Shadows Of Doubt’s sharpshooter assassins keep missing and leaving huge piles of wasted ammo everywhere

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A recent update for procgen whodunnit sim Shadows of Doubt added “Sharpshooter Assassins” with high-powered rifles to the game’s glowering alternate-1980s cities, with players having to work out the killer’s vantage point by deducing a bullet’s trajectory, before proceeding to a secondary crime scene to search for a murder weapon and witnesses. The prospect of snipers certainly adds menace to the game’s forensic sandboxing. The trouble is, the shooters aren’t always as sharp as they could be.


That’s according to developers ColePowered Games themselves, who call attention to the heaps of spent ammunition some players have apparently been finding at crime scenes – evidence that the perpetrator could have done with another few weeks in bootcamp, or at least, spent more time trying to rank up in Call Of Duty than brushing up on their Nancy Drew. “Reports of Sharpshooter Assassins missing their intended targets have been circulating around the city, leaving piles of shell casings everywhere,” they cheerfully note. “The department is currently seeking a fix for these less than accurate shooters.”


An accompanying patch note for the game’s latest experimental branch update makes mention of a “potential fix for sniper excessive shooting scenario”. It doesn’t go into details, but I wonder whether they’ve considered giving Sharpshooters limited ammo so they don’t just burn through a million rounds till one finds its mark. Alternatively, they could consider coding some kind of NPC embarrassment system.


Personally, I cherish those Sharpshooters. Bluntshooters, I guess we should call them, though that sounds like something out of a Kevin Smith film. I suck at sniping in most games, and thus strongly relate to the above image of a hapless would-be Lee Harvey Oswald fuming next to a pile of their own brassy ineptitude. I’m also quite piqued by the idea of Shadows Of Doubt simulating killers who fail, by accident or design.

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It’s not just the snipers, bless ’em: there are Steam user posts from throughout the past year about cities going without an honest-to-goodness assassination for days or weeks. The underlying difficulty is that murders in Shadows Of Doubt are enacted in real-time by NPCs with fully simulated lives who must traverse a generated metropolis, rather than the developers just conjuring up corpses and clues for players to investigate, like crooked cops attempting to frame somebody.


That these murder simulations sometimes fail is a testament to the game’s ambition – which other development studio has to think about problems like these? Other than IO Interactive, I guess, though they’re obviously coming at it from the other way round. What if somebody built a whole game around the idea that NPCs screw up, if only to literalise the old armchair development proverb about bugs actually being features? The whowouldadunnit, we could call it. Sounds like the kind of thing thecatamites would create. Anyhoo, Shadows Of Doubt remains in early access with no solid release date as yet.

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