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

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.

8 comments on “Shadowrun: Corrosion – A Tough Decision

  1. genericfantasygamer

    Hey, I am wondering if you would be willing to subcontract the work on Corrosion to someone who is very familiar with Shadowrun and mildly familiar with web design. I am a student in Computer Network Engineering and a Shadowrun GM with 6 years of experience running 4th and 5th edition Shadowrun. That said, I am extremely familiar with all editions of Shadowrun; I have read all the core books from every edition.

    I am confident that I could implement adepts, and deckers by dint of decker-only missions added to the game. I also feel confident in adding more standard missions.

    I do not have any experience in multiplayer elements. I don’t think i could expand the multiplayer aspects at all.

    If you wish to discuss this further, please email me at That’s my business address. I check it twice a week, five times when I am expecting a message from someone.

    1. DV8 Post author

      While I appreciate the offer, I can’t take you up on it. While development was still going on my brother and I looked into several ways to have people collaborate on the project, since we had a lot of offers like yours. Unfortunately, we never found a good structure in which we were comfortable doing this. The time and effort involved to set something like that up now, while development has been halted for nearly two years seems, ultimately, fruitless.

  2. genericfantasygamer

    Ah, and a good thing to mention here is two more details:
    I am offering to do this for free
    I am a student, so my time is limited. Some development is better than none, though, right? :/

  3. Frost

    first let me say how impressed I am with how far you took this ambitious project!
    I am looking into developing a shadowrun based browsergame as well. I’d like to ask you if you ever had any legal troubles regarding licensing etc.? Do you know if anyone in the companies officially involved with the shadowrun trademark know of your project?
    Best regards

    1. DV8 Post author

      Yes, it has been brought to the attention of some people at Catalyst, but I never got a cease and desist from them. Likely because a) I wasn’t making any money off of the project, either through subscriptions or advertisement, b) because I deferred to the their websites in a disclaimer, c) because I used a deprecated rules set, and d) because the player base never got big enough to make any waves.

      Throughout the years, I’ve spoken to several of the writers and developers of Shadowrun, and their attitude was always that the game profits from a healthy online fan-base. Corrosion fell under that definition, to them. Again, things may have been different if any of the above mentioned criteria weren’t met.

      There was a far more ambitious project to make a Shadowrun MMO, which was killed by Microsoft at the time, probably because they were in the process of licensing the Shadowrun’s MMO rights to Cliffhanger. Keeping that in the back of my mind I was always very aware that the cease and desist could be sent at any time.

      I’d be interested to see a Shadowrun browser game. If you ever feel the need to spitball or would like some help, perhaps I can pitch in somehow.

      1. Frost

        thanks for replying so fast. I would let you know for sure! I would probably split the project in two, have a frontend and a backend and put the frontend as open source on github once i have the basics done, so teamwork would be easier – because it seems to happen all the time: the project gets too big for one or two people, and gets abandoned, which is always sad.
        i am thinking about creating my own cyberpunk world, so i won’t have to deal with any legal troubles. but that would take away so much of the fun. decisions, decisions.

        1. DV8 Post author

          Splitting the project up is definitely a good idea, let it be as loosely coupled as possible. The implication of making it open source, however, is that you’ll have to do a lot of input checking, since the commands from the front end will be suspect.

          Regardless, you’re right about the size-related abandonment issues. The project started out being a proof of concept for my brother’s game design class and we got a little over-zealous. It was never meant to become an actual thing, which is why it has been open to play from the very start. Imagine our surprise when people actually started playing it.

          Making your own universe isn’t so difficult, with a few tweaks you can create a whole different flavour. I do recommend you don’t use the pen-and-paper rules, as they really don’t scale well in an browser-game environment.

Leave a Reply