journal.wiredreflexes.com Jack the sound barrier. Bring the noise.

27Dec/128

Shadowrun: Corrosion – A Tough Decision

Since starting development on Shadowrun: Corrosion I've had a tremendous amount of fun watching it manifest into something that people actually seemed to enjoy. I never actually thought that what started as an educational project for my brother and I would eventually attract more than 250 players.

One of the challenges was trying to stay true to the SR3 rules. We thought that if we just kept on trucking and kept expanding the foundation and implementing more material, we'd eventually get there. We made a few changes in order to standardise a few things because the rules have so many exceptions that it was going to become impossible to keep track of all those exceptions in the code. We built a fairly flexible foundation in which we were able to implement almost 95% of all the rules fairly loyally.

For all the things we did right, we also had a lot of problems -- problems we unfortunately were not able to overcome.

The first problem was the performance in missions. When we first started out, things were jerky, but it was acceptable as an alpha because we thought we would be able to come up with some performance enhancements in order to improve upon that.  Unfortunately, we never did and in developing the options further, the performance just suffered more and more. We never did find a way to boost the performance.

The second problem was the fallout of implementing PvP. There was quite a backlash from the players because it was implemented too quickly and without a good understanding of the consequences. For a long time we were looking for the right way to offer PvP options without people getting ganked right, left and center.

The third problem was that the more we developed, the better we understood what we did wrong and what we had to redo to keep up with the curve. A good example was our shop mechanics.

The fourth problem was that despite several offers for help, I wasn't able to set up an infrastructure for code sharing, testing, quality control, etc.

All this created a situation where we had a hard time keeping up with the demands of the players, creating some friction with people like Rockso, ShadowDragon, etc. As we kept developing, we kept falling behind further and further and it became clear that the project was collapsing under the weight of itsown ambition. Adepts hadn't been implemented, let alone the matrix or the astral realm. No complex behaviour trees for opponents like I wanted...

I can go on, but I won't because, well... no use crying over spilt milk.

The death blow came with the latest problems with lag. What is causing the sudden bursts of lag is still somewhat of a mystery. It's likely that our server is being brought down by the large number of queries. It's not a beefy server, but one that I would expect to have more than enough resources to cover us. Having set up a test environment on my rather bad ass box at home, I can safely say that there's no lag here, confirming my suspicions that it's our server.

So we had a choice to make; either we were going to move to a different server -- perhaps something a little more professional -- and start paying, or figure out a way to lower the load on the database. Unfortunately, the latter option means we'll have to make some seriously fundamental changes to the framework. In hindsight, we over-extended ourselves and were too ambitious.

So as of right now, I am ceasing all development to Shadowrun: Corrosion. My brother has moved on to other games, mostly developing stuff to earn his degree while I have several small projects going on. I also have some ideas on different games that may or may not come to some sort of fruition.

Luckily for all of us, there's an RPG in development as well as an ambitious MMO. Check it out on www.shadowrun.com.

It's been a great experience and I've had a lot of fun chatting with all of you. I've also been amazed at how loyal most have you been and your advice and suggestions have been invaluable to me. You've taught me a lot.

It's been real.

23Oct/120

Shadowrun: Corrosion is Broken

The mechanics of Shadowrun: Corrosion are broken and I don't know how to fix it and I'm starting to suspect it can't actually be fixed. Or rather, it can't be fixed in a way that would still remain somewhat true to the old SR3 system. It rarely happens that in the table-top version of Shadowrun, you end up playing a 1000+ karma character. But it happens rather "quickly" in Corrosion. Currently, you are able to make about 30 karma a day if you really dedicate yourself to it. (I'm not entirely sure how feasible it is, but theoretically, you could do two missions and about 20+ duels, and then I'm not counting what you can make in the arena.)

Once you've got your attributes maxed out, which is relatively soon, and you've lowered the costs of improving your skills, you could quite quickly and quite easily jack your pistols/smg/unarmed/edged weapons up to around 20 skill points, at which point it becomes a game I'd like to call "D or be D'ed" -- essentially, you do deadly damage or you get deadly damage, depending on whether you win the initiative roll or not.

This makes for a fairly boring game. Very few duels or PvP fights last more than one or two rounds. And the game starts to revolve around who can chuck the most drugs and still be effective in combat. I think it's inherent to the game of Shadowrun. The lethality makes the table top game so great and suspenseful, but if you're doing it as a browser game, it becomes very boring in my opinion. I'm wondering how Shadowrun Returns is going to deal with that.

A game that revolves around hitpoints, generally, makes it a little more easy. You can scale hit points together with damage resisting qualities, damage dealing qualities and you can even play with critical hit possibilities. Gear will simply scale with your progression through the game. I've heard people say that you'll start out with a weapon that does 4 damage while your enemies have 10 hitpoints and after a year you have a weapon that does 400 damage, while your enemies have 1000 hitpoints. In the end, it all remains the same. I suppose that in a sense that's true, but when the hitpoints always remain the same; namely the 10 boxes on your stun and physical monitor, things become dull.

It's really bugging me. To the point where I don't see any reason to continue expanding upon anything else in the game until I've figured it out. If I don't figure it out, and I continue adding new content or fixing bugs, I just have the feeling I'm decorating a cabin on the Titanic; a little pointless in the end.

In the mean time, I've had some ideas for other games that might work much better and I'm wondering if it's not better to cut the game loose and move on.

19Apr/122

Online in the Last Five Minutes

This makes me feel pretty good. :)

12Apr/120

Shadowrun: Corrosion – Boom!

Yeah, I'm not really sure what happened over the last week, but we doubled the amount of registered players. And as if that wasn't enough, the number of actively logged in players probably quintupled. It's really very exciting and it also puts a nice amount of pressure on my brother and I. We've been working on and off for a while now, but it's always been a bit laissez-faire, without any real sense of urgency. Now, people are equally enthusiastic at the promise of the game as they are dissatisfied that it's not fully playable yet.

Most people are pretty good about it, and then there are a select few -- of course, they have to be the most vocal ones, don't they? -- whose abrasive style rubs me the wrong way. Luckily, I am pretty good at ignoring all the insults and jabs and still manage to concede the point if they have one. (I'm looking at you, ShadowDragon8685.)

11Apr/120

Shadowrun: Corrosion – Casting Armor

Bearclaw posted on Dumpshock that they couldn't cast an Armor spell, so I decided to try and recreate the problem. Below is what I posted to them.

So I decided to make a spell caster, learn Armor 3 from Mojo Flux and I went to my spells section in my safe house. I cast the spell, got a success on the sorcery test and suffered a little drain. You can see that in the first screenshot.

Then I went to the armor page and I saw that without wearing any armor, I had a ballistic 3 and impact 3. See the second screenshot.

Then I went to the character information page and saw the same on the armor stat and I saw the armor spell among my buffs. See screenshot three.

Then I went to Neon Blight, got the first Ghoul Den mission and went inside. Waited for a ghoul to come and kick my ass and recorded the first attack in the combat log on the info tab. It says I was resisting with my 5 body dice against TN 3. The ghouls have a strength of 6, minus the 3 impact armor the Armor spell gives me, is TN 3. See screenshot four.

I think everything is working. If you see different things, please send some similar screenshots to shadowrun.corrosion@gmail.com and I'll get it cleared up as soon as possible.