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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.
36,276 backers pledged $1,836,447 to help bring this project to life.

Happy New Year of Shadowrun!

Hi everyone, Mitch again.  

Hope your holidays were great. A lot has happened since the last time we talked! Sit back, crack a SoyCaf, and let’s get started. There’s a lot to cover. . .

Let's start with a progress report!

On the code-side, over 30 character skills and abilities are in the game and working. That’s stuff like etiquette, snapshot, and conjuring. On top of that, decking, rigging, spirit summoning, and spellcasting are in too! This list represents a huge push from our engineering team to get the first draft of these features in before the end of the year and they delivered. Now, before you get too excited, all these systems are using “programmer art” so they’re. . . not pretty. But they prove the systems, can be tested, bug-fixed, and iterated upon before we spend the time prettifying them. It’s starting to feel like a game. It’s got bugs and there’s a lot to do but it’s starting to feel like Shadowrun. 

But wait, there’s more. NPCs are talking! Our base conversation system is in and working. We’ve got branching dialog in the game that performs checks to determine what dialog options to give you - we plan to note the skill/attribute/race, etc. that allowed that option to appear. We (and you) can do all sorts of cool things with our conversation system combined with our trigger system. Things like attaching a conversation to a window prop so it feels like you’re overhearing people on the other side of the window or having a conversation that convinces someone to turn off the fog of war in an area and escort you to the mainframe. 

One big task that can’t be underestimated in all of this was creating test environments for each of the above features to ensure they work according to our spec and continue to work while we bugfix and iterate on them. That took our designers a good chunk of time but it’s worth it because now we can have interns regularly run tests independently. It also gave everyone plenty of practice with the editor. 

Our next undertaking is a major overhaul of the user interface. As you may remember from Thanksgiving, we were living with interface version 2.0 to see how we liked it. We wanted to give it time so everyone could play with it for awhile and enter their comments and suggestions on a master list so we could review it in its entirety. Mike, our Art Director, wrapped his brain around all the feedback and came up with a holistic plan to address everyone’s issues. After reviewing it with the team and making a few revisions and additions, implementation began this week. Everyone’s very excited about interface version 3.0 and can’t wait play it. 

Last on the production-side, our Audio Director has been collaborating with our composers to make sure we get the right sound for the game. Marshall and Gavin are working on Seattle while Sam tackles Berlin. I think Sam has the tougher job because he’s working without concept art but he and Alistair (our Audio Director) think they’re on the right track. I love hearing the work-in-progress music because they throw in little bits of their SNES and SEGA tunes here and there. 

So far, we’re tracking to our May/June timeframe but my palms are a little sweaty. This next bit will give you an idea why. 

Here’s what’s up with the Backer Rewards and survey. 

This is the deal: Kickstarter’s Backer Survey feature only allows us to do ONE survey ever. If we get something wrong, we can’t do another. In addition, that survey would only cover Kickstarter Backers and we’d have to do a separate system for PayPal Backers. As an added complication, if someone wants to change their mailing address or something, we’d have to do it by hand which is error-prone. On top of that, the KS survey tool won’t allow you to upload your photo for the Doc Wagon cards or NPC & PC character art. 

 We saw a few Kickstarter game projects set up databases so their Backers could log in and personally maintain their data and we thought it would be perfect for us too. In fact, Brian Fargo from inXile was cool enough to send us his Wasteland II database code to save us time. But we also wanted to hook up the database to the game so it would automatically know who should get in-game rewards like the special ability and Doc Wagon. 

Unfortunately, we were trying to work with an external partner for this so it wouldn’t distract the core team quite so much, but it wound up not working out to the quality level we were happy with, so we’re going to take a step back and make sure we can deliver something we (and you) will be happy with. 

In the meantime, we’re starting some of the reward fulfillment process by hand. Backers at the $1000 level should have already received emails asking them to send us their photos so we can translate them into NPCs for the game. And Backers at the $2500 level and above will receive an email shortly asking for a photo so we can create their custom PC as well. 

IMPORTANT: The deadline for getting your photos back to us is February 28th. 

If we don’t get your photo via email by then, we won’t be able to get your NPC or PC into the game. So watch out for that mail from and contact her if you don’t get the mail by Monday. 

We deeply appreciate our Backers’ patience about the rewards. Believe me, we haven’t forgotten about you! Far from it. We’re just trying to be smart and focus on delivering the best game we can. 

Check out the coverage Shadowrun Returns is getting! 

In addition to a bunch of great new features, something else exciting happened at the end of the year. Shadowrun Returns appeared on three “Most Anticipated Games of 2013” lists:,, and

Most. Anticipated. Pressure? What pressure? 

There was also a nice interview with me on a Russian site called Game Star.

As we told you in December, GAME INFORMER did a big article on Shadowrun Returns for their February print and digital magazines along with an article called The Archetypes of Shadowrun Returns. The magazine article is really cool - good writing, great layout, 6 pages of coverage! 

To get great coverage like this (over 6m people will see it!), game developers are often required to guarantee "exclusive content" for a period of time. That exclusive content, in this case, includes a couple of new images created out of in-game assets (like the Stuffer Shack scene released last year), a shot of our version of Jake Armitage from the SNES game, and a shot of our editor. Due to the exclusivity, we can’t include those in this post but will include them in Mike’s next dev diary where he’ll talk about how the environments are created. 

In order to expand the audience beyond our original ~40k Backers, we still need to engage the gaming community at large in order to reach a wider audience. Even if we sometimes have to make special arrangements like this one, our default is to try and share the information with you first - you are our Backers, after all. We hope you understand. 

Without further delay, here’s a rundown of the new information the article mentions: 

  • The mag talks a little bit about the story of the game, “A woman named Jessica Watts approaches your newly created protagonist for help. Her brother Sam, your old friend, has been murdered. You’re the only one she can trust and she begs you to come to Seattle to figure out what happened. We thought the only appropriate place to start a Shadowrun videogame was the morgue, so the first scene is there”, explains Weisman. “Your dead friend Sam is there, and like any film noir tale, the first character you meet is the Lone Star detective, Mitch Macklusky, who is immediately antagonistic. From there you find out that there’s been a series of murders; these people have all been found with organs cut out. You’re charged with solving Sam’s murder, but as you did into that, more and more unravels, and the mystery expands from the lowest echelons of society, like the biker gangs, all the way up to the dynastic control of one of the largest megacorporations.”
  • While creating your character, you’ll answer a short set of questions that help determine your character’s background. (This isn’t implemented yet, so like all of our ideas, we’ll see how it comes out in the wash.)
  • In combat, we simulate stun damage by reducing your Action Points. So a punch may do 5 Hit Points and 10 Action Points of damage, reducing your ability to respond to the best of your ability. • Berlin is going to be released as downloadable content after the game launches and will be free to Backers.
  • We also hope to release downloadable environment packs, like the Ork Underground, regularly so Player-GMs have more places to create their own stories. 

Pre-orders of Shadowrun Returns are now available! 

We’ve opened up pre-orders for Shadowrun Returns on Tell all your friends! We took careful pains to ensure that our Backers’ Rewards remained special and exclusive. So while the highest pre-order gets the USB Dog Tags, it won’t come with the Collector’s Edition Boxed set and other goodies that come at that level. 

We need Runners! 

As Jordan said during his Fireside Chat, we haven’t reserved any of our funding for marketing expenses and it’s important to get the word out about the game to get more people “into the tent”. The more people we pull in, the more vibrant the community, the more fan-created stories we get to play, and the more support and content HBS can afford to deliver after launch. 

So we need your help by sharing the love. Please get the word out about the Game Informer article to attract new people. When you see an article about the game somewhere, don’t just Like it. Share it, retweet it, and start a conversation about it. 

  • Are you a Facebook person? I am. (Maybe a little too much.) We post articles, news, and tidbits on all the time. Check it out.
  • I still don’t really get the Twitter thing (old) but we tweet pretty often and retweet Shadowlands stuff too. Connect with us @webeharebrained 
  • Do you go to It’s a great place to post suggestions, start over-the-top flashmob plans, debate features and ask questions. I post there all the time, so come say hi!
  • And don’t be afraid to send ideas and suggestions for spreading the word! All of us are more creative than just some of us. The address is 

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed underground operatives can make Shadowrun Return; indeed, it's the only thing that will.” --Lofwyr 

Upcoming Events 

Want to meet Jordan and me, ask questions in person, and maybe see some new stuff? We’re planning to be at two shows coming up and we’d love to meet you.

  • The first is Emerald City Comic Con - it’s our hometown, after all. The show is March 1 - 3 and I’m looking forward to geeking out there.
  • Next is South By Southwest in Austin, TX. SXSW is March 8 - 17 and sounds really cool this year. Lots of indie game developers and Kickstarter projects.

Just wanted to get those on your radar. We’ll provide more details as we get closer. 

Thanks for the support, the feedback, and the questions. We appreciate it.



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    1. russell on

      just double checking the cut off date of the 28th is for getting your picture into the game for an npc not for the doc wagon cards right?

    2. RC on

      Hoi Dale!

      Check the next update that's already up! ^_^

      Ja Mata!


    3. Dale Jones on

      I saw some screens that apparently were released by Game Informer--will those (and others) be put up here or on your website for us backers to see?

    4. Dean Mathison on

      Hi guys, thanks for the update. It's always good to see what progress is being made.

      I have to say, I think Shadowrun Returns is probably my most anticipated game of 2013. It's definitely going to the top of my 'games i'm going to play' queue once it's out - which is saying something, given how large my backlog of Steam and GoG games is. :-)

      Regarding events, have you considered the Rooster Teeth Expo?

      It's also an Austin thing, they've got a massive online community, and I know they're fans of indie game developers.

    5. Missing avatar

      Patrick Cunningham on

      As always, very excited to hear about the progress on the game and it was also really great to see the project get the attention of such a widely circulated magazine. Since you mentioned being at SXSW, can you say if you will have a booth, be participating in any panels, or showing off any new things from the game?

    6. RC on

      Gah! Typos!

    7. RC on

      Hoi British!

      Simple solution then chummer! When you're given you the option to submit a photo, choose another (appropriate) image you'd prefer, or leave it blank ^_^

      Ja Mata!


    8. Missing avatar

      Bruce Broecker on

      Please don't leave Google+ out of your Social Media plans. There is definitely a high(er) concentration of geeks there that would be receptive to your message.

    9. British on

      I, for one, am not interested in having a photo on my Doc Wagon card (if that ever happens to be the case).

    10. Tobi (Crusader Kickstarter pls!!) on

      "Things like attaching a conversation to a window prop so it feels like you’re overhearing people on the other side of the window or having a conversation that convinces someone to turn off the fog of war in an area and escort you to the mainframe." 0.o - awesomeeeeeeee!!! also don't worry about the release date and the exclusive-stuff for the media. anything that helps get the word out!

    11. Missing avatar

      Lauren Buxton on

      I'm really excited for this game and glad that you guys are focusing on quality rather than the release date, but I am kind of disappointed that the USB dogtags are a thing for the collectors' edition pre-order. I'd have kicked in an extra fifteen bucks on my backer pledge to get those if I could have.

    12. Torment- The Enduring Exile on

      Is the Berlin DLC a new story? A completely new Campaign?

    13. RC on

      Hoi Michael!

      Right now they seem to be asking for just the photos from those tiers. I believe the Backer database they're setting up (if it works they way they intend) will allow us to log in and upload our photos once it's ready. Since they need the pictures for in-game assets from $1000 pledge level backers and up right now, they have to relay on e-mail and not the Backer database for the time being. ^_^

      Ja Mata!


    14. Kevin Merriman on

      Man, I didn't see the dogtag at the $125 level.. wish I could have added to it.. ;.;

    15. Missing avatar

      Shire on

      So do they only need the pictures of those in the mentioned tiers, or do they need all pictures? I was a $125 backer, and they need my picture for my Doc Wagon card.

    16. Retro Cool on

      Boo Hoo, I now want to upgrade my kickstarter pledge...

    17. Missing avatar

      Redsnorf on

      I completely agree with Moises. One of the things that most excites me about using kickstarter to fund game development is the hope that fans will exert more pressure towards quality and less towards a release date.

      I can't speak for other backers, but as far as I'm concerned, quality is my top concern. I'd rather the game was shorter with DLC to follow than have some game aspects that just weren't thought through. I'd rather the game was a year late and great than on-time with industry-standard quality.

      Don't release the game until you can confidently say it's something you're proud of.

      Also, as others have mentioned, these updates are great.

    18. Missing avatar

      Grenville Wilson on

      Thanks for the awesome update, RBS. And thanks for being so sensitive and careful about explaining everything - from exclusive deals to delays - that backers might get worried about. I'm fine with all of the above (and anything else you feel you have to do, Kickstarter is really about creator power), but I've never backed a Kickstarter project in which the project creators have been so obviously dedicated to anticipating and addressing backer's concerns.

      In fact, I think you guys worry a bit too much about how we feel. We're not a publisher, you know. ;)

    19. Moisés on

      I don't know if I talk for my fellows backers, but guys, don't sweat about a launch date. It will be ready when it's ready. I prefer to wait a little longer than get a game not-that-awesome. I don't know about the others, but I really don't mind waiting some more months, as long as we are provided with those development updates! They sure help to ease the waiting, almost as if you are part of the creation process!... :)

    20. James Cartwright on

      Loving all the updates, keep up the good work. Really looking forward to the game. Like a lot of folks I'm interested in more info on the special ability, here's hoping it will be something unique and cool.

    21. Seb on

      I thought you'd be happy to know that SR is also among the most anticipated games of 2013 in the latest issue of Canard PC magazine (French).

    22. Phil Jefferson on

      Another great update - thanks for taking the time to do this.

    23. Harebrained Schemes LLC 4-time creator on

      Levi, we haven't determined how we're going to enable the ability yet or whether you'll be able to un-enable it. Stay tuned.

    24. Levi on

      RC: I hope so! Although Harebrained Schemes response sort of makes me think otherwise.

    25. Pete Yagmin on

      I won't be making it to Emerald City or SXSW but I would love you guys forever ( ya know, more than I already do ) if you made an appearance at PAX East!

    26. PinkiePieAddict on

      You should post a few short articles that can be blogged on Tumblr. I would be happy to post them on my page. Granted, I have 4 followers, but I'm willing to help. :)

    27. RC on

      ...and there you have it! ^_^

    28. RC on

      Hoi Levi!

      I believe you have the option of not enabling them. I vaguely remember a discussion on this, and I *think* you have to enable the "special ability" which also is supposed to specifically not unbalance the game. I'm really not sure how you would see an ability as spoiling a game -that isn't multi-player- (heck, it'd just make the game more fun) but if you don't want the ability, I believe you just don't have to enable it for your character. ^_^

      Ja Mata!


    29. Harebrained Schemes LLC 4-time creator on

      The special ability in-game reward will not give Backers an unfair advantage over the game, Levi.


    30. Levi on

      Please keep in mind that some of us might not want the special in game rewards! I'd hate to have my game spoiled by forcing a handicap on me.

    31. Patricia on

      I just get more & more excited with each & every update!

    32. Laurent Maire on

      The media coverage is awesome news guys. Congratulations! A beautiful 6-page print spread of Shadowrun Returns art and news. The game deserves no less. Fingers crossed for real financial success. I want the little rabbits on the harebrained treadmills, cranking out that environmental dlc for years to come!

    33. RC on

      ...ahh sorry Chummer, make that Jeremiah! Gotta typo at least once per commemt. ^_^

    34. RC on

      Hoi Jeramiah!


      Chummer, I think you're confusing the DELUXE BOX EDITION with the Collector's Edition from the pre-order.. We Backers get A LOT MORE SWAG and benefits. For example, the pre-order - while awesome for those who missed the Kickstarter, don't get the Boxed Game, don't get a physical copy of the anthology... and a LOT more. Head over to the Shadowrun forums and look for the thread that discusses this. There is *nothing* for a Backer to be disappointed about. ^_^


      JA Mata!



    35. Missing avatar

      Jeremiah on

      I'm glad to see that things are moving along and the game looks like its going to be great, but I am kind of disappointed to that the COLLECTOR’S EDITION is 50$ cheaper for non-backer than it was for backers.

    36. ☆Umbrae Soulsbane☆ on

      The article was fantastic! Cant wait to see the final thing.

    37. Ryan "Keokuk" Smith on

      *Squee*, *Aherm* Yes quite right, carry on and so forth.

    38. Darklord on

      Oh yeah! Can't wait! :-D

    39. Kevin Skeen on

      Disappointed that I had to downgrade my pledge from the $60 tier down to the basic $15 tier (yay unexpected expenses), but maybe I'll make up for that by pre-ordering the $75 dog tag version if it's still available when I can afford it and gifting the basic version I'll get with my backing to a friend.

      Loving the news, always looking forward to more!

    40. Missing avatar

      Yemeth on

      Can't wait! Wohooo....

    41. RC on

      Dis iz just musik 'ta muh 'earz!! Can't wait 'ta hear Marshal, Gavin, Sam and Alistair's work! And 'da convo/dialog system sounds AWESOME! Keep up 'da good work HBS, we're countin on 'ya, Chummers! ^_^

    42. Pyradox on

      That all sounds really cool, I can't wait for the next dev diary.

    43. Kraken on

      That logo is awesome.
      Nice update overall.

    44. David How on

      Epic Update. Super Excited! :D
      Great Work. Thanks for spending the time to update us. :) If only you picked up the people from the wasteland 2 database, then I'd already be in :)