilities and setting up the infrastructure for a psychic secret army for hire.
The player in essence will not be playing the “good guy” role since the whole point of setting up the infrastructure is to lead up to the beginning of the next game, the group Nick Scryer was part of and was fighting against.
Game World/Level Design:
The Game World would need to be almost like Deus Ex, or Hitman, where you load a Hub, you have a mission but there are multiple ways in which you may approach and complete the main goal. I would like to see sections of the game in which you may interact with a scripted scene, like a car chase were you’re trying to get away (Tribute to Meal Gear Solid 4 London getaway scene), but the core experience would focus on providing a hub designed with a main objective and the player decides how to approach the objective.
Since the point of the game is to provide the player a level of choice on how to approach the mission, each mission should be structured to promote this level of choice and not restrict the player by forcing him to play a certain section with a specific play style.
Each level should be like a small playground with a level of empowerment to the player. I always think of Hitman games when I say this, where the game fits each plays tyle Stealth Kill all, Stealth No Kill, Run and Gun, Sabotage, etc.
The Game World setting would have to be different world locations given the player would be travelling around the globe completing several missions. The levels may have additional objectives that players could do to facilitate the completion of a mission, whether it is by recruiting a group of people to cause a distraction or sabotaging the electrical system using skills.
This is probably the toughest part for me but I was not a fan of the previous game. I felt the enemies were to hell-ghastly and the character models a little boring, except for the bosses.
I enjoy games that don’t have ultra-realism in the way the faces are designed and have a level of cartoon like features with a realistic face. My inspiration for the way the faces could be designed is in alignment to games like uncharted, where the character faces have a lot of expression and look real enough but have a hint of cartoon features in the mix.
The best way to express this is that the character will portray his personality through his facial model design. The color pallet would have a dark tone to it, somewhat like the original game and splinter cell. The costume design will be in line with the mission being played and its location, Urban missions will sport casual wear if it involves some reconnaissance and stealth wear if it involves a break and entry mission.
The game will play from a main Hub where the player will choose his loadout, track his skills, research abilities and manage recruits. The main hub will be upgraded as each mission is completed. Missions will not have a specific order in which they need to be completed. The game will consist of a set of main story missions which are unlocked as you complete side missions. Each mission will contain one main objective which may be completed in a multitude of ways. If it’s an assassination mission and your character has progressed in possession and telekinesis, a player may place a bomb on the back of an enemy and possess them to walk towards their target.
Exploration missions will require the player either sneaks in an abandoned facility that used to perform experiments on subjects, traversal will require players use telekinesis to clear the way or create new paths. Main story missions will have setpieces that are out of the norm from the other missions (Car chases, escape sequences, boss encounters). Boss encounters are enemies that may be defeated whichever playstyle the player decides to use, but these enemies will have a unique ability.
The game will be played from a third person perspective and will provide the player maneuverability to move in stealth or operate in third person action. Depending on the loadouts and the skills the player decides to focus on, players may become bullet sponges or invisible predators. From the previous games players had access to telekinesis, pyromancy, remote viewing, aural view and possession.
Players should be able to develop specific skills that will help them in their playstyle, if players decide to focus on telekinesis, they can unlock a passive ability to deflect bullets. If players then decide to focus on possession and remote viewing afterwards they may be able to transfer some of their psychic powers to the possessed individual. If players decide to focus strongly in possession they may possess a person without incapacitating their own player, the enemy is in essence acting like a charmed character.
The point of the game is that players will gain abilities as the continue focusing on their skills and they will unlock passive and active abilities they did not expect. It will also focus in making each level like a toy box for the player to explore with their abilities to achieve certain results. Progression is key to this game, especially in the beginning, it would be great if the player feels vulnerable with their limited abilities, but as they progress they will become a force to be reckoned with. Enemies will also adapt to new abilities and become more challenging but the player may be more willing to take more risks as an agro player, or have to think a little harder as a stealth player.
The previous game had some good controls for what they were trying to achieve with the abilities. Instead of picking one of the few abilities and setting them to a specific button, players can freeze time with a skill wheel and select what ability they want to use for the situation. In there they can also select two or more abilities to perform a combination ability, I.E. possession with pyromancy to perform a human who will explode due to internal combustion. A bumper could be used for this feature, this will also allow the player to make precise decisions on what to spend their energy on in a specific situation.
Cover and shooting mechanics would work best of they were seamless, players could approach cover while crouching and if enemies are nearby they will begin to automatically take cover as they are close. Once the player decides to aim, they will pop out of cover and shoot a few rounds.
The player may only carry two weapons at a time and will cycle through accessories via the D-Pad. Shooting and abilities selected will all be controlled using the right bumpers. So if a grenade is tossed a player may quickly access telekinesis and guide the grenade to where they want it to land. The player will control their character by using the left joystick and aim with the right, the character will move facing the direction of the right joystick until they aim down the sights or us an ability. At that point the character will face the crosshairs.
The rest of the controls will work like other games, there will be a weapon swapping button, an interaction button, a jump button, a melee button. Jumping will be case sensitive, otherwise the player will sprint and the character will jump and climb automatically. This is to focus on what is the important mechanics in the game, which are the aiming and psychic abilities.
I would really love for this game or a game like this to be realized at some point, I’m hoping this section provides some inspiration to other developers to consider a game with some of these mechanics or give players something to discuss and improve as a gaming community. As a parent my time playing a game is limited so I would love to play a game that I enjoy spending my time with, wouldn’t you? Let us know what you think, if you were a fan of the original Psi Ops and how would you design the continuation of the game. Stay fresh and keep gaming!