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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.

Shadowrun: Dragonfall - Director’s Cut // Dev Diary #4: New Visuals & UI

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This is the last 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!) Shadowrun: Dragonfall - Director's Cut goes on sale September 18th for $14.99 on Steam, GoG and the Humble Store.

Trailer // FAQ // Dev Diary #1: New Missions & Content // Dev Diary #2: New Music // Dev Diary #3: Combat Mechanics

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Hey guys, Mike McCain here again - Game Director and Art Director on Dragonfall. Today I’d like show you some of the many interface and visual improvements we’ve made in the Director’s Cut. But before we dive into that, guess what? Shadowrun: Dragonfall - Director’s Cut launches one week from today! Here’s the trailer in case you missed it:

Oh and one more thing - here’s Felicia Day saying some nice things about Dragonfall! Y’all should let her know to check out the Director’s Cut next week. ; )

Anyway that’s enough PR talk - onto UI and visuals!

New Visual Effects & Animations

Steven and Hollie (our Effects/Tech Artist and Animator, respectively) dedicated several weeks during Director’s Cut development towards further honing our many combat effects and animation. Our main goals here were to 1. make combat feedback more viscerally satisfying (death, damage, spells, etc.), 2. tighten up timing/polish in some places, and 3. create new effects and animations to support the new abilities that the design team added in the Director’s Cut. I think their efforts have made a big difference! Steven and our engineer Sheridan implemented completely new systems for blood splatter effects, directional deaths (characters used to only be able to fall in one direction when dying), dismemberment, and possibly-slightly-over-the-top-gibs upon critical-hit deaths. We’ve found that these really help make your actions in combat feel powerful and satisfying - check it out:

Hmm, is that his... brain?
Hmm, is that his... brain?

On the animation front, not only have we been able to tighten up some combat timing (for example, the time it takes to cast certain spells) but we’ve added totally new animations for several new abilities. Here’s Glory’s new claw-kick ability, which is one of the new Crew Advancement upgrades you can decide to give her.

Interface Improvements

Last week, Trevor talked about all of the new combat mechanics we’ve implemented. To emphasize the new systems and new data, our combat UI has also seen a similar upgrade to more clearly show you each potential target’s status. You’ll see a different targeting disc beneath enemies depending on whether you have a “clear shot”, i.e. if you are flanking the enemy’s cover position or if they are standing out in the open, vs. if they are in cover. On mouse-over you’ll also be able to see exactly what type of cover the enemy is in, and we’ve made the shield icons representing cover state more obvious above enemy heads.

An example of a flanking attack on an enemy in cover. Also note the addition of white armor pips above each character's health bar.
An example of a flanking attack on an enemy in cover. Also note the addition of white armor pips above each character's health bar.

We’ve also updated our health bar display to show how much Armor each character in combat has, represented by white “pips” above the bar itself. Each attack that hits now includes quick animated feedback on how much armor was applied against the damage being dealt, how much armor (if any) was stripped by special attacks, and how much damage was done. This is complemented by some improvements to our above-head text “floaties” that appear when you attack. Lastly, this is a small thing, but world interaction icons now have a short text description attached to them, similar to characters, that appears when you mouse-over them (or when you hold down the ALT key to reveal them.) This is nice when you’ve got a lot of inspects or pickups in one place and you’d like to know what you’re dealing with before clicking.

Anyone want to play some Galaga?
Anyone want to play some Galaga?

Oh and we also mentioned the new Crew Advancement system a couple weeks ago - here is what that looks like in action:

Choices, choices...
Choices, choices...

Combat HUD Redesign

Another thing we were itching to update is the combat HUD itself! So for the Director’s Cut, our engineer AJ* and I took a good chunk of time to almost completely rip out the old system and build a brand new HUD. Our goals here were to better take advantage of common widescreen displays and to improve discoverability of abilities - making it both easier to learn what things do, and fewer clicks to access those things. We also wanted to streamline it so that it does its job and gets out of the way, direction more of your attention towards the world. Here is a shot of the new HUD:

Now all of your weapon abilities and one "bucket" of your items, spells or special abilities are available with one click from the new central ability bar.
Now all of your weapon abilities and one "bucket" of your items, spells or special abilities are available with one click from the new central ability bar.

*You may know him as ‘Aljernon the Talismonger’ in the campaign.

New Environments

As Andrew mentioned in our first dev diary a few weeks ago, there’s several new environments in the Director’s Cut that correspond to the new missions we’ve added. These environments each have their own unique new music and art. Here’s a couple more screenshots of new places you’ll get to visit in the Director’s Cut.

In the original Dragonfall we never really got to show what life "on the other side" looks like in Shadowrun - the cushy corporate enclaves of the future. One of the new missions will take you into a much more upscale residential area of Berlin.
In the original Dragonfall we never really got to show what life "on the other side" looks like in Shadowrun - the cushy corporate enclaves of the future. One of the new missions will take you into a much more upscale residential area of Berlin.
I probably shouldn't give anything away about this place. : )
I probably shouldn't give anything away about this place. : )
   
Did somebody call for maintenance in here? Hello?
Did somebody call for maintenance in here? Hello?
Helping Eiger on an important errand will take you into dangerous territory.
Helping Eiger on an important errand will take you into dangerous territory.

Hair!  

Our character artist Fiona added a ton of new hairstyle options to the game to customize your character with! (As well as some new skin color shades to choose from.) Here are a few of the new selections I thought it’d be fun to share:

A couple of these are modeled after HBS team members.
A couple of these are modeled after HBS team members.

Post-Processing

Post-processing effects are something I’d always wanted to fiddle with way back when we were working on Shadowrun Returns, but we never quite got the chance. There are a lot of fun effects that you can play with - and I certainly spent a few hours messing around and making the game look all kinds of bizarre - but at the end of the day, less is more, and subtlety is key with this kind of thing. We’ve added some light bloom effects, a small amount of color correction, a better vignette effect, and a (VERY) slight film grain effect to help liven up the scene a bit. I’m happy with the extra visual depth these post-processing settings add to the game environment but we know this can be a really tricky thing to get *just right* for everyone’s tastes - so if it’s not for you (or if you need a small performance boost) Post-Processing can be easily disabled from the options menu.

Steam Achievements and Steam Cards

Lastly - I suppose this doesn’t quite fall under the category of visual improvements but it DOES involve some art - we’ve included full Steam Achievement and Steam Card support in the Director’s Cut! Here’s a sneak peek:

 Anyway, thanks for reading! I can’t wait until next week - taking the existing campaign and getting the chance to add to it and make it better has been a rewarding experience, and it’s not something that developers always get the opportunity to do. We’re excited to put the final product in your hands and in the hands of many new players as well.

Donald M Pollack, Gera Hmurov, and 75 more people like this update.

Comments

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    1. Nine
      Superbacker
      on

      Hey Mike, awesome work. Can't wait to see it myself. Thanks for your and your crew's effort.

    2. J.R. Riedel on

      I'm very much looking forward to this, I already scheduled the day off from work :P (Don't tell my wife!)

      Also Steam cards and achievements make me happy. ;)

      There is one thing I am eager for information on... An earlier post mentioned there would be migration instructions for UGC... How long after release do you expect it will take for that? (Just trying to schedule my time)

    3. madGamer on

      Cool and thanks! Its good to see that the game engine its better and better with time. Please release another kickstarter for the next campaign. :)

    4. Missing avatar

      Dave Hickling on

      Will there be a way to turn off just film grain? The other post-processing effects sound ok and I wouldn't mind them being on but I hate film grain with a passion. It makes nice clear images look like I've got a dusty monitor.

    5. LuckyLuigi on

      I need more time but this is certainly going on the list for another run ! :)

    6. Tobi (Crusader Kickstarter pls!!) on

      what cb.spike said. pls create a new campaign! make it with a kickstarter or regular DLC on steam. puleeeese :)

    7. Missing avatar

      cb.spike on

      All those changes look great. Too bad I usually don´t replay games because I don´t have enough time to invest it in already beaten game. So I hope I will see all those improvements in brand new Shadowrun game.

    8. RC on

      AAAAAAAAAAHH!!! Gimme!!!! Just GIMMEE!!!

      ...I think that'll be my next characters name. Gimme "The Game" McGee ^_^

    9. Dave, Shadowrunner on

      I'm am so fraggin' excited for this DC. I hope this pays off for HBS (i.e., lots of people buy it). In fact I hope it such a success that HBS decides to do a Director's Cut of Dead Man's Switch, too. Although a brand new campaign in another city (or in as yet unexplored parts of Seattle would be even better). I kinda feel like I committed robbery pledging only $15 for this campaign... I think I will have to buy the Android version as well because HBS deserves some more money for all of this; and I'll want to play when not at home.

      P.S. I have posted a comment on Felicia's video.

    10. Dave, Shadowrunner on

      @Stephen: From what I hear (from people who played the Beta) and just based on the release of ..every PC game ever.. Wasteland 2 is going to require lots of patches after release... So as much as I'm looking forward to giving that game a try I think I'll probably play through Dragonfall DC first.

    11. Harebrained Schemes LLC 4-time creator on

      @Stephen To be fair, we announced our release date first. : )

    12. Stephen "Stoibs" D
      Superbacker
      on

      Such a shame you have chosen to launch this at pretty much the same time as Wasteland 2. Would love to give this a go but I have a feeling my time will be pre-occupied elsewhere... ;(

      Nice addition with the cards and achievements in any case, look forward to earning some of these.

    13. Harebrained Schemes LLC 4-time creator on

      Thanks guys, that's great to hear!

      @Rafael - The new Director's Cut Editor does include all art assets from Shadowrun Returns, Dragonfall, and the Director's Cut.

    14. Rafael Lopes Vivian on

      @HBS One thing I love about SRR is the power of the level editor. I heard the old level editor won't be compatible with Dragonfall Director's Cut stuff, but will there be a new superpowerful level editor with all assets from all of SRR/Dead man swith/Dragonfall/Director's Cut ever released and more? *nudge* huh? *nudge* huh?

    15. Rafael Lopes Vivian on

      Ditto what @valore said, with such high expectations, the success of Shadowrun Returns and specially Dragonfall makes history in Kickstarter (and it's pretty unusual too at least in comparison to other projects I was interested to). Congratulations HBS. ;-)

    16. Missing avatar

      valore
      Superbacker
      on

      Just a shoutout to say that you guys remain one of the biggest Kickstarter success stories for me, and I've backed like 300 KS game projects. Excellent communication and follow up, and then giving extra to original KS backers just because. I hope you keep going with Shadowrun, and have success in whatever else you guys decide to do.

    17. Harebrained Schemes LLC 4-time creator on

      @Gera There is no new game+ option, though that sounds like it'd be a lot of fun to make! If you're going into a second playthrough I would definitely recommend checking out the Hard difficulty mode though, we've adjusted that to be a pretty nice tactical challenge for experienced players. : )

    18. Greg Principato
      Superbacker
      on

      "This is the last of four Dev Diaries". I'm glad to hear that. I'm all out of drool. I'm very much looking forward to this.

    19. Gera Hmurov on

      Thaks for update! It all looks great! Will there be any kind of new game+ option for old players? Ability to save some spoiler characters from dying for example? Or some unique brutal cool dialogue choices?

    20. Missing avatar

      Sleet
      Superbacker
      on

      So many awesome bits to this update. Thanks, guys, I can't wait to see the director's cut!

    21. Spacebug on

      No such thing as gibs that are too over the top!

      On my second playthrough of Dragonfall, I messed up and left the underground sewer area before I completed the mission and screwed it up...then I rage quit and decided to start all over again when I was less annoyed. I'm glad now that I've only played it right through once, so it will be more fresh when the DC comes out :D

    22. Donald M Pollack on

      Awesome. Love the extra work going into directors cut. Itching to do another play through and see the changes on the 18th.