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How ’bout another peek behind the curtain?

Hey there!

Wow, we’re narrowing in on $800,000 in funding for Shadowrun: Hong Kong!

That is incredible. We would love to create that Mini-Campaign for you if we’re lucky enough to hit $1,000,000. Thanks for all your help in getting the word out. And thanks for being so welcoming to our new Backers! This community is full of really great people.

For today’s peek behind the curtain our Audio Director & Composer, Jon Everist, will talk a bit about his process and hopes for the game. For those of you who don’t know, Jon also did the sound and music for our other Kickstarted game, Golem Arcana.

Have a great week!

–HBS

Jon and his woofers

Jon and his woofers

Greetings Shadowrunners! I’m happy to be serving as your noble Audio Director, Composer, and Sound Designer for the upcoming full-length campaign set in Hong Kong! It’s been a dream come true, literally–Shadowrun for SNES was my favorite game as kid.

Harebrained Schemes is a collective of some of the most wildly talented people I’ve ever met. I’d also like to take this opportunity to thank everyone for showing your support for my previous contributions to the Dragonfall OST, its been fantastic. My only hope is that I can support the insanely good writing and art with an audio soundscape that will suck you in and keep you running in the shadows.

Hong Kong, wow, what a location! Like many cities in the Shadowrun Universe, it’s a place of extreme contrasts. There’s the mega rich encroaching and crushing the poor, neon corporate buildings a mile high next to 3000 year old temples. There’s magic, there’s tradition, Yin and Yang, Qi, and nightmarish and otherworldly forces. I love that Shadowrun is a mashup of old and new, the timeless and the futuristic, the spiritual and the physical.

My approach to the music for Shadowrun: Hong Kong will mirror this dichotomy. There will be organic, acoustic instrumentation with classic, Chinese elements set against dread-future deep synths and driving electronic rhythms and soundscapes – imagine the expressiveness of a live cello set against the crackling of a gritty sawtooth bass and space in the soundtrack to tune your ears to the environment.

I’ve been involved in the Hong Kong campaign since day one so I’m working hard everyday to weave a cohesive, compelling, and immersive audio narrative into our story arc. My goal is to make the audio a unique character while supporting the story. I’m going to continue showcasing individual characters (like in Glory’s Theme) by creating unique motifs for them and situations they find themselves in. We have some exciting new tech we’re hoping to implement which will also allow us to incorporate adaptive music and sound design that reacts to in-game situations and how you choose to play.

For fans of the music of Shadowrun, expect a whole lot more of what you love. I’d love to hear from you so feel free to drop me a line on twitter @JonEverist or at my website at www.JonEverist.com

– Jon

Interview video! New concept art! And Mitch’s peek behind the curtain…

Hey Everyone!

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.

Concept

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.

–HBS

Mitch, at the beginning of production

Mitch, at the beginning of production

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.

Concept

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.

Prototype

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.

Preproduction

“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.

Production

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.

Post-Production

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.

Our Fearless Leader near the end of production

Our Fearless Leader near the end of production

Release

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!

Mitch

The Matrix Unlocked

Huzzah!

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.

Stay tuned!