Cliffhanger Talk Shadowrun Online

By Jim Rossignol on October 25th, 2011 at 11:51 am.

Cyberpunky, isn't it?
Last week Cliffhanger let us know that in addition to Jagged Alliance Online, they’re also planning to launch Shadowrun Online as an browser-based RPG. It’s an intriguing project, so we decided it might be an idea to have a chat with Cliffhanger’s Jan Wagner to find out more. You can discover the results of this conversation below, along with the first images from the game itself.

RPS: How did you come to be developing a Shadowrun game? What was the motivation for picking the licence?

Wagner: Actually many of us are long time pen and paper players and when we thought about the future for our company and which games we would like to do, we decided to try and become the top address for high quality rpg and strategy browsergames (and no, to us that is not a contradiction in terms) and reached out to a number of companies. Shadowrun and Deadlands were available and we are still in talk with others. It took as almost a year to get the license signed and paid for, but here we are now. We think the Shadowrun setting lends itself so well to a computer game that we had to do it. And also, I wanted my Troll character to be able blast away some of those pointy eared posers in 3D.

RPS: Can you tell us a bit about how it’s going to work? You’ve said it’s a browser-based game, but can we have a bit more detail about how that will work?

Wagner: The game will be a tactical action RPG in isometric 3D, with emphasis on the RPG part. The game will feature two major parts – the action map, where a runner group executes missions and the meta game, with a city map where the legwork mission take place and the hubs are and your own upgradable hideout, where mission preparations, crafting of software and character management takes place .

Actions map mission can range from infiltration -where raising the alarm usually means you are swarmed by guards- to all out shootouts, taking out a supernatural critter or defusing a bomb. There are several of the classic Shadowrun archetypes available of course.

City maps will feature legwork mission locations, where you basically apply your skills or contacts and sort of roll the dice to see whether you succeed – this is more of a text-window narration that may unlock new action missions, provide necessary items like the code cards for a corporate facility or allow you to smuggle in rifles to an action mission, which usually only allows small, concealable weapons.

The plot will actually evolve over time based on player actions – so for example, a mission may be about getting an item for one of two corporations. If more people win this mission for Corp A, then the next time we update the storyline, this corp will have that item and new plot developments follow from this. We are looking very much forward to using mechanics like this, which is where the strength of a browser game comes in – we can update anytime without forcing people to do huge downloads and we can produce new content much quicker than the big client based games.

RPS: How much is what you are doing with the game based on the engine you’ve made for Jagged Alliance Online? Will they play similarly?

Wagner: Well, the technical base is similar as will be some of the core mechanics for the turn based game – but while JAO is all about running a group of mercs and tactically overcoming the opposition, SRO will focus on one character per player, more roleplaying and have a lot more interaction with the environment, hacking, magic and infiltration. We will have smaller groups but more fireworks!


RPS: Can you tell us a bit about the feedback and input you are getting from the Shadowrun community? What sort of stuff have they been able to help with?

Wagner: Currently we are very happy with people giving us suggestions and discussing the game at our forums. The fans we have so far have been excited about us trying and we are very open about the limitations of the game. Of course we would love to spend a hundred million on a big-ass game, but with our budget we need to make up what we lack in sheer manpower by good ideas and concepts. This seems to be something the fans can get behind – obviously everyone wants their favorite character or location in the game, but some stuff needs to be put off until after launch. Again, we are open about that and so far fans have been very understanding. Even the thorny subject of monetization has been approached with an open mind from both sides We also have created the Shadowrun High-Council of Elders (SHE), manned by writers, editor, artists and fan-project and community stalwarts to make sure we stick to the spirit of the setting and fit into the current storyline.

RPS: When can we expect to see the game in action? Are you launching it via a beta?

Wagner: Well, we have just started pre-production, so beta is probably a year away, but we actually have sneaked in a Shadowrun mission map into the Jagged Alliance Online beta, which is starting soonish. Of course it won’t have the SRO gameplay, but at least it helps people imagine what the game would visually be like. The screens we have published are taken from that map. We are also thinking about crowdfunding a part of the game, so some people may get an earlier look if they support us in creating the game.

RPS: Thanks for your time.

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25 Comments »

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  1. neolith says:

    Funny thing is – this looks more Syndicate than the Syndicate reboot.

    • apocraphyn says:

      Personally reminds me of this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I5mg5EFK00k

      Brilliant game. After the terrible FPS that was released a few years back, I thought all hope was lost for a game featuring the Shadowrun name that would hold any familiarity to the SNES (or Genesis, for that matter) game. This looks as if it could potentially live up to the expectations.

      Besides, missed being able to play a truly decent cyberpunk MMO ever since Neocron essentially bit the dust.

    • Gnat says:

      lol. …. yes, have to agree.

  2. sneetch says:

    “SRO will focus on one character per player, more roleplaying and have a lot more interaction with the environment, hacking, magic and infiltration. ”

    Bah! That’s a pity. In a game like this where there are a number of different races and different “classes” of characters it’d be nice to be in control of a group. Jagged Alliance Online seems more suited to the single character IMO.

    Still, I wish it wasn’t a browser game, sure we’ll see how it goes.

  3. Real Horrorshow says:

    Shadowrun for SNES was a cool game.

    • Reefpirate says:

      Shadowrun for the Genesis was better.

      (No joke, it was a different game in case you think I’m being silly.)

    • Thants says:

      Yeah, the Genesis Shadowrun was great. I really just want a modern version of that game.

  4. merc-ai says:

    I am looking forward to this game. A little sad that it’s a browser game, but everything else so far sounds fun and very Shadowrun-ish.
    Never played the real thing, but spent some time on a SR MUD game with enforced roleplaying – one of really memorable online experiences (even though my characters were getting killed a lot).
    Ah, if only complexity, depth and atmosphere of some MUDs were compatible with graphics and interfaces of MMORPGs.

    • Turin Turambar says:

      Pst… the game is played in a browser. It’s called “Sahdowrun Online”. It’s a multiplayer game, at least partially. I am sure you will play missions with other humans in coop or pvp scenarios. So there will be a group, just controlled by several humans.

  5. Hoaxfish says:

    I’m always slightly reluctant with the Shadowrun setting… it seems a bit messy trying to shove elves and magic etc into something already stuffed with cyberpunk stuff.

    • crizzyeyes says:

      Yeah, you’re right. It is a bit messy when you’re a group of Ork supremacist-terrorists that were hired to trash a bar run by a human poser with Ork plastic surgery, and instead end up having to burn the entire place down, killing dozens in the process, and having your hacker edit the survelliance camera footage so that it looks like the Ancients did it. God damn elves, burning down all our nightclubs!

    • Ankheg says:

      And still, leave a trace, mess with triads, turn the clocks on ghouls and Yaks, and have a half of city criminals on your ass.

    • TsunamiWombat says:

      And thats BEFORE the corporations get involved.

    • Jambe says:

      As if “elves and magic etc” is not itself convoluted and cliche-ridden.

      Shadowrun’s 30-odd years old now and the setting is loaded with character. It’s messy, perhaps, but the good kind of messy.

  6. squareking says:

    Turn-based isometric Hard Reset reboot!

  7. Kerbobotat says:

    This is possibly the best news I’ve gotten all year. two of my favorite games of all time being remade. fantastic.

  8. FRIENDLYUNIT says:

    Monetization.

    Monetization monetization monetization.

    Mooooonneeetiiizzzzzzz-attt!! Te-on!!

    • Thants says:

      I think monetization being approached with an open mind likely means constant nagging up-sells.

  9. Yerk Toader says:

    This looks awesome, and it sounds like the devs have the right ideas, enthusiasm, and rapport with the community. After the last Shadowrun abortion, it’s time for a good SR/cyberpunk game!

    I’ve bought the last two Humble Bundles, and I would certainly throw at least a few clams in the general direction of Cliffhanger Productions for crowdfunding!

  10. Judas says:

    I want so bad to work on this property with these guys.

  11. bill says:

    This actually sounds rather cool, but there seem to be a lot of unanswered questions (at least, without having done any searching).

    Is it singleplayer or multiplayer?
    Is it free, or free-to-play or paid?
    Will it have a decent story, or just be action?

    I hope it works out for them…

    • Fadobo says:

      Being a browser-game pretty much answers question 1) and 2) in my opinion. It will be multiplayer and free-2-play. Also the same goes for Jagged Alliance Online, so not too surprising this will be the same.

  12. icemann says:

    This I’ll definitely be giving a go. Love the Shadowrun games, other than the FPS one which wasn’t Shadowrun imo. SNES one rules above the others, and then some.

  13. sing says:

    Did they forget to add the Healing Trees?

  14. gayylalgli says:

    The best part is that they seem to be making a point in working closely with Catalyst Labs, the American developer/publisher for the Shadowrun IP. Even going as far as asking the Dumpshock (biggest fan site for the IP) forums, where they have been known to take things very seriously when it comes to Shadowrun.
    tui xach hang hieu
    On this alone I’m willing to give them alot of leeway, even though a browser-based microtransation supported engine does not really match my idea of how Epic a Shadowrun MMO should be.