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I'm Not Dead (or, Modding Shadowrun Returns: Hong Kong)

LordRumfishLordRumfish Member Posts: 936
So, I like to take on big projects that are probably more than I can handle (like writing full-length epics...), and I've decided to create a mod for Shadowrun Returns: Hong Kong. Now, when I say "mod," what I mean is "user generated content that is its own self-contained complete campaign, with all-new NPCs, custom items, and an emphasis on using the Matrix in interesting ways." Also, expect a lot of allusions and references.

I wasn't sure if anyone on these boards would particularly care, but I am pretty serious about the endeavor for the moment, being over 250 hours' worth of work into the project. There is no published version yet, because I'm probably only 5% of the way done. Like I said... I like my big projects, shooting for the moon, etc. On the plus side, the more I learn about the editor the faster I get with creation.

Here's the basic pitch for "Descent into Wonderland":

You were a novahot decker once, made a name for yourself in the shadows and the Matrix. Then some runs went bad, you lost some friends, almost all your nuyen, and nearly lost your sanity when you encountered some bad Azzie technology. You've been trying to go straight, as straight as any of the SINless can.

Things have been looking up for you. You've signed on with a young corporation called IVC (International Verification Corporation) that handles program and identity verification. While the job is usually dull, your position as a deniable asset (an independent contractor) has just enough spice to it (and nuyen) to keep you going. There's been talk from the brass about making you legit: getting a SIN, getting a condo, getting a retirement plan, getting health and life insurance, the whole wage-slave package.

It's hard to forget old ties though. You haven't lost touch with everyone from your previous life in the shadows, and once in a while you still run in your off-hours. That's been happening less now that you have a legitimized life to look forward to, as more running could jeopardize your chances of getting a SIN. Trouble is, there's one more favor you need to repay before you can call it quits... but it looks like a complete milk run.


Without giving too much away, this UGC will have a strong focus on using the Matrix (even scenarios where 4 deckers are required).

It will run more like a lengthy module of a dungeon crawl than a normal Shadowrun game because for most of the game you will be stuck in a skyscraper (think Die Hard meets the new Dredd meets Tron meets Alice in Wonderland), although you will still have opportunities for side missions, have a base of operations, etc. Traditional vendors will be limited, since you are stuck in an unusual situation with limited resources. Also, there will be a nod to some cultural references, such as Alice in Wonderland, but it will NOT be some futuristic retelling of the story (think of it more like some added flavor rather than a plot point).


Anyway, what do you all think? You can follow my newbie questions here:



  • typo_tillytypo_tilly Member Posts: 5,702
    Keep at it! :) And, wow, 250 hours! That's over a month. :D

    Your next run will go even faster with all that you're learning now. ^__^

    I was waiting for more forest and vegetation graphics, but I think the team isn't going to give much more of that now. But if you're working in a skycraper and the matrix, you'll do fine, aye? :) How are you using or planning to use the new matrix features?

  • LordRumfishLordRumfish Member Posts: 936
    Sorry for the long response, just got back from rock collecting in Virginia (amazonite, "blue moonstone" aka labradorite, garnets, etc.).

    I know what you mean about vegetation graphics, although MadHatter has some graphic mods out to expand in that area. I thought about making a Shadowrun setting off the beaten track in someplace like Kentucky in the UCAS (where, even in the future, we're still behind which means trees still exist), but I think I'll wait on that idea for now.

    So, the new Matrix... well, for one, I intend on having more missions that require multiple deckers (the first mission of the main storyline requires you to send 4 deckers on solo runs sequentially). Sometimes they'll be separate, sometimes they'll travel together, when they're together I anticipate that balancing watcher IC will be a headache because you'll have stragglers in freemove. I would also like to introduce a "Matrix hub" early in the story, a place where you can jack in and chat with shadowrunners from around the globe while you're stuck in Wonderland Tower. I might even place the primary ESP/program vendor in the Matrix hub.

    As for the new Matrix features? Well... expect some unusual configurations of watcher and blocker IC. For instance, later in the story there's a defense program you learn about called Ninth Gate, which will give you the option of either going a long way around past some nasty black IC, or solving nine of the hardest pieces of blocker IC stacked in a row (one of those situations where you can see the goal from the starting gate, but it isn't easy to reach). There will be some puzzles, including (possibly) group puzzles.

    What ideas do you have for the new Matrix?

  • typo_tillytypo_tilly Member Posts: 5,702
    :D Rock collecting is keen! And your run sounds fun. ^_^

    Multiple deckers, huh? You know, I'm surprised we haven't seen that in a campaign yet. I hope there are no problems with having 2 runners jacked in at once. It'd even be cool to have 2 runners going off in different directions to, say, simultaneously pull switches or control doors.

    I'm not sure what I'd do with the matrix. I do like your idea of a major hub. I wonder if a less fight-centred focus would help for information gathering or general matrix play. Imagine the runner can't gather all pieces of information without setting off the alarm: even without fighting, the choice of which information you grab could be fun for branching the campaign into different directions.

    Yeah, I've glanced at the graphics the community has made. I'm sure there'll be plenty to work with. And there's still that tiny expansion pack coming out late this year or early next year. I know they're adding more assets (eg. an underwater lab or office). They may yet add more matrix assets. :)

  • LordRumfishLordRumfish Member Posts: 936
    So, I'm finding out firsthand what all of the issues are with having multiple deckers jacked in. If you're interested in modding, it goes something like this:

    1. You have to create multiple game layers if you don't want IC aggro to exist across all of the Matrix (i.e., changing everything over to turn-based mode). This means you technically have the characters in alternate Matrix dimensions (which only works if they are in separate camera zones).

    2. To prevent the NPCs from following your character around as best they can in freemove mode (even if they can't reach you), you have to either set them to be passive and AI controlled, or set them on a different team. Different teams also means you could potentially avoid the mass-aggro issue from yet another axis of woe.

    3. You have to be careful how you arrange the triggers that occur when someone jacks out of the Matrix. The game normally assumes only one character mucking about with that, and it is surprisingly easy to accidentally jack out and take control of the wrong character. Again, separated teams seems to help avoid this fate, and adding a 1 round pause time to triggers to allow characters enough time to finish jacking out of the Matrix.

    It gets even more complicated than that, but that should give you some idea. It's definitely possible to create a dual-action event with NPCs, but if any of them are player controlled things get hairy.

    I like your idea of "all outcomes are not possible, choose any two nodes within the allotted time" or whatnot. That could add some replay value as players get different priorities and outcomes from what information they gain. I do intend to have a healthy dose of Matrix interactions that are more than just "all combat, all the time." I felt that some of the older Matrix runs just didn't add much story-wise, and slogged you through a lot of fights when there could have been more puzzle solving or other interactions.

    I am excited about the little expansion pack and what it may contain. More (or improved) modding tools? More art assets? Time will tell, but I'm definitely curious.

  • typo_tillytypo_tilly Member Posts: 5,702
    Yeesh, that is complicated. o_O Is it even feasible to have 2 PC deckers in the same camera area?

    I always imagined the matrix as being a place where you try to grab as much information as you can then run. XD The constant combat of the 3 games is definitely too much. I would have liked more enemy deckers to fight, though.

    Well, I'm not sure if the expansion will bring much more assets, but hopefully they'll add more options for modding. I know when HK was released, they didn't even have the new soundtracks as options. Besides, it sounds like this could be the last SR game for a while if they go on to BattleTech. I hope they'll improve the editor before moving on.

  • LordRumfishLordRumfish Member Posts: 936
    Oh yeah, you can have all the PC deckers in one camera area, just be ready for them to move as a group and aggro as a group unless you set them on different teams (and then you need a clever mechanism by which to switch control). I wouldn't be surprised if it wasn't that simple either, nothing has been simple about multi-Matrix runs.

    I agree, more enemy deckers would be more interesting. I am already planning on having a recurring ganger villain from 53 Cards (the Joker) who keeps harassing you in the Matrix. Oh, there's a gang war that breaks out in the building between Jazz Band and 53 Cards, can you guess who the major boss fight will be for 53 Cards in Wonderland Tower? There might be other recurring characters who appear later in the Matrix as well...

    I am hopeful they leave the game in tip-top shape, and yes, sound editing! Just adding more of the new tracks would be nice, but giving us the option to (easily and without teeth gnashing) add our own sound effects or music would be a major boon. When I first conceived of the project, I had even considered composing some music for it, but at this point I'd just like to be able to get some kind of basic finished product. The polish can come later. ^_~

  • LordRumfishLordRumfish Member Posts: 936
    Hey-o. So, rather than start a new thread about a different creative project, I figured I would just hijack this old thread of mine. If anyone is interested, I am working on writing a graphic novel set in the Marvel universe about an underutilized and unloved group of characters, along with one or two of my own creation and a few guest appearances along the way. One of the central themes is the question of identity, because the characters get cloned a lot and die quite often. I'm looking to explore the question of how much they remember (or don't) from past incarnations, and to open the door on whether they could start to experience character growth if circumstances change.

    I know I like to bite off more than I can chew with grand projects, but fortunately this one seems quite manageable, and should fit the first story arc into a single graphic novel. I know I haven't revealed many details yet; I guess I'm feeling mysterious and paranoid. Anyway, if anyone thinks it sounds interesting I could tell a bit more about what I'm doing. If not, then cheers. ^_~

  • typo_tillytypo_tilly Member Posts: 5,702
    That sounds interesting! :) They always come back. :D

    If he's still around and willing, you may want to have a natter with @AndrewFoley. Talk about your idea with him and ask about his insights.

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