Shadowrun Returns Blog

Shadowrun: Dragonfall – Director’s Cut // Dev Diary #2: New Music!

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This is the second of four Dev Diaries in which we discuss the new additions and improvements in Shadowrun: Dragonfall – Director’s Cut, a standalone release of our critically-acclaimed Dragonfall campaign which first premiered as a major expansion for Shadowrun Returns. (Note: Backers and existing Dragonfall owners will receive the Director’s Cut for free!) Stay tuned each Thursday for another Dev Diary, leading up to the game’s release on September 18, 2014. 

Trailer // FAQ // Dev Diary #1: New Missions & Content

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Hi, I’m Jon Everist, Composer for Shadowrun: Dragonfall – Director’s Cut. Today, I’m going to talk a bit about the music of Shadowrun, and what to expect in the upcoming Director’s Cut. I’ll also give you a sneak preview into a few of these new tracks.

First off, let me say that the SNES Shadowrun was incredibly influential to me as a kid, so needless to say, I was thrilled when I was asked to work on this project. My first contribution to the Shadowrun world came from the launch trailer music I wrote for Shadowrun Returns. By the time I had joined, Marshall Parker and Sam Powell (who scored the original SNES game), had already filled the world with some amazing music that really set the tone for the score. For Dragonfall, I was first asked to do the trailer music and to write a few pieces that were scene specific, namely the final battle music “Dragonfall” and the Kreuzbasar music “The Haven,” with ten more pieces being added to the Director’s Cut. The team provided an advanced copy of the game and I was blown away by the writing and care that went into it. I hadn’t felt this invested in a group of characters in ages. It’s one of those rare games that quiets the world around you and takes control of your soul for a while.

I have a classical background and enjoy scoring full orchestral music, but I also have a deep love and history with electronic music and have been in electronic bands as a producer since I was a kid. I was thrilled to have the opportunity to work within such a rich and diverse fiction. It’s one of those worlds where, as a composer, you start salivating at the possibilities and creative freedom you have. At one moment I could be writing for a 60 piece orchestra and the next moment I’m recording gypsy guitar with some grimey synth pulsating in the background over a distorted breakbeat. It really is a dream come true creatively. Cyberpunk, to me, is this dystopian absence of musical rules, like some near future when all genres of music have kind of coalesced into some savage construct that defies logic, and is totally rad.

So, as I said earlier, I’ve composed 10 more pieces of music for this Director’s Cut that I’m really excited about and I can’t wait for you all to hear. A big part of this new expanded score is the music for the companion missions, which will give players the chance to play character specific missions with some heavy story content. As I mentioned before, I really enjoyed getting to know each character in the game, so writing for them was a huge pleasure. My approach for each piece was to respect the game world and existing score while trying to introduce my own take on these characters’ complex lives and backgrounds. One of my all time favorite scores is the one Vangelis did for Blade Runner, which captured the smokey neo-noir dystopian future perfectly. I really wanted to mix live instruments and synthetic ones, which I think mirrors a lot of the story and universe of Shadowrun as a whole. Here we have complex characters (many of which are a synthesis of tech and organics) who are feeling real emotions and classic dilemmas against an extreme, synthetic and supernatural backdrop.

Glory, to me, is one of the most memorable RPG characters I had ever come across in a game. Her piece includes several motifs which represent her as a character. The clarinet has a falling melody that comes in every so often, representing her childhood memories. The piano strides on rather emotionless, almost keeping the clarinet from falling too far or Glory from feeling too much. But, there’s a moment in this track where tension starts to build and the clarinet falls and is repeated by the ‘cello, which allows the piano to open up and moves the piece into what I called Glory’s ‘feeling’ motif, where she finally allows herself to experience her emotions or open up to those people who care about her. Her combat track represents her taking control of her pain and channeling it into power and rage, using her past not to define her future but to power her rebellion against it. The instruments that once represented her pain now imbue her with unbelievable power.

The next track we are showing off is for Blitz’s mission. Not to spoil too much about the story, but lets just say that I was thinking a lot about espionage and sneaky tactics while I wrote it. It’s definitely a lighter track than Glory’s, but I think it fits Blitz well. One of my biggest inspirations for this piece came from what Amon Tobin did for Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory. There’s a lot of syncopated live drums mixed with synths I created and a lot of found-sound glitches going on here. Blitz’s legwork track is really setup to build anticipation, it has a slick synth that pulses and drives the piece forward, while guitar and strings accent the ‘sneaky’ vibe. When you get caught or get yourself into a battle, the next section is setup to answer that anticipation with high energy. Frenetic drums and throbbing bass lines with plucked strings and heavily digitized electric guitar help keep the track moving while you struggle to survive.

So there’s my sneak peek into writing music for Shadowrun: Dragonfall and the Director’s Cut. I’m so honored to be able to write music for such a compelling franchise, it really is a dream come true. I hope you all enjoy it and get your hands on the Original Soundtrack as well! Follow me on twitter @JonEverist and ask me anything, or visit me at everistsound.com, I’d love to hear from you!

Check back next Thursday for a look at the new & improved combat systems in the Director’s Cut with Design Lead Trevor King-Yost.

Shadowrun: Dragonfall – Director’s Cut // Official Trailer + Feature List + PAX Details

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Hi guys! Mike here again. I’m excited to share with you our official trailer for Shadowrun: Dragonfall – Director’s Cut*. Check it out!

In addition to the new trailer, we’ve also released a full feature list for the game on our brand new “coming soon” page in the Steam store. If you have friends that haven’t experienced Dragonfall – or even Shadowrun – before, give them a heads up!

*If this is your first time hearing about the Director’s Cut, here’s the scoop: It’s a standalone release of our critically-acclaimed Dragonfall campaign that includes a bunch of new content and improvements we’ve made to the game. It’s $14.99, releases September 18th for Windows/Mac/Linux, will be available on Steam, GoG and the Humble Store, and is FREE to all existing owners of Dragonfall (including Backers.) And it’s coming to iOS/Android tablets in ~October. More information and FAQ here.

Shadowrun: Dragonfall – Director’s Cut at PAX Prime

And one more thing: Dragonfall will be at PAX Prime in Seattle this weekend! Harebrained Schemes will be on the 2nd floor of the Convention Center, Room 209. We’re sharing the space with Green Ronin Games, and we’ll have both Shadowrun: Dragonfall – Director’s Cut and Golem Arcana available to play. Myself and other members of the dev team will be there Friday through Sunday – come by to check out the games or just to say hi!

I hope you enjoyed last week’s dev diary with Andrew about all the new missions and content we’ve added to the Director’s Cut. Check back this Thursday to hear more about the new music with composer Jon Everist – who may even give you a sneak peek at one or two of the new tracks.

Until next time,

- Mike McCain, Game Director

P.S: Here are some new wallpaper images we’ve put together based on the new trailer for your desktop enjoyment!

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Shadowrun: Dragonfall – Director’s Cut Dev Diary #1: New Missions & Content

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This is the first of four Dev Diaries in which we discuss the new additions and improvements in Shadowrun: Dragonfall – Director’s Cut, a standalone release of our critically-acclaimed Dragonfall campaign which first premiered as a major expansion for Shadowrun Returns. Stay tuned each Thursday for another Dev Diary, leading up to the game’s release on September 18, 2014.

Hi, I’m Andrew McIntosh, Lead Writer on Shadowrun: Dragonfall and the upcoming Shadowrun: Dragonfall – Director’s Cut. As a long-time Shadowrun fan (I started playing with 2E, way back in 1992), working with Jordan and the team on Dragonfall was an incredible experience. Now, with the Dragonfall Director’s Cut, we’re thrilled to bring you even more of the magic-meets-cyberpunk storytelling that we delivered in Shadowrun: Dragonfall.

Today, I’d like to tell you about some of the brand new content we’ve added to the Director’s Cut. Don’t worry, I’ll keep this post spoiler-free; it’s safe to read on, even if you haven’t played through Shadowrun: Dragonfall yet.

Companion Story Missions - From the very beginning of our work on Dragonfall, we wanted to include missions that would tie directly into the back stories of the game’s major companion NPCs – Glory, Eiger, Dietrich, and Blitz. Unfortunately, during the development of the campaign, it became obvious that we weren’t going to have enough time to really do justice to the concept. Ultimately, we decided that if we couldn’t do these missions right, we shouldn’t do them at all.*

After Dragonfall was released, it became clear to us that our players wanted to experience these missions as much as we wanted to write and design them. This is why, when we decided to move forward with the Director’s Cut, companion story missions were at the top of our to-do list.

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In Shadowrun: Dragonfall – Director’s Cut, you will find three new full-length missions that tie directly into the personal stories of Glory, Eiger, and Blitz. These stories range from supernatural horror to techno-thriller to dark comedy, and each mission touches on a different aspect of the Shadowrun universe.

Your companion characters can also earn unique rewards for completing their story missions. Blitz, for example, can gain the ability to corrupt hostile IC in the Matrix, forcing it to fight with him rather than against him. There are two different rewards for each story mission, but you’ll only be able to obtain one of them on any given playthrough. These rewards are separate from those gained in the Crew Advancement system (see below).

*The only concession to this idea that made it into Dragonfall was Dietrich’s involvement in an early mission of the game. By the way, don’t worry – we’re adding a unique reward for him, too.

Crew Advancement - You wanted more control over how your companion NPCs progressed in Dragonfall, and in the Director’s Cut, we’re delivering! Because Eiger, Glory, Dietrich, and Blitz are their own people, we aren’t giving you complete control over their character sheets; Eiger will always be a deadly ranged combatant, and Dietrich will never decide to give up magic and embark on an exciting new career as a decker. Instead, we’re implementing a system that will allow you to choose one of two all-new, unique enhancements for each of your companion characters every time they advance in skill.

For example, on a skill-up you might choose to grant Eiger the ability to fire a Dragon’s Breath round from her shotgun, penetrating armor and setting opponents on fire. Or you could give her the ability to fire an Interdiction round from her sniper rifle: a discarding-sabot HTI shot that completely ignores armor. Under this system, you will have the flexibility to choose how you would like to specialize your characters within their existing roles.

We’re also giving you the ability to customize the weapon, spell, and consumable loadouts for your companion characters, but I’ll leave the details on that for a future Dev Diary.

Additional Missions - In addition to the Companion Story Missions detailed above, two other full-length missions have been added to the game.

In “Trial Run,” you will undertake a mission for the mysterious Lodge, one of the side factions in Shadowrun: Dragonfall. Over the course of the run, you’ll learn how the organization conducts its business… but the Lodge will learn even more about you.

In “Lockdown,” you’ll get the opportunity to delve into the checkered past of the Kreuzbasar’s resident cybersurgeon, Dr. Xabier Ezkibel. Successfully completing this mission will unlock a variety of bleeding-edge bioware upgrades in Ezkibel’s clinic. Ever taken serious damage while out of range of a healer? Those shiny new Platelet Factories are just what the Doctor ordered… assuming, of course, that you have a big enough wad of nuyen to afford them.

Additional Endings - Without delving into spoiler territory, I can say that we’ve always wanted to explore some “what if?” scenarios related to Shadowrun: Dragonfall’s ending. There are two additional endings in the Director’s Cut; these new endings have been designed to give players even more agency in deciding how the story should unfold.

More Character Development - Several side characters from Shadowrun: Dragonfall have had their roles significantly enhanced, from the enigmatic Absinthe to the anarchistic Lucky Strike.

More Lore - There’s even more great Shadowrun lore in the Director’s Cut, including more easter eggs for long-time fans of the pen-and-paper game.

And that’s not all! But I’ll save the rest for our upcoming Dev Diaries.

I know that I speak for all of us here at Harebrained Schemes when I say “thank you” to you, the fans; if it weren’t for your enthusiasm and support, we wouldn’t have been able to spend these past few months revisiting the Flux State. We’re all looking forward to bringing you this definitive version of Dragonfall next month, so get ready to revisit the Flux State – or to dive in for the first time!

Tune in this time next week for our second Dev Diary, in which Jon Everist will discuss his experiences writing the music for Shadowrun: Dragonfall and the Director’s Cut!

Shadowrun: Dragonfall – Director’s Cut Details + Screenshots from GenCon!

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Hello from GenCon! As promised a couple weeks ago, we’re ready to tell you more about Shadowrun: Dragonfall – Director’s Cut. In fact, Mitch and Jordan will be talking about the game at their Shadowrun “What’s Next” panel tomorrow at the Crowne Plaza. If you’re at GenCon, come check out the panel! You can also drop by Booth 2343 to chat more with members of the Harebrained team, play some Golem Arcana, or catch a sneak peek of the new Dragonfall trailer.

But if you’re not here at GenCon, don’t worry! We’ve got you covered. Here’s the scoop on the Director’s Cut:

Shadowrun: Dragonfall – Director’s Cut will be released for Windows, OSX & Linux as a standalone title on September 18th, 2014 for $14.99. It will be available on Steam, GoG, and the Humble Store. And – in case you missed our previous update: as a continued “thank you” for your support, the Director’s Cut will be FREE to all Backers and owners of the original Dragonfall release.

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To tell you more about what’s in the Director’s Cut, we’ll be posting a new developer diary each Thursday between now and launch, looking at a different aspect of what we’ve been working on.

  • Week 1 (8/21): Andrew McIntosh discusses the new missions and other kinds of content we’ve added to Dragonfall.
  • Week 2 (8/28): Jon Everist talks about his experience composing music for Dragonfall and expanding the game’s soundtrack for the Director’s Cut.
  • Week 3 (9/4): Trevor King-Yost explains the major improvements we’ve made to Dragonfall’s combat systems.
  • Week 4 (9/10): Mike McCain shows the new in-game interface and talks about how it makes combat more fun and intuitive.

In the meantime – here are a few teaser screenshots of the new stuff!

The new Director’s Cut UI in action. Those pips above the health bars? That’s the new armor system. Stay tuned to hear more about that.

The new Director’s Cut UI in action. Those pips above the health bars? That’s the new armor system. Stay tuned to hear more about that.

An example of some of the game’s new visual effects and improved death sequences.

An example of some of the game’s new visual effects and improved death sequences.

One of the new Director’s Cut missions. It looks kind of hot in there…

One of the new Director’s Cut missions. It looks kind of hot in there…

We’re really excited to share the Director’s Cut with all of you and to bring a whole new set of players into the world of Shadowrun. We believe that with all of the new content and improvements, and with your support, Dragonfall can be the definitive Shadowrun PC gaming experience.

Lastly: See below for answers to some common questions we’ve been asked about the Director’s Cut, and stay tuned for our first Dev Diary next week!

- Love, HBS

 

Shadowrun: Dragonfall – Director’s Cut FAQ

Why did you guys decide to make the Director’s Cut?

We posted a Kickstarter Update recently explaining our motivation behind the Director’s Cut. Check it out!

The Director’s Cut will be the same price as the DLC? Why aren’t you charging more for this?

We decided to leave it at the same price because an increase didn’t feel right. After the original release, we frequently heard comments like ‘I wish it was standalone’ and ‘the story left me yearning for more’. By creating the Director’s Cut, we wanted to do both (and more!) without making your wallet cry.

I own the DLC version of Dragonfall, do I have to buy the Director’s Cut to play the new content?

If you purchased the DLC version through a major digital retailer, you’ll receive the Director’s Cut for free! Kickstarter backers that claimed their DLC code will also be given the Director’s Cut! It will show up as a separate title in your Steam, Humble, or GOG libraries on launch day – look for “Shadowrun: Dragonfall – Director’s Cut”. If you have issues finding it in your library, contact the store for help.

Can I use my existing saves with the standalone version of Dragonfall? What about my characters?

Saves and characters created on the DLC version of Dragonfall won’t carry over to the Director’s Cut. Since we reworked and added so much to the Director’s Cut, loading a DLC save would cause parts of the game to not make sense – both functionally and narratively speaking.

Will the DLC and Director’s Cut use the same Editor and Steam Workshop?

Much like existing saves and characters, the new editor has some pretty significant changes. To make sure your content remains intact, the Director’s Cut will have a separate Editor and Steam Workshop. Missions made in the SRR editor, will be uploaded to the SRR Workshop. Likewise, missions made with the DC editor will be available in the DF:DC Workshop. We’re putting together instructions on how creators can “update” their existing UGC missions to work with the new editor and Steam Workshop, so keep an eye out for further information.

What will happen to the DLC version of Dragonfall?

Because they’re both same price, the DLC version will be removed from sale when the Director’s Cut is released. However, if you already own the DLC version, you’ll still be able to access it at any time through Shadowrun Returns. (We’re just removing it from sale, not from your existing library.)

Is the Director’s Cut coming to tablet?

A tablet version of the Director’s Cut is also in the works! We’re shooting for an October release on iOS and Android.

Is there any possibility of a Director’s Cut for Dead Man’s Switch?

Currently, we don’t have plans for a DMS Director’s Cut. However, we’ve released several updates to DMS over the course of the last year, including a major update with the new save game functionality when Dragonfall first launched. A few weeks ago, we pushed another DMS patch which includes some balance changes to key parts of the game. While it’s not a Director’s Cut, we hope those changes will provide a better experience for everyone.

Does HBS have plans to create another standalone campaign?

We would love to – but we don’t have any firm plans for one yet. To be honest, we’ve been heads down on the Director’s Cut and are still exploring what to work on next. But rest assured, if we start on a new Shadowrun title, you guys will be the first to know!

A Special One-Year Anniversary Update!

Studio founders Jordan Weisman and Mitch Gitelman celebrate the one-year anniversary of the launch of Shadowrun Returns and talk about what’s next.

Save Your Game Anywhere Feature! Steam sale! Editor Contest Winners!

Steam Sale this Weekend!

Both Shadowrun Returns and Shadowrun: Dragonfall are on sale NOW  through Sunday,May 4 on Steam. At $4.99 for Shadowrun Returns and $9.99 for Shadowrun: Dragonfall, you’re getting both games for the price of one!

If you have friends who haven’t had a chance to play Shadowrun Returns or Shadowrun: Dragonfall, be sure to tell them that it’s on sale on Steam this weekend!

 

Save Anywhere Feature!

Besides the great price, both campaigns now come with the ability to save your game anywhere!! We have updated SRR to version 1.2.6 on Steam, GOG, Humble, and Android. The iOS version will be available next week, too. In addition to the new feature, there are also many other improvements that you can check out in the Release Notes.

 

Shadowrun Editor Community Contest

The prizes for the Shadowrun Editor Community Contest included a Design Consultation and a Shadowlab or Let’s Play video and it’s been great working with the winners of the contest to make those happen.

Mitch and McCain did a Google Hangout with the winners in the Maps and Props category. They had a great time chatting and Mike was able to share some great tips and tricks with the creators.  Jordan and Mitch also did a Let’s Play and a Shadowlab with the winners of the Short Story category – Ashram’s From the Shadows, Run and I0g41n’s Food Fight. Jordan and Mitch will be doing the same for the winners of the Long Story category, so be sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel if you like that kind of thing.

 

Google Hangout of the Maps and Props Category

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XxCuBvFUrKY&list=UUO0pndgsIKZdyf9qFmhmSSw

 

Shadowlab

From the Shadows, Run

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6JWh8_5P65U&list=UUO0pndgsIKZdyf9qFmhmSSw

 

Let’s Play

Food Fight!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NM2bLM4UC40&list=UUO0pndgsIKZdyf9qFmhmSSw

Congratulations to the Winners and Runners Up of the Shadowrun Editor Community Contest!

We are excited to work with all of them! Watch for more information about a Google Hangout for the Props and Maps categories and Let’s Play and Shadowlabs for the Short and Long Story categories. We can’t wait to share all of that with everyone!

 

Thank you to everyone who participated in the Contest! We will be announcing the winners of the Sweepstakes in the coming week or so.

 

Props

Winner: Memphis Motors Vehicle Prop Pack
Runner Up: Geeked – Props and Portraits

 

Maps

Winner: Farmer’s Market (Mission Hub Map)
Runner Up: The Rag Shop (Hub)

 

Short Story

Winner: From The Shadows, Run
Runner Up: Food Fight!

 

Long Story

Winner: Shadowrun Unlimited
Runner Up: Nightmare Harvest

What a Great Response!

Wow, we’ve had such a great response to Shadowrun: Dragonfall over the last couple weeks!

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To us, the most rewarding part is all the emails, messages on SRR forums on Shadowrun.com, Facebook posts and tweets that have come from the community! We worked really hard to listen to your feedback and build on the success of Shadowrun Returns and we’re happy to see that the changes we’ve made are resonating with you.

That said, we admit that it’s also been gratifying to get some nice reviews from the critics, too. Here are a few of our favorite quotes and links to their reviews.

HardCore Gamer  http://www.hardcoregamer.com/2014/03/02/review-shadowrun-dragonfall/76435/

The new campaign setting is utterly compelling, the writing is some of the industry’s finest with astounding prose and character development and the added content simply equates to an experience that is only rivaled by the genre’s best.

PC Gamer  http://www.pcgamer.com/review/shadowrun-returns-dragonfall-review/

Jacking back into Shadowrun Returns for the new Dragonfall campaign, I thought I was ready for anything. In a post-magipocalypse future where trenchcoated, wizardly elves cast shield spells on hacker allies while orcs with machine guns shower them with lead, it pays to be prepared. Dragonfall managed to get the drop on me, though. I wasn’t expecting one of the most memorable and complex RPG stories of the decade.

Rock, Paper, Shotgun  http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2014/02/27/shadowrun-returns-dragonfall-review/

Now that’s more like it. Choice! Side-missions! A hub! A strong supporting cast who are up for a bit of a chat! Little-to-no mandatory decking sequences! A mother-lovin’ save (almost) anywhere system!

GameSpot  http://www.gamespot.com/reviews/shadowrun-dragonfall-review/1900-6415692/

There’s nary a dull moment in Dragonfall, and every mission is crafted to capture the right mix of mystery, fear, exploration, and action.

Destructoid   http://www.destructoid.com/review-shadowrun-dragonfall-271790.phtml

Die Hard Game Fan  http://diehardgamefan.com/2014/03/13/review-shadowrun-dragonfall-pc/

Eurogamer  http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/2014-03-04-shadowrun-dragonfall-review

Gamespot  http://www.gamespot.com/reviews/shadowrun-dragonfall-review/1900-6415692/

Retro 101  http://www.retro101.co.uk/2014/03/shadowrun-dragonfall-review-pc.html

Cinemablend  http://www.cinemablend.com/games/Shadowrun-Returns-Dragonfall-First-Impressions-Better-Than-Original-62561.html

iDigitalTimes  http://www.idigitaltimes.com/articles/22142/20140303/shadowrun-returns-dragonfall-review-perfect-run-everyone.htm

Capsule Computers  http://www.capsulecomputers.asia/2014/03/shadowrun-dragonfall-review/

Gizorama  http://www.gizorama.com/computer/pc/shadowrun-returns-dragonfall-review/

The Mittani  http://themittani.com/features/review-shadowrun-dragonfall

Softpedia  http://www.softpedia.com/reviews/games/pc/Shadowrun-Dragonfall-Review-430668.shtml

We’ve had a blast developing this expansion and would love to create more stories in the Shadowrun Universe! To do that, we need to continue to get the word out.  We’re an indie studio and don’t have the deep marketing pockets of a big publisher so we’d appreciate it if you’d share these links with friends and forums you think would like Dragonfall!

Thanks!

HBS

Fan Sneak Preview of Shadowrun: Dragonfall

Through a happy accident, DanW played Shadowrun:Dragonfall and shared his first impressions over on the Shadowrun.com forums. Spoiler-free, of course!

Take a look and see what he thought and then head over to the thread if you have any questions for him.

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Road Movie To Berlin

(One Fan’s Semi-Official Preview Of Dragonfall)

“Drek, what was his name…Candy…gum…spearmint, peppermint, wintergreen. Wintergreen!” Kilim entered ‘Green Winters’ into the hotel data system’s keypad and sighed in relief when it kicked out ‘Room 405’ and a few notes. “Got you now, chummer. Time to roll!”


Don’t Let’s Start

A few weeks back, I logged into Steam to play a little Shadowrun Returns (I just noticed I’m at 544 hours played on Steam, not to mention the time spent with the DRM-free version and the editor!). As I was signed up for the public beta, I wasn’t too surprised when it began downloading a new version. Thinking it would give me a chance to see how the new save system worked in Deadman’s Switch, I opened the game and found Dragonfall!

SRR load screen with DF

Of course, I started a campaign with my trusty decker/assault rifle archetype. Immediately, I noticed that the mage had throwing knives, the weapons troll had a sniper rifle, and AoE effects showed the number of targets affected (no more fraggin’ my teammates!). This was all before the heavily-armored troll with a minigun appeared…

There were a lot of rough edges and bugs in the build, but the basic gameplay was definitely an upgrade from DMS. Instead of just one teammate with a story, there were now three (soon to be more). Instead of one (unnecessary) side run, there were multiple run choices with multiple objectives and multiple ways to accomplish them. I completed one run without any combat, and another with so much combat that my team suffered four deaths total (two of them my PC). Fortunately, the DocWagon-type item is now automatically used if it’s in a character’s inventory when they die. I was having a blast. I even posted a thread on the SRR forums about some bugs.

trauma kit

And then it went away. I guess someone noticed that a developer’s build had escaped and shut the metaphorical door. I shrugged my shoulders and figured that was the end of it. But then I received a message from developer Mitch Gitelman. “Thanks for the positive comments about the Dragonfall campaign! Please send me your email address, Dan. I’d like to chat with you in mail about something.”

“Eiger. Grenadier, 11 o’clock, 50 meters. Mage, 2 o’clock, 35 meters. Geek the mage first.” Three shots echoed through the courtyard. Even suppressed, the sniper’s Ruger 100-S had a distinctive sound. Even more distinctive was the Humanis mage’s head disappearing in a flash. The ork with the grenade launcher was luckier—or had better armor—but the two shots forced him to drop his weapon and grab his chest. His escape was short-lived, though, as Glory materialized next to him and slit his throat with her hand razors.”

A Harebrained Scheme

DF load screen

(That’s Eiger on the left and Glory on the right.)

And so this past Sunday when a developer’s preview build appeared in my Steam account, I was ready to go. I decided that it might be fun to play a new character I had been wanting to try, a build that would have been hard to implement in DMS. Meet Kilimanjaro West, infiltration specialist. Human decker, high charisma, skilled in unarmed combat. With minimal headware and a touch of bioware, my concept for him was someone who could slide past metal detectors and magesniffers to pass as a wage slave. Get in, get the goods, get out. Null sweat.

I fired up the game and lost myself in the story. If you enjoyed DMS at all, DF will be right up your alley. A lot of the pain points have been smoothed over. I’ve already mentioned the automatic resurrection that works if your character dies, the new save system works smoothly, and there is now auto-heal after combat where your healer will heal the most recent wound of each character. (I think you need a magical healer for this, but I didn’t test it out. Too busy playing.) Thrown weapons and unarmed combat are much more viable, and now shaman have a weapon spell just like those hermetic weenies. You have additional choices for your team, but I stuck with the crew I knew and the more I ran with them, the more I knew about them. It felt more like the tabletop game, which was my introduction years ago to the Shadowrun universe—and the reason I backed this Kickstarter.

“Keeping an eye on the security cam feed, Kilimanjaro West counted down the seconds. “15…10..5…Left, left, then right. Go!” As the security guard’s patrol turned the far corner, the team broke for the door. One more guard to bypass and the prototype would be in their hands…”

This…Is…SHADOWRUN!

One of the best things about DF is that I felt that my decisions were having an effect on how the game unfolded. There was humor and sadness. There were NPCs who would threaten or cajole. Runs could be all guns blazing, or a quiet sneak past security. Playing on Hard, combat was challenging and often required a bit more strategy than DMS. Certain enemies had to be prioritized. Positioning (no, the cover mechanism hasn’t changed) could greatly influence the course of the encounter.

It just felt like Shadowrun should. You can read board chatter that sometimes refers to your own exploits, adding to the SR feel. The highest praise that I can offer is that the plot actually caused Kilim, in character, to change his modus operandi. At the point in the game roughly equivalent to the cemetery scene in DMS events made things very personal. After having passed up the lure of cyberarms numerous times, he sought out the street doc to get them so that he could more effectively achieve his revenge. (As an aside, my SR characters have a history of things like this. Ask the other players who were there about the incident involving a river, captive alligators, and the gator shaman who couldn’t swim. Did you know that Alligator mississippiensis can be used as a flotation device?) And during the marathon endgame equivalent to the Bug Hunt in DMS he was glad he had done so.

And that point in the plot? As I texted my friend, “Drek just got real.” It was surprisingly nail-biting for a turn-based game and I found myself deeply engaged. If it weren’t for work and a missing thyroid, I would have played continuously.

Now I’ll admit that Dragonfall is not perfect. Some things remain as annoying as they were in DMS: the limited inventory slots with the random (?) display order, the ridiculous (to me) stat-boosting outfits, and the inability to tailor your teams’ inventory beyond a few consumables, to mention a few. Also, some bugs remain (only one I ran across required a reload) but if this were all I got from the Kickstarter campaign I would still be one very satisfied chummer.


TL;DR: So if you have the means, I highly recommend picking it up. And if you already are getting it through the Kickstarter, you won’t be disappointed.


Feel free to ask any questions and I’ll do my best to answer them, though I won’t have access to the game until after work tonight (6 PM EST). There are bonus points available for good questions/observations. Double bonus points if you knew right away where the thread title and first header came from. And, triple bonus points if you knew where my character name came from.

Bonus points redeemable for DanW’s goodwill, subject to applicable state laws.

Announcing the Shadowrun Editor Community Contest and Sweepstakes!

Hey, Everyone!

We’ve got some exciting news! As you know, Harebrained Schemes created the Shadowrun Editor so you can tell YOUR stories in the world of Shadowrun. It’s been exciting to see how GMs have used the editor in ways we never even thought about! To celebrate all the hard work of the GMs out there, we’ve partnered with our friends at Intel to create the Shadowrun Editor Community Contest.

Using the Shadowrun Editor, GMs can create and submit content in four categories: Maps, Props, Short Story and Long Story. The Shadowrun Community will vote for their favorites and the winners will be chosen by the Harebrained Schemes team. Finalists will receive a Design Consultation to improve their content along with a Shadowlab or Let’s Play video of their story featuring Jordan Weisman, the creator of Shadowrun. Submit your entries by March 13. Vote for your favorites until March 27 – you can vote daily! Winners will be announced on April 3.

Additionally, ANYONE can enter a special Sweepstakes to win an Intel Ultrabook 2-in-1 Convertible, Shadowrun swag, or copies of Shadowrun Returns and Shadowrun: Dragonfall. Full information is available at http://harebrained-schemes.com/shadowrun/intel/

Head on over and check it out!

HBS