Our biggest Shadowrun game to date. Now a STANDALONE title.
We had a lot of fun on Arvan Eleron’s Twitch.tv show last night. The live interview with Lead Writer Andrew McIntosh and Game Director Mitch Gitelman lasted two hours and they took lots of questions from the audience. Here’s links to the interview, in case you missed it:
Part 1 of 2: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ukGhNMhQOyc
Part 2 of 2: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zSLijg0rSME
Beyond the interview, we thought you’d enjoy this new bit of concept art. It’s Tristan’s exploration into the look and feel of a Hong Kong slum in 2056.
And, to ease you into your weekend, Mitch will pull back the curtain to give you another peek at how your game is being made.
Hey Howdy! Mitch here. This time, we’re gonna look at the overall game development process and where the team is within it. Now, every product is different and no two game studios do things exactly the same way – there’s an alchemy to this stuff – but if you view it from a high enough level, most games go through a few common stages.
During the concept phase the main idea for the game is created, along with a set of high level goals and key features for the project. This is the “Hey, let’s do another Shadowrun game and set it in Hong Kong!” phase.
When a concept is given the go-ahead, team members start playing with new features to prove them out before we commit to putting them in the game. For example, Trevor prototyped Duncan Wu’s non-lethal attacks in order to solidify his Crowd Control Progression Track.
“Prepro” is where the project starts to take shape. Lots of research is done about the topic. Lots of documents are written to specify how new features will work. Lots of thought goes into scoping out how long each feature will take to make from beginning to end. Lots of lists are written to identify all the stuff we need to make. Lots of concept art is created to clarify the look and feel we’re going for. Lots of meetings are attended to get everyone on the same page and prioritize our work.
“Prepro” is where things get challenging. It’s when we plug all of the above into a schedule and pour a stiff drink. There are no lack of great ideas, as anyone on our KS Comments page can attest to – and that’s the problem. We always have far, far more ideas than we have time to execute on them. So some “pet features” have to go. We prefer to cut features early rather than pretend we’re going to get them for months. The project feels more under-control that way and it avoids the morale hit down the road when a long-hoped-for feature is finally abandoned.
When you’ve done enough planning and you can start actually MAKING THINGS, the project moves into the Production phase. By this point, the team is usually chomping-at-the-bit to get started. The transition to Production is always tricky and often a bit uncomfortable because some work is dependent on the work of others and the timing may not mesh. It makes the project feel a little off-balance. But things eventually right themselves and we quickly get into our groove.
Production is usually the longest phase of the process and has a long through-line of problem solving. “No plan survives contact with the enemy” is a famous saying that applies here. No matter how much we plan, there are always surprises waiting for us when we start actually making the stuff. That’s when things take longer than expected and some features we thought would make it into the game are set aside for another day.
Once all the stuff is made, it’s time to iterate, polish, test, fix, and stabilize the game. Stabilize means “stop cramming stuff into the game and make sure that what you’re shipping works great”. It’s often the hardest part because, if you’re like us, you want to push the limits to create the very best experience you can in the time you have. But the best experience also requires a low bug count. And choosing which bugs you should fix, which bug fixes would cause more bugs, and which you don’t have time to fix can be a nerve-wracking experience because it always comes down to a judgment call.
And then you wait to see if people like your work. And you start making lists of things you want to fix. And the things you want to do better next time…
So there’s a little window into the game development process. As I said earlier, every product is different and it’s never the same process twice. That’s one of the reasons I love game development so much – it’s always different, always challenging, and always an opportunity for learning and growth.
Have a great weekend!
Now that we’ve hit our funding goal for the Revamped Matrix, we thought you’d like to hear a bit more about what we’re planning. As we said, our goal is to evolve the gameplay along with the look & feel of the Matrix in Shadowrun: Hong Kong. Overall, we want the decker’s gameplay to feel like dangerous legwork, investigation, and hacking. One of the ways we hope to achieve this is with increased opportunities for risk & reward. The more chances you take outside the scope of achieving your core objectives, the more potential benefit to you… and the greater chance of being discovered. Combat will still be a factor, but it won’t be your entire Matrix experience.
To that end, we’ve created a list of new Intrusion Countermeasures (IC) that we plan to add to the game. The new IC is intended to expand Matrix gameplay beyond simple combat mechanics by adding new types of interactions. All have been designed on paper and reviewed by our engineers and artists. Once they’ve been proven out through prototyping and we’re confident in our ability to execute on them, we’ll share them in a future Backer Update.
As with DMS and DF, you’ll still break into a corporation’s secure local systems during a run to gain access to a variety of tactical objectives but there will also be places in the story where you’ll travel through distinct areas of cyberspace to “sculpted systems” – distinct digital representations of their owners.
By revising the basic look and sound of the Matrix and creating small “set pieces” of sculpted systems, we hope to give you a better feeling of traveling through cyberspace (for illicit purposes, of course). Concept art for our updated Matrix environment, including an image of a sculpted system will appear in a future Backer Update.
Our favorite (former) Red Samurai/Ghoul’s personal side mission = UNLOCKED! Thanks so much for the opportunity to make it.
In case you were wondering about Wu and Racter’s personal side missions, we assure you that there’s a plan. At the basic level, their stories will be part of shadowruns we’ve already planned (similar to how Dietrich’s background was tied into the Humanis run in DF). But, of course, there’s more to it than that… aaaaand that’s all we’re gonna tell you.
Just rest assured, we’re not going to create two cool characters like these and not give you the chance to find out what makes them tick! We’re confident that when you experience the story, they’ll feel fully fleshed out like the rest of your crew.
And now that you’ve succeeded in unlocking Gaichu’s personal mission, it’s on to THE MATRIX!
The Shadowrun Returns team nearly killed themselves to get our original Matrix art and gameplay in the game and we’re still extremely proud of that effort. But just like Thorin and Company, we ache to return again and make things right.