Funded! This project was successfully funded on August 14, 2012.

Update #29

The plot thickens… and how we treat progression in Shadowrun Online

As promised last time around, we want to give you a little bit of insight into the plot of the game. Now I don’t mean to fill this with spoilers, so we will take a peek into the story and learn a bit more about how we want to treat story progression in Shadowrun Online.

Now, as you know, SRO will be kind of an MMO and kind of not. Many backers have expressed their wish to run with their friends and we totally want that too, but it isn’t as simple as it sounds. Anyone having played MMOs may have experienced the effect of different progress speeds. You start off with your friends but then some of them or you may not be able to keep up with the progress speed of the group and then someone gets left behind. For a while there, the others help him or her progress, but that member is missing important raids and after a while drops from the group. This effect is even more pronounced when you add different platforms in and take our mixed model of campaign and free to play accounts in consideration. So how are we tackling this?

Well, first of all, unlike many solo-RPGs, we don’t think of the game as a linear main-story with side-quests. We think of it as experiencing different phases – chapters if you will – in a continuing development of the 6th world (well, the little corner of the world on our servers) as the meta-plot moves towards certain key events. So, from the get go, you of course experience YOUR version of the game, stringing together your specific path of progression inside the plot, which becomes your unique story, but that isn’t the same for everyone. It is also clear, that the rest of the people on the server contribute toward the advancement of the game world.

Obviously, with the world being moved forward by all the players, we don’t want to leave anyone behind or put off newcomers, which is where the phases come in. Many of our runs consist of ‘mission boxes’, so they aren’t necessarily linear and it is up to the player how to tackle them. For example: Your Johnson – an overworked and desperate Ares officer – contracts you to stop a marauding bunch of psychotic gangers on some new drug. These guys have holed up in different locations, indiscriminately killing the inhabitants. Now, depending on your team, you may want to tackle the ones hiding away in the talismonger’s shop or the guys barricaded in at the Stuffer Shack, or the guys burning cars on the street corner or the ones holding hostages in the office building etc. We don’t force you to do all of them – though you are free to do so. Once you’ve secured a certain number of locations, you may discover a common pattern to the craziness of the gangers, unlocking the next mission box for you and thus progressing the plot. Once enough other players have advanced this far, Ares will hire a strike against the drug distributors and a new global mission box will unlock for all players, perhaps offering a special mission for those who have a good standing with Ares. And there may be a mission box on top of that, dealing with stopping the drug from being produced at all. All of those mission boxes may in turn improve Ares’ standing on the megacorp ‘leaderboard’, influencing the next layer of missions to be unlocked (for instance, other megacorps might start hiring operatives to do sabotage runs against Ares). Many of those boxes can be played at different power levels, at least within a certain tier of power. So while there is a slow, server wide-progression that coincides with the collective effort of runners, new players may just see parts of the boxes and once they advance into the appropriate power tier, Ares might have already been brought down a notch. By then, NeoNet might want you to steal a shipment of those drugs for examination in their SOTA lab. So, while it technically means you play the same mission map with the same goal (get to the shipment of drugs), the mission context changes and so does your personal story – and of course, enough of those runs add up to NeoNet gaining an advantage on the corporate ‘power board’, unlocking new global missions from or against them.

So what does that mean for you and your group? Well, for one, you don’t have to do every mission in order, one after the other, making it easier for runners that ‘missed’ a mission somewhere to join the team. Secondly, your group may do runs together, or each player may do them at different times to team up again for the ‘next’ unlocked mission box. And last but not least, if you are at different levels, you can still play the same missions, even though your characters are on different ‘power levels’ and both, you and your chummers, profit from it. And all of you contribute to the standing of your favorite corps, which sweetens the deal.

We have several tiers of power in the game, which coincide with plot phases. So after a while your runs will lead you deeper into the scheme of the game and to more juicy missions. This finally leads you to where all the factions/corps involved are scrambling to control ..well, the ultimate mission box of the campaign. We will see an all-out shadow-war for something unique that holds the key to some of the 6th world’s most interesting secrets… and no, it isn’t an artifact J. The struggle can take the form of actual PvP against other runners or joint and coordinated PvE conflicts (think of it as all of one faction adding their successful mission completions up against the other factions) within a given timeframe.

The goal here is to open up the classical MMO structure and to mix this with the experience of a dynamic world, while allowing you to select your personal mission path in the world you help shape. We want you to play with your group (or potentially your association, or network, or whatever term we will find for ‘guilds’) no matter whether you have been running the shadows together for the past few weeks, or just happened to find the chance for a spontaneous session now. We also want you to later on join forces with other players when the stakes are getting higher, without requiring 30 people to be there at the same time to do a massive raid.

It is an ambitious goal and it may sound slightly complicated, but we hope in the game it will play fluidly and feel natural.

One thing we need to do in order to keep control is to lock you down in certain locations. All MMOs do this in one way or the other (the world geography ends at some point, areas unlock over time), but we went all the way and actually lock you down as a story element. In fact, even the campaign book for SRO will be called Lockdown! Instead of finding some weird mechanic to stop you from veering off the course, we actually decided to make that a cornerstone of the story: The city you play in is on lockdown. Nobody gets in or out. And this means resources are scarce and a lot of Johnsons need extra hands to help them, as most law-keeping forces and corp armies have their hands full enforcing the lockdown. With a total lockdown, a lot of things (including most virtual connections) get cut off, which means fewer prying eyes. An ideal situation for people with shady businesses to get their work done, for gangs to take advantage, for old feuds to be settled (the hard way), for power grabs and for straight forward havoc on the streets. The city is plunged into chaos, as violence erupts amidst a desperate struggle between several corps, who hire every disposable asset they can. This equals a lot of blood in the streets and even more work for the Shadows. And so, a city is left to its own devices while a shadow war wages… who wouldn’t want to be part of this?

And, to give you a little teaser of the story, it all starts with a blurry trideo recordings of a dragon suddenly emerging from an underground complex in mid-town, writhing in agony and then going totally crazy, killing hundreds of people in a mad frenzy, laying waste to a corporate arcology, leaving a weird trace of iridescent rain… and a whole city having to deal with the aftermath. Welcome to Shadowrun Online: LOCKDOWN!


Update #28

Dressed to kill and concept art

It has been a while since we last sent out an update, but things have been crazy around here as always. We are bringing our current released game Jagged Alliance Online to Steam and we have been getting in more artists and QA to help us work on SRO.

But since you have been waiting for an update for some time, we will give you not one but two topics today: Armour/Clothing and some more concept art, so sit down with your favourite Soykaf flavour and enjoy the read.

Clothing and Armour in Shadowrun Online or: The Ubiquity of the Lined Coat 

As you know, we are favouring a modular system for our gear, allowing you to individualize your characters both visually and stats-wise. Following this philosophy, here is our take on how we handle armour and clothing.

For us, Shadowrun has always been about looking cool just as much as it was about being deadly – so the armor system will incorporate both aspects. The one thing we want to avoid is everyone wearing the same bit of silly spiked armor, just because it has the best protection value – on the other hand we’re not too fond of battle-armor grade steel thongs either.
So briefly, here’s how it works in our version:
Each character can wear different types of clothing items. These are equipped via the inventory (featuring a 3D pictre of your character) where you’ll also be able to equip weapons, cyberdecks, foci and almost everything else a Shadowrunner might need. Cyberware will work somewhat differently because let’s face it – it’s not exactly a DIY-thing, but by and large this is where you gear up.
The individual items are independent of each other, so you can mix and match shoes, pants, gloves, coats as well as t-shirts. We are currently working on figuring out how to efficiently combine layers of clothing so you can wear your favourite overcoat, armour suit or bandoleer with whatever shirt, blouse or body paint strikes your fancy.


Functionally each item of armor has a number of slots which allows you to add stuff – like Kevlar Lining or Ballistic Plates for extra protection, smart circuitry to improve your hacking and many more. Some of these will carry some sort of trade-off – if you add lots of smartware or combat tech to your clothing you will be more vulnerable to hacking attacks, if you decide to go with lots of foci to boost your magical prowess, expect trouble because they will make you very noticeable to whatever the opposition has stalking the astral plane.

But what about the style you ask? Well, while it isn't completely independent of what you want packed in, there is wide range beyond everyone's favourite synth-leather long-coat.
Visually there will be a general distinction between armors that can be tanked out, and those that can’t – i.e. armors that have more slots for protection will be armor jackets, lined dusters or combat armor while those that can take more 'ware will look more like regular streetwear that may have AR-visible effects. But even you see-through stockings and your fedora can be decked out with some protection...The general idea is, that you chosen style shouldn't be cramped by having to wear a bullet jacket, but if you want to be a human tank, then that is going to show at some stage.

Different types of clothing have different slots of course – glasses can be upgraded with smartlinks or flare protection, but will never be armor-plated while upper body clothing will usually have at least a slot or two for protective inserts.
In general you’ll usually see what flavour an item brings, but you’ll normally not be forced to go for one piece of armour just for its uber-stats.

This way, you can choose to look cool and still have the proverbial ace up your sleeve. Of course if you want a Mortimer's coat with an extra slot for protection, you have to cough up the Nuyen, but who said life was easy?

Our concept art shows two very different examples of clothing. And we have also added a black and white gallery, to show we aren't all about bare chested female street sams in corselets...

For a while now we have been looking at how we can create character types off the beaten paths with our system, allowing players to express themselves, while maintaining a balance with the amount of assets we have to create. Being a small project, technical considerations such as "Can we make the same shirt fit a male Troll and a female dwarf or do we have to create separate versions?" are quite important. Of course we can imagine a huge number of clothings styles and cool assets, but with the several races of Shadowrun, male/female, layered clothing (Jacket over shirt and so on), creating the assets for the game becomes quite a challenge- especially across all platforms. A large amount of thinking and code went into allowing us to have tools to create and adjust assets quickly and make things auto-fit as much as possible. From an intelligent layering system for clothing to allowing tattoos or visible cyberwear, our artists are facing quite a challenge in creating enough gear to satisfy the wish for individualization. The good thing about being online is- we can always add more stuff as we continue the game, so while we may not have the full clothing line from the get go, we will surely stock up!

That's it for today, next time, a sneak peek at our storyline. Two hints: Some of the threads already start in Stormfront (upcoming from our good friends at Catalyst) and it turns out, when we choose an unknown dragon for our campaign image flying over a city, we weren't that far off the mark.

See you in the Shadows

Primetide

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Update #27

Weapons and Modding in SRO and a survey-update

Hoi Chummers,

Today we bring you a sneak peek at the way we are handling weapons and modifications in the game. Our goal was to create a system that lets players individualize their items as much as they want but at the same time doesn’t create something that is burdening everyone with complicated crafting recipes it takes ages to assemble. We also wanted to have a system, where each weapon type makes sense according to your style and not just have one weapon be simply superior to another, which makes choosing weapons just a question of how quickly you can get the best weapon in the game.

So here is how we think of the weapon system in a step by step outline:

Our first move is to create a number of base weapon types – like you know them from your Tabletop. Now obviously there is a difference between your Light Pistol and your Panther Assault Cannon. But we are going one step further: We want your Ares Predator to feel slightly different from your Remington Roomsweeper and your Colt Manhunter, even though they may have the same damage code and share the same basic role. We do this by having slight differences between weapons – things like Range, Magazine Size, Aiming Bonus, Malfunction Chances, Noise etc. so they feel similar to the average gamer, but if you want to optimize your character, you can dig deeper.

Now we get to the next part – modding your weapon. In most games, you discard your starting weapons for superior models in the cause of your progression. Our basic system shifts this towards making the weapon you have better fit your playing style by allowing you to modify it. This is not to say there aren’t superior models around. Be it the improved craftsmanship or a rare and expensive prototype, there may be weapons worth getting your hands on. But these should be rare and special and hard to get.

Modding your weapon is a two-step process – each weapon will have a number of slots for improvement: barrel, sight, grip etc. Each slot can be filled with one upgrade item, for example a silencer or a laser sight. Now each of these will move some of the above mentioned attributes upwards. A silencer will reduce noise, but then you cannot put a range extending device in the same spot. Now each of these upgrades comes in different qualities – while run of the mill base quality upgrades may be available at your local stuffer shack, the better quality upgrades will be harder to obtain. This is where crafting comes in – given the right materials and skills, you can assemble your own upgrades in order to use them in your weapon modding. The idea here is again to allow the average Ork ganger to get a modded Uzi, but the real pros may just want to fiddle with their toys a little more, giving them a deciding edge without making them vastly superior. Of course getting your hands on the good stuff for crafting is in itself not an easy task…

Basically this allows you a couple of choices – you can play to the strength of your weapon and for example make sure your Roomsweeper gets bigger magazines and has an increased accuracy and just makes a lot of noise. Or you can try and build a silent version of it, maybe sacrificing the opportunity to have a prolonged firefight without a reload, since you reckon if you keep silent, you won’t even have one of those. Or you just get the right gun for each occasion and build two ‘types’. Of course on average a light pistol will always be quicker and less noisy than an average heavy pistol, but you can look for the mix that fits your tactics best.

Our goal here is bringing that Shadowrun feeling of any weapon being dangerous to anyone, but the difference between a rent-a-cop and a Shadowrunner lies in the amount of individualization and artisanship they bring to their weapons. It is a fine balance to find, but we hope with your help in the beta, we will get the mix right.

And since we're talking already, we'd like to comment on the survey that is currently running: Your feedback has been amazing and most of the surveys we sent out have been answered by now. If you are expecting one and haven't received it yet, please contact us about it. Evaluating the surveys will take some time, so please be patient if you asked for another survey via the survey you received (e.g. if you decided to upgrade your pledge in the last week) or, if you feel it is urgent, please make sure to contact us, too. Thanks again for your cooperation and as always:

See you in the Shadows…


Update #26

First survey out and signs of life

Hoi Chummers,

we have been slightly behind on our updates and surveys with all the exciting stuff going on with the new SR5 edition of the tabletop and the Shadowrun Universe site and all the 2013 - Year of Shadowrun action happening.

Well, here is a sign of life and some news.

First of all, our initial survey will go out today - so you should receive a mail from surveymonkey soonish. If not, please check your spam box or let us know here if you haven't gotten anything by end of the week.

The second news is about our delivery dates - we were aiming for May 2013, but we are going to postpone. For one, we need more time to make the product- we are a small team and we cannot just add more people to speed up with the limited budget we have. Further, our friends at Harebrained have announced they will release around that time and we absolutely do not want to get in their way - there are two great Shadowrun products out there and we don't want to have them compete. And with SR5 also coming out, there is enough Shadowrun goodness to fill your Summer and then some.

Which means we will move out into later this year, probably November. We of course apologize for the delay, but we have received a lot of feedback telling us to rather do a good game and take enough time than put out something second rate earlier. We hope you will agree and thank you for your understanding.

What that means for our beta date is not yet clear, but we will let you know as soon as we can.

Meanwhile we have finalized the plot and setting together with our friends at Catalyst to fit into the SR5 timeline and the events following the upcoming Stormfront book and combined it with our game requirements for the setting. We are quite excited by what we have come up with - it is not your run of the mill RPG story and it will in itself already be part of a major event in the Shadowrun Universe timeline. Let's just say we will start with a bang, not with a whimper ;) 

That is it for now - remember to keep updated on the latest news for all things Shadowrun over at our joint Shadowrun.com website and join the forums there!

See you in the shadows...

Primetide


Update #25

THE AWAKENING is upon us

9 comments

and it comes in a big way

http://www.catalystgamelabs.com/2012/12/21/the-year-of-shadowrun/

and for all you chummers out there, who know their dreck:

Catalyst, Cliffhanger and Harebrained proudly present:

SHADOWLANDS

and

JACKPOINT

Your Shadowrun just got that much more real...


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    GHOST IN THE MACHINE - ALL DIGITAL REWARD TIER!!! This is for those who look primarily for a lifetime subscription and some added goodness! You will receive EXCLUSIVE CLOSED BETA ACCESS, the SRO wallpaper, the in-game STARTER GEAR, EXCLUSIVE AUGMENTATION, your name in the game credits, an EPIC ITEM named after you, the UNIQUE TALISMAN, the GAME SOUNDTRACK as a download, the EXCLUSIVE AUGMENTED REALITY in-game ICON PLUS: THE LIFETIME PREMIUM SUBSCRIPTION...so you will always be alive in the matrix...

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  • Pledge $280 or more
    You selected

    95 backers

    CAMPAIGN GHOST IN THE MACHINE - ALL DIGITAL REWARD TIER!!! This is for those who look primarily for a lifetime subscription and some added goodness! You will receive EXCLUSIVE CLOSED BETA ACCESS, the SRO wallpaper, the in-game STARTER GEAR, EXCLUSIVE AUGMENTATION, your name in the game credits, an EPIC ITEM named after you, the UNIQUE TALISMAN, the GAME SOUNDTRACK as a download, the EXCLUSIVE AUGMENTED REALITY in-game ICON PLUS: a DIGITAL DOWNLOADABLE COPY of the game FOR THE CAMPAIGN SERVER PLUS ALL UPDATES ...so you will always be alive in the matrix...

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  • Pledge $350 or more
    You selected

    3 backers

    SPECIAL REWARD --- All of the great rewards from the all digital $275 free-to-play tier PLUS an exclusive SHADOWRUN HOODIE in black with the stylish logo on the back, and the Collectible EXECUTIVE-LEVEL USB CARD. PLEASE ADD $15 for int. shipping.

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  • Pledge $355 or more
    You selected

    21 backers

    SPECIAL CAMPAIGN REWARD --- All of the great rewards from the all digital $280 campaign tier PLUS an exclusive SHADOWRUN HOODIE in black with the stylish logo on the back, and the Collectible EXECUTIVE-LEVEL USB CARD. PLEASE ADD $15 for int. shipping.

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  • Pledge $360 or more
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    57 backers

    ULTIMATE GHOST IN THE MACHINE - ALL DIGITAL REWARD TIER!!! This is a combination of the $275 and the $280 tier! Get all the great stuff from those tiers INCLUDING LIFETIME UPDATES FOR THE CAMPAIGN SERVERS and A LIFETIME SUBSCRIPTION ON THE FREE-TO-PLAY SERVERS!!! - see updated graphic chart for full details.

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  • Pledge $500 or more
    You selected

    1 backer Limited (4 left of 5)

    STREET LEGEND --- All of the above PLUS a LEGENDARY game item named after you AND a FULL SET of SRO MINIATURES. AND a TWO YEAR PREMIUM SUBSCRIPTION. PLEASE ADD $25 for international shipping.

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  • Pledge $501 or more
    You selected

    3 backers Limited (5 left of 8)

    STREET LEGEND --- All of the above PLUS a LEGENDARY game item named after you AND a FULL SET of SRO MINIATURES. AND a LIFETIME SUBSCRIPTION. PLEASE ADD $25 for international shipping.

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  • Pledge $505 or more
    You selected

    34 backers Limited (41 left of 75)

    CAMPAIGN STREET LEGEND --- All of the above PLUS a LEGENDARY game item named after you AND a FULL SET of SRO MINIATURES. a BOXED COPY of the game FOR THE CAMPAIGN SERVER PLUS ALL UPDATES. PLEASE ADD $25 for international shipping.

    Estimated delivery:
  • Pledge $600 or more
    You selected

    56 backers

    ULTIMATE STREET LEGEND --- This is a mix of the $500 and the $505 tier! Get all the great stuff from those tiers INCLUDING LIFETIME UPDATES FOR THE CAMPAIGN SERVERS and A LIFETIME SUBSCRIPTION ON THE FREE-TO-PLAY SERVERS!!! - and of course you can participate in the "MEET A LEGEND" runs - see updated graphic chart for full details.

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  • Pledge $1,500 or more
    You selected

    3 backers Limited (7 left of 10)

    MASTER FIXER --- All of the above including the MINIATURES, PLUS a LIFELONG PREMIUM SUBSCRIPTION, AND your PORTRAIT as a CHARACTER for everyone to play, or as an NPC (depends on whether you would rather be famous or infamous) and the same portrait as an EXCLUSIVE PRINT, signed by the development team!

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  • Pledge $1,505 or more
    You selected

    9 backers Limited (16 left of 25)

    CAMPAIGN MASTER FIXER --- All of the above including the MINIATURES, PLUS a BOXED COPY of the game FOR THE CAMPAIGN SERVER PLUS ALL UPDATES, AND your PORTRAIT as a CHARACTER for everyone to play, or as an NPC (depends on whether you would rather be famous or infamous) and the same portrait as an EXCLUSIVE PRINT, signed by the development team!

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  • Pledge $2,500 or more
    You selected

    6 backers Limited (2 left of 8)

    THE BOSS --- All of the above PLUS your VERY OWN PORTRAIT used as the base for a BOSS ENEMY, complete with in-game model AND the same model as an INDIVIDUAL UNIQUE FULL COLOUR 3D FIGURINE (~6 inches) OR an exclusive POSTER SIZED ARTWORK printed of your boss enemy in action

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  • Pledge $5,000 or more
    You selected

    6 backers Limited (2 left of 8)

    DRAGON --- At this level of dedication, you really are with us for a good cause, but we still want to show you our gratitude, so you will receive: All of the above for both free to play and campaign servers, PLUS A LARGE DRAGON FIGURINE, AND your VERY OWN Shadowrun Online MISSION IN THE GAME, created with YOUR IDEAS and designs! Our lead designers and artists will discuss what you have in mind, and you will be able to regularly REVIEW THE MISSION, which will then be put INTO THE GAME for everyone to enjoy! Plot like a DRAGON and be the MASTERMIND behind the scenes!

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  • Pledge $10,000 or more
    You selected

    3 backers Limited (2 left of 5)

    ROCK STAR! --- All of the above rewards, PLUS YOU WILL BE FAMOUS through out the game!! YOUR IMAGE WILL BE DISPLAYED ON BILLBOARDS through out the game!! You'll be seen endorsing consumer products in AR (Augmented Reality) ADVERTISEMENTS!! AND BUMPER STICKERS with YOUR NAME will be PLASTERED ACROSS DRONES all over town!! Oh and did we also mention that...YOU WILL EVEN GET YOUR OWN SONG!! So be a ROCK STAR! - because to us you are!

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Funding period

- (27 days)