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§9.12. Cameras and Recording Devices

Recording what is going on, for later playing back or examination, is difficult because the range of situations is very complex. Exactly how much information should we store when we make a recording, and will this require problematically large tables? Will it be difficult even to do at all?

The usual approach is to record only basic details of events or situations. In If It Hadn't Been For... the tape recorder preserves only a few different sounds - footsteps, creaking, rustling - rather than capturing exactly the sound of every action taking place in earshot. In Claims Adjustment, we can take up to 36 Polaroid-style photographs, but each is described only by saying what it is a photo of. Thus we can have a photograph of a vase, or even a photograph of a photograph of a vase (because that too is a thing), but not a photograph of a still life in which several items have been gathered together by the player. That would ordinarily require too much storage.

A similar trick, though involving impromptu sculpture rather than photography, can be found in Originals. (The artist magically "manifests" these models rather than sculpting the conventional way in order to avoid the nuisance of carrying around raw materials - wax maquettes and so forth - which would clutter up the example.)

Text, of course, can store arbitrary descriptions. Mirror, Mirror provides a perfect visual recorder: it remembers a room description exactly as the player saw it at the time.

Actor's Studio provides a video camera that records and time stamps all actions performed in its presence while it is set to record.

* See Telephones for ways to speak to inanimate objects, which might be appropriate when, say, tape-recording a confession

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*ExampleIf It Hadn't Been For...
A sound recording device that records the noises made by player and non-player actions, then plays them back on demand.

Allowing the player to create models of anything in the game world; parsing the name "model [thing]" or even just "[thing]" to refer to these newly-created models; asking "which do you mean, the model [thing] or the actual [thing]" when there is ambiguity.

*ExampleMirror, Mirror
The sorcerer's mirror can, when held up high, form an impression of its surroundings which it then preserves.

**ExampleActor's Studio
A video camera that records actions performed in its presence, and plays them back with time-stamps.

**ExampleClaims Adjustment
An instant camera that spits out photographs of anything the player chooses to take a picture of.