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Shadowrun Returns brings back one of our most original & cherished game settings as a 2D turn-based RPG for tablets & PC.
Shadowrun Returns brings back one of our most original & cherished game settings as a 2D turn-based RPG for tablets & PC.
Shadowrun Returns brings back one of our most original & cherished game settings as a 2D turn-based RPG for tablets & PC.
36,276 backers pledged $1,836,447 to help bring this project to life.

We're Thankful for YOU.

Mitch here. Hi!

It’s Thanksgiving time at Harebrained Schemes, and guess what we’re thankful for? 

1) First and foremost, we’re thankful for our Backers who believed in the project when it was just an idea. You truly rule. 

2) We’re thankful for and the platform that allowed our little indie studio to find an awesome audience. It was the ticket for one helluva ride. 

3) And, of course, we’re thankful for the chance to bring Shadowrun back. It’s a world that deserves to be inhabited and we’re excited to be working on it! 

As you probably know, we released a bunch of images and information around PAX in early September and we’ve made a few Q&A videos to answer your most pressing gameplay questions since then. But mostly, we’ve been heads down making the game and haven’t really come up for air to check in with you and let you know what’s going on with the project itself. 

So, as another way of thanksgiving, today we’re going to start sharing some deeper “developer diary” kind of information so everyone can hear how the project’s going, where we are in the process, what’s making us tear our hair out/whoop with joy. . . that sort of thing. 

Here's Sally and me whooping with joy/ being general attention-seekers.

Because I’m overseeing production and have my fingers in just about everything, we thought I should go first. 

This first one will be a little long, since it’s an overview of the whole deal. In the future, team members from different disciplines will jump in and talk about what they do so you can get to know them, too. (After all, there’s only so much Jordan and Mitch one can take.) 

Okay, so where do we start? Since I’m a producer, probably schedule. 

As we announced a few months ago, we’ve backed off our original delivery date of January 2013. It might’ve worked for the scope of the game we originally envisioned but as our ambitions (read that “features list”) grew, so did the time we needed to deliver! Plus, we made a big move from our original top down camera to an isometric point of view and that took serious R&D time. Right now, according to our estimates, we’re looking at May or June. 

We’ve spent the majority of our time getting our game engine, art pipeline and base gameplay up and running and we’ve covered a lot of ground to get a lot of systems in place. Our engineering team has been crunching off and on for months to maximize the amount of time our designers will have to create our story. 

Here's one of our designers now! Mike Mulvihill, designing away. 

After many late nights for many weeks, we adjusted our start times to 8am so that people gain more focused time before lunch and more time with their families at night. The results are very promising (although coffee consumption has gone up). Our first big milestone was our gameplay prototype. It was called “Run ‘n’ Gun,” and the goal was to test our development tools and create a firm foundation to build the rest of our gameplay upon. 

We built a secret lab environment, populated it with Lone Star guards and played a team of shadowrunners trying to steal some tissue samples. Run ‘n’ Gun exercised our combat interface, artificial intelligence, animation system, and editor. Everyone contributed. Since then it’s been iteration, iteration, iteration with everyone playing the game first thing in the morning and noting the things that needed to change. 

Based on the team’s feedback, we redesigned our first-draft combat interface, and the second-draft works much smoother. We’re going to play with it for a few weeks and keep a running list of the team’s feedback before making further revisions. We’ve also revised and debugged our base combat AI so they choose the right weapons (watch out for the grenades), use cover appropriately, reload, use medkits, attack aggressively or become cowardly, and respond to gunshots or calls for help. It’s taken awhile but they’re fun to fight with just guns, fists, and swords. Once NPCs start using tech and magic, things are going to really get crazy. 

After many weeks of hardcore debugging, iterating, and reworking, we’re happy to say that we’ve “found the fun”. We’re happy with Run ‘n’ Gun and feel confident that we’re building the rest of the game on a solid foundation. Beyond all the design meetings and system writeups, our designers have created more than a dozen additional scenarios that exercise the editor, the AI, the interface, the combat systems, and our skill as players. And they did it without the use of our extensive trigger system which is just now being implemented. It’s sort of a spiritual successor to the trigger system we used on Crimson: Steam Pirates and a very powerful, flexible tool for our designers (and with some time and patience, you too). 

Here's Jordan, testing your patience.

BTW, while all of this was going on, we hired a small team of character artists, several engineers, a designer, some awesome interns, and moved into a bigger space with running water! Finding the right people to add to the team took a lot of work but we’re happy to say it still feels harebrained around here. 

Okay, that puts us about halfway through development. Next up, we’re going to town on all of the magic and tech-based abilities that make Shadowrun, Shadowrun. We’ll also work on our conversation system and start putting story into the game. Oh, and on the story front, we’ve come a long way but there’s plenty more to do. The story is very Shadowrun (and very Weisman) and thus quite complex. The team is really happy with it, which is awesome. Who wants to work on a story game when you don’t like the story? 

We’ve got plenty of challenges to overcome between now and release (like figuring out how long it takes to make a fun mission for a party with a wide range of combat, decking, rigging, and spellcasting abilities) so it’s going to be (more) nose to the grindstone! Along with all the progress and fun, there’s the harsh reality of production. I wish I wasn’t the “scope cop” but that’s the job. We need to continuously revise our scope and feature list to stay within our budget, focusing on the things that are core the Shadowrun game we want to make and that you supported. 

Unfortunately, one of the features we talked about on Kickstarter and at PAX didn’t make the cut: the ability to recruit your friends’ characters into your game. It’s a good social feature and it pains us to cut it, but it isn’t core to the fun of creating your own character and having a great Shadowrun experience. These are some of the roughest parts of game development, when time and budget demand tough choices and features you love don’t make it in. And we know from experience that we need to keep our knives sharp and and ready to trim when necessary to focus on quality over quantity and ensure that Shadowrun is as good as we can possibly make it in the time we have. 

Nevertheless, the team is pumped and focused and pushing hard on the next phase. It’s going to be really exciting to see shamans summoning spirits, deckers hacking into security systems, and all the rest of the great features we have planned. Plus, we know that the best part of the project is still ahead for us--when we’re experiencing the story and polishing the game to really make it shine. And we can’t wait to see the stories and shadowruns you create with the Shadowrun editor! I have the feeling you’re going to blow us away. 

Okay, that’s it for this grizzled producer. 

Have a happy and safe holiday and we’ll work on a nice fireside chat video with Jordan to end the year.

And seriously, thank you. We think of you all the time and appreciate knowing you’re out there supporting our work. 

It means a lot. 



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    1. Sophia Kb on December 12, 2012

      Awesome and exciting!

      Do you need to know what type of computer we use? I can't remember if you asked for this information or not. If you did, I have switched from a PC to a Mac - yay! If you didn't please ignore this comment (other than the 'awesome' part).

    2. RC on December 5, 2012

      Hoi Chummers!


      Interested in a few morsels of intel on #Shadowrun Returns? Check out Mitch's responses in the forum! ^_^



      Ja Mata!



    3. Missing avatar

      fil-cat on December 5, 2012

      How about a virtual New-Years-Party with all backers and as a highlight a virtual snow-ball-battle. I'd love to "ice" Mitch.

      As a side note: I gotta say, I have been out of turn based games for a while now and wasn't to fond of the idea of playing that way nowadays. But since the new XCOM I'm pretty excited what is possible with todays computers. G, animated cinematic actions, cool movement, video storyline ...
      I think you hit the right time for a comeback. Yippie!

    4. Missing avatar

      ArcNerd on December 3, 2012

      Just don't take too much time. I'm stoked about this game!

    5. Missing avatar

      ArcNerd on December 3, 2012

      Please, please take your time. I would rather play a delayed, but polished product than an unfinished, on time game.

    6. Jeremy Southard on November 29, 2012

      To get prepared for Shadowrun Returns, I busted out the old Sega Genesis and started playing the old Shadowrun RPG again. Love you guys and can't wait to jump into the updated world!

    7. Stahlseele on November 28, 2012

      So, dumpshock is talking about the removal of the sharing characters feature . .
      If it is only the problem of having to provide the infrastructure to faciliate this feature, then what about coding the game in such a way that characters are stored in their own respective folders/files so players can copy and paste these between friends on their own?

    8. Michael Abi Daoud on November 28, 2012

      Delays for days but it's all totally worth it! Push it back to September if you gotta! I can't wait but I can... does this make me a hypocrite? :D

    9. Missing avatar

      Kaerou on November 27, 2012

      Take your time, no publisher rushing now so you can make the games you want and at the pace you want.

      I for one as a consumer am sick of eating rushed cakes. They never raise properly and you end up with a sloppy or burnt mess, and that's if the bakery owner hasn't told the baker to put in something that doesn't belong in a cake or belongs to another type of cake that was successful last year. I want the bakers of my cakes to take the time to bake it properly with the right ingredients!

    10. Missing avatar

      William on November 27, 2012

      Wouldn't be the first time we've had to be patient for quality paydata. Looking forward to the end result!

    11. Francesco Policek on November 27, 2012

      take all the time you need and deliver the best game you can make!

    12. Missing avatar

      Julian Dewenter on November 26, 2012

      Never expected the game to release so early :)

    13. Missing avatar

      David on November 26, 2012

      I'm totally fine with delays as long as it helps to ensure quality and the quantity of content. Happy Thanksgiving guys, keep on kicking ass!

    14. russell on November 26, 2012

      As long as we can still buy joyboys and girls and then string them out on btl's and then put persona chips in there heads to make them think they are buisness execs and secretaries all will be good

    15. Scott Gladstein on November 26, 2012

      Keep up the great work guys! Can't wait to see what you bring to life!

    16. Brandon 'Link' Copp-Millward on November 24, 2012

      Well... if things look good when it launches, maybe the feature can always be added in post-game for a small fee, or backed via a separate kickstarter if demand is high enough.

    17. Tobias Roland on November 24, 2012

      Importing friends' characters was always the lowest on my priority-list for this game. So it's no biggie for me, at least :)

    18. Feydakin on November 23, 2012

      Sounds awesome, and I am totally cool with the extra wait! Not rushing stuff before it's finished and you're happy with it is a trait that is somewhat lacking in game development these days...

    19. Missing avatar

      TheBlade on November 23, 2012

      Sucks to have a longer wait but from the sound of this it will be worth the wait

    20. Marty Czosnyka on November 23, 2012

      Thanks for the update! No worries on the delay, take all the time you guys feel you need to bring forth a wonderful Shadowrun experience. Wish ya all the happiest of holidays.

    21. Jean-Philippe Theriault on November 22, 2012

      >>>If someone were to be awaken as an elven maid, it would be Sally.

      Nope. Elves and dwarves are born. Only Orcs and Trolls can express later in life.

    22. Levi on November 22, 2012

      Sounds pretty sweet. That lost feature was the one thing I didn't really care about anyway. :D Does this mean we can create a full team of runners ourselves? Making characters is so much fun. :)

    23. David Thompson on November 22, 2012

      It's great to see Mike Mulvihill there. SR4 hasn't been the same without him.

    24. TheChosenOne on November 22, 2012

      An feature cut which I wouldn't want in the first place. Not bad. :)

    25. Missing avatar

      Karl Schneider on November 22, 2012

      January was obviously way way too soon, even on your original 500k budget. You'd have to have the game done and finished in less than two months. It's certainly fine that you've extended the development five months or so. Don't kill yourselves overworking, but I guess you do have to move fast.

    26. Zombra on November 22, 2012

      Good update! Cool to hear that Run 'n' Gun is functional and entertaining. Losing the import feature is a disappointment. Was looking forward to "pseudo-multiplayer" because I hate real multiplayer in RPGs :)

    27. Missing avatar

      Karl Malm on November 22, 2012

      Running water!? You bozos have running water? Even the guys at Treyarch don't have that. Cut some more slack!

      In all seriousness, stay classy, and try not to take any loans from any dragons.

    28. Jason P. Mesisco on November 22, 2012

      Great update guys, thank you.

      Not being able to import our friends characters into the game isn't that big a deal imho. I had a sneaking suspicion it may get cut considering how large of a game has become... ....And especially that there will one day be a SR:O where we can get our "multi-player" SR fix. Plus, I'm sure if you reeeeally wanted to interact with a "friend" that badly you could just build a similar character into your story using the editor.

      Anyways... Have a happy Turkey Apocalypse everyone!!

    29. serch on November 22, 2012

      If someone were to be awaken as an elven maid, it would be Sally. Sorry, it had to be said.

    30. quicktooth - Angel of the Obsidian Order on November 22, 2012

      Wonderful update :D. Have an excellent holiday everyone :D.

      I'm okay with not having imported characters. I really want to have an engrossing and "accurate" game (to the setting, to how people actually interact, to how people actually carry out their beliefs etc) :D. And it don't have to be perfect.

      I want to see core RPG stuff-I want to be able to play the game over and over because I love the characters, I want to see how they react to different choices I make 'this time', to maybe see different bits of the setting I couldn't 'last time' because I've made different choices, and so on. Importing friends characters is nice, I'd love to see it in an expansion, but it's just fine if that gets cut to focus on the core experience. Good to see editing is being made where it's needed :D.

      And it's ALWAYS nice to get updates :D

    31. Frank Wuerbach on November 22, 2012


      thanks for the tremendous update. I really think, that the character import feature is a thing pretty quickly done, once you have finished the game, sold it a bazillion times and then started on the first expansion. Then you have the time to no only add another nice new story but to work on such great features and you don't have to worry any more about not getting the main game finished. I think once you have streamlined everything and the game is out and being played, you can then rest a bit and after that strat thinking about the additional bells, whistles, fireworks and amazing spells that can be further added. Multiplayer, Server hosting runs, first person matrix entries, player run cyber enhancement development facilities, AI game internal programming languages, player run DocWagon fleets... All those things can be added later. Just give us a working game with a lot of fun to play and we are happy.

      Best Regards...


    32. Tobi (Crusader Kickstarter pls!!) on November 22, 2012

      oh yeah and about the feature cut - no problem. as long as i can shoot stuff I'm happy (and a good story but that seems to come along nicely)

    33. Ryan "Keokuk" Smith on November 22, 2012

      Man, I feel like mailing you a hug, in lue of severing my arms or buying manikin arms, I offer you the best of wishes.

      Shame about the feature cut but thats the job and its for the betterment of the game so not much of a loss at all really, hopefully a great shadowrun-returns release will empower you to try and push that feature into a future rpg :)

    34. Nikki on November 21, 2012

      I love the idea of a developer diary. being able to see the process of creating a game like this is so interesting. You guys take all the time you need and thank you for the updates..

      shadowrun forever !

    35. Mike Mol on November 21, 2012

      I appreciate all the hard work you've been doing. Just don't break my heart with sub-par Linux and Android versions!

    36. Gonchi on November 21, 2012

      Sad to see the character import feature go, but oh well, perhaps later on.

    37. Joshua R on November 21, 2012

      Great update; love hearing about something playable existing somewhere, that's progress! Happy Thanksgiving, HBS!

    38. Lawrence Franchini on November 21, 2012

      Quality over quantity and a completed gamed before a game users have to beta for the developers is very important to me. I am fine with a push back on e release date personally. Any idea when some swag may ship to keep the hordes from roiting like trolls? Happy turkey day to the team.

    39. Missing avatar

      Axel Winsa on November 21, 2012

      Any chance we might see a video of your Run 'n' Gun test?

    40. Harebrained Schemes LLC 4-time creator on November 21, 2012

      Claire, definitely-- we'll be making this dev diary into somewhat of a series.

    41. Claire Blackshaw on November 21, 2012

      Awesome Guys, Thanks for the update! :D

      Also sounds like the right call about the Recruit you Friend. I know how nice that looks in a pitch doc or a high level but every time it's a Pandora box of problems. Never seen it done well, and have seen it dropped from more than one project.

      Any chance of any more detailed tech & dev entries?

      Happy Holiday ^_^

    42. Missing avatar

      Christopher M. Carter on November 21, 2012

      Great minds think alike. I saw it and thought "Cyberturkey" too before seeing the comments!

      Count me in for the isometric support. It's OK that the recruit feature you wanted didn't make it in. I just hope it will be a fun, great game, and I'll be happy!

    43. Raymond Croteau on November 21, 2012

      I'm thankful for Dragon-Eating-Kittens!

      And now I want to be able to play a Cyberturkey Shapechanger in the game.

    44. Laurent Maire on November 21, 2012

      Yeah, recruiting friends' characters is definitely peripheral to the core game. You made the right call there. The networking programming alone necessary to implement this feature seems to outstrip it's value. I appreciate it's hard to cut a feature you've talked about from the beginning but keep your heads down and keep up the good work HBS (after a well earned holiday ofc ;)!

    45. Missing avatar

      William Hochella on November 21, 2012

      Isometric is good.

      I'm also happy to hear of the delay, as I would have actually been worried at a _lack_ of delay with the Kickstarter-induced feature creep.

    46. David Sherman on November 21, 2012

      Wow, whatever it takes to give us the "bomb-diggity!"
      You guys and gals have a great time as well! :)

    47. Guillaume
      on November 21, 2012

      Yes. Why not taking 6 more months or more, and include the original and added features + good sw quality? I am sure you could get a vote going on asking us if OK with this approach... :)

    48. Timothy Cook on November 21, 2012

      If I have to choose between a game with lots of features that are half-broken and unfinished, and a game with fewer features that are rock solid, I'll take the solid one every time. Thank you!

    49. Eric Friesen on November 21, 2012

      I *LOVE* the isometric angle. Things sound like they are going really well and I am so glad I backed this project. And glad that I committed to a higher tier than I initially selected. So worth it to see you guys pursuing a game that I know is going to actually excite me to play!