Last month 360Monster was invited as part of the Microsoft Xbox Community Network (XCN) to submit a selection of questions, which would be answered in a Q&A session with Mitch Gitelman, General Manager of Shadowrun developer FASA Studios. We put this to our community via our forum and in return we received some pressing questions from our members. The most interesting and inventive questions were selected and submitted towards the Q&A interview.
What follows an in-depth Q&A exclusive to XCN members with Mitch Gitelman.
Will you make use of Live Anywhere and if so, how?
Live Anywhere is a vision of connecting gamers regardless of device or platform. Shadowrun fulfils that vision as the first Games for Windows Live title and the first title to allow Xbox 360 and Windows Vista gamers to play together. As a Games for Windows Live title, we feature integrated chat, gamertags and gamer scores, Achievements, Friends lists, and invites across all platforms.
The game doesn’t have a single-player campaign and has only a few online modes. Won’t this, despite the addition of magical abilities, make the game too limited?
Not at all. Multiplayer focused games are an emerging genre and we are no more limited than any of the other games in our genre. Counter strike has been one of the most popular shooters for years and Shadowrun’s innovative game play is fun, addictive and will keep players entertained for a long, long time. The combination of races, tech, magic and weapons has tons of replay value and you can play all our maps and game types against our bots at different skill levels.
You try to redefine the FPS genre by using magic and different races with unique characteristics. Isn’t it likely that after a short time certain combinations will dominate the game and make other combinations obsolete?
No. We’ve been playing Shadowrun for years and we’re still learning new tactics and new combinations. In addition, Shadowrun is about improvisation using the tools you have in the situation you’re in. No combination is effective in every circumstance and you can only have 3 abilities usable at any given time. So every time you settle on a combo, you are denying yourself others. Now, some of our combos are “classics” like glider/teleport that many players will take every game. That doesn’t mean they’re overbalanced, though. That means they’re really, really fun to use.
Why did you pick typical fantasy races like elves and dwarves to appear in a futuristic shooter like Shadowrun?
Shadowrun is based on a paper and pencil role-playing game where magic has returned to the 21st century and reawakened dormant magical DNA in some people, turning them into creatures of legend. From a game play point of view, “typical” races like this are great because you can take one look at a character and get an idea of what he’s capable of. That instant recognition saves considerable “training time” and effort.
The Shadowrun series has predominately been an RPG, what was behind the decision to make this new game a first person shooter?
It’s true that Shadowrun started as an RPG but it’s also been a tactical combat board game, a collectable card game and an action figure combat game. The world of Shadowrun is large and there’s a lot to do in it. Pen and paper and electronic RPGs explore the story element of that world, but other mediums have focused on the combat like we did. But the question remains—why a team-based first-person shooter? If you look at FASA’s history, you’ll see why. We’ve been making multiplayer shooters since 1990 with the BattleTech pods. The pods were location-based multiplayer units that linked 8 players together in virtual reality cockpits along with voicechat. Seven years ago, we released MechWarrior 4 and people are still playing it in multiplayer leagues. We produced MechAssault, the launch title for Xbox Live at the birth of online console action gaming. After that, we developed Crimson Skies, a game that lots of people call their favorite online game for the Xbox. And then I hired John Howard, the lead designer of Halo, melded the design teams of those great games together and set out to make Shadowrun. So why adapt it to an FPS? Because we know it would kick ass.
If you ran a studio with a history of making groundbreaking and fun multiplayer action games and the lead designer of the best FPS on console, what would you do?”
How have you integrated the hacking phases of Shadowrun in this next-gen version ? Will we have the chance to see some shadowrunners from the SNES version (Anders, Steelflight or Akimi for example) ?
This version of Shadowrun is focused on the combination of magic and technology. In future versions, we will move the timeline forward and introduce new elements such as decking. Because this game is set 25 years before the SNES game, those characters do not appear.
Why should we (the gamer) buy Shadowrun? What is it’s main feature?
It’s an intense, team-based first-person shooter that combines ancient magic, modern weapons and advanced technology in a way that’s never been done before. Rather than turn magic and tech into just another weapon, we’ve made them into tools the player uses to outwit and outfight the enemy. Notice that I used “outfight” instead of “outshoot”. That’s because Shadowrun isn’t just about putting your cross-hairs on a troll and pulling the trigger. It’s about using the right abilities and the right weapons at the right time to get the advantage in combat. It’s really a thinking person’s shooter—but someone who thinks on fast on their feet. If you’re bored of first person shooters and are ready to go to the next level, Shadowrun is for you.
Please can you tell us more about the multiplayer gameplay of Shadowrun?
Shadowrun is focused on team based gameplay. Shadowrun” will support a maximum of 16 players per game but you’ll see a lot more that 16 players flying around the battlefield. You can summon creatures to fight for you, strangle crystals to block entrances and capture enemies, and trees of life to magically heal you. Shadowrun has three different gametypes. These are Raid, Extraction and Attrition.
The Raid gametype requires the attacking team to capture a magical artifact and deliver it to the extraction area. The defending team must stop the attackers from escaping with the artifact.
The artifact always starts in the same place and only the attackers can carry it. If it is dropped and not picked back up, it will eventually return to its initial location.
With one side on offense and the other on defense Raid is the more tactical of the two gametypes, often feeling like a high speed chess match with magic and machine guns.
In Extraction the artifact starts in the center of the map. Both teams can pick the artifact up. Each team wants to bring the artifact to a separate extraction area on the opposite side of the map from where they start.
Extraction is the more fast paced and frantic gametype. Both sides are after the same thing so combat happens faster and faster paced.
Attrition is basically a game of team deathmatch, however there is no respawn. The only way to come back into a specific round is to be resurrected by a teammate.
Traditionally the mouse and keyboard control combination has been considered superior to that of a control pad, do you think the pc gamers will be at an advantage over the Xbox360 players with cross platform play due to the differences in control set up?
I know there are a lot of people who don’t believe we could make the controls fair but we did it. Remember that Shadowrun isn’t just about putting your crosshairs on the enemy. You can be a great shot but get your ass handed to you by someone who uses tech, magic, and character abilities better than you. We have great testers who helped us balance the game. These guys are league FPS players, so they know what they’re doing.
Will the game release at the same/ similar price on both platforms?
We have not announced pricing for Shadowrun yet.
Shadowrun seems to be a cross between a 3d-shooter and a RPG. Does the character collect new spells, while receiving more experience (as in a normal Role-play)?
Shadowrun has been described as an “RPG on speed” because after choosing a magical race, you buy new tech, weapons and magic to your character each round. So you may start out with a pistol and one spell but by the end of the game, you are a powerful shadowrununner, capable of all sorts of wild things.
Thank you for your time.