Back in April a bunch of gamers and role-players got together to give Jordan Weisman and Harebrained Schemes more that $US1.8 million to create the definitive Shadowrun game. The development team has been hunkered down in development since the Kickstarter ended, and now we get our first look at what your money has wrought. Gear up, chummers!
I have faith in Weisman's Harebrained Schemes, and these early shots of in-game characters and locales for Shadowrun Returns only serve to bolster that faith. The creator of the Cyberpunk-meets-D&D pen-and-paper role-playing game and his team seem to have a fine grasp on what makes the series tick. It's not just the mixture of high-tech toys and magic, but the idea of a rag-tag group of Runners from the dirty streets can rise up and strike against the gleaming corporations in control of it all.
Let's met some of Shadowrun Returns' rag-tag group and take a look at their playground. Weisman passed along some explanations for what we're seeing, so flip through the gallery to get the word from the man himself.
"We've already released some character design concept art but this is the first time we're showing real-live-game-res models of player characters available in the game.
"This "glory shot" image uses our in-game models, but we've added in some effects (lighting, a little painting in the background, etc.) to sex it up a bit. The gear and the outfits they're wearing are among the many options we plan to have available for your player characters in the game."
"In Shadowrun Returns, you'll be able to create characters of both sexes for any of the meta-human races (Human, Dwarf, Elf, Ork, and Troll) in a variety of skin colours. From the core of these 10 models, you can select gear appropriate for your character's skill concentration (Street Samurai, Decker, Mage, Shaman, Rigger, or Physical Adapt). You'll also be able to choose apparel that's appropriate for the location of your mission (or just to look cool)."
"The result is an enormous variety of character customisation combinations which will keep growing even after the game launches."
"Today we're showing just a couple of these character combinations via individual character sheets which display (from left to right) the concept art for the character, the in-game model without enhancement, and a glory shot of the in-game model with a little sexing up. Over the next several of months we'll release more of these character sheets as the models are finished."
"So where do these characters live, work, and die? Glad you asked. The next couple of images represent our visual target for the exterior environments in Shadowrun Returns.
"All these scenes where built with actual game assets, but they were assembled in Photoshop rather than the game engine (which is still in development). The art team added a couple of bells and whistles which we hope make it into the game (like the localised lighting effects) but overall this is the look that we are shooting for on desktop computers and tablets.
"The Stuffer Shack scene is composed with the actual in-game character models so you can get a sense of how the 2D environments and 3D characters merge. The art team took a little liberty with the posing of the characters (which might not be quite as dynamic given that it's a turn based game) but we think it's within the realm of their creative licence. The scene roughly depicts our camera zoom level on tablet. When playing on a desktop machine, you'll be able to set your window to show a larger scene. (Time to invoke a classic game development caveat: this zoom level, like most elements of our design is subject to change.)"
"The Redmond Barrens scene illustrates a simulated nighttime environment. The game won't feature a dynamic day and night cycle but we plan to depict areas in daytime and nighttime as appropriate for the story and missions..."
"...giving you the opportunity to lurk in the shadows and to brazenly walk about, as you see fit."
"The final environment image shows a partial "exploded" view of the Redmond Barrens scene to illustrate how it was assembled via our tiles. Remember, we're releasing the level editor for Shadowrun Returns so you can create your own interior and exterior environments and your own missions/stories to share with your friends or the entire Shadowrun Returns community.
"We want to give you the tools to be a Shadowrun Game Master and to create the cool environments, the sophisticated NPC logic, and the engaging dialog interactions you need to bring your stories to life (without having to write code or learn a scripting language). It's something we love about tabletop gaming and something we're dedicated to delivering.
"Thanks for tuning in and checking on our progress. We're having a blast working our asses off on the game and thank you all sincerely for the opportunity."