Magic, Machine, Money: Shadowrun Funded

Mother Nature’s angry wrath spent the weekend attempting to tear many trees and buildings from the surface of England through careful application of furious winds and lashings of rain, which led to me spending the entire weekend indoors, occasionally peering through a trembling pane of glass. It is imperative that this week begins with merriment and what better way to bring cheer than to watch the developers of Shadowrun Returns celebrating their Kickstarter success, clearly exhausted, clearly passionate and perhaps still vaguely bewildered as to what has happened in recent times. It’s a useful reminder that for all the talk about this model of funding, the ‘ifs’, ‘buts’ and ‘far too manys’, it’s still OK to be excited from time to time.

Possibly the greatest thing – apart from the obvious fact that a new Shadowrun game is now in development – is the slight pause and nervous laughter that follows the phrase, “your very high expectations”. These are people who took to the internet with a dream and scant weeks later had 1.8 million dollars pledged to help them achieve that dream. Thrilling, yes, but also more than a tad intimidating I’d wager. Although I certainly wouldn’t wager 1.8 million dollars.

As the video says, you can follow development at the Shadowrun website.

I believe the dog writes dialogue.


  1. battles_atlas says:

    I’ve fallen a bit in love with Jordan these last few weeks

    • daggerbite says:

      Any place with a poster labelled “Dunklezahn’s Will” in the background gets my vote.

    • Emeraude says:

      Personally very admiring of how the whole situation’s been dealt with. Level-headed, and modest; no outlandish promises yet a real dedication to trying to please the backers.

      That being said, I hope we do not crush them under the weight of our high expectations – because one thing I do believe from the communication so far, they do take the whole project to heart.

  2. Knightley4 says:

    How does this game will look like?

    • kraken says:

      2D turn-by-turn RPG.
      Think Fallout / X-com kind of view, but with higher quality sprites.

    • RegisteredUser says:

      I wonder if that “everyone sees the world their way” vision thing is going to help or hinder the thing.

  3. apocraphyn says:

    “I believe the dog writes dialogue.”

    You know, that wouldn’t surprise me.

    • mangrove says:

      I believe the dog is the lead engine programmer.

      Arf! Arf!

      What’s that lassie? We need more bumpmapping?

    • Boffin says:

      Love it!

      Didn’t notice the pooch to start off with, was looking at how happy everyone looked and then… Is that a dog?

  4. RegisteredUser says:

    “Nekro” also just made it over their 100k, barely. Almost sad to see the “big names” get, well, almost “overfunded” while they had to shiver and quiver to get the basic 100k.

    Nothing against Shadowrun, mind, because I played the SNES game and read the books. I AM very much looking forward to the game.
    I’m just kind of sad how much of a struggle it was/is for these other obviously very talented people when they likely are up to something lovely and unique.

    There are still 3 days left, so head on over to their Kickstarter and check their video out if you like.
    Or watch Totalbiscuits “Kicksmarter” youtube episode.

    • RedViv says:

      They still have a few days to go on that. I hope they can at least get the ~20K in addition that would be sucked up by fees otherwise.

      And a big thank you to TB for doing what he does for the recently stated reasons.

    • kraken says:

      Shadowrun (of DoubleFine, Wasteland, etc) are well-known IP with a very big fanbase.
      Of course they’ll do way better than a smaller project from “greener” developers.

      At least Nekro got founded but I agree that they deserve much more (also at 150k they’ll add Co-op).

      I think a big issue is also that there has been way too much important kickstarter projects in a short time.
      Nekro will be my fourth in 1.5 months. That’s way too much.
      And I’ll know I’ll have to ignore them for some time to allow my wallet to replenish…

    • ColdSpiral says:

      Even worse for Nekro is that since their overzealous fanbase spam-bombed RPS, Giantbomb, Kotaku, etc., they haven’t had (and are probably not going to get) the coverage they need to overfund on a similar scale in the next couple of days. Shame, because it looks exactly like RPS’ kind of game.

      • RedViv says:

        Yeah, I was among the people trying to convince them to not ask for this, but… Well, “fans” always will allow matters to get out of hand. That’s purely etymological.

    • JackShandy says:

      There needs to be a prototype. Straight-up, no other way, if you don’t have one you can’t prove you can make this game.

      If you’re making a sequel, you can basically consider the first game the working prototype- so sequels obviously get more money.

      Really, I think David Sirlin has the right idea – the game’s already made, and it’s going to ship straight to your door as soon as the Kickstarter ends. That’s something that I feel confident enough to spend 200 bucks on.

      • bill says:

        Except that it totally negates the whole purpose of Kickstarter. And the name.

        • Zelos says:

          He designed the game, but the kickstarter is giving him upfront money to physically produce it. It’s doesn’t defeat the purpose of kickstarter at all, especially not for one-man projects.

        • JackShandy says:

          You can design a board game for nothing, but it requires a lot of money to actually distribute the thing. Opposite to the way video-games work. Sirlin’s kickstarter is for the bit he needs money to accomplish, same as every other kickstarter.

          Kickstarter’s just a way to give money to people who don’t know if they’ll be able to give you anything back. Sirlin’s style is only strange because it’s more certain that he’ll give you a good product for your money.

    • MSJ says:

      The thing to remember is that Kickstarter is still something dependent on popularity and celebrity involvement. Wasteland, Shadowrun, Leisure Suit Larry and Tim Schaefer are recognized names within the gaming community with numerous fans. They are rock stars compared to the garage bands that are unproven names like Nekro.

      • battles_atlas says:

        The potential for a wave of kickstarter fails worries me. I think you can be pretty confident of a team with the experience of Shadowrun’s, however for new teams its a pretty steep learning curve. Just look at how many traditionally funded games go over budget or are released in poor states. A kickstater can’t go overbudget, but releasing a game unfinished is likely to provoke a pretty bad reaction from those that have invested such faith in it.

        • HothMonster says:

          They can sell alpha and beta access when they get to those points. As long as its at a price point higher than kickstarter backers paid no one will be upset. I know the thedeadlinger are doing this and I imagine many others will.

      • methodology says:

        I think the main issue is that once this goes over a threshold or maybe it already has, this type of funding will make game review sites/blogs like rps and the others extremely important to the ecosystem. Right now they have a pretty low effect on game purchases compared to the overall sales picture (they do help lesser known games that review great), but with kickstarter they essentially become the haughty executives that decide life or death of funding a project.

        I mean some of the larger named projects would have gotten a nice chunk of change from their rabid fans but there’s no way they get the amounts they’re getting without the amazing coverage that all the sites gave them. I know for a fact that I wouldn’t have donated to the 6 projects I have without RPS while I’ve bought 100’s of games without their input and maybe 5 with theirs. If they get behind a project (say FTL) they can definitely make it happen.

        So basically what I’m saying is RPS are the new rockstar publishers of the gaming world and should be afforded the absolute respect and genuflecting they deserve, and this will be a great thing.

    • jrodman says:

      I read about Nekro by seeing posts a few places, and by digging around on the Kickstarter site. The game sounded:

      – Personally not fun to me
      – Questionable as to how their dreams in text form will play out in an actual game

      Basically if your plans sound like “A game like Dungeon Keeper, but above ground”, then I doubt you really know exactly what you’re making. You might know how to make a game, but how would I know that it’s going to be a game I’ll want to play, ahead of time.

      I think vague plans + iteration is a valid way to make a game, but not a good plan for selling a game on kickstarter.

      • PopeJamal says:

        Agreed. I’d say kickstarter is perfect for:

        a) grey beards that want to make a comeback: “Return to Awesomeland, Vol. 17”
        b) New game devs that have a playable alpha or at LEAST have screenshots

        Otherwise, the most you can expect to get out of me for a greenhorn dev house is $10, and that’s on a good day. The chances of them pulling a “LOL Zomboid!” are too high for me to risk more than $10. Plus, Zomboid tainted the “amateur” waters early with their shenanigans and I’m timid. Perhaps others feel the same way.

        Note: I’m not saying that the Zomboid guys are shady (I trust that I will get my game), just that any sufficiently advanced level of ineptitude is sometimes indistinguishable from a con job.

    • InternetBatman says:

      Nekro just didn’t do a great job selling their game either. The premise, though well communicated, has a limited appeal, a lot of people don’t want to be called evil.

      They didn’t talk a ton about gameplay. I wasn’t sure if it was a hero based rts like the first few levels of the undead campaign in WCIII, a pure action game like overlord, more like Diablo II’s necromancer where you have limited control of your minions, or more of an RTS like Dungeon Keeper.

      They should have used existing games to contextualize it, but instead were really vague and said things like:

      Hailing from the era of great classics such as Myth: The Fallen Lords, Giants: Citizen Kabuto, Dungeon Keeper and more, we are creating a game rooted deep in PC gaming’s history, but with all the flourishes you’ve come to expect from a modern experience.

  5. Bfox says:

    So if the game doesn’t get made for one reason or another everyone gets their money back… right?

    • kraken says:

      No. This is not a preorder.
      If the game fail there is no refund possible.
      Simply because the money will have been used and if the studio had it in the first place it wouldn’t need to use kickstarter.

      • Bfox says:

        So if someone releases a really awful product or doesn’t bother to make anything, the people who put in thousands of dollars get screwed?

        • RegisteredUser says:

          The way I understand it, it is a donation pledge with “entitlement to”, but not a business contract of actual quid-pro-quo?

          About the only commitment I see is when actual party attendee / dog tag / items / books stuff etc is involved.
          But I haven’t read all the legalese.

        • Sorth_31 says:

          Basically, yes.

          Which is probably the main reason RPS doesn’t post things about kickstarters willy-nilly*. It’s a risk and some people, like me with this particular project, will wind up paying over the odds no mater what happens. But basically, the whole Kickstarter phenomenon is based entirely on faith, whether in individuals, teams or ideas. A lot of backers don’t even seem to consider the word “refund”.

          * Please note I do NOT speak for RPS on any matters. I just post my opinions as to why they may do things. Which may be wrong**.

          **My opinions are PROBABLY wrong.

        • gert74 says:

          You get no refunds if the project fails or disappoints. Only if it fails to get fully funded in the first place, which is why no money is withdrawn until after the funding deadline.

          You can think of it in two ways. Either:

          a) as a charity donation to projects/people you really want to see succeed for sentimental reasons, or

          b) as an investment with the risk of loss where the return on your investment in case of success is whatever reward you have been promised

          The latter usually only makes sense for the low tier pledges. $15 for a brand spanking new PC game is a decent return on investment in my book. IF it delivers as promised.

          I would actually like to see a model where this crowd sourcing phenomenon is approached more as investments with risk reward (profit sharing perhaps) than fan donations. But I guess there would be a ton of legal hurdles in that case.

          • HothMonster says:

            I would be intrigued by a game company offering stock with larger donations. Instead of the standard 5,000 come hang out with the team reward they could give you a 2% interest in the company.

          • gert74 says:

            I am not suggesting buying stock in the company involved. But if it is a project I believe in I might be inclined to buy “stock” in the project, if you know what I mean.

        • HothMonster says:

          Its just like buying a bad game any other time except now you have to wait 6 months to find out how it is.

        • InternetBatman says:

          I think you could make an awful product and get away with it, but this is from their FAQ.

          If you are unable to fulfill the promises made to backers, cannot complete the project as advertised, or decide to abandon the project for any reason, you are expected to cancel funding. A failure to do so could result in damage to your reputation or even legal action on behalf of your backers.

          I imagine that a multimillion dollar failure would probably bring on a class-action suit. I think that would be hardest to do in video games though, because someone could scrape together a flash game and send it out online.

          • diamondmx says:

            But where would people get the organisation and the funding to start a class action suit against the half-arsed developer.

            Oh wait. They’d run a kickstarter. :D

    • Lemming says:

      It’s an investment. You have invested in a project. If they fail, you lose your investment. If they succeed, you get a return on your investment ie. the game or whatever you selected as a reward. If you selected no reward, then it’s just a donation.

    • Skabooga says:

      I do recall reading somewhere (Kickstarter website?) that if a Kickstarter gets funded, but if in the end no final product materializes or an egregiously shoddy product is shipped out, backers have cause for legal recourse, but the backers would have to be the ones to initiate it.

    • Baresark says:

      I don’t understand why people have a problem with this. It’s a risk. Buying any game ever is a risk. But, people who have extra disposable income will use their money how they see fit. Which means they can risk it on stuff that does not exist anymore if they want to. If the risk isn’t worth it to you, then you do not risk it. So, all the comments about whether or not people get their money back are just filler of some sort. Why? Because people who have funded it are already willing to take the risk. And people who don’t want to fund something that may never exist have already not funded it. Everyone wins without copious amounts of rhetoric already, why add the rhetoric?

  6. mondomau says:

    I honestly can’t remember if I have signed up for this one or not, I’m going to have to trawl through my amazon account.
    Either way, I am very pleased they hit their goal. Loved the Pen & Paper but never got into any of the electronic versions.

  7. wodin says:

    Sadly I had to withdraw my pledge on Sat as I realised I wouldn’t have enough in the bank!

    However I will buy it and I really like the way they\he comes across. I also like the fact they are going to make it moddable, to the point where you can design your own adventures and post them online. That will give the game massive replayability.

    I never played the original games, but I quite like the cyber\fantasy setting, Elves on motorbikes with guns sounds cool.

    • RegisteredUser says:

      I think you can still get in via their paypal page on the homepage.

  8. rocketman71 says:

    I hope this goes well, and after this someone gives Jordan the Battletech IP. He deserves it WAY more than those F2P makers at Piranha. His word is probably a lot more valuable.

  9. Ross Angus says:

    Tired and emotional. Literally.

  10. Crimsoneer says:

    This had made me want a Shadowrun mod for DX:HR so, so badly. Actually, I just want more cyberpunk games.

  11. gschmidl says:

    The best thing about it is actually Aljernon Bolden’s awesome hair (and beard).

    • Emeraude says:

      He so much looks like a friend with whom I play PnP Shadowrun it’s eerie actually.

  12. MSJ says:

    Don’t forget to fund Grim Dawn.

    link to

    It’s an open-world ARPG by developers who were involved in making Titan Quest. It has already seen significant development before their Kickstarter campaign, with plenty of good-looking pre-alpha footages.

    • enobayram says:

      Is this the real D3?

    • RegisteredUser says:

      So why exactly is it that almost every tier of theirs is $3-$6 more expensive?
      What makes THEM so special?

      Boo I say. Boo.

      When asking for charity it does not to appear greedy!

      • enobayram says:

        Not to defend them or anything; 1. This is not charity, you’re getting a game in return, for a lower price than you’d get otherwise. 2. This game is at a much more later stage than the others, so you’re taking less risk by backing them (hence the difference in price).

        But I’ll join you anyway: Booooo! (Booing is more fun)

      • Koshinator says:

        It’s actually due to the fact that they had already opened pre-orders through their site, and they didn’t want to make it unfair to those who had already put money down for the game by giving the game away cheaper to the kickstarter crowd.

  13. bill says:

    Now I just want to see if i can play Shadowrun on my phone…

    Love shadowrun, but in some ways i’m a little disappointed that this is going to be another retro turn based RPG. I always wanted Rainbow 6 (old style) shadowrun game with RPG elements.

    • alseT says:

      “Another” turn based RPG? As if there are too many coming out all the time. This is a dead genre, and that’s exactly what Kickstarters are for. And it being a tabletop ruleset, it’ll translate just fine. We don’t need a “reimagining” to another genre entirely.

    • Baresark says:

      What asleT says is true. Games like this do not get funded by big publishers. The game you want to see does get funded by big publishers all the time. Though, after the last ShadowRun game, I’m positive you won’t see a ShadowRun license get used like that in the future. It wasn’t a bad game, it was a waste of a fantastic license. If they had produced and sold that as a budget title it probably would have done pretty well. But they sold the game for $60 and it was just a MP first person shooter. It didn’t utilize the license at all. Which to me says they bought it to sell the game to players who normally do not play those types of games. All it showed everyone is that big publishers won’t make the type of game those people want to see and those people will not be buying any games by said publishers because of alienation.

    • Wizardry says:

      Ah yes. The turn-based RPG genre. It is so popular that I don’t actually have to resort to playing pre-1994 games to get my fix. Yep.

  14. enobayram says:

    Very exciting times we’re all going through. I hope these projects become very successful and this fan funding becomes a permanent way of funding game development.

  15. kud13 says:

    I threw a bunch of money at this, really excited about the game.
    I remember looking at Nekro, and it really didn’t seem as something I’d want to play.

    Incidentally, I don’t really think it’s accurate to call Kikcstarter “an investment” it strikes me much more as patronage, or at most, a commission. People who donate more than the expected retail value of the finished game are not expecting a monetary return out of it–they are giving the amount of money to support the developer and their ideas for the game. The closes analogy i can think of is a medieval town commune collecting money and commissioning a new cathedral. Everyone in town pitches in what they can, and all they can really expect at that point is a large building that generally looks like a cathedral, wiht no real expetations of details.

    What Kickstarter has allowed us to do is to give groups of people with the common interest and desire to support a particular set of ideas, the means to do that, no more, no less.

  16. Navagon says:

    Woo! I can’t wait to see the finished product. I think I’ll be quite happy just to have had a small part in making it a reality.

  17. Gasmask Hero says:

    Adam Smith is in Manchester, cowers at rain.

    Get out much?

    I still vaguely remember my Shadowrun PnP days, in fact I recently recovered my Cyberpunk 2020 GM stuff. Odd how little they actually forecast. Wireless transmissions are oddly lacking from the streets of Night City as they are from the territories of Shadowrun.

    Despite any words I may have had against this, I’ll wait and see with a sense of quiet optimism.