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Default Shadowrun Returns - Preview @ Cheat Code Central

May 2nd, 2013, 02:34
Cheat Code Central released a short preview of the soon to be released kickstarter Shadowrun Returns.
The player will primarily control one main character, a Shadowrunner who takes on dirty jobs for the corporate powers who control the world. The player chooses this character's gender, fantasy race, and basic skillset at character creation. Although no one character can do everything well, Shadowrun Returns uses a classless system, allowing for a great deal of ability customization. Players will have the option to build, for example, a character with shamanistic and hacking skills or one with samurai and magic-using abilities.

Both in and out of combat, Shadowrun Returns includes a number of gameplay elements that aren't commonly seen in RPGs. Players can find and use disguises to trick their foes. Rigger characters can possess drones and use them for surveillance and combat. Decker characters will even have the occasional opportunity to enter the Matrix (whoa) during important hacking missions.

Perhaps the most interesting feature of Shadowrun Returns is the editor that comes with the game. The entire campaign was created in this editor, and players can use it to create new content for the game, which can be easily shared using Steam's Workshop service. Using the editor, players can create entirely new areas for the game, add quests, NPCs, and interactive objects, and otherwise do anything the game's original content developers were able to do.

Because of the limits of Kickstarter funding and the complicated nature of the Shadowrun license, the game's development has involved a few controversial decisions. Players will not be able to loot corpses because the programming challenge involved was beyond the project's scope. There are also some limitations on the DRM-free version of the game that was promised to the project's backers. It won't be compatible with future expansions or with player-made content that is developed using assets from those expansions. It appears that non-backers won't have access to a DRM-free version of the game, and will need to purchase it on Steam
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May 2nd, 2013, 02:34
Not be able to loot corpses?? This is the first I have read of this…what on earth would cause them to much work to do that??

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May 2nd, 2013, 03:09
Is looting corpses that big a deal? It is kind of a pain, IMO, and having cabinets or trunks or tables to get items from works just as well, especially since it is unlikely there will be "random encounters."
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May 2nd, 2013, 03:14
It seems like that approach should work okay, except it may feel a little odd when boss characters are wielding superior gear that you then have to loot from a nearby cabinet.
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May 2nd, 2013, 05:26
Interesting. In fact, the alpha game play video they released in March did NOT show any looting which I guess should have been pretty indicative but hey ALPHA, right?

The article is worded in such a way that non-looting appears to be caused by technical-limitations rather then a conscious game-design decision
Players will not be able to loot corpses because the programming challenge involved was beyond the project's scope.
Sounds a bit odd, to be honest. If you can browse through containers holding items, then loot from bodies function in almost the same way. Technically speaking, that is.
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May 2nd, 2013, 05:38
Sounds overly simplistic, but I'm still cautiously optimistic about the game. Nevertheless, you tend to get the feeling that they could have done so much more and created much more depth in the game with the 1.4 million dollars generated over the Kickstarter project's initial goal. C'est la vie.
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May 2nd, 2013, 09:14
Originally Posted by rune_74 View Post
Not be able to loot corpses?? This is the first I have read of this…what on earth would cause them to much work to do that??
I can't find the link now, but on Codex some people, who have supposedly played quite a lot of Shadowrun P&P, argue that looting makes very little sense in the setting (And is discouraged in the DM materials). I haven't played any Shadowrun myself, so i don't know if it's true or not. What is if greater concern to me however, are their reported troubles implementing the save system.
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May 2nd, 2013, 10:09
Yes that is true, at least that was my experience also when we played shadowrun P&P. In Shadowrun you play runners, doing high risk dirty jobs for rich and often shady clientele. Preparing for the run was often a big part of a game session. You usually have quite a bit of money, as an advance or from the last job, so you buy the necessary weapons, electronics, software and other equipment. This can be a fun part of the game, we often spent a long time discussing how to approach a run. Do we use a brute force approach with explosives to gain access, or try a stealthy hacking approach? where do we get explosives, it's highly regulated illegal stuff. Can we build improvised explosives? Who has the skills to put that together? Etc. The run itself is often a high speed in-and out kind of thing against superior opposition, so indeed looting is not envisioned as a major element.

From what I read, they technically have loot drops implemented, but they use it very rarely in their campaign and rather to drop quest relevant items than random loot. I assume modders could make it a more important element in campaigns they build with the level editor.
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May 2nd, 2013, 10:58
Originally Posted by tolknaz View Post
I can't find the link now, but on Codex some people, who have supposedly played quite a lot of Shadowrun P&P, argue that looting makes very little sense in the setting (And is discouraged in the DM materials). I haven't played any Shadowrun myself, so i don't know if it's true or not. What is if greater concern to me however, are their reported troubles implementing the save system.
Yes, that is true. This is most logical from the point of the setting. A lot of stuff cannot be salvaged easily, especially body implants or biotech modifications.

Some of the gear is personalized, so it is of no use to other characters.

Money is mostly virtual, unsigned cred sticks are only used in the underground society of the sprawl.

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May 2nd, 2013, 11:36
I checked around about the game not having corpse looting and found out that the reason is because they had difficulties making a random loot system.
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May 2nd, 2013, 11:42
I'll just drop a link to the inofficial FAQ here, for all those wondering about this and other stuff with regards to the game:
http://www.shadowrun.com/forums/disc…faq-unofficial
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May 2nd, 2013, 12:05
Excerpt from the FAQ (kindly provided by GhanBuriGhan):
A mail conversation between RC and HBS clarified the reasons HBS has for disappearing bodies.
http://www.shadowrun.com/forums/disc…#Comment_36497
The paraphrased version:
- Dead bodies can cause clipping issues where their sprites collide with other sprites.
- If bodies can be walked through, that too would cause clipping issues which they felt looks crappy.
- Solid bodies that block the path could result in roadblocks, coding around that would take programming time they preferred spending elsewhere.
- Leaving bodies on the screen would give the impression they could be looted, while they can't.

- Specific NPC deaths can still be programmed to leave behind bodies and/or items in the Editor.
The points I've highlighted are, frankly, silly reasons. You can just have a loot window pop-up while the body disappears or have items (or just credits) allocated to the leader's inventory.

Ultimately, I have no problem whatsoever with the lack of looting. I just find the reasons given to be rather disingenuous. Why not just say "we are being faithful to the original games/ideology"?

Oh well, I'm still looking forward to the game in any event
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May 2nd, 2013, 16:56
random loot tables and dead bodies cause them problems? I'd have thought with all the games with random loot tables and dead bodies (every arpg ever) that would be a non-issue by now.
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May 2nd, 2013, 18:09
Originally Posted by SonOfCapiz View Post
random loot tables and dead bodies cause them problems? I'd have thought with all the games with random loot tables and dead bodies (every arpg ever) that would be a non-issue by now.
Yeah that bit about random loot tables being to hard is getting repeated a few places but I can't really tell what prompted people to think that. I see it in the unofficial FAQ but everything direct from HBS seems to be quite clear that the type of interactions with the corpse they didn't want to deal with was you walking over it - both visually and in terms of path-finding and collision. Maybe they meant they didn't want to balance a random loot system as that's not generally how rewards in runs in shadowrun are structured. Perhaps the confusion is because the original answer was poorly worded and conflated the answer whether or not npcs would drop loot and why they had disappearing bodies.

It seems pretty obvious to me that there is no technical barrier to random loot drops from npcs or even lootable coprses - only an problem of aesthetics. The FAQ states the editor can set npcs to leave bodies and/or items. In terms of capability of having lootable coprses with random loot, the only other part is setting up arrays/tables with loot and calling a random number. I mean seriously, do people really think the reason that npcs don't drop random loot is because calling a random number and creating tables is beyond their programming capabilities? Reworking how they're used to thinking of rewards for runs and rebalancing how payment for jobs works in their game so that portions of it are effectively vested in vendor trash you have to pick up after you kill things might have taken a little bit of work - but I don't see them viewing that is prohibitive but more just counter-productive.

The reason npcs don't drop random loot is because that's not how runs in Shadowrun setting tend to work. The reason why they don't leave behind bodies is explained in the response from HBS- the only technical challenge they didn't seem to want to deal with was what would be required to not have corpses look goofy when your party was walking over them. From the way they explain it, the decision seems to be one of it not being worth having corpses stay on the screen that they didn't intend to drop loot during runs anyway.

It should be fairly simple for modders to create runs and campaigns that do have loot-dropping corpses and random loot tables if they want. Since they have already described how pretty much any prop can be made interactive, it would be even simpler to implement loot stashes secreted away in custom runs you created as well. If modders agree that persistent corpses look bad, they should easily be able to do what many other games that have disappearing corpses and NPCs that still drop loot do - write a script that places an interactive loot-bag prop on NPC death with a tag that denotes what NPC or NPC type was killed to generate it. Write another script that generates loot based on the NPC/npc-type, adds it to player inventory, and deletes prop when it is interacted with. Modders would have to create their own loot tables but those two very simple scripts would only have to be written once and would only be a couple of lines at most.
Last edited by jhwisner; May 2nd, 2013 at 18:39.
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May 2nd, 2013, 18:17
I could believe that balancing loot drops and to make that work with all other systems in the game could cause problems and would require considerable time. Maybe that is the problem. I also have a hard time believing that technically setting up a loot table, or just dropping the assigned weapon would be a challenge to people who can program a game.

Why "save anywhere" would be a problem seems harder to understand for me but I'm not a programmer.
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May 2nd, 2013, 18:38
Looting was only a scant thing at best in the Genesis Shadowrun game, so I wasn't expecting leagues beyond that here——just one of those things that round out very different from the usual D&D tropes in gaming.
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May 2nd, 2013, 19:00
Originally Posted by GhanBuriGhan View Post
Why "save anywhere" would be a problem seems harder to understand for me but I'm not a programmer.
Since unity was created with intended applications beyond games, it doesn't have a suitable built in save-game function that can be called with a few simple commands. So unlike things like gamebryo or other game engines, implementing a save anywhere feature isn't as simple as calling an extensible function which automatically saves or loads relevent game-state information.

The way you'd want to do it in a unity 3d game like shadowrun would be to serialize your classes (not rpg classes - think of this as all the variables that describe the game state) and write them to a file. The problem with this is that it would create save games which would be inherently incompatible if patches made changes to the classes/variables being loaded. You can reduce the likelyhood of encountering this issue as well as load time by writing a save script which specifies sets of relevent classes but this would still be broken whenever any of those were changed in revisions of the game. That solution would also mean some classes would revert to default values (to be initialized by your load-game script) each time you reloaded which limits how many things you'd want to actually exclude.

The other option is to write an intelligent parser which effectively converts previous version saves to be compatible the first time they are loaded with a new revision. That would have to be updated for each rivision which broke save games but for which you wanted to allow save game compatibility. This might be viable for release versions and even late betas, but would be prohibitive during earlier phases where things are changing significantly and often.

From what little I do understand, a memory snapshot would be no less problematic in terms of compatibility and trouble-shooting and merely mean larger save files and loading times.

Basically the way Unity3d is, what I'm saying is that instituting a save anywhere system as opposed to a checkpoint system does add a significant amount of work to the development process and introduces a good deal of added complications to the testing process.

Depending on how scripting is handled in the editor/executed in the game it might not be entirely unworkable for someone writing a custom campaign to implement a save anywhere function within their campaign though I'd suspect they might want to use a checkpoint save system until they have a near-final version. Even then it would probably take some fiddling beyond just serializing and writing all classes to a file - which would not be assumed to be able to be read by the game's own load-game function.

What you might be able to do though, or at least try, is creating a custom inventory item that brought up a dialogue menu when used. Options within that menu could then call the custom save and load functions you would have written. I imagine though that you might need to run the game in administrator mode to ensure these non-standard save files would persist. This would also depend on whether the scripting used in the editor and edited in the game is javascript (or C # or boo) or whether they're using their own simplified scripting language. The former could allow for modders to do things like this possibly while the latter would be more far more limited and would likely require a script extender to add required functionality. Presuming the functionality was there (or could be added by a script extender) saving the game would probably be the easier part compared to loading the game if you couldn't create saves the load-game function it ships with recognized. Not sure how viable creating a workable load-game function that could execute within an active game would be.
Last edited by jhwisner; May 2nd, 2013 at 19:33.
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May 3rd, 2013, 16:28
Other Unity games have a save anywhere ability see ravensword for the ipad. I would think you would have to be able to design a save system, but it would have be designed as an adaption to the engine itself perhaps. There are many other projects using unity so we will see how they deal with it.

I haven't heard Shroud of the avatar team or Wastelands 2 team mention limited save points

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May 3rd, 2013, 16:44
Well, they're also taking more time to develop than Shadowrun. Its quite possible they have a lot more funding from others sources like Brian Fargo himself and various investors. Also, they also made about 1 more million from Kickstarter and very likely quite a bit more from PP, in the case of Wasteland 2 anyway.

So, what I mean is simply that HBS ressources might be stretched thin and they've had to make some design choices/cut a few things to be able to make it.

I could be wrong, but it sure seems like that to me.

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May 3rd, 2013, 17:45
Originally Posted by rune_74 View Post
Other Unity games have a save anywhere ability see ravensword for the ipad. I would think you would have to be able to design a save system, but it would have be designed as an adaption to the engine itself perhaps. There are many other projects using unity so we will see how they deal with it.

I haven't heard Shroud of the avatar team or Wastelands 2 team mention limited save points
Yes I know there's save anywhere functions in some other unity games. That's how I was able to explain how save functions would work and why troubleshooting and implementing it might be work intensive - particularly compared to the small game budget. Checkpoint saves would call the same function but by limiting saves to specific locations you greatly reduce the number of variables you have to deal with and make it far less time intensive to troubleshoot issues with savegames.
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