We’ve been heads-down on Shadowrun Returns for three-ish months now and it’s time to share some images that show you what we’re shooting for from a visual point-of-view. If you’ve seen the recent Kotaku article, you’ve gotten a taste of what we’ve been doing lately, but we thought we’d flesh it out a bit for you.
Just to remind everyone what we’re up to, Shadowrun Returns is a story-based tactical role-playing game for desktop computers and tablets that was excessively (and wonderfully) funded by fans on Kickstarter.
Our goal is to create a game that reflects the original tabletop RPG’s narrative and tactical detail, and acts as the spiritual successor to the groundbreaking Sega Genesis and Super Nintendo Shadowrun games from way back in the 90’s.
When we started our Kickstarter campaign, we had a much more modest game in mind. But as the funding grew by a factor of five, our aspirations (and our Backers’ expectations) grew by an even larger multiple. We’re working very hard to meet (and maybe even exceed) those higher expectations.
One of the game’s largest growth factors was the change from a top-down to an isometric point of view, which is much more dynamic but also much more expensive to create. We explored several different methods to bring the rich details of the Shadowrun world to life in an isometric POV and settled on a hybrid approach that merges 2D environments and 3D characters.
The 2D background allows us to deliver a level of detail, depth, and expressiveness that we think will capture the tone we’re working toward, while the characters’ 3D structure allows for fluid movement, and a wide range of character design and equipment options. Based on the number of tests we’ve done, we think the 2D/3D mix is really working well.
Shadowrun is all about the characters, so let’s talk about them first.
Shadowrun Returns features turn-based tactical action. During action sequences like data heists or infiltration missions, you control a team of shadowrunners, pitting them against antagonists ranging from powerful individuals to a small army.
Therefore, your point-of-view needs to be far enough to give you a commanding view of the “battlefield”. If you’re able to see that many characters at once, our models need to be low-poly enough to render lots at the same time while also rendering a rich environment on a variety of devices. These choices resulted in character models of roughly 2,000 polys each.
We’ve already released some character design concept art but this is the first time we’re showing real-live-game-res models of player characters available in the game.
This “glory shot” image uses our in-game models, but we’ve added in some effects (lighting, a little painting in the background, etc.) to sex it up a bit. The gear and the outfits they’re wearing are among the many options we plan to have available for your player characters in the game.
In Shadowrun Returns, you’ll be able to create characters of both sexes for any of the meta-human races (Human, Dwarf, Elf, Ork, and Troll) in a variety of skin colors. From the core of these 10 models, you can select gear appropriate for your character’s skill concentration (Street Samurai, Decker, Mage, Shaman, Rigger, or Physical Adapt). You’ll also be able to choose apparel that’s appropriate for the location of your mission (or just to look cool).
The result is an enormous variety of character customization combinations which will keep growing even after the game launches.
Today we’re showing just a couple of these character combinations via individual character sheets which display (from left to right) the concept art for the character, the in-game model without enhancement, and a glory shot of the in-game model with a little sexing up. Over the next several of months we’ll release more of these character sheets as the models are finished.
So where do these characters live, work, and die? Glad you asked. The next couple of images represent our visual target for the exterior environments in Shadowrun Returns.
All these scenes where built with actual game assets, but they were assembled in Photoshop rather than the game engine (which is still in development). The art team added a couple of bells and whistles which we hope make it into the game (like the localized lighting effects) but overall this is the look that we are shooting for on desktop computers and tablets.
The Stuffer Shack scene is composed with the actual in-game character models so you can get a sense of how the 2D environments and 3D characters merge. The art team took a little liberty with the posing of the characters (which might not be quite as dynamic given that it’s a turn based game) but we think it’s within the realm of their creative license. The scene roughly depicts our camera zoom level on tablet. When playing on a desktop machine, you’ll be able to set your window to show a larger scene. (Time to invoke a classic game development caveat: this zoom level, like most elements of our design, is subject to change.)
The Redmond Barrens scene illustrates a simulated nighttime environment. The game won’t feature a dynamic day and night cycle but we plan to depict areas in daytime and nighttime as appropriate for the story and missions—giving you the opportunity to lurk in the shadows and to brazenly walk about, as you see fit.
The final environment image shows a partial “exploded” view of the Redmond Barrens scene to illustrate how it was assembled via our tiles. Remember, we’re releasing the level editor for Shadowrun Returns so you can create your own interior and exterior environments and your own missions/stories to share with your friends or the entire Shadowrun Returns community.
We want to give you the tools to be a Shadowrun Game Master and to create the cool environments, the sophisticated NPC logic, and the engaging dialog interactions you need to bring your stories to life (without having to write code or learn a scripting language). It’s something we love about tabletop gaming and something we’re dedicated to delivering.
Thanks for tuning in and checking on our progress. We’re having a blast working our asses off on the game and thank you all sincerely for the opportunity.