I tell you what’s wrong with them: their hacking/netrunning/decking rules suck big time.
This text here is from 1999(!) and identifies the biggest culprit. To quote:
They’ve (with the possible exception of GURPS Cyberpunk) become so obsessed with the virtual reality metaphor and the myth of the „decker“ that they seem to have missed the point of what the net is about. You end up with the net as a „dungeon“ and the decker as a „wizard“ with programs as „spells“ (and the operating system as „monster“ which might not be too far from the mark)
That’s absolutely correct; it mirrors my experiences of years and years of cyberpunk (with a small „c“) GMing.
There is one notable exception to this:
The brilliant „Hardwired“ rules (a setting supplement for CP2020) does away with the virtual reality stuff and goes back to oldschool hacking (including, for those who want, a kind of simplified in-game BASIC programming language, „IF Kerenzikov=opens door#1 THEN ACTIVATE CAM#1“)
In our upcoming Futurepunk game, I’ll have players simply roll for their actions in cyberspace. We haven’t decided yet if we play in oldschool cyberpunk territory (which means plugging in, complete with all the things that are so dreadful to most cyberpunk games: the hacker player is cut off from the group, everyone has to wait till his stuff is sorted out), or if we go the modern route using some sort of augmented reality where the hacker character can still be part of the action. We’ll see.
As always, the system will complicate itself. Maybe we’ll need ad-hoc rules for wiping access ICE, or for coding search-daemons or whatever. But that’s the fun of rules-lite systems: they grow organically.
If you have a hacker in the group and a computer nearby, PLEASE use this genius little homepage to have some fun: http://geektyper.com/