The creator of Shadowrun is looking for help from Kickstarter to revive the franchise as it was meant to be.
Someday I'll be able to stop talking about Kickstarter, but today is not that day. Why? Because Jordan Weisman wants your money to help bring Shadowrun Returns to life. And who is Jordan Weisman? He founded the original FASA Corporation, the company behind the classic RPG franchises Battletech and Shadowrun, and FASA Interactive, which gave us the hit Mechwarrior PC games. He worked on games like Crimson Skies and Mage Knight: Apocalypse after FASA Interactive was acquired by Microsoft, and it's also worth noting that he was not at all involved in the 2007 Shadowrun FPS debacle.
He's been around and he knows his stuff, in other words, and now he's decided to join his fellow grizzled game designers on the Kickstarter bandwagon with Shadowrun Returns, a "2D turn-based single player game with deep story interaction, meaningful character development, and highly-contextual tactical combat."
Weisman breaks down the techno-magical cyberpunk world of Shadowrun in his suitably amusing Kickstarter pitch video so I won't get into that here, but I will say that the idea of a Shadowrun videogame that doesn't suck is mighty appealing. The nature of the setting means stories can be told about pretty much anything and to "ensure an authentic tone," the plan is to incorporate work from previously-established Shadowrun authors and designers. But Weisman also intends to release the level editor used to make the game so players can create their own stories and then share them with the community.
Weisman actually licensed the IP from Microsoft back in 2007 through the Smith & Tinker startup but restrictions on the license prevented him from getting other publishers involved in any potential Shadowrun projects. It was the success of people like Tim Schafer and Brian Fargo on Kickstarter that inspired him to try his own luck at finally making something happen.
"The game we want to make is very humble by modern blockbuster game standards but it is still way beyond the ability of a small startup to fund by itself," he wrote. "Crowdsourcing to fund creative content represents a truly profound change to the status quo. While we watch financial models for the creation and distribution of creative content continue to erode, Kickstarter charts a direction for how fans can directly impact development of creative content they want by funding its creation."
The complete low-down on what's in store in Shadowrun Returns and what you'll get for your money can be found at kickstarter.com.