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The guys over at Morbid Play had the opportunity to chat with Shadowrun Returns executive producer Mitch Gitelman about the game's recently released and well-received Director's Cut edition. Topics include the creation of Harebrained Schemes and the crowdfunding campaign that started it all, the challenges with porting the tabletop RPG experience to a video game, the additions and enhancements in the Director's Cut, and more:
Whistler: How did you approach translating what is such a complex player driven table top game with a rich lore and mythos into a video game medium?
Mitch Gitelman: I think there were two sides to it.
Jordan was the creator of Shadowrun and the vision holder for Shadowrun Returns' gameplay. He worked with Mike Mulvihill (the line editor for the tabletop game's third edition and a senior designer at Harebrained) to design just about every feature in the game to ensure that the mechanics *felt* like Shadowrun. That's the design side.
But mechanics don't bring a game setting to life. Mike McCain (the Art Director on Dead Man's Switch and Game & Art Director of Dragonfall) and Chris Rogers (Character Lead on Shadowrun and Art Director of Golem Arcana) created the look and feel of the world and the characters. Jordan was also the architect of the Dead Man's Switch story and wrote the first draft of most of the key scenes. I established the tone of the narrative and dialogue and wrote most of it while working with our Audio Director, Alistair Hirst, and our composers to get (the Shadowrun sound).
That's at the highest level. A lot of talented, passionate people worked very hard together to deliver a (real) Shadowrun experience and I'm very proud to work with them.
Whistler: I personally loved the grey moral line our runner's will tread throughout the course of SR, what was it like giving the player so many moral choices while not resorting to the paragon vs renegade system other RPGs tend to do?
Mitch Gitelman: Hard. And a lot of work.
Dead Man's Switch was a nice gray but Andrew McIntosh, (Dragonfall's primary writer) really took it up a notch, creating the deliciously dark, dark gray choices many people have reacted so positively to. Andrew, McCain, and I aren't big fans of mechanics-based-morality. It makes sense in a Star Wars inspired setting but in a dystopian future like Shadowruns', I think it makes the world feel cartoony and flat. It also makes it hard to role-play your character because your choices are being visibly judged by the computer program rather than just existing in your head interpreted by the only person who matters - you.