The world has changed…
Magic is no longer just for fairy tales. It’s real. While technology has merged with flesh to challenge the strength of old world sorcery. Now people are more than just people; after an unexplained genetic event, some of them have developed traits that have left them labeled as elves, dwarfs, orks, and trolls. And dragons aren’t just in picture books–they’re very real, and they’re running nations and some of the biggest corporations in the world.
People call it the Sixth World, and it’s not a friendly place. Mega corporations have ruthlessly consolidated power, and they make everyone, from the lowliest wage slave to the most powerful government leader, dance to their tune. Many people sell their lives to these megacorps, believing they have no choice. But there are a few who have the skills, the guts and the nerve to stay independent, finding a way to live in the gray areas of a world not built for them. They can survive–and if they’re real lucky–thrive in the corners and shadows of the world. They’re outlaws, but they’re tolerated by the powers of the world because they’re useful. They are called shadowrunners.
I'm certain that many people here have heard of the super successful Kickstarter for Returns, which will be a dream come true for everyone that has had a deal in the darkness with a Mr. Johnson, (wang jokes permitted) but there seems to be comparatively few people who have heard of . Well, let's start this off with the official Kickstarter video for the project.
Or at least I would, if I knew how to link a video from another website directly into a forum. For now, I'll just say that there are some informational and gameplay videos on their Kickstarter page, which can be found using a simple search.
Either way, I'm covering the point by point of the projects and developing game right here.
What is Shadowrun?
Shadowrun is a pen and paper RPG created in the last century that combines a Cyberpunk Dystopian Future with High Fantasy. In this setting, the Aztec calender doesn't represent the death of the world, but the ending of one age and the beginning of the next as the calender resets itself. Turns out, in 5,000 year cycles, magic enters and exits our world, which means that in 2012 there were fierce disasters coupled with the militaristic uprising of cultures that were still in tune with mysticism, leading to the reclaiming of the Southwest United States by the Sioux Nation. The event also led to the awakening of the most long lived, cunning, farsighted, and devious creatures to even live, Dragons. And these dragons wasted no time in taking over nations and founding mega-corporations to exert their pull over humanity, and continue their eternal power struggles with one another.
Game State: Alpha Build / On Kickstarter
What is Shadowrun Online?
And with the return of Magic came the return of what are now called Meta-Humans. The long dormant genes of Elves and Dwarves suddenly re-emerge and both species are born en mass after the event, while millions of teenagers went through Goblinization as their physical bodies turned turned into Orcs and Trolls wherever they happened to be standing at the time.
Magic came back with a vengeance, but technology refused to die, and the two have now merged like a pair of lovers refusing to be parted. Cybermancy is common and still being explored for high profit as scientists try to get a handle on that pure, raw, and unpredictable power called magic. But there are those who can control it, for a time. Magicians are easily found if you know where to look, and every one is a potential bomb that could be overloaded by the very power that makes them devastating in a fight, leading to their being universally feared and distrusted by friends and foes alike.
Magicians are not the only ones with access to mystic might, as Shamans suddenly found that the spirits of nature can now speak back and lend their power to those who are either worthy or pay the proper price. And the Shamans quickly find that they can delve into the ephemeral world of these same spirits to explore an alien landscape that no human eye had beheld for over five thousand years. But technology has also created a new realm in the form of the internet's foundations. As technology found means to create stable cybernetics that interface with human nerves, it quickly became possible for intelligent beings to submerge their psyches into what has come to be known as the Matrix, the amalgamated cyber landscape of all the interfaced machines on the planet. Through this mentally tactile realm, one with enough skill can enter any space where machine exists and take any secrets for themselves at the risk of their lives, for software countermeasures as brutal as the monsters of legend have been developed for the sole purpose of keep these secrets hidden.
With the use of the resurgent magic, the entire planet became embroiled in wars exploring new territory and new weapons. As a result, the US loses control over most of the continent, and the southern states break away to reform a Confederacy that prioritizes State Rights over Federal Right. Seattle falls and rises again as a hub of commerce, owned and governed by the Mega Corporations that had used the anarchy to consolidate power and annihilate competition until they held most of the political power and wealth the planet has to offer. Split into high tech splendor and high tech ruination, Seattle is the go to town for covert corporate sabotage and every Mega-Corps has a presence there exactly for that reason.
Europe sank into a continent wide mass of violence that resulted in entire tracts of land being rendered nearly uninhabitable, except for the fact that people still live there. The superpower capitol of London has been struck with toxic rain and unbreathable poison air, forcing the residents to go underground into a submerged facsimile of their home city in order to survive. And poor Berlin has once again been carved up into territories by the survivors of the great war. No less than six superpowers hold tracts of land and high security keeping them apart, and that is why Berlin is the holy land of any shadowrunner worth their salt.
What is a shadowrunner? That's you, the player. A person who refuses to play by the new rules, who values their own freedom over the uneasy comforts assigned to you by corporate overlords. A person who is skilled enough at their unethical trade to be tolerated by the powers that be and used for the furthering of their own covert agendas. You live in a world with few rules, and fewer restrictions. But just remember four things.
Watch your back.
Conserve your ammo.
Never, ever, cut a deal with a dragon.
Being named an MORPG, (cutting out the "Massively") Shadowrun Online is a game where the original universe is made digital and shared with only the people you want to share it with. This means you have an Online game that is finally as social or anti-social as wish it to be. With group finders, friend lists, and the ability to form complete teams out of your own roster of Created Characters, the game is uniquely flexible. The game also takes place in the year 2070, twenty years after the current edition of Shadowrun (and the upcoming Shadowrun Returns), and the events that will unfold in SRO will be incorporated into the official PnP Shadowrun Lore as time marches on for the residents of the 6th world. Aside from the base societal structures and ongoing antagonism towards the new meta-human strains that have recently begun appearing, all the events in question will be guided by the player community, including the permanent downfall of one of the Mega-Corps.
The game itself will be a downloaded client to be installed on the hard drive and played in it's own dedicated window, like all other PC games. However, by following a set of instructions it will be possible to play the game in a web browser window instead while retaining the complete 3D aspect and quality, but being able to check your email at the same time.
The game will be playable cross-platform on online PC, Mac, Linux, iOS/iPad, Android Tablet and Ouya.
What does Shadowrun Online look / play like?
Well, here is an early Alpha gameplay video.
As you can see from the video, the game will be presented in a 3D isometric top down view much like X-COM, Final Fantasy Tactics, and Disgaea. The engine is apparently using a lot of relic work from Jaggad Alliance Online while Cliffhanger finishes getting the core gameplay rules perfected for the game's turn-based, initiative ordered, Free/Move/Normal/Complex action automating system perfected before taking away all the current graphics and remaking the graphics engine to be as up to date and good looking as possible.
As for the User Interface that was shown, that is the Super Alpha version shown in the video. User Interfaces are generally the last thing made inside a video game during development.
What is the flow of the game?
The first thing you will do in the game, is find a Mission
to go on, aka a Run
. As stated before, the UI has not been made (though areas of the world will be sorted by increasing difficulty of Runs), so there is currently no information on this step, or the next one, Gathering a Team.
What we do know is that the game will have a built in optional matchmaking system for people who don't mind a random partner in crime. SRO will also have friends lists so you can game with your real life or online buddies, but the most innovative system here is the ability to use your own Created Characters to fill in the spaces that would have been played by humans and turn the Multiplayer, into Single Player. Very handy for lone wolves or people who need an additional member of a team right quick and don't feel like risking a PUG Healer.
After gathering your team, next comes the Legwork.
This is where the Social and Background skills / perks found in Shadowrun will really shine.
In the above video, the character obviously failed in his Intimidate check, but the option to use Barter and Diplomacy was also present (and a failure on them would most likely have been less visceral), though the Troll shown is apparently more in favor of speaking through his fists. Legwork seems to be the biggest part of the game that would involve the use of non-combat skills, as SRO has confirmed that a team will be able to either accompany each other for all the legwork performed for a Run, or be able to break apart in whatever grouping it chooses for each member to gather info / obtain an edge in whatever manner suits them best. SRO has also confirmed that background perks, like Contacts, will be alive and well in the game and have an influence. Background Perks can be bought in character creation or earned as a reward during missions, allowing you to slowly create a criminal network that will creep across the face of the Sixth World.
Whether your Legwork is planting demolitions to make an escape route, bribing guards or scientists to open a path inside, hacking the mainframes to get a map of the security layout, or buying info on the contents of the building you're breaking into from an information broker, your team is working to give your Run advantages when you start. Of course, with any system in Shadowrun, there is the possibility of failure. You may come across a random encounter group of street thugs, have your infiltration program countered, or just plain let the wrong people know what your plans are, and the process will end up backfiring on you, creating complications for your Run.
Next comes the Run
itself, where the team gathers once again and tries to achieve it's goals as it was hired to perform them, along with any optional or uncovered goals the team has discovered through Legwork. While each run is unique, this is not a Diablo style game. The maps will not randomize the rooms involved, as it really would not make sense if you break into an Aztech science building to kidnap a scientist and then come back to the same building a week later to plant an AI scrambler program in the mainframe and find the interior of the building and the sewer tunnels outside it have been completely rearranged. What is
different every time is the security layout, position of guards with patrol routes, intrusive wildlife, guardian beasts, and interrupting rivals. Just like a map of Team Fortress 2, even if the map is the same, the fight will be completely different based on who your opponent is.
After the Run has either been completed more or less successfully, or failed magnificently, the team needs to escape and get to ground. Safehouses (customizable safehouses are confirm for After Launch expansion) are very important for this step, as shaking off the law (government or corporately funded) is as important to your longevity as body armor. Once the team has evaded pursuit, it is time to end the process and get a mission complete. -Process for ending a mission is unknown, as it is once again, User Interface-
After getting your pay, you can spend it on weapons, armor, gear, DocWagon payment plans, or just the average Ale and Whores.
Each account will have three character slots available to them for the creation of Shadowrunners. The process of creation will follow along the more modern Shadowrun PnP rules, where instead of choosing a class and then having your Stats and abilities built around it's intended play style, you are given a blank sheet and an amount of points to spend on what you want on skills, abilities, backgrounds, and perks. This allows a far more fluid and adaptable creation process as you can be a Mage Troll with a penchant for beating people down with your magically augmented fists, or a whisper thin street samurai sniper that locates his targets by hacking into the enemy's security cameras.
Cliffhanger has now released a video showing the general pre-Alpha model and explanation of character creation in Shadowrun Online. Everyone remembers the host from Firefly, yes?
SRO will offer pre-built characters for player that don't want to go into the in depth method of tailoring a character sheet like an Armani tuxedo. In line with the idea of complete customization, SRO will allow players to upload their own character portraits if you don't see one that you like in the game's portrait database. (Samples
) There will be people checking these custom submissions before they are enacted as portraits, so anyone who thinks they can get away with a picture of their own wang for an avatar will quickly find their account banned. But this opens up a potential parallel economy in having Deviant Artists making cash by drawing character portraits for the game. Interesting possibilities that.
Players will have the option to play as any of the common Meta-Human types (Human, Elf, Dwarf, Orc, and Troll), with the rarer sub-strains expected in expansions. And BTW, Technomancer is confirmed for launch.
Also, depending on Perks, Traits, and Equipment, players will be able to see the world in different ways.
All combat equipment can be upgraded and personalized in the game, it's maximum customizibility being decided by it's quality. To quote the Cliffhanger representative, "there is only so much you can do for a flintlock musket."
Q and A:
Will SRO occur in the same reality as Shadowrun Returns?
-Yes. This is a world that has been shaped by the actions of the Shadowrun for SNES, Genesis, and Shadowrun Returns. There is an ongoing plotline that involves all the previous games, as well as the Pen and Paper's original world.
Is my character permanent? Will my character die?
-Your character is permanent and will continue to grow in strength and ability for as long as you choose to retain it. While a character cannot be killed, your character can be very badly beaten up by failing their Runs a few times too many. More information on the fallout of failed missions has yet to be released.
So does what I do in game even matter?
-Yes. Shadorunners are hired out by Mega-Corporations, who's power are reflected by the actions of the player community. The power of a corporation is not static, but reactive and dependent on successful Runs to maintain an edge on their competitors. It has already been declared that the players are going to end up bringing down one of the Mega-Corps, but which one it will be, even the developers don't know. The players have not brought it down yet.
Are environments destructible?
Yes, they are. In the final game build, Demolition experts will most likely be able to "Bypass" security systems and reinforced entryways by making their own doors.
Can you hold territory?
-By engaging in PvP, either on your own or with a guild / gang, you can take and hold territory in the game. The benefits of this are not yet known, but cash and fame are likely.
So SRO's events are being incorporated into the Shadowrun PnP game, right? How can I become famous in the Shadowrun world?
-First, those people who contributed the highest "ROCKSTAR" amount to SRO's Kickstarter will be made a famous supermodel / Movie star /Rock star in the game, plastering their faces on advertisements, news, and entertainment. This status will be reflected in the Pen and Paper version of Shadowrun, and be made official canon. The second method would be to make history inside the game through excellence. Should a core set of players do something like succeed in unifying all of Seattle's gang turf, practically for good, then there is a high likelihood of those players becoming cannonical in the PnP game. Basically, if you achieve a legendary status on the game servers, you have a good shot of officially being recorded in Shadowrun's future-history.
So, where's the Matrix? And the Spirit realms? I wanna dive in there!
-They are not planned to be included in the game, as doing so would create a region of the game that only the "selected" can enter, and everyone else is barred entry. Also, creating game maps that disobey every single law of reality in a constantly shifting way would consume too much of Cliffhanger's budget. They may be introduced in an expansion if the community is interested in it enough.
So, I guess it's a Freemium Pay-2-Win game, huh?
-It is not a Pay-2-Win game. The F2P server is meant to be open to everyone, with items to provide faster leveling, self protection, and the usual sort of "Fast Start" items one can choose to buy, yes. But the game will be able to be played 100% free and not be crushed by bankrolling runners, as you will mostly be fighting NPC enemies. Unless you choose to PvP.
Wait, I heard this game was F2P with a cash shop. What's with this new payment plan I hear about?
-There is more than just one payment model. After receiving feedback from the community and running the numbers, Cliffhanger Productions has decided to make a second Server for those who would rather not deal with the Free-2-Play model. They are calling it the Campaign Server, which is modeled after the Guild Wars model of buying content once, and then owning it's usage forever. You get access to all the items you would normally have to pay cash for in the F2P server for in game digital currency, and only pay a single amount up front for each content package you wish to use. As more content is added, you will be able to pick and choose what you want, and since content expansions are expected to come out every 3-6 months (estimated period, not set in stone), we can safely conclude that the future of SRO will be expansive.
But even so, F2P and Campaign are separate servers, right? That's permanently dividing the community.
-It is not a segregated community. The F2P and Campaign servers will have overlap, each world's actions reflected in the other, and it has been promised that players on the different payment servers will be able to play with one another. This means that if a Campaign player gets one of his friends to try the game as F2P, then you can do some runs together to help him learn the ropes. And should that new player decide to buy the content and become a Campaign player, then his character will be transferred to the new server with all levels, equipment, and property intact.
Why have I not heard of Shadowrun Online until now?!
-The game is still in Alpha development, or even pre-alpha, and has not received coverage from the more normal coverage from magazines and news sites that half finished or nearly released games get.
Shadowrun Online is currently receiving submissions from composers for the in game music. All located submissions will be reposted here.
Please note, these are actual
composers, people who make a living by writing and selling music as their primary source of income.
"We shall Capture the Flag. We shall go on to the time limits.
We shall fight in Hoth, we shall fight on the spaceports
and the orbital stations, we shall fight with growing confidence
and growing strength in the instances, we shall defend our Republic,
whatever the cost may be.
We shall Re-Spawn on the beaches, we shall camp the landing grounds,
we shall PvP Flag in the fields and in the streets, we shall gank in the hills;
we shall never uninstall."