Shadowrun Returns on the 25th July, after being delayed for several months, and exec producer Mitch Gitelman discussed the challenges of getting the game developed, and hinted at what the studio's next game would be.
When HBS first started its Kickstarter campaign for Shadowrun Returns, Gitelman admitted that the studio was clueless about the process, bluntly admitting, "We didn't know what we were doing, exactly."
He then explained, "There were no lectures about it at GDC or anything. So yes, I would do it differently. We didn't plan out stretch goals the way this generation of Kickstarters does. We added them organically, and we didn't have some master plan on how to roll them out."
HBS went primarily on fan interest, checking forum chatter for ideas, basing decisions on stretch goals largely on what was getting backers excited.
"It was a very organic, and very, for lack of a better word, 'customer-oriented' approach, which I'm kind of proud of," Gitelman stated, "But from a planning point of view, the executive in me says something different. And the designer in me says something different."
For example, going from top-down 2D to isometric caused major changes in development. "That one decision right there added amazing complexity and cost to the development, that one decision more than any other," Gitelman recalled."A game's only late until it ships, and a good game is a good game forever," he proclaimed, adding, "hopefully."
Transparency was a strange experience as well.
"It's one thing to make a game for a publisher where it's very secret until you finally announce it X amount of weeks or months before ship when you want to get the rolling thunder of marketing going," Gitelman related, "It's another thing to make a game in a fishbowl where everybody can see everything you're doing. And a lot of what I see on other Kickstarters are production difficulties or issues that happen on almost every game, except nobody knows it because it's not so much in the public eye. I think there's an element where you don't really want to know how the sausage is made; you just want to know it tastes good."
HBS is now looking to Kickstart another project, using his previous experience at crowdfunding.
"The real question for me is, 'Is Kickstarter a viable place where you can come with a new IP or an out-there idea and find an audience for that?'," pondered Gitelman, "What I'm looking at with Kickstarter is whether we can really innovate in this space. Can we use that as a bully pulpit, and to cut through the noise enough to find an audience to support it? But now that Kickstarter is so big, it's almost like the iOS marketplace, so you have to market your Kickstarter and now you have to do even more work to get noticed. It's an evolving animal, and I hope it works out because I really like the idea of allowing gamers to voice their support in a way that allows indies to follow their passion."