Harebrained Schemes doesn't really have to prove anything anymore, but they're going for it again, with the third game in their Shadowrun series.
Shadowrun Hong Kong's Kickstarter was funded in mere hours, surpassing its 100,000 goal. As of writing, the Kickstarter has almost 10,000 backers and has passed the 400K mark. Several new characters have been 'unlocked' as part of the Kickstarter rewards; upcoming rewards include a mutating Samurai human supremacist, upgraded cyberware and magic rules, and an updated look to the Matrix.
Three fully-developed characters have already been funded and will be produced, in addition to the work already done.
The game will use the same engine from Shadowrun Returns and Dragonfall, but will undoubtedly require new art assets for the dense city of Kowloon.
“We're totally committed to making Shadowrun: Hong Kong and we're already several months into development.” reads the Kickstarter page. “The project is budgeted, fully staffed, and on-schedule for a mid-2015 release. We also have a story we're really excited about. At our current budget, it's going to be 12+ hours long and at the quality level of Shadowrun: Dragonfall - Director's Cut.”
“But this is Harebrained Schemes and, as always, we have more ideas than we have budget.”
Dragonfall offered a revamped system and a collection of well-detailed allies, including the troubled cyborg Glory and the veteran troll soldier, Eigir. I consider it one of the best RPGs of recent memory, for the quality of the writing and the system's scope, as well as the 'noir' style present in the dingy artwork and oppressive themes.
The original Kickstarter for Shadowrun Returns made $1,836,447 total on April 29
, 2012, with 36,276 backers.
Currently, most of the Kickstarter art shows scenes from Dragonfall's Berlin, but some concept artwork shows the Hong Kong environs, with hanging lanterns and Chinese-laden scrolls. Undoubtedly it will be a different experience from the cold-blue of Returns' Seattle or the earthy tones of Berlin. But it also represents an entirely different locale, removed from America or Europe (though Hong Kong's colonial history will undoubtedly play a part).
Hong Kong was the runner-up for the poll given to backers of Returns, in which Berlin was selected as the setting for Dragonfall. Other options included London or Denver, Colorado.
Jordan Weisman, founder of Harebrained Schemes, created the Shadowrun tabletop RPG in 1989, a cyberpunk dystopian world, where magic has returned to the modern world after the end of the Mayan Calendar in 2012, leading to fantasy staples such as dragons and elves appearing on Earth again.
I'll admit, I've never played the table-top version, having succumbed to the great curse of planning, where characters are made, the scenario is laid out, but the date to come to the table was never set. I did enjoy these recent games immensely, with a silly name and an arcane arsenal delving through the corporate-dominated and oppressed urban landscapes
At this point, the original creator's involvement is no longer a reason for hype. The games speak for themselves, with glowing reviews and massive finances directed at them by eager backers and purchasers. While it's far too early to claim it will be great – and the fact that two games have already been produced means it's somewhat likely to retread ground – people are not making so much of a gamble. Details are scarce on the plot and themes, as they were with Dragonfall. Such tight lips serve to maintain the plot's impact; Dragonfall managed to stand distinct from the previous game, and they seem to be aiming to do the same.
We will see if lightning strikes thrice. It IS the new age of magic, after all.