As the Notorious B.I.G. so eloquently stated: “mo’ money, mo’ problems, mo’ ambition, mo’ development time needed”. He was working on an FPS sequel to Chuckie Egg at the time but the developers of Shadowrun Returns would no doubt sympathise with his dilemma. In a large update to their Kickstarter page, the team provide reasons for the shift in release date, which was initially set for January, a target that was retracted a while ago. They’re now aiming for May or June.
[January] might’ve worked for the scope of the game we originally envisioned but as our ambitions (read that “features list”) grew, so did the time we needed to deliver!
The Kickstarter raised more than four times the $400,000 target, so it stands to reason that the backers paid for the delay. Chances are, those backers have also paid for a much grander game and the dev diary, which is the first of a regular series, goes into detail about the progress to date, mainly discussing combat. That doesn’t mean the story has been neglected though.
We’ve spent the majority of our time getting our game engine, art pipeline and base gameplay up and running and we’ve covered a lot of ground to get a lot of systems in place. Our engineering team has been crunching off and on for months to maximize the amount of time our designers will have to create our story.
The major technical change since development began is a move from a top-down view to an isometric one, which I guess means that humanoids have to be more than some shoulders with a hairdo attached. On top of all the changes and additions, one feature has been dropped.
Unfortunately, one of the features we talked about on Kickstarter and at PAX didn’t make the cut: the ability to recruit your friends’ characters into your game. It’s a good social feature and it pains us to cut it, but it isn’t core to the fun of creating your own character and having a great Shadowrun experience. These are some of the roughest parts of game development, when time and budget demand tough choices and features you love don’t make it in. And we know from experience that we need to keep our knives sharp and and ready to trim when necessary to focus on quality over quantity and ensure that Shadowrun is as good as we can possibly make it in the time we have.
Whether it was mentioned in the original pitch or not, I feel more confidence in a team that knows when to cut a feature because it isn’t working or because time and effort could be invested more usefully elsewhere. Obviously, that’s somewhat dependent on which feature is cut – if character generation was being axed entirely I’d have gone with A Shadow(run) Of It’s Former Self or something along the same lines but fifteen times cleverer and more hilarious.
What think you all of delays like this? Release dates are generally fictional anyway and I tend to see Kickstarter completion dates as changeable, although hopefully not by too much. At least Harebrained are keeping their backers informed and the rest of the post is a good read.