Here’s 52 Minutes of Receiver

By Shamus Posted Thursday Oct 9, 2014

Filed under: Spoiler Warning 59 comments

Drinking game: Take a drink whenever Josh accidentally throws a desired item on the floor. (It’s been nice knowing you.) Receiver is the QWOP of firearm usage.

Link (YouTube)

I reviewed this game last year. It’s a complete gigglefest for sure.

I really like the complex gun mechanics. I’d love to have another game with a similar system, only perhaps:

  1. Not quite so user-unfriendly. I think a lot of the myriad inputs could be condensed. Maybe use the same button to insert or eject a mag, for example. And I think things like “un-equip your gun so you can load the mag” could be implicit. We should focus on simulating the complexities of the firearm, not the complexities of hands. (Especially in a game where you can’t see your hands.)
  2. Maybe not so murderously unforgiving. There’s nothing wrong with roguelike games in principle, but as a matter of taste I’d rather learn something new and difficult in a system of positive feedback than one based on negative feedback.

Still, it’s phenomenal what the developer accomplished with limited time and resources.


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59 thoughts on “Here’s 52 Minutes of Receiver

  1. Toasty Virus says:

    Poor Josh, I don’t even he deserves what this game does to you.

  2. Aaron says:

    so the best thing to learn from this is that the revolver is better
    and no you are not going to win

  3. lostclause says:

    Okay, so I take some issue with likening Receiver to QWOP. QWOP was simply designed to be frustrating whereas Receiver tries to be much more tense, it makes things difficult as a way of maintaining that tension. Before you go into a fight are you sure the safety is off, that you have enough bullets? Even sprinting is deliberately hectic (mashing the W key).

    I’m not saying that Receiver is going to appeal to everyone, but unlike QWOP I think it’s going for a deliberate atmosphere and there’s a point to the difficulty. I think Shamus is fond of saying that he doesn’t like games that make things more difficult than real life, Receiver tries to make it at least as difficult as real life. Reloading is a multi-step process instead of simply hitting R.

    Anyway, that’s my two cents worth of rant :P

    1. psivamp says:

      I agree.

      For light versions of making guns more mechanically involved see the makeshift weapons in the Metro games. I think there may be a market for that end of things, but Receiver feels so good to play sometimes.

    2. Daemian Lucifer says:

      Except its not as difficult as real life.For example,sliding bullets into magazines in real life is not that fast or that easy,but on the other hand in real life you dont have to remember how to put the magazine into the gun again.

      1. Klay F. says:

        Yes, this. As someone who is pretty familiar with your run of the mill handgun, loading magazines is definitely the least enjoyable part of handling firearms. It wreaks havoc on my fingers because they are relatively weak.

        1. ET says:

          Ugh. Even loading my 10/22 is a pain in the butt. I think it was easier when I owned a larger caliber rifle, but then the bullets were approximately 50X the price…so painful in a different way. ^^;

      2. lostclause says:

        Sure, but if you went any further with the concept you may indeed end up with a QWOP level of gameplay. A simple button press to imitate a complex action is good enough in my opinion.

        For some reason your comment made me wonder how this game would play on the oculus rift…

        1. Daemian Lucifer says:

          You mean just how R is enough to replace all of these?

          I wasnt talking about adding new controls though,merely about adding lengthy animations.

          1. lostclause says:

            By complex action I was more meaning a complex physical action (you wouldn’t believe how many muscles go into the simplest action). Otherwise you end up with surgeon simulator. And I agree, in most games R is enough to replace all these steps, but I’m still glad there’s one game that does it differently.

            Apologies for misunderstanding you there, as you can probably tell I have very little experience with firearms. In fact the only gun I’ve fired with a magazine was loaded for me :P

  4. TmanEd says:

    I loved that game. I’d occasionally do runs where I gimped myself with rules like carrying the 1911 holstered, safety on, and unchambered until I saw one of the bots. Or when using the revolver I’d hold the gun where I couldn’t see the cylinder, and load in three rounds while randomly spinning it. It’s a good bit of fun for a gun nut.

    1. psivamp says:

      I also played “proper gun safety in the apocalypse.” The same reversed Russian roulette where my life depended on hitting a loaded cylinder in the revolver but I didn’t know ahead of time if I would.

      The absolute lethality of the enemies was a real positive in the end for me. When I beat Receiver, I felt absolutely triumphant.

      I tried playing without shooting the turrets — just dodging back and forth in doors or around corners to make them run out of ammo — but never won like that.

  5. ilikemilkshake says:

    This is one of those games where I really want to try it but I know it’d drive me insane after 5 minutes.

    Also the audio quality seems much improved. So if you guys have done something different this week then keep it up!

  6. Tony Kebell says:



    1. Bryan says:

      Oh, I don’t know; I think at 17:55 was better — wow. Masterfully done. I really should have seen that coming long before he said it, but nope; blindsided. :-)

  7. Tizzy says:

    Clearly, Josh is a lot better at shooting stuff than at inventory management. Which explains a lot about the New Vegas season…

    1. Humanoid says:

      What’s the key sequence required to reload an incinerator?

      1. Adam says:

        It’s 53 steps long and involves the mouse, a joystick, a second keyboard, and a PS1 gamepad.

  8. MichaelG says:

    What happened to the Wolfire game team? They haven’t put out an update on their game blog in a long time.

    1. Ambitious Sloth says:

      Wolfire seems to be continuing development on their next game Overgrowth Where you play as anthropomorphized animals who know kung fu. And your health isn’t so much a bar as it is just trying to not have your legs broken by a roundhouse kick. Beyond that I don’t know. There’s an alpha/beta you can pay to sign up for, and supposedly it updates pretty often. I haven’t paid for, nor played it so I can’t speak for how the game is progressing.

      1. MichaelG says:

        Yes, I subscribe to the Overgrowth blog, although I haven’t bought the game. They were releasing a video a week on it for awhile, but there’s been nothing at all since August.

        1. Ygor says:

          I think they said a little while back that they won’t release weekly updates anymore, since most of the stuff they’re doing now is not that good for video. That’s why they do those Alpha videos now in longer time windows, it allows them to show a bigger chunk of their activities.

          Receiver is one of those games that I adore, but I don’t really want to play too much. I’ve tried it, and while I love the concept, I haven’t had the incentive to go back and play some more.

          They also have video about their design process for the game, and it has some really nice explanations of the games systems in there.

  9. IFS says:

    I remember this game, I got it because of the blog post here talking about it. It does feel really satisfying once you get the hang of the controls, even to do something simple like reloading but the instant death stuff is what really limited my enjoyment. I would definitely play a more expanded version of the idea though.

  10. Daemian Lucifer says:

    So if this was meant to be realistic,why do you slide bullets into stuff instantaneously?That should be a slow meticulous process.

    1. psivamp says:

      I used to shoot as a kid with my dad, but never did my own reloads — then I went shooting a few months ago and found out why. It freaking hurt.

      It’s also progressively harder the more rounds you have in the mag. That first round might slide in, but the fifteenth is a bear.

    2. syal says:

      I’m going with “You only reload in safe zones so all it will do is slow the game to a crawl”. The current process takes long enough to kill you in a firefight, and if you have the bullets to reload you should have a loaded magazine at hand already, so adding more time to the process is like making you crouch to pick up objects on the ground.

      1. Daemian Lucifer says:

        Sure,but they were going for the gun realism,especially when it comes to the tedium of loading and organizing the magazines.So the insta loading is just jarring with so much attention to detail in other places.

  11. Joseph says:

    I was waiting for Josh to discover that you can hold a key to inspect the chamber. I always found doing that to be disproportionately satisfying. Although it seems to trigger some OCD in me, and I can’t resist making sure that I have a round in the chamber right before every encounter.

    The game itself hooks my attention simply because I’m a sucker for games that let you interact with real-world systems in as much detail as possible. The learning curves may be steep, but there’s nothing else in gaming (for me, at least) quite like the feeling of making your first good firing solution in Silent Hunter, or having the way your A-10C’s systems interact with each other in DCS finally become clear.

  12. Dave B. says:

    The game’s approach to “realistic” difficulty is odd to me, because handling and loading a gun is much more clumsy in the game than in reality. But, I can tell you from experience that firing a pistol and hitting what you aimed at is much more difficult than the game makes it look.

    1. Octapode says:

      I’d like to see a game where you have to take the time to line up your sights to the target, instead of the gun automatically pointing in the right direction and you just put the crosshair on the thing you don’t like. Especially if you have to re-aim after every shot.

      1. IFS says:

        I remember playing a hunting game (a friend’s dad owned it I think, sadly I can’t remember its name) where you had to manually adjust the sights on any new guns you got if you wanted to be sure they were accurate. Not quite what you’re asking for but maybe in the right direction.

      2. Ivan says:

        That would definitely be interesting with quop controls. It might have to be a rail shooter, or even target practice to make it playable though.

      3. ehlijen says:

        There was Tresspasser. All guns where physical objects, to be picked up and held in your hand (which functioned as a short range, poor controls gravity gun). You had to point the gun the right way, lined up with sights (no crosshair) and running into stuff (such as doors in order to open them) was likely to knock your gun sideways, if not out of your hand entirely.

        The game also had no reloading mechanic, you just had to find new guns. And you could carry a maximum of 2 items at a time (one of them in your hand). There was plenty of ‘find the [colour] key’ with keys also being physics objects that needed to be carried. And most enemies were bullet sponges.

        On the plus side, dinosaurs.

        1. Groboclown says:

          And the health bar was a tattoo on your chest you had to look down at. Fortunately for me, I only let my wife play it, otherwise I just know that would make me feel kind of creepy (you play a woman in the game).

          But, yes, the game did let you play around with twisting your wrist and moving your arm to get the sights lined up. That could really get yourself messed up in a hurry.

      4. Friend of Dragons says:

        I’ve had fun times with Arma 2 (and DayZ, back when it was just a mod for the game) and if you wanted to hit anything in that game out beyond 200ish meters, you had to account for bullet drop (either by aiming above your target or by adjusting the zeroing on your sight/scope) and travel time. Didn’t have the draconian gun management systems this game did, though if you reloaded constantly like most games tend to teach you to do, you’d quickly end up with only having half-empty magazines.

    2. Tizzy says:

      As far as I can tell, I would probably be even clumsier than that with the real thing…

    3. Daemian Lucifer says:

      If you use both hands,and one round shots,then no,its not difficult to hit what youre aiming at(at least not for me).But if you try it one handed(SO not advised),then good luck.Especially if you do it in semi auto.

      1. Dave B. says:

        It probably depends a lot on how much practice you’ve had. I tend to grip the pistol a little bit wrong, and twist to one side when I fire. I don’t think I could reliably hit one of those flying drones at 25 meters, but it looks like Josh was easily making shots at distances greater than 50 meters.

        I don’t think my experience is true for everyone, but most people can expect to practice a lot before they get good with a pistol.

        1. Daemian Lucifer says:

          Oddly enough,Im a natural with aimed weapons.The very first time I shot a pistol at a target,I was already pretty accurate.Same when I shot a crossbow when I was in prague.This is odd because when it comes to throwing stuff(basketball,tennis ball,etc),I suck pretty hard.

          1. 4th Dimension says:

            Becuase it’s two different things. TO hit a hoop with a ball you need good hand eye coordination and the feel where the ball will go. TO hit a target with your gun you need steady hands so that your aim doesn’t wander off. Basically with balls it’s all on you, with guns they allready know where they will put the bullet, you “just” need to point.

        2. Groboclown says:

          This game seems to use hit-scan weapons rather than real physics on the bullets. That would make aiming a much tougher challenge.

          1. Daemian Lucifer says:

            Technically,no game uses real physics on anything,let alone bullets.Some physics though is still better than none.When its feasible to implement.

    4. Ed Lu says:

      They might have set out to make a realistic gun simulator, but I think it ends up being less about the difficulty and more about just how not pressing a button is like chambering a bullet, or holstering a gun. In fact, it almost feels less like reloading a gun than just hitting “r” is. That’s significant in itself.

      However, the clunkiness does give you something in exchange – it makes you more expressive. There was one instance where I started reloading, got scared by a *beep*, and accidentally dropped the magazine instead of inserting it into the gun.

      1. Dave B. says:

        Even though it doesn’t feel as natural as using my hands, reloading in the game was interesting because it made you carry out each step separately. I wouldn’t want it in every FPS, but the exercise was fun here. I just think it’s odd to do that, and then make the shooting a simple point-and-click.

        Hmm, I know. My new head-canon is that the player character is a world-class sharpshooter with no sensation in his hands.

        1. psivamp says:

          I think the controls would be fantastic to put into a survival horror game. Also, your character’s backstory is such that they know roughly how guns work, but not enough to have the whole process of reloading encoded in muscle memory.

          You could also use it to add some environmental story-telling. You see a mauled corpse with a loaded gun — now did this guy just not have the time to get off enough rounds? You see casings and blood that’s clearly inhuman, so you can see that he hit the target. You pick up the gun and it’s got a casing jammed in the ejection port. Now you know that the gun jammed and couldn’t be fired again without him pulling back the slide to clear the ejection port and finish chambering the next round. There’s now a clear reason why this dead guy has half a mag left in a hostile environment and you might want to carefully consider if you want to rely on this firearm because it’s clearly faulty in some regard and may fail you just like it failed the previous holder.

          The problem of course is that the added difficulty might go past the point of adding tension and just be frustrating. I’m playing Alien: Isolation now and it rides that line at times ( between tense and frustrating ). It is worth noting that Alien: Isolation chose to make reloading their revolver slightly more difficult than other games, but not to Receiver lengths. You hold R to insert rounds into the cylinder and the longer you hold, the more rounds you insert. If you tap R nothing happens. It becomes a very deliberate and slow process — which is dangerous when you have an android approaching to strangle you.

  13. C0Mmander says:

    Game looks fun but the sprinting mechanic can go fuck itself thoroughly. Not being able to run while having the gun in front of you is especially annoying.

  14. Daemian Lucifer says:


    The thing youve said about the buttons being a shorthand for panic couldve been done with much better controls though.For example,instead of all these buttons,you could use the shift key to hold stuff in your left hand,and if you release the shift key it drops.That way,you could eject your magazine and load it back in with the same button,and you wouldnt need to constantly search for the controls to do stuff,yet you still could drop your magazine in a moment of panic.

  15. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Wow,you guys went over 30 minutes without misusing the “clip” name.Im so proud of you.

  16. Retsam says:

    What this game really needed was a snarky GLaDoS-style narrator mocking you the whole time with things like “You were doing so well right up until you died” or “At least you managed to not shoot yourself in the foot this time… though that would have required loading the gun properly”.

    I mean, to some degree, sure, arguably few games wouldn’t be improved by a GLaDoS-styled narration; but particularly this one. I didn’t think “sombre apocalypse audio narration” really fit the mood of “quirky fiddly gun mechanics” as much as the game openly mocking your seeming incompetence might have.

    1. Ambitious Sloth says:

      The narrations in this game talk about vast conspiracies and different layers of reality. They do actually fit the aesthetics of the game or at least the parts that pull from an old 80’s sci-fi type movie. The boring monotone though really does drag the pieces down. I wonder if they were meant to be so long and droning with the idea that the player would stop listen and maybe get a few minutes respite.

      1. Steve Online says:

        Actually, if you go and check out the dev’s webpage, the ‘plot’ is basically, “what if the looney cult down the street was RIGHT about everything?”

        If you’ve had reason to learn up on cult psychology in the past (and therefore are equipped to understand what it’s doing), the game is significantly creepier. You catch it pulling straight from the crazy cult playbook in places, and it adds a psychological layer to the twitch reaction of flinching away from beeping noises and dropping your bullets on the floor.

        Likewise, if you know the above and manage not to fall asleep listening to Boring McDrone, the ending makes sense. It’s just… that’s a very small slice on the ol’ Venn Diagram of humanity.

        1. Tom says:

          “what if the looney cult down the street was RIGHT about everything?”

          They already did that, though. It was called Deus Ex.

          1. cassander says:

            deus ex deserves serious props for the sheer number of conspiracy theories they managed to include without losing thematically consistency. they really managed everything but the lizard people.

  17. Exasperation says:

    Since this game came out, I have occasionally found myself watching a let’s play of something like Payday and thinking “This would be so much more entertaining if they had to deal with the receiver gun mechanics.”

  18. Viktor says:

    I agree this would be fun multiplayer, but not co-op like y’all were talking about. Picture playing this with your friends where you’re all trying to kill each other, no one has more than 3 bullets, and anytime you stop to futz with mags someone shoots you in the head.

    1. gamedragon says:

      There is a game (in development?) called Relock that was attempting to expand upon receiver in that way, I.E. by adding adverserial multiplayer. but I don’t know where it got to. I think it had a kickstarter that failed, and is winding up for a second.

  19. Steve Online says:

    Fun Fact – you can actually get a hoverdrone to chase you fast enough that when you turn a corner, it’ll smash into the wall and crunch itself to death.

    1. psivamp says:

      I did not know that.

      I think I may need to make another go at the pacifist run of this game now that I know you can deal with flying drones without guns…

  20. Tom says:

    I watched this entire thing, every second just waiting for a Dangeresque reference, and it never came.

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