Thursday, June 15, 2006

I Wanna be the Rigger!

So, there's a lot of talk about the new "Shadowrun" game. For those unfamiliar with the situation, the game is is "based on the Shadowrun game system" in the same way that, say, Desperate Housewives is based on Taming of the Shrew. It's a different universe with a different feeling, different core game dynamic, and different concentration.

In short, it's not a Shadowrun game at all.

Okay, now, before anyone dives in for or against this other game, let me remember my Shadowrun experiences.

Hmmmurmmmmuuuu... it's coming to me...

Oh, yeah! The fact is that hackers, riggers, and mages aren't playing the same game as anyone else in the party. Or each other, for that matter. Always slowed the game to a crawl.

They're off routing nodes, or scouting paths, or doing astral projection, or something. And they kind of sit in the back as support staff while the combat team rolls all the dice and feels all the intensity.

Now, let's move that into a massively multiplayer game.

I'm not stuck sitting at your table. Instead of having to pull me aside every time you something happens to me, the game automatically can talk to me, as if I were the primary team.

There's no long delay, no disrupting the party. The hackers can be hackers, the riggers, riggers, and the mages, mages. They can all play their different but intertwined games, creating a rich, diverse, team-heavy play style.

Creating, in short, a Shadowrun that is better than the original.

Here's the question: why didn't they choose to do this? Why did they choose to make it Quake With Magic instead?

Imagine it. You're a hacker. You're playing a game consisting half of TRON-like VR, half of green phosphorous on black backdrops. You crack ice, you open doors, you shut down camera feeds. And in this time, your infiltration team is running, realtime, through the system you are hacking! You hack the doors, the team gets to go through them. It's beautiful.

Similarly, imagine a drone rigger whose screen is primarily a "radar map" display of where all his vehicles are. He can move them around and, if he feels the need, even pull up a "real-cam" display and pilot them in detail. True scouting and defenses.

All of these "secondary games" become "primary games" when they are put in an MMOG. This would be pretty damn cool, don't you think?

I think it is the coolest MMOG concept I've heard in a long time. The difference between character classes isn't something stupid like, "my ranged attack is a radius fire attack, while his is a machine-gun". These different classes approach the entire game world in a different way.

Also, it allows for an awesome crafting engine.

What a mis-step, to throw all this away. It's like someone giving you a free ticket to a five star restaurant, and you trade it to the nearest street vender for a hot-dog with everything.



haslo said...

Brilliant writeup :) I've written a post about this myself as well, yours beats it by lengths though :)

kestrel404 said...

Wait. They did a shadowrun MMORPG, and everyone is the same? Like in the Starwars MMORPG? Good god...

Oh, and Craig, you CAN run the tabletop version with all the 'support classes' running at the same time as the 'combat classes'. It just requires that both the GM and the player be an expert on the rules involving that class - so there's no long discussion of what order the decker needs to make his dice rolls in in order to unlock that door. It makes the game great fun (and seeing it translated into an MMORPG the way you described it would be even better, to be sure).

Perhaps, though, the reason that the game devs went the way they did (aside from the fact that they obviously never PLAYED shadowrun) is because a) they didn't want to risk doing an innovative game (yeah, stupid, but that's pretty standard thinking), and b) the development time for what you proposed would be an order of magnitude greater than what they did.

Seriously, thought, it would have been worth it.

Craig Perko said...

Thanks for the compliment, Haslo.

Anyhow, the "added dev time" could have been brought down to almost no increase by focusing on the engine and then allowing players to "craft" particular spells, guns, cyberskins, and vehicles. Release it to beta with a bare minimum of actual content, let them provide the skins and models.

If they had said, "hey! We're making Shadowrun! Who wants to help?" I would have been all over it.

Tide (Adam MacDonald) said...

you're right hands down. Shadowrun has one of the richest and mature PnP settings I ever played. What's being deployed is more like Elfquest with guns. It even has magic, with almost a prerequisite for MMO's. But yeah, can you imagine the "Decker Game"?