Shadowrun Returns Post-funding Update #38

A new update is out for Shadowrun Returns, brought to us via Kickstarter, this time including a "fireside chat" video (with a couple of music samples to boot), and a write-up from designer Mike Mulvihill.

Here's a snip:
So, where to start?

Our first decision was simply one of ideology. In order to ensure that the (feel) of Shadowrun would translate to our new format, we started boiling down what was most loved by fans, no matter how they were introduced to the world of Shadowrun. As designers, we needed to juggle a handful of core elements: the uniqueness of the world, the stories we want to tell, the choice of actions players need to take, the risk and reward of making those choices, the characters' growth, and especially the fun that players spoke about when playing all the previous versions of Shadowrun.

We also knew the game we wanted to make: a story-driven team-based tactical game, which reflects the feel of the old-school pen and paper RPG. The first order of business was codifying the tactics. To achieve this, we needed to hit our first concrete goal creating a mathematical base that the engineers could implement and that we could use as our core design engine. We decided to call this the Action Calculator (AC1).

To mimic Shadowrun's feel for the majority of the players, we wanted an Attribute / Skill / Specialization hierarchy like the ones was used in all of the electronic games and the first three editions of Shadowrun. Setting the game in the early 2050's reinforced that decision. Now it was fun with numbers. and yes, for all you old-schoolers, we actually attempted to model rolling handfuls of six-sided dice. Unfortunately, the number-crunching in AC1 proved that chucking all those d6s around was not sustainable for what we wanted and not expandable into the other systems we'd planned.

From the ashes of AC1 came AC2: a new mathematical approach that doesn't necessarily use the old math systems of the RPGs but mimics them in order to ensure that we're true to the feeling of Shadowrun combat. With that math done and with AC2 passing the old (eyeball test), we took our mechanics to the next level - we created a Shadowrun board game. That's right: we played with miniatures, terrain, dice rolling, and (role-playing), while I fed numbers into various spreadsheets to see what felt good and what...didn't.

Each day, we would add a new twist to the board game: burst fire, shotguns, grenades, magic, swords, healing, full auto, etc. The next day, I'd rebuild the spreadsheet, adjusting numbers that felt out of whack, and adding new calcs to push the limits of what we could do (cover modifiers, armor, staging of damage up and down, stun effects, etc.).

To finish up the board game task, we wrote down our (mechanics) in rulebook form and it became the first working design document. I'˜m not sure any of the original words of that document are still there...but that's a whole other story! Nevertheless, AC2 stands today, along with over 25 spreadsheet tabs of older versions of the math engine - but most importantly, it still stands.