Lock And (Down)load: Receiver On Steam

In between being Humble and making games about dangerous rabbits, the handsome folk at Wolfire have made a game with astonishingly complex gun-mechanics. It’s called Receiver, and it’s arguably one of most interesting experiments in the first-person shooting field for some years. Rather than clumsily attempt to precis this, I’ve posted Wolfire’s own mechanics video below. The game has just had a big content update as it finds itself upon the Steams, and there’s a video explaining that, too.

What a lovely day I am having.

Wolfire put up a post-mortem of their experience with Greenlight just here.


  1. Goodtwist says:

    I’ll give it a shot.

    • Moloko says:

      Seems like they shot themselves in the foot by selling it without adding in more guns to the game.

      • Hyomoto says:

        This idea is a blast. I’d love to see these mechanics in a more conventional shooter experience.

        • Lord_Mordja says:

          Can anyone give me some bullet points on what makes this game so great?

          • P7uen says:

            It’s a barrel of laughs, for a start.

          • Dowr says:

            The game’s enjoyment will cause those endorphin’s to fire off.

          • Mr.Snowy says:

            The sight of this update has certainly silenced most of the critics, muzzled them one might say. Only the die-hards remain, and while they load websites with their complaints, most are found to be making the most hollow points imaginable.

      • corinoco says:

        Yeah, you could see a game like this would trigger a volley of puns.

    • mbp says:

      Wolfire are very cocky to make a game of this calibre but I am worried it could be a bore in which case they will find themselves the butt of many stock jokes.

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      Ninja Dodo says:

      It’s nice that if you own Overgrowth you don’t have to shell out more for Receiver (because it automatically goes in your Humble Bumble library).

    • DanPryce says:

      You don’t get games like this covered in magazines.

      • The Random One says:

        Nowadays it’s more important to have a nice clip on Youtube anyway.

    • goettel says:

      Puns don’t kill people, people kill people !

  2. 1Life0Continues says:

    Call me crazy, but I’d love to see this kind of raw gun mechanic in a lot more games. Having to take out a spent magazine or clip, reload it with loose bullets, replace it, manually chamber a round and set the safety to off would make shooters less spammy, and much more tactical and intense. Make every bullet count when you fire.

    Sure, it wouldn’t be as much fun for the dude-bro guys, but I don’t care. :)

    • LionsPhil says:

      It seems like the kind of thing that would work for some genres, where the protagonist is supposed to be an everyman caught up in a dangerous situation and violence is to be avoided as a high-risk last resort: I guess the suvival-y horror-y end of the spectrum, and not one of the “shoot all the zombies” ones.

      Think how vulnerable you were in System Shock 2 scavaging precious shotgun shells out of the broken weapons dropped by the hybrids, half-blinded by your inventory screen, the sound of something around the corner wandering about unpaused.

      • Mr Rud says:

        That’s what I was thinking: one of the reasons survival games don’t exist anymore is the introduction of smoother, more reactive controls (examples: Dead Space, Resident Evil) … would love a survival game with this kind of control scheme

      • Soldancer says:

        Some other good recent more realistic gun implementations were in the two Condemned games. While the second leans a bit more heavily on gunplay than the first, there’s still no HUD for the guns, and the only way to check your remaining rounds is to count the shots you’ve taken or check in the gun itself (I think. It’s been a while since I’ve played either of these.)

        • Crane says:

          The first Condemned also had a truly magnificent bug with the way it handled ammo.
          You couldn’t reload firearms, but you COULD hit a key to switch them to ‘bludgeon mode’, so you were able to use them as a melee weapon and not waste bullets.
          Here’s a neat trick for you.

          (1) Collect a firearm.
          (2) Switch your weapon to melee mode.
          (3) Swap the gun you have equipped for another firearm of IDENTICAL TYPE (that part is crucial)
          (4) Switch your new gun over to ‘bludgeon mode’ and back to ‘shoot mode’. Check your magazine. You will now have all the ammo from the weapon you first collected, plus any that was in the weapon you swapped it for.

          I assume the game shifted your ammo counter to some other variable when you engaged bludgeon mode, and failed to zero it when you collected a new weapon.

          This trick made the final segment of the game quite easy, since I had a hunting rifle with thirty rounds in it.

    • haradaya says:

      I agree. I’ve been thinking about how much fun it would be if you could interact with your gun in more ways in some shooters, if it would even work at all. Receiver proves it.

      Imagine a game like S.T.A.L.K.E.R. with bullet and magazine management. Scrounging fallen weapons, pulling back the bolt on an old worn AK to extract the bullet in the chamber.

      • Donkeydeathtasticelastic says:

        It’s buggy at the moment, but the Zone of Alienation mod for SHOC has exactly that.

    • NothingFunny says:

      Nothing good ‘fun’ or ‘strategical’ about excessively complicating any single process with mundane actions that involve no decision making and don’t amount to variety of the outcome.
      It’s like adding an annoying QTE to every reloading process. Ponder that.
      And its not very realistic scenario for battlefield action either – as combatants carry extra mags for quick reloading.

      • soldant says:

        Exactly, the fact is that KB+M just doesn’t lend itself to “simulating” weapons. All this does is add in a bunch of key presses that make life far more difficult than it really should be. By all means have better ironsight or aiming mechanics, but having like 10 different keys doesn’t improve gameplay.

        On a side note, it sort of reminds me of Trespasser, and Trespasser’s guns were almost useless due to the terrible controls.

        • Professor Paul1290 says:

          At the same time a mechanic that is straightforward, simple, and pointless by itself isn’t always as pointless in context.

          Take lockpicking mini-games for example.
          I am of the opinion that lockpicking mini-games that stop time are worthless QTEs, however if the lockpicking does not stop time then I think it becomes worthwhile even if the actions to open the lock are exactly the same.
          The only difference is time and context. If a lockpicking mini-game takes time, then in stealth games that typically have such mechanics it has an effect on how you play. Players that know when to lockpick and can do it quickly and/or have a good sense of how long it takes them can do so closer to guard patrols.

          For example, I remember there have been times in The Dark Mod where I’ve broken up the process of picking a lock so that I can time my picking and retreating to cover to fit with to patrol of a guard that passes in front of a locked door.
          It’s a straightforward sequence that doesn’t have any decision making by itself, but it affects how I play because of how it interacts with my other tasks.

      • nrvsNRG says:

        absolutely, as has been said,its just extra key presses that will quyickly become monotonous.

        • AshEnke says:

          It really doesn’t.
          If anything, it quickly becomes muscle memory and you don’t pay attention to it anymore.

          And it gives you some nice reflexes, like every time I turn a corner I wonder “Do I have a round chambered ?” and I check, and on the next turn I say “I forgot if I had a round chamber, I should check again !”

          And it never gets old because it really is… fun to manipulate your gun, and often you do it just because you can and it’s nice.

          • VelvetFistIronGlove says:

            When I play receiver, that ends up being:

            “Do I have a round chambered?” *ejects unspent shell*. “Whoops, yeah, I did. OK, do I still have a round chambered now, or was that the last one in the magazine?” *ejects another unspent shell*. Whoops! *repeat until all bullets are on the ground, pick them up, eject magazine, put them back in magazine, put magazine back in gun, chamber a round*

            I do think Receiver goes too far—beyond what can be reasonably simulated with M+K. Its management of magazines and inventory in particular is very unwieldy. But most games don’t go half as far as they could.

            For example, DayZ would definitely be improved by having to manage bullets in magazines. You already have to manage how many magazines or clips you have, and keep track of partially spent ones. And I think it would also benefit from slightly more intricacy in its gun handling.

          • Masterpwny says:

            Hold down t and press r to half-open the chamber and see if there is a bullet within without ejecting it. I Would dearly love to see this implemented in dayZ, it would add an additional cost to the player-owning automatic weapons whilst not changing the normal shooter mechanics of the shotgun atall. The pump-action shotgun that is the clunkiest weapon by most shooter’s standards would then become the easiest to operate.

          • The Random One says:

            VelvetFist, you should make a video of that. The Worst Gunman. I llol’d (literally laughed out loud) at your post, anyway.

          • JB says:

            I think I heard they were doing more stuff with magazine management in the DayZ standalone. Yeah, I think it was the PAX East video. You’ll find empty/partially filled magazines and your basic stock of rounds will be a pocketful or bagful, and you’ll have to fill the mags and reuse them.

          • El Mariachi says:

            (Replying to VelvetFistIronGlove):

            I haven’t played Receiver but it seems odd they’d get something that basic wrong. IRL on (almost?) all semiautomatic handguns, if you eject (or fire) the last round, the slide stays locked back. If it’s not locked back that means it’s still loaded.

      • Ricochet64 says:

        That’s the POINT! It’s SUPPOSED to make it more difficult to use a gun, which encourages players to prepare themselves more and take a more tactical approach to fights. And yes it is more fun because it feels more like you are actually using the weapon rather than watching a reloading animation.

      • Wisq says:

        I think a reasonable compromise would be something like this:

        1. No HUD by default; you have to count bullets yourself, or find other ways to check.
        2. The ability to do a weapon check: Pop the mag, check how much is left, and (if empty) automatically check the chamber to see if you have one last shot (unless it’s a weapon that makes it obvious when you’ve fired your last shot).
        3. After a weapon check, the number of shots remaining will show on your HUD, but it goes away as soon as you fire at anything (so you’re back to counting).
        4. The ability to reload at any time, but old mags are kept around (empty or half-full).
        5. The ability to consolidate bullets into fewer mags if you’ve got a bit of downtime somewhere.

        Obviously, this isn’t aimed at your typical shooter, but it would be a good way to make some of the survival-horror shooters more immersive.

        • darkChozo says:

          I think just that would be more suited to a tactical shooter than survival horror. The advantage of Receiver-style gun handling is that it would lead to moments where you’d be fumbling a weapon as something comes at you, kinda an extension of RE-style awkward shooting mechanics. Just having accurate bullet mechanics doesn’t really accomplish that as well; you’d get moments where you thought you had ammo but actually didn’t, but that’s about it.

          Something where you have to do some action when your reload would be pretty good. Not to Receiver levels, but something a bit more complicated than just hitting R. Maybe a GoW-style active reload system (made so hitting the active portion is mandatory), maybe a rhythm or QTE system, maybe a super-tiny minigame. Something abstract enough to be approachable and repeatable, but something you could screw up in the heat of the moment.

          If you were really clever, you could make it more difficult if your character is scared, maybe using a Eternal Darkness/Amnesia sanity system. From what I hear, Heavy Rain did something like this; the QTEs got harder when your character was doing something requiring dexterity. There’s supposedly a point where a character is trying to handle a gun while suffering from drug withdrawal, and the QTE involves holding down 7 awkwardly placed buttons in sequence.

      • wengart says:

        Operating a firearm when under pressure is totally different than operating one on a range or in any other safe environment. By allowing the game to do this for the player a lot of tension is being waived.

        Firearms are not perfect machines and there exists a plethora of opportunities for them to not work. This is increased when the operator is a panicked individual.

        I don’t think anyone is advocating that these controls become standard, but they could be used intelligently to create certain emotions or scenarios for the player. Such as, a nobody with no combat experience or a realistic wargame in the style of Red Orchestra or Arma.

    • P7uen says:

      Reminds me of Metro, when you had to manually pump your ball-bearing pumping thing in order to shoot stuff, while your mask was fogging up. Good times.

    • bakerman says:

      Couldn’t agree more. It reminded me a lot of Amnesia/Penumbra and their detailed object interaction. Maybe it doesn’t make much sense for battlefield shooting, but I think for survival horror this is the way forward.

      Unfortunately, you’ll never fit the control scheme on a gamepad :P. On the other hand, it should fit nicely onto the Leap Motion…

  3. Ansob says:

    The talk about the S&W have a double-action trigger makes me wish someone would go and add a bunch of older guns to this. I want a Colt Army Model 1860 or a Brown Bess.

  4. AshEnke says:

    “The game has just had a big content update as it finds itself upon the Steams”

    That’s actually not true.
    The content update is several months old, the game has remained unupdate since (with some bugs still waiting to be fixed)

    I’m fine with them selling their prototypes from game jams if they want to, but here they promised that it would slowly become a real game and that they would work on it (on the side of course, Overgrowth is still their priority).
    Now they’re releasing something barely different than what they produced in a week, which is barely more than a prototype but should be still considered an alpha, and are labeling it as a full game.

    Please don’t let your readers believe it’s a game in development. It will certainly remain in this unfinished state forever.

    (But of course is really cheap and it’s still a novel and fun experience, buy it if you feel like it. But don’t expect a Don’t Starve or a Minecraft type of release)

  5. SuicideKing says:

    Wish there were humanoids to shoot.

  6. corinoco says:

    Yeah, you could see a game like this would trigger a volley of puns.

  7. Masterpwny says:

    Having played this game for a few hours, I am too reminded by Deus Ex by the game’s soundtrack and aesthetic to give an honest opinion as to how good it actually is. Loving it.