I've been thinking about hacking a lot lately. Not "hacking" like hacking a rules system. Not even "hacking" like "exploratory programming." I'm specifically talking about our favorite x-tremely kool 90's heroes who save the world by breaching computer security (and occasionally rollerblading). It's a well-known challenge of game design.
I have never actually played a cyberpunk RPG like Shadowrun or... Cyberpunk. Hacking was in Star Wars: Saga Edition but I kinda bullshitted (bullshat?) my way through those parts because I was like 16 when I ran that game. But I have read lots of different hacking rules and I've read lots of other people discussing their experiences using them, and these are my takeaways for the most common problems:
- It's complicated and a headache to learn, especially for the GM who has the rest of the system to learn as well.
- It's usually only for one player to participate in while everyone else waits on the sideline, and in Shadowrun especially is notorious for taking a really long time.
- Either it's realistic and confusing or it's abstracted and unsatisfying.
- The GM doesn't consistently integrate it into the game world, treating it almost like an afterthought.