Walk, Don’t Run: Shadowrun’s Berlin Campaign Delayed

By Nathan Grayson on August 20th, 2013 at 11:00 am.

Shadowrun returned! Some doubted. Some declared it too good to be true. Some believed The Prophecy was only a nice story parents told their children to get them from posting 10,000-word rant novels on Reddit. But hark, Harebrained Schemes breathed new life into the series’ patented blend of fairy dust and cyber sparks, and Shadowrun Returns was born. And lo didest Jim end up liking it pretty well. It’s not the ’90s anymore, though. You can’t legally call something a videogame unless you can promise at least 157 pieces of DLC to accompany it. Shadowrun, the retro rebel maverick that it is, is opting for a mere one at this point, but it’s apparently going to be much, much bigger than initially planned. As in, expansion-sized. The only problem? It won’t emerge from Harebrained’s time machine laboratory until 2014.

The developer explained the sudden slippage in an update on Shadowrun’s website:

“Our original plan called for a modest-sized campaign that we could ship by the end of October. However, after listening to your forum discussions and feedback, it became clear that you would like to see something bigger (and so would we). So, we’ve decided to spend more time on Berlin to create an experience closer to the size of Dead Man’s Switch. A story of that scope will take longer, so we’re targeting January for its release.”

It’s sounding like good news, too, given that Harebrained plans on using the time to really reinforce some of Shadowrun Returns’ weaker areas. This time around, there’ll be a more flexible main story, characters with more depth, better Physical Adept gameplay, a European-style city with its own personality, and a (hopefully) much better story. This, of course, will all come in addition to the requisite new weapons, enemies, outfits, music, and the like. Nothing about the save system, though :/

Will it be worth the wait? Do I need to write up another Prophecy for people to debate over? Time will tell. The folks at Harebrained seem to have pretty excellent heads on their shoulders despite their floppy eared gray matter, however, and – even if Berlin tanks – there’s always the magnificently robust campaign editor. Speaking of, has anybody found anything particularly well-done or noteworthy yet? Have you created anything yourself?

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60 Comments »

  1. Yosharian says:

    I just hope they get rid of those levels that are built entirely in combat-mode, those levels were an absolute pain in the ass.

    • cpt_freakout says:

      The first time I came across that I was very, very annoyed as well. I hope they can make a turn-off-combat button, at the very least.

      • Reefpirate says:

        It’s possible to go in and out of ‘combat mode’ when making maps with the level editor, so I would assume in the campaign that it was a design decision to leave the player in combat. I suppose it helps keep the tension high if you’re not sure there are any more enemies waiting to ambush you, but it’s always a bit disappointing when you find no more enemies.

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  2. Kong says:

    Good news.
    I am only at the end of the game’s campaign, like it, eager to find out what the fans have made.
    My wish for the future: give me an alternative to the bunny costume…please?

    All in all I am very happy with the game. With the last patch – the 4th already – they eliminated the controller bug. There are still some glitches but it is a great old school rpg. As they say here in Austria: it is always good to have room for improvement.

    • cpt_freakout says:

      There’s a couple of short scenarios (which are pretty cool, actually) lying around the Nexus and the Workshop, but the full campaigns are still a way off. I think we might start getting complete campaigns until December.

    • RProxyOnly says:

      It’s not an RPG at all, not at the moment anyway, we’ll see what the community makes of it, but as it stands it’s a series of static combat missions, linked by a story with an attached stat system.

      Stats != RPG. It’s far too narrow in scope and linear to be an RPG. There were far too many resources spent on the toolkit, which should have been secondary to a satisfying campaign. People backed for a game, not the toolset, but that’s not how things worked out.

      And this delay for the KS promises to actually be fulfillled is a joke… OH, and have they sent out the physical goods yet? The last I heard was that the book hadn’t even been printed yet and isn’t due to be printed for several more weeks.

      All in all it’s been a mess. I’ll admit it’s certainly been a letdown for HBS also, but at the end of the day.. they are the one’s that have been holding the reins all this time, the problems ultimately fall at their feet.

      • InternetBatman says:

        Ah yes, because everyone agrees on the definition of an RPG.

        • RProxyOnly says:

          I think we can all agree that there are certain common factors in rpg’s that we all take for granted .. this games contains very few of them..

          There are no sidequests to speak of, it’s virtually all story, with no choices in said story, there aren’t even any options within the dialogue, all the questions lead to the same answer… that makes it too linear for a start.. and it’s got stats, whoop, that’s it… Nope, doesn’t qualify as an rpg when held up to every other example I can think of.

          • Snidesworth says:

            Pretty much every JRPG ever, sidequests aside. Though calling it a Tactical VN is somewhat appealing.

          • RProxyOnly says:

            But there is a difference between the two genres.. the ‘J’ certainly makes it’s own delineations and I don’t think that people expect the same experience from a JRPG as they do a western or ‘crpg’. So just because it may resemble a JRPG, to some, doesn’t mean that was what was wanted or is even desirable for a project such as this.

          • Sheng-ji says:

            As far as I’m concerned an RPG should be a game that lets you roleplay a character – branching storylines, sidequests, character customisation and stats are irrelevant. If I am playing a fps, I make the decisions I want to make; I’m shooting this guy first and that guy second because it’s the optimal way to play – in an RPG I get to play someone else, I make the decisions they would make. Some RPG systems support this, i.e. stats remove player skill from the equation and mean it is your characters skill that is important. Branching story lines mean I can make meaningful choices my character would make and my immersion isn’t broken when the story goes the way it was always going to go regardless but all these things are icing on the cake.

            You can roleplay in any game – my guy in a side scrolling shooter is scared of heights so he hugs the lower half of the screen for example, but some games are specifically designed to support and encourage role playing. These games are RPG’s. The details, the mechanics of how they support roleplaying and how well they work is as irrelevant as the time period a shooter is set in. This is why Deus ex, a first person shooter is also a roleplaying game. Rayman Origins, while the dedicated roleplayer can rp their way through, is not set up or designed for this and is not an rpg.

            From my point of view, shadowrun returns is most certainly an rpg. Is it also a tactical combat game, yes. It can be both.

          • HothMonster says:

            As far as the whole of the stories go the choices don’t matter but there are a lot of dialog differences and on multiple playthroughs I noticed things that did or didn’t get mentioned based on how I had acted.
            There are a few optional missions (2 I can think of clearly though I think there is a 3rd).

            In the grand scheme of things the story plays out the same but there are choices. There is a chance to role play.

          • Nick says:

            and JRPGs are an evolution of old western RPGs. This discussion is old, tired and never ever resolved. Also pointless.

          • MadTinkerer says:

            @Snidesworth: “Though calling it a Tactical VN is somewhat appealing.”

            That’s it: Shadowrun is set in the future of the Sakura Wars universe! Everything makes sense now!

        • MisterFurious says:

          The definition of RPG is “Role-playing Game”, not ‘game were you get levels’ or ‘game with Elves and Dwarves’. The vast majority of games that are labeled as RPG’s are anything but RPG’s. Most are really strategy games.

      • razzafazza says:

        lets hope thats wasteland 2 and project eternity keep their promises =/

        i thought with the whole kickstarter thing we d finally get games that arent streamlined for a mass audience but shadowrun very much feels like they gladly took the backer money but still designed their game to cater to the biggest audience possible for extra sales – i d argue even mass effect or skyrim have more “depth” than shadowrun with its ultra linearity and ultra-light character&combat mechanics and once again, those things can definitly be done more complext even with a very small budget.

        • InternetBatman says:

          I don’t think that’s quite fair.

          One of the pluses for me was that the classes play very, very differently. Deckers (when used in combat) have the matrix, which works fairly well. Rigger bots behave far differently from Shaman elementals. Pure combat (with overwatch particularly) is pretty different from mages. Add leylines for the casters, elemental areas for shamans, bot access areas for riggers, and you have a fairly interesting mix of things.

          It needs more content for all the classes, but they already play fairly differently.

        • S Jay says:

          Come on, this is so unfair.

          If you talked to the guys, you would see they put a lot of work (including spending their own money to make the game better, like the Matrix, which was out of scope).

          I really can agree with the criticism that the game could be way better, especially if it was not so linear, but to imply they took the money and deliberately did something we didn’t agree is just bollocks.

          Some gamers need to learn to criticize the game, not the author.

        • Tacroy says:

          Are you… are you seriously comparing this game to Mass Effect and Skyrim?

          You do realize that the budget for either of those games was literally orders of magnitude higher than Shadowrun’s, right? Of course they have more of everything, that’s what you get when you can spend a shitload of money on the game.

          • razzafazza says:

            Uhm bother to read my post maybe ? Shallow streamlined character & combat mechanics have little to do with budget. Theres 50.000 $ kickstarters with more depth than SRR. No. They most likely dumbed the rules down for future ios sales. And we ended up with an rpg even more limited than Mainstream aaa titles.

      • derbefrier says:

        Its rare I so completely dissagree with some one but everything you said is just wrong.

        • RProxyOnly says:

          Wrong.. to you.

          EDIT….Actually, balls, not even that.

          Apart from my assertion that it isn’t an RPG, everything else I’ve said is quantifiable. So you may feel it’s wrong in your opinion, but as you haven’t chosen to contradict my points with any that you may have, then in this particular case, your opinion isn’t worth much… Just shouting “WRONG” doesn’t amount to anything.

          Come back when you can say WHY I’m wrong and I may change my mind.

      • jonahcutter says:

        I have no problem with a significant part of the resources, even more than the campaign, being spent on the toolkit.

        A well-designed and approachable toolkit provides more varied and open-ended possibilities than one developer designed campaign. You’ll get passionate fans telling a wide variety of stories. The easier the toolkit is to use, the more potential for content.

        Player-made campaigns will vary widely in quality of course. But developer campaigns and writing themselves are no guarantee of quality.

      • mbourgon says:

        Honestly, yes, it has flaws. But overall, yes, I’d call it an RPG. I played a physad, which does play differently from a sammi or a mage. And while statsRPG, you can see parts where it does – I can’t deck this, I can’t threaten this guy, etc, etc. So it does play somewhat differently.

        What upped my pledge wasn’t the game, it was the fact they were shipping a toolkit. I may make a module, I may not – but of the 44k people, if just .1% make something of it, that’s still 44 more modules. We played the original NWN for 5 years because of the multiplayer combined with an ever-expanding set of missions.

        And as for the physical goods, I got my T-shirt & DocWagon card last week.

        Overall, I’d say this was a huge success, and while I don’t like the savegame either, it’s still an amazing product and I’m dang glad I helped fund it.

    • HothMonster says:

      I really enjoyed watching the Devs play through some user made content. It’s weird watching them play though user made content for a game they created and have so much damn fun doing so.

  3. razzafazza says:

    i really hope they revamp the mechanics A LOT with berlin – or give at least modders the option to do.

    Shadowrun returns was Shadowrun in name, graphics and atmosphere – they nailed it even more than i expected with the budget ( which excuses for not having stuff like multi-level buildings, destructible environment like in JA/xcom). And thats why i m still glad i bought it.

    Unfortunately they really failed in the mechanics department imho: apart from the names of items,characters and skills its as far as removed from PnP as possible. Granted i understand them not doing a 1:1 translation of PnP rules but its like they didnt even try bringing shadowrun gameplay into the computer game (which feels alot like a simplified tablet game instead…)

    Example: in PnP a Street Samurai is defined by his cyberware – creating a Street Samurai character is all about managing your “budget” and “essence”. In SRR you cannot even start with cyberware and money budget plays no rule during character generation. later on you can get cyberware thats pretty much simple stat boosts that you might as well ignore – instead put some points into magic and get haste instead !

    this is just one in an endless list of examples where they completely didnt even bother translating shadowrun pnp mechanics into a PC (tablet :p) game.

    And this is why i m glad my greedy self didnt spent more than 50 bucks as i initially planned but instead just the bare minium on SRR. since games with far lower budget than SRR or completely free mods handle mechanics/complexity much better this is one aspect that cant be excused with a low funding either.

    oh well, i really hope later down the line modders can drastically change the character & combat mechanics – otherwise i m not sure whats the point of the editor when all player made missions will be bogged down by the weak character & combat system – the way it stands the best modules would probably be ones very light on or without combat.

  4. Lobotomist says:

    First – they said they are trying to fix save system ( imho it should be the main focus)

    Second – Am I the only one that liked the story ?!

    • Harlander says:

      As one of the hivemind so aptly said, “If you start a question on the Internet with “Am I the only one….” the answer is “No”.”

    • InternetBatman says:

      Don’t get the potshot at the story. I liked it, as did most of the reviews I read.

    • Snidesworth says:

      I rather enjoyed the story myself, as did most people I’ve spoken to who also played it. The complaints I’ve heard are about how it’s extremely linear. Something I don’t mind myself, though that’s largely due to the existence of the editor.

      As for the save system? Fixing that is going to be complicated. The way the game works is that whenever you load up a scene (level) it loads it up fresh. There’s no built in capability to save the state of the scene if you’re part way through. The only things that persists through a campaign is your character, their inventory and whatever campaign variables are set up. Scenes largely function via variables and scripting specific to them.

      As it is you can botch a save system into the game, but you have to design your entire campaign around using campaign variables to track everything, which is pretty cumbersome. Once that’s done you trigger a manual reload of the scene, which creates an autosave point, and the scene repopulates itself based on what your campaign variables say. Setting up variables to check whether certain enemies are alive or dead is one thing, but to save and load a mid-combat state you’d need to set up scripting to track the position of every character, their exact hit points, their status, etc. It’s possible, but it’s far more work than it’s worth in my opinion. For a community modder, at least.

      • Lobotomist says:

        Moral of the story : dont botch the save system on a game that you expect to have any longevity

        • Snidesworth says:

          I don’t think it’s a death knell for the game, but it certainly imposes restrictions on what can be made with the editor. Linear-ish campaigns are fine, including those with mutually exclusive branches. Anything that approaches an open game world rather than a scene-by-scene story is vastly more difficult to construct.

      • InternetBatman says:

        I would think that work going into a save system would be worth it for the modding alone, persistent scenes could do really neat things.

    • derbefrier says:

      I loved the story and thought it was well written.

    • S Jay says:

      I liked the detective part. The final twist was a bit silly.

    • Werthead says:

      The story was pretty good up until the ending. The sudden arrival of a whole bunch of high-powered characters who suddenly help you out rather defeats the ‘back alley heroes with no resources fighting powerful cult’ feel of most of the game. When the unkillable bugs turned up I thought the game was trolling me a bit.

      Granted, I’ve never played the P&P game, but I thought in SHADOWRUN the emphasis was on your runners surviving by their wits and tech, rarely having vast amounts of money and fighting both overt and shadowy threats, but rarely ones that could bring about the end of the world? The game’s sudden move from a small-scale investigation into a save-the-world-from-annihilation storyline felt incongruous.

      Thoroughly enjoyed the game regardless, but the ending felt like it was tacked on from another campaign.

    • Teovald says:

      Personally, I would say not bad but not great either. SPOILERS FOLLOW :
      After the second murder I thought it was a simple black market of organs affair with repo men taking back the organs. I was relieved to see that it was not the case but I don’t think it got very far either.
      I felt the story was more a melting pot of very classical tropes than a truly original one.
      I enjoyed it but I hope that the Berlin campaign will be way deeper. Not to mention that the gameplay soon got really boring. My main Decker with high Quickness & rifle was really overpowered compared to the other characters (both enemies & allies) and the tactical options are a bit limited.

    • qrter says:

      I thought the story was okay, but I did think it was a mistake to suddenly change the stakes – (SPOILER coming up) all of a sudden you’re fighting a world threatening invasion. That just sucked all the charm out of the story, it was much more fun (to me, at least), when the story was smaller scale and more personal.

      Generally, Shadowrun has always felt more like a game about telling ‘short stories’, about people trying to survive by doing dirty jobs nobody else wants to do.

      (And I’m half-half on the dialogue and flavour text – about half of it works great, the other half is clunky beyond belief.)

    • xao says:

      I actually liked the inclusion of the insect spirits. They’re a pretty foundational element in Shadowrun lore, and a lot of the Dead Man’s Switch plot felt like it was inspired by Nigel Findley’s stuff. I enjoyed the way they managed to foreshadow the events (at least for Shadowrun vets) without totally tipping their hand. The concept of a run going from bad to worse with consequences that just drag you deeper in over your head was right in line with my Shadowrun experiences. More difficult combat would have been nice, but that’s easily fixed in future content.

  5. InternetBatman says:

    I’m interested in how many copies this game sold. Obviously a few (25k steam concurrent users, top of the chart for a week and around #30 now).

    • TomxJ says:

      Agreed, it was nothing ground breaking, but idon’t suppose it was supposed to be. It felt like playing a table top shadowrun game, with each little section being a gaming session with an overarching plot.

    • GuybrushThreepwood says:

      There were 36,276 kickstarter backers, so it “sold” at least that many. Who know how many picked it up on Steam and off the Harebrained site. Probably a few.

      • InternetBatman says:

        Steam concurrent users represent a fraction of the people who bought a game. This is nowhere near a perfect analog, but Dead Space has 1400 concurrent players today and 1.5m people bought the Humble Bundle.

        It’s not on the Steam topsellers list either, which means they just include their store page.

    • lomaxgnome says:

      It sat on the top of the sales list for almost a week, and maintained 20k+ concurrent users steadily for the first couple of weeks after release. By comparison, the PC Mortal Kombat release never had more than 6k concurrent users. It seems pretty safe to say that sales were in the 200k+ range, which is at least six times the number of original backers, which is a pretty good sign as a lot of us have been somewhat concerned that these various Kickstarter projects would “lose” all their sales to the initial backers.

  6. joedpa82 says:

    I like the storyline. It was as if you’re always hooked. Just when you thought it was finished another plot comes around.

    The only thing that grates me was the length. It was too short. Lack of sideruns too. I’m a runner damnit. Thank goodness the expansion will be as long as the main one or i’d might play it in 1 seating.

  7. oceanclub says:

    I had definitely planned to buy this but have to say the save system sounds like a deal breaker for me, especially now I have a wee baby and so gaming sessions are in small spur-of-the-moment chunks.

    P.

    • EOT says:

      I know it’s not ideal but as the game is turn based, and fairly low impact on general PC performance, you can always just alt-tab.

  8. Werthead says:

    “Our original plan called for a modest-sized campaign that we could ship by the end of October. However, after listening to your forum discussions and feedback, it became clear that you would like to see something bigger (and so would we). So, we’ve decided to spend more time on Berlin to create an experience closer to the size of Dead Man’s Switch”

    I thoroughly enjoyed SHADOWRUN RETURNS, but one thing that was clear was that the campaign was pretty short. Worth the money (£15 for a 12-hour campaign plus the editor and access to future fan content was fine), but if there was one word I’d use to describe the campaign it was ‘modest’. I’m actually rather surprised that the designers thought it was a good idea to even think of creating another campaign significantly shorter than the base one when probably the second-biggest complain about the game (apart from the save system) was about how short it was.

    • InternetBatman says:

      DLC has different expectations. Also, this was originally supposed to be made on backer money. If I had to guess, the move to isometric and revamping the matrix ate that up, but they made more money than they expected from sales.

    • HothMonster says:

      I think the primary focus of the DLC was new assets over story. The realized this was a bad move and/or counted the money from the sales and decided to invest a bit more into it.

    • malkav11 says:

      Yeah, that was the thing that got me about that update. It’s not that I mind particularly – Dead Man’s Switch is of an acceptable length to me for a $20 game, especially since I will also receive the Berlin DLC as a backer and there’s a full level editor so there will be plenty of user content. But clearly plenty of people thought DMS was too short, so talking about extending Berlin to about that length as responding to people wanting something “bigger” is kinda…wut?

  9. InternetBatman says:

    Wrong place.

  10. Danda says:

    I still don’t understand why they don’t have a proper save system in 2013 :(

  11. 2helix4u says:

    It was a pretty decent campaign, my favourite part was probably the music and the etiquette options.
    I played a short player-made campaign though and it was quite a lot better, even mechanically. For instance in the main game killing enemies does not give you exp, but in this player-made campaign they did.

    I don’t mind so much that the campaign was a little lacklustre since it seems like the editing suite is robust, so I know that there will be probably at -least- 20 hours of great RPGing coming out of this over the years.

    I might check Berlin out, although if its for money I’ll have to see what’s on workshop by 2014 beforehand.

    • qrter says:

      I think the etiquette options system is a design mistake – it’s fine for a tabletop RPG, where you’ll keep playing the same character in a campaign. I know you can carry over the same character in SR as well, but I don’t believe a lot of people will be doing that (that’s from personal experience with Neverwinter Nights, through the years – I could be wrong, ofcourse).

      As it is now, you basically have to be lucky with the choice of etiquette you make – it might come up in the game you’re going to play, it might not. It all feels a bit wonky and unfair. I know that a more generalised ‘charm’ system (more dialogue options open up the more points you spend) is also a lot more bland, but the stuff you’ll be playing in SR will tend to be short (and sweet), so you need a more dependable, bland system.

      • InternetBatman says:

        I think etiquette would have been great in a longer game with more talking. I took Socialite for the hell of it on my first playthrough, and it is literally used once in the game.

  12. Beelzebud says:

    I regret buying this game simply because of the save game system. It has ruined the game for me. I do not have limitless time to play, and I’ve already been burned a few times, where I had something come up, but could not save my game. I haven’t touched it in two weeks now. It’s a shame too, because this game is right up my alley, but having a checkpoint save system in an RPG is idiotic.