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Experience Shadowrun with your friends and plenty of enemies in an action strategy game and determine the future of the 6th world!
6,003 backers pledged $558,863 to help bring this project to life.

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The best laid plans...

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This has been the roughest week of our collective studio live – and we had a number of rough patches as some of you know. We are a small team and creating an online game – regardless of whether it is a massive open world MMO or a more modest game like ours- is a big undertaking. When we launched, we were reasonably certain, that everything worked out. So what has gone so horribly wrong and have we all been blind or stupid? If you want to understand what happened, below is the rundown on things. If you are not interested in explanations or excuses, just scroll to the announcement at the end for how we try to at least make amends for this clusterdrek.

We know the risk associated with online games, especially if it is structurally and technically an MMO (in the sense of most of the AI, Logic, Persistence and all the other stuff that makes the game operate being done via server). This is why we have been extra careful before we released Shadowrun Chronicles – the game had been running for months before launch without any issues (as our Early Access and Kickstarter players can attest to), we did a series of Mass Tests (simulating thousands of concurrent user sessions) and a day prior to launch we invited our Early Access community to come in droves by allowing them a day head-start for their characters (whom the previously had to endure to see wiped time and time again as we balanced and reworked the game). We upgraded our hardware to be extra safe, even though our servers rarely went above 5% load. Come launch day and things work without a glitch…until they suddenly don’t.

Shortly after our studio fell victim to a district wide blackout at the most inopportune of times, our external server inexplicably slows down. The source for this was quickly identified (once we were back on line) – a specific task called “garbage collector”, which cleans up leftover allocated things in the memory and with the amount of players suddenly has too much to do, which results in things queuing up and eating away the hardware resources for every other process (like walking from a to b). So we reduced the amount of garbage produced, patched, and off we go…

Only to see lag creeping into the game again. Looking at the server actions and our logs, it turns out our servers clog up with threads they cannot compute fast enough, leaving ever more threads hanging, which results in the game becoming ever more unresponsive. So, what do players do, if the game does not react when they click on something? Right, they click on it again and again and again…creating more commandos for the server, who is struggling as it is. Vicious circle anyone?

Now these issues are something that accumulates over time…which is almost impossible to test without actual people doing a thousand actual things which differ from our mass tests. It also exposes problems by adding a magnitude. Things that worked badly but did not register when we had a little over hundred players concurrently suddenly explode with 500 players.

Take our hub: To be able to see other players running around, the server needs to collect the “commands” from every player and update every other client about the movements of each character in the hub. Previously that was never an issue. But with dozens of hubs open the small things stack up. And if they do, the server gets clogged up…and if that happens long enough it simply cannot work through commands fast enough…resulting in lag. One of the patches has reduced the size of each command (so the amount of data the server has to compute) to 20% of what it was and optimized the associated logic at the server, so it is 40 times as fast as it has been before. So why didn’t we do this before? Simple: It wasn’t a problem, so we weren’t fixing it – every change of a running system has the risk of creating new bugs and if it ain’t broken…

The example above is but one part of the complex and interwoven web of logic and relations and we wish we could enter that code Shadowrun style and hack our way through things with ease, but unfortunately that is not the case. Instead our 6 coders and IT as well as QA have worked day and night for three days to correct problem after problem, but as with any intricate webs, when you start pulling one strings, the whole thing changes and transforms. So every patch improved parts of the problem…only to see another issue creep up. And we may not have seen the end of this, as we continue to fix things. And it does not help if people don’t sleep for over 40 hours…

TL;DR: This is fragged and we are desperately trying to fix it, but we are stretched to the limits.

As a way of saying sorry, we want to give everyone who endured this week of constant patching and those who just gave up a little gift and ask them to give the game one more shot. Mid next week, every user will receive three things:

  • A free additional character slot (so if all that patching messed up your builds, you can start a clean one)
  • Two pieces of cultured bioware – these cost zero Essence so you can use them with any character even mages or make sure you cybered up street sams get that extra boost they have been looking for
  • A flamethrower, so whenever you get really angry at us for that drek, you can just incinerate a few enemies and think of us.

We are still working on creating a PvP and Endgame mode – most of this is design and thus not overly affected by the massive amount of work our coders had to do, but then our coders will need some sleep after this marathon. Again, we are sorry for this and after putting years of work into this, it is unbelievably disappointing for us to see this happen and leave a bad impression.

So this was launch day ... interesting

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Some of you may wonder how we spent our Launch Day: Celebrating finally having released, sleeping for a full day or perhaps frantically fixing last minute bugs? The answer is: All of this and more – minus the sleeping part. So here is my personal Launch Day diary:

0:00 Still up playing the game and surfing the forums. Today is Liz’ (one of our Community Manager’s) birthday…and she is sending out Backer queries until way past midnight.
1:00 Game is looking good, time for a run with some players and discussing the finer points of balancing and dual wielding
2:00 Too psyched to sleep and Liz still on it as well. As are the PMs and customer support. Boy am I going to be tired for launch day
3:00 More forum discussion and Steam posts. Humble comes through with the store listing, so all is set for tomorrow
4:00 Time..to..sleep…
8:00 Quick breakfast, checking the forums and prepping for today. Launch Day, wohooo!
9:00 Server stable, last patch has been applied nerfing the Pistol and making cyberware more accessible. Testing commences. Office is buzzing already.
10:00 We get a greenlight from QA, last minute store changes as we realize the Ruble price was set wrongly and we did not layout the German text properly
11:00 Uploading the launch trailer, checking reviews from websites and on Steam. Steadily rising scores…looking good. Let’s press that launch button on Steam.
12:00 PANIC – Steam did not update us to launch and prices are all wrong, not displaying the launch discount. Also, the Early Access only Founder’s edition still visible in store and the Deluxe RPG edition shows up as DLC instead of a proper version. Frantic fixing attempts show: Our settings are correct, yet Steam does not display things the way it says it does. How do we get it out and adjusted?
13:00 Mails out to Steam Team, wo are usually great at responding and fixing…but they are 9 hours behind, so probably fast asleep.
14:00 Rock Paper Shotgun ads already running but point to the game without launch discount…we manage to at least get the Founder’s Edition out and sort the DLC a little
15:00 People start asking questions, the team is waiting for the confirmation of launch and need to send out Press
16:00 Flo and Liz have sent out thousands of codes and backer surveys for our 30 odd backer tiers. Steam has come through and adjusted the prices and state…but we don’t get a launch promotion due to the database error that caused this. Invisible launch? Ok, Steam gave us some other visibility and changed the Ruble price…phew.
16:30 The team, looking like a pair of tired veterans toasts to one another…laughter and relief. Trailer goes live and news is sent out by our partners from Nordic. 

17:00 BLACKOUT! The entire district has no power. We are cut off…What are the odds of this happening on Launch Day? I need to add the descriptions of the Deluxe and RPG Deluxe editions to the Store page which somehow got swallowed in the whole process, so nobody knows what the deluxe edition contains. Also have to change the Steam store text to make people aware the game requires online connection constantly…OUR online connection in that particular case, so I can change text in the first place. The team goes home as they have nothing to do. IT stays for when the power comes back as does Jonathan who is running social media and was trying to make a gameplay video.
18:00 Trying to run the forums and adjust steam from my mobile connection…not the fastest way. Oh, Humble has the wrong Euro to USD conversion in their store…need to get prices adjusted.
19:00 The Boston Lockdown Campaign book pdf is approved by Steam…if I could just access the store page to get it out…
19:30 Power is back on, fixing stuff on Steam, Humble is fixing prices…Backers coming back to us about the survey, mails start flooding in again as the servers start working again. Of course the sudden power rush blows half of our office fuses in our hopelessly overextended power wiring.
20:00 When as the last time I ate? Things seem on course- head out for a bite and realize temperature has dropped massively and it’s raining cats and dogs. Wasn’t it a sunny day when I left this morning. Maybe should have taken a sweater and actual shoes as opposed to sandals?
20:40 Game server is down just as I get my order. This cannot be true.
21:20 Servers are back…40 posts on steam about the issue…
22:00 Going through the backer responses, watching Steam and Shadowrun.com. Need chocolate.
23:00 I feel slightly worn out. More backer mails and things to organize…at least the Forums seem to be ok.
24:00 So THIS is how Launch Day feels…IN HELL. But we persevered. All in the name of the game!

RUN WITH A STREET LEGEND IN SHADOWRUN CHRONICLES - May 2nd

Have you ever dreamt of running the shadows with a true street legend? Now is you chance: Join Jason Hardy, Catalyst’s Line Editor for Shadowrun and the mastermind behind all current Shadowrun plots, “Bull” Ratkovich, famous for inheriting Jackpoint and fearless leader of the SR demo team and Aaron Pavao, who has contributed to over a dozen Shadowrun books. This is you unique opportunity to meet these Shadowrn legends in the virtual flesh, ask them questions and – if you are lucky – go on a run with them. Please send us a mail with your character name in game if you are interested in participating in a run – expect the Legends to be low to mid level in power, so this is a good time to use one of your alternate slots. 

Join our first post-launch Legend Run event on Saturday May 2nd 9 pm PST (West Coast US)m, 12 Midnight EST (East Coast US) or Sunday May 3rd 6 AM CEST (Central Europe).

See you in the Shadows,

-primetide

P.S: Our support team tells me to inform you that they are doing overtime answering  your inquiries to get everyone sorted, but as there's a lot of messages, it might take a bit of time to get your answer. If you are still looking for your Steam key, please check your inbox (or spam folder) for the Early Access key that was sent out in late March 2014 - that key turned into the full version on Tuesday. If you can't find it, please contact us.

LAUNCHING IN 3…2…1 ... LIFTOFF! (almost)

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After a long time in the making and ups and downs, we are finally launching Shadowrun Chonicles to the public today. The last wipe happened yesterday, the last bugs should be fixed (well then ones we dare risk or absolutely need to touch at that point) and we are busy making last minute preparations for our release on Steam, Humble and other stores (and you can buy directly through our own website, which will net us a higher percentage of the sales amount), thanks to Humble).

From now on the future of the game depends very much on how it will fare in the weeks ahead – we certainly want to do a LOT more with it – PvP, end-game missions, better chat system, color palettes for hair and beards and not least to continue the story which Boston Lockdown has begun. Between your feedback and our plans for the game, we will continue to be hard at work to grow the game further. For today, let’s take deep breath, step back and look at what we have accomplished despite the challenges we have been facing. Releasing a game is always an anxious moment for developers, as the public opinion (and the wallets gamers ultimately vote with) can make or break a game. So we need you help once more in letting people know about the game and of course inside the game in helping new users and establishing a good and welcoming environment for new players.

Is the game perfect? No – as with any game it will need more polishing and expanding and we have been discussing changes and additions with you in the forums. But I think we have laid the foundation for a great tactical co-op game experience and to realize the full potential for the road ahead. In the time since we have begun to make the game, babies have been born to the team-members, people came and others left and even the second part of Double Fine’s kickstarter is releasing in the same week as we do. Time flies, when you are having fun, it seems.

I want to say a heartfelt Thank You to everyone who has been part of the journey up to this point – team members, backers, our great community faces and everyone who has given feedback and helped make the game better. I am eager to see what the journey up ahead has to offer!

SWAG

As in the previous weeks the team will probably not get a lot of sleep following the release, but we wanted to let you know that we have begun the miniature production (see picture of a prototype below) and these are looking like they will turn out great. The T-Shirts are being prepared and a survey about sizes and shipping address should go out today as will the codes for your in-game backer items and the links for downloading your digital rewards. Please allow around a day for receiving the mails. If you haven’t gotten a mail by tomorrow, check your SPAM folders. If it cannot be found please get back to us, as we may have a wrong email address for you in our records.

We are also waiting for the delivery of the boxed game version to our offices – which, by the way, will contain two codes: One for Steam and one for a non-Steam (DRM free other than your account).

As always, should you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact us!

So, see you in the Shadows, chummers, the game is on for real!
Primetide

Meet a Shadowrun Legend in Chronicles

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Hoi Chummers,

as promised in our Kickstarter wayyyyy back, some of you have earned the right to run with the Legends of the Shadowrun Universe. And now the time has come to allow those special backers to play side by side with the greatest of Shadowrun creative minds, so they can tell their awed friends that they actually went on a run with a true legend! Those of you who backed a tier that includes invitations to the Meet a Legend runs should have already received an invitation to the upcoming runs with further instructions (if you have backed such a tier but didn't receive an invitation, please check your spam folders and contact us if you can't find the message). But of course we don't want such an occasion to be something that only has benefits for our lucky VIP backers, so our Legends will also hang around the Back Alleys of Boston for everyone to meet them.

We already have an impressive guest list lined up and hope for more to join us: From Harebrained Games come Jordan Weisman, Original Creator of Shadowrun and the masterful Shadowrun Returns series, Mitch Gitelman, the man who makes visions into reality, and Mike Mulvihil, master of story and design. From Catalyst Labs we have Jason Hardy, Shadowrun Line Editor and master of the universe of present day Shadowrun. We also have Bull, the one man roleplaying powerhouse (who now also controls Jackpoint!) and for our German players Raben AAS, long standing Shadowrun artist extraordinaire, and Tigger aka Tobias Hamelmann, the man who makes sure the German Shadowrun books are at least as good if not better than any other.

So how will this work, I hear you ask eagerly?

Well, at certain predetermined times one or two legends will join our game (see the schedule below). They will hang around in our hubs for a while and you can meet and greet them, chat with them and ask them the things you always wanted to know. Of course space in our hub is limited and after a while they will collect their runner team of VIP backers and go for a mission, so we cannot guarantee you will be able to meet them inside the hub, but you should be able to join the global chat. As we expect the events to be madly crowded, we ask for your patience - the Legend Runs will continue in the future and while you may not be able to actually be there the first time around, we ask our guests to return repeatedly!

So here’s the schedule (subject to change) and we have half a dozen more Shadowrun creative minds lined up and soon to be announced!

April 24th 3pm PDT (midnight CEST): Mitch Gitelman
May 2nd 3pm PDT (midnight CEST): Jason Hardy and Bull
May 8th 3pm PDT (midnight CEST): Jordan Weisman
May 15th 10am PDT (7pm CEST): Raben-AAS and Amy Veeres
May 22nd 3pm PDT (midnight CEST): Mike Mulvihil
May 29th 10am PDT (7pm CEST): Raben-AAS and Tigger

Please note that while we will try our best to accommodate our players, we can’t guarantee that the Legend will be present at the allotted time or answer all questions. This is a friendly gathering and we invite you all to have fun in the game with one another as much as with the Legends we invited.

Looking forward to meeting you in the Shadows,

Your Shadowrun Chronicles Team

A new Shadowrun Chronicles update & State of Development

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Hoi Chummers,

We just released a new update for Shadowrun Chronicles today, bringing the game close to the state it will release in (though balancing is not final). Here are the patchnotes:

New Features

  • Team up! Coop has been extensively reworked and now allows up to four players to go on a run together. Please take note that now everyone on your team can take action at the same time, so no more waiting for your turn!
  • Meet up! Other players will join you now in the hub, even if they are not in your group. Meet up, swap tales of your deeds or tactical advice and roleplay to your heart's content.
  • Cyber up! Improve your body with Cyberware. Keep in mind though that augmenting your meatbody reduces your essence and thus affects your spellcasting!
  • Going deeper: A lot of new missions take you deeper into the story of the Boston Lockdown than ever before! The 3rd Act of our game and several side missions have been added for you to explore.
  • Talk to me! Partial Voice overs have been added to the game, bringing our main characters to life! Hear Smedley, Jane, Payday, Sarah and others talk!
  • New Map: The Map of Boston has been extensively reworked and now shows districts and sights, but also signals the state the districts are in.
  • Skin Color: It is now possible to change the skin tone of your character during Character Creation.
  • Paint and Needles: Facepaint and Tattoos are now available in stores to customize your character further.
  • Checking in: The Matrix Hub now lets you check back with Johnsons and other characters in situations when you cannot return to the normal hub.
  • Starting up: Shadowrun Chronicles now features a proper launcher that allows you to set the language, screen resolutions and to redeem coupons. Please note: While it is already possible to redeem coupons (i.e. weapon or promotion codes), you will NOT receive these items in game till launch.
  • Sprechen Sie Deutsch? German text is now available in the game.

Fixes, Changes and Improvements

  • The ragdoll animations have been adjusted, so graphical issues when a character dies should now occur less often.
  • When starting a new career you will now start the first mission automatically before you get to enter the hub. Please note that it is now also impossible to return to character creation once you’ve made your choices there and entered the game!
  • Dialogues in the hub will now be presented with a new camera angle, giving you a proper view of who you are talking to.
  • Items in the gear and shop screens can now be filtered by category.
  • Female characters can now have beards.
  • Some parts of the levels are now destructible (i.e. glass panes).
  • New Outfits have been added.
  • From now on only one item will be taken into the run per consumable slot, even if you have a whole stack available.
  • Beards and hairstyles cannot be sold anymore.
  • It is now possible to log out of your current career and return to the selection screen from the options menu.
  • In the friends list you will now also see the account name of your friends, not just the name of their current character.
  • Characters in the hub now have idle animations.
  • The loot notification has been improved.
  • The player character should not become available as a henchman anymore.
  • Autopicker, Remote Det, Portable Bodyscan and Hacking Autosoft have been removed from the game.
  • Some issues with the chat have been fixed.
  • Backgrounds, effects, missions. Skills and skilltrees have been iterated, improved and polished.
  • Lots of other small fixes, corrections, clarifications and improvements

We'll also talk about the new update (and play it) on our 10th Live Q&A TODAY at 7pm CEST (10 am PDT) on http://www.twitch.tv/cliffhangerproductions

State of Development

Now we are focusing our last, crunch time filled days and nights to make the game the best we possibly can. Already our list of things to add after release has grown long enough to keep us busy for a good long while, not least thanks to your contributions on the Shadowrun.com forums. We already took a lot of your comments on board (Totem Spirit Backgrounds!) and want to do a good few more (Adding skills like Aim and Defend) soon, but first we need to kill bug spirits…loads of them. As you know bugs breed more bugs (Remember Chicago) and we don’t have a tactical nuke to drop on them, so we need to eliminate them one by one and that is a tough job, even for the seasoned bug-fighters in our team. QA, Coders and Designers are working literally day and night to eradicate those pesky spirits. The task has not been made easier by our builds now taking the better part of 6 hours (from what used to be 30 minutes) each time, due to the cool new voice audios we have in now. They are totally worth it, but that has slowed us down quite a bit.

Backer Rewards Update

On top of the brand new update for the game, we wanted to give you a quick update on the backer rewards. As I type, the brand new Boston Lockdown Campaign Book by writer extraordinaire Scott Schletz is on my hard drive as a pdf. This means all backers of the appropriate reward tiers will get one for launch (Yay!). That also unfortunately means actually printing and shipping the books will take at least 8 weeks if not more until we can even begin to distribute them. As postage has been getting consistently more expensive, we simply cannot afford to ship rewards piecemeal, so we need to wait until everything can be assembled in one place and into one package.

This gives us more time to work out the minis, which begin to be a huge headache for our resident product manager Loquee – unfortunately our expected volume is too low for most professional outfits to be worth their while, so we are having issues with finding a good mix of affordable pricing and top quality. That is always a challenge, especially for miniatures, as our friends at Catalyst can attest to. But we will not stop scouring the nooks and crannies of the ‘trix until we find that perfect place. We already have found a few prospective partners and we have asked them to provide samples, so hopefully we should have something to show soonish.

We also have begun to select our partners for the awesome Shadowrun Chronicles T-Shirts, Bags and assorted goodies, but we will hold off on production until closer to the book and miniature deliveries, so we don’t pay extra for storage until that date.

Let’s make sure we get the game out in the best possible shape for now and we will keep you updated on the other backer rewards. By the way, we could use a few Steam reviews (preferably positive) if you have a minute :)

See you in the Shadows

Primetide