Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Evaluating the Evil Overlord list, 61 - 70

61. If my advisors ask "Why are you risking everything on such a mad scheme?", I will not proceed until I have a response that satisfies them.

Evaluation: Prudent.

62. I will design fortress hallways with no alcoves or protruding structural supports which intruders could use for cover in a firefight.

Evaluation: I think we can dispense with this precaution. If you’re doing your job right, firefights should be a relatively rare occurrence and you shouldn’t sacrifice the structural integrity of your supervillain lair against the outside chance that one might break out.

63. Bulk trash will be disposed of in incinerators, not compactors. And they will be kept hot, with none of that nonsense about flames going through accessible tunnels at predictable intervals.

I think there is a Toy Story 3 joke in here somewhere, but this seems like a reasonable precaution.

64. I will see a competent psychiatrist and get cured of all extremely unusual phobias and bizarre compulsive habits which could prove to be a disadvantage.

Evaluation: Careful there, sport. You’re going to psychoanalyze yourself out of wanting to be an Evil Overlord.

65. If I must have computer systems with publically available terminals, the maps they display of my complex will have a room clearly marked as the Main Control Room. That room will be the Execution Chamber. The actual main control room will be marked as Sewage Overflow Containment.

Evaluation: This could work. We get a little tension when our heroes approach the “Main Control Room” that they have identified from the map , and only realize in the nick of time that it’s  not what it seems. Alternately, we could use this to show how smart a hero is. She’s looking at the schematics on the terminal and after a time she says. “Look at all the infrastructure around the Sewage Overflow Containment. It must be the control room.”

66.My security keypad will actually be a fingerprint scanner. Anyone who watches someone press a sequence of buttons or dusts the pad for fingerprints then subsequently tries to enter by repeating that sequence will trigger the alarm system.

Evaluation: Having worked in a place with a fingerprint scanner as part of its time clock system, I can attest that that the fingerprint recognition aspect of it generally functions poorly. I suppose it’s fine if you can get the system to work, and if the heroes don’t get to wondering why the goons always take off their natty leather gloves to punch in a keycode, but think this is too much of an edge case to come up with any regularity.

67. No matter how many shorts we have in the system, my guards will be instructed to treat every surveillance camera malfunction as a full-scale emergency.

Evaluation:  It sounds great now, but after the third lockdown in an afternoon because a pigeon farted on the roof, I think you’re going to walk this back plenty quick.

68. I will spare someone who saved my life sometime in the past. This is only reasonable as it encourages others to do so. However, the offer is good one time only. If they want me to spare them again, they'd better save my life again.

Evaluation: This sounds like a terrible idea. This is the kind of thing the list should be encouraging you to avoid.

69. All midwives will be banned from the realm. All babies will be delivered at state-approved hospitals. Orphans will be placed in foster-homes, not abandoned in the woods to be raised by creatures of the wild.

Evaluation: Coming to a theater near you, Vanessa Ross, Guerilla Doula of Mordor, Summer 2017! This actually doesn’t seem evil, but it does seem hard to enforce.

70. When my guards split up to search for intruders, they will always travel in groups of at least two. They will be trained so that if one of them disappears mysteriously while on patrol, the other will immediately initiate an alert and call for backup, instead of quizzically peering around a corner.

Evaluation: This gets into the best practices concern from the last segment of the list.  I play a lot of video games and it’s always good for a chuckle when you shoot someone and make his head explode, and his buddy, standing two feet away panics for ten seconds before settling down and assuring himself that he must have imagined it. This is concession to playability, otherwise games with stealth components would be prohibitively difficult and frustrating.

I think the list is exaggerating this trope to make a point. I think a better summary of the situation would be that Guard #1 walks out of the line of sights of guard Guard#2, and is taken out by the hero. Guard #2 looks around for the #1, but at this point hasn’t registered anything is wrong. To the extent that he’s thinking about it at all, he is interpreting the situation as “I don’t know the precise location of Guard #1 at this moment” not “Holy shit! Guard #1 has been attacked!” And then Guard #2 us attacked by the hero either before he realizes what’s wrong or immediately afterward, as he’s on his way to trigger an alarm.

It’s similar to item number 67. If you lower the threshold to treat every possible problem as a full scale alert, then you’re crippling your own security system.

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