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Full Version: What do you want from the Matrix?
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Heath Robinson
I realised that I might be completely missing the mark on what the Matrix is actually intended to deliver. I occasionally wonder whether I'm alone in finding the Matrix fundamentally dissatisfying.

So, uh, this is going to seem silly to some - but what exactly did you want when you first cracked open the Wireless World section of the BBB? I'd appreciate more in depth descriptions, and even examples.

I guess I was expecting something closer to what I see today. Programs that provide some subset of all possible functionality, and a focus on interface design for most products. I accepted that it was likely to be Gibsonian, to a degree, but I expected it to be more Gibsonian - in that a Russian military virus was a unique and totally hardcore piece of equipment.

Right now, I kind of want computing roleplay systems to provide program details and room to represent rather different kinds of systems to the bog-standard. To me, computing and hacking should have as much detail as the combat and magic mechanics and should be attractive enough that the other character archetypes invest in the digital side of the game to some degree.
Check out SR1, while wrong in a lot of ways I think they did a good job of simulating a hacker game.
This is kind of a loaded question because of the history of the Matrix leading up to SR4. The only perspective I can give you is what I wanted given that I was already familiar with SR2 and SR3's Matrix system. This may or may not be want you want.

Given the above caveat, what I wanted was a much faster way to integrate the Matrix into my SR game. I was tired of how long it took to resolve Matrix actions and how detached it was from the rest of the group.

Right now, I think the Matrix has as much detail as the player's and GM's imagination provides. However, I can see your point. A gun-focused character has lots of options and variety for hurting people with guns, and a Magician has lots of options for hurting people with different kinds of attack spells, the Hacker just has an "Attack" program, with Blackout and Black Hammer thrown in. Unwired did add a bunch of variety with the Area of Attack option and Armor Penetration and stuff like that. I'm not sure if I'd really like having as many Attack programs as there are guns or spells. Or maybe I'm missing what you're asking?
Heath Robinson
I don't want a hundred Attack Programs that are all roughly the same with slight variations (and more special variations for a few of them). I would like you to think about one of the fiction pieces out of Unwired where FastJack is working his way through an Aztech hydroponics facility (research lab?) and has to go trade his BlackSlugger for a DragonCloak, or whatever. The important thing is that they're worth individual names in fiction - FastJack's Slugger is a hardcore and unique piece of equipment that doesn't feel right equating to a short name and a number on a character sheet. It's BlackSlugger, not a Black Hammer 6.

So, basically, my approach says that two programs that are different in fluff ought to be different in game. Horizon tend to make slick, easy-to-use programs? Then choosing Horizon ought to net you different benefits over choosing Saedar Krupp - who make every single one of their programs immune to Crashing. Perhaps Ares just crams more things into their programs, but Aztech polishes up the code to the highest quality before letting it out the door.

Treating programs as functionally homogenous destroys a lot of the coolness of being a Hacker - you've got less detail in your main system. I think that the rules layout fails particularly badly for the Matrix - it makes it difficult to actually know what you get when you take a program. You've got to read a section of the BBB and the entirety of an extra book to actually know what your Sniffer Program lets you do.

Edit: Gotta rush, might clarify further later
Technically, I'm pretty sure that's SlammO, not Fastjack. And at least some of what you're saying could be emulated by having different corps package different program options with their programs (for instance, having Saedar Krupp's programs come packaged with Crashguard (at say, a 20% discount) results in them being significantly less likely to crash - either due to user error or malicious hackers. It's not ideal, but it generally gets you up to the level of detail and difference that the normal weapons have.
The matrix isn't just about the tools, it's also about the mind. You can do all sorts off terrific things in there, basically limited by the player's ingenuity.
So what if you have thirty kinds of pistols ? all you can do with them is shoot (*raises physical barrier* sorry!)
With a matrix access, the right skills, the right programs and tools, and a sharp, imaginative mind, you can do almost anything.

The role-playing aspect can be handeled by player-GM interaction. Should be easy for the GM to add modifiers where needed.
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