Category: Development

Self Motivation

Self motivation can be a big problem. When you lose your momentum or enthusiasm in any project it’s hard to pick it back up again. With Corrosion, I had that when I was trying to figure out what to do with the pathfinding algorithm. It was just not performing and it was a draining and harrowing experience. It’s still not the way I want it to be, but at least I got it to work to a degree that I could continue.

Then it was implementing spells in a solid way. Shadowrun spells are funny things; they don’t operate in a uniform way, so there’s a lot of exceptions that you have to build into the code. I’ve got the spells implemented for players now, but implementing it for enemies is going to be a bit of a pain still. That’s where I am right now, thinking about the best way to implement them for enemies. Luckily, I was smart enough to build in several hooks when I was busy setting them up for characters, so it’s definitely not going to be quite so difficult as when I would have to build it from the ground up, but still.

Surprisingly, it’s also not about the reward; the reward will be a whole new mission that’s just waiting to be used once spells get done. All the players are begging me for more content while I plug away at the foundation and the new mission, The Arena, is just sitting there waiting for me to get off my ass and do it. I suspect it’s going to be about a week’s worth of work. So about 20 hours in total, so that’s not so bad, it’s just the start that sucks. I’m an idiot. :)

And I can’t even start to think about implementing spells into the PvP engine, because that requires a level of sophistication that I don’t know how to tackle yet. The PvP engine requires a lot of sophistication it’s lacking right now. The combat for characters is all automated, so ideally you’d make a few smart decisions for characters, like when to reload their weapon, when to switch to unarmed combat when their bullets run out, when to apply a slap patch or cast a Heal spell, how long to keep casting spells and at what wound level do you not risk any further drain? And ideally, all these things should be lightly customisable for a player.

Anyway, I’m just ranting a little bit. Talking (or writing) about this project usually gets me motivated. I should do it more often. :)

Corrosion and Competition

Zombie PandemicSpending lot of my time on the development of Shadowrun: Corrosion, I naturally keep an eye out on what the competition is doing. Nine out of ten times you stumble upon something, it’s an established game, or an established studio doing a new game, and it usually looks and feels and acts a lot better than our project does at the moment. Most of the time the games are either super simple or unnecessarily complex to the point where it’s not playable. Sometimes it’s…clunky. Not the mechanics, but rather the interface. Future Lost is a good example of that. Great idea, good mechanics, good visuals if you’re into that kind of thing, but the interface sucks big time. Due to our decision to base the game on rather complex mechanics of the third edition of Shadowrun, partly so that we didn’t have to reinvent the wheel, partly to promote Shadowrun, and partly because it would give current players of Shadowrun a sense of familiarity, our own mechanics are still a little clunky, but we’re working on that and I’m confident we’ll get that under control.

And then sometimes you stumble upon a game that is such a gem in the rough, even in its open beta; Zombie Pandemic. God this game is good. It’s really what I aspire Corrosion to be like some day soon. It’s a great concept, it’s got great visuals, it’s got great and simple mechanics that for the statistician among us still gives a fair amount of depth. It also has fairly good interface, but those maps! Those maps are fucking awesome. The way to get around is clever and fun and their looting system is awesome and their combat system is not just statiscs and not full fledged action either. It straddles that line just right. The way you progress your character and the missions the game offers… and it’s huge! I love it. Anyone who’s a fan of browser games, especially browser games about zombies, should really try it out.

God, it just reminds me of how far away of our goal we are. Sure, they have a small team of people and we’re with two. They’ve got a business, a business model geared towards monetisation and therefore can invest in graphics and artists and perhaps hire people to do work for them while we have no plans to monetise, especially considering we’re floating on someone else’s IP, and we’ve got very limited funds to pour into this, especially considering how we have no real way to make money off of the game. I wish I was independently wealthy. I’d quit my job and work on this project full time.

Shadowrun: Corrosion vs Microsoft

MicrosoftOne of the frightning and very real prospects of Corrosion’s future is that Microsoft will start sending cease and desist orders, much like they did with shadowrunonline.com, which was a fan-based project to make a Shadowrun-based, full fledged MMO. Why would Microsoft do such a thing? In 1980 FASA Corporation was  founded by Jordan Weisman and L. Ross Babcock. They started developing different gaming related things, including Shadowrun and Battletech. Eventually, this lead to them founding FASA Interactive, a division that dealt exclusively with the development of computer games based on FASA intellectual property. They went on to make the very popular game franchise Mechwarrior. From what I understand, in 1999 Microsoft purchased FASA Interactive and all the rights to their digital IP, including the rights to produce Shadowrun computer games, exclusively. So when shadowrunonline.com was being made, they felt it infringe on their IP and the same could happen to Corrosion.

However, there’s been different online Shadowrun games over time, like Awakened Worlds, an online Shadowrun MUD which has been around since forever and they don’t seem to bother Microsoft, perhaps because they don’t deem this to be cannabalising their market. Hopefully they’ll think the same of a browser game. I guess we just continue until we receive cease and desist orders from them. We don’t intend to infringe upon the Shadowrun IP (which is partly the reason why we chose to use the out-dated SR3 rules set) nor the digital IP, actually, we’re hoping to promote it!

Shadowrun: Corrosion Lifestyles

Trying to stay true to Shadowrun Third Edition as much as possible, one of the things we’d like to implement in Shadowrun: Corrosion are lifestyles, allowing you to purchase  and maintaining a lifestyle that benefits your character in different ways. There’s a wide spectrum of lifestyles, much like in Shadowrun and they offer an escalating amount of benefits.

Below is a small write up of each lifestyle and the basic setup of what benefits they bring.

Cost: this is the initial purchasing cost of the lifestyle.

Upkeep: this is the daily upkeep cost of the lifestyle.

Social: it’s the penalty or benefits you get to social skill checks (Etiquette, Negotiations, Intimidation, etc.)

Ambush: when attacked in PvP it offers a penalty or bonus in avoiding the first, surprise/ambush round of the fight.

DocWagon: when you fall unconscious due to physical damage you are returned to Dixie’s who patches you up. She takes 10% of your money and your reputation goes down and you’re at 9 boxes of physical. This bonus changes things slightly.

Regeneration: regenerating lost physical health is dependent on your body rating, and can take a long, long time to heal. Regenerating lost stun health is usually quite a bit faster, but is dependent on your body or willpower, whichever is higher. This is a bonus that increases your body/willpower in terms of healing by a particular percentage.

Assets: these are money and influence generating things that a crew can purchase/conquer. Each asset has a legal owner, who gets extra benefits on top of the crew benefits. Because a character needs a solid identity to withstand government scrutiny, the higher the level of the asset, the higher the required lifestyle of the owner.

Street Lifestyle
You will live on the streets — or in the sewers, steam tunnels, condemned buildings, or whatever temporary flop you can get. Food is whatever you are able to find, bathing will be a thing of the past, and your only security is what you create for yourself. This lifestyle is the bottom of the ladder, inhabited by down-and-outers of all stripes. But life won’t be all bad; it will be free!
Cost: 0
Upkeep: 0
Social: +3 (penalty)
Ambush: +3 (penalty)
DocWagon: -10% nuyen,  -1 reputation
Regeneration: +0% body/willpower
Assets: character can’t own assets.

Squatter Lifestyle
Life stinks for the squatter, and most of the time so will you. You will eat low-grade nutrisoy and yeast, perhaps adding some flavors with an eyedropper. Your home will be a squatted building, perhaps fixed up a bit, possibly even converted into barracks or divided into closet-sized rooms and you’ll probably share that with other squatters. Or maybe you can just rent a coffin-sized sleep tank by the night. You’ll have the use of a public dataterm, when you can find one that actually works, to call or e-mail anyone, and you might be able to pick up a pirate trid station on the trid unit you found in a dumpster. The only thing worse than the squatter lifestyle is living on the streets.
Cost: 5,000
Upkeep: 500
Social: +2 (penalty)
Ambush: +2 (penalty)
DocWagon: -8% nuyen, -1 reputation
Regeneration: +2% body/willpower
Assets: character can’t own assets.

Low Lifestyle
With this lifestyle, you’ll have an apartment and nobody is likely to bother you much as long as you keep the door locked and bolted. You can count on regular meals; the nutrisoy may not taste great, but at least it’s hot. Power and water will be available during assigned rationing periods. Security depends on how regular your payments to the local street gangs are. When you travel, you’ll ride the tube. You’ll be one among the factory workers, petty crooks and other people stuck in a rut, just starting out or down on their luck.
Cost: 20,000
Upkeep: 2,000
Social: +1 (penalty)
Ambush: +1 (penalty)
DocWagon: -6% nuyen, -1 reputation
Regeneration: +4% body/willpower
Assets: character can own a level one asset.

Middle Lifestyle
The Middle lifestyle offers a nice house or condo with lots of comforts. If you choose this lifestyle you’ll sometimes eat nutrisoy as well as higher-priced natural food, but at least the autocook has a full suite of flavour faucets. You will also have a commuter car or first-class tube pass. You will have a basic vidphone, and subscribe to a few cable channels and a local news screamsheet. This is the lifestyle of ordinary successful wage-earners or criminals.
Cost: 50,000
Upkeep: 5,000
Social: 0
Ambush: 0
DocWagon: -4% nuyen, 0 reputation
Regeneration: +6% body/willpower
Assets: character can own up to a level two asset.

High Lifestyle
A High lifestyle offers a roomy house or condo, good food and the technology that makes life easy. You may not have the same perks as the really big boys, but neither do you have as many people gunning for you. Your home is in a secure zone or protected by good, solid bribes to the local police contractor and gang boss. You will have a housekeeping service or enough tech to take care of most chores, and a luxury commuter car is at your beck and call. This is the life for the well-to-do on either side of the law: mid-level managers, senior Yakuza and the like.
Cost: 100,000
Upkeep: 10,000
Social: +1 (bonus)
Ambush:  +2 (bonus)
DocWagon:  -2% nuyen, 0 reputation
Regeneration: +8% body/willpower
Assets: character can own up to a level three asset.

Luxury Lifestyle
This lifestyle offers the best of everything: ritzy digs, lots of high-tech toys, the best food and drink, you name it. You will have a household staff, maid service or gadgets to do the chores. You will be likely (and expected) to have a powerful car and a big house, a snazzy condo or the penthouse suite in a top hotel. Home security is top-of-the-line, with well-trained guards, astral security and instant response times. Your holophone is SOTA with all the features, multistation trideo, all satellite and cable channels, and subscriptions to several major newspapers and journals. You’ll be on the VIP list at several exclusive restaurants and clubs, both real and virtual. This is the life for the high-stakes winners in the world of Shadowrun: high-level executives, government big shots, Yakuza bigwigs and the few shadowrunners who pull off the big scores (and live to spend their pay).
Cost: 1,000,000
Upkeep: 100,000
Social: +3 (bonus)
Ambush: no ambush possible.
DocWagon:  0% nuyen, 0 reputation
Regeneration: +10% body/willpower
Assets: character can own up to a level four asset.

 

Any other bonuses we can tie to lifestyles?

Monetisation

Recently, I found a great website at bbgamezone.net, a community of amateur and semi-professional social/browser game developers. It’s cool to finally get to talk with some people who sometimes have up to five all ready running and successful games published. Their ideas on best practices are invaluable and the advice on monetisation of games like this are raw, uncut and realistic.

One of the things that surprised me is just how many games are out there, how many people are trying to make an enjoyable game, what a wide scala of genres are covered and how utterly simplistic some of these games are. Also, a suspicion of mine was confirmed; it’s very, very hard to actually finish a game. There are tons of great ideas that are posted on the community board that will never see the light of day. I guess not many people can sink their teeth into a project and see it through to the end. I hope I’ll be able to have the tenacity.