That Was Quick: Shadowrun Definitely Returns Again

They say lightning doesn’t strike twice. But they weren’t talking about one studio being able to pull off multiple successful Kickstarters when they said that, so it’s irrelevant. What is relevant is that Harebrained Schemes join the likes of Double Fine and inXile in getting a second [edit – third, in fact: they also had Golem Arcana, which I think makes them the crowdfunding leader?] game crowd-funded into existence. There’s lots of anxiety flying around about the Kickstarter era of videogame development winding down, but Shadowrun: Hong Kong flew in the face of doomsaying by getting itself funded within hours of the campaign launching.

Shadowrun: Hong Kong is the follow-up to Shadowrun Returns, a latter-day sequel to/adaptation of the old cyberpunk RPG. It’s had a funny old recent history, but one that’s seen it go from strength to strength. Shadowrun Returns itself was great from a presentation standpoint but somewhat lacking in its campaign; the Dragonfall expansion was a big improvement but a touch stilted; then by all accounts the Dragonfall Director’s Cut expansion expansion gave it a huge injection of life. I’ve not had a chance to play the latter yet, but it’s pretty much top of my RPG list right how.

Let’s hope the upcoming Hong Kong game continues the trend of betterment. Enough other people are confident that it will that devs Harebrained schemes have over three times what they were asking for on Kickstarter within less than a day of the campaign going live.

In fact, they passed their $100k target within two hours of things kicking off, and at the time of writing have $350k in the bank with over a month left to go. That means they’ve already unlocked six stretch goals, including new characters, a bigger audio budget and sparklier cutscene stuff.

Granted, $350k isn’t a record-breaking figure, but in the current Kickstarter climate it’s a hell of an achievement, especially to happen this fast.

I’m going try and have a chat with the devs about all things Shadowrun soon. If there’s anything you’d like me to ask on your behalf, please say so below.


  1. draglikepull says:

    Question for the devs (feel free to re-word to make it more question-y):
    I loved a lot of the improvements in Dragonfall, but the game also had some really long, repetitive combat sequences. Have they given any thought to splitting up some of the longer combat-oriented segments of SR: Hong Kong with some exploration or story in the middle?

  2. Stellar Duck says:


    I also found a button that’ll remind me of the game two days before deadline. That’s nifty as I’m a bit strapped in January but the deadline if after I get pay again and now I won’t forget it exists. Hooray!

    • draglikepull says:

      Kickstarter doesn’t take money until the end of the campaign, so you can back the project now and not have to worry that you won’t have money for it until a bit later.

      • Stellar Duck says:

        That’s true! I’d forgotten about that for some reason.

        My brain really is not what it used to be. :(

        • welverin says:

          I believe they both work together as well, so you can use the remind me option (which is actually old) and back it. Then a couple days before it ends you’ll get the reminder email and change your pledge if necessary.

          • tigerfort says:

            Um, no. The system only sends you an email if you haven’t already backed the project when the 48hr line is reached (it does mention this when you click on the button).

  3. caff says:

    This news makes me very happy :)

  4. oafish-oaf says:

    I’m loving that this is getting so much $$$ especially since we’re only a few hundred thousand away from getting a revamped Matrix. What could have been a fun idea was a repetitive slog (still rolled as a Decker though because the perks are great).

  5. Vermillion says:

    Question: As part of revamping the etiquette system how about separating it from investing in Charisma? Maybe have ‘affinities’ or something to represent knowledge and experience w/ say ancient bushido that could be useful for puzzle solving while still being really terrible at talking the Yakuza out of cutting off your thumbs.

    I mean, just as a fer instance.

  6. Darkheart says:

    Haven’t had the chance to play Dragonfall, yet, so I don’t know if it changed by now, but what greatly irked me was the lack of a loot system. That’s kinda half of RPG fun missing for me at least (not talking about randomly generated loot with pre-/suffix insanity like in ARPGs).

    Will this be rethunk in the Hong Kong iteration?

    BTW, I immediately fell in love with the orc chars, especially Gobbet! Great art!

    • lomaxgnome says:

      Loot is not really a thing in the Shadowrun universe, so no, I wouldn’t expect that to change.

    • Contrafibularity says:

      Dragonfall had some loot in locked safes, but not dropped from enemies (for which I am thankful). Not sure why looting corpses is half the fun of RPGs for you, but perhaps I could recommend you play Borderlands, to cure you of your affliction. ;)

  7. Zallgrin says:

    Re: Questions.

    How do devs intend to approach the theology of China? Lots of Western devs tend to fetishize and simplify the Chinese culture, and as consequence it becomes a parody of itself. Do the devs have spoken to people living in Hong Kong or do they have by chance any freelancers from China on their team?

    As someone who is living in Germany, I was immensely impressed by Harebrained’s depiction of Flux-Berlin. It felt authentic in thousand ways and immediately familiar. I sincerely hope that Harebrained Schemes will repeat this feat, but considering that cyberpunk always had obsession with Japanese or Chinese culture, but rarely managed to do it justice… I’m a little skeptical right now.

    Either way, I backed the project and can’t wait for its release. Just hoping that my fears are unfounded.

    • caff says:

      It’s strange you say that – I played Dragonfall in the same year as visiting Berlin, and I felt many synergies between the game and the city. It was an odd feeling, maybe they research their localities more than we think game developers do?

      I hope they will mix Deus Ex-style Hong Kong with Bladerunner. To me, they represent the perfect environment in which to roleplay cyberpunk.

      • Emeraude says:

        Well, remember that they had the Germany Source book, which was written by Germans themselves, and is pretty good.

        Overall, the German community has been really good for the game over the years. Part of the reasons many of us voted for Berlin during the Kickstarter. Felt like a fitting homage.

    • Philopoemen says:

      If they stick to the sourcebooks like Shadows of Asia and Runner Havens which both have big sections on chinese theology, and Hong Kong respectively, I’d say it would be fairly well done. In a sort of crammed into the Sixth World way.

      • veerserif says:

        The Hong Kong focused sourcebooks make me optimistic for this portrayal. The only real minor issues I have is that the entire book is using Mandarin pronounciation where they really should be using Cantonese. And also the fact that the Kowloon Walled City was pulled down in 1994, and is now a park. Just… hope they take a look at the city as it stands now, and not just pulling from sourcebooks.

        • Harlander says:

          The Shadowrun timeline diverges from the real world in the ’90s, so they’ve got an excuse to have Kowloon still kicking around because they think it’s cool ;)

          • Emeraude says:

            Someone correct me if I’m wrong, but I seem to remember the Kowloon of Shadowrun was actually rebuilt on the location of the one that existed there, which *was* destroyed.

    • AyeBraine says:

      Could you please tell of a few realistic touches that come to mind? It would be so interesting! I visited Germany on choir tour when I was small, but never traveled or lived there.

  8. Danarchist says:

    In Dragonfall I found it very difficult to acquire enough resources for some of the longer missions. Most specifically having enough medkits and summons in my inventory to get through the entire mission. When I hit the lab this became especially troublesome and I had to restart from an earlier save.
    Basically would it be possible to:
    A) make inventory items like medkits etc stack?
    B) could alternative/optional income sources be added so we do not have a finite amount of creds available?

    A troll street sam should be able to carry more than a few kits

    • Ryuuga says:

      I rarely have trouble with these, but then again, I think that might be down to how one likes to play the game. I like to play defensively, luring enemies out of rooms into ambushes, using cover, etc. I really like that mostly one can actually do this, and there’s not too many mobs spawned right on top of you, which some games really abuse. For one fight where I ended up with my team right in the middle of a room full of enemies.. I just ran right out again, posted an ambush outside, and pronto, the enemies ran right out and were met with a hail of bullets. Oh.. I like it when a plan comes together.

      All that said, for sure there should be more than one way to play out combat! The above is just a suggestion if you’d like to try it. And yeah. Erm. I must confess I do use the save function somewhat .. liberally, at times. Mostly not. Just sometimes.

  9. Ryuuga says:

    Awesome! Got Dragonfall: Directors Cut at the Xmas sale, and it’s been great so far, a big upgrade on the original campaign. Rainy Hong Kong sounds like a perfect setting for another outing! Hope it gets more flavour stuff, y’know, the really zany, odd, bizarre stuff of cyberpunk. And color. Black and every damn crazy color you can find, as long as they’re bright. And chrome! Chrome everything!

  10. Emeraude says:

    Original SR:R kickstarter ended at around 50$ per backer. We’re so far with Hong Kong averaging around 38$ per backer.

    We already have around as much 15$ backers, while only having less than a third of the same number of overall backers.

    I think the evolution/transition is complete, and people are basically treating this as a preorder like any other. And the added value of the higher tier incentives is found lacking when appraised from that point of view.

    • Bull0 says:

      $35 looked like the sweet spot to me, I’m quite interested in having a paw through the beginners’ toolkit stuff but another $20 for one more PDF and some portraits didn’t appeal.

      Very excited about the game, naturally. Loved Dragonfall.

      • Emeraude says:

        Thing I suspect is that a lot of us old table top players already have the books, which makes some of the bigger tierns indistinguishable from their lower counterparts.

  11. CKScientist says:

    Why are all the NPCs white? If the game is set in Hong Kong, the cast should be primarily Asian, as in Sleeping Dogs.

    Diversity in games is not an important issue for me, but this is just silly.

    • Emeraude says:

      What do you mean “all” ?

      Is0bel is brown, Duncan seems of Asian origins to me, Gobbet I really couldn’t say given the difference of tone between her portrait and character study. Which leaves Racter as the unambiguous white. If I dare such a daring statement.

      Edit: My bad misunderstood you. But then if you’re going by most of the pictures used in the KS page, they’re from the Berlin expansion.

    • caff says:

      I’d imagine they’re placeholder textures for now.

      Dragonfall’s characters had a limited set of character models & skintones too, but that didn’t stop it being an excellent game.

    • kud13 says:

      The screens on the KS page are from Dragonfall, which took place in Germany with a German crew.

      As for the HK crew, Is0bel is os Somali descent, the newly unlocked Gaichu is Japanese-turned ghoul, Rakkter is Russian, Gobbet is an Orc Shaman, and she seems either green or yellow (hard to tell) and Duncan looks Asian as well (though presumably the fact that he`s a troll will be more important in portraying his char).

  12. malkav11 says:

    Strictly speaking, they’re not crowdfunding the game. The pitch states they’ve already got a budget, a team and several months worth of progress in on it, and absent the KS funding they estimate it would be essentially another Dragonfall: Director’s Cut or thereabouts. The KS is for expanding their budget and taking it beyond their previously established standard. Kind of like what Divinity: Original Sin did.

    And I suspect that this one will go strong but not take off to the same degree as the original. At this point, they’ve established that they can deliver, and to a standard that a lot of people (including me) found entirely acceptable, but at the same time, it’s clear what they’re not going to be able to deliver, which is likely to dampen the o’erweening enthusiasm of the initial project. (It certainly did for me. I loved what I got, but I had envisioned something different. Probably something far less realistic considering their budget, team size, goals, and experience.)

    • Emeraude says:

      I guess I’m lucky on that front since I had kept my hopes scaled to the budget and time. If anything, I wasn’t expecting much more than DMS, so I ended pleasantly surprised when they managed to properly expand on that.

      • Tacroy says:

        Yeah honestly the most amazing thing about their last Kickstarter is that they managed to squeeze out enough resources to iterate on DMS and produce Dragonfall plus the 12 hours of this campaign

        I mean, say what you will about the generic Kickstarter controversy surrounding the game (I can’t remember what it was – was it DRM for this one?) but Shadowrun Returns has got to be one of the better managed Kickstarter gaming projects.

        • Emeraude says:

          DRM definitively was one issue. Not the only one.

          One thing I have to give HBS: they always tried to live up to their word, and as best as possible delivered.

          Though there are still some points of contention (for example, as far as I know Dragonfall wasn’t translated, while it was supposedly funded by the original Kickstarter, which had translations as a stretch goal. I can understand some people having a hard time swallowing that).

      • malkav11 says:

        I shouldn’t have expected more, really. But I have no real concept of how dollars translate into games, except insofar as I am vaguely aware that most games are operating on budgets larger than the closest equivalent Kickstarter projects tend to ask for. I.e. even a million bucks is actually a pretty shoestring budget for a studio of any real size and a project of any real scope. The biggest surprise for me was that they didn’t even attempt to adapt the tabletop mechanics directly, opting instead for a sort of approximation-in-the-spirit-of the tabletop game.

  13. Morlock says:

    I would just like to know where they see the series going. Are there any plans to at some point switch engines? The stronger dedication to PC opens up new options. I would also like to know whether there are any new plans for the editor and whether they ever considered multiplayer (perhaps with Neverwinter-Nights-type DMing).

    Looking forward to the interview even if none of these questions get picked.

  14. Lars Westergren says:

    Any plans to move to Unity 5, or is it too much work now to port custom tools etc?

    For such a famous historical port, will they have some waterfront locations, docks, quays, maybe even ship to enter?

  15. sinister agent says:

    Question for the devs: Have you seen my keys?

    • guygodbois00 says:

      Am not a dev, but: Have you tried last place you found them – I hear they are always on the last place.

    • Kaeoschassis says:

      Also not a dev, but I haven’t. Are they nice?

  16. kud13 says:

    As a day 1 backer of the original, I’m very happy with how the studio is handling Shadowrun. Their first goal addressed my main irk in Dragonfall–the lack of control over your crew’s minute actions, and they seem to be correcting that. Further stretch goals either add more characters + related missions (which is good, because it makes the game bigger), or expanding the existing game systems.

    Question: are you considering getting rid of the “4 chars per run” restriction, at least for the main story runs, so that you can have your entire crew on the big runs, and get all their input into the story aspect?

    • Morlock says:

      Oh, oh! And can we have “split party” runs with different teams approaching different objectives simultaneously, but affecting each other? No one want to DM this kind of stuff, but computer games are basically made for this. To a certain degree we already have this when one Decker is hacking a system (disabling a turret makes live easier for the gunners), but this can be made even more complex IMO.

  17. Billzor says:

    I find it disappointing that revamping the Matrix component of the game is at the bottom of their to-do list. From a gameplay perspective, running the matrix in both SR: R and Dragonfall was such a buzzkill. There are these fun, sometimes tense, combat sequences and then I switch over to my decker in the Matrix and the moment gets destroyed by a repetitive, uninteresting sequence of boring turns where I’m just pushing two buttons (Corruption and Killer, if I remember correctly, occasionally Degrade if I’m getting really bored). And then it’s back to meatspace and to the interesting bits.

    The Matrix feels like a placeholder or a proof of concept for something they would add later. That ends up making the decker class feel very unflexible and even a bit pointless during a mission until you get to a terminal. Even when I specced my decker for guns, he still felt like he was simply taking up a team slot.

    This is all doubly frustrating for me because I remember playing tabletop Shadowrun and having the Matrix feel like an omnipresent presence in the cities. We needed a decker to prep for missions and survive, Harebrained Schemes keeps trying to tickle my nostalgia bones with this game, but seeing the Matrix in the state that it’s in and seeing that it’s a low priority for this company isn’t doing it for me.

    • Lars Westergren says:

      Far down on the stretch goals list doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s low priority or that they don’t want to do it. From the descriptions it sounds like they agree somewhat with your critique, they probably just want to be sure they have the funds required.

      Other companies doing Kickstarters have said that rather have a bunch of low level stretch goal in a pile and then a huge jump to one of the bigger ones, they spread them out a bit to keep excitement up during the campaign. If they didn’t reach the big stretch goal once the campaign was over, then they had some unexpected extra funds to add polish and a little more content on the lower stretch goals. Not saying it’s the same deal here, but it is a possibility.

      • Billzor says:

        I see your point. I get the funding and personnel issues with creating something like the Matrix in a game (it’s basically a separate game of its own), but as a decker fan when I see that improving the Matrix is a stretch goal and not an absolute inclusion in the next game, it’s a bit off-putting.

    • Lagran says:

      Considering HBS says: “If we hit this goal, we’ll add more people to the team to revise the look, feel, and gameplay of the Matrix.”, it seems to be like redoing the Matrix will be a large investment that they need the extra funds reaching $700k will give them. Setting it lower may have made it more attainable, but also runs the risk that they might not have the funds to redo it well, leaving it better than what we have in SR:R and Dragonfall* but still something that’s not quite good enough for both players and HBS.

      We might still get to $700k — 33 days to get a little under $279k from where I am.

      *I presume. I bought the games last year and only now have I gotten around to dipping my toe in SR:R and with a character that is decidedly not techbased so I’ve no comment on how the Matrix works.

  18. montorsi says:

    Cool, Returns was a nifty game with silly, enjoyable writing that reminds me such things are still possible today, even on a modest budget.

  19. derbefrier says:

    Nice glad to see they made their goal already. I really enjoyed shadowrun returns. I have dragonfall in my library but haven’t gotten around to starting it yet. This will be something to look forward too.

  20. Dawngreeter says:

    This is really great. I enjoyed the first one and still didn’t get around to playing Dragonfall, but I’m sure I’ll enjoy it as well. Kickstarter as a platform for new campaigns on an already existing platforms seems like an approach that can work really well. Backers are reasonably sure that the company can deliver and the company avoids a lot of financial strain and uncertainty.

    I’ll probably back this.

    • Pkloop says:

      If you enjoyed the first one Dragonfall DC is better in nearly every way. Play it. Its killer!!

      • Kaeoschassis says:

        This. If you want to form an opinion of what the devs are really capable of before deciding how you feel about Hong Kong, play the DC version of Dragonfall. It really does improve on Dead Man’s Switch in just about every regard, and hell, you can play it to completion and still have time to back-or-not-back Hong Kong. (I probably will too)

  21. Pkloop says:

    HBS said the reason the Matrix is so far down the list is not lack of interest in redoing/improving it but rather having the money to bring on additional staff to do it. They WANT to improve it but I believe they said they need 3 more new programers hired to pull it off.

    A question for HBS: Clear up the whole Matrix thing..what are their ideas for improvement etc..

  22. Pkloop says:

    Here’s a question for HBS:

    If these games continue to do well getting funded is there a possibility for a Shadowrun on the scale of the Fallouts/Baldurs Gate 2 level of completeness? Much larger game with all the items/gear/spells options? Openness of exploring etc?