Thursday, 5 February 2015

Exclusinterview: Mitch Gitelman (Harebrained Schemes)

Image from Shadowrun: Hong Kong's Kickstarter page
It's time for another interview for another Kickstarter game: Shadowrun: Hong Kong, the sequel to the recent Kickstarter success Shadowrun Returns, itself a remastering of the Shadowrun games of yonder. SHK is an RPG based in a futuristic Hong Kong, blended with fantasy elements, and it's already exceeded all of its planned stretch goals, with an astounding $832,055 raised at the time of writing. Anyway, that's enough from me: I've interviewed the co-founder of developer Harebrained Schemes Mitch Gitelman for a little insight into the project....

GAK: So Shadowrun: Hong Kong made its Kickstarter target in two hours, a phenomenal time: why do you think people want another Shadowrun game, especially since it's such a long running series?

What’s great about Shadowrun is that it’s a world that revolves around dark and interesting questions and characters. In the previous two Shadowrun games, people really responded passionately to the characters and their stories. The emotions, the corporate intrigue, and everything which informs their actions, as well as the decisions that you as a player get to make. Ultimately, in a roleplaying game, that’s what makes it interesting – having to make morally complex selections and choices as you navigate through this world. 

GAK: Why have you decided to prioritize story with Shadowrun when many other games don't?

Many of us come from a tabletop role-playing background where story and character interactions were a major part of why we played. When cRPGs came on the scene, a lot were based on the stuff we loved. So when we got the chance to make our own, we focused where our passions are. When the audience reacted so positively to the writing in Shadowrun Returns, we decided to take it up a level in Shadowun: Dragonfall.

GAK: Is it hard to try and balance magic and sci-fi? Have there been any moments when it's gone two far either way?

Nope! The Shadowrun setting is a great blend of magic and sci-fi and as long as we stay true to the setting, it's hard to go wrong!

GAK: Will there be a set team the player uses throughout the whole game, or will the player be able to recruit other characters to fight with?

Your Hong Kong crew will work similarly to Dragonfall - you'll have your core team and one or more optional team members you can add.

GAK: Gladly, the Editor will be returning in Hong Kong: what's been the most impressive creation made in previous iterations of the editor?

We've played a ton of creative content created by the community. There's Razor's Edge by Obsidian Razor:
Jordan and I enjoyed playing that one. 

Nightmare Harvest is cool too:
GAK: Last of all, give us a quick rundown of Shadowrun: Hong Kong's story.

Hong Kong was not given back to China in the Shadowrun Universe. Its a free enterprise zone with no government. Corporations control the entire country.  Things work differently here. There is this concept of Wild Magic - based on the Chinese culture - and it works in unexpected ways. Culture plays a big part in Hong Kong - it is steeped in "guanxi" - a network of influence and relationships based upon "face" - a combination of social status and prestige. Its basically a meter of your reputation and that is very important in Hong Kong and we will be modeling that in the game.  

The story takes place in 2056. Magic has returned and its spells deliver some very unexpected results.  Hong Kong is a stable and prosperous port of call in a sea of chaos, warfare, and political turmoil. The Hong Kong Free Enterprise Zone is a land of contradictions - it is one of the most successful centers of business in the Sixth World, and it is home to one of the world’s most dangerous sprawl sites. A land of bright lights, gleaming towers, and restless spirits where life is cheap and everything is for sale.

The lure of a quick payday draws you from Seattle into the neon glow of Victoria Harbor… and into a corporate conspiracy nearly thirty years in the making. Dragged into the shadows of Kowloon, you will need to forge new connections and build a solid reputation to survive. And you'll need to do it quickly, because a terrifying threat looms on the horizon - an unstoppable supernatural force that corrupts or devours everything it touches.

Shadowrun: Hong Kong still has two weeks left on Kickstarter to raise its ultimate $1 million stretch goal: to create an endgame mini-campaign. $15 nets you a Steam, GOG, Humble or DRM-free copy of the game, desktop wallpapers and a downloadable copy of the soundtrack!

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