PRE-ORDERS now available – order today and support the Return!
First, some sharing — our air conditioning hasn’t worked for about a week. It’s currently 88 degrees in the studio (and ironically, a breezy high 60’s outside). We are melting. Kohnert is wearing those goofy pants that unzip and become shorts. Although I mocked him this morning, I’m now thinking of tackling him and taking his pants. As the HBS Human Resources Representative, however, I’ve cautioned myself that this could be punishable by legal action or worse. I think I’ll grab some ice from the fridge and put it under my arms, instead.
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As you may have heard, our Decker gameplay has gone through a few revisions. More than a few, actually. When we began Shadowrun Returns, we knew that trying to simulate the Matrix as it works in the tabletop game would be a huge task that we couldn’t commit to. So Jordan conceived of a system where the Decker would jack in and see an overlay on top of the physical world that displayed the local area network – what computers connected to others, what they controlled, and that sort of thing. An icon representing the decker’s avatar would then traverse the overlay and do stuff at different nodes. It gave us the ability to do some Matrix puzzle gameplay on top of the tactical combat system we were developing, but when we reviewed the design with our engineers, we realized that it would be challenging to integrate into our level editor, take too long to develop as a whole, and wouldn’t be an efficient use of our budget. So we abandoned this approach and started exploring other design concepts.
The other day, I held my breath and dove past our reasonably up-to-date design document and into the repository that is our OLD STUFF, looking to see how many stabs at decking we took – at least on paper. I found five, plus a sketch, a diagram, and the beginnings of what looks to be a card game. I know there are a few more documents on local hard drives. . .
Some of these designs were written during (what some would consider) normal office hours. But most were written late at night, over weekends, and sometimes during holidays. Each was an attempt by the author to move the ball forward to make decking a satisfying experience.
Finally, this February, we got together to review several other mini-game approaches – all of which were met with silence. (FYI, Harebrained isn’t known for its silence.) That’s when Trevor looked down, shook his head, exhaled his special exhale, and said, “Look, that’s not what Shadowrun fans want. They want decking. They want the Matrix.”
We all want the Matrix.
The issue was (and is) how we integrate the idea of a decker entering the Matrix with the rest of the game AND within the boundaries of our production reality. To do it (at least close to right) it would need its own look and feel. It would need new characters and environments and interface and sounds. It would need new gameplay features for cyberdecks and programs and intrusion countermeasures and Black IC and AI.
And, and, and. All the reasons why we said we couldn’t do it. . .
But we felt like we HAD to do it. It’s as much a part of Shadowrun as spell slinging.
We worked fast. We worked longer and harder. We brought in an old friend to help. We found issues we hadn’t anticipated. We got frustrated. We kept going.
So after all that, here’s how decking works in Shadowrun Returns. Throughout much of the game, your decking skill will allow you to hack computers in the physical world and gain information others can’t. The sort of hacker stuff you’d expect.
But several times during our story, you’ll jack in and enter a node of the Matrix that looks like this:
Among the people who created our visuals for the Shadowrun Returns Matrix is Dave McCoy, the artist who created the 3D Matrix art for the VIRTUAL REALITIES book published by FASA Corp.
To be clear, runs centered around the Matrix don’t occur often and you can’t jack in whenever you want to and travel the vastness of cyberspace. Nevertheless, Matrix runs should be quite a ride.
A Decker’s Matrix avatar is automatically created based on his or her “meat-world” appearance. Every three turns a decker’s avatar takes in the cyberspace equals one turn the rest of the party gets in “meat-world”. (Things moves faster in there!) While the decker’s consciousness is running around cyberspace, his body is inert in the real world and the rest of the party needs to defend him until he returns. To exit a Matrix LAN, the decker needs to leave from the same portal he entered or eject and suffer dumpshock damage to his physical body.
As the decker’s avatar navigates a Matrix LAN node, it will encounter Intrusion Countermeasures (IC) which will attack him. To fight the IC, the decker uses computer programs and deploys ESP – Expert System Programs – which are “independently operating artificial life simulations”. ESP operate under the player’s control and each has its own abilities.
The decking skill is used to derive the decker’s “to-hit” calculation and the ESP subskill determines the power of his ESPs. The decker’s cyberdeck determines how many and what level of programs can be taken into the Matrix. There are a variety of different programs for attack, defense, buffing, and debuffing. The cyberdeck is also the decker’s first line of defense – damage the decker takes is first applied to the deck which has its own equivalent of health points called IP. But Black IC or attacks from enemy deckers can damage the decker directly.
Every Matrix LAN has an alarm threshold and every action the decker takes within the LAN moves him closer to that threshold. When an alarm is tripped, it might trigger the arrival of Black IC, an enemy decker, or bad things back in the meat-world.
With all the danger inherent in cyberspace, why go there? Because the Matrix LAN nodes can control things in the meat-world like doors, security cameras, automated turrets, security clearances, and even poison gasses flooding into room. And, of course, the Matrix holds the most valuable thing in the 6th world – information.
Although runs in the Matrix are rare, when you get to play one, it’s pretty cool! We hope that the work that went into it pays off for you. Plus, the work we’ve done gives you even more building blocks for you to play with when you create your own stories.
Speaking of which. . .
We’d planned to release the editor at the end of the month but the Matrix work and other issues pushed it out a bit. We’d rather give you the right thing a little later than something a little broken right away. Early Access Backers will be getting a direct mail with more details and an updated ETA for the early release ASAP.
Also, we’re setting up two forums for the Editor on shadowrun.com. One is a Q&A that our designers will respond to and the other is a general Editor forum. They’ll both be publicly visible, although Early Access Backers will be the only ones able to post questions to the devs in the Q&A forum until the game is released. We’re also working on a Wiki that will document the Editor and in which you can share knowledge, tips, and tricks.
Oh, and I’ve just been tapped on the shoulder and asked to remind you that pre-orders on harebrained-schemes.com end 4/28. So let your friends know that this is the last chance they’ll have to pre-order the Collectors Edition of Shadowrun Returns and get their hands on those USB Dog Tags.
Take care. It’s time to get back to the sauna.
Our Tuesday Kickstarter update generated many questions, particularly concerning the Steam vs. DRM-Free versions of the game. As we said, we wanted to wait until today to allow time for everyone’s questions and feedback to bubble up so we could write another update to address as many as we can, in one place.
You funded this project because you saw something in our Kickstarter that resonated with you personally and made you want to be a part of it. Backers pledged more than financial support – you invested your belief in our ideas and gave us your trust that we would do what we said we would. We take that trust very seriously and are doing our best to be worthy of it.
With your support, we will always do our best to fix problems or concerns that arise, with the understanding that some of the issues we must deal with may not always appear obvious to the community. We will endeavor to communicate such things more clearly and promptly to you, our Backers, whenever it is possible for us to do so.
So let’s start here: We clearly left some critical information too vague, which resulted in some bad feelings and speculation. We are sorry about that and we’re going to fix that poor communication right now.
- To reiterate, our Backers don’t have to choose a DRM-free version of the game or a Steam version of the game. You get both.
- Backers who want a DRM-free experience with Shadowrun Returns (on Windows, OSX, and Linux) are getting the game, editor and all, and will be able to transfer community-created story files and update executables manually. (It works just like a non-Steam version of Skyrim: you can install mods manually or via a 3rd-party tool such as Nexus.) The DRM-free version will not require any internet connection or any form of online authorization to play. In addition, Backers who like the convenience and reliability of Steam and who want automatic updates, easy-to-browse content, and a DLC store are getting them.
- We said that post-Berlin Campaign DLC would only be available on Steam but we never said why. We regret the omission. The reason is that our license to develop Shadowrun Returns actually requires that the game and its DLC be distributed under DRM. This didn’t come up earlier because the situation was complicated by the number of parties involved in the license and because the process was “ongoing”. Ultimately, we were able to successfully negotiate an exception with Microsoft for us to provide our Backers with a DRM-free version of the Kickstarter rewards (specifically the game and the Berlin Campaign) but that exception does not extend to non-reward DLC. So unfortunately, we cannot sell or give away DRM-free versions of the game or DLC on stores like GoG, and that’s why any futureShadowrun Returns DLC will only be available for purchase on Steam.
- We will be updating/bugfixing the DRM-free versions (Windows, OSX, and Linux) of Shadowrun Returns, maintaining them along with the Steam versions. These updates will require Backers to re-download the game from the Harebrained Account Website, since it will not include auto-patching functionality.
To sum it all up. . .
We hope you’ll see that we’re doing our best to listen to and address the issues you’ve raised. However, if after reading this update, you are still unhappy, we’d like to talk to you about it to see if we can address your concerns. Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible.
Again, it is a privilege to have the opportunity make Shadowrun Returns and we appreciate all the support you’ve given us.
Important Note about the Harebrained Account Website Mails
For Backers waiting for emails containing a link and password to the Harebrained Account Website– the emails are still being sent in batches in no particular order, so please be patient. We’ll drop another quick update when they’re done. Also, if you know that the Kickstarter or PayPal emails you used to Back us are no longer active or have changed somehow, please write to email@example.com immediately using the proper email address.
Answers to Frequently Asked Questions:
I’m a $125 Backer (or above) and was promised a DRM-free download of the game, a copy on disc (in the boxed edition) and a copy on the USB dog tags. With this change, how many copies will I get?
You’ll get a DRM-free download, a DRM-free copy on disc, three Steam keys for the game and three Steam keys for Berlin.
Will the DRM-free version always be available to Backers through the website?
Always is a mighty long time but yes, that’s our intention.
Once it is available, will the DRM-free version of the Berlin Campaign always be available to Backers through the website?
Will the DRM-free version & Berlin Campaign be a downloadable executable that does not require internet to install?
What version of the game will come in the Backer’s boxed version?
The disc in the Kickstarter Deluxe Box Edition will contain the DRM-free version of Shadowrun Returns.
What version of the game will Pre-order people get?
All pre-order versions get a Steam key.
How will pre-order people get the digital version of the Shadowrun ReturnsAnthology and Soundtrack?
Pre-order folk will get a mail from us giving them a link and password to the Harebrained Account Website, so they can download their goodies.
Can we manually share community-created content from the DRM-free version to the Steam version and vice-versa?
We haven’t finished Steam integration yet, but that is our goal. However, in the future, if a GM decides to use a Steam-only DLC in his or her story, that story would then only be usable in the Steam version because of this dependency.
Will the Steam version be playable offline?
Short answer: yes (though it still requires having Steam running on your computer). Here’s a link that explains how offline mode works with Steam:https://support.steampowered.com/kb_article.php?ref=3160-agcb-2555
Will the Steam version be playable offline after uninstalling Steam? Can the game be moved/copied to another PC without Steam?
No, it will require Steam to run.
Will the desktop version of the game (and future DLC) ever be available through other distribution channels than Steam?
The desktop version will only be available for purchase on Steam at launch. It’s possible, depending on how they handle DLC and community-created content, to find alternate channels after launch. Again, they must support some form of digital rights management, according to our license.
Will people who buy DLC through Steam be able to add it to the DRM-free version?
This appears unlikely, given our DRM restrictions.
Will the Editor be its own separate program?
Yes, but it uses the game to facilitate testing of levels during development, so you’ll want to keep them together.
Can we manually share save data between different computers?
Can we manually share save data between different versions of the game?
Mostly. We’ll obviously make every effort to ensure save data for our own stories remains compatible as bug fixes are released, but unfortunately we have a pretty tricky situation with regard to community-created content. Because we’re putting the Editor directly in your hands, we can’t guarantee that player-GMs will create content in a way that preserves and works with existing save data robustly and remains compatible.
Also, we do intend to allow save games from the PC version to be playable on the Mac or Linux versions (or vice versa). For instance, play on your PC at work (not that we’d condone that of course!) and then continue playing on your Mac at home. We do not, however, plan on officially supporting save game data across desktop and tablet versions of the game.
Why are you doing DLC on launch?
We’re not. All DLC will be released after launch.
Why not manufacture the dog tags now and load them with the game when its done?
To be clear, our manufacturer isn’t waiting until the game is done. Manufacturing began some time ago. But they need to ship the finished dog tags back to the U.S. before the game is done and they will arrive just in time to be shipped out with all the other rewards.
So will there be anything on the dog tags or will they be blank?
Unfortunately, due to the timing issues and the cost, they’ll be blank and ready for 8GB of whatever you’d like to put there.
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We hope we’ve answered your most pressing questions and that we haven’t missed anything major. We’ll put together an extensive FAQ about the game and put it on our website ASAP.
Here we go…
This update is full of information about Backer Rewards, distribution plans, pre-orders, and more. No sexy behind the scenes look at how we’re making the game this time. Just good, clean process. This is important stuff (like deadlines) that everyone needs to know, so make sure you read it!
How long do I have to pre-order the Collector’s Edition of the game?
The last chance to get the Shadowrun Returns Collector’s Edition is Sunday, April 28th, 2013. Please tell your friends! (More on pre-orders later.)
When can I give you my information for my Backer Rewards?
We are happy to announce that the Harebrained Account Website is now open for business! It’s not pretty but it’ll get the job done! Starting today, Backers will begin to receive emails from us (as you’re imported into the system) containing a link to the website and a password. If you haven’t heard from us by Friday, April 12th, drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org. (Preorder folk will receive separate emails later.)
If you’re a Backer, please log in as soon as possible to enter your mailing address and (based on your Backer Level) upload your picture for your DocWagon card, tell us which shirt and size you want, and all the other information we’ll need to get you your much-deserved rewards.
IMPORTANT: In order to get your rewards on time, you must log in and fill in your information by Monday, April 22nd, 2013. Otherwise, your rewards may be left out of the shipment, get shipped to the wrong address or other, more heinous horrors.
When do I get my rewards?
Your DIGITAL rewards (the game, the editor, the wallpaper, special ability, the soundtrack, the short story anthology PDF, etc) will all be available on the Harebrained Account Website on launch day.
Your PHYSICAL rewards (the t-shirts, the DocWagon cards, the hardcover short story anthology, the USB dog tags, the deluxe box edition (which contains a bunch of stuff), will ship about 3 weeks after launch day. (We’ll explain why below.)
People who pre-ordered the Shadowrun Returns Deluxe and Collector’s Editions will get their digital and physical goodies in the same timeframe as above. (And will download their digital goodies from the Harebrained Account Website too.)
Early access to the Shadowrun Returns EDITOR will be available to eligible Backers at the end of April.
Backers eligible to have their photo turned into an NPC or CUSTOM PC have already been contacted and work has already begun!
Here’s some examples!
Why do I have to wait until after the game releases to get my physical rewards?
First, picking, packing, and shipping your physical rewards is an expensive proposition. If we send out physical rewards in more than one batch, the cost will be prohibitively expensive (like twice as much!). That would be a considerable percentage of our total budget and that money could go into the game. Our focus is (and always will be) on using the funding you’ve generously provided to make Shadowrun Returns great. So we’re doing one big shipment of all physical rewards at the same time.
Second, in order to press the discs containing the game and the soundtrack, the game and the soundtrack actually have to be done! So, because we’re shipping everything in one batch and because we can’t press discs until the game is done, the physical rewards will ship about 3 weeks after the game is released.
Unfortunately, this also means we can’t put the game and other stuff on the USB Dog Tags as we said we would during the Kickstarter. If we did, we’d first have to wait for the game to be done, then we’d have to wait for the manufacturing of the flash drives, and then wait again for them to arrive from China, adding at least a month to the wait.
On the plus side, we’ve already received and approved functional prototypes of the dog tags, so we know they’re going to be awesome. (If you were at Emerald City Comic Con or SXSW, you got a chance to see them yourselves.)
And here’s a picture of the Doc Wagon card.
When will the game be released?
Shadowrun Returns will release in June.
How will I download the game when it’s released?
After a lot of prototyping and research, we decided that our best delivery option for OSX/Windows/Linux is to go the route that great games (like Skyrim!) have taken and embrace Steam and the Steam Workshop. Steam allows us to provide up-to-date downloads and patching along with a vibrant ecosystem for developing community-created content and file sharing.
So, we’re happy to announce that all Backers will receive a Steam Key for the game and will be able to contribute and browse community-created content using Steam Workshop.
We realize that for some of you, releasing on Steam isn’t your first choice but there are a lot of really great things we get from this decision that allow us to focus on the game rather than on making things like backend servers to deploy and manage shared content. From the start, we’ve had to make practical decisions like this one to ensure we get the most out of the support you’ve given us. We consider this to be the best option for everyone.
Now, that may prompt the question, “What about DRM-free?” To honor our original promise of a DRM-free version of the game, the Harebrained Account Website will also contain a downloadable version of Shadowrun Returns that does not include Steam integration. While this version will include the Seattle story (and Berlin, via a one-time update), without Steam integration, it will be unable to browse and play community-created stories from within the game. Any future DLC will only be available through Steam.
Will people be able to pre-order the game on Steam?
Yes. Pre-orders for Shadowrun Returns and the Shadowrun Returns Deluxe Edition will be available on Steam Monday, April 29th 2013. Again, the last chance to pre-order the Collectors Edition or get the pre-order discounts on harebrained-schemes.com is Sunday, April 28th 2013. Please spread the word.
When do I get the Linux version of the game?
As we said during the Kickstarter, we will release the Linux version in a reasonable timeframe after launch. We’ve done a few test builds in house but there are a fair number of issues remaining to be fixed. Rather than delay the entire release of the game to everyone, we’re going to focus on the non-Linux platforms first as they have the most support and are the furthest along in development.
What about the iOS and Android tablet versions of the game?
Tablet versions of Shadowrun Returns are not part of any Backer reward levels and will be available for purchase from the Apple and Android App Stores. Tablet versions will not include the Editor or have the ability to browse and play community-created content. We hope to bundle and add the best community-created content to the tablet versions of the game in the future.
What about the German, French, and Italian versions of the game?
We plan to release translated versions of the game around the same time as the Linux version.
What sort of DLC can we expect?
Here’s what we’re planning to make available for paid download after launch:
Berlin Campaign (new campaigns also allow you to build with an expanded set of tiles)
Map Packs (new terrain tiles and props for you to use in your own campaigns)
All New Shadowrun Stories (created by HBS)
Additional Outfits and Portraits for your character
Now to be clear, our Backers and Collector’s Edition Pre-orderers will get the Berlin Campaign at no charge. Any DLC developed after launch will require payment.
Do I have to pay for Community Created Content?
Stories created by the community will be available through Steam Workshop at no charge. However, if you download a story created with optional DLC (such as Berlin) that you don’t have yet, you’ll need to purchase that DLC before you play it.
What type of modding support will there be?
While we have not spent a lot of time creating hooks for modding in the core game code, we’re confident that clever Shadowrun GMs will manage to do some amazing and creative things that we haven’t even dreamed of yet! We don’t plan on getting in your way but we also don’t have the resources to officially support a modding community beyond what the Editor is able to create (which is already a lot – it’s powerful and flexible).
So that’s a big ol’ info dump! (Hmm, could be a cool band name – Info Dump.)
If you have questions, please send them to email@example.com.
Hey guys! Mike McCain here, I head up the art team on Shadowrun Returns. The other week all of us at Harebrained were very excited (and a little nervous!) to give you guys a first look at Shadowrun Returns in action. The response was just fantastic – your enthusiasm at seeing the game for the first time has us even more excited about making it. We’ve lots left to do, but things are really shaping up. Today I’d like to take you behind the art shown in the video – we’ll look at how art in the game works, and then see how a finished scene comes together.
Shadowrun Returns mixes 3D characters, lighting & effects with a 2D isometric environment – a decision made early in our Kickstarter campaign. This hybrid approach gives us the best of both worlds from both a visual and art production standpoint. By going “old school” with 2D environments, we’re able to create much broader and more intricate environments than we’d have the time for in a full 3D game. Plus, painting the building blocks of the world directly allows us to stand out more with a rich, detailed rendering style.
2D isometric games generally use either pre-rendered environments (the Infinity Engine games) or tile-based environments (Fallout, Arcanum, Diablo). Pre-rendered environments are ultimately hand-crafted by artists and “baked out” as a single, finished environment – whereas a tiled environment remains a collection of many assembled parts. It’s a plastic toy vs. a box of Legos. Shadowrun Returns uses a tile-based environment. While a pre-rendered approach could provide some more artistic freedom, modular tile-based art is more production-friendly and offers our designers far more flexibility to create and iterate on complex tactical combat spaces. It also, importantly, lets all of you guys build your own environments in the editor using our digital Legos!
Welcome to the Grid
There are several types of isometric projection commonly found in games, each with pros and cons depending on the needs of the project. For Shadowrun Returns, we’re using a symmetrical 2:1 near-isometric view.
This means the camera is angled such that each diamond on the game grid is exactly twice as wide as it is tall. It’s the most common type of isometric projection found in games, I think for two reasons: one, it tends to looks the most natural (partially because that slight squish fakes a foreshortening effect in the world), and two, it’s the fastest and most efficient choice from a production standpoint. Because the grid is symmetrical, props can simply be flipped horizontally for use in the other direction. In addition, because the proportions of a grid space are exactly 2:1, we get some nice shortcuts when painting – for example: take any image, rotate it by 45 degrees, then scale it’s height down by 50% – now your image is flat on the isometric plane.
Anatomy of a Prop
Environment tiles generally fall into two categories: structural tiles (walls, floors, buildings, doors) and props (everything else, more or less). Depending on the complexity of a piece, we’ll either start with some rough sketches or a basic 3D model. Here’s a couple pieces that some of our interns painted for our Barrens and Tenements tilesets. Over the course of production, we’ve developed a painting guide that helps keep everyone’s work efficient and consistent. (The painting process is likely another diary topic entirely of itself!)
Once props are finished and approved, they need to be setup for use in the game and editor. This process involves defining the different isometric facings of the prop, establishing how the prop should sit on the isometric grid, setting its gameplay properties (can I see through it? move through it? shoot through it?) and determining how the prop should receive light.
After this, our props should be ready to go! Our editor makes it easy to browse props (you can filter by multiple keywords) and drag them into the game world. Arrange a bunch of props and tiles in the world and, voila, you’ve got yourself a level! (Okay, it’s slightly more involved than that, but you get the idea. : ) The process of laying out and iterating on a level in the editor will be the topic of a future diary from our design team.
Tighten up the Graphics on Level 3
The big downside to tiles is, well, when you first put them down they really just look like a bunch of tiles. Here’s some of the stuff we build on top of the base scene layout to make it look snazzy.
More props! – This environment may be structurally complete, but our Lego box includes a lot of really cool decorative elements that we can add to spice things up. Want some graffiti? Here’s something about how “The SINless are free” – seems appropriate. Or how about some scaffolding for this building? Adding this extra layer of visual interest doesn’t change anything fundamentally about the scene layout – but now this intersection feels grounded and lived-in.
Lighting - Thanks to some really cool engineering work, we’re able to place directional and point lights within our environments. How does lighting in a 2D game work? The short version is, our art is projected onto some simple 3D geometry so that each prop or tile can receive light from the appropriate directions. Placing lights in our editor is a bit fiddly, but with some trial and error you can get some really nice results from it. (This is an example of what we meant when we said the editor would be “powerful but ugly.”) As you can see below, adding just a few lights immediately imparts both mood and focus on the scene.
Environmental effects – Yes, Seattlites like us know that it doesn’t actually rain THAT much here.* But rain is such an evocative (and noir-appropriate) effect that we’re going to be playing up the “it always rains in Seattle” stereotype a little bit in Shadowrun Returns. The fullscreen rain effect here instantly adds depth and liveliness to the scene – other localized effects contribute as well, such as steam rising from a vent.
Putting Minis on the Board
All of this stuff’s great, but the set serves no purpose without some actors. Characters are the focus of both story and gameplay – our environments and effects exist, first and foremost, to support our cast of characters and allow them to take center stage. One of the challenges we face here is that our characters in the game world, well, they’re actually pretty damn small. The camera in Shadowrun Returns stays relatively zoomed out, in order to provide the player with a good tactical understanding of their surroundings. (There’s nothing worse than trying to send a drone around back to flank your enemy while feeling super-confined by a camera.)
As a result, we put a lot of effort into optimizing what we’ve been calling the “iso read” of our characters – the simple, large shapes, colors, values, and high-contrast areas of a character’s silhouette that allow the player to identify them at a glance. This is absolutely critical to gameplay – not only do I need to recognize Lone Star from lab tech, but I need to be able to distinguish between Lone Star grunts, captains and hired spellslingers at a glance during combat. It’s easy to go crazy with details, but if we don’t first make sure there’s a big iso read there, it’s just going to be so much indiscernible noise when the character is 50 pixels tall. Once a strong read is established, our character artists have gotten really good at adding nice secondary reads and small details to the character at a low enough value contrast that they enhance without distracting – and without causing it to become a chattery mess of pixels.
In addition, it’s important to make sure these characters don’t get lost in the very detailed world around them. Characters have to take focus during gameplay, and you should never not notice an enemy that your character has awareness of (and line-of-sight to). Here are a few things we do to ensure our characters “pop”:
Gradated value scheme – We design our characters to be darker towards the bottom, and brighter towards the top. This helps exaggerate their depth in the scene, and draws the eye up towards focal points on the upper half of the character.
Contrast & saturation – We try to save the highest contrast and greatest saturation in the game for characters. In fact, a couple weeks ago, Kohnert setup a custom shader for the characters so that they receive a bit more fill from lights in the game world.
Highlight states – Like most games, we employ basic edge highlighting around characters to indicate things like which character is active and which characters are targetable enemies. This also ensures that characters remain visible even when partially occluded by the environment.
As you saw in the alpha video, when all of this comes together – characters that pop, a compelling environment design, lighting and effects, animation – you end up with a pretty sharp-looking RPG!
When we started this project there were three of us on the art team here at Harebrained; then Kickstarter happened, and now we have over a dozen artists in the fold. We’ve been able to assemble a really amazing art team all around, and everyone has been working incredibly hard the last several months to bring this world to life. I’d like to thank you guys, the Backers, for the opportunity to work with so many great artists (and designers and engineers too!) on this project.
And that about wraps it up! I hope this has been a useful look behind the art of Shadowrun Returns, and I’m excited to get the finished product in front of you guys this summer.
*Except October through May, when it rains all the f*cking time.
Okay, the wait is over! Here’s what we’ve been up to for the last nine or ten months.
The Harebrained team is pleased to bring you this alpha gameplay walkthrough video for Shadowrun Returns narrated by Jordan and Mitch. While no Bothans died to bring you this information, it’s been a wild ride to get to this point and there’s still plenty to do. But let’s not talk about the future for a moment. Let’s just take 20 minutes or so to relax and see the game in action.
Since our story is about secrets and lies, we decided that our video should walk you through a side-mission so you can get a clear sense of how the game is played without revealing any spoilers. In this mission, you’ve accepted a job from a reliable Fixer (who’s totally fronting for Aztechnology) to locate a rival corporate test lab and terminate the test (with extreme prejudice).
Remember as you watch the video that all the environments, conversations, and tactical situations you see were created using the Shadowrun Returns Editor – the same editor that will ship with the game on OSX and Windows. For us, re-energizing Shadowrun doesn’t just mean making a game for you to play and enjoy (although that sounds GREAT). It means creating a set of tools for YOU to experiment with, express yourself with, and share.
We imagine that you’ll have plenty of questions and comments about what you see and we encourage you to go to shadowrun.com and join the community here . We’re on regularly, answering questions and clarifying stuff. It’s a friendly place. Try it!
And one more thing – If you like what you see, please share the video and screenshots and ask your friends to share them too!
For those interested in additional details, here are some specific notes on the video. Hopefully, they’ll provide more insight and answer some of your questions in advance.
00:20 - Lady Z prefers to dress-for-effect (dig that gas-mask – so punk) but there will be a variety of outfits for you to choose from so you can make your character look the way you want. We plan to release more outfits after the game launches.
00:39 - For those of you who know Seattle, this is Pike Place Public Market in 2054. The neighborhood may have taken a downturn.
03:30 - options: Burst Fire, Full Auto etc. We also have character combat abilities like Aim. We also use the tabletop “stages” of damage with from Weak (1/2) to Crit (x2). All of this is based on the math from the SR tabletop game. You can see your chance to hit with every character but you need to invest Karma in weapon specializations to see your chance to crit with each weapon type. As your weapon specialization skill increases, so does your chance to crit.
05:00 - Note that Lady Z’s corp security etiquette skill is missing from her character sheet. The screen underwent a recent revision and it was left off of this version temporarily. Also, Scooter the Rigger’s drone skills are currently higher than his Intelligence and the Shaman’s spirit control and conjuring skills are higher than his Charisma. Not to worry. These bugs are already addressed.
06:00 - Obviously, Lady Z could just whip out an Ares Predator and drill this guard but guns make a lot of noise and Jordan doesn’t want to attract too much attention – our AI NPCs will react to gunfire and investigate. So instead, he whips out Lady Z’s katana for a (relatively) silent kill. One other note – you’ll see that the guard asks Lady Z for her SIN. Just want to make it clear that there’s no “SIN system” in the game and runners are SINless. But fake credentials are very useful in getting past guards, etc.
06:10 - You’ll notice the rigger is automatically being followed by his drone. If you check the rigger UI at the bottom of the screen, you’ll see that you can set the drone to remain stationary. That’s handy if you want to leave the drone behind to provide line-of-sight on a location after you leave (so there are no surprises when you get back).
08:08 - Inside the shaman’s backpack are magical fetishes that he uses for summoning elementals: air, fire, water, and earth. Fetishes are consumable to keep the shaman from being overpowered. They can be replenished by purchasing more at the local talismonger.
08:22 - Every turn, summoned spirits have a chance to break free and that chance increases every time you commit APs for them to use. However, increasing your Spirit Control skill reduces the risk. It’s a good investment because when a spirit breaks free, they’ll attack anybody.
09:37 - Yup, the AI loves it when you clump up your characters. If they have an equipped grenade or area-of-effect spell, this will happen to you too.
10:14 - Some spells have cool-down times associated with them and you SHOULD wait for that time to expire before using the spell again. However, you CAN use the spell again but you’ll take Drain HP damage from pushing yourself.
15:18 - Ley lines are the intersections of magical energy flowing through the world. Only Mages can see them. When they stand on a ley line, Mages cast spells far more easily and with greater effect: cool down times are reduced, and chances to hit are increased, as is damage.
16:17 - Shaman don’t always need to expend fetishes for summoning spirits. Intense concentrations of emotions or natural elements can be used as gateways for summoning as well. Only shaman can see them. Once a concentration has been used as a gateway, it can’t be used again (until the shaman raises his summoning skill high enough), so best to keep a magical fetish in your pocket.
17:27 - The AI re-evaluates their threat list every turn. The basilisk decided that the abomination spirit is the biggest threat in the room.
As Jordan mentioned in his Developer’s Diary last Friday, we have some exciting stuff coming in the next couple of weeks and the team has been hard at work to deliver.
“What sort of exciting stuff”, you ask?
How about a look at Shadowrun Returns in action!!!
On Sunday, March 10th at South By Southwest in Austin, TX, Jordan and I will do a LIVE DEMO of Shadowrun Returns and take questions from the audience. Also in attendance will be our Guest of Honor, Erik Dahlman, one of our $10,000 Backers (and resident of Austin).
SXSW is another great opportunity to get some press for the game and help get the word out. But don’t worry, you won’t need to attend the show to see the game in action! We’re releasing a VIDEO WALKTHROUGH of Shadowrun Returns gameplay, narrated by Jordan and me, the Friday before the show. We’ll release our first set of REAL SCREENSHOTS, too.
And don’t forget, we’ll be at Seattle’s Emerald City Comic Con tomorrow, March 2, talking about the game, answering questions, and doing the dwarf dance as little as possible. We’ll be in the Gaming Room at 12pm. Hope you can join us!
To whet your appetite for all that, here are some characters you’ll see in action next week.
And here’s some concept art from the Seattle campaign.
And finally, here’s a pic of the studio so you can see the team doing their thing.
Time to get back to work!
I figured you’d seen enough of me in our update videos for awhile (maybe a lifetime) so I asked other members of Harebrained Schemes’ collection of supremely talented oddballs to write the first several developer diaries, but they kicked the ball back to me for this one.
Of all the games I’ve developed in my 33 year career, Shadowrun Returns is the biggest thrill. As in thrill ride. As in rollercoaster. As in completely-balls-to-the-wall-adrenaline-charged-scare-the-shit-out-of-you-and-make-you-love-life experience. Thanks for making it all happen!
When we launched our Kickstarter campaign, we had a modest game in mind (as our minimum funding level indicated) but your immediate and overwhelming financial support enabled us to expand our vision (and your enthusiastic expectations demanded that we do so). Those elevated expectations continue to this day, as illustrated by Shadowrun Returns’ inclusion in five “Most Anticipated Games of 2013” lists. It is both a great honor and weighty responsibility for our little game to be listed next to AAA games with 20 to 30 times our development budget!
When you net out all the costs of Kickstarter, Amazon/PayPal, Microsoft (for the license), the production cost of our Backer rewards, and the picking, packing, and shipping cost of those rewards, we have just under $1.2 million to actually spend on making the game – which is amazing compared to our modest initial plans but nothing compared to today’s 100-million-dollar RPG behemoths – but that’s ok because we have two secret weapons!
The first of these powerful weapons is what I call “The Infinite Resolution Rendering Engine” an incredible piece of biotechnology developed over millions of years, capable of presenting the audience such vivid imagery so real they can smell and even taste it. Yes you guessed it, it’s the gray stuff between your ears and the imagination it is capable of. We can’t afford to put everything in our imaginations onto the screen, so instead we decided to put it into your imagination via “theater of the mind”. By combining beautiful environments and characters with cleverly-integrated text, we hope to inspire you to “see” and “hear” things that we could never afford to put on your screen or out of your speakers.
Shadowrun Returns integrates text into gameplay in four ways:
- Chapter and Scene Introductions set the context and emotional landscape for the scene you are about to play
- In-world GM pop-ups describe the sights, sounds, and smells that your character is experiencing at this moment. For those of you who are unfamiliar with tabletop role-playing, GM stands for “Game Master” – the person charged with setting the stage and refereeing the action.
- In-world character speech bubbles provide short quips from your characters and our NPCs, providing insights into their actions. Of course, sometimes, they’re just for entertainment.
- Our conversation window allows you to have in-depth branching conversations with characters in the world, as well as GM narration that helps bring those characters to life. (Although we can’t animate the single tear traveling down the street urchin’s face, we can type it!)
These theater of the mind tools can be used in really inventive ways. Trevor King-Yost, one of our designers, put together a wonderful little sample game which combined an old school movement puzzle and classic text adventure using a combination of character movement, word balloons, and the conversation window. The team broke into spontaneous applause when they saw it.
Our second secret weapon is . . . YOU. Shadowrun started as a tabletop RPG in which we provided players an interesting world and rules for creating characters and stories within that world. Of course we loved to tell our own stories in that world and published lots of source materials, adventures, and novels in it but the key driver of Shadowrun’s success over the last 24 years is the creativity of its Game Masters and their players. It was a primary mission for me to extend that creative outlet to the digital world. Thus a cornerstone of Shadowrun Returns, from inception, has been to release our content development tools so that you could tell your own stories.
When we started our Kickstarter campaign, we envisioned a true top down game (like we had in Crimson: Steam Pirates ) because that’s what we could afford with the budget we posted on Kickstarter.com. But it was clear from the first day that this was not what you were hoping for – you wanted more depth and immersion. So we decided that an isometric view was necessary to deliver what a top-down view couldn’t provide.
While I’m happy with that decision, the art and engineering involved in constructing a rich isometric world is expensive! It’s definitely added development challenges over the course of the project but we’re really proud of what we’ve managed to accomplish in our isometric game world.
Over the last eight months, we have invested a great deal of time and money into creating an editor powerful enough for us to tell the stories we want and (hopefully) accessible enough for you to wield its power and tell your stories too.
Let me take you through some of what the game editor does so you get a better sense of what you can do with it.
To achieve the highly-detailed and yet “painterly” look we wanted for Shadowrun Returns, we chose to combine 2D isometric environmental art with 3D polygonal characters. A key benefit of this approach is that level design becomes much simpler and does not require a 3D design tool. Both interior and exterior environments are assembled using a large set of graphic building blocks which can be combined in an infinite number of ways to create an incredible variety of both gameplay spaces and visual appeal. Beyond walls, doors, and furniture, GMs use the game editor to place character spawn locations, NPC travel paths, trigger regions, interactable objects, and scene lighting.
Non-Player Character AI
When you place an NPC into the world, you select which character template you want to start from and then have the ability to customize everything about it – from its attributes and skills to its weapons, spells, equipment, and outfit. One of the key choices in this process is your selection of the character’s’ AI profile, which determines how the NPC will behave in combat. The AI system inspects an NPC’s attributes, skills, and equipment and uses them in conjunction with the chosen AI profile to decide which action to take. It brings a smile to my face everytime I see an NPC Mage throw a fireball at my characters because I had them bunched too close, making them a tempting target.
The true power of our game editor is its event driven trigger system. A trigger is an action that only happens if all its conditions are met – in other words, classic IF/THEN logic. In many game editors, this kind of logic is created with a scripting language but I wanted to avoid that because many of us storytellers are not programmers (and don’t want to become one). So our logic is created by using context-sensitive dropdown menus that auto-populate with the characters, regions and objects the GM adds to the scene. After adding them to the scene, they can be referred to in the conditions and actions of the triggers. You still have to carefully think through the logic of what you want to happen and it requires iteration to get things to work exactly how you imagine. But at least you never have to worry about syntax errors!
Through triggers, GM can cause almost anything to happen in a scene. GMs can choreograph the movement of NPCs, change their AI behaviors, change the environment, and branch the gameplay based upon the player’s actions.
Character conversations are your primary way to express the depth of your story, so it was important to get it right for GMs to author and for players to consume. We started with a keyword-based system derived from the SNES game but after mocking this up and playing with it I found that clicking on a single word made me feel like I was not participating in the conversation. I felt more like I was performing an inquisition. One word at a time. It was like, “Sim-chip! Talk!”
Shadowrun has a “voice” to it, a staccato rhythm of conversation inspired by writers like Raymond Chandler and William Gibson, and that just didn’t come across by clicking a word. So we pivoted to a more traditional branching conversation tree in which players select from sentences that capture not just the facts but also the flavor of the conversation. One of the cool things this approach also allowed us to do was to integrate our triggers into conversations. That means the branches of a conversation can open or close based upon character attributes, skills, what the player did in a recent combat, what they did in a previous scene – almost anything really. Similarly, conversation choices can fire triggers that have enormous impact on the plot and gameplay.
Lastly, conversations are not just for characters. GMs can use the conversation system to make lots of things interactive. For instance, entering pass codes for doors or computers, buying a pack of cigarettes from a vending machine, or searching through objects on a desk can all be done with the conversation engine and a little imagination.
* * *
With our game editor in place, the creation of our Seattle campaign is underway. We’re all psyched about the story we’re telling and, like most perfectionists, we’ll always want more time to tweak and polish it. But for me, the stories we tell aren’t what’s most important.
The real value of Shadowrun Returns is in the stories you’ll be able to tell. As a collective you’ll be able to apply a vast amount of creativity, ingenuity, development time, and community collaboration to your Shadowrun stories, and I’m sure you’ll come up with things in your stories and gameplay that we didn’t even dream possible. And I, for one, can’t wait to play it!
In closing, let me take a moment to be a proud poppa and say a heartfelt, huge thank you to the team at Harebrained Schemes who embarked on this journey with me and for their incredibly hard work, commitment to quality, and awesome egoless collaboration. You make long the work days a pleasure!
Keep tuned as we have some real exciting stuff coming in the next couple of weeks. . .
All the best,
PS: Our third secret weapon is . . . YOU! AGAIN!
As I’ve said before, we put every dollar you gave us, and many more of our own, into creating Shadowrun Returns which means that we don’t have a marketing budget to reach what we hope are a lot more people who might like the game. So we are really counting on you to help spread the word when we get closer to launch – more on that later.
Shadowrun Returns Anthology Reward For Kickstarter
Backers In Development
The Shadowrun Returns story has already been ‘kickstarted’ with development of the game and now with the creation of a fiction anthology based in Shadowrun’s cyberpunk reality. Already one of the most anticipated games for 2013, according to several top gaming websites, Shadowrun Returns is a graphically rich, single-player, turn-based tactical RPG that will release for PC, Mac and Apple and Android tablets. Shadowrun’s dynamic gaming world is beloved by fans around the world who clamored for its return by participating in a massively successful Kickstarter project that surpassed its goal by raising 5 times its initial funding request.
Harebrained Schemes, led by Shadowrun originator Jordan Weisman, has teamed up with Catalyst Game Labs to create one of their most eagerly anticipated Kickstarter rewards, the Shadowrun Returns Anthology of all-new short stories that tie into the game’s world.
“Fiction has always played a seminal part in developing and expanding the Shadowrun universe,” said Weisman, CEO and Creative Director of Harebrained Schemes, “From short fiction in sourcebooks to full-length novels to epub novellas; nothing works as well to immerse a player into the Sixth World.”
As part of Shadowrun Return’s Kickstarter project, Harebrained Schemes promised a fiction anthology to several tiers of backers. Catalyst Game Labs is managing the creation of the full-color, hardcover 8.5” x 11” deluxe anthology. They will work directly with Jordan for Shadowrun Returns ideas, work with the authors to craft their stories, create the layout and oversee the publication.
“We’re exceedingly pleased that Harebrained Schemes chose us to help make this project a reality,” said Randall N. Bills, Managing Developer for Catalyst Game Labs. “Whenever Jordan calls out, you know it’s going to be a brilliant project. Working closely with him and the rest of the Harebrained Schemes crew to publish such a great tome of original Shadowrun fiction will result in a product that’s going to be fantastic from start to finish.”
Some of the extremely talented authors filling this volume’s pages include Jordan Weisman, Michael Stackpole, Tom Dowd, Loren L. Coleman, Jason Hardy, Jennifer Brozek, and Russell Zimmerman. Managing Editor John Helfers, who brings a wealth of both anthology and publishing experience to this project, is working closely with Jordan to ensure his vision of this anthology remains true to both Shadowrun and Shadowrun Returns.
Catalyst Game Labs
Catalyst Game Labs is dedicated to producing high-quality games and fiction that mesh sophisticated game mechanics with dynamic universes, all presented in a form that allows beginning players and long-time veterans to easily jump into our games, while helping fiction readers enjoy our stories even if they don’t know the games.
Catalyst Game Labs is an imprint of InMediaRes Productions, LLC, which specializes in electronic publishing of professional fiction. This allows Catalyst to participate in a synergy that melds printed gaming material and fiction with all the benefits of electronic interfaces and online communities, creating a whole-package experience for any type of player or reader. Find Catalyst Game Labs online at www.catalystgamelabs.com.
Harebrained Schemes is a small group of wildly talented people, crammed into a closet, making whatever cool thing inspires them next. The Harebrained team is a combination of seasoned veterans and fresh talent, and is led by serial entrepreneur Jordan Weisman—founder of FASA, Virtual World Entertainment, FASA Interactive, Wizkids, 42 Entertainment, Smith & Tinker, and creator of BattleTech / MechWarrior, Shadowrun, and Crimson Skies. Their first title, Crimson: Steam Pirates, was one of Apple’s Benchmark Games of 2011 and one of Metacritic.com’s Best iPhone Games of 2011. Their next title, Strikefleet Omega, was named one of Google Play’s Best Games of 2012. In April 2012, Harebrained Schemes made headlines when it launched one of the first 7 figure Kickstarter campaigns to fund Shadowrun Returns, which now appears on five “Most Anticipated Games of 2013” lists.
As you may know, Game Informer magazine did a big article about us in their February issue. For those of you who didn’t see it, here’s the art from the article. Please note that these images are not in-game screenshots. They’re concept pieces assembled from real game assets and posed characters. Hope you like them!
Edit: Added a couple shots of the SRR Editor in action.
Hi everyone, Mitch again.
Hope your holidays were great. A lot has happened since the last time we talked! Sit back, crack a SoyCaf, and let’s get started. There’s a lot to cover. . .
Let’s start with a progress report!
On the code-side, over 30 character skills and abilities are in the game and working. That’s stuff like etiquette, snapshot, and conjuring. On top of that, decking, rigging, spirit summoning, and spellcasting are in too! This list represents a huge push from our engineering team to get the first draft of these features in before the end of the year and they delivered. Now, before you get too excited, all these systems are using “programmer art” so they’re. . . not pretty. But they prove the systems, can be tested, bug-fixed, and iterated upon before we spend the time prettifying them. It’s starting to feel like a game. It’s got bugs and there’s a lot to do but it’s starting to feel like Shadowrun.
But wait, there’s more. NPCs are talking! Our base conversation system is in and working. We’ve got branching dialog in the game that performs checks to determine what dialog options to give you – we plan to note the skill/attribute/race, etc. that allowed that option to appear. We (and you) can do all sorts of cool things with our conversation system combined with our trigger system. Things like attaching a conversation to a window prop so it feels like you’re overhearing people on the other side of the window or having a conversation that convinces someone to turn off the fog of war in an area and escort you to the mainframe.
One big task that can’t be underestimated in all of this was creating test environments for each of the above features to ensure they work according to our spec and continue to work while we bugfix and iterate on them. That took our designers a good chunk of time but it’s worth it because now we can have interns regularly run tests independently. It also gave everyone plenty of practice with the editor.
Our next undertaking is a major overhaul of the user interface. As you may remember from Thanksgiving, we were living with interface version 2.0 to see how we liked it. We wanted to give it time so everyone could play with it for awhile and enter their comments and suggestions on a master list so we could review it in its entirety. Mike, our Art Director, wrapped his brain around all the feedback and came up with a holistic plan to address everyone’s issues. After reviewing it with the team and making a few revisions and additions, implementation began this week. Everyone’s very excited about interface version 3.0 and can’t wait play it.
Last on the production-side, our Audio Director has been collaborating with our composers to make sure we get the right sound for the game. Marshall and Gavin are working on Seattle while Sam tackles Berlin. I think Sam has the tougher job because he’s working without concept art but he and Alistair (our Audio Director) think they’re on the right track. I love hearing the work-in-progress music because they throw in little bits of their SNES and SEGA tunes here and there.
So far, we’re tracking to our May/June timeframe but my palms are a little sweaty. This next bit will give you an idea why.
Here’s what’s up with the Backer Rewards and survey
Here’s the deal: Kickstarter’s Backer Survey feature only allows us to do ONE survey ever. If we get something wrong, we can’t do another. In addition, that survey would only cover Kickstarter Backers and we’d have to do a separate system for PayPal Backers. As an added complication, if someone wants to change their mailing address or something, we’d have to do it by hand which is error-prone. On top of that, the KS survey tool won’t allow you to upload your photo for the Doc Wagon cards or NPC & PC character art.
We saw a few Kickstarter game projects set up databases so their Backers could log in and personally maintain their data and we thought it would be perfect for us too. In fact, Brian Fargo from inXile was cool enough to send us his Wasteland II database code to save us time. But we also wanted to hook up the database to the game so it would automatically know who should get in-game rewards like the special ability and Doc Wagon.
Unfortunately, we were trying to work with an external partner for this so it wouldn’t distract the core team quite so much, but it wound up not working out to the quality level we were happy with, so we’re going to take a step back and make sure we can deliver something we (and you) will be happy with.
In the meantime, we’re starting some of the reward fulfillment process by hand. Backers at the $1000 level should have already received emails asking them to send us their photos so we can translate them into NPCs for the game. And Backers at the $2500 level and above will receive an email shortly asking for a photo so we can create their custom PC as well.
IMPORTANT: The deadline for getting your photos back to us is February 28th. If we don’t get your photo via email by then, we won’t be able to get your NPC or PC into the game. So watch out for that mail from us and contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you don’t get the mail by Monday.
We deeply appreciate our Backers’ patience about the rewards. Believe me, we haven’t forgotten about you! Far from it. We’re just trying to be smart and focus on delivering the best game we can.
Check out the coverage Shadowrun Returns is getting!
In addition to a bunch of great new features, something else exciting happened at the end of the year. Shadowrun Returns appeared on three “Most Anticipated Games of 2013” lists: Shacknews.com, Gametrailers.com, and PocketTactics.com.
Most. Anticipated. Pressure? What pressure?
There was also a nice interview with me on a Russian site called Game Star. Check it out here.
As we told you in December, GAME INFORMER did a big article on Shadowrun Returns for their February print and digital magazines along with an article called The Archetypes of Shadowrun Returns. The magazine article is really cool – good writing, great layout, 6 pages of coverage!
To get great coverage like this (over 6m people will see it!), game developers are often required to guarantee “exclusive content” for a period of time. That exclusive content, in this case, includes a couple of new images created out of in-game assets (like the Stuffer Shack scene released last year), a shot of our version of Jake Armitage from the SNES game, and a shot of our editor. Due to the exclusivity, we can’t include those in this post but will include them in Mike’s next dev diary where he’ll talk about how the environments are created.
In order to expand the audience beyond our original ~40k Backers, we still need to engage the gaming community at large in order to reach a wider audience. Even if we sometimes have to make special arrangements like this one, our default is to try and share the information with you first – you are our Backers, after all. We hope you understand.
Without further delay, here’s a rundown of the new information the article mentions:
- The mag talks a little bit about the story of the game, “A woman named Jessica Watts approaches your newly created protagonist for help. Her brother Sam, your old friend, has been murdered. You’re the only one she can trust and she begs you to come to Seattle to figure out what happened. We thought the only appropriate place to start a Shadowrun videogame was the morgue, so the first scene is there”, explains Weisman. “Your dead friend Sam is there, and like any film noir tale, the first character you meet is the Lone Star detective, Mitch Macklusky, who is immediately antagonistic. From there you find out that there’s been a series of murders; these people have all been found with organs cut out. You’re charged with solving Sam’s murder, but as you did into that, more and more unravels, and the mystery expands from the lowest echelons of society, like the biker gangs, all the way up to the dynastic control of one of the largest megacorporations.”
- While creating your character, you’ll answer a short set of questions that help determine your character’s background. (This isn’t implemented yet, so like all of our ideas, we’ll see how it comes out in the wash.)
- In combat, we simulate stun damage by reducing your Action Points. So a punch may do 5 Hit Points and 10 Action Points of damage, reducing your ability to respond to the best of your ability.
- Berlin is going to be released as downloadable content after the game launches and will be free to Backers.
- We also hope to release downloadable environment packs, like the Ork Underground, regularly so Player-GMs have more places to create their own stories.
Pre-orders of Shadowrun Returns are now available!
We’ve opened up pre-orders for Shadowrun Returns on our website. Tell all your friends! We took careful pains to ensure that our Backers’ Rewards remained special and exclusive. So while the highest pre-order gets the USB Dog Tags, it won’t come with the Collector’s Edition Boxed set and other goodies that come at that level.
We need Runners!
As Jordan said during his Fireside Chat, we haven’t reserved any of our funding for marketing expenses and it’s important to get the word out about the game to get more people “into the tent”. The more people we pull in, the more vibrant the community, the more fan-created stories we get to play, and the more support and content HBS can afford to deliver after launch.
So we need your help by sharing the love. Please get the word out about the Game Informer article to attract new people. When you see an article about the game somewhere, don’t just Like it. Share it, retweet it, and start a conversation about it.
- Are you a Facebook person? I am. (Maybe a little too much.) We post articles, news, and tidbits on https://www.facebook.com/HarebrainedSchemes all the time. Check it out.
- I still don’t really get the Twitter thing (old) but we tweet pretty often and retweet Shadowlands stuff too. Connect with us @webeharebrained
- Do you go to www.shadowrun.com? It’s a great place to post suggestions, start over-the-top flashmob plans, debate features and ask questions. I post there all the time, so come say hi!
- And don’t be afraid to send ideas and suggestions for spreading the word! All of us are more creative than just some of us. The address is email@example.com.
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed underground operatives can make Shadowrun Return; indeed, it’s the only thing that will.” –Lofwyr
Want to meet Jordan and me, ask questions in person, and maybe see some new stuff? We’re planning to be at two shows coming up and we’d love to meet you.
- The first is Emerald City Comic Con – it’s our hometown, after all. The show is March 1 – 3 and I’m looking forward to geeking out there.
- Next is South By Southwest in Austin, TX. SXSW is March 8 – 17 and sounds really cool this year. Lots of indie game developers and Kickstarter projects.
Just wanted to get those on your radar. We’ll provide more details as we get closer.
Thanks for the support, the feedback, and the questions.
We appreciate it,