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Peeking Mandatory: Splitscreen Shooter Screencheat

Hey, you cheated!

I would quite like to see more cheating soon. Not that nasty awful cheating, the one that ruins multiplayer games for everyone but the cheater, but the idea of cheating. Double Fine’s Hack ‘n’ Slash is built around cheating with a memory editor, and now Screencheat demands players peek at each other’s screens in splitscreen.

Screencheat’s a competitive multiplayer first-person shooter with splitscreen for up to four players. Except. All players are invisible, so you’ll need to look at everyone else’s portion of the screen and analyse their view to figure out where they are. (So you can shoot them dead, obv.)

I’m curious to see what it looks like between players who’ve played a lot and learned the levels. Players who walk around staring at the ground, navigating from memory and only looking up once they’re upon their victim. Players who try to fake others out by hovering about generic-looking areas. Players who loudly declare where they are, relying upon superior FPS skills to juke and dodge and take down people charging towards them. Who knows! Level design will need to support interesting tactics. Screencheat may look like an FPS (though one played through others’ eyes too so what does that mean for “first-person”?) but demands different skills and types of play.

Screencheat’s being made by Samurai Punk, expanding the prototype created during this year’s Global Game Jam (which you can still play). If you sign up for the beta, you’ll get to play from August 4 to September 3, with an update in the middle due to add a new map, weapon, and mode. After that, the beta will continue for £7.25 pre-orders on Steam until it launches in October.

I would still like to see actual cheaty cheats facing each other too. I fondly recall Ratbot duels with chums in Quake 2, though it was a bit inept on dialup in those pre-lag compensation days. When everyone could kill each other from a mile away, skill came back around to knowing maps and moving well to stay behind cover. What goes on in those special ‘cheaters-only’ matchmaking queues we hear about? Let’s have cheating competitions, embracing digital sports as weird cyberthings. Players primed with hitbots and wallhacks, honing configs to perfection like racecar engineers and selecting v1.79b of their speedhack over the latest because it feels smoother to them. What shape might an FPS made for cheaters take?

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Alice O'Connor

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When not writing news, Alice may be found in the sea.

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