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robert4818

MMO NPC Factions (A look at Shadowrun Corporations)

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If anyone has played the Shadowrun game they know how the game is set up. It takes place mostly in one city (for arguments sake lets leave it at Seattle) Players play puppets for those in power and thier actions may or may not result in a change to the game world, however thier actions will change the way the game world reacts to them. There are numerous powerful factions in the game that are at odds with eachother: -The big Ten corporations (all at odds with eachother) -The criminal organizations (Against eachother, police, and some corps) -Political organizations etc. I'm primarily going to focus here on The Big 10 corporations and talk about Factions. In most MMO's the faction system is soley there to guage how certain NPC's react to the players characters. Its usually pretty simple in terms of your faction with one group goes up, while your faction with another may go down. But it doesn't have an effect on the game. Part of this has to do with the fact that the world is spread out so that the factions are seperate from eachother. Faction A is in this zone, while Faction be is in this zone. In Shadowrun this is not the case. The Corporations are ever present, just like 10 seperate big brothers...all vying for power against eachother. This of course is how the shadowrunner earns his bread and butter...doing the dirty work in the chess game that is corporate politics. Helping one get a leg up on the other. To Capture the feel of Shadowrun, the MMO Should not (and I would go so far as to say CAN'T) use a static world approach. So I suggest the following: In a nutshell as you perform missions the balance of power changes, and the world changes as a result. You might not change the world by yourself, but with the playerbase working on things you can topple one corporation, or try to make another one ultra-powerful. How does it work? Well in number terms you start off with a common faction pool of about I'd say 1,000,000 points (All numbers are subject to change and are pulled out of my *^%.). When the game starts off, each corporation gets an equal share of the pie. 100,000 pts apiece. As players start to do missions from one corporation or another, the point totals shift, 1-10 points at a time, from one corporation to another. The total # of points (1 mil) doesn't change, but the portions do. As a corporation's power shifts so does its effect on the city. Some stores change owner ship, others change prices and/or goods. Security at sites beef up as they try to slow thier descent. As a corporation starts to decline missions offered start becoming more powerful in terms of impact (5-50 points a mission) the difficulty goes up, but the payment amount decreases as the corporation becomes more strapped for cash. However the XP gained from such missions goes up. The Opposite starts to happen as corporations get more powerful. When a corporation loeses points from its total, its focus turns on to getting revenge (its hate total for corporation faction towards the other corp goes up by the same amount as its total faction points went down) And whichever coroporation has the highest hate from say corp A becomes corp A's primary target. Missions from corp A towards its targets start to be towards the upper scale of its difficulty (on a 1-10 point mission these tend to be above 5) This sort of faction between NPC organizations creates a dynamic world that I think would add in some life to the game.

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I been musing over this post for a while now, just be patient with everyone else since it is still early in the morning. I get what you are driving at here but how in your mind would these "Control Points" (CP) be distributed. Is it a direct opposition model? Say I did missions for (going on the Shadowrun theme) Mitsuhama Computer Technologies, would its CP going up be taking from Renraku Computer Systems faction pool? Or is it based per mission? If I take a mission from say Aztechnology to steal information from Draco Foundation, CPs from Draco would feed into Aztechnology's pool based on the ammount of CP payment for that mission, and so then there is a hate point added to Aztechnology on Draco's list? Once I understand your thought on this I will continue to jump back here and expand on this with you.

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The basics of it go along the lines of. this. Renraku hires you to do a mission against Saeder Krupp. This is a 5 point mission, you do your mission and succede Renraku loses 5 points of control and Saeder Krupp gains 5 points. On top of this should Renraku find out some way that Saeder Krupp was responsible for this mission (for whatever reason) Renraku's hate level goes up by 5 points against Saeder Krupp. Should renraku's hate level against Saeder Krupp be higher than it is against any of the other top ten, then Renraku will begin to focus more Missions against Saeder Krupp.

And I do apologize for the second post...i'm typing from Japan right now and I tend to forget about the time difference....

[Edited by - robert4818 on November 12, 2004 6:52:03 PM]

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So the hate list technicaly speaking becomes a "I know I lost at least these many points of control to you" as these corps will now target that or better to get a foothold over the other (to regain back). There may need to be a system in place to seek a tapper off point once they regain what they think they lost (and maybe then some), otherwise it will be this massive growing back and forth of who is in power in a short time. I know the goals of these megacorps is total control, but a "stand-off" balance can be good. Once they think that it has been enough time that their once major rival they were at war with has dropped its guard, they can go at it again (based on, of course, what the players decide to do).

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of course. If I do a 10 point mission, then the mega corp loses 10 points of hate because it has done a 10 point retrobution....

One thing I'd like to note, is that this whole point system, should be invisible to the players...they don't need to know how many points renraku is taking from saeder krupp, or even the fact that they are working for one, and hitting the other...since their should be massive amounts of missions going on...the best way for players to keep tabs on the status of companies would be a "stock market" Well that and the other changes that happen...

Also keep in mind...the target of interest is going to be whichever company has the highest hate...not just the last one that hit it. So with a large amount of players going on there could be many missions that resutl in a multitude of different changes going on at once.

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Original post by robert4818
The basics of it go along the lines of. this. Renraku hires you to do a mission against Saeder Krupp. This is a 5 point mission, you do your mission and succede Renraku loses 5 points of control and Saeder Krupp gains 5 points. On top of this should Renraku find out some way that Saeder Krupp was responsible for this mission (for whatever reason) Renraku's hate level goes up by 5 points against Renraku. Should renraku's hate level against Saeder Krupp be higher than it is against any of the other top ten, then Renraku will begin to focus more Missions against Saeder Krupp.

And I do apologize for the second post...i'm typing from Japan right now and I tend to forget about the time difference....


ok.. this is a confusing, Renraku hires you to hit a rival company, which if they find out they hired you to do it they'd hate themselves?

Or do you mean: Renraku hires you to do a job against Saeder Krupp, and you succeed. Saeder Krupp loses 5 points of control, and Renraku gains 5 points. On top of this should Saeder Krupp find out that Renraku was responsible for it (however that may happen), Saeder Krupp's hate level goes up against Renraku. Should Saeder Krupp's hate level against Renraku be higher than it is against any of the top ten corporations, then Saeder Krupp will begin to focus on missions against Renraku.

Other things might influence the kind of missions as well, such as blood feuds between specific Vampire Clans, or gangs/groups who want to kill vampires. Or even Shaman spirits who are opposed to each other and guide their Shaman's into a smack-down.

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Original post by Gyrthok

ok.. this is a confusing, Renraku hires you to hit a rival company, which if they find out they hired you to do it they'd hate themselves?


Ok corrected that you were correct. I didn't see that. Yes and this could be used for the different gangs in Seattle, the Mafia, the Yakuza, and the Triads. Between the different Princes on the Tir council, different Great Dragons, Between Political Parties etc. Also certain game Story Arcs could influence the hate level that all parties have against a certain company...

Once one company gets too strong the other companies would want to bring it down a notch.

Renraku may have just developed a new computer program...this makes them targets for missions where NO one hires the runners.... In this case the players get the majority of the hate (If they are discovered), and whichever company ends up with the product and sells it becomes the company that gets the points for the mission.

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Quote:
Original post by robert4818
There are numerous powerful factions in the game that are at odds with eachother:
-The big Ten corporations (all at odds with eachother)

Big Ten? I'm still playing in 2053, you insensitive clod! Thanks for spoiling it... hmph!

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Damn...thought everyone had moved to the latest edition of shadowrun, its only been out for about....5 years or so now :)

I don't think i'll talk about the big D just yet though...


anyone have comments on the idea?

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As a corporation starts to decline missions offered start becoming more powerful in terms of impact (5-50 points a mission) the difficulty goes up, but the payment amount decreases as the corporation becomes more strapped for cash. However the XP gained from such missions goes up. The Opposite starts to happen as corporations get more powerful.


I like it, except for this.

Clearly, if a corporation wants runners to accept more dangerous and risky missions, they're going to cough up the cash. No one is going to risk themselves if the corporation can't compensate them.

I would think that as the corporation becomes more desperate, the more willing they'll be to spend some serious cash to rescue themselves. Sure, the corporation will reach a point where it simply can't afford to pay runners, but by this time it's nearly defeated, I'm sure. I would imagine that the amount a job is worth is tied very closely with the number of CP's involved, since this is essentially a measure of how valuable the job is to the corporation. If it gives them more CP, it's clearly worth more.

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Hmm.. this brings to mind the idea of giving more control of the universe over to the players. There are a wide variety of Groups/Clans/Outfits within many gaming communities, so why not allow the players to create their Own Corporations?

As Taolung has pointed out, when a corporation gets near defeat, they are less likely to be able to shell out hard cash and are close to defeat. This might lead to one large corporation being destroyed and impacting the overall gameworld.

However, if players were to create their own corporations, then we would see a rather unique world grow and develope off its own economy, a dynamically shifting ingame world run by the players themselves, with corporations and organizations being created and destroyed everyday. CP in this instance might represent neighborhoods, or plots of land within the game universe that can either be fought over and won though contracts or economics.

I find this kind of conceptual world very interesting, since it can help give rise to Clan organization in a meaningful way, and help perpetuate a breathing world with its own evolving economic model without the need to create one artificially. Similiar economics exist in Second-Life, but without obvious forms of conflict.

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Hmm.. this brings to mind the idea of giving more control of the universe over to the players. There are a wide variety of Groups/Clans/Outfits within many gaming communities, so why not allow the players to create their Own Corporations?


Two reasons why I think this is a bad idea for a shadowrun game.

1. It breaks with the idea of shadowrun IMO. Players are meant to be shadowrunners, not corporate suits. The game could allow for players to legitimately work for a corporation, but running one is more of a sim-type game and doesn't fit well with the shadowrun universe of big-brother mega-corporations.

2. I've yet to see a game where a 100% run player economy works very well. It does decent in Shadowbane, but its a complete failure in Starwars.

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1. It breaks with the idea of shadowrun IMO. Players are meant to be shadowrunners, not corporate suits. The game could allow for players to legitimately work for a corporation, but running one is more of a sim-type game and doesn't fit well with the shadowrun universe of big-brother mega-corporations.


I feel that allowing the player the opportunity to be a 'corporate suit' would allow them to explore different playstyles, as well as be able to experience greater Strategic gameplay within the game. But its true that it might errode the concept of the larger Mega-Corporations.

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2. I've yet to see a game where a 100% run player economy works very well. It does decent in Shadowbane, but its a complete failure in Starwars.


There are games out there with stable economies, to give you a few examples which you can have a look at: www.eve-online.com, www.secondlife.com.

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I still say though that players should not be able to play corporations. Players are supposed to be the "little man" in shadowrun. However I think if they want to play Fixers, or even Mr. Johnson's then that would be ok. But nothing nearly as powerful as a corporation.



Back on topic. What do you think about the corporate faction. would this add a good amount of player influenced fluidity? I know some people disagree with the idea of weaker companies giving out less money and more XP(they think the weaker companies would be MORE willing) but the idea is a balancing factor. (My opinion is that when the company is down they tighten thier shadowrun budget) Since most powergamers go for more XP this helps as a way to bring a struggeling corporation back up to snuff with the others.

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Being a Mr. Johnson has a nice ring to it. :D

hmm... Paying less money to a mercenary for a potentially more dangerous job wouldn't go over very well, but paying more money to fewer more skilled mercs may work. This may fit into the overall record of success with experienced players. Players who are all to uber and have a high level of skill and experience would then potentially get paid 'the big bucks' from corporations in duress wanting to hire a professional to make their problems go away. Not to mention the challenge this would present to the more experienced players to keep them interested.

So instead of hiring 5-6 players for 2000$ each, they may pay 1 or 2 players 4000$ each, or 1-3 players for 3000$ each (less money overall, but the players would be more experienced based of their records).

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Not a bad suggestion. Two questions though?

If the company is in dire need wouldn't they want better odds?

Also, how would you suggest tweaking the system to bring things back into balance? If Renraku hits a large string of bad luck they'll start giving out harder jobs, but since only the more experienced players can play them, fewer people will be doing jobs, which translates into the company not regaining thier footing. I dont want a system that causes one faction to spiral out of control into oblivion, I want it to be possible, but not probable that a corporation can be brought down.

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If the company is in dire need wouldn't they want better odds?


This all fits into Economics. Lets say Saeder Krupp controls 35 Control Points (or 35 lots of land), hiring two guys to manage all this territory just isn't going to work, they can't be everywhere at once. So he hires a bunch of people at a reduced salary (5-6 people 2000$ each), to help patrol his territory, since his budget is filled with having to pay for lots of people, its more economical to send some of them off to do jobs in order to gain more CP(Lots).

Now, Renraku controls 3 CP(lots), and is starting to really feel the financial hurt. They need more territory, but since they don't control much, they don't need to hire many people to patrol their territory, they just need to focus on getting more. *Few people will take these missions though, since their much more dangerous than average missions. There's little insentive for them to work for Renraku for less cash, than say his compeditor, Saeder Krupp. So Renraku jacks up the payment in a bit to attract people who are willing to try the odds for the extra payment.*

Now you don't have to allow just experienced players to take the jobs, now that i think about it that wouldn't be quite fair and may indeed lead to imbalance. They can be for anyone who just wants the big cash payoff, or to make a name for themselvse, or just for the XP it offers. The motivation and increased performance is based on the players desire for that cash. Its all payment on delivery however, so if the player failed, the company doesn't lose anything. This can help the company stay afloat until some players succeed in one of their missions and get the wad of cash.

To this end, the payoff is parrallel to the difficulty, More Danger = More Cash/XP, which will undoubtledly attract people looking for quick cash, or higher reputation. After a few successful missions, Renraku will have gained enough CP(lots) back to start getting more cash flow happening, and their contracts will offer less money to more people to help maintain and patrol their newly acquired territory.

Some thoughts also occured to me, that certain companies may have different Policies, be they immoral, or ethical, which could add some interesting twists.

As well, the idea of Forced Missions came to mind as a way to help get missions done. Lets say Renraku is in financial straights and they can't afford a group of mercs, so they hire a Hacker to mess with a players financial records, and seize all his assets. They then give that player an ultimatum of "Do us a little favor and you'll get your stuff back".

Or if the company is more ruthless, then they may choose to implant a bomb into a player getting Cybernetic Implants surgically installed. They can then offer him the option of either doing a few jobs for them, or setting it off (with no assurance that they may just do it anyway, or may keep holding it over his head. The player may of course try to find another doctor to have it removed).

These wouldn't happen very often, but gives a new level of political movements and manipulations within the game (not to mention motivate the player to do more high paying jobs if they need quick cash to pay off Mr. Mobster). It can also be an option that they may only happen on CP(lots) controlled by that mega-corporation.

[Edited by - Gyrthok on November 25, 2004 8:24:32 PM]

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CP doesn't necisarrily reflect lots controlled by the corporation, more their influence in the city. On top of that The shadowrunners wouldn't be patrolling thier land, but doing some mission against another company. I know you were using it as an example, but I was un able to relate that example to shadowrun.

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Hmmm.. From what i understand of the Shadowrun universe, Money and Power are absolutes. Large Mega-Corporations use their Financial power and influence with the people in the city (its businesses, companies and other places) to maintain their holds. Often coercing one or the other for a way to gain more ground against the other Mega-Corporations, or simply to get their way.

So what i mean by 'patrolling' is that they hire people to maintain the image of the company at its current level, either by making the company look good (simple missions of deliver money to Orphanage A, without getting shot to pieces in Ghetto B) or by making another company look bad (put on enemy companies uniform A, and gun down people in mall with Uzi-B, don't get caught/killed by Police-C).

One Mega-Corporation only has to make another Mega-Corp look bad for them to impact their stock's and company image, reducing their influence in the market. The more groups a company hires, the more they can slander and effect another companies image through various moves. This fits into the hiring of 5-6 people for 2000$ apiece kind of missions.

Now if a companies stocks are down low because of bad publicity, then they might have to hire someone to find out who's really responsible (or to fabricate data to save face for the company). This fits into the hiring 1 or 2 people for 3-4000$, both to attract them and keep their mouths shut so as not to backlash the companies image. Such complicated jobs might include hacking a companies database and manipulating TestData of a new product to make it look like the projects a complete failure and someone(fallguy?) have been embezzling the stockholders money. Or breaking into a corporation looking for financial records, to hunting down and beating/bribing the people who actually did the jobs.

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Original post by robert4818
CP doesn't necisarrily reflect lots controlled by the corporation, more their influence in the city. On top of that The shadowrunners wouldn't be patrolling thier land, but doing some mission against another company. I know you were using it as an example, but I was un able to relate that example to shadowrun.


Administrating players could work too. I think that's an interesting idea, hiring players to do some of the internal stuff. It violates one or two of Falstein's rules (hide game mechanics from players), but I think it's a good idea.

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Gythok,

You missed some of the MAJOR shadowruns.

Stealing- (We want that new prototype that company C is making for ourselves)
Destruction- (We want to get back at Company C for what they did to us...go destroy facility D)
Sabotage- (We don't want Product E entering the market make sure that doesn't happen)
Industrial Espionage
Extraction- (Scientist F has just "decided" to switch companies)
Wetwork- (Scientist F doesn't want to work with us...take him out)

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Yes, those are some excelent examples of shadowrun missions, its been awhile since i've played around in Cyberpunk theme's, and i never had much experience with the Shadowrun universe other than the SNES version (which i really enjoyed dispite its unusual implementation relative to the Pencil and Paper version). I've based my examples off of corporate business practices, but there's some room for some really cool stories and plots to develope.

Eitherway, it would be really cool to see someone make more Shadowrun games. :D

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Eitherway, it would be really cool to see someone make more Shadowrun games. :D


I definately agree.

We got a little off topic. The idea of the post was using Shadowrun Corps as an example on having a system where players not only change thier standings with an NPC faction, but also change the game world by changing the NPC factions amongst themsevles.

Overall does the idea look feasable?

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