interview

Shadowrun: Hong Kong Kickstarter Crosses $1 Million Mark In Final Hours

by Mike Futter on Feb 15, 2015 at 10:12 AM

Harebrained Schemes has cleared the $1 million mark as its third Kickstarter effort, Shadowrun: Hong Kong enters its final 48 hours. The company successfully rebooted the Shadowrun franchise with two games (plus a director’s cut of the second) and brought a hybrid tabletop/digital game to market previously.

Shadowrun Hong Kong marks a departure for the company in how it approaches crowdfunding, though. Rather than ask the community to support the entire effort, the developer brought a different proposal.

One way or the other, Shadowrun Hong Kong was going to happen. The $1 million in support from the community is making the game bigger and more robust. Thirteen new elements, unlocked at funding milestones throughout the funding period, are being added to the experience, including new characters, revamped controls, more audio, more side missions, and most recently an additional four to five hour mini-campaign.

We spoke with Harebrained Schemes co-founders Mitch Gitelman and Jordan Weisman about the project today to find out what’s next once the campaign closes on Tuesday. When Harebrained Schemes launched its third Kickstarter effort, the company wasn’t sure backers would open their wallets once more.

“We were concerned about how this effort would be treated,” Weisman says. “But we decided to do what we’ve always done, which is to just be really straight and say, ‘we are making this game, and here’s everything our budget allows us, and here are the ideas we would love to put in that our budget doesn’t allow. If you guys like those ideas and want them added to what we think is already going to be a great game, then you can help out.’”

Rather than coyly allow backers to think that Kickstarter funding was the only way Hong Kong would happen, the team wanted to be straightforward. “It’s kind of like what your mom always told you,” Weisman says. “‘Just tell the truth.’”

“We tried something really weird,” Gitelman jokes. “That’s to respect our audience. It seems kind of odd, but think about it.”

Along those lines, Harebrained Schemes is not adding any additional last ditch stretch goals now that the $1 million mark has been reached. Gitelman and Weisman tell us that they don’t want to introduce any additional risk (inherent in any stretch goal project expansion).

“Now that the Shadows of Hong Kong Mini-Campaign is happening, where will the additional funding go? As we've said before, ‘No plan survives first contact with the enemy’ so we'll put it towards dealing with problems that crop up during production,” the team wrote in a Kickstarter update today. “We'll put it towards our test budget. We'll put it towards pizza and bagels (and healthy stuff) for a team who bust their humps to deliver to the best of their ability. And we'll use it to try and sneak in little stuff that had to fall off our features list (don't ask, we're not telling).”

Gitelman and Weisman tell us that while there was an outline for stretch goals along the way, they left flexibility to listen and respond to backers. “We started out with a plan for sure,” Gitelman explains. “Jordan and I have run two successful Kickstarters before this. You learn a lot about how to fulfill these rewards and how to deliver on the promises you are making. That learning helped us craft a plan that made sense. At the same time, we left openings in the plan where we could call an audible as we went forward.”

Some of the goals that were added along the way came directly from backers, though most of the unlocked rewards were in the original plan. “The additional campaign is one that wasn’t conceived of at the beginning,” Weisman says. “We didn’t think we were going to get this high. That’s a very large thing that was added in response to the audience. Some earlier ones with some of the character stuff were in response to the audience, as well.”

That mini-campaign will be worked on post-launch, just like the Dragonfall campaign that was part of the Shadowrun: Returns Kickstarter. The core game is still slated to arrive August this year, and despite the unpredictability of development, Harebrained Schemes has faced minimal delays in delivering in the past.

The campaign ends on February 17. For more on Shadowrun: Hong Kong, check out our previous interview and the Kickstarter page.