For those new to the project, I’m the Game Director on Shadowrun: Hong Kong. I did a bunch of writing and plotting on Dragonfall and before that, I produced and did the bulk of the writing on Shadowrun Returns. I’m also the co-founder and Studio Manager of Harebrained Schemes.
Mitch, already looking a bit care-worn
Awhile back, I gave you a “peek behind the curtain” of the stages a game goes through from Concept to Release. Today, I thought it would be cool to give you a quick look at what’s going on in each area of the project so you can see where we are in the process.
As I mentioned previously, the transition from Pre-Production to Production is always tricky. Before the Kickstarter, we were in hardcore planning mode – writing design docs, prototyping new tech and magic, creating lists of stuff to make, that kind of thing. Now, a couple of folks are still in planning mode, but most of the team has started cranking on the game. I imagine there are producers out there who prefer things “neater”, but in my experience, doing the right thing is more important than doing things right. You don’t ship a great process. You ship a great game.
Here’s a quick look at each discipline and what they’re up to:
The designers are already at work creating scenes and runs in the game. Kevin’s been working hard on the hub, while Trevor’s busting out the first few scenes of the game. Tyler’s already completed a first draft of a side run and is starting work on his second, and Connor’s drinking from the firehose – he just started on the project and is busting hump to come up to speed quickly.
Andrew is hard at work on the second draft of his detailed story outline document based on the “GM Notes” document we collaborated on earlier. Think of the GM notes as the “What’s Really Going On” section of a Shadowrun tabletop adventure that allowed the art and design teams to get started. Andrew’s story outline meticulously lays out the information flow necessary to progress through our plot so that we can find holes or inconsistencies early when things are still easy to change. When Andrew needs to step away from that work for a “palette cleanser,” he and Kevin collaborate on a description of the characters & situations in the hub.
The artists represent the largest discipline on the project. Cassidy and Spencer are in production mode, busting out environments for the locations called for in Andrew’s story outline, while Tristin puts in serious time on a Matrix look & feel piece. Maury is working on Gobbet and the rest of the crew members’ in-game character art while Eleanor builds new Hong Kong police and Triad members. Our technical artist, Will, has been working on new visual effects for all the stuff we’re adding and importing our new characters into the game. In fact, Gobbet and Wu have already made their way in. And our Art Director, Chris Rogers, is everywhere – leading art reviews with me, defining the amount of art we’re able to create, planning interface changes, working on outsourcing plans, sketching characters, and producing art for the Kickstarter.
Jon is working on his overall approach to the music in Shadowrun: Hong Kong, collaborating with Klimecky and Kevin who both have music backgrounds. Jon’s delivering his first draft today and I look forward to reviewing their work soon!
Garret’s already finished his first draft of the “toggle turn-mode” functionality that allows you to drop into turn-mode before entering a suspicious area. He’s turned it over to Jeff for testing before it goes to the design team for review. He’s now hard at work on new Matrix features. We’ve got to get those done immediately so the designers have time to play with and iterate on them before they start implementing them in their missions. Meanwhile, Brenton’s hard at work on new editor features that should make writing dialogue – our critical path process – faster and easier. And everyone’s consulting with AJ and Sheridan on AI and interface revisions.
And then there’s production, led by Klimecky (there are a million guys named Chris in the studio, so the two on Shadowrun usually go by “Rogers” and “Klimecky”). Klimecky’s managing the scope of the game – figuring out how much of everything we need to make, how long it will take, how the processes will work, etc. It’s Klimecky who forces me to make the hard decisions – choosing between features, which characters are higher priority than others… that sort of thing. Although this sounds like a drag, it actually a very positive thing for everyone. We’re all focused on quality over quantity and don’t want to bite off anything we’re not sure we can deliver at our standards. By making these decisions early, we get to move forward confident that we can deliver what we promise.
So far, so good
That isn’t to say that the development of SR: HK is going to be smooth as silk. To paraphrase Field Marshal von Moltke (the Elder), “No plan survives first contact with the enemy.” We’ll find plenty of problems we didn’t anticipate and we’ll need to improvise and adapt to overcome them. That’s part of the fun. And we also know that inspiration will hit us and we’ll want to add or change something down the road that we didn’t plan for. We’ve tried to leave time for that too, but as is often the case, if we want it bad enough, we may need to push ourselves to get it in. Maybe one day I’ll tell you about the major change to Dragonfall’s plot that happened just two weeks before we shipped…
Oh, before I go, I thought you’d like to see our first draft of what Wu and Gobbet will look like in the game.
First draft of how our in-game models will look