Shadowrun Returns Later Than Expected

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page, the team provide reasons for the shift in release date, which was initially set for January, a target that was retracted a while ago.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.

Via Eurogamer.


  1. wccrawford says:

    That seems like something rather trivial to cut, but okay.

    I mean, I’m assuming they were already going to have NPCs that join your party. How hard can it be to place an NPC in your party that’s identical to a friend’s PC?

    Still, I had no interest in it, and so I’m not sad to see it get cut.

    i think there are some promises in a KS campaign that are important, and shouldn’t be cut. Like DRM-free-ness and Linux support. But actual gameplay stuff that isn’t fun or doesn’t make sense? Sure, cut it. You’ll likely piss off the 3 people that really wanted it, but the game will be better overall for it.

    • Jeremy says:

      It may not be that hard to implement if you’re just drawing in a name and stats, but I’m guessing if it was a social feature, it was more complex than that. On top of that, social features cost a lot to get up and running simply because of the extra storage and back end tech that goes into getting it all working correctly, and making sure it stays working.

  2. Teovald says:

    Many people will complain about this delay but the reality is that when a project gets enough money to add many stretch goals or has to produce 100 x times what was initially planned; the initial planning will obviously not be respected. Also, Kickstarter is not Amazon.

    • DClark says:

      I pledged to the Shadowrun Returns Kickstarter and before it was over I knew it wouldn’t make its initial launch date due to all the stuff added. I think the fact that the developer is allowed to take the time they need to make an enjoyable game rather than shovel it out under a publisher’s timeline is part of the reason for crowdfunding’s success.

      Just get it right and release it when its ready – we didn’t give you the money up front because the Kickstarter said January 2013, we gave you the money because it said Shadowrun Returns.

      • Koshinator says:

        ^100 times this…
        Take as much time as you need to get the game to a state where it can be all it can be…. that’s my view on the matter.

      • The Random One says:

        Yah, pretty much. How did that saying go again? “A delayed game is only delayed until it launches, but a bad game is bad forever.”

      • Teovald says:

        Same thing here, I don’t really care about the release date (as long as it does not take 6 years instead of 6 months) as long as it benefits the game.

    • Hoaxfish says:

      You fool! Without the pointless strict deadlines forcing an early release, often pushed even earlier at a publisher’s whim with little notice, how can consumers possibly enjoy a quality AAA product! You’ve doomed us all!

    • Entitled says:

      I don’t even think that many people will actually complain about it, other than the ones who want to attack Kickstarter in general anyways.

      It’s already one of the more clear-cut cases: They COULD be finishing a smaller game quuickly, but they think that working on a bigger game foor longer will reperesent their responsibility to their backers more faithfully. And they are right.

      It’s not at all the same case as with some other KS projects, including the biggest of them all the Pebble watch, that simply failed to give a proper date at the first time. Those might be facing a nice class action lawsuit for fraud, even if they eventually deliver.

  3. Wedge says:

    I thought that release date was absurdly fast, so this is expected really.

  4. apocraphyn says:

    Good. Better that they take their time with it than they rush it.

  5. Keyrock says:

    I’m not at all surprised. In fact, I anticipate that exactly ZERO of the Kickstarter projects I have backed (I’m at around a dozen) will meet their originally advertised release date. Not a big deal, I’m fine with them taking their time.

  6. InternetBatman says:

    I think that any project with stretch goals should explicitly say that delivery time will be increased as stretch goals are added. Even with extra people, there’s only so much you can do and some problems just take time. I’ve been pretty happy with the updates from Shadowrun Returns in general.

  7. Demiath says:

    I didn’t even look at the planned release date when pledging and, yeah, January 2013 would have been insane. Delays might make people more nervous with Kickstarter projects than with conventional releases, but at least Hare-Brained provided an honest and substantial progress update which sure beats the “Oh, that earlier announced release date? Forget about it!” which most mainstream publishers get away with…

  8. monkwon says:

    The mention of Chuckie Egg made me feel equal parts nostalgic and old.

  9. lordcooper says:

    I’ll live.

  10. Crosmando says:

    I’m actually glad that got cut, a single-player RPG doesn’t need social crap.

  11. Calabi says:

    I want a decent game not a crap game that came out too early. I’m not too bothered if it misses the may june time as long as it comes out eventually and is good.

  12. deanimate says:

    I’ve never even played the original but backed this because it sounds rather fun. I don’t care if it’s delayed for over a year, I just want them to make the best game they can without publishers trying to steal their socks.

  13. Emeraude says:

    The thing I don’t get with this sudden wave of announcements: the fact that the game would be delayed as been know for months. HBS never shied away from telling so. What we now have is a proper revised release date.

    (To be fair, Adam here did mention that.)

    Can’t wait to see what they’ll produce. And I’m with InternetBatman on the updates, they’ve been pretty satisfying.

  14. jstar says:

    ‘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 most perfect explanation of why computer game stories are so fucking shit.

    The movie industry treats writers pretty badly. I know, I’m a screenwriter. But the games industry doesn’t even consider writing to be a skill at all.

    • Emeraude says:

      A bit unfair here to Mr Weisman. He is a writer. And a designer.

      And designer is in my opinion a much better descriptor of what making proper narrative elements for a game happens to be, which is more than just writing. Or should be.

      • jstar says:

        FACE PALM.

      • InternetBatman says:

        I would even say he’s more of a writer than a designer or he wouldn’t be so gleeful about feature creep. Also, Shadowrun Returns has been releasing some neat short stories as a source of ideas and a way to help set the mood. I don’t think it’s exactly devalued in this case.

  15. MadTinkerer says:

    “Chances are, those backers have also paid for a much grander game ”

    Oh yes, please. Take your time to get it right, folks. You’re not being forced to churn out a Madden or a Blops or a “WoW-killer”. You’re making what you and the backers want you to make, the way you need to get it done. Take the time to get it right.

    As for cuts, cut what needs to be cut. END OF DISCUSSION. Ignore any fools who want their money back because they don’t understand how game development works, or how Kickstarter works, for that matter. Game Development == cutting what needs to be cut to ship the product. That’s how it works.

    When you don’t cut what needs to be cut and you get really lucky, you will go bankrupt and someone else will finish your Duke Nukem Forever game. If you’re not super lucky, your bosses fire you to save the company, or you go bankrupt and everyone just eventually forgets that you pitched the idea to begin with. You are not amazing enough to ship your game without cuts, because no one is.

  16. hamburger_cheesedoodle says:

    It is much better to have to cut awesome content than to jam just enough mediocre content into a game to make it playable. See also: Half Life.

  17. DutchDrunk says:

    Wow, I didn’t even know that they planned a January 2013 release in the first place. Makes so much more sense for them to delay it a bit and deliver a good game.

    Damn excited though. I think I was around 12 years old when I first played the SNES version at this birthday party my parents dragged me to. I spent the entire evening in these people’s bedroom playing the game and I was so fascinated by it. After renting it several times I finally found the game at a small trader show and traded 4 of my own games to get it.

    Still play it every now and then, the atmosphere is absolutely brilliant.

  18. solidsquid says:

    Seriously? I didn’t even realise they were aiming for January, that seems an insanely short deadline, even without the additions. Good that they’ve been willing to push it back and get things right (although have to admit, probably the first time I’ve felt delaying release of a game was a *good* thing)