Development Diary: Sometimes I wonder if Hacker's Edge is hitting too close to realism

Sometimes I wonder if Hacker's Edge is hitting too close to realism
kveroneau(Game Creator)
Dec. 19, 2017, 5:05 a.m.

Hacker's Edge was never meant to be an ultra-realistic hacking simulation game, it was to have realistic elements, but wasn't meant to be ultra-realistic.

Over the past year, many beta testers requested more realism, which ended up delaying the release time and time again as existing features were being mutated into more realistic features. As an example, the game engine originally used a hardcoded flat filesystem, the API to read and write these files very simplistic and straightforward. Upon boot, the virtual machine looked for a binary file called BOOT.SYS and loaded it into memory, and otherwise refused to boot if this file was missing from the file system. This was a simple concept for anybody to easily figure out and understand, allowing a complex feature such as a bootloader to have a simple to use and understand concept for anybody to understand.

However, many beta testers protested this idea and requested that a full-on BIOS or BootROM be possible, along with the ability to have fully functional block devices with realistic boot methods... And here we are today, with this exact system, but with the huge difficulties it brings. Rather than being able to easily upload files over an FTP interface, or move files between in-game machines with ease, we now have large flat files which simulate a hard disc or floppy disk. Along with the need to create custom file systems, keep track on which blocks are used and free... This is no longer fun, it has turned more into a chore, because it's gotten too realistic!

So, I am currently debating on reviving the original codebase to allow for the fully hardcoded file system once again. However, I am still considering on keeping the concept of a BootROM, which will allow the customization of the boot process before any files are loaded. I may also forgo the idea of removable storage, or rework that as well.

Hacker's Edge was once fun for both me to develop, and for many beta testers to just easily jump in and begin exploring without the need for in-depth computer knowledge. I'd like to return Hacker's Edge more towards it's roots, and what I believe made it fun. It will still be the most realistic online hacking simulation game out there, but the realism will be toned down a bit in favor on making Hacker's Edge more accessible to a wider audience and easier to develop.